The Grand Gathering of August 2018

I apologize for the lateness of this update. I’ve recently had a cutback in hours at work, so my overriding priority right now is to find a good replacement job. Thus, frivolities such as these club updates take a back seat. (If you happen to know a Tampa Bay area business that’s in need of a hot-rodding creative, please let me know!)

Nonetheless, our August meeting was indeed grand. Good group of people, including a couple o’ members we hadn’t seen in a while. And one stupendous structure.

Hey, get to the photos!

August 2018

Bill does very well for himself by buying this Hot Wheels 20th Anniversary 3-pack. No idea what the CW/CP price tag represents. Circus World, maybe? If you know, share in the Comments!

Twenty years, and only three cars? That's ... not too productive.

Twenty years, and only three cars? That’s … not too productive.

Sorry for the glare and shadows. This is actually the last photo I took, before my camera’s battery went out.

Bill also bought this good-looking Indentor, an entry from the Crack-Ups series. I was hoping to get a really nice photo of it…

*-*-*-*

*-*-*-*

…But unfortunately as I was setting it up, I broke it.

I'm such a bad person.

I’m such a bad person.

A bit of a departure here: Some nose art on a Midnight Otto.

I mean, it's on a door, but still ... nose art.

I mean, it’s on a door, but still … nose art.

Ed was at the meeting. It’s always good to see Ed. He’s a great guy. But I wish he’d bring some stuff to the meetings once in a while. He never brings nothin’!

And I mean -- NUTHIN'!

And I mean — NUTHIN’!

Amongst his nuthin’, Ed had this oddball little fellow.  Threw us all off for a little bit, because we couldn’t ID it. Then we figured out why we had trouble recognizing it…

...Because it usually has a Volkswagen Drag Bus shell wrapped around it.

…Because it usually has a Volkswagen Drag Bus shell wrapped around it.

Mike C. has been absent from the club for the last few months. He made a delightful surprise appearance at our August meeting. Looks good, sounds good. And to make his return complete, he bought some items. A few. You know, three or four.

Some of Ed's nuthin', and some of BTM's nuthin'.

Some of Ed’s nuthin’, and some of BTM’s nuthin’.

Big Tractor Mike bought this set from Ed (leaving him with nuthin’), which features a Batman “action guide”, and three Batman-themed vehicles: one of the over five hundred eighty six variations of the Batmobile; a Joker-themed Evil Twin (a sly choice for comic book aficionados), and a Bane-themed whatever that is.

0201808-004

By day, he’s Big Tractor Mike. By night, he’s the BaTMan! (See what I did there? I hope you see it; it’s very clever.)

Original Ken picked up this lovely Mercedes 350 SL (Majorette, 1/60 scale), which I actually thought he bought at the previous meeting, but no.

Yes, now. Then, no.

Yes, now. Then, no.

Man, I dig those reflections.

Well-appointed interior, and an opening trunk, which is always nice.

Plus a few nicely embossed -- if somewhat overscale -- surface details.

Plus a few nicely embossed — if somewhat overscale — surface details.

And now for the Big Thing of the Meeting: The Grand Barn, a custom hand-built replica of an actual barn, by Doug. I don’t know what scale Doug built it at; nor did I ask him to place his hand in the photo. He was discussing the barn with another member, and just happened to point out a feature right before my camera’s timer fired. A lucky accident, as it gives you some idea of the size of the model.

For additional reference, Doug is 9'12" tall.

For additional reference, Doug is 9’12” tall.

I call it the Grand Barn for several reasons, such as its sheer scale, and its incredible detail.

Click below for sheer scale.

Click below for sheer scale.

Size: 1000 x 486 pixels.

This build is loaded with details.

0201808-010

Details such as the pallet leaning against the wall.

See the small sub-building on the right? It will become important later.

0201808-023

Foreshadowing.

Size: 1000 x 562 pixels.

Note the gleam just off the right of the nose of the contented cow on the left. That’s light reflecting off the artificial water in the trough. Yes, artificial water, a product used to add yet another touch of realism.

The staining around the base of the trough indicates these are some sloppy Santa Gertrudis.

The staining around the base of the trough indicates these are some sloppy Santa Gertrudis.

Note the real metal chain on the post in the above photo. It’s used to shut the open gate in the below photo.

And yes, you *are* seeing an actually lit light.

And yes, you *are* seeing an actually lit light.

Size: 1000 x 536 pixels.

Here’s an interior shot of the upper section, in which you can see some of the amazing detail that Doug put–

Ha! I’m foolin’! This is actually the storage shed in back of the Sports Bar.

Oh.

Oh.

Fooled you twice! It really is a shot of the upper interior, as you can see in this farther-backly photographed photograph.

0201808-017

And if you still doubt me, compare the light spill between the boards in both pics. You’ll see they match.

Size: 1000 x 882 pixels.

How’s this for detail? Lightning rods!

Not to mention that double-hung window.

Not to mention that double-hung window.

More evidence of Doug’s attention to detail: Each piece of this door is hand-cut, and the hinges work.

0201808-018

It’s also evidence of his patience: That door is *barely* the size of a postage stamp.

Remember that sub-building I mentioned earlier? I wanted a shot of the interior detail, so I set my camera on the table with the lens just outside its door. Didn’t turn out as I’d hoped.

No idea how I got a nicely focused shot of the far fence *and* light smear like someone kicked my camera.

No idea how I got a nicely focused shot of the far fence *and* light smear like someone kicked my camera.

I knew I had to try again while I still had some battery. So I reviewed my camera settings, pushed the camera’s lens into the door, and hit the button…

…Ten seconds later, I got the shot. The modified flash setting lit up the interior details nicely while also creating rich shadows, and you can still see that the lights are lit.

Let me emphasize: This shot was taken with my camera's lens *inside* the doorway.

Let me emphasize: This shot was taken with my camera’s lens *inside* the doorway.

Impress yourself with Doug’s amazing detail by clicking the link below:

Size: 1000 x 750 pixels.

For its  size, its realism and its astounding and near-overwhelming quality of detail, Big Tractor Mike and I declare Doug’ custom hand-built Grand Barn to be Suncoast DiecastersFind of the Month(*) for August 2018! Many congratulations, Doug!

See you at our September October meeting!

~WM

Advertisements

February, featuring fabulous fotos!

Alliteration, boys and girls. It’s known as alliteration.

Thus, with such a delightfully educational intro, let’s get right to the photos!

February 2018

We start off with this great Baja Breaker variation (courtesy Big Tractor Mike; photo by Original Ken). This is “Motocross Team”, part of the Scene Machines series.

1979 was a very creative year.

1979 was a very creative year.

Next is this 1978 Holden Pick-Up (courtesy Big Tractor Mike; photo by Original Ken).

...Which is *not* 1977's '56 Hi-Tail Hauler(!).

…Which is *not* 1977’s ’56 Hi-Tail Hauler(!).

I have to say, I am very impressed by the level of detail on these bikes.

They even went so far as to give them different numbers.

They even went so far as to give them different numbers.

O’Ken goes big-time with this 1/24th-scale John Force funny car by Winner’s Circle from BTM. Unboxing it for these photos was quite a project. I think it took Ken about ten minutes!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The chassis and everything else is plastic; the body shell is surprisingly heavy metal.

And now presenting: Another New Feature! BTM asked me if it was possible to have the post photos (which I’ve standardized to 550 pixels wide) link to larger versions. There are in fact several methods; but the easiest option seems to be to use something WordPress offers: the Gallery.

Now, generally speaking, each of these posts, with its collection of photos, can be considered a gallery. But WordPress’ gallery function is a browser script which provides an interactive display. In fact, the slideshow, which I first used in August of 2017, is a variation in the gallery settings. I created larger photos here, some as wide as 1,000 pixels. I then chose various display settings (in this case, three columns of circular previews), and inserted the gallery.

To view the larger images, simply click on any preview. This will open the gallery to that image. You can then go from one photo to the next using the left and right arrows (screen or keyboard). To exit the gallery, click the X near the upper right corner, or press the Escape key. Enjoy! (And post your opinions on this new feature in the Comments.)

BTM has been having trouble with his e-mail, so I’ll have to wait for him to post info about these models in the comments.

As I’ve mentioned before, when it comes to our Find of the Month item, often one model just stands out; yet sometimes I have to choose between two. I have in fact done dual FotMs. But this meeting was unique, in that I honestly was equally impressed with all the models.I have chosen to forego “multiple” FotMs, because I think that’s a bad precedent. So I carefully reviewed the photos, and one finally began to draw me in. So, for its working gate, its real metal chains, and its beautiful hand-cut wood siding, this custom by Doug for BTM is Suncoast DiecastersFind of the Month(*) for February 2018.

Not your typical Woodie.

Not your typical Woodie.

See you at our March meeting!

~WM

December 2017!!!

A holiday family gathering…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With appropriate musical accompaniment…

So, let us get to the photos!

(Oh, and our Calendar has been updated for 2018.)

December 2017

Our Christmas bonus for 2017 came in the form of a new member. We have Original Ken and Emergency Back-up Ken, and now along with Big Tractor Mike we have a bonus Michael! He’s a friend of BTM, and brought in some handiwork. The green-&-white tractor is BTM’s; Michael fixed the wheels and axles of it for him. The silver tractor is Doug’s, and Michael cut some clear plastic sheeting to make windows for its cab.

By the way, both models are 1/64th-scale.

By the way, both models are 1/64th-scale.

Michael also made the tanks. They were plain cardboard tubes with plastic endcaps. He painted them white, then bent thin steel rods to make the pipes.

-*-*-*-

-*-*-*-

Who’s that handsome fellow hiding in there?

Not it!

Not it!

Clearly that’s Doug’s tractor. But the real point here is not who’s hiding, but where the hiding is happening:

The broad side of a cliché.

The broad side of a cliché.

This is another custom build by Doug for BTM. I don’t recall what specific type of structure it is (I’m still a-waitin’ for an informative e-mail), but even though Doug says it’s not yet finished, I can tell you it’s really quite impressively detailed.

-*-*-*-

-*-*-*-

Heck, I’ll even show you!

All pieces hand-cut and hand-assembled by Doug.

All pieces hand-cut and hand-assembled by Doug.

Those square structures above Doug’s tractor are the bottom ends of these square structures.

-*-*-*-

-*-*-*-

I did say it’s impressively detailed, did I not?

Well, actually I typed it, but still...

Well, actually I typed it, but still…

The holiday spirit was flowing freely, as Tom RAOK’d Ken with two wonderful items. The first is this Dale Earnhardt-themed photo album.

(The pockets inside are empty; it's the cover that makes it collectible.)

(The pockets inside are empty; it’s the cover that makes it collectible.)

The second is this magnificent Brickyard 400 commemorative mug.

-*-*-*-

-*-*-*-

In keeping with the holidays, I merrily declare this genuinely wonderful (and wonderfully generous) dual gift to be Suncoast DiecastersDual Finds of the Month(*) for December 2017. Congratulations, Ken! (And thank you, Tom!)

This grumpy old race car I know once told me somethin': it's just an empty cup.

This grumpy old race car I know once told me somethin’: it’s just an empty cup.

See you at our January (2018!) meeting!

~WM

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

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

November 2016

Heavy holiday workload plus paperwork and other fallout from a major personal event prevented me from getting this November update published in a more timely manner. So, once again, no quirky intro. On directly to the photos!

November 2016

Ken asked if I could take a shot of the massive display of cars on a certain table. Attempting to be fancy, I set my camera to “panorama” mode, and took several photos. Unfortunately, it’s been quite a while since I used that mode, and I’m out of practice. I tried modifying the result in the “stitching” utility, to no avail. See that line of blue-boxed Final Run Hot Wheels on the far left? They’re also that hazy blue blur. Those two Jammer cases towards the right? Same case, different angles.

Still: Massive display.

Still: Massive display.

Very near the end of the meeting, Jason bought several Matchbox Super Kings-series tractors and trailers from Big Tractor Mike (thus maintaining his Big Tractor certification). I specify “very near the end of the meeting” because by then I had packed away my camera and tripods. So, I used the camera on my phone. While not as high a resolution as my digital camera, overall these photos came out nicely.

Super Kings...

Super Kings…

Big tractors...

Big tractors…

Catherine. No, wait...

Catherine. No, wait…

Did it again. Got lazy. After lunch, R.D. bought these ten vehicles from Ed. But because it was after lunch, I didn’t feel like shooting each one individually, nor even in small groups. So, I “stacked” them thusly, and took the shot. Result? Too much glare, and no names are legible.

Bad camera person! Bad, BAD!!

Bad camera person! Bad, BAD!!

The following three models, this Custom ’56 Ford F-100, the Packin’ Pacer and the gold Top Eliminator were purchased by Original Ken from Ed. The F-100 is from the 2013 Heat Fleet series (or HW Showroom series, depending on which side of the virgule you prefer).

Pictured: Pristine Purple Preference.

Pictured: Pristine Purple Preference.

This light-blue (no, honestly!) Packin’ Pacer is rare, per Ken. It’s from the 1983 Speed Machines series. I’m impressed by how well-sculpted the door latch is. It looks like a 1/64th-scale person could really grab it and pop that door open.

Packin' Pacer.

Packin’ Pacer.

Also, the exhaust pipes (which may or may not be zoomies), while not hollow, at least were sculpted with a small lip over the flat interior face. Much better than a plain flat end.

.recaP 'nikcaP

.recaP ‘nikcaP

Ken states that it is very rare to find a Top Eliminator in this color in this condition. I believe him. Other than being somewhat “rough around the edges”, this is in great shape. Its gold chrome finish is still gorgeous.

Truly, a golden oldie.

Truly, a golden oldie.

This gold chrome edition of Top Eliminator was only available in 1977 and 1978. This is the ’78 version; you can tell by the AC (Delco) logo on the rear fender. (That would be the little red dot.)

Look! It still does its trick!

Look! It still does its trick!

Ed bought this rare Mercedes Benz model from Big Tractor Mike.

It's rare because it has opening doors.

It’s rare because it has opening doors.

I’m kidding. What makes it rare is that it’s by a Korean manufacturer, King Star. You may note that it also says “Diamond Toymakers” on the backer. I’m making a wild guess that King Star is the brand, and Diamond Toymakers is the manufacturer (much like Hot Wheels and Mattel). I wish I could tell you more, but BTM has no more info, and the Internet has utterly failed to be helpful.

Even the collector sites which specialize in odd, rare and international brands have nothing on this one.

Even the collector sites which specialize in odd, rare and international brands have nothing on this one.

We will return to Suncoast Diecasters‘ November 2016 Update after this brief commercial message:

Even the collector sites which specialize in odd, rare and international brands have nothing on this one.

And now back to our Update, already in progress.

Actually, that’s the top tampo on this tip-top toy, a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air, done up in Crane Cams 50th Anniversary livery. Original Ken bought this from Big Tractor Mike, and is very wise to have done so.

One sweet little ride.

One sweet little ride.

Yes, me know. You like nice close-ups. You good people. Me give you nice close-ups.

See? Nice.

See? Nice.

Now that looks like power:

To quote Rocket Raccoon: "Oh ... yyyeeaaahh!"

To quote Rocket Raccoon: “Oh … yyyeeaaahh!”

Now, at this point you’re probably wondering which item is the Find of the Month. And you may have reasonably guessed it’s the ’57 Bel-Air. If so … you’re half-right. Yes, the Chevy, for its sheer beauty and great value as an anniversary premium, certainly deserves the designation. However, for being so incredibly rare that even the entire Internet can’t find it, I’m also awarding the designation to Ed’s King Star Benz 450. So, for only the second time (rather appropriately) in Suncoast Diecasters‘ history, we have Dual Finds of the Month!(*)

See you at the December meeting!

~WM

Super-Simple Easy-Peasy Diorama

A special final-weekend-of-Summer treat, shared from Jasmine’s Garage:

It’s been quite a long hiatus. But I’m happy to finally be able to show you the results yielded from my extended absence! In this entry, prepare yourself for a long journey through maki…

Source: Super-Simple Easy-Peasy Diorama

1500+ pics!; And, Thanks to all our Followers!

Yes, fellow collectors, it’s true! As of this update, Suncoast Diecasters has set a new record: over fifteen hundred photographs!!! One thousand, five hundred seventeen (1,517), to be exact, all for your viewing pleasure. WHOOO!!!

And as if that weren’t enough, we have serious follower numbers as well: Seventeen people follow us via WordPress; thirty-eight folks follow us through Facebook; and we have a whopping two hundred thirteen followers on Twitter, for a grand total of two hundred sixty-eight (268) followers!

Yes, there are celebrities (and, you know, “celebrities”) with followers in the many multiple thousands. That does not impress me. What does impress me is that, even if you subtract all the members on Ken’s mailing list, this humble little local club still has well over two hundred thirty followers, outside its regular membership.

On behalf of Big Tractor Mike, Original Ken and all the Suncoast Diecasters members, I thank you all for helping us achieve this great social media presence!

So let me say to all you “outsiders”: If you’ll be travelling in Pinellas County, whether on business or vacation, be sure to check our Calendar. If one of our meetings coincides with your trip, stop in and see us. As Original Ken says, “The food here is great, and a good time is had by all!”

Now, on … to … the … PHOTOS!*

*(Just, you know, not all fifteen hundred at once.)

March 2016

We start off with past, present and futurantic, courtesy of Doug. The past is beautifully represented by this classy and well-appointed VW Beetle. The present, by the can’t-be-taken-seriously Smart for Two micro-car. And the future by this passenger plane which … um … has its rotors facing the wrong direction??

Up, up and -- uh ... Eh, it might work....

Up, up and — uh … Eh, it might work….

Oh, I get it. It’s a VSTOL configuration. Vertical/Short Take-Off and Landing, for those of you with acronymophobia. The manufacturer of this particular miniature was thoughtful enough to provide articulation for the rotors. The tampos say “Everest” and “Climber Transport”; while there’s a lot of info online for Everest excursions, I’ve found nothing that specifically features this plane.

All ahead full! And by ''all'', I mean ''both''.

All ahead full! And by ”all”, I mean ”both”.

Mike C. put in a relatively rare appearance, and took out one of our 2015 Club Vehicles, which he missed the fist time. He intentionally chose number 13, reasoning that since Christine is a haunted car, he’d double-down on the spooky factor.

We haven't heard from Mike since, so....

We haven’t heard from Mike since, so….

Mike also nabbed this sweet Construction Crane, still in its sweet original Workhorses-series packaging. The model has a swiveling cab, and the crane boom actually extends.

From that long-gone era known as ''When Mattel Actually Cared.''

From that long-gone era known as ”When Mattel Actually Cared.”

If you’ve been visiting Suncoast Diecasters online with any regularity, you know I rarely pass up the chance to showcase vintage price tags. This is on the back of Mike’s Crane above. I fondly remember the days when Sears actually had a real live toy department. (I find it interesting that mainline models today are typically around $1.09 each.)

Apparently, Mattel saved $0.20 per toy by eliminating the ''working features!'' feature.

Apparently, Mattel saved $0.20 per toy by eliminating the ”working features!” feature.

Ed bought from Big Tractor Mike this Volvo fire engine by Corgi. No scale is stated, but from the model’s size it’s easily in the 1/40s or 1/50s. The clear plastic band is simply a retainer to keep its ladder from flopping about and getting mangled in the packaging.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

I had a little trouble finding a point at which the ladder would actually balance without support, but eventually I was able to get the shot I wanted.

''It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World'': The Home Game.

”It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”: The Home Game.

Yes, Ken again managed to find yet even more garbage trucks. Starting at upper left, the green-on-green is a somewhat generic model by Maisto. The one with the toll-free tampos has no manufacturer’s name, despite the quality of the casting. All of us who’d looked it over at the meeting agree that it must be a promotional give-away item. Finally, the yellow one is a Lotus Europa. More significantly, it’s not a Matchbox; it’s very nice casting by Zylmex.

Which also probably explains why it's a European sports car and not a garbage truck.

Which also probably explains why it’s a European sports car and not a garbage truck.

Well, 1-800-Got-Junk certainly seems to have 1-800-gotten its money’s worth; the brand (Branding!) is all over the miniature. I really enjoy being able to get nice sharp, tight shots like this, even if it is just corporate jetsam.

Hmmm ... I should ask Mike and Ken about franchising Suncoast Diecasters....

Hmmm … I should ask Mike and Ken about franchising Suncoast Diecasters….

Tom bought from Big Tractor Mike this swingin’ double-decker bus. Again, no scale is stated but it’s clearly in the 1/40s or 1/50s. If you look closely at the tampos, you’ll note that this model is not just promotional; it’s self-promotional. Rather self-congratulatory, as well. Curiously, the manufacturer doesn’t quite seem to appreciate its own products. An actual quote from the Shinsei site describes a toy as “a small article of little real value but often prized for some reason.” Well, la-dee-da.

*Not* from the 1970 children's TV show.

*Not* from the 1970 children’s TV show.

Two things about this toy: 1) It is truly a toy. As you can see in this close-up, it’s made of a thick, (relatively) soft plastic; the drooping side mirrors are of a similarly soft material; and the paint on the grill and headlights looks rough. However, 2) overall it’s well-made; it has a surprising gimmick — a pull-back motor; and the manufacturer even thought to include a smart little driver figure. Well-chosen, Tom!

*Not* Cliff Richard from 1963's ''Summer Holiday''. Well, probably not, anyway.

*Not* Cliff Richard from 1963’s ”Summer Holiday”. Well, probably not, anyway.

From Big Tractor Mike I purchased three cool items. First is this Boulevard-series DMC-12. Dressed up a bit more nicely than the mainline DMC-12, and still in its package. By the way, this is the second time you’ve seen my new approach to presenting on-card vehicles; the first was the crane above. Previously I would have a photo of the entire card. With this update, I’ve decided to focus on the vehicle, thus the closely-cropped image. Yet, to demonstrate that there really is a full card, I’ve dropped a postage-stamp sized pic of the whole card onto the car photo.

Let me know in the comments how this works for you.

Let me know in the comments how this works for you.

Next is this way whacked-out DMC-12 Time Machine. Like the bus above, it’s very clearly a toy. But, it’s also unlike any other DeLorean I own. It too has a pull-back motor. I just wish I could source it. Its base states “Universal Studios and U-Drive”; unfortunately, U-Drive returns too many search results, none of which stand out as a source for the toy. And it’s definitely not a Happy Meal prize. Feel free to enlighten me in the comments.

~:~:~:~

~:~:~:~

Its low, drawn-out profile seems to accentuate the rise of the thrusters, so I wanted to see if I could come up with a shot to further enhance that accentuation. For this shot, I set the car on a pool table side rail, and placed the camera below it on the playing surface, with a pad under the front edge to tilt it up. Fortunately, I long ago learned how to use the camera’s timer, so I no longer have to worry about even the slightest deflection from pressing the shutter button. The camera remained balanced on the pad, and I got my shot.

Composition!

Composition!

Finally, the third vehicle I bought from Mike is this exceptionally clean Emergency Van from Kenner’s Fast111s line. This is one of the best-looking examples of the forlorn KF1 series that I’ve ever seen. Aside from a small patch on the license plate blank (and that could a chroming error as much as decal residue), this truck is basically flawless.

*Not* starring Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth.

*Not* starring Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth.

Now, here is something special. This Kool Kombi, which BTM bought from Jim, is not riveted. No, I don’t mean it’s not Rivited. I mean the base is not riveted to the body shell. Unofficially called a “line pull”, it also has treasure hunt wheels and whitewall rubber tires. You want it? Too bad; Mike already sold it.

Pictured: Drinkin' wine, explodee-odee.

Pictured: Drinkin’ wine, explodee-odee.

And here we proudly have our Find of the Month. Yes, this garbage truck. No, it’s not a typo. Yes, yes, I know; our FotM model is usually a wild custom, or a very rare model, or a very rare wild custom. But the workmanship and detail on this model are such that it deserves to be showcased. For example, you can clearly see that the rear section is articulated with “working” hydraulic rams. The thing that looks like a handle is a handle, which operates the hopper inside the rear section. And according to Emergency Back-up Ken, the black piece on top is a run for electrical and hydraulic lines. Original Ken and I have seen that on only one other model.

Yes, this is Original Ken's. Seriously, did I really have to tell you that?

Yes, this is Original Ken’s. Seriously, did I really have to tell you that?

In this animated GIF, you see both the internal hopper and the rear section operate. Yes, the empty hinges mean that one or more parts are missing, but that does not significantly detract from the model’s design quality.

Note also the full array of lights on the upper and lower rear panels.

Note also the full array of lights on the upper and lower rear panels.

This is by RealToy, and Ken figures it to probably be 1/43-scale. It’s based on an actual MAN vehicle, although I’m not able to ID the specific model. The logo states “The City of New York – Department of Sanitation”. Aside from the “toy-like” be-handled hopper, this has the well-crafted, professional appearance of a serious “adult collector” display model. Therefore I find it very easy to declare this our Find of the Month(*) for March 2016.

If you want to drink in its rich details, download the large image below.

If you want to drink in its rich details, download the large image below.

Original size: 1366 x 768

Oh, there’s one more thing about this truck that helped me make the decision to call it our FotM: it too has a pull-back motor. Yes, the clearly-a-toy bus has a PBM; and the very-clearly-a-toy DeLorean has a PBM. Yet, for all its serious and professional-level design quality, the MAN truck features a feature intended to make it an enjoyable plaything as well. This is briefly demonstrated in our latest (and shortest) (and silliest) video below. Enjoy!:

See you at the April meeting!

~WM