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.

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.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Toy Cars I Bought in Germany

I bought a big lot of Tomica this trip but you are not seeing them here because I have already put them up for sale in a friend's shop. These are some of the smaller scale cars I am keeping. Just to share with you guys some interesting cars I found.

Penny - Fiat 124
Penny is something I am trying to collect but selectively. I wanted a Alfa Romeo Giulia but the asking price is 2 to 3 times the price of this Fiat so I have to pass. I have a few Penny at the moment but will not hesitate to buy them if the price is reasonable.

Schuco - Mercedes-Benz 200D
Schuco is a brand I have been collecting for some years. To complete it is rather impossible since they are getting scarce now especially mint in box ones. This W123 Mercedes Benz is hard to find among the 1/66 series. I do not buy a Mercedes if its emblem is missing but not for this one. It is too hard for one to come by and for me to pass it. I do encountered member in my group who wanted to buy this car when I post it in my FB group but commented that it is not mint and demanded me to sell him a mint one. I am feeling very annoyed because it is very rude to request the owner of the toy to price the toy for sale when the owner does not even have the intention to do so. I appreciate members to respect the owner of any post when we are sharing the stuff we found or collect. I wonder how much he is willing to offer for a mint in box piece.

Majorette - Toyota Landcruiser
I used to hate Majorette with big fat wheels. Since it is a Japanese car and a Landcruiser, my heart softened and bought 2 units of these examples. Majorette has been a friend during my childhood so I bought quite a number of them this trip. The early Majorette from 70s and 80s are still the best in my opinion. I like to have the 60s Majorette but it is too much for my wallet to bear. I have a few pieces of the 60s model already and I am good at the moment.

Faller Hit Car - BMW 2000CS 
Faller are supposed to be slot cars and the "toy" car version are based on the slot cars without the motor. I am collecting Faller as well at a small scale. The body is plastic but it has a metal base. I have not seen a BMW version but I still proceed to buy it although it is a junk piece. Most models I came across are either a Mercedes, Porsche or a VW.

Rasant - Ford Taunus 17M
This is the first time I heard of a Rasant so I have to buy it. Like the Faller, Rasant origins started as a slot car too and was made into a lesser model without the model at a later stage. It has a metal body and base which slightly differs from the Faller.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Germany 2014

We would fly to Hamburg directly usually but this is the first time we fly direct to Bremen instead. On the second day in Bremen, we went to Hertz to collect our rental vehicle as our transport for the next few days. This should be the largest car I had driven in Germany to date. It's a Ford Mondeo Wagon in its latest incarnation. According to the Hertz guy who served us, it's brand new.

There is a park in Bremen where we need to cross before going to our usual restaurant we patronize frequently. I have seen a nest of rabbits some years back and have been looking for them whenever I walk past this park. They will come out of their hideout at night to hunt for food and years after, I found them again. Although just a few spotted but I am glad that they are still around. I can't get close as I don't want to startle them.

Walking past the park towards our hotel, 3 ducks are walking on the pavement. They walk towards me and stop in front of me. They are so adorable and they are not afraid of people.

We went to Leer from Bremen. Leer is a small town located in North-western Germany and it is at the border of The Netherlands. It is a beautiful town with architectures almost fairy-tale-like looking, although not as fairy tale like houses in Prague but I am delighted to be in Leer.

See what I meant, we don't see these kind of houses in Singapore.

Our final destination was Hamburg, but before we travel to Hamburg, we drove to Buxtehude from Bremen. After visiting the one and only customer in Buxtehude, we stopped by a restaurant for our lunch.

This is the restaurant where we parked our vehicle. I had pork cutlet as usual because in Germany, pork is consumed widely. It is safe for you to know Schnitzer or pommes frites with mayo if you speak no German. Most restaurants in Germany do not have a English menu or speak English unless you are in a populous city like Hamburg.

Weekend arrived and I went to just one floh-markt because I don't want to go through the hassle of travelling far and found that there is nothing for me (but junks) and went back empty handed. I went to the usual one in St. Pauli since I know there is a regular seller with many toy cars. Not this stall above, happens to be another stall manned by father and son.

Went to meet up with a friend, he showed me something "rare" which I agree is rare for the display case. He gave me a ladder to climb as it is hidden somewhere high up. Eidai Grip, I need one car in that display!

Greeted me with trays of cars as usual, this time no Matchboxes, no Siku, mainly Majorettes. Got quite a number of Majorette this time.

Sunday arrived and I skipped all the flea markets because they are simply too far from my hotel. I went to Miniatur Wunderland for the 3rd or 4th time, can't remember though.

Impressive as usual whenever I am there. Bought many HO scale cars there too from their resident shop because it's cheaper by a few fold compared to retail.

This is something new for me, Automuseum Prototyp where you see old prototype cars you never seen before.

This car looks way ahead of its time, a 1939 Porsche Typ 64 "Berlin-Rom-Wagen".

1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS. Most of the cars in the museum are either a Porsche or a VW. Great for enthusiast who are into classic cars. That's all folks, a very simple and short summary of my German trip.