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.

Advertisements

Playart Kubelwagen

This nice, late 70s Playart Kubelwagen from my childhood was in the box of military toys that included my M*A*S*H playsets. At one time I had a fairly large WWII diorama in my bedroom and I’m pretty sure this Kubelwagen was part of it. When I was a kid, Playart cars were sold under the Peelers brand at Woolworth, which is where I would have bought this and the other Playart models I still have.

Playart 7850 Kubelwagen | army green | 5-spoke wheel | Made in Hong Kong

The Playart toy company, owned by Duncan Tong, produced diecast and plastic cars and trucks in Hong Kong from 1965 to 1983. In addition to the Woolworth Peelers, Playart cars were also sold under a variety of other brands including Road Mates (sold at Sears), Freewheelers (sold at McCrory), Charmerz Super Singles and Fastwheel. While the cars were fairly well-made, the castings were often based on those of other toymakers such as Tomica and Corgi.

The real-life Volkswagen Kubelwagen was designed in 1938 at the request of the German army by none other than Ferdinand Porsche. The lightweight, two-wheel drive, rear-engine vehicle performed admirably in tough conditions. It had a flat, smooth underside which allowed the oversized wheels and tires to propel it over sand, snow or mud rather well.

 

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.

img_9505

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

img_7224

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

img_7229

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

img_7226

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

An Interesting Assortment

In the box of cars I got from RR, there was a large assortment of different brands. Some of these I was familiar with, and others I had never heard of.

Playart
I had a few Playart cars when I was a kid. Playart diecast cars were made in Hong Kong from 1965 until 1983 and were distributed through different retailers as Road Mates, Freewheelers and FASTWHEEL. At Woolworth stores – which is probably where I got my childhood Batmobile, Fire Truck, Toyota 2000 GT and ’65 Mustang Convertible  – they were sold as Peelers.

IMG_8176IMG_8177Playart | Lamborghini Marzal | orange | flower wheels | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

Yatming
This is another brand that I’m familiar with, having picked up a few Yatming models somewhere along the way. Also based in Hong Kong, the company was founded in 1970. These days, Yatming larger scale (1:43, 1:24, 1:18) models are distributed in the U.S. by the New Jersey-based company Toy Wonders.

IMG_8184IMG_8185Yatming | Bulldozer | yellow | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

IMG_8186IMG_8187Yatming | Chevy Stepside Pickup | black | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

IMG_8188IMG_8189Yatming | Ford Station Wagon | blue | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

IMG_8190IMG_8191Yatming | Jaguar | blue | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

IMG_8192IMG_8193Yatming | Lamborghini Miura | yellow | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

IMG_8194IMG_8195Yatming | Mercedes Benz 350 SL | silver | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

The Rolls Royce Phantom VI is almost identical to the Tomica version from my childhood.

IMG_8196IMG_8197IMG_8198Yatming | Rolls Royce Phantom VI | silver | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

IMG_8199IMG_8200Yatming | Saab Sonnet | lime green | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

Kidco
I haven’t been able to find much information about Kidco. The brand page on globaldiecastdirect.com mentions that the Illinois-based company was sold to Universal Toys in the mid 1980s. This ’57 Vette is made in Macao.

IMG_8173IMG_8174IMG_8175’57 Corvette | red | 1979 | made in Macao | 1:64

Summer
Summer is a Hong Kong-based company with a reputation for low price and low quality. I’ve noticed they decorate their cars with unusual and sometimes obnoxious graphics. Despite this, there is a certain fun-factor here.

IMG_8182IMG_8183#S676 Ferrari P4 | silver with red trim | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

IMG_8180 IMG_8181#S691 Volvo 164E | off white with blue trim | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

Tintoys
Another Hong Kong-based company, Tintoys was started in 1965. Although they seem to have evolved away from 1:64 scale, the company claims more than 500 licensed products from international automotive brands.

IMG_8073 IMG_8074W.T. 202 Chevrolet Racer | gold | made in Hong Kong | 1:64

Playart Cars

For me, there is only one Batmobile, and it’s the 1966 version that was built by George Barris based on the Lincoln Futura concept car. This one from Playart used to have little red figures inside, but they’re long gone from mine.

IMG_6908.JPG IMG_6909.JPG7100 | Batman Batmobile | black

The Playart fire truck is kind of a sad rip-off of the Hot Wheels Heavyweight series of trucks. I think the back of mine is held on by a generous application of Elmer’s glue, which you can even see in the photos.

IMG_7012.JPGIMG_7013.JPG7130 | Fire Truck | red with white ladder, chrome hoses

I need a couple of “hubcaps” for my Toyota 2000 GT.

IMG_7008.JPG IMG_7009.JPG7117 | Toyota 2000 GT | metallic green

IMG_7010.JPG IMG_7011.JPG1965 Ford Mustang convertible | orange with black convertible top