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

January, February, Kdayuary

Happy New Year 2017!

And yes, we’re late. A busier-than-expected (and unexpectedly modified) work schedule, a frustratingly difficult home improvement project, and various other things all added up to a pushed-back January 2017 update.

Also, not a lot of activity in this update, as the post-holiday meeting is usually slow for us.

On the other hand, good news: The February 2017 K-mart in-store event and mail-in promo are now on our Calendar!

Oh, and I finally  activated the “Tag Cloud” widget on the left over thar.

Enough delays already! Let’s get to the photos!

January 2017

Hello; I’m a truck.

-:-:-:-

-:-:-:-

Heh. You older readers may very well recognize that as the opening lyric of Red Simpson’s country-western novelty tune, I’m a Truck. And to you younger readers, yes, there really is a song sung from the point of view of a truck. For context, just think of it as Optimus Prime sings There’s a Gear in my Beer.

Bill bought this model from Big Tractor Mike. By the way, “truck” actually has a name.

''Hello; I'm Back Biter.''

”Hello; I’m Back Biter.”

Back Biter is from Hot Wheels’ interesting concept series, Crack-Ups. Each model in this series is gimmicked with a spring-loaded panel which upon impact would unlatch and spin around to reveal simulated damage. This addressed (or attempted to) the playtime conflict of wanting to crash one’s toys without actually causing damage. When done playing, the child (or Bill) could just rotate the panel back.

If only real vehicle damage were so easy to repair.

If only real vehicle damage were so easy to repair.

Crack-Ups models would have the gimmick panel on the rear, front, side or even on top. A “bonus feature”, as it were, of ol’ Back Biter here is that the camper top would also fly off, enhancing the “damage” effect.

See that plastic tab? That's actually the spring which launches the camper top.

See that plastic tab? That’s actually the spring which launches the camper top.

I’ll be honest: When I first saw that tab, I thought it was one of those battery separators … until I remembered that Crack-Ups came out decades before pre-installed batteries in toys were commonplace.

Bill also bought this snazzy boat-&-trailer combo known as Seafire. Well, the boat is Seafire; the trailer has no name.

How 'bout Bottom Biter?

How ’bout Bottom Biter?

In case you’re wondering whether the boat separat– Uh….

Hello, ladies. I'm Dash Handsomely.

Hello, ladies. I’m Dash Handsomely.

For goodness’ sake. Anyway, in case you’re wondering whether the boat separates from the trailer, yes it does. Yet Seafire remains mobile, as it has rollers underneath, which I’d be happy to show you except I forgot to photograph the bottom of the thing.

Ironically, Seafire is roadworthy but not seaworthy.

Ironically, Seafire is roadworthy but not seaworthy.

What you’re seeing … is an optical illusion.

The trailer is *not* actually attached to the truck!

The trailer is *not* actually attached to the truck!

Along with loose cars and boxed sets, BTM has several very nice glass-topped display cases. Here, Jason provides some friendly competition with just such a display case of his own.

Classy.

Classy.

Some of its contents are particularly interesting…

A rat rod from the mouse house!

A rat rod from the mouse house!

…Particularly interesting, indeed.

(Sigh) If only I didn't have bills to pay.

(Sigh) If only I didn’t have bills to pay.

And now, a brief word from our Sponsor:

(Our ads are in color now, by the way.)

(Our ads are in color now, by the way.)

Okay, that’s not an ad but the back of this front, another of Hot Wheels’ concept series, California Customs. This series featured mainline models done up in very bright colors, and included a plastic medallion as well as a sticker sheet fo further customize the model. Emergency Back-up Ken bought this from Ed.

AKA 3-Window '34.

AKA 3-Window ’34.

This model’s sheet features licensed automotive supplier brands.

And yes, I'll go ahead and say it:

And yes, I’ll go ahead and say it:

(Ahem) Branding!

While the blister has yellowed a bit with age, and there are a few minor crumples along the card’s edge, this model is otherwise in very good condition, and in that most rare of states, complete on its card. Ergo, I readily declare the Cal Customs-series ’34 Ford to be Suncoast DiecastersFind of the Month(*) for January 2017!

Again, AKA 3-Window '34.

Again, AKA 3-Window ’34.

And now a special treat for you, here is Red Simpson’s I’m a Truck:

See you at the February meeting!

~WM

The Call of Fall: Final K-Day & Promo for 2016

Yes, fellow collectors, it’s that time: the leaves are turning color; the clocks are turning back; and K-mart turns into the place to be for Hot Wheels. Our Calendar is updated with links to the final 2016 mail-in promo (which features a sweet piece o’ eye-candy!), as well as the final 2016 K-Day in-store event. So click on over, and get ready to do some a-wheelin’ and a-dealin’!

August = Late; K-Day = Great!

Hurricane Hermine and other issues delayed this August update, which makes me 0 – 4 now. So, once’d again, no wacky intro.

The dates for the next K-mart Collector Day and the 1-for-20 Mail-in Promo have been posted to our Calendar, so please check them out!

And now … the photos!

August 2016

There is a curious duality to collecting: In gathering what one chooses to collect, one discovers that one must also collect something else. The first object can be anything (such as 1/64th-scale toy cars); the second object is always the same: storage. Here, Gary collects a display case from Big Tractor Mike.

The blue bag contains a collection of mounting hardware. Collecting!

The blue bag contains a collection of mounting hardware. Collecting!

Here, Bill has collected a “Corvette Cenrtal”-edition Split Window ’63; a Hummer; and a HW Main Street-series Dixie Challenger.

Collecting!

Collecting!

Bill acquired this still-great-looking Field Car (#18). This is the ’70-’74 Superfast edition.

Based on the International Scout.

Based on the International Scout.

Later, he got this red one.

So there.

So there.

From Big Tractor Mike, Original Ken purchased these two Jadeds. The white one is from the 2011 HW Performance series, while the other is the 2007 Treasure Hunts edition. More interestingly, Jaded is based on the Henry J, a sedan offered by the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation in the early 1950s. The car is named after company chairman, Henry J. Kaiser. (It has nothing to do with Henry Ford.)

(Or Kelsey Grammer)

(Or Kelsey Grammer)

In collecting these three carded Willys models, Ken reveals his secret collecting passion: country music.

Country icon Hank Williams Jr.

Country icon Hank Williams Jr.

Country super-star LeAnn Rimes.

Country super-star LeAnn Rimes.

Country legend Ray Earl Bobby-Joe McScruggs ... Jr.

Country legend Ray Earl Bobby-Joe McScruggs … Jr.

This is a great item, for two reasons. First, it’s a beautifully framed portrait photo of Dale Earnhardt Sr., accompanied by a commemorative postcard and official U.S. postage stamp celebrating stock car racing. Second, it’s a RAOK from Tom to Ken, commemorating their friendship.

Click below for larger version

Click below for larger version

1000 * 1135

I had to leave the meeting early to go see another group of friends. Ergo, my time for taking photographs was abbreviated. These Corvettes purchased by Arde were among the last I shot, and I didn’t have time to take the multiple shots these beauties deserve. These are 1/43-scale modes with exquisite details.

1963 Stingray Convertible

1963 Stingray Convertible

1953 Corvette Convertible

1953 Corvette Convertible

Ed had an assortment of Hot Wheels children’s books, which as you can see below featured a HW model shell-displayed at the end. Ed doesn’t remember where he got them, and the price sticker is utterly generic. Nonetheless, Arde was sufficiently intrigued to purchased this one.

Aaarrgh! We captured the treasure!

Aaarrgh! We captured the treasure!

For the adult collector (and by “adult”, I’m speaking strictly chronologically. I make no reference to intellectual or emotional development), it is easy to forget that Hot Wheels was and is, at its heart, a toy for children. Parents over the last few generations have lamented the effort needed to get kids to put down their playthings and pick up a book. Here, Mattel makes at least some effort toward addressing this with these simple, almost primer-like mini-books. The colored-block text is annoyingly self-serving, in that it needlessly describes features of the model such as wheel type or interior color. The regular text, however, gives a brief yet interesting, and often historical, overview of the actual vehicle. For parents whose kids love Hot Wheels, or cars in general, these books can be a good starting point for parent/child reading time or deeper research into the hobby or the history of the vehicle. For this, I declare the Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt books to be our August Find of the Month.(*)

These pages feature the real Ford vehicle that Shoe Box is based on.

These pages feature the real Ford vehicle that Shoe Box is based on.

Download yourself a little light reading.

See you at the September meeting!

~WM

A Very K-marty February

In fact, I dare suggest that this will be your most K-martiest February this year! Yes, fellow collectors, it’s time for the Hot Wheels K-mart Collector Event. Our Calendar has been updated with links directly to the explanatory pages.

You’ll notice something unusual about this year’s inaugural K-Day: The dates don’t line up. All previous K-Days had the beginning of the mail-in promo coinciding with the in-store box-busting. This year, the promo starts a week before the in-store. Me not know why.

Sweet November! (No relation to the movie. Nope.)

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving Day, spending time with your families and not out Black Fridaying with the massing mobs. Suncoast Diecasters‘ November meeting was great, with many great finds, buys and trade.

Speaking of great finds: You know that every month, I designate a Find of the Month. Well, I can say that we had, in a sense, two FotMs in November. I was very greatly surprised to find that dear Marge had returned from her four-year sabbatical. She did bring several trays of cars, of which other members including You Humble Webmaster didst partake, but the main joy was simply that she returned. We don’t know if she’ll continue to attend, but we were all very insistent that she at least make our December meeting.

Recall that the Saturday before our meeting was a K-mart Collector Day event, the last one of 2015. I did pretty well this time. Got a Flames-edition Hudson Hornet and ’41 Willys, the K-Day edition “sandy brown” Subaru Brat, and the literally shiny ‘n new Hi-Roller.

'Tis pretty!

‘Tis pretty!

One more thing: I probably don’t have to do this, but I apologize that I couldn’t get our November update published actually in November. I have a new job, and the darn thing is interfering with my site update time.

And now, on to the photos!

November 2015

Doug picked up this Other Blue Oval NASCAR racer and Meyers Manx, along with a slot-car controller which does not work with either of those cars but, what the heck, it’s the holidays!

There are some jokes here which write themselves, so I won't bother typing them.

There are some jokes here which write themselves, so I won’t bother typing them.

If you’ll recall, back in September Big Tractor Mike bought several Last Action Hero items from me. However, some accessories were absent, oddly not being in the same box. When I went back into my storage unit, one of the boxes I brought out just happened to have those self-same accessories, with which I RAOK’d BTM at our November meeting. As you can see below, one of the items is the Ripper’s hat. Yes, he’s a psychotic murderer; but, he’s a dapper psychotic murderer!

Hmm... That ''dapper'' line would've made a good caption....

Hmm… That ”dapper” line would’ve made a good caption….

The other three or four of you who’ve seen Last Action Hero know that it’s the story of young Danny who gets a magical movie theater ticket which allows him to enter the in-movie realm of his hero, Jack Slater. Among the accessories, I also found the Danny action figure, officially named Hook Launchin’ Danny, and his shoulder-fired grappling hook. This device is an amazingly detailed and astoundingly accurate replica of the one which Danny did not use in the movie even once ever at all. However, I do have to give props to the toy’s designers. It has an impressively powerful spring, launching the hook over two feet before friction from the line slows it to a fall. Plus, the anchor allows a child (i.e., Big Tractor Mike) to attach both ends as a type of zip-line.

Massive as the launcher is, I'm surprised I was able to get the figure to balance without support.

Massive as the launcher is, I’m surprised I was able to get the figure to balance without support.

Also back in September, BTM bought a model figure kit of Constable Odo from Deep Space Nine. I asked him if he still had it, and he said yes. So, I RAOK’d him with this publicity photo of Odo, advising him to pair it with the model if he ever decided to sell it. I got the photo at a Star Trek convention at which Rene Auberjonois was the headliner, and was shocked when I realized there was not autograph on the photo. I clearly remember standing at the autograph table, complimenting him on his performance as Odo, so I must’ve had something else autographed. By the way, the blue blur in the upper left corner is glare from the overhead lights when I took a shot of this picture.

Yes, kids, you're looking at a photograph of a photograph. ...SCIENCE!

Yes, kids, you’re looking at a photograph of a photograph. …SCIENCE!

Scott was a model guest, buying this AMT Vicki Hardtop from me.

See how I used the word ''model'' there? *That* is how you do comedy.

See how I used the word ”model” there? *That* is how you do comedy.

BTM bought this Rat Fink set from me. You might notice that the plastic blister is quite crumpled. See what happens when you try to store your collectibles, kids? Remember, always rip ’em right out of the package!

Better-focused and somewhat less-glarey close-up included as our free gift to you!

Better-focused and somewhat less-glarey close-up included as our free gift to you!

BTM bought this literary gem from me. It’s filled with interviews, behind-the-scenes photographs and early concept sketches of the ships, costumes and the monster. As well-known as Alien is to the Nerdo-American audience, it’s fascinating to consider what the movie might have been had Scott and O’Bannon made these different choices. For example, the small, train-like line sketch near the lower right corner is what eventually became the Nostromo.

I don't know what the big blue thing in the middle is. It wasn't used in the movie.

I don’t know what the big blue thing in the middle is. It wasn’t used in the movie.

Once again, I brought in a bunch of Star Trek items, and once again Big Tractor Mike took them all away. Why do I bother? Er, um, what I mean is, I’m glad Mike bought these from me! He paid me a good price for them, and I didn’t have to re-pack them and take them back home again.

WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER!!??

WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER!!??

I beRAOK’d Ken with this comical car(toon) from Nickelodeon’s CatDog. Ken appreciated it because it’s a garbage truck, but he also got a kick out of its pull-string action. Pulling CatDog from the trash pile unwinds a string which winds a spring. The spring then unwinds, causing the wheels to roll and retract CatDog back into the pile. On a clear, smooth floor it can run about six feet. And, yes, I am now complicit in Ken’s mad scheme to own every garbage truck toy ever.

-:-

-:-

The toy is a premium that was available in a Burger King Kids Club meal. It may be hard to see in the shadow, but in the upper left corner it states a copyright of 1999 (see inset in lower left corner for enhanced image). I posted this shot with the copyright for a very specific reason. It’s because…

-:-

-:-

…Of this: the battery still works. Think about it: this is 2015; it’s copyrighted 1999; that means the toy is sixteen years oldand the battery still works! That is impressive. You may notice the mini-wheel below the front bumper. For unknown reasons, the toy’s designers put the spring-power drive to hidden wheels under the toy, and made the “cartoon” wheels merely part of the body casting. And if you’re wondering why there’s an oversize SunRacer occluding the upper right corner of the photo, it’s because your family doesn’t need to see my big ol’ thumbnail, especially not during the holidays.

I advised Ken to change the battery before it gets all explodey.

I advised Ken to change the battery before it gets all explodey.

Ken asked me to photograph the treasures he bought from Marge. I was trying various arrangements when I realized there was veritable rainbow of toy cars in front of me. Thinking back to last month’s focus on composition, I carefully sought a natural chromatic flow which would involve all the cars. I might’ve been able to invert the black cars with the Mountain Dew cars, tying their green logos to the green truck, but I think this arrangement works better.

I honestly think the colors flow very well here.

I honestly think the colors flow very well here.

When I started sorting through the bag of Ken’s cars, I jokingly told him I hoped he had a Mountain Dew car.

A. One. Singular. Fer cryin’ out loud.

Not sure if this is three cars, or one car doing a spin-out with the camera shutter open.

Not sure if this is three cars, or one car doing a spin-out with the camera shutter open.

One of the three cars I bought from Marge. Yeah, the paint’s chipped along several edges, but the wheels are straight and clean, and the body and tampo are in relatively good shape for a toy that’s probably over thirty years old. Just wish I could I could remember the name of this model…

I'm usually good with car names, General Lee speaking...

I’m usually good with car names, General Lee speaking…

Numbah Two car from Marge: Rock Buster. This is the 1983 Malaysia version. Yeah, it’s missing its roll cage. But, its wheels too are clean and straight, and its paint and tampos are in great condition. So the what if the roll cage is missing? When would I ever again have an opportunity to obtain such a rare model, much less for such an affordable price?

Rock Buster! Oh, no, that's this car. Dang.

Rock Buster! Oh, no, that’s this car. Dang.

And the Third and Final Car I bought from Marge: Camaro Z28. You may suspect by the large blocky section between the rear wheels (lower portion of photo) that this is either a friction or pullback model. (I can’t tell which, as the mechanism doesn’t work.) Now, I generally have no interest in Camaros unless it’s a particularly special model, and I never buy frictions (or pullbacks, whichever). So why did I grab this one? Well, I looked at its base to see if it had any info at all — and I discovered it claims a scale of 1/59. I don’t recall ever seeing a scale on a friction. More importantly, it has the Zee logo. Yes, this is actually a Zylmex, not just some no-name repli-pony. I have a few models in the 1/5x range, and seeing as this is a brand-name model, I had no hesitation in buying it.

Zee produced a Z, as you can zee.

Zee produced a Z, as you can zee.

Aah, now we come to the truly interesting stuff. You may think you’re seeing (clockwise from bottom) Custom Police Cruiser, Lola GT70, Torero, Lola GT70 (with spoiler?!?), and Turbofire, but you would be so very, very wrong. For instance, that’s simply Cruiser.

They're creepy and they're kooky...

They’re creepy and they’re kooky…

These are actually Lola GT and Lamborghini Special.

...Mysterious and spooky...

…Mysterious and spooky…

And these are merely Lola GT (again, with spoiler?!?) and Super Turbo.

...They're all together ooky.

…They’re all together ooky.

Okay, okay. At this point you’re probably thinking I’ve really misunderstood my own off-site links. Cleary, these cars are Hot Wheels models, right? Well, yes and no. What they are, are Muky castings of Mattel models. How did Muky get so precise in copying the look of HW models, you ask? Simple: they were cast using actual Mattel dies. Huh? Muky was a toy manufacturer in Argentina. The company obtained in some manner dies which allowed them to produce Mattel-accurate toy cars. I say “in some manner” because there are several competing theories as to just how Muky got the dies: they were imported directly from Mattel; they were stolen from Mattel; they were reproduced from actual Mattel blueprints; etc. One particular curiosity is that Muky offered a version of the Lola GT70 with a spoiler, a variation never offered by Mattel. Regardless, it’s interesting to note that, unlike many other foreign manufacturers, there is a great amount of information about Muky available online.

Bob had these on his table at our November meeting. This is one the very best things about Suncoast Diecasters membership: discovering rare foreign models which can greatly enhance any collection. These are all now currently enhancing Big Tractor Mike’s collection, in fact. For their rarity, their great condition, their completeness with the original boxes, and especially for their intriguing mystery, I hereby very readily declare this set of Mukys to be our Find of the Month(*) for November 2015.

He likes it! Hey, Muky!

He likes it! Hey, Muky!

See you at the December meeting!

~WM

October: Spooky and Spectacular!

Okay, while last month’s title was notably overwrought, this time I seem to have gone for the rather obvious. Yet, it’s not at all inaccurate. The photos from our October meeting are indeed spectacular; but first, this intro section, in which I address the spooky:

As often happens in a Small Circle of Friends, a conversation will naturally drift from one subject to another. Some months ago, we got onto the subject of monster movies, and Bill mentioned one that really creeped him out. He couldn’t remember the exact title, but recalled that it had something to do with people turning into mushrooms. I had an idea of what he meant (as I had stumbled onto it while looking online for other such movies), but my memory was unclear, so I didn’t say anything then. Now, for Halloween, I’ve re-done my homework, and can tell you that the move Bill mentioned was in fact Attack of the Mushroom People, which you will find listed under its original Japanese title, Matango. This version is a typical ’60s kaiju-esque affair.

I say “this version” because in reading up on it, I learned that Matango was in effect a remake of an episode of the late-’50s program Suspicion, entitled Voice in the Night, which is much more faithful to the original short story. I say “original short story” because that is in fact the source material: a distinctly disturbing little gem written by William Hope Hodgson. Below you will find an embedded trailer for Matango (the full movie is not available online); a link to the actual episode Voice in the Night (not embedded per account request); and finally, a link to the full text of Hodgson’s original story. You may find the language style to be a bit stiff and stilted, but that isn’t surprising considering the original story is 108 years old. Yes, that is correct; The Voice in the Night was first published in 1907! A bit creepy to think that someone back then thought this way; and having read it myself, I can tell you the story is in fact suitably creepy for Halloween.

Matango trailer, via YouTube:

You will find many of the nighttime scenes of the episode below literally too dark to see anything; but the lit and fog-lit scenes (and creepy mood) make up for it. You will also note that often a scene tilts and waves, as if projected onto a screen — that may in fact be the case; many old programs were recorded onto film, sometimes via Kinescope, before magnetic tape came into widespread use:

*** Voice in the Night (Suspicion episode) via YouTube ***

You’ll be up all night anyway, so make yourself uncomfortable with this clingy little tale:

*** The Voice in the Night (Original 1907 short story by William Hope Hodgson) via ManyBooks ***

Did I lie to you? Did I not address the Spooky? Now let us g– Oh, I’ve also added the next K-Day event to our Calendar. Now let us go on to the Spectacular!

October 2015

And this photo is truly, truly spectacular! Drink in the rich details of these gloriously-photographed vehicles! The color! The vibrancy! The rich, vibrant…

Elmer Fudd: ''I wish I could see it.''

Elmer Fudd: ”I wish I could see it.”

Okay, the above photograph sucks. When Ken asked me to shoot his five new treasures, I thought this arrangement, which I hadn’t really tried before, would be artsy and attractive. Turns out, when I resized the photo to the standard width used in this blog, what I ended up with was five little postage-stamp sized icons which do not in any way reflect the coolness of Ken’s new rides. I did take alternate photos of some of the vehicles, and cropped the rest from the array. This forced me to match them all down to the narrowest alternate photo I had available, but at least each vehicle is showcased more clearly now.

T to B: American Hauler; American Tipper; Heavyweights Dump Truck; Custom Fleetside; Ramblin' Wrecker

T to B: American Hauler; American Tipper; Heavyweights Dump Truck; Custom Fleetside; Ramblin’ Wrecker

By the way, that’s the “Hey, look, Larry Wood foolishly put his own real phone number on the truck!” version of the Wrecker. Ken says the bidding starts at $40,000.

Here, Bill did something unusual: he bought neither a blackwall nor an exceptionally clean Redline. He bought a toy truck. Methinks it was because he wants the figures.

Eh. It figures.

Eh. It figures.

Now Bill gets more typical. Classic Redline-era customs, Silhouette (L) and Bugeye (R). These models exemplify the dreamy, risk-taking designs of first-generation Hot Wheels. Also, this photo has made me realize that composition is the watchword for this month’s update.

...And should be always, anyway.

…And should be always, anyway.

Case in point: here is the first version of the above photograph. Bill got two Silhouettes; the purple one was missing paint from its front right quarter, so I put the green in the foreground, and turned the other to spotlight its often-disregarded custom taillight array. However, similar to the pic of Ken’s trucks, this threesome shot lacks appeal. The spun-around purple makes the shot look clumsy, and the gap between it and Bugeye breaks up the flow of the image. Re-cropped for the two-shot above, the result is much more pleasing; the lines of the bodies flow from left to right with a natural fluidity. Moreover, the popped engine cover on Bugeye follows a subconscious invisible line along the back and rollbar of Silhouette.

Dear Bill: For the sake of the photographs, never buy more than two cars. Thanks!

Dear Bill: For the sake of the photographs, never buy more than two cars. Thanks!

I really do try to compose interesting photos for this site, most of the time anyway. Sometimes, I get a clunker like the “gang of five” at the top of this update. But sometimes, I get a real glamour shot.

Big Tractor Mike bought a bunch of items from Jim. We start with this tanker trailer by MotorMax. See how nice and clear the text is on the green diamond label? Now, consider that the actual toy is about two-thirds the size of this graphic. Impressive micro-font, wouldn’t you say?

(No caption. Too stinky.)

(No caption. Too stinky.)

Next is this tractor/trailer combo by Matchbox. I suspect it’s a “mix n’ match(box)” set, though. The hubs on the trailer seem similar to those on the tractor’s twins, yet the one is chromed while the twins match the front roller’s red. Still, incredibly clean graphics and body paint.

Sinclair did better with petroleum than with computers.

Sinclair did better with petroleum than with computers.

Thoughtful design elements including a fold-down (though non-rolling) “landing gear”  wheelset and caged spare.

I don't have a spare comment, however.

I don’t have a spare comment, however.

BTM also got this beautiful Ferrari 512 S. It’s large, a 1/43-scale model by Auto Pilen out of  Spain. It’s missing the canopy, but that doesn’t detract from its gorgeous European lines. Note that the grill vanes in the engine cover are white, so as not to get lost in all the gold. Note also, in the central, “flaps-up” frame, that you can actually see through the vanes. AP could’ve gone with vanes as a simple “texture”, but instead machined them out for a better model. The lights pop up as well, but the mechanism (arrow, bottom frame) is too worn; I tried several times for a photo with them up, but they always fell back in.

Customers preferred having the light switch *inside* the car, anyway.

Customers preferred having the light switch *inside* the car, anyway.

Mike acquired this Classic Riders Real Cobra — sorry, this Real Riders Classic Cobra as well. The model is well-lit and clearly focused (minus some rippling by the blister), but it may seem that the lettering on the backer is ready to slide off into oblivion. See that white edge in the upper right corner? This is a cut card. No, not a “short card”; the top of the backer has been scissored off. I usually balance an on-card vehicle against something both to get a nice, level shot of the car and to minimize glare on the blister. But with very little card left, I had to come up with a really odd angle to get a clear, minimal-glare shot, knowing I would have to greatly rotate it later to level-out the model.

At least my explanation is on the level.

At least my explanation is on the level.

Mike also go this Custom Volkswagen, one of the Original 16 Hot Wheels models. Along with the blown luggage compartment engine, this model is well-known for its signature transparent sunroof. I originally had it open, but then it occurred to me that it’s probably open in every photograph, so I decided it would be pleasantly different to photograph the car with its sunroof closed.

You do understand the engine is in the wrong end of the car, right?

You do understand the engine is in the wrong end of the car, right?

Now we get to some really spectacular items. BTM bought nearly a half-dozen Rrrumblers from Jim (all without rider figures). True, Mattel does currently offer some Hot Wheels-branded motorcycles, but they pale flatly in comparison to these iron horses. (Okay, zamac horses.)

One of nearly a half-dozen…

High-Tailer (missing center stand, leaning against Ferrari)

High-Tailer (missing center stand, leaning against Ferrari)

Two of nearly a half-dozen…

Mean Machine

Mean Machine

Three of nearly a half-dozen…

Revolution (missing canopy)

Revolution (missing canopy)

Four of nearly a half-dozen…

Choppin' Chariot

Choppin’ Chariot

Five of nearly a half-dozen…

Torque Chop

Torque Chop

Six of — Hey, wait a minute…

Bruiser Cruiser (missing tailplane)

Bruiser Cruiser (missing tailplane)

So, why have I seemingly emphasized “nearly a half-dozen” when there are clearly six Rrrumblers? Because there are only five Rrrumblers! This last one, Bruiser Cruiser, is actually a Chopcycle. So, what is a Chopcycle? Well, it’s Halloween, so here’s something truly horrifying: a logic equation–

“Chopcycles” is to “Rrrumblers” as “Sizzlers” is to “Hot Wheels”. Yes, the same rechargeable motor technology that makes Sizzlers run was installed into Chopcycles. Why Mattel stopped producing them remains a mystery.

This model is what made our October meeting spectacular for me: The Bertone Runabout concept. I bought this from Jim for a real treat of a price. This model is in 1/43-scale. I have two Runabouts in 1/64-scale, as well as the Fiat X1/9, which is the production vehicle derived from the Runabout. Guess I’ll have to update our Two-Scale Shots page…

Has that ''Speeding even when parked'' look.

Has that ”Speeding even when parked” look.

This large-scale model features a nicely-detailed engine with an opening cover. The cover is one of the few design elements that made it into the production Fiat relatively unchanged.

Dramatic angle! Composition!

Dramatic angle! Composition!

This low-angle shot showcases the sleek, slice-through-the-air body design. It also gives you another view of the headlamps mounted to the stylized C-pillar. Though not included on this model, the real car also had more traditional headlamps mounted into the underside of the prow.

''Prow'', because that's what the front end of a motorboat is called.

”Prow”, because that’s what the front end of a motorboat is called.

Wait, did I just type “the real car”? Well, it seems I did just that.

For collectors interested in the details, this is from Matchbox’s Speed Kings series, model number K-31. While today’s Mattel-owned MB models are made in Malaysia or China, this one was made in England, back in 1971 when Matchbox was still owned by Lesney. How do I know all these facts? A little birdie told me.

An eyeball-incinerating, citrus-green birdie.

An eyeball-incinerating, citrus-green birdie.

And now we get to the most spectacular treat of all for October. This is Jim’s Custom Corvette, still mounted to its wide card which also includes a Collector Button. Most impressive of all, it’s a German-edition card. All the text you typically see on a wide card, translated into German. Not just regular callouts such as “the fastest metal cars in the world”; Mattel even translated the brand name! Yes, “Heisse Raeder” is literally “hot wheels” auf Deutsch! For its awesome international coolness, I declare this to be Suncoast DiecastersFind of the Month(*) for October 2015.

Yeah, someone gouged a hole in the backer. You know what? I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome this thing is.

Yeah, someone gouged a hole in the backer. You know what? I can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome this thing is.

Treat yourself to a super-size version of this photo.

See you at the November meeting!

~WM

August Update! Now with *extra* Updates!

Extra update #1: Our 2015 Club Vehicle is now available!

Extra Update #2: Our Calendar has been updated to include the next K-mart Collector Day!

Extra Update #3: We now have a second video! You’ll find if you just keep reading, so…

…On to the photos!

August 2015

Merry Belated Christmas Giftery!

…Is what I offered to Rob. If you’ll recall from our 2007 Gallery, Rob has a sweeeet Ranchero. I picked up this book last December at Dollar Tree, strictly based on the name, as a gift for Rob. From that time forward, Rob has managed to successfully avoid Suncoast Diecasters meetings. His streak fell flat this month, and I begifted him. I advised him that it was a “title only” purchase, and knew nothing of its content. He promised to get back to me on that after he reads it.

...And its sequel, ''Bad Mudder II''.

…And its sequel, ”Bad Mudder II”.

Big Tractor Mike bought all my Star Trek toys! Now I don’t have any! (Except for the action figures, and playsets, and model kits, and Hallmark starship ornaments. But still, I mean, you know….)

''A long time ago, in a galax--'' HA! Fooled ya!

”A long time ago, in a galax–” HA! Fooled ya!

Speaking of books: I got all the use I could out of this’n, so I put in on the table and tagged it “make offer”. Ken made an offer, I accepted it, and now the book is Ken’s. And now I miss it terribly.

Ten points for each car you can identify on the cover!

Ten points for each car you can identify on the cover!

Ken also acquired this awesomely retro collector’s case. Thought it’s an off-brand itself, it boldly declares that it’s suitable for “Matchbox, Hot Wheels, Corgi and most mini-cars.” It wisely and thoughtfully lists Matchbox first, considering its example car art is probably totally unlicensed.

Oh, Ken also got these two airport vehicles. See paragraph below.

Oh, Ken also got these two airport vehicles. See paragraph below.

As mentioned in the caption above, Ken got these two airport vehicles. Thought their plastic design is rather simple, they’re still quite cool. They’re also classic Ken, in that they are an oddball no-name foreign brand.

Yes, I know: you want close-ups. See paragraph below.

Yes, I know: you want close-ups. See paragraph below.

As mentioned in the caption above, here is a close-up for you. Specifically, the motorcoach. True, its shallow detail lines, solid (rather than clear or even smoked clear) windows and astoundingly simplistic wheels would indicate a “cheap” model. Yet, airport vehicles are a popular sub-set for collectors, especially since they often are available only through off-brands.

Besides, there are at least 37 other coaches to collect if one wants the whole set.

Besides, there are at least 37 other coaches to collect if one wants the whole set.

The other one is this groovy stair-truck. Most likely completely incomprehensible to younger collectors, this model harkens back to the days when airports did not have extended ramps and gates with segmented umbilicals that attach directly airplane doors, a simpler time when passengers actually walked out of the airport, across the tarmac and up mobile steps to their airplane.

Plus, they make great rental rides for children's parties.

Plus, they make great rental rides for children’s parties.

I mentioned the example art on Ken’s car case. The big red fellow leadin’ the pack is clearly Mod Rod by Matchbox. The yellow van could be Matchbox or Hot Wheels or Corgi or Playart or Yatming or Summer or any other brand. There’s not enough of the purple one to identify it. But the one that really intrigues me is the green “rocket sled”-type fellow in third place. It looks like something from Harley Earl’s Firebird series. If you have any info on this model (if indeed the illustration is based on an actual production toy), please post it in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.

I want one.

I want one.

Well, what have we here? The orange fellow in the upper left looks kinda Rodger Dodger-ish. Light blue guy at lower left might be the Ford Mk IV. Or, I could stop funnin’ ya and just tell you that they’re all Sizzlers. Yep, those wild, rechargeable self-running rods from the early ’70s. Oh, you don’t believe me?

NO, not Sizzler, the steakhouse.

NO, not Sizzler, the steakhouse.

Here, BTM knuckles down and charges up one them right before your eyes. As you can see on the label, “Sizzlers”. Told ya.

And with electricity under $2.00 a volt, people will do lots of driving this weekend!

And with electricity under $2.00 a volt, people will do lots of driving this weekend!

They’re all part of this awesome kit brought in by awesome Doug. This is the 2007 retro re-issue, and it the highlight of our August meeting. Doug set up a short loop (initially), and we basically had some demo runs. Later, he extended the loop, and we did some actual racing. It all was so entertaining that I even shot some video, and that’s available at the bottom of this update. For its coolness, its retro-ness, and its ability to keep middle-aged men entertained like small schoolchildren, I hyarby declare Doug’s Sizzlers set our Find of the Month!(*)

This is why toy cars are the world's greatest hobby.

This is why toy cars are the world’s greatest hobby.

For this video, I decided it was time for something better, so I set up a Vimeo account for Suncoast Diecasters. Unlike our Christmas 2012 video, which is in uncompressed WMV format (and thus takes a while to load), Vimeo automatically compresses uploaded videos, so this one will load much more quickly. You may notice a difference in cars in the high-angle shot versus the “pit row” shot. That’s because they’re two separate runs. I edited them together to make the video more dramatic. Please enjoy:

(If the video doesn’t play properly, you can watch it in a separate window.)

See you at the September meeting!

~WM

Happy St. Valvoline’s Day!

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

K-Day 2015: The Arrival

Yes indeedy-do, kiddoes. The first Mattel Hot Wheels K-Mart Amalgamated Incorporated Collectors’ Day of 2015 is here!

That is, it is going to be here on Saturday, February 14th — which also happens to be the date of the next Suncoast Diecasters meeting! So load up on Event goodies, then head on over to the Sports Bar (& Grill) for the meeting! The K-Day event has been added to our Calendar and links to the information* at the HotWheelsCollectors site.

*(By the way, HWC has changed the format of the K-Day info. Both the list of Event cars and the mail-in promo are now on a single page. Further, the cars are represented by backer-style illustrations rather than photographs.)