K-Day: A Bittersweet Farewell…

First, the bitter:

As I approached the store, I stopped suddenly, frightened by the presence of printed signs taped inside the doors. I was still too far to read them, but I feared the worst: that another K-Day had been postponed, or even cancelled. I walked up to the doors, and read the signs:

And then he fainted.

And then he fainted.

I had a brief moment of relief, learning that it was about layaways. Then the weight of those last two words started to hit me:

Store closing. Store closing.

Store. Closing.

Damn.

Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn.

I really couldn’t comprehend it. Yes, I know K-Mart and its strange bedfellow Sears have really been struggling for quite some time. Yet, with each new round of store closings, this one remained. And it made sense to me: It’s on a very busy corner, and is easily accessible from several directions. Heck, it can even be approached from its back lot, as long as one drove slowly and minded the pallet debris. There’s as Burger King just to its north — good placement for dining and shopping — and a Toys ‘R’ Us a block to its south. It’s across US 19 from a major mall, and the rather well-designed over/underpasses make it easy to go from one to the other from both the north and the south. I’ve done that crossback myself numerous times. And this store was always busy.

Well, I’ll get back to these lamentations later in this post.

And now, the sweet:

(Again, thanks to the Lord that I even learned of this K-Day event, almost literally at the eleventh hour. I discovered later that the e-mail notification for this event went to my spam folder.) I can honestly say that this was the most enjoyable K-Day I’ve attended in some time. And that includes the post-Irma rescheduled K-Day, which itself was very good. Several long-timers such as Steve and Jayce were there, as well as new attendees such as Joel and Louis. There was joking, talking, complaining, reminiscing and sharing all around, almost literally like a Thanksgiving family reunion. If this was indeed my last K-Day, the Lord certainly made it a good one.

One of the things I picked up was the mini-poster for the very attractive ’56 Chevy Convertible mail-in promo. I usually don’t get these, and in fact the last one I got several years ago I ended up giving to a young nephew. But I wanted to get as much out of this K-Day as possible, so I took one. And that Chevy does look sweet. (No, I won’t be ordering one; I stopped that years ago too.)

Free mini-poster + Dollar Tree frame = Happy!

Free mini-poster + Dollar Tree frame = Happy!

As I have stated numerous times over the last many K-Day cycles, I had not been moved by the Special Colors or First to Market offerings. Yet when I saw the Baja Hauler on the HW site, I thought I just might enjoy getting that one. And I still can’t figure out why. I usually don’t collect trucks; I don’t collect “baja” versions of vehicles; and I’ve never cared for the “art car” variations. This thing is all three of those, and I still bought it. Heck, I really don’t even like its plastic, chintzy-looking, candy-colored cab and stacks; yet I like the model as a whole. Eh, I guess there’s no accounting for taste. Or buying decisions.

Three of these things are not like my others / Three of these things do not belong (in my collection typically)

Three of these things are not like my others / Three of these things do not belong (in my collection typically)

Well, at least it has this super-neato Special Feature:

An opening door on a Hot Wheels model! Will wonders never cease?

An opening door on a Hot Wheels model! Will wonders never cease?

I wonder what’s inside of it…?

"Nuthin'" -- Yukon Cornelius

“Nuthin'” — Yukon Cornelius

Next, I got this cool ’55 Chevy. Jayce, a few others and myself conjectured that this specific variation may be a left-over from a previous K-Day. Regardless, I find it quite attractive and am glad to have it.

Far less expensive than the mail-in promo, and only one year older.

Far less expensive than the mail-in promo, and only one year older.

And now for the item that made this K-Day an over-the-top experience:

"Behold!" -- Drax.

“Behold!” — Drax.

Yep, the Lord blessed me with a model of the Milano, Quill’s ship from Guardians of the Galaxy. Heck, I forgot that Hot Wheels was even offering it. And on those occasions when I did think of it, I presumed it would be part of an expensive, over-packaged “entertainment” series. To not only get one, but to get it at the mainline 1-dollar price is amazing.

And it was a genuine, if amusing, miracle as to how I found it. By this time all the ticket-holders had gone through their boxes, and so now the boxes were being handed back and forth so everyone could take one more look. I grabbed a box, not even really looking for something, just seeing what I could find. As I sifted through the cars (which are lain on their sides in the box), I saw what I could only described as “spindly things” between two models. I pulled it out, honestly expecting something ridiculous such as Purrfect Speed [Dear Mattel: Please cool it with the silly animal-based Hot Wheels models. Thank you.] This moment is recreated for you here in this totally staged-at-home photograph:

Illustrated: Spindly things.

Illustrated: Spindly things.

Imagine my shock and surprise when I realized what I had discovered. I quickly showed it to Jayce, evoking a wry smile from him. I was and am incredibly happy.

And then the Lord blessed me a second time:

“Oh … yyyeeaaahh!” -- Rocket Raccoon.

“Oh … yyyeeaaahh!” — Rocket Raccoon.

I can honestly say that if finding the first one was a miracle, finding the second was even more so. This was very near the end of the meeting, and most of the toys had been spread out on the table by the participants. This was primarily to empty out the boxes (which hold about twenty-four cars) so they could carry their own cars in them, but also to make it easier for their fellow attendees to further look over the cars. I was about ready to leave when I decided to just glance over the table one more time. And there it was, sitting out in the open, near the corner of the table, yet completely ignored by everyone else, as if it were invisible.

Now, at this point, I know what’s going on; we’ve done this dance before. Some of you are getting dizzy, starting to feel light-headed, and wondering if you need to hit 911 on your speed-dial. And the answer is yes. Yes, because I will be opening one my Milanos to display it freely. But don’t worry, the other one will be staying pristine and secure in its blister. In fact I’ll be looking for a Kar Keeper to further untouchify it.

Final thoughts…

After I got back in my truck, I sat there for some time, thinking things over. I realized that once I started leaving, I would literally be driving away from my last K-Day event ever.

My first K-Day was in 2004, which is the year that the Swoopy Do was introduced, and that’s one of the cars I picked up then. One of my favorite K-Days was in 2006. That’s the event during which this older fellow with a baseball cap and pony-tail handed me a flyer for a new collectors’ club. That guy turned out to be Original Ken, and the club was Suncoast Diecasters. I went to that first meeting and had a great time, returning regularly (for the most part) ever since. Within about a year I became the club’s Webmaster and Photographer. Suncoast Diecasters has become a greatly-appreciated Additional Family for me, and it all happened because I attended an event at K-Mart.

My family moved to Pinellas county in the late ’70s. We’ve shopped at this K-Mart hundreds if not thousands of times. Back then, our store, the Countryside store, had both a sit-down cafeteria at the back of the store, and a deli counter up front. I remember particularly enjoying the chocolate shakes, because after pouring the shake into a cup, the attendant would always put the metal tumbler (holding whatever didn’t fit in the cup) on your tray as well. It was like always getting a second shake free.

I remember one time while lunching there, there was this small paperboard display on our table. I have no recollection of what was promoted on the front, but I recall that it had the names and logos for K-Mart, Kresge and Jupiter on the back. I hadn’t seen those other two names before, but I eventually realized that K-Mart was part of the Kresge family of stores.

My mom almost always got ham at the front deli, as our last stop before exiting the store. She was convinced it was the best. I have no idea what actual brand (Branding!) of ham it was; we just always called it “K-Mart ham”.

I thought back to the last couple of years of my Mom’s life before she got too sick to remain at home. She had developed this somewhat amusing shopping habit. I’d take her to K-Mart, and she’d buy several shirts and slacks, never trying them on in the store; she’d always do that at home. And a few days to a week later, she’d have me take some or even all of them back because they didn’t fit right. This happened several times a year, and after the first few times I came to expect it.

I mentioned near the top of this post the various local details which to me had kept this particular K-Mart going in the face of numerous store closings. I’ve now realized the irony that very similar conditions did not prevent the prior closings of two other stores. There were at least five K-Marts in Pinellas county. There may have been more; I just know the five: this one at Clearwater/Countryside; one south near central Clearwater; one up in Tarpon Springs; one down in Largo; and one way down in St. Petersburg.

The one in Clearwater closed first. It was on Gulf-to-Bay boulevard, a major traffic channel. Its plaza was between two major intersections. Yet these and other factors did not prevent its closing. It was replaced with a Sears Home Goods or Sears Outlet or some such variation; that, too, is now closed.

(This has reminded me of another Sears closing. In Largo, across from Sunshine Mall [also gone] was a Searstown shopping plaza. I never shopped at that Sears, but I always liked the plaza’s classic main sign with its retro, cursive font.)

The Tarpon Springs K-Mart went next. Again, located at a major intersection, lots of traffic, easy to get to … and still not enough. Over the last few years I found Hot Wheels cars there that I wasn’t finding elsewhere. Pure happenstance, certainly, but I found it worth the trip.

The Largo store was the third to go. Sadly, I have to admit it wasn’t so unexpected. That store was always dirty and messy. On top of that, a shiny new Wal-mart moved in across the street several years ago. Ironically, it caused me to visit that K-Mart more often. My only efficient option for leaving the Wal-mart plaza was to turn right out of its north exit. Since I was facing east anyway, rather than turning north at the intersection to go home, I would often just “naturally” roll on through and stop over to that K-Mart.

As I’ve been writing this, I’ve been having memories of spending a lot of time at the Largo K-Mart, maybe fifteen years ago (the time frame is strictly a guess), shopping in a certain pattern within the store over and over; memories so clear I could almost redraw the store layout for you. The only thing I couldn’t recall was why. The Holy Spirit just brought it back to me: Garden borders. My Mom always kept our yard decorated with trees and gardens. At some point she began buying (and I began hauling) a particular style of scalloped garden border from K-Mart to surround the gardens and trees. But then we couldn’t find them. After several trips in a row with no borders, we asked a cashier in the Garden Center about this. We were told that, for reasons I do not recall, this K-Mart, “our” K-Mart, was no longer stocking them. But, then we learned that the Largo K-Mart was still getting them. So, several times a year, for a couple of years, I would drive down to the Largo store; park by the Garden Center; see how many borders they had so I could see how many I could get on that trip; go inside and visit my favorite departments (Toys, Electronics, Hardware, etc.); make my purchases; and go back out to the Garden Center to get the borders. Honestly, it’s strange how clearly I see myself retracing my steps in that store.

Curiously, shortly after the Largo K-Mart closed, Wal-mart closed its new store there, tore down the old K-shell and built a shinier, newier store across the street from its former self. This basically killed the old plaza. Among other stores, there was a Dollar Tree, a relatively new Aldi, and a barber shop which had been there for decades. But when Wal-mart skedaddled across the street, most of the old plaza’s customers went with it. There’s an Old Time Pottery in there now, but most of the smaller spaces are still empty.

The plaza the Countryside K-Mart is in used be almost twice its current size. It was L-shaped, with a big paved gap between the sections so you could use the southwest exit without having to drive all the way around the “foot” of the L. There were probably twelve to fifteen stores there. Beside K-Mart, one of the larger tenants was a Michaels craft store. There’s also a YaYa’s Chicken. (There used to be a Long John Silver’s in a stand-alone building out on the eastern portion of the lot; it closed and the YaYa’s moved in there.) I seem to recall a dry cleaner at the west end of the L-foot. I have no recollection what took up the main part of the foot, but something, perhaps a Jewel Osco, moved in about eight years later. Some time in the ’90s (I think), the foot was torn down, and everything but K-Mart was gutted out of the other section, and a Lowe’s went in there.

By the end of January 2018, it will just be the Lowe’s and the empty K-Mart shell. I don’t know if Lowe’s will expand into it, or tear it down, or if some other store will move in there. I hope a new tenant moves in.

Some people point to K-Mart’s relationship with Martha Stewart as the start of the chain’s troubles. Others fault its purchase of Sears. Neither K-Mart nor Sears seemed to effectively capitalize on online sales. Self-promotional giants Amazon and Wal-mart are harsh competition. Many business writers fault Sears CEO Eddie Lampert. Perhaps it’s a combination of all these things.

And yes, I know, nothing lasts forever. All good things must come to an end. It just bothers me that so many pieces of the fabric of Americana have disappeared. Jackson Byrons (later J Byrons, then just Byrons), gone. Not much for toys, but I remember our family shopping there very often. (That’s another lament for Sears; they had a really nice toy department, at least through the ’80s.) J C Penney is and has been struggling for years. Woolworth’s, Woolco, McCrory’s, Zayre, all gone. The Sears at Countryside Mall (now Westfield Countryside, officially) gave up half its first floor for a Whole Foods Market.

Soon, only the St. Pete K-Mart will be left. I’ve never been there, but I recently found out via their website’s store locator that it’s not tooo far from the Sports Bar & Grill. So, after our December meeting I’ll drive over there and check it out.

I don’t see myself actually attending a K-Day event there, however. As Jacye pointed out at this last K-Day, if the Countryside regulars attend a St. Pete K-Day along with the St. Pete regulars, that seriously reduces one’s odds of getting an early-round draw in the ticket raffle. Plus, that’s an awfully long drive south for that hour of a Saturday morning.

Of course, I say that now. We’ll see what happens when the next K-Day rolls around.

As I said, I’ve been attending K-Day events regularly (with a few misses) since 2004. I don’t know when K-Day started, or when they began doing three a year. But from ’04 through ’17, I’ve had approximately forty opportunities to not only get my hands on the freshest Hot Wheels models, but to also just enjoy the company of fellow collectors.

K-Mart, thank you. I wish things were going better for you, and I hope you get things fixed; but thank you for all those wonderful opportunities. Mattel, thank you. I don’t know if you’ll go in with another store chain if K-Mart finally folds (I hope you will); but thank you for having these little parties for your collectors. Thanks to Jayce, Adam, Steve and all the other Countryside regulars for years of laughs, jokes, complaints, photos (and the associated bragging rights) and the great camaraderie. And thank you, Abba-Father, for arranging to have Original Ken show up with a stack of flyers at that wonderful 2006 K-Day.

To you collectors who’ve never attended a K-Mart Collector Day, if you have a K-mart near you (or reasonably not too far from you), I recommend that you attempt to attend one if you get the opportunity. You’ll meet fellow collectors, and be part of something that’s becoming more and more rare.

And finally … See you at our December meeting!

~WM

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Our Merry Christmas gift to you: a Free Screensaver!

Really, it’s true!

(It's actually bigger than this.)

(It’s actually bigger than this.)

Suncoast Diecasters has been around for ten years. We’ve been online for nine. In that time, through WordPress (fellow bloggers and e-mail subscriptions), Facebook and Twitter, we’ve been blessed with about 380 followers. True, there are social media “superstars” who’ve amassed thousands of followers. But for this little local, humble club to have several hundred people interested in us is simply fantastic.

So, to celebrate a decade of tradin’ and collectin’, as well as to say “thank you” to you, our faithful followers, I’ve put together what I hope you’ll find to be a jolly little holiday screensaver.

Also, I’ve updated our Calendar with Suncoast Diecasters‘ 2017 schedule. I’ve tried several different formats for our Calendar over the years. Thank the Lord, with WordPress’ help I’ve found a new one which is tidy, more easily read and, most importantly, repeatable.

I’ll give you the link for getting our screensaver at the end of this update. So, get your holiday mood going, and start enjoying our photos! (And thank you again!)

December 2016

Of course, our December meeting is also always our Christmas meeting. For proof, here’s a shot of just some of the decorations around the Sports Bar. I assure you, the icicles had richly colored LEDs; they weren’t the glaring white things my camera decided they were.

'Tis all a-twinkle!

‘Tis all a-twinkle!

Last month a conversation between Scott and Original Ken eventually turned to the collecting of marbles as a hobby. Thus, Ken brought in some of his collection this month for Scott to peruse and appraise. Scott provided some interesting details about the marble hobby. For example, he pointed out that while Ken’s stash contains many glass, mass-manufactured marbles, there are also numerous clay, hand-made marbles. The clay ones are opaque, and not quite as shiny as the glass ones. More interestingly, he pointed out the many flat(tish) surfaces of a clay marble, contrasted against the machined and polished roundness of a glass one. Eventually Ken and Scott agreed on a price, and Scott walked away with a bagful.

Because it's Christmas, for your sake I will *not* make the obvious joke here.

Because it’s Christmas, for your sake I will *not* make the obvious joke here.

Very similar to last month, I had to shoot this with my phone’s convenience camera because the meeting was nearly over and my equipment was put away. I wouldn’t have taken the pic at all if I didn’t happen to just notice (thank the Lord) something toy-like in R.D.’s hand as he was saying his good-byes. This is Inside Story, and he bought it from Big Tractor Mike. The Super Kings’ size allowed me to shoot them from a reasonable distance. In contrast, this single, small toy necessitated a close-up which, coupled with the overhead’s glare off the white paint, prevented a better, more clear shot.

Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Slightly astigmatic Spider-Man!

Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Slightly astigmatic Spider-Man!

The following three (or, maybe four) items were all purchased from BTM by Gary. The JL ShowRods set below was the last shot I took using LiveView, which I’ll explain in a moment.

Wait, isn't this *2* of only 5000?

Wait, isn’t this *2* of only 5000?

Like most digital cameras (I presume), mine has an LED screen on back which lets you see exactly what the lens is seeing. In my camera’s OS, this is called LiveView. This is incredibly convenient for determining both zoom and focal point. And incredibly inconvenient when I get an all-red screen with the warning text, “Battery too low for LiveView”. So, I had to use my camera’s regular optical viewfinder for these next two photos, only guessing at the result. Thank the Lord, they both came out well-focused.

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I would've made funny captions for both these photos, but I'm two-tired.

I would’ve made funny captions for both these photos, but I’m two-tired.

JIm bought the following four (exactly) items from Ed. First is this picayune and puny Purple Passion:

Car's so small, it took two photos to make one good one.

Car’s so small, it took two photos to make one good one.

Next is this Hot Wheels Collectibles-series King ‘Kuda. I’m amused by the claim, “multi-piece car”; it’s my understanding that all Hot Wheels models are multi-piece.

You'd think the mechanic would've remembered to get that rag off the fender.

You’d think the mechanic would’ve remembered to get that rag off the fender.

And lastfully, these two classic Redlines: The Demon (b) and Custom Cougar (t). The Cougar obviously is based on a production vehicle. The Demon (a.k.a. Prowler) is based on the Li’l Coffin custom show rod. Yes, Virginia, there is a Li’l Coffin.

48 years of well-earned paint chipping.

48 years of well-earned paint chipping.

No, this photograph is not backwards. If you’ll read what it says, you should understand why it appears backwards.

Cidemarap is a leading OTC medication.

Cidemarap is a leading OTC medication.

This is a VW “Samba” ambulance by Maisto, from BTM to Ed. Well-appointed, too. Painted tail and fog lights, and that “glass lens” texture on the headlights in the above photo? Two of the most thoughtful tampos I’ve ever seen.

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Ed bought this Matchbox ambulance from Big Tractor Mike. I wonder if perchance it looks familiar…?

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Back in June, Ed bought from Big Tractor Mike a Speed Kings-series Mercedes Benz “Binz” ambulance. Here, Ed has done it again, but at a smaller scale.

One wonders if Ed is planning to start his own two-scale empire.

One wonders if Ed is planning to start his own two-scale empire.

A brilliant entrepreneurial business idea: combination auto mechanic and drive-in theater.

See, 'coz one has its hood up, and the other is facing ... Look, it's Christmas, just go along with the joke.

See, ‘coz one has its hood up, and the other is facing … Look, it’s Christmas, just go along with the joke.

Original Ken bought these from BTM. Both are from the 100% Hot Wheels series.

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Curiously, only one has a working hood.

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Just like egg nog:

Thick. Er, I mean yummy.

Thick. Er, I mean yummy.

Ed displayed several Hot Wheels Christmas diorama/playsets on his table. A few, I already own. One or two, I didn’t particularly care for. But this one … this one really stood out.

Sing along, folks! "It's the Little Saint Nick..."

Sing along, folks! “It’s the Little Saint Nick…”

The action poses, the great coloring on the vehicle, the barely-hanging-on elves — this is happy holiday hilarity for sure. You might be wondering why I haven’t provided any photos of Santa and his sweet ride outside of the box. Very simple: I haven’t opened it yet. That will happen sometime Christmas morning.

Yes, this is my Christmas present to myself.

Yes, this is my Christmas present to myself.

There’s a certain vehicle which has appeared off and on among BTM’s wares for quite some time now. After some research, which I will illustrate later, I decided to by it.

Pictured: *Not* the Yellow Submarine.

Pictured: *Not* the Yellow Submarine.

It’s Hover-Raider, a large-scale Matchbox vehicle. It’s part of MB’s short-lived Battle Kings-series.

# K-107

# K-107

Here’s the research, illustrated as promised. I was fairly certain I had the smaller hovercraft, but I was concerned that it was amongst The Many, Many Items Packed Away For The Move That Never Happened. Thank the Lord, I found it in time for our December meeting. My intent was to create another “Two Scales” photo set — which you can see is not quite as I imagined. As soon as I spotted the 107 on BTM’s table, I realized that, apart from the colors and general shape, the two models are dramatically different.

The smaller hovercraft is 'Superfast'-series # 72 & 2. Yes, "& 2" is actually part of its designation.

The smaller hovercraft is ‘Superfast’-series # 72 & 2. Yes, “& 2” is actually part of its designation.

And, yes, I am aware that our forlorn Two Scales page is sadly underloved and malnourished. Perhaps next year I can set aside time to go through The Many, Many Items Packed Away For The Move That Never Happened and relocate the models with which I can give that page the attention it deserves.

Anyway, I bought the K-107, for four reasons: 1) I really did want it; 2) Mike’s price was very reasonable; 3) I did go through the trouble of finding the 72; and 4) The Discovery.

The Discovery? Oh, that the K-107 has a Rolamatics feature. This is not indicated on the baseplate at all. Quite literally, I discovered it only because I felt something move against my fingers when I tried to straighten the radar housing. As with most Rolamatics models, being decades old, the feature no longer works properly. The radar spins about half-way, then the whole thing locks up. This happens both forward and backward. Still, it gives me the opportunity to give you your Christmas bonus: a new video!

Hover-Raider Rolamatics demo from Suncoast Diecasters on Vimeo.

For this truly unexpected feature — not to mention the fact that it’s simply a great large-scale model — I declare the Matchbox Battle Kings-series Hover-Raider to be Suncoast DiecastersFind of the Month for December 2016(*).

Okay, you’ve been Nice and read the whole update down to this point. (Or, maybe you were Naughty and just leaned on the Scroll Down button. Whatever.) First, some details: You’re going to download a compressed (zip) file named SD-10th-Xmas.zip. Inside are the screensaver itself, a Readme file (and please read it; it’s there for a reason (the reason being that you should read it.)), and a Music sub-folder which contains the music MP3s and a license. (The music is already embedded in the screensaver; I included the MP3s in case you wanted to use them elsewhere.)

The screensaver is compatible with Win XP and newer operating systems. (Windows/PC only; sorry, Apple/Mac users!)

Okay, you may now download your free screensaver. Thanks again for being part of Suncoast Diecasters‘ extended family.We wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah. and a Happy New Year 2017! See you at the January meeting!

~WM

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.

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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