Start(rek)ing off 2016 Wonderfully!

Hope you’re enjoying the quirky little pun in the title. It’s explained in the update. But first, a little housekeeping duty:

While briefly reviewing some of our site’s pages, I discovered much to my shock that the map graphic had disappeared from our About page. It wasn’t much, basically a line drawing, but I put in on the page as a courtesy to you Faithful Visitors. Don’t know when or why it vanished, but I have redrawn it, and it’s there now for your visual edification.

Now, onto the photos!*

*(Happy New Year, by the way!)

January 2016

Yes, starting 2016 off right means startrekking it off right, as in Star Trekking (you know, across the universe); and it’s all thanks to Tom. As you february recall, at our May 2015 meeting — No, wait, sorry: As you may recall, at our February 2015 meeting, Tom bought several Hamilton plates from me, to decorate his brother’s man-cave. I brought three more in for our December meeting; however, Tom was unable to attend, so I held them over for January. Tom attended, and bought all three. The first plate is the Deep Space Nine space station:

As seen on ''Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"

As seen on ”Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”

Next is the “original series” Klingon battle cruiser:

As seen on ''Star Trek''

As seen on ”Star Trek”

And finally, the Eagle Lunar Module used during the Apollo 11 space flight:

As seen on ''How I Met Your Mother''

As seen on ”How I Met Your Mother”

Unlike the February meeting (when I embarrassingly got it backward), this time I photographed the plates first, and then boxed and taped them up for Tom:

As seen on ''The FedEx Half-Hour Comedy Hour''

As seen on ”The FedEx Half-Hour Comedy Hour”

If you’ll recall from our July ’15 update, I teased this M2 Machines car hauler offered by Big Tractor Mike. It’s a chase version, with an exclusive VW Type 2 tucked inside like a delicious nougatty center (he said metaphorically). Tom, as Suncoast Diecasters‘ Viscount of VWs, finally added it to his own collection.

Pictured: A metaphor

Pictured: A metaphor

What I didn’t notice back in July is this exclusivity call-out on the top of the box. I had already packed away my camera before I spotted this, so I took this shot with the humble little convenience camera built into my phone.

Technical note: ''640 X 480'' is smaller than ''4.1 Megapixels''

Technical note: ”640 X 480” is smaller than ”4.1 Megapixels”

Tom continues VW’ing with this rare, odd gem. It too is a Type 2, commercial panel version, from Lledo’s  “Days Gone” series. What makes it odd is the Nescafé illustration featuring an unidentidied but gallant fellow I have dubbed “Sir Nescafé”.

M'lady's coffee is served!

M’lady’s coffee is served!

In trying to identify our handsome chap, I’ve found a couple of other collectors’ photos of this model with this illustration, but I haven’t found any data on the character himself. The Nescafé home site itself proved useless in this regard; worse, it seems to think it’s Windows 8. However, the Taster’s Choice history page states that Nescafé was developed in Nestlé’s Swiss labs. So, perhaps our bon vivant‘s design — and this is strictly a guess — is loosely based on the uniform of the Swiss Guard.

This is good coffee. You can trust a man in pantaloons.

This is good coffee. You can trust a man in pantaloons.

Good friend Ed put in a rare appearance at our January meeting, and he brought wide array of cars. From him I bought this ’57 Chevy in sweet Hot Wheels livery, and this Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. I have an OMWmobile, loose. I don’t think I have one still on its card, so snagging this one from Ed was an easy decision.

Did I say sweet? I meant sweeeeet!

Did I say sweet? I meant sweeeeet!

There are no circumstances under which this toy is not cool.

There are no circumstances under which this toy is not cool.

From Big Tractor Mike I bought this beautiful Super Coupe from Kenner’s Fast111s line. This model is in near-perfect condition, even to the point of not having any adhesive residue on the license plate blank. While all KF1s are rare, this one is moreso, as this is only the second one I’ve seen. (And yes, I own the other one also.)

Classic hot rod styling: A massive power plant and a vintage body.

Classic hot rod styling: A massive power plant and a vintage body.

Can you believe this?!!? Big Tractor Mike gave me a lump of coal! Da noive!!!

I suppose next year he'll give me a waffle iron.

I suppose next year he’ll give me a waffle iron.

Okay, perhaps this is a clue: The embossed Matchbox logo. In the mid-2000s, Matchbox issued “Coal Cars”, Christmas-themed cars hidden inside “lump of coal” shells. So, which Matchbox car did I find inside this RAOK?

Because you strike matches on coal.

Because you strike matches on coal.

HA! It’s actually a Bertone Runabout Concept, by Corgi, repurposed as the Wonder Woman-mobile. This is an exceptionally cool gift from BTM, in that the Runabout is a very rare model. Although, that may in fact be an inaccurate statement as I now own four of them, including another WW car.

Sleek, futuristic styling!

Sleek, futuristic styling!

Now, those of you who are staring at the near front-on shot in the lower half of the above photo, not quite understanding what you’re seeing, having difficulty with what your eyes are asking your brain to interpret, let me clear things up for you. This is exactly what you’re seeing:

Wonder Woman, as portrayed by Nicolas Cage.

Wonder Woman, as portrayed by Nicolas Cage.

Back in August, Doug brought in a retro-repro Sizzlers track set. Well, for our January meeting he upped his game, and his technology, by bringing in this Anki Overdrive race set. He got it for his son for Christmas, then thought better of it and brought it in for us to play with.

Yes, another post-packing phone photo

Yes, another post-packing phone photo

Before we get to the video (yes, your Humble Webmaster dutifully shot some race footage), I want to point out the one thing I consider a significant drawback in the Anki concept: it requires a smart phone to actually operate it; there is no separate controller device for the vehicles. I know many folks have smart phones these days, but I would suggest to Anki that they develop a stand-alone controller, because I think that would increase their market share.

Okay, needling little rant over; onto the race! In the opening segment, the cars seem to be going very slowly. In fact, they are, because they’re “learning” the track (leading Doug and myself to conjecture that there’s a filament (or something) embedded in the track sections to which the vehicles respond). Once the track is learned, the cars automatically pull up to the starting line, and the race may begin.

Overdrive combines the control of slot cars, the rechargeable ease of Sizzlers and both the interactivity and weapons options of video games. Enjoy the video!

SD in: Overdrive from Suncoast Diecasters on Vimeo.

Notice how, near the end, Ken’s car came to a dead stop? It was “disabled” by a (virtual) weapon on Doug’s car. Neat stuff!

Okay, time for a big reveal. We’re at the end of the update, where you know I always place the Find of the Month item. This time, it’s kind of a two-fer, because it’s also the “mystery Christmas gift” I teased back in December. I hope you like it:

It’s the 1969 children’s book, Hot Wheels — The Fast Cars Book. It’s from the Golden Shape Book sub-set of the classic Little Golden Book children’s series. Note how the top and bottom edges of the book are die-cut to more or less follow the shape of the Hot Wheels logo. Yes, you’re seeing that correctly: an original selling price of 29¢; and that’s no sticker, that’s actually printed — by the publisher — right on the cover. (And, no, my book is not for sale.)

Beloved childhood possession

Beloved childhood possession

I’ll be honest, making this our FotM item is probably a bit self-serving, as this is not something one Suncoast Diecasters member bough from another. Rather, I “found” this by finally opening the right box in my storage unit. There are many toys and other things from my childhood which exist now only as memories in muh brain. This is one I’m very happy to still actually have. I thank the Holy Spirit for the brilliant idea of scanning the pages and converting them into a PDF file, which I then gave to each Suncoast Diecasters member on a CD, labeled with a grayscale image of the cover — thus, the December “mystery gift”. And only to SD members; I’m concerned about copyright, so I will not be selling or otherwise making the CDs available. So, the best I can offer you is this fly-by animated GIF:

A ''Fast Cars'' book requires speed-reading!

A ”Fast Cars” book requires speed-reading!

I love the concept of the book. The first half features shots of HW cars on various track sections, while the second half is an “around the town” visual tale using the Parking Garage and Action City playsets.

2015 ended well, and 2016 has started out well. Looking forward to the first ’16 K-Day event (whenever it is). See you at the February meeting!

~WM

(Hey, I got the January update posted while there’s still a little bit of January left! Points for me!)

Happy St. Valvoline’s Day!

(Note: Please read this article regarding blocked photographs.)

Branding! That’s what it’s all about! I mentioned last month that Ken and his daughter set up a Suncoast Diecasters Facebook page. They use a cropped version of our Fifth Anniversary Club Vehicle ”family photo” as the wallpaper (or banner, or header). It looks so good that I decided to do the same thing for our WordPress blog and our Twitter feed! So now we have a consistent look on all three sites. Or, in BrandingSpeak, “We’ve implemented a unified synergystic visual strategy across multiple social platforms.” It all works so smoothly that you probably didn’t notice the subtle and nuanced joke in the title of this post. Go back and look at the title again. I bet you didn’t even see it.

And now, on to the photos!

Branding!

February 2015

And now, a belated Christmas ditty, just for you:

Four Star Trek plates
A Three Stooges plate
Two Simpsons plates
And a box nabbed from Big Tractor Mike

'Cause I didn't feel like unboxing & untaping them after Tom bought 'em from me.

‘Cause I didn’t feel like unboxing & untaping them after Tom bought ’em from me.

Seriously, the above plates are from my collection of Hamilton Collection plates. And yes, they are from our February meeting, not from Christmas. Tom got them for his brother’s ”man-cave”. Had them taped and boxed a good half-hour before I realized I should’ve photographed them.

Along with various assorted sundry cars, Big Tractor Mike also bought these items from me: Alien poster puzzle (3′ from top to bottom when completed); 8” Gizmo and 12” Stripe figures from Gremlins; and the V alien visitor action figure.

Explain to me again how LJN went out of business?

Explain to me again how LJN went out of business?

When I pulled this out of storage, I was surprised to see that the human mask was still in its little bubble. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t even once try the “pop the mask on/pop the mask off” gimmick. So I slid the inner cardboard  “tray” out of the box, and discovered a slit paralleling the rear border of the bubble. Clearly, I had in fact taken an X-acto knife to the bubble specifically so’s I could test-fit the mask. Takes away from collector value, of course, but least it’s less damage (and less obvious damage) than simply ripping the bubble off the tray.

And it makes a better presentation than having the mask flopping around loose inside the box.

And it makes a better presentation than having the mask flopping around loose inside the box.

This is a bittersweet thing for me. I’m glad BTM bought it; I know for certain in my possession it would’ve only spent more years buried in storage. But in rediscovering the V figure, I also rediscovered yet another long-gone, classic element of the American fabric: Zayre. Along with such names as K-mart, McCrory, and Woolworth/Woolco, Zayre meant a wide variety of products and brand lines at very attractive prices. Zayre was sold to Ames in 1988, which at the time I found amusing, in that they literally “went from Z to A” in rebranding (Branding!) the chain. Ironically, Ames itself went out of business in 2002. Ah, well; before moving on, perhaps you could take another look at Zayre.

*--Sigh--*

*–Sigh–*

If you’ll recall, the day of our February meeting was also the same da— What? Oh. Yes, yes, I hear you. Fine. Here you go. Enjoy:

Well, that's just adorable.

Well, that’s just adorable.

Anyway. If you’ll recall, the day of our February meeting was also the same day as the K-day event. Again not impressed with the “special colors” models, I went through my case merely to see what caught my eye. I very happily came away with the Treasure Hunt version of Jet Threat 4.0; the new green version of Speed Dozer (I think this green is much more aggressive than the original “construction” yellow); Speed Slayer, a new, “salt flat racer“-style model; and my favorite of the four, the Mooneyes-branded (Branding!) Custom ’77 Dodge Van. Yep, much as I dig wild customs, my fave this time ironically is the mundane corporate roller.

Yet I still can't find ''Moongaloonie'' on the 'Net.

Yet I still can’t find ”Moongaloonie” on the ‘Net.

Ken purchased this RLC ’64 Ford Falcon Sprint from me, and was embarrassed about it because his “make offer” price was less than what I originally paid for it. I told him he should be happy, because 1) he got an RLC model at a discount, and 2) he alleviated me of one more thing to have to re-pack at the end of the day.

Well, Ken bought the upper one; I kept the lower one. Huh?

Well, Ken bought the upper one; I kept the lower one. Huh?

Speaking of Ken (see previous paragraph): What’s in the box, Ken?

Spoiler alert!

Spoiler alert!

Oh, here’s what’s in the box: a Chevrolet van, by El Junioro de Corgi. A little spanish lingo for you there, because this is actually a Brazilian import. Industria Brasiliera, by KIKO. You can find out more about KIKO by visiting Gary’s Cars.

It's a Varig nice miniature! (AND THE COMEDY NEVER STOPS!)

It’s a Varig nice miniature! (AND THE COMEDY NEVER STOPS!)

So who or what is Voe Varig? Well, after extensive research (at Wikipedia), I learned that Varig was Brazil’s primary international airline. And it still is … sort of. After reorganization, the company was split into two separate companies known informally as “old” Varig (which has since folded) and “new” Varig which is fully integrated into GOL Intelligent Airlines. Considering the logo, and the toy’s age, this seems to refer to the “old” Varig. (“Voe” is the Spanish imperative for “go”, as in “Go Greyhound!”)

An oldie but a goodie. No, not Hot Wheels' ''Oldies But Goodies'' series; look, you know what I mean.

An oldie but a goodie. No, not Hot Wheels’ ”Oldies But Goodies” series; look, you know what I mean.

It’s extremely rare to find a Hot Wheels backer that’s been autographed by the designer. For example, this is not one of those. I don’t know whose signature that is, but it didn’t stop Bill from buying it. (I find it quaint that three examples of the “fastest cars on the roads” are lumbering construction vehicles.)

Collect them all! All six of 'em!

Collect them all! All six of ’em!

Okay, here’s the real scoop: it’s actually a double-rare find by Bill. Rare once in that it’s a Leo production (from India), and rare the second time in that it’s still on the card. I’ve seen Leos loose, and I’ve even seen one in a box (like the Corgi above); this is the first time I’ve ever seen a Leo on a traditional-style backer card. Oh, and unpunched, thank you kindly. Can’t even find any definitive info on Leo online. Very happy to declare this our Find of the Month for February.(*)

Yes, I'd say ''limited edition'' is quite accurate.

Yes, I’d say ”limited edition” is quite accurate.

See you at the March meeting!

~WM