Splurging at the Antique Store

Antique stores and art galleries are two things I really enjoy. In downtown Wichita, Vertigo 232 is on the second floor of a building that also houses Shopkeepers Antique Mall. Even better, you have to enter the antique store to access the stairs up to the gallery, a situation that gives me opportunity to browse the cases for cars.

While delivering work for a recent show in the gallery, I saw these four cars in the case. I tend to resist buying from antique stores – as opposed to garage sales – because I feel like someone else has made the find for me and I’m paying extra for it. But, at $2 and $3 each, these cars weren’t too bad a value. So I told myself that if they were there the next time I came in, I would pick them up.

When I came back to the gallery at the end of the exhibition to pick up my work, the cars were still there. So I splurged.

This Hot Wheels Porsche 959 is the 1988 first release of a model that’s been released in a few dozen variations since. I really like this paint and tampo combination as well as the Ultra Hots wheels.

Hot Wheels 1988 | 4631 | Porsche 959 | metallic dark red with orange and yellow trim | MY | UH

There are at least a dozen variations of the Matchbox BMW M1, which first came out in 1981. But this metallic gray version, with its opening hood (trunk?) and lack of rear wing and ground effects, appears to be a different casting altogether.

Matchbox 1981 | 52 | BMW M.1. | metallic gray, black 52 and stripe, hood opens, clear windows | Eng. | Superfast wheels | 1:57

I still have a bunch of nice Tomica models from my childhood, so I’m happy to acquire more when I’m fortunate enough to find them. The Tomica Maserati Merak SS and Porsche 928 are both red and both from 1978.

Tomica 1978 | F45 | Maserati Merak SS | red with black trim | 1/62

Tomica 1978 | F53 | Porsche 928 | red | 1/63


Flea Market Matchbox Finds

These nice late 1970s Matchbox models were part of my recent banner day at the Village Flea Market. At 25 cents apiece, I was happy to take each of these home with me – especially with all of the plastic parts intact and functioning properly.

IMG_8109IMG_8110IMG_81111976 | 29 | Tractor Shovel | dark yellow with red plastic shovel, chrome hubs, black motor, no markings | made in England

This Snorkel Fire Engine seems familiar to me. I think one of my childhood buddies might have had one of these.

IMG_8234IMG_8101IMG_81031977 | 13 | Snorkel Fire Engine (closed cab) | red with blue windows, yellow plastic boom & bucket, unpainted base | made in England

This Sambron Jacklift reminds me of the Fork Lift from my childhood.

IMG_8105IMG_8106IMG_81081977 | 48 | Sambron Jacklift | yellow no markings, black base, silver hubs | made in England

I already had the yellow Diesel Shunter, but this one is in much better shape. The Shunter was originally released in 1978 with metallic green paint.

IMG_8112IMG_81131979 | 24 | Diesel Shunter Locomotive | yellow w/red metal undercarriage, red base | made in England

1975 Matchbox Speed Kings Javelin AMX

When I went to the Village Flea Market a few weeks back, my plan was to pick up the Zamac Chevrolet SS that I had scouted out on a previous visit. So I was pretty happy when, in addition to the Chevrolet SS, I walked out with a handful of loose blackwall Hot Wheels and late 70s/early 80s Matchbox cars, a late-90s carded Matchbox Jeep for my friend Brad, and this – the 1975 Matchbox Speed Kings Javelin AMX.

I don’t see these larger-scale (1:43ish) Matchbox models very often, but I do have the Bertone Runabout that I found at a garage sale. I also have the smaller scale Matchbox AMX. I love the paint and the groovy ’70s decoration. And at $.75, I consider this to be a really nice find.

IMG_8114IMG_8235IMG_81161975 | Speed Kings K-54 | Javelin AMX | burgundy | Superfast wheels

Matchbox 1972 AMX Javelin and Other Garage Sale Finds

For many years, my older brother, Joe, had a yard full of project cars. Among the mostly Chevys, there were two 1968 AMX Javelins. The plan was take the motor from the wrecked one and put it in the other car, which had no engine but a straight body. I spent a summer doing some work for my brother, hoping to someday drive that Javelin. Unfortunately, the project car never came to fruition. I always preferred the first generation Javelins, like that ’68 in my brothers yard. In 1971, the Javelin was redesigned and the car took on bulging fenders which I thought made the car look kind of cartoony. But maybe that’s why the car works so well as a toy.

I found this Matchbox 1972 AMX Javelin at a garage sale where there was a bin full of cars in Ziploc bags, priced 5 for $2. As I started looking through them, a boy who was sitting nearby offered me the whole bin for $50. I had already decided there were many cars in the box that I didn’t want, so I asked him if there were any old ones in the lot. “There are some from the 60s,” he claimed, “but most are from the 80s.” Well, if there were any from the 60s, somebody got to them before me, but I did walk away with several bags of cars, most with only one car I really wanted. This Javelin from 1972 was the oldest car I could find.

img_1324img_13251972 | 9 | AMX Javelin | metallic light green with yellow interior, opening doors | Superfast wheels

The next most interesting car that I took home is this gold Hot Wheels Jaguar XJS from 1979. The XJS was first released the previous year, but this variation – part of the Golden Machines 6-pack – would be more valuable if it were in mint condition (which, obviously, this one is not).

img_1317 img_13181979 | 2012 | Jaguar XJS | gold chrome with yellow & black trim | HK | blackwalls

I’ve always loved the Hot Wheels ’31 Doozie, in fact I’ve had one since I was a kid. This maroon version from 1986 looks pretty sharp with the white wall tires. Too bad it’s missing the tan plastic top.

img_1313img_13141986 | 9649 | ’31 Doozie | maroon with maroon plastic fenders, missing tan top | MY | white walls

The Hot Wheels Upfront 924 was first released in 1979. I have that yellow first casting as well as another orange version that was made in Malaysia, so this Hong Kong-built model makes three for me so far.

img_1320 img_13211980 | 2500 | Upfront 924 | orange with red yellow & black trim | HK | blackwalls

I also added another casting to my collection of Hot Wheels Crack Ups from 1985. This metallic red Speed Crasher has been cracked up so many times that it no longer clicks back into like-new shape.

img_1315img_13161985 | 7824 | Speed Crasher (Crack Up) | metallic red with white, yellow and orange trim | HK |blackwalls

And finally, the garage sale box also yielded this Hot Wheels Porsche 930, a late-era blackwall from 1991. Wouldn’t you know, of the 4 different colors released for the first casting, this red variation is the least valuable.

img_1322img_13231991 | 7607 | Porsche 930 | red with yellow, black & white trim | MY | blackwalls

A Forgotten Trio: Matchbox Personnel Carrier, Jeep and Field Gun

I recently rediscovered three cars from my childhood collection. They weren’t kept in my old race case, but were in a different box full of military toys that has gone unopened for several years. I think I bought these late in my childhood and didn’t play with them much, so all three are in pretty great shape.

IMG_8153 IMG_81541976 | 54 | Personnel Carrier | army green with beige plastic figures seated in back | superfast wheels

IMG_8155IMG_81561976 | 38 | Jeep | army green with gun, 21*11 label, black hubs | superfast wheels

I even found the two little soldiers and the plastic base that came with the Field Gun. The only thing I’m missing is the plastic ammo that can be fired from the spring-loaded gun.

IMG_8157IMG_81581978 | 32 | Field Gun | army green, army green guard, tan plastic base and soldiers, black hubs | superfast wheels


NASA Space Shuttle Support

NASA’s recent success with the Mars Curiosity Rover landing was quite a thrill. While we’re all still cheering, I thought I’d show off some of my NASA-related items.

When the Space Shuttle program was winding down, I decided I wanted to have some souvenirs of its glory days. So I went on eBay and found the Hot Wheels NASA Space Shuttle Ground Support Hiway Hauler and the Matchbox NASA Tracking Vehicle.

The Hot Wheels Hiway Hauler evolved from the cab for the Road King that was made in 1973. The cab was used again on the American Hauler and the American Tipper in 1976. 1980’s Hiway Hauler was very similar to the American Hauler except that it had an extra set of wheels under an extended cargo box. Over the years, the Hiway Hauler’s cargo box has been adorned with many different company logos. This NASA version was released in 1988 as part of the Workhorses series.

IMG_6966.JPG IMG_6967.JPG1988 | 5144 | Hiway Hauler | white, “NASA Space Shuttle Ground Support” graphics | Malaysia | blackwalls

The 1982 Matchbox NASA Tracking Vehicle is a modification of the Motor Home from 1980. In addition to NASA tampo, the Tracking Vehicle was fitted with a chrome radar dish on the roof. The Tracking Vehicle also retained the motor home’s plastic opening door on the passenger side.

IMG_6968.JPG IMG_6969.JPG1982 | 54 | NASA Tracking Vehicle | white, side accents, clear windows | England | Superfast wheels

I have to brag about my personal connection to NASA. One of my brothers is an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Though he was never directly involved with the space shuttle program (he is a control systems expert), over the years he has hooked me up with some pretty cool souvenirs. The first space shuttle flight landed at Edwards, and the long landing strip there was used many times over the years as a back-up landing site when the primary site at Kennedy Space Center couldn’t be used. This button is from the 3rd space shuttle flight and the third mission for Columbia in 1982, which was scheduled to land at Edwards. As it turned out, the dry lake bed at Edwards was flooded, so the landing was diverted to White Sands New Mexico. This was the only time a shuttle landed at White Sands.


Here is another button commemorating the landing of STS-6 at Edwards in 1983. The sixth shuttle mission was the first flight of Challenger, and the first space shuttle mission to include a space walk.


Here are mission patch decals for the final 4 space shuttle flights.STS-132_mission_patch STS-133_mission_patch STS-134_mission_patch STS-135_mission_patch

To commemorate the final shuttle flight, I picked up the 2010 Matchbox Sky Busters Space Shuttle Atlantis. By the time Atlantis touched down on July 21, 2011, on its return from the final NASA Space Shuttle mission, it had travelled nearly 126,000,000 miles in space.


I’ve had the good fortune to tour the Dryden Flight Research facility a few times over the years. Though I imagine the security has gotten a little tighter over the years, I’ll never forget sitting in the control room while my brother and his colleagues conducted a test flight of the X-31. One of the coolest projects my brother worked on was the X-29, which was a radical design with forward-swept wings. According to NASA’s webpage on the project, “The concepts and technologies the fighter-size X-29 explored were the use of advanced composites in aircraft construction; variable camber wing surfaces; the unique forward-swept-wing and its thin supercritical airfoil; strake flaps; and a computerized fly-by-wire flight control system that overcomes the aircraft’s instability.” That last part is the stuff my brother worked on. Below are two pictures of me from November of 1985 standing in front of the X-29 in its hangar and flying (crashing) the X-29 flight simulator.

And, finally, here is a little die-cast model of the X-29, followed by a decal of NASA’s classic “meatball” logo.


I picked up a case of cars recently at a thrift store and inside I found this Peterbilt Tanker from the Space Mission 5-Pack that came out in 2000.

IMG_8232 IMG_82332000 | 56 | Peterbilt Tanker | blue, gray tank, “Test Mission” (from Space Mission 5-pack) | China

Matchbox 1982 Dodge Challenger Hot Rod

Garage sale season has been a little slow for me so far this year, in part because my son’s t-ball games have cut into our usual Saturday morning garage saling. So I was glad I did manage to find something today. This Superfast Matchbox is showing some wear and tear, but the “Toyman” tampo is holding up fairly well.

IMG_7510IMG_75121982 | 1 | Dodge Challenger Hot Rod | yellow with black top, red and black tempo, clear windows | China | Superfast wheels