Friday, November 14, 2014

Hong Kong - Visiting Friends and Toy Car Shopping

Just when I thought I will give Hong Kong a miss in 2014, here I am again. Agenda is a little different this time, to visit friends and in the mean time to check out the toy car scene in Hong Kong. 9th Nov, woke up early morning, took the first flight to Hong Kong.

Upon reaching the hotel, Ken of Ken's Garage was already welcoming me at my regular hotel I put up at. We went lunch and then to 2 toy car shops. First stop, Eastern Toy Shop that sells Tomica and mixed brands of toy cars.

They have Disney Tomica, Japan exclusive, vintage, regular. Pretty similar to the famous Hung Hing in terms of variety and pricing.

They do have brands like Choro Q, Green Light, Kyosho, Hot Wheels, Majorette and many others.

Various mixed of Tomica. What did I buy? I bought a Kyosho Toyota Century and number of Majorette in this shop and their subsidiary shop next door (Eastern Kids if I remember correct). Surprised that I buy no Tomica here.

I have not taken a double decker bus for 14 years at least so it's kind of interesting for me when Ken took me to take a bus to his shop.

After a full 40 minutes bus ride, here we are at Ken's Garage where I can dig some treasures.

He had sold most of his stuff but I still managed to get some items here and there.

Total bought around 20 cars only this time. Not many compared to my previous visit because I got to save up for my Japan trip next month. Although Ken's Garage is out of the way, it's still worth a visit because Ken will give a reasonable pricing for his Tomica. Ok lah, try using my blog name for last resort. Hope everyone who is following my blog can give Ken some support. Thanks all on Ken's behalf.

Hung Hing expanded!!! Left shop selling mixture of toy cars and toys of all genre. Heard that they might have a third shop soon which sells Lego!

I won't elaborate much on them since they are more than famous now. I bought less than 10 cars although I visited them 4 times in 3 days.  
Day 2, meeting more friends. This is Ian from Canada visiting Hong Kong. We share our collecting experiences and it's great meeting people who you been talking to on FB. I think I need to do more jogging upon returning to Singapore. Seriously hate to take photo. Ha ha.

After meeting Ian, went back to hotel to meet another friend, Leon.

We do a short visit to Tai Yuan street. Then he brought me to shops I have not been to. This is a tiny shop that sells basically anything.

Most of the stuff are toy related. The shop owner do have some MIB Tomica as well but he doesn't have the cars that will make me reach for my wallet. Move on.

This is new to me. Bus Warehouse. The uncle is quite friendly and allows me to take photos of his entire shop although I bought only 2 Tomica there. They have a huge range of Tomica of any series.

The shop is tiny but space is maximized. See what I meant.

Rushing to Toy Zone moments before they close for the day.

Found nothing much except buying 2 vintage Tomica Mercedes.

Head to Aeon nearby to see what they have to offer.

Regular Tomica are more expensive than Singapore so got to make a pass on these. Bought the discontinued TL since I don't see them in Singapore anymore.

This shop sells model cars from 1/43 to 1/18 scale. They are closed when I reach so next time maybe. I didn't buy too many Tomica this trip as my main purpose is to meet friends, clear my 2013 annual leave and to take a break. I should be back again next year I guess.




Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tomica Fiat 500 Lupin The Third

I don't usually buy the Dream Tomica except Godzilla vehicle, Initial D Trueno and the recent Time Mechabuton. I just can't bring myself to buy those Disney or Hello Kitty theme vehicle. Most collectors are looking forward to the Trueno but I am looking forward to this Fiat 500 instead. In fact, I have yet to open the packaging of my white hooded Initial D Trueno.

This is the best Dream Tomica to date. Current Tomica do not have a registration plate but this Fiat complete with a pair of rear and front plates. The plate is painted unlike the older Tomica which were moulded. Anyway, it's a toy made on current day so the manufacturing process are not the same anymore.

What I like about this Fiat because it is made closely to the anime. It had it's rag roof rolled up, Lupin's baggage on the roof and rear engine hood popped. It would be great if Tomica could leave the roof "open" without the plastic window. I wouldn't mind to pay extra if Lupin III and Daisuke Jigen figures are included.

Lupin The Third Fiat 500 posing with the new Fiat 500. The opening up of Lupin The Third could also mean that Tomica could make other cars in the Lupin series. Most cars are unknown to current collector because most cars are made few decades before I was born unless you know how to appreciate the beauty of classic cars. In the Lupin Series, Clarisse who is Lupin's girlfriend, drive a red Citroen 2CV. Tomica made one years ago but would be great if Tomica can remake one with a new casting. One other Lupin's ride is a Mercedes SSK besides the Fiat. There were so many cars in the anime that Tomica could open up a Lupin The Third series. Ferrari 312 (not possible due to licensing restrictions), Renault A110, VW Beach Buggy and so on. Well, this is actually a dream for me which unlikely will happen.

A real Fiat 500 while I was in Germany on business trip this May. I used to know of a lime green Fiat 500 some 10 or 15 years ago. It had some rust on its body with a "SW" plate always parked in Jurong East. It was gone but hope that someone bought it and restore it to original. I also saw a young guy in his 30s driving a Fiat 600 just 2 or 3 years ago while I was driving home and he is just in front of me. Fiat 600 is slightly larger than a Fiat 500 in terms of size and displacement. I am glad that there are people who still appreciate these cars in Singapore and hope we can do our best to preserve classic cars.




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SCDF Mercedes Ambulance

I have to be honest. Normally I do not attend any exhibitions organized by SCDF or SAF but last Saturday I went to the SCDF event for the first time. To kill 2 birds with a stone, I went to the nearby World Food Fair as well.

This is the real agenda behind the trip there. SCDF has made a Rhino vehicle some years back and now a Mercedes Ambulance. The build quality is quite poor but it's one of a kind. You can't find this anywhere and commendable for SCDF to do a souvenir like this. Keep it up SCDF so I can add more of your vehicles to my collection. Perhaps I should propose to SCDF to make a Tomica.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Combat & Super Wing Tomica

These are one of the rare series in the Tomica range. Both Combat Tomica and Super Wing Series were made in the 1970s. I am not really a tank or plane fanatic but I don't mind having them in my collection.
 

I am glad to add this F15A in my collection. Got this just this week and eager to share with you guys as soon as I have the time to update my blog.
 
Loose F16A which I got it from Japan last December.

2nd World War German Tank and it is not played with at all. Gonna keep it that way.



Sunday, August 10, 2014

I Love Old Japanese Coupe

I started my Tomica collection beginning with Foreign series because I prefer continental cars then. My appreciation for old Japanese cars started from Tomica too. Old Japanese cars which were common on our roads are gone due to the high maintenance cost of our road system. Japanese cars in the 70s and 80s are more interesting compared to current day models. Can you imagine that there are 30 to 50 variants for just a single model? This is due to different body style, engine specifications, trim levels and sometimes limited edition models. Take Toyota Crown for instance, there is a 2 door coupe, 4 door saloon, 5 door station wagon which you do not get for today's successor. Germans are still continuing this tradition today for most of their range of cars. I picked from my box of Tomica in random for 2 door models of individual models. Nissan Cherry E10 series(known as 100A in Singapore) are a common sight in Singapore then. I find that it was a ugly little car and the F10 series were still running on our road in the early 90s. The Cherry has a 2 door and a 4 door variant in Singapore. There was also a coupe and a wagon made for the Cherry.

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The Nissan Pulsar eventually took over the 100A in Singapore. The coupe aka EXA was the cooler version of the Pulsar range. There are also 3 & 5 door hatchback, 4 door saloon made. Singapore had only the 5 door hatchback and the EXA Coupe. My cousin's family was still driving the very last unit of the 5 door hatch and had to scrap it in 2008. They replaced it with a Corolla Altis.

Nissan Gloria is an identical car to the Cedric. Gloria is actually a sportier Cedric but was badged differently. The Gloria had a 4 door saloon and 5 door wagon too. The Gloria name was discontinued 10 years ago. If you want to buy a Cedric or Gloria, you will have to look at the Fuga or the Infinity which are the successor now.

Corona used to be hot seller after the Corolla in Singapore until it was discontinue in early millennium. The Camry took its place in the mid size saloon segment. 4 door saloon and 5 door wagon were made for the Corona too in the those days. These were the common body styles then.
 
Mark II was a mid size sedan and it was positioned to be above Corona and Camry. Coupe, saloon and wagon were made. The above was the 3rd generation Mark II, In Singapore, it was known as the Cressida.

The above is the 2nd generation Mark II. There were a total of 9 generations Mark II made. The 10th generation was renamed to Mark X.

Looks may be deceiving. The Colt Galant was considered a "supercar" of the early 1970s. Saloon and wagon were made and the top of the range is the Colt Galant GTO. The Colt Galant GTO did not have sufficient time to make a name for itself during the Singapore Rally of the early 70s. 1973 was the last year we had our very own Singapore Rally. Beside a Honda F1 which took part in the 60s, the race was dominated by Minis, Cortinas, Lotus, Alfa or Jaguar. In the early 70s, a few Japanese cars took part in the race but they didn't have ample time to prove themselves. A Mitsubishi Colt Galant 1300 4 door saloon was also a first prize lucky draw for spectators who bought entry tickets one of the years. Besides a Galant GTO, there is also a Celica 1600GT and a Bluebird SSS competing for a short period of time. Not many people knew that part of the race. I know it because my colleague told me this valuable information. I was surprise that he knows Colt Galant and he explained that he attended the race without valid ticket and his brother bought a Colt Galant GTO then. He said that the car was cool as the interior was built like a cockpit. The dials were located on top slightly above eye level. Not many GTOs were released in Singapore at that time. By the way, my colleague also bought a AE86 Trueno in the 80s. Japanese cars were so much interesting then, consumers were really spoilt for choices.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Why I Love Majorette?

My first encounter with Majorette came much later than Tomica and Playart. When I was old enough to walk myself (actually still accompanied by an aunt) to the nearby Yaohan to buy my own toy cars with my own pocket money, Majorette came into my life. I did not give up on Tomica but they was nowhere to be found when I could buy my own toy cars in the late 80s. The price of Majorette was $2.20 which was priced the same as Matchbox. Majorette and Matchbox display rack were located almost side by side then. Although Yaohan is a mere 10 minutes walk from my home but going to Yaohan is as good as going downtown during those good old days. I would buy myself 1 or 2 cars whenever I visit Yaohan. I am still able to recall how Yaohan toy department looked like although vaguely but if you asked me about the supermarket section, I can't at all because I only visit the toy department. I would wait for my parents or any adult to pick me up from the toy section after they done with their shopping. I wasn't so much in love with Japanese cars (probably with the exception of Tomica) then so Majorette offered a good variety of European road cars and exotic super cars. My favourite car from Majorette then was a yellow Ford Sierra 5 door lift back. Probably it was yellow, a hatchback and it offered a very good bouncy suspension just like Tomica. I still keep this yellow Majorette till today.
 
This early Majorette was way before my time. It was made before I was born too but the early Majorette are the most charming comparing to those I had during the 80s. The early 70s Majorette offers much more than most toy cars could then. It has more opening parts comparing to a Matchbox or Tomica. You don't find so many features packed into a little toy car today anymore.

What current day Majorette offers isn't much far off to the late 70s to 80s pieces. Beside Siku, Majorette is one brand that keep its tradition. Current day Majorette has opening doors and better shut lines.

They do have cars with opening hood.

The hatches still open and to highlight that the hatch is no paint over job like Tomica. The rear window is a through hole similar to older Majorettes.

Remember the old Porsche 924 with a plastic opening hatch? I found a similar car with the same opening rear concept, a Honda CRZ. The Honda opening hatch feels so flimsy that you could crush it with your fingers easily if handled by a clumsy person.

There are also cars without any opening feature and equipped with just suspension. The modern Majorette suspension doesn't work as well as the older one. The new Majorette suspension has similar designs to the current Norev line up. Not very effective but better than toy cars with none.

What Majorette doesn't make today are the fat super cars with fat dish wheels. I had a Pontiac Fiero which had a super fat body and a set of fat wheels slightly fatter than the Countach above. I always comment how ugly Majorette made their sports cars. Another ugly one is the Triumph TR7 but it seems like I am buying them back one by one.

Modern Majorette casting are quite nicely done. They are still fat (big) similar to those made 30 years ago. They didn't lose their identity too much which is not a bad thing. Majorette was once a horrid during the early 90s when the factory was shifted to Thailand. The paint chip before the blister is opened. The material that made the car was just 2 notches below the French made ones. The improvement in quality came about 20 years later. The recent Majorette (for some models) are a nice touch although paint quality still need some improvement and the selection of models made are much more interesting than 10 years ago. What I didn't really like are the new design of rims which looks either Hot Wheels (complicated but ugly) or the cheap Fast Lanes cars.

The best modern Majorette I have seen by far is a Dacia Duster. Dacia is a Romanian car owned by Renault which uses basically old mechanical of a defunct Renault. It's a surprise to see that a budget car to be treated with a more serious note as compared to a BMW or a R8. The rear hatch is a nice touch with shut lines almost seamless. The car do comes with a traditional Majorette rear hook for the weekend caravan. I don't know if anyone realised that the front side windows are not covered with plastic which is very common among Majorette cars including those which does not have opening doors. Majorette are trying really hard to maintain its identity for some models. Keep up the good work, Majorette. I will be looking out for you more.