Kicking the ‘Bucket

If you’ve perused some of Suncoast Diecasters‘ older posts recently, you may have noticed something a bit … odd … about them. In fact, you may even have noticed the smaller oddity to the left, where our SunRacer logo usually resides. It and they have been replaced by a plea from PhotoBucket to update our account to enable 3rd-party hosting.

That term, “3rd-party hosting”, refers to the practice of storing files on one site, then linking to them from, and using them on, another site. Suncoast Diecasters (the 1st party) stores our photos on PhotoBucket (the 2nd party), and we link to them through WordPress (the 3rd party), which hosts our suncoastdiecasters domain name.

PhotoBucket no longer allows 3rd-party hosting without a paid subscription. This, I presume, has to do with the cost of bandwidth. Now, from a business standpoint, I understand this. The “everything on the Internet should be free” business model is a phantom. Nothing is really free; that’s why there are ads on every site. This goes back to broadcast radio. The consumer pays a one-time cost for the radio, then a very small utility fee for electricity (or buys batteries); the programming from the local radio station is free.

Except, it’s not. There is a plethora of costs, and the overwhelming majority of these costs are covered by advertising. It’s the “and now a word from our sponsor” business model. But with the Internet, this is inverted. It’s like a Burger King taking on all the costs of making a large number of burgers all day, only to have someone from a McDonald’s across the street come in, take all those burgers and give them away. (Okay, maybe that’s not a great analogy, but I think you get the point.) When someone views an image on our WordPress site, what’s actually seen is a copy of an image transmitted from PhotoBucket’s servers. Multiply that by a huge number of free accounts times a really huge number of image files, and that’s a whole lot of bandwidth cost for Photobucket. Again, I understand that.

The one problem I have with this change by PhotoBucket is that they’re limiting the 3rd-party hosting option to only their most expensive subscription plan. If they were offering differing levels of bandwidth with the various plans, that would make sense. But to not only restrict that option to just their highest-cost plan, but to also price that plan at a rate which frankly I think is not the least bit competitive with other hosting options available online is, in my humble opinion, an incredibly foolish move.

Another change has occurred relatively recently which initially I found very annoying, but which I now see as a solution. When I added an image to any update or page, I would use that image’s PhotoBucket URL. However, WordPress had begun copying each image into the media library associated with our account, then loading the image from that library rather than directly from PhotoBucket. I found this wasteful, as we now had two copies of each image, taking up space in separate locations. However, as I can upload images directly from my computer to our WordPress library, and insert them from that library (as I have with the most recent updates), I basically no longer need to upload them to PhotoBucket.

So, obviously all future updates will use our WordPress library. The, er, “fun part” will be replacing all the other photos. That is going to take some time; by PhotoBucket’s count, Suncoast Diecasters now has over 1700 image files stored. (And yes, I do have back-ups of all those image files.) To accomplish this, I will have to cut back on the number of photos I post to updates. I’ll still take a good number of photos during our meetings, but I’ll have to be much more selective in which ones I actually use, so that I can then spend some time updating the older posts. Be patient, my friends; this will be a long ride, but your appreciation of our site makes it worthwhile.

June swoons in Summer Slowdown

It’s Summer, which means the kids are out of school, and parents have the opportunity/obligation to keep them entertained and busy. Family vacations, summer camp, the great abundance of sci-fi, superhero and CGI cartoon movies out this season, etc., etc.

All of which cost money. Meaning there’s sometimes little or no money left for other activities. Case in point: our June 2017 meeting. Neither one car nor one coin traded hands.

But, that does not mean the meeting wasn’t fun. In fact, this was one of our best meetings for friends just being friends, gabbing and reminiscing. For example, I spent quite a bit of time talking with both Robs Elder and Younger about such topics as Major Matt Mason and ZaAt.

And yes, we do have some photographs for you. Please enjoy:

June 2017

Doug once again gets down on the farm by bringing in two more hay haulers. The left’n is an Ertl model, while the right’n is another 3-D printed production. The “bales” are static grass glued to wood chips.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

This is the undercarriage of the 3-D model. As I was setting up the photo, Doug mentioned that I had set it upside down. I did that intentionally, because I want you to see the impressively complex steering linkage.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

Doug also brought in these true 1/64th-scale concrete masonry units. They’re also 3-D printed. Doug intends — as I understand it — to cover the lower portion of a building model with these. I don’t recall the exact number, but I think the word thousand was in his description somewhere.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

As no buyin’, sellin’ nor tradin’ occurred, I decided to photograph a few choice items from Big Tractor Mike’s table. This is the Indy Eagle. It was produced only in 1969, for the Grand Prix series. Further, it is based on a real racing vehicle.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

This is Mantis. Designed by Ira Gilford, and produced only in 1970. That is, this original version with opening canopy and partially-exposed engine was produced only in 1970. This model went through a couple of redesigns and several name changes over the decades.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

This is Power Pad, also designed by Ira Gilford, and produced only in 1970. There isn’t much information available about this model. It seems to be a stylized Jeep or dune buggy, topped by an equally stylized camper shell. It also features an exposed transverse engine.(Interestingly, the transverse engine was introduced way back in 1899!)

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

A change of pace here. Suncoast Diecasters‘ tables feature not just toy vehicles but playsets and media-related items as well. This is the toy set released by Corgi for the TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. I have to compliment Corgi here. The shuttle-like craft that Rogers piloted was named Ranger 3. Corgi could’ve just renamed their existing shuttle miniature as that, but instead used a proper shuttle name. It perhaps disconnects the set from the show a bit, but they earn a point for honesty.

The movie was released in 1979; Columbia's first launch was in 1981, so it's clearly for the TV show.

The movie was released in 1979; Columbia’s first launch was in 1981, so it’s clearly for the TV show.

Another vintage price tag. I have no idea what CW / CP means; can’t think of any stores with those initials. It could simply be a clearance tag, as clearance tags are often yellow. If you have any info on this, please post it in the Comments.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

Big Tractor Mike set this Matchbox behemoth in front of me, clearly wanting a photograph of it. It’s a King Size-series model, the DAF Car Transporter, model no. K-11. This model was produced from 1969 through 1975. What I particularly like about this model is the inclusion of “working” hydraulic lifts on the deck.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

Here we have the curiously mis-named Shelby Turbine. Another design by Ira Gilford, again for the Grand Prix series as was the Indy Eagle. This model fared a little better, in that it was produced from 1969 through 1971. The flowing body lines, accented by the camera angle, impart a nice fluid feel to the image. This is my favorite photo in this set.

Composition!

Composition!

See you at our July meeting! (…Which is tomorrow!)

~WM

May 2017 Update

Well, I intended to have this update posted by Memorial Day, certainly before the end of the month. I actually had Memorial Day off, as did many Americans. However, that Sunday afternoon a supervisor called me and advised me that the truck schedule had been changed. The truck was in fact coming in on Monday, so I had to be there.

Obviously this necessitated the shuffling of priorities, and some things were de-prioritized, this update in particular.

This update has fewer photos than usual, because I had to leave the meeting early to attend a friend’s graduation. So, with no further ado, let’s get to the photos!

May 2017

We start off this update with a shout-out to Doug, who RAOK’d me with yet another McTimeMachine! With my own original, and the one I got from Big Tractor Mike back in March, that’s three of just this variation alone.

My DeLorean collection is growing by leaps and bounds!

My DeLorean collection is growing by leaps and bounds!

Here we have the Midas Monkey, the Hot Wheels toy based on the car designed by Gas Monkey Garage for Mattel to make into a Hot Wheels toy. (Feel free to diagram that sentence and get back to me on it.) This specific one features some customizations by a guest from the old Hot Nutz Club (the precursor to Suncoast Diecasters), not the least of which are the redline Real Riders in place of the stock FTEs.

And right now you're thinking, "But - but it's still inside the blister!". Yes; yes, it is.

And right now you’re thinking, “But – but it’s still inside the blister!”. Yes; yes, it is.

Back to Doug again. He brought in this hand-crafted hay hauler so’s BTM could fit it with some replacement chains. Did I say hand-crafted? Yes, indeed. The undercarriage is 3D-printed, and the chains are of course metal. But the floor and cage structure are all cut, painted, stained and assembled by Doug.

Young man with a hobby.

Young man with a hobby.

This is a Ferrari 512 M, by Solido, at 1/43-scale, from Bob’s collection.

The spoiler on this model is adjustable.

The spoiler on this model is adjustable.

If you’ll recall, back in May of 2014, Bob brought in a nice selection of Gran Toros vehicles. Gran Toros were a line of 1/43-scale cars sold in Italy by Mebetoys under the brand name Sputofuoco (“Spitfire”). Mattel bought Mebetoys, and re-branded (Branding!) the line as Hot Wheels / Gran Toros. They also introduced Hot Wheels models Twin Mill, Silhouette and Mantis into the line. (Yes, at 1/43-scale.)

This is a Porsche Carrera 10. This is actually a pre-Mattel model. It bears the Mebetoys name and logo on the base.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

…And here we have the piece of resistance, a model that’s actually branded as Mattel. In fact, this one is branded like some people get tattoos: Mattel, Mebetoys, Sputafuoco, Hot Wheels and Heisse Räder.

That's, like, *all* the markets.

That’s, like, *all* the markets.

This is the Chevrolet Astro II. And no, it’s not just a Mebetoys fantasy model. It’s based on the actual Chevy concept vehicle.

Yes, its spare and cover are missing. This does *not* subtract from the model's cool factor.

Yes, its spare and cover are missing. This does *not* subtract from the model’s cool factor.

Oddly enough, considering the few photos in this update, I had a bit of time choosing among them for our FotM. In the end (or, at the end, which is where we are), I decided on the Astro II. Older Hot Wheels models are by definition rare. To have a model which is from a native 1/43-scale import line, with frankly a somewhat misunderstood history, and yet is nonetheless legitimately branded as a Mattel / Hot Wheels product, is to have a model that is truly among the rarest of the rare. Congratulations, Bob!; your Gran Toros Chevy Astro II is Suncoast DiecastersFind of the Month(*) for May of 2017!

See you at our June meeting!

~WM

April 2017 Update

We’re too close to our May meeting to waste time on a silly intro. Get to the photos!

April 2017

Well, I done it again. Big Tractor Mike had eight of these shiny Holiday hay-haulers, and I arranged them in what I thought would be a good presentation: four across, in two rows. When I offloaded the photos and began editing, I realized that at the size I use here on the site, that 2-by-4 photo would provide only postage-stamp sized tractors (further, several had bad glare). So instead I chose the best-looking one of the bunch to showcase.

Just reload the page seven more times to get what I was going for.

Just reload the page seven more times to get what I was going for.

Similar good concept/poor execution with these loose baubles. The upper portion of the photo is as I intended; however the holiday call-outs on the cab roofs are illegible. So, I zoomed, rotated and cropped them to provide the legible lower labels.

Composition! Plus a wee bit o' alliteration!

Composition! Plus a wee bit o’ alliteration!

All this leads up to this miniature yet massive dealership lot BTM set up. You can almost see teensy people shopping and kickin’ some tires.

Come on down to Big Tractor Mike's. Hot Dogs and free balloons for the kids.

Come on down to Big Tractor Mike’s. Hot Dogs and free balloons for the kids.

And for those of you who are hoping for just such a thing, here is another view of the sweet showroom model which turns a collection of toy tractors into an attractive diorama.

Naming rights available. Contact BTM for details.

Naming rights available. Contact BTM for details.

Surprisingly, one of BTM’s tractors has a pull-back motor. Several of us had fun with the thing, then I got the bright idea to film a demonstration of it. (The demonstration being that filming it this way was as fun and silly as I hoped it would be.)

Tractor Power from Suncoast Diecasters on Vimeo.

And yes, I did the “video shuffle” as described in last month’s update.

For the last few years, the Happy Meals Hot Wheels models have been rather hit-n-miss (IMHO). Sometimes they’re quality diecast models worthy of mainline status. Sometimes they’re plastic but still well-designed. And sometimes they’re just cartoonish toys suitable only for children and hard-core completists. In this case, Ken scored well with this model he bought from Ed.

This, as you will see, is a sweet treat.

This, as you will see, is a sweet treat.

Turns out it’s a stylized Studebaker Wagon. Also features some serious firepower poking up through the hood. Yes, it’s all plastic; nonetheless it’s very attractive and would complement any collector’s display. Ed actually had two of these, but someone else got to the second one before I did.

Quoth the Huntsman: "Darn the luck, darn!"

Quoth the Huntsman: “Darn the luck, darn!”

Ken (Original Ken, to be precise) also nabbed this clean reissue of the Mongoose funny car. In beautiful condition, Real Riders, and of course it still does its trick:

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

Now here, we get to some serious, serious metal. Big Tractor Mike bought this Big Metal Model from Ed. This is an MG T-series roadster (minor design inaccuracies prevent me from identifying which specific T-series model). It’s large, about 9″ long. Based on the body lengths stated in the Wikipedia article, that puts it at right around 1/16th-scale, which interestingly enough happens to be a scale associated with Live Steam modelling.

This would look great in a 1/16th train diorama.

This would look great in a 1/16th train diorama.

Aside from paint wear, the car is in good shape, and seems to be complete.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

The model is a product of the Hubley Manufacturing Company. So, this is not only a great model, it’s also a memento of that golden age when American toy companies actually made their toys here in America.

I'm-a pour out a wax bottle of soda for my homies.

I’m-a pour out a wax bottle of soda for my homies.

And speaking of serious metal, how about some terrific tin? This is a USCG “duck” amphibious truck, and is an example of classic Japanese tin lithography toy-making. “Tin litho” has been around for over a century, with manufacturers in several countries, but it wasn’t until after WWII and the “sci-fi” craze of the 1950s that Japanese tins toys — particularly space and sci-fi themed toys — really took off in America.

Poor focus included at no extra cost to you.

Poor focus included at no extra cost to you.

This long-ended eBay listing gives some detail about this model, for example, that it has a friction motor. This is typical of such toys: One or more actions are available via either friction or pull-back, wind-up, or battery power.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

That listing also mentions the box. Here’s a nice photo of it, which you may find pinteresting.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

This model is by Daiya, which I could find precious little information about online. In fact,the one page that says anything significant about the company barely says more than that the company was founded in the ’50s, was active from the ’50s through the ’70s, then disappeared.

Thanks for coming through again, Internet!

Thanks for coming through again, Internet!

Well, okay, YouTube does provide some fun.

So here we are at the end of the update, and it’s time for the declaration I always make at the end. And this time, I have the great privilege of having double the privilege. Yes, for only the third time in Suncoast Diecasters‘ 10-year-plus history, I am very happy to announce Dual Finds of the Month(**): The Hubley MG roadster, and the Daiya USCG “duck” amphibious vehicle. Congratulations, Big Tractor Mike, you’ve done very well! And so did you, Big Tractor Mike!

See you at our May meeting!

~WM

March Update, brought to you by Windows 10

No kidding there. My old laptop was a WinXP model. Support for that OS ended in 2014, and support for the various programs I was running on the laptop naturally dwindled over time. I have finally bought a new Win10 model, and I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks by turns either beating Windows into submission or flailing about helplessly at its ingrained obstinance.

After installing a better browser and security software, uninstalling bundled junk, installing importantly useful software such as my drafting program, uninstalling more bundled junk, installing my camera and printer, uninstalling even more bundled junk, etc.,etc., I finally have the thing in a basically useful configuration.

So, get to the photos!

March 2017

Greetings, Citizen! I am looking forward to your assistance in enjoying this March 2017 update. Let’s begin this rousing adventure!

Batman begins...

Batman begins…

Doug bought this 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona Hemi from Big Tractor Mike, as a gift for a very special person.

At 1/64th scale, it's actually a semi demi hemi.

At 1/64th scale, it’s actually a semi demi hemi.

He also bought this Case International planter…

(These are all ERTL models, by the way.)

(These are all ERTL models, by the way.)

…As well as this similar implement.

Which folds out to sleep four comfortably.

Which folds out to sleep four comfortably.

Of course, farm implements to be useful must be attached to a strong, sturdy tractor. Doug has chosen this handsome Allis-Chalmers model.

Nice.

Nice.

BTM added yet again to my collection of DeLoreans with these two offers. First is this sweet Hot Wheels Entertainment-series hover-mode model. I appreciate this one because it’s not only a great variation on the DeLorean theme; it also gives me a MOC model to pair with the one I loosed in September of ’15.

''Hover'' mode, or ''really, REALLY parked'' mode.

”Hover” mode, or ”really, REALLY parked” mode.

The other one is this cartoonishly-proportioned Happy Meal prize. And I mean cartoonish in the literal sense, as it’s based on the 1991 BttF cartoon. Which you forgot all about, didn’t you? (Can’t blame ya.)

Hmm ... Time machine looks good with a Big Block.

Hmm … Time machine looks good with a Big Block.

Actually, that “big block” isn’t merely decorative. It houses a friction motor, the flywheel of which has a layer of flint. Which is also why it’s transparent; give the toy a strong-enough push, and the motor will generate sparks to simulate the “time travel” effect:

1.21 Gigawatts! from Suncoast Diecasters on Vimeo.

By the way, this video is raw, unedited and lacking the quirky title and credits typical of our other videos because in designing Windows 10, Microsoft did away with Movie Maker. Just another in MS’s long history of thoughtful and considerate decisions[citation needed]. I still have my old WinXP laptop, so I do still have access to Movie Maker there; it just means shuttling videos to & from on portable storage. If you happen to know a good, safe, simple (and preferably free) video editor & converter for Windows 10, please let me know in the Comments.

And in case you’re wondering what that white object protruding out of the side is (mis-identified by Big Rob as “a wad of gum”), it’s good ol’ Doc Brown himself. Which just proves the adage:

"Some things were not meant to be seen in close-up."

“Some things were not meant to be seen in close-up.”

Speaking of Big Rob: He too also bought some stuff from BTM. Starting with these two Cheetah models by Johnny Lightning. Apparently JL learned well from Mattel that the same model can be re-packaged as a different series to sell it again with otherwise little effort (e.g., my many HW DeLoreans). The red one is “Rebel Rods”, while the green one is “Street Freaks” (cross-referenced with “The Spoilers”).

Toy car collecting: Made for the spreadsheet era.

Toy car collecting: Made for the spreadsheet era.

And finally, Big Rob made the Big Buy from Big Tractor Mike with this Big Scale Batmobile. And I do mean big, as in 1/24th-scale big. It’s by Metals Die Cast, an offshoot of Jada. Sweetly detailed, and elegantly packaged with yon Caped Crusader standing alongside his crime-fighting chariot.

Nana nana nana nana -- Diecast!

Nana nana nana nana — Diecast!

Nicely finished, literally and figuratively, with “trident” exhaust pipes, “batwing” fender flares, and drag ‘chutes on either side of the exhaust nozzle.

Wait, does a turbine engine really need zoomies?

Wait, does a turbine engine really need zoomies?

Even the Boy Wonder is included. He’s in the passenger seat, using the Batphone. He’s probably crank-calling the H.I.V.E. Tower again.

"TRAIN! PAY ATTENTION! MANDATORY MEETING!"

“TRAIN! PAY ATTENTION! MANDATORY MEETING!”

Starring George Reeves as Superman.

Sorry. My mistake. I meant "Starring Ben Affleck as Michael Keaton".

Sorry. My mistake. I meant “Starring Ben Affleck as Michael Keaton”.

Well, there’s no need to recite its thoroughly obvious qualifications. With zero hesitation I happily and readily declare this sweet, super-size Batmobile miniature as Suncoast DiecastersFind of the Month(*) for March 2017. Congratulations, Big Rob!

The small dark rectangular thing is something BTM threw into the deal. Not sure what it is. Candy bar, maybe.

The small dark rectangular thing is something BTM threw into the deal. Not sure what it is. Candy bar, maybe.

See you at our April meeting!

~WM

February 2017

As you might guess, with Gary’s passing there was a bit of a down atmosphere to our February meeting. This was made more palpable by the absence of Original Ken, who was out with the flu, and the news from another member that he had suffered a brief seizure between this meeting and our previous one. (If you would care to pray for our group, that would be appreciated.)

Nonetheless, there was camaraderie, conversation, and trading.

I have moved the post on Gary’s loss to our In Memoriam section.

On a lighter note. I’ve activated a new feature on our site. At the end of every post is a short list of related posts. That list has only been text links; now it features a thumbnail of a random photo from each post in the list.

February 2017

Doug brought in this sweet custom-built storage he found at a flea market. The front panel swings up & latches to lock in the three drawers. He intended to offer it to Original Ken, for to storage his slot-car stuff. Ken (via phone) politely rejected the offer. So, Big Tractor Mike bought it instead. This is all very exciting! Or at least, I thought it was….

You seem board, Doug!

You seem board, Doug!

From Ed, Big Tractor Mike bought this Treasure Hunts-edition ’57 T-Bird for a friend who particularly collects such things.

It's a THunderbird! Get it, ''THunderbird''?

It’s a THunderbird! Get it, ”THunderbird”?

Also from Ed, Big Tractor Mike also bought this compete four-car set of Silver Series II vehicles. Mike was fortunate to get the whole set in shot … unlike how we used to have to do it.

Oscar Mayer? Looks more like an ARMOUR hot dog! (Man, I am good today!)

Oscar Mayer? Looks more like an ARMOUR hot dog! (Man, I am good today!)

I bought this sweet T-Hunt$-edition Classic Packard from Ed. He had several such models, so I set them all together to determine which one looked best. Then I noticed that one of them things is not like them others. One was spectraflame blue, with white-walled chrome-blue DDRRs. Turned out Ed had a Super amongst his plain ol’, everyday, run-of-the-mill T-Hunts (wait, did he really just type that?). Ed’s asking price was reasonable (I know, because I asked), so I added this to my small but feisty collection of T-Hunts.

Not just classic, but classy!

Not just classic, but classy!

From Mike I bought this large Majorette Ford Coupe. It’s been years (if not decades) since I bought a Majorette; the model is cool, and Mike’s price was fair, so I treated myself.

Yes, the cardboard is beaten up. And yes, you are seeing staples.

Yes, the cardboard is beaten up. And yes, you are seeing staples.

Pretty snaZZy-lookin’, wouldn’t you say?

And yes, you are now hearing a ZZ TOP song in your head.

And yes, you are now hearing a ZZ TOP song in your head.

…But you must agree that this, er, “top-down” style is much cooler, with a more aggressive look to it. Also, this at 1/43 scale, which makes it even better. For its sharp, racer styling and powerful look, I declare this model to be Suncoast DiecastersFind of the Month(*) for February 2017.

And yes, I have now run out of funny captions.

And yes, I have now run out of funny captions.

Hey, grab yourself a larger version of the above image.

See you at our March meeting!

~WM

Monkeyin’ around on K-Day!

Huzzah! I am very pleased with the results of yesterday’s K-Day outing: Not one, not two but three Gas Monkey Corvettes!

I found the one in my box, as did everyone (I suppose). While we were still in the first phase of the event, the Box Raffle, another collector who somehow managed to already have several Monkeys handed me one of his. Then, during the second phase, the Feeding Frenzy, another collector handed me another Monkey! Three Gas Monkey customs with almost zero effort on my part? Sure, I’ll go home happy with that!

See no Rawlings, hear no Rawlings, speak no Rawlings.

See no Rawlings, hear no Rawlings, speak no Rawlings.

Now, I understand — Some of you are clutching your chests, writhing on the floor in agony, gasping for someone to call 911, all the while a cry of anguish is screaming in your head: “Why why WHYYYYY did you open the package?!!?” The answer is simple, Mr. Anderson

Because I chose to.

Because I chose to.

Let us all please remember that despite Mattel’s labeling, the original vehicle actually has a real name:

''The Midas Monkey''

”The Midas Monkey”

Chatted with some good folks, and got three awesome cars (or three copies of one awesome car). All in all, a very good day.

*This* is how Hot Wheels cars are supposed to look.

*This* is how Hot Wheels cars are supposed to look.

See you at our March meeting!

~WM