June … and none too Soon!

As previously explained, various things delayed our May update. Cumulatively, this June update was also delayed. So I shall skip the usual goofy introduction. I do want to mention that we have a great new collector’s site at the top of our 1/64th-scale Links page, so please check it out!

And now, on to the photos!

June 2016

As a long-time, faithful reader of Suncoast Diecasters, you’re tempted to say, “Ah! A garbage truck! Surely this has been acquired by Original Ken!” Reasonable, but incorrect. “Well, then,” you continue, “it certainly must belong to Emergency Back-up Ken!” Nnnnope. This was purchased by Gary — EBU Ken’s wingman — as a gift for his nephew.

Ha! TOTALLY smoked you on that one!

Ha! TOTALLY smoked you on that one!

For your edification: It’s the Lesney (Matchbox) Refuse Truck, model 15-C, made in England.

Now, here in fact is an Original Ken item: his other passion, Willyses …Willysesees … Willysoi …. Anyway, Ken also collects Willys miniatures. In this case, the ’41 Willys done up as a Hot Rod magazine special edition.

...And it looks just like the illustration.

…And it looks just like the illustration.

Ken got cheezy and nabbed this Chuck E. Cheese’s-edition MX48 Turbo. The MX48 actually comes from the Max Steel toy line — also by Mattel, conveniently.

I've been trying to come up with a funny caption involving ''cheese'' and ''turbo'', but, sorry, I got nothin'.

I’ve been trying to come up with a funny caption involving ”cheese” and ”turbo”, but, sorry, I got nothin’.

Big Tractor Mike goes all literary again with two tomes: First is this Beckett Price Guide, which is actually very dear to all Suncoast Diecasters members, because we is included in it. Yes, as a genuinely published club, we thus officially exist.

''Page 73 - Johnson, Navin R.! I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book every day!'' - Dialogue from ''The Jerk''

”Page 73 – Johnson, Navin R.! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this book every day!” – Dialogue from ”The Jerk”

…And second is this history of Hot Wheels, the amazing story of how a toy company has lasted despite making only one toy.

Yep, just this one toy car, for 40 ... loonnng ... years....

Yep, just this one toy car, for 40 … loonnng … years….

Ed purchased these 1988 Volkswagen Transporter Ambulances

MB182, or MB20 (it depends)

MB182, or MB20 (it depends)

…And then wisely bought this beautiful 1970 Heavyweights-series Dump Truck.

From the brilliant mind of Ira Gilford.

From the brilliant mind of Ira Gilford.

Doug flatbedded this VW pick-up. I mean, Doug picked up this VW flatbed.

By Jada. I mean, by Jada.

By Jada. I mean, by Jada.

From: BTM, this curious item, To: Doug’s li’l boy, is a Stock Car Miniature. That’s actually the brand name. As Ken explained, and is further verified by this ebay article, SCM (as it’s known among fans and collectors) was the first toy company to specifically bring NASCAR and other pro-racing names to the collector market. Poor choice in business location combined with a highly questionable zoning board decision led to the company’s downfall.

...What could've been...

…What could’ve been…

All in all, it makes possible this delightful father-and-son moment:

Evrahbuddeh say ''Aaawwww!!!''

Evrahbuddeh say ”Aaawwww!!!”

This … is the face … of a man in pain.

Or, a man in plastic.

Or, a man in plastic.

Okay, here’s the story: Ed makes the excellent decision to buy from Big Tractor Mike this Matchbox 1/43-scale Speed Kings-series Mercedes Benz Ambulance

Yeah, the cellophane's damaged, but still: ''original box''!

Yeah, the cellophane’s damaged, but still: ”original box”!

…So, naturally I take photos of it, delighted to discover the model also still has the original “man on stretcher”, and in good condition.

I mean, you know, good condition for a guy on a stretcher.

I mean, you know, good condition for a guy on a stretcher.

A few moments later, BTM RAOKs Ed with his other Binzulance, which also still has “Ye Man uponne Stretcher” … Only, not in so good a condition, as the “blanket” fell off instantly (not to mention the stretcher’s handles are broken off).

''Stretcher falls out of ambulance onto ground'' -- Comedy GOLD!

”Stretcher falls out of ambulance onto ground” — Comedy GOLD!

I was intrigued to notice there was significant sculpting of the poor guy’s face, so I propped him up and took a photo, from which I cropped the portrait that started this whole adventure.

Comfy!

Comfy!

I presumed that the guy’s face was all there was to him, that the blanket piece covered basically nothing. Imagine my surprise when, upon looking more closely at the broken stretcher, I realized the patient is a full head-to-foot sculpture, with impressive — indeed, let me say thoughtful — detail. His shirt is open, but he clearly has an undershirt. No shoes, but he’s not barefoot, he’s wearing socks. Most impressively, he has some sort of splint or brace on his left leg.

Uncomfy.

Uncomfy.

You can check out the guy’s vitals here.

For its great physical condition, its original box, its opening doors and hatch, and particularly for its completeness in not only still having its patient, but also because that accessory is itself in great condition, I very easily declare this Matchbox Ambulance to be Suncoast DiecastersFind of the Month(*) for June 2016. This is not merely a great model for FotM, it’s one of the coolest FotMs we’ve ever had. Well done, Ed, well done!

''Thanks for the photo. Now could you PLEASE take me to the hospital?!''

”Thanks for the photo. Now could you PLEASE take me to the hospital?!”

Get yourself some free Binz wallpaper.

See you at the July– er, I mean August 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