Whenever I travel, I try to seek out any hobby stores that might carry die-cast cars. This usually means dragging my family to some out-of-the-way location and making them wait patiently while I inspect displays of cars. But on our June trip to my family reunion in Minnesota, everyone was impressed with the unique place I took them to.
Scale Model Supplies is located in a former bowling alley in St. Paul. The place is huge and has such an enormous and varied inventory that it kind of boggles the mind. My cousin, Tom, who was along for the trip, was particularly amazed by the population of HO scale figures in the train section. My son spent some time looking in the die-cast section for another James Bond vehicle to go with the one we found him in Phoenix. There is a huge section of plastic models with every kind of vehicle. One aisle has stamp and coin collecting supplies. There is also a large room with three different slot car tracks. Even my wife was impressed.
I did find a few die-cast cars, but my favorite section was a room in the back that looked like a flea market, with bins full of used train and slot car parts and lots of old toys. When my cousin saw me marveling at this old plastic Batmobile, he bought it for me as a Father’s Day present.
The car, which is about 8″ long, is missing the steering wheel, the two front wheel covers, most of the red painted details, and the three yellow and black batman stickers that used to be affixed to the doors and top. But it still has both front and rear clear plastic windshields and the Batman and Robin figures in their seats. The bottom is stamped with the words “COPYRIGHT DC COMICS, INC,” a Duncan logo and “Toronto, Ont., Canada” and “Baraboo, WI, USA”.
My wife and son had a break from school for President’s Day, so I took a few days off and we drove up to Kansas City for a couple of days. The highlight of our trip was a visit to the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. Housed on the campus of the University of Missouri – Kansas City, the museum first opened in 1982 as the Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City featuring the collections of Mary Harris Francis and Barbara Marshall. Over the years, the collection has grown to include over 72,000 objects and the museum has undergone three different expansions, the most recent of which was completed in August of 2015.
With an admission price of only $5 (kids 4 and under are free), the museum is an exceptional value. The collection is beautifully displayed and well-organized. The informative exhibits, which include some interactive and educational elements, kept us entertained for several hours.
The first floor contains the collection of miniatures. I thought we would move through this part fairly quickly, but the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail in the miniatures is so mind-blowing that we found ourselves spending a good amount of time marveling at all of the exhibits here.
There are even miniature miniatures!
Though there is a large section of dolls and doll houses, the second floor toy collections are pretty wide-ranging, including some of my favorite classic board games and construction toys.
Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars are a fairly small part of the exhibit, but there are plenty of other interesting automotive-themed toys.
There are also plenty of planes, trains and ships.
And there are cowboys, soldiers and spacemen.
The current temporary exhibit (through August 2016) is Pedal to the Metal, which features a nice collection of pedal cars. My favorite is this Formula One Racecar modeled after Jim Clark’s Indy 500-winning Lotus-Ford from 1965.