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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Interesting Cars

The wonderful thing about having my own Matchbox Diecast Blog (go "Matchbox Frenzy!"), is that I can talk about all of the fascinating elements of diecast collecting that I can't talk about with anyone else except for you!

Hot Corgi Wheels:

About 15 years ago I started noticing a few new odd How Wheels castings. I'm not sure how I knew that they were odd - but they just looked different than the normal new Hot Wheels castings. In fact, a few of them looked like Corgi castings. And it wasn't long before my suspicions were confirmed when I heard that Hot Wheels had bought some of Corgi's castings and was reissuing them as Hot Wheels.

I've never gotten a comprehensive listing of which castings were included - but I think it includes a Porsche 911 (yellow or silver - slightly larger than 1/64th scale), a Ferrari 308 (one of my favorite 'Hot Wheels' castings - and one that Mattel has been re-issuing a lot recently in some of their more expensive Hot Wheels lines), a tow truck, an '80's Mustang (the one that Corgi issued painted with NHL hockey team logos), and of course the '80's Corvette shown on the right.

The white version is the Corgi, the green is the Hot Wheels. Close examination of both the top-side and upside down photos (or the cars themselves if you have your own) leaves the viewer with no doubt that the 2 cars are from the same casting.

The odd thing about these Corgi/Hot Wheels castings is that they were unneccessary for Hot Wheels. In most cases, Hot Wheels already had existing castings of the same cars. For example, the blue Corvette is the photo is the common existing Hot Wheels Corvette casting.

Yellow/Orange Lamborghini Murciolagos:

Shown on the right are 3 similar models of the Murciolago - all in roughly the same crazy yellow/orange color (it is cool that all three are so similar). The first (bottom) is the AutoArt version, the middle is from Tomica, and the top is from Hot Wheels. (In fact the next photo includes 2 additional Hot Wheels Lamgorghinis - again in the same color paint).

Of the three Murciolagos, the Hot Wheels version is my least favorite. It is light and cheap feeling, the paint is less lustrous, and the wheels are the standard Hot Wheels wheels. The Tomica version is nice - but is slightly let down by the starndard Tomica wheels. Of the three, the AutoArt version is the nicest and the most detailed - and one of the few AutoArt models which feel to be in a true Matchbox 1/64 scale rather than being overly small.

Malibu Land Rovers:

Some of the unexpected treasures of my collection are my Malibu models. For those unfamiliar with this toy line - they were displayed in individual plastic boxes at WalMart stores about 2-3 years ago - much the same way that the M2 models are displayed today. Malibu made a number of highly detailed diecast cars, including models of cars not covered by any other diecast makers. After finding (and getting excited about) the models - WalMart stopped stocking the cars a few years ago. I haven't been able to find any new retail outlet for the cars, and there are few mentions of them on the internet or Ebay. If anyone knows where to buy them - please let me know!

Malibu included 3 current Land Rovers in their line - the LR4, the Range Rover Sport (shown in both black and white), and the full size Range Rover. I was thrilled to find them offering both the sport and full size versions of the Range Rover - completely different and realistic castings - and both in the same shade of white.

The next photo includes the VW and Audi SUVs - the Q7 again shown in 2 colors. A few of the models have nice rubber tires - others have cheaper plastic wheels. Not shown are a few other Malibu models that I have, including an Audi A4 cabriolet, an Alfa Romeo, a cheap feeling VW microbus, and a Jaguar XJ8 cabriolet.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Favorite Models Post

Welcome to my First "Matchbox Frenzy" blog posting!

This wasn't supposed to be the first posting - the first one was going to be much more philosophical - detailing the impacts of Matchbox cars on my life - and how they fundamentally improved the entire history of human civilization. But somehow that posting never got much traction under it (I wonder why...) and so instead I'm doing the easier (and more fun) first posting where I discuss my favorite Matchbox models of all time...

So here goes: "Hello Fellow Matchbox Fans!!!"

Comments are welcome - let me know what your favorites are and whether you agree

with mine.

Favorite Toy Car Line/Manufacturer: Given that 75+% of my cars are Matchbox cars, that I love Matchbox cars, and that I would always call myself a "Matchbox Collector", the answer is supposed to be Matchbox! But instead I've got to pick Tomica - who produces such a phenomenol range of Japanese market cars - focusing on ordinary consumer cars rather than just exotic and/or muscle cars.

A few years ago Toyota brought out a slightly freshened version of the Crown/Camry.

Tomica promptly followed suit and brought out a new casting themselves.

The first photo shows 2 versions of the original Crown casting (in silver and police car) along with the newer green version. Next image shows the rear ends of the cars - where the rear lights are the most obvious clues as to the new casting.

Matchbox did this really only once in thier 50 year history (my opinion). It started with the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow - a great casting with the opening trunk - particularly the Transitional Superfast model. When Rolls Royce massaged the design and christened it the Silver Shadow II Matchbox created an entirely new casting - but the end product still closely resembled the original product - especially when painted a similar red. The above photo shows my set of Matchbox Silver Shadows (along with the stray Silver Spur at the top - included since it is again a similar shade of red), both regular wheel and superfast, with a few color variations. My favorite color for the SS II is the light gold one. I also have 2 of the more common silver versions of the SS II - but ran out of time to lay my hands on them. (But I was able to include the blue version... do you like it?).

Another vote for Tomica is their minivan series... I can count on one hand the number of (non-VW-transporter) mini-vans produced by Matchbox and Hot Wheels, but Tomica produces version after wonderful version of mini-vans, updating them almost as often the manufacturers themselves.

Favorite Car from childhood: Matchbox Audi Quattro. The beat-up white one with color blocks - # 20 - was my childhood version. It looks correct this way - aren't rally cars supposed to be scruffy? I think it looks cooler than the mint version beside it. Note also the nasty Maisto copy-cat version (#88). In the photo its a little hard to see how poorly the Maisto version compares to the Matchbox versions - although you can see how the grill/headlights are thicker and less in-scale.

Another favorite was the Matchbox Ruf Trek in brown. Its amazing to see how a body kit and more agressive wheels can transform the plebian Holden pick-up (background of the photo) into the Ruf Treks in the foreground.

Favorite '60's Matchbox car: Superfast Ford Pickup in red. The front one with the missing cap and slightly beat up condition is my favorite - pick-ups are supposed to be beat-up.

Favorite '70's Matchbox car: A tough choice - but at least for right now I'll say the Mercury sedan/wagon police/fire/consumer car... I can't decide which version I like best - probably the red superfast wagon in the foreground.

Favorite '80's Matchbox car: Easy choice - the Mercedes 500SEC AMG. My favorite is the red version with the Laser Wheels on the top rack of the car carrier. Note the 2 black versions in the left of the photo - version on top has the grey headlights/base with the brown interior while lower version has black headlights with the dark interior. Also note the wonderful triple decker Corgi car carrier - a prized element of my collection.

Favorite '90's Matchbox car: Un-decided as of yet - check back in for updates!

Favorite '00's Matchbox car: Mercedes E-Class wagon (not shown). A nice casting in its own right - made even better by the very uncommon metal base. This one will be highly prized in the future! The simple black version is my favorite.

Favorite '10's Matchbox car: Again - a hard choice. But one contender is the Lincoln Navigator (not shown) - I just bought a wonderful light blue version with nice alloy wheels. It came in several colors, including a nice dark blue and an unfortunate early version in maroon with blacked out windows and no interior.

Favorite Hot Wheels Redline: Police/Fire Cruiser. I have a tough time deciding whether Matchbox or Hot Wheels makes the better '60's/'70's fire chief car - especially when Matchbox has 2 cool contenders. But my vote has to go with the Hot Wheels version - it just looks tougher and more menacing.

Favorite '80's Hot Wheels: Lots of potential choices - the Jeep CJ, the Jeep Scrambler, the Dodge Omni 024, the Vanagon Sundowner, the Bronco... I just can't decide.

Favorite '90's Hot Wheels: Undecided...

Favorite '00's Hot Wheels: This was an easy choice (and a tie). When How Wheels brought out the Hot Wheels Classics series, most of the castings were repeats of old castings. But there were 2 in particular that I believe were new and never repeated (at least not in the basic $.99 Hot Wheels line). The Pontiac GTO (shown in 2 shades of red), and the Dodge Dart (shown in multiple colors). I can't figure out why there isn't more collector interest in these 2 models.

Favorite Tomica model of all time: Toyota Crown Athlete in silver (not pictured).

OK - so ends my first ever blog - and the first blog in the Matchbox Frenzy series. Thanks for reading and check back in for my next update!