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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Siku Audi 5000 wagon (100 Avant)

Old Sikus are one of my favorite collecting passions.  I particularly like the ones from the '60s and '70s, since the '80s versions ran larger - more like 1/55 scale than 1/64 scale - and have oversize wheels/tires.  A few of those older Sikus are among the nicest models (commenting on the model itself - not necessarily the condition that that particular model might be in!) in my collections.  

However, when I came across this '80s Siku Audi 5000 wagon at the local flea market with a $1 or $2 price tag on it - I instantly snapped it up.  It's labeled as an Audi 100 Avant - but to those of us who grew up in the USA in the 1980s, we will always remember it as an Audi 5000.

The Audi 5000 was a favorite car of mine - a big square but still somehow aero - one of the first examples of the rounded square styling theme.  I especially liked the wagon versions of the 5000, though they were much rarer than the sedans.  So to find a beautifully detailed and modeled diecast 5000 - and a wagon! - was a delightful treat. 

Of course - as a late 80's Siku - it IS large - and it does have the large kind-of-ugly '80s Siku wheels on it.  I should have photographed it against a more known Matchbox or Hot Wheels model so the reader gets a sense of it being over-scale for 1/64.  On the other hand, the 5000 being a large car in real life allows me to feel like the large size of the model is not TOO large. 

Overall, a fun car.  The tailgate opens up nicely.  The detail is reasonable (what I'd expect from a mid-80s Siku).  The car has a satisfying heft to it.   The only real downsides are the unexciting taupe paint color (certainly not helped by it no longer being shiny) and the previously mentioned scale. 

This particular version is not at all mint - but still very presentable.  Not my favorite Siku, but far from my least favorite.  A great addition to the collection!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Rare Flea Market Find: Mini Dinky Cadillac Coupe De Ville!

Mini Dinky is a curious brand of toy cars.  An offshoot of the market leading Dinky Toys, but with cars made in 1/64th Matchbox size.  I wasn't even aware of the brand until I bought a set of cars containing one...  And even now, in my entire 7,000+ diecast collection, that one car is the only passenger Mini Dinky car that I have - the white '65-ish Ford Mustang.  For years I've been periodically scouring EBay for Mini Dinky diecast cars (made difficult since searching for Mini Dinky invariable returns normal Dinky scale models of a Morris Mini...) with very little success.  Those that I do occasionally find have obnoxious price tags on them. 
(Note that I DO have the nice yellow Mini Dinky construction toy set (road grader, etc.), which while still rare are more readily available on EBay).  
But today I ran across this model at the flea market and scooped it up.  It's an early '60s Coupe De Ville, with opening hood and trunk, in a scale that is close to true 1/64th scale, meaning that the car is a smidge longer than a typical Lesney Matchbox, such that it is slightly too long to fit into a standard Matchbox carry case.  Given the length of an actual Coupe de Ville, the longer-than-normal length of the Mini Dinky seems very appropriate (though perhaps still a tad short).
The detail is excellent, with a beautifully detailed old-school metal grill, nicely detailed rear end with long and narrow tail lights, and a detailed baseplate.  
As is typical of a toy from this era, both baseplate and body are made of sturdy metal.  The wheels have a high quality rubberized feel to them, gripping reasonably on a hard surface.  
My particular model is in good/great but not mint condition.  While nothing is broken or missing, it is a bit dirty, with non-lustrous and scraped-up paint.  
Overall, a very valued find for me and a worthy addition to the collection.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A slightly uncommon car.... Corgi Junior Porsche 917

I like featuring unique and unusual cars/pieces from my collection on this blog.  Sometimes they are extremely rare.  Sometimes just something different from the ordinary.  And sometimes they are ordinary pieces after all, but ones that I like a lot.  

Some would say that there is nothing overly special about this car, a beat-up model of a mighty Porsche 917 race car, modeled by Corgi Junior.  But Corgi Juniors are already somewhat rare models, and this model has a nice feel to it.  

One of the things I like most about it is its size...   It is big and imposing taking up every millimeter of a standard slot in a Matchbox collector case.  Hot Wheels did an excellent 917 as one of the earlier entries in their Adult Collectible series (sold as part of the 4 piece Porsche set in the late '90s), but while that model had great realism / detail and an opening back, it always struck me as being a little small.  In contrast, this Corgi is imposing, scaring other race cars right off the starting grid.  
In other comments, I wouldn't have minded a more race-car-oriented paint scheme (not even a number on the side), and the gold color is rather bland and unexciting (think mid '00s gold Lexus RX300s!).  But the car rolls well on its standard issue wheel.  

Overall, a nice car that deserves a quick mention on this (heavily read) blog...! 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Alfa Carabo...: Matchbox vs. Hot Wheels vs. Corgi

Why do toymakers have to copy each other, each making their own model of a car already modeled by another toy company, and leaving so many other great designs unmodeled...?  How many '67 Camaros do we all have...   And C5/6/7 Corvettes...  Yet we have no Honda Accords, Ford Tempos or Toyota Camrys...? 

Such is the case of the Alfa Carabo - a show car - not even a real production car - but one that was modeled by each of the 3 major toy-makers.  Well OK, as long as we have 3 distinct models - let's at least decide who made it the best?!?

I have the Matchbox version in 3 colors and 2 varieties.  The purple and pink superfast versions, and the grey (unmarked and without an interior or actual windows) Super GT version. Corgi gave 2 varieties - the standard purple - and the wizz-a-wheels forest green version.   Finally, Hot Wheels gave us the Red-line version - shown here in later lime green enamel paint - but also available in earlier spectraflame colors.  The Hot Wheels version is unique in that it alone has opening doors - scissor-style-Lamborghini Countach doors that pivot upward. 

Who made it best?  Well, its easy to see who made it worst....  The cheap-o grey Super GT version is the easy loser. 

Among the remaining 3 models, its a hard fight.  The Hot Wheels feels nice, with a heavy heft and the opening doors, but in the end it is the green whiz-a-wheels Corgi Junior, with a separate insert for the hood-mounted air-ducts, that wins the title for the best Carabo model. An unusual win - Corgi doesn't often win these comparisons! 

Monday, May 15, 2017

An absolute jewel of a model... Eidai Isuzu Elf airline re-stocking truck

Every once in a while I come across a model that is as close to absolute perfection as is possible to get...

A jewel...  ...perfect in modeling, perfect in scale, perfect in weight/heft/feel, etc....

This blog is about one of those models.

It's from a brand that almost no one in the USA knows about - Eidai.  I first stumbled across the brand at a toy fair/flea market a decade ago - a garbage truck labeled as "Eidai Grip Zechai" - that has the similar qualities as this model. 

The model is probably slightly under 1/64 scale (1/60?), and is slightly larger than a standard Matchbox model - enough so that it is probably 1/2 an inch too long to fit into a standard storage case, and probably 1/4 of an inch too high.

The base is metal.  The cab and chassis are wonderful detailed.  The paint is rich.  There is a driver in the cab.  The cargo hold rises up on an X-platform and plastic doors on both ends open up.

While this model is hard to find and a little expensive on EBay, it is a veritable bargain for the quality you get.  $25 is a cheap price to pay for a model that will be the pinnacle of most collections...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Norev Peugeot 407 - available as a sedan, coupe AND station wagon!

 How many times have you gotten a Matchbox sedan model, but thought "how cool would it be if I could get it in the wagon version"?

Amazingly, once in a while you CAN...!  Norev made the same Peugeot 407 available in 3 different body styles - sedan, coupe and station wagon!  And they almost made them all in the same color - I've got 2 of the 3 bodies in red and 2 in light gold.

I picked these models up when I was in Paris 6 years ago - at a Peugeot dealership.  They are nice models - with metal bases and nice detail.  The trailer hitches are overly large - making the  monstrous Majorette hitches seem tiny in comparison, and the wheels leave a little to be desired.  But overall they are great models.  Enjoy the photos!

PS.  To be fair, Matchbox did actually make multiple body styles in at least 2 recent models...   In the case of the E46 3 series, Matchbox did a coupe version (I have it in silver) and a sedan version (but only as a police car).  The Cadillac CTS was also available as a wagon and a coupe....   Both potential subjects of a future blog entry.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Old school comparison: Redline T-bird vs. Redline T-Bird - Topper Johnny Lightning vs. Mattel Hot Wheels

This is a comparison that's 45 years out of date - comparing 2 OLD-SCHOOL late '60s Ford T-Birds - BOTH with redline wheels....

Yes, we all know that the term "Redlines" means Hot Wheels Redlines - the creme-de-la-crime models of the diecast collecting scene.  And the Custom T-Bird's always been one of my favorite Redline models - a big American '60s muscle car, done with a few custom touches.  A cool car, with the only real downside being the very high price point needed to get into it these days - $30 or more for a fair/good condition model, $100 or more for a C8-C9 condition model, and easily $500 or more for a MIP model or a rare color.  Ouch!!!

But back in the day, Hot Wheels faced competition from the original Johnny Lightnings - made by Topper in those days rather than today's Playing Mantis.  Topper's even had red line wheels and so took on Hot Wheels head to head!  Most of those old Toppers were fantasy models - but they made a FEW realistic castings - and this "Custom Thunderbird" is one of their best.  One of the best things about these old Topper models is that they came with both an opening hood AND opening doors (but also with cast-shut doors - so hunt wisely!).   Unfortunately, the price points for Topper's realistic cars is only slightly better than that for Mattel's Hot Wheels - with reasonable examples in better colors often exceeding $50.  They are so rare that I haven't seen a MIP trade on EBay - so I can't tell you what the high end price points are...

So, which one is better?  Who made the better Custom T-Bird back in 1970?!?  Let's get to the comparison!!!

I only have 1 Topper T-Bird, in gold, while I have several Hot Wheels T-Birds.  But one of those Birds is in gold, so it makes it a gold vs. gold custom T-Bird comparison test...  What could be better!?!

At first blush, it looks like it'll be a tight race.  Size-wise, they are both right on top of each other - built big, sized just the way they should be.  Their dimensions are RIGHT on top of each other.  Definitely a draw in the size category.

Paint:  I'm a fan of Hot Wheels Spectraflame paint, but Topper's color is a bit richer, making Mattel's gold paint look like Fools Gold.  In the paint category, the Topper wins.

Metal Body Detail:  The Topper has more body contour than the Mattel.  The Native American Thunderbird symbol is actually cast in relief on the B pillar, just like on the real car.  The roof has a contour line, the trunk and hood has air body vents on it and there is an actual gas cap.  The Mattel's body is nice, but there aren't even door line markings, while the Topper has handles...  The only place where the Mattel scores points is in the hood scoop - where the Mattel looks more bad-ass...  Easily, this category again goes to Topper.

Grill and Light Detail:  This category is close, but Mattel eakes out a win, with the Thunderbird symbol being cast in relief on the grill, and an actual license plate bracket on the rear.  Everything else about the grill and light detail is nice for both cars - with nice metal relief cross-hatching on the grills, and a cast metal AND painted in backlight.

Base Detail:  Both bases are metal and have a lot of detail for the time, but the Mattel has more.  Winner - Mattel.

Opening Features:  The Topper has to win in this category - with opening doors AND an opening hood, though the engine detail is certainly nicer in the Mattel.

Interior:  Again, the Topper wins - in part since the opening doors allow you to see more of the interior.  But even so, the Topper has more interior detail.  Advantage - Topper.

Ride:  The Hot Wheels has an actual suspension - giving a soft and silky ride.   The Topper feels suspension-less - giving an easy (and important) win to the Hot Wheels...

Overall score:  With Topper taking 4 of the 6 six categories, it's hard to argue that Topper should win overall.  That's the way it should be.  If I hadn't looked at it by category, I would have still given the win to Topper.  But the Mattel model is still a very nice model! 

It's nice that the winner is (slightly) cheaper.  But the Topper Redlines are VERY hard to find.  When you DO find one, make sure that you get the one with opening doors... 

The last couple of photos show the other T-Bird models:

In the one to the right, I show the Playing Mantis re-make of Topper's Custom Thunderbird (in purple).  This model stays pretty true to the original, but loses the opening doors and the vintage appeal.  It's a nice model for $3-5, released in the late '90s, and has nicer paint and a smoother ride than the original.  But I still heavily prefer the   authentic Topper Johnny Lightning!  I also include Hot Wheel's Authentic "Spoiler" version of the T-Bird - now called the "TNT Bird" - in dark red.  This casting is the "Custom T-Bird" casting, but with a blown engine and no hood.  It's a great model - a favorite of mine.  While I like all of the Spoiler cars, this T-Bird is definitely one of my favorites!  Unfortunately, the Spoilers are no cheaper than the regular cars - you'll pay dearly for this model!!!

Finally, I show a few other color variations of Mattel's custom T-Bird and Mattel's TNT Bird!