A New Look For the New Year

I decided to start 2018 with a fresh, new look for this site. First, I designed myself a new logo. I tried to create a unique mark that taps into the spirit of those vintage toys that we all love.

Next, I updated to a new WordPress theme. I was long overdue to make my site work better on phones and tablets, and this theme should do the trick.

Finally, I’ve been working behind the scenes to make the site faster. When I first started this blog, I wanted to show large, sharp photos that were color-accurate. After awhile I realized that uploading full resolution photos right off my camera was overkill. So I started sizing my images to 1600×1200 – still large enough to view on a desktop, but a little quicker to load. Then, it was a matter of going back through all of the old posts and resizing those photos. I’m glad to say that process is complete.

So whether you’re on a laptop or a phone, have a look around, browse around through the archives and click on a few photos to see them full size. I hope you enjoy the new, improved site – and please comment to let me know what you think. Thanks.

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Hot Wheels 1980 Dumpin’ A and Other Salvage Finds

My brother Joe is doing some salvage work these days, and when I saw him at my family reunion in June, he brought me a bag of cars he had found in a house he was tasked with cleaning out.

This Hot Wheels Dumpin’ A was coated with grime and had what appeared to be a chunk of modeling clay stuck in the back. I used a popsicle stick to remove most of the clay, then dissolved the rest with vegetable oil. After going over the rest of the car with a damp Q-tip, I had myself a pretty sharp car!

This Dumpin’ A from 1980, with its orange paint and yellow plastic dumper, is the opposite brother to the first casting from 1979, which is yellow with an orange dumper.

1980 Hot Wheels | Dumpin’ A | orange with yellow dumper, yellow, orange and red trim | HK | bw

After looking over the rest of the cars in the bunch, I realized none of them would clean up well. So I decided to photograph them just as is. I often wonder about the history of the cars I acquire. How many previous owners did they have? Were any of them ever a child’s favorite toy? I’ve lived a pretty good life and have a hard time imagining the circumstances that would cause a family to leave a home with belongings still in it. I suspect these cars have some interesting stories they could tell.

1991 Hot Wheels | ’57 T-Bird | red with green, blue and pink trim, gray plastic base | MY | bw

1991 Hot Wheels | Bronco 4-Wheeler | white with black stripes, missing camper shell (Ecolab Pest Control promo) | MY | bw

1994 Hot Wheels | Back Burner | red with grey plastic engine (McDonald’s giveaway) | plastic 5-spoke

1999 Hot Wheels | Trail Runner | lime green (McDonald’s giveaway) | 5SP

2002 Hot Wheels | 40 Somethin’ | yellow with white and black trim | MY | PR5

1965 Lesney/Matchbox | #68 Mercedes Coach | orange, missing top half

1965 Lesney/Matchbox | #69 Hatra Tractor Shovel | orange with yellow wheels, black tires, missing top and shovel

1983 Matchbox | #11 Ford IMSA Mustang | black with yellow and green flames

1983 Matchbox | #7 Volkswagen Ruff Rabbit 4×4 | yellow with black rabbits

Majorette #228/291 Depanneuse | orange with black, blue and silver trim, missing black plastic tow hooks | 1:62 | Made in France

1981 Ertl | Dukes of Hazard General Lee | orange with blue and white trim, missing back wheel

Tootsietoy | La France Fire Truck | red | Chicago, USA

Tootsietoy | Crane | green, missing plastic crane cab and boom

Unknown | S8003 | Race Car | red with black, orange and white trim, plastic base

New Year’s Inventory

Someone asked me recently how many cars I had in my collection. The best guess I could come up with was “in the hundreds” but I wasn’t really sure. So I decided to spend part of New Year’s Day counting everything up. I keep updated lists, so it was mostly just a matter of counting and totaling the numbers. Or so I thought, until I realized how many items were not on my supposedly updated lists. After a few more days of inventorying, I came up with a total of 951 items.

I generally think of my collection as having three categories: Vintage, Novas and Impalas. But occasionally I can’t resist something that doesn’t really fit into any of these. I counted multi-car packs as single items and I did not include several buckets of cars that I have acquired over the years that I have deemed not worthy of my collection. These are the cars that my son and I use whenever we break out the Hot Wheels tracks.

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397 Vintage
In my collection, “vintage” is very loosely defined. These 395 items include my childhood collection and a bunch of almost entirely loose cars with a focus on blackwall-era Hot Wheels. The oldest items would be a few late-1950s Lesney-era Matchbox cars, and I cheat the “blackwall era” with a few cars into the early 1990s.

I have 45 cars that I’ve managed to hold onto from my childhood. They include 18 Matchbox, 9 Hot Wheels, 7 Tomica Pocket Cars, 6 Husky, 4 Playart and a single Majorette.

The remaining 350 Vintage cars break down as follows:

Hot Wheels – 219
Matchbox – 53
Corgi – 14
Zylmex – 11
Yatming – 9
Racing Champions – 8
Majorette – 7
Road Champs – 4
Ertl – 4
Tomica – 4
Siku – 2
Summer – 2
Barclay – 1
Husky – 1
Kidco – 1
Playart – 1
Pit Row – 1
Tin Toys – 1
Unknown – 9

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262 Impalas
When I first started picking up Impalas, I would take them out of the package and display them on a bookcase I had in my bachelor pad. Series like Jada’s Homie Rollerz and the Revell Lowrider Magazine cars encouraged me to start keeping them in the packages. Since Hot Wheels rolled out the ’59 Chevy Impala in 1997, there has been a steady stream of new Impala castings and variations, which puts the brand at the top of this list with 85 items.

Hot Wheels – 85
Johnny Lightning – 59
Revell – 22
Jada – 21
M2 Machines – 15
Greenlight – 14
Maisto – 11
Ertl – 6
Racing Champions – 6
Malibu International – 5
Motor Max – 4
Muscle Machines – 3
Auto World – 3
Disney – 3
Classic Metal Works – 1
Craft House – 1
Geospace – 1
Route 66 – 1
Unknown – 1

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188 Novas
The 2004 release of the Hot Wheels 1968 Nova was an exciting moment for me as a collector. Hot Wheels now has a variety of Nova castings going back to the first-generation body style, so the brand is at the top of my Nova list with 85 items.

Hot Wheels – 85
Johnny Lightning – 38
M2 Machines – 27
Maisto – 10
Muscle Machines – 9
Jada – 7
Ertl – 5
Racing Champions – 3
Playing Mantis – 2
GMP – 1
Universal Hobbies – 1

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104 Miscellaneous
The 90 items here include 10 Hot Wheels 30th Anniversary models from 1998, lots of Batmobiles, NASA-themed items including 3 Hot Wheels Action Packs, some 2005-2006 Hot Wheels Classics and a bunch of other odds and ends.

Hot Wheels – 78
Johnny Lightning – 5
Jada – 4
Matchbox – 4
Lledo – 2
Quartzo – 2
Revell – 2
Bauer – 1
Hormel Promo – 1
Maisto – 1
Upper Deck Collectibles – 1
Unknown – 2

My Collection by Brand
My collection is made up of at least 41 different brands. Being well-represented in all of my categories, the Hot Wheels brand dominates with 476 items. Johnny Lightning comes in second with 102, mostly due to the many Nova and Impala releases during the RC2 era. It’s interesting to note that Matchbox has never made a Nova and the only Impalas made in recent years are the eight-generation version which I have no interest in, yet the brand takes third place with 75 items in my vintage collection.

Hot Wheels – 476
Johnny Lightning – 102
Matchbox – 75
M2 Machines – 42
Jada – 31
Revell – 24
Maisto – 22
Quartzo – 2
Racing Champions – 18
Greenlight – 14
Corgi – 13
Tomica – 11
Zylmex – 11
Yatming – 9
Husky – 7
Majorette – 7
Ertl – 6
Malibu International – 5
Motor Max – 5
Playart – 5
Road Champs – 4
Disney – 3
Auto World – 3
Lledo – 2
Playing Mantis – 2
Siku – 2
Summer – 2
Barclay – 1
Bauer – 1
Classic Metal Works – 1
Craft House – 1
Geospace – 1
GMP – 1
Hormel Promo – 1
Kidco – 1
Pit Row – 1
Route 66 – 1
Tin Toys – 1
Upper Deck Collectibles – 1
Universal Hobbies – 1
Unknown – 12

Majorette

Majorette cars were first produced in France in 1964 by the Rail-Route company, which began in 1961 as a manufacturer of model railways. By 1967 the company was known as Majorette and it quickly became France’s largest model car manufacturer by revenue. In 1980, Majorette acquired Solido, the famous manufacturer of collectible models, and Majorette USA was established in 1982. In 1987, production was moved to Thailand and financial troubles in the 1990s caused a series of takeovers and a retreat from the U.S. market. The Majorette brand survives today as part of the Simba-Dickie Toy Group, with production split between China and Thailand.

I only had one Majorette as a kid, the Dodge Camper. But the box of cars I got from RR contained several nice Majorettes, which, like my Dodge Camper, are all the French-made, metal-based models.

Of all the cars from the RR collection, this Citroen Dyane Raid is probably my favorite. I love all of the details and decoration on the car. I also like that it’s still sealed in its original package, though the card and blister are both creased and worn.

img_7955 img_7956Citroen Dyane Raid | white with groovy trim | Series 200 | metal base | made in France | pre 1978 blister card

This nice Citroen Ambulance still has intact plastic flags and the plastic opening rear door.

img_8154 img_8155 img_8156#206 Citroen DS 21 Ambulance | white with red and blue trim | Series 200 | metal base | made in France | 1974-1980

img_8149 img_8150 img_8151#218/210 Peugeot 205 GTI | red with black trim | Series 200 | metal base | made in France | 1985

This Lamborghini Countach from 1983 is still in its blister tray. When I realized the reusable package had been opened, I took the car out and re-photographed it.

img_7948 img_7949img_9418img_9419#237 Lamborghini Countach | black with red and orange trim | Series 200 | metal base | made in France | blister tray | 1983

img_8144 img_8145 img_8146#240 Simca 1308 | royal blue | Series 200 | metal base | made in France |  1977

img_8152 img_8153#264 Renault Alpine A 310 | white with “SOS” trim | Series 200 | metal base | made in France | 1979

Majorette Porsche 996 Police and Renault Megane II Fire

My brother-in-law, John, is quite the world traveler these days. Earlier this year, he made a business trip to São Paulo, Brazil, came home for a few days, then was off to Europe. When he and my sister came to visit us this spring, he brought me these Majorette cars that he picked up in a convenience store in Munich.

Majorette is a French toy manufacturer which was founded in 1961 as a maker of toy trains. The first cars were added in 1964 and the models penetrated many world markets in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, the company produces mostly small-scale (1:64, or 2.5″ to 3″) models which feature opening doors and hoods. Major retail distribution is limited mainly to Europe, South America and Asia.

I did find both of these cars on the Majorette website, under the “S.O.S.” category. Interestingly, even when you click to view the Deutsch version of the site, the models are still pictured with English decorations (“Police” and “Fire Brigade” in place of “Polizei” and “Feuerwehr”).

img_1304img_1305Majorette Porsche 996 Police

img_1306img_1307Majorette Renault Megane II Fire

Majorette Pickup Camper/Maintenance Truck

This is the only Majorette that I had in my childhood collection. It’s kind of a mystery what make it actually is (European?), but it’s fitting for me because my dad took us on many camping trips in a yellow pickup with a white camper shell. At some point I cut open the back door to the camper.

The fun thing about this toy, is that you can remove the camper shell and it turns into a maintenance truck!

IMG_7014.JPGIMG_7015.JPGIMG_7016.JPGIMG_7017.JPGMaintenance Pickup Truck with Camper Shell | yellow with white camper shell | made in France

Due to a comment below, I did a little research to figure out what make of truck this casting is based on. I’m still not sure, but seems that it is the pickup version of the Simca 1100. From Wikipedia:

Three LCV (light commercial vehicle) versions with van, pick-up truck and High Top Van bodystyles were also available. In France and most European markets these were sold as the “Simca 1100 Fourgonnette”. In the UK the high-roof van was called the Simca VF2 (short for “Voiture Fourgonnette”), and was sold from December 1972. The regular low-roof van was called the VF1, while an even higher roofed version introduced for 1978 became the VF3. The pick-up model arrived in December 1975. Commercial versions lasted until the spring of 1985, three years after the 1100 passenger car models had been removed from the market. In the United Kingdom, commercial models assumed the Dodge nameplate after 1976 and were called Talbots after 1979. The commercial models were sold as ‘Simca Fixaren’ (“the fixer”) in Sweden, where they were fitted with a 66 PS (49 kW) version of the 1.3 litre engine.

I borrowed a photo from the internet. Does it look the same to you?

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