Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cousin's Shop - Gift Greetings

Gift Greetings - Another place where you can buy Tomica
The shop started from a small gift shop till 2 shops size today. Core business as the shop name says, gifts. They do also sell toys like Lego, Hotwheels and of course my favourite, Tomica. The Tomica range from regular Tomica, Long Tomica, Tomica Limited etc. At times, there will be also Tomica Limited Vintage, Special Edition Tomica and some gift sets.

Disney Tomica

Special Edition Tomica left with only "One Make Racing" set currently, there will be more new stock coming in this week. You will have to make a trip down to see what they can offer. Gift Greetings is located in Great World City.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Recent Hong Kong Haul

Mostly Tomica (new, special & vintage), some Sikus, Ebbro, Diapet, Dinky, Tin Toys, Lone Star, Corgi, CMS, Winner etc

Tomica Rallycar Collection. This is very hot item and a total sold out in Hong Kong & Japan. I requested Ken's Garage to source it for me in Japan. I grab all 6 sets immediately and this is the only special set that I really like so far.

One box of 12 cars, that is 2 sets per box each

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Toy Car Shopping in Hong Kong

Ken's Garage: Tin Hau MTR exit A1 @ Apple Mall
This is a small shop but full of treasures. Pictures will say a thousand words, please see below in order to verify my words. Every time I go to Ken's Garage, I will be welcomed by a "muscular" keeper in the shop but fear not, Ken is very friendly and welcomes any Tomica collector who loves new and vintage Tomica. Only one thing that I may complain is, if shop too crowded, I will be sitting on a chair outside of the shop waiting for Doctor Ken to serve all his "patients" before my turn is called.

Ken does keep an updated supply of Tomicas, specials or regular as he visit Tomica land once or twice every month. Above box of Tomicas are his new stock freshly open from his recent Japan trip. Unfortunately, I did not get anything because those Tomica which I really like are too expensive for me. For example, a racing BMW 320 (limited or special edition) cost more than HKD1000, I didn't know exact price but it is more than HKD1000. I was 10 days in Hong Kong and I went to Ken's Garage thrice. First time to grab his newly source Tomica from Japan and place order for Tomica. Second time was to collect my stuff and bought more Tomica. Third time to see more new stuff which Ken acquired from a collector giving up his collection so of course I bought more too. Total spend this trip in Ken's Garage alone is approx. HKD3500. Mixtures of regulars, special editions and vintages.

Mainly Tomica (99%) and occasionally some others like Johnny Lightning. This time I do see some Bburago on consignment too.

Vintage Gift Sets

More Vintage Gift Sets

Mixture of all era Tomicas

Foreign Series Tomica

Black Box Series Vintage Tomica

Special Edition Tomica

Red White Box Tomica (Japan Made)
If you want to buy reasonably priced Tomica, this is the place you must go. Ken's Garage has almost any Tomica of different era or series (if they are available). If they are not available, you can request and he will hunt it for you during his Japan shopping trip if you are his regular. I got 6 sets of Rally Tomica Set (WRX & EVO)from him as I requested from him months ago.
Toyzone: Causeway Bay MTR exit D towards SOGO

See this bridge, walk towards it.

Upon reaching the stairs of the round bridge, you should be in Sugar Street. Look out for this building, Causeway Bay Commercial Building, on the left. Take the elevator to 16th floor.

This is how Toyzone look like inside. They have display case filled with toys sold by collectors who are selling on consignment. Toyzone carries mainly vintage or hard to find toys which is not available in shops. You can find all kind of toys in Toyzone from model cars, model kit, figurine, tin toys etc. If you are a collector of new toys or new Tomica, then I will tell you not to waste time here because this is paradise for vintage collectors. I did managed to buy some vintage toy cars like Playart, Corgi and Tomica (bought around 20 pcs this time). Condition from loose, played with to mint in box condition.

Saw this article in Toyzone. Shop owner found 79,000 pieces of old new stock of 60 different Tomica models in Uruguay Customs warehouse. He paid a total of 7 digit for these old stocks. All box and cars never been open before so they are MINT car in MINT box. But if your target price is only HKD20 per car, I think you better move on to continue to collect your new regular Tomica. These are worth at least HKD200 each or more depending on model.

F1 Cars

Vintage Dinky, Corgi & others

Some vintage Hotwheels & Tomica

Vintage Tin Toys

I bought one bus from this case
Above shown are just some cases showing different types of model cars. There are actually quite a number of cases featuring vintage Tomica. If you are into vintage Tomica, you should come here but the price is set by collector and not the shop so no way for you to bargain with seller. Staff of Toyzone are quite professional as I requested my bus to be packed as I need to carry it back to Singapore. As the bus is loose, they help me packed it in a box filled with foam packing. If you are first time there and like to see all kind of vintage, you could spend at least 1 to 2 hours there.

Tai Yuan Street: Wanchai MTR exit A3 Johnston Road

There are a total of 5 to 6 toy shops in Tai Yuan Street aka Toy Street in Hong Kong. I usually patronize in 2 shops there only. The most famous is Hung Hing. You will definately know this shop if you are a Tomica freak.


Hung Hing is always packed with customers regardless of the time or the day you go.

If you manage to get in, you will need to squeeze through the narrow passage for one person. You might need to wait a little while if the shop is too crowded but it is worth the wait if you are craving for Tomica because the whole stretch of the display case on the left are filled up with regular, special and vintage Tomica. Hung Hing not only sell Tomica and also various brands like Ebbro, Choro Q, Siku, Corgi etc. Usually I will buy some special edition or vintage in Hung Hing. There are also some other vintage available, this time I have bought Eidai (package as MadMax), Lone Star, Dinky Hong Kong etc. They have almost anything in the shop including Hotwheels as Hotwheels are never taken seriously by Hong Kong collectors.

Vintage Foreign Series Tomica

Blister Pack Discontinue Tomica

Vintage Long Tomica

This is a must go for any Tomica enthusiast. This is also a place where I broke my wallet every visit.

Yat Sing is a toy shop but do sell regular Tomica and loose Tomica. They open up various gift sets and sell them as loose. They do have some old stock of Tomica Limited selling at low price but limited selection. There are some special edition Tomica as well but in small numbers. I scored in this shop for the "Not for Sale" Chrome Toyota Celica as I swept 10 pieces at a good price.

At a corner of the shop, Hotwheels are dumped into a 2 full containers as "junk" selling at HKD10 but nobody bother to take a 2nd look at all. Among all Asian countries, Hotwheels are treated seriously only in Singapore and Malaysia which I really don't understand why. Personally, I never like Hotwheels as I think they are junk as well. See how Hotwheels are treated in Hong Kong and you know how lowly they are treated there. Try asking any Hong Kong collectors if they really will buy Hotwheels? I bet it will be a no as they are not as widely available as compared to Tomica. I have seen children with parents in shops buying lots of Tomica and I believe the love for Tomica is cultivated since young. This is quite different from Singapore as I know some Tomica collectors here never played with Tomica during their childhood and they only cultivate the love for Tomica in their 30s. The worse collector I have seen are those who used to collect figurine and brought the mint box mint toy behaviour into collecting Tomica.

There are also quite a number of toy shops in Star House, Kowloon, but not so many Tomica. Any questions about shopping of toy cars in Hong Kong, you are welcome to send me a email or message.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tomica vs Mandarin - Chevy Van

1977 Classic Chevy Cargo Van

Apologies as I have little knowledge on Chevy Van but this model is widely produced by different toy makers. I have seen productions from Tomica, Yatming, Dinky, Hotwheels etc.

I will be quite busy for the whole March so I am doing this last minute kind of comparo before I take off again. Where am I going? To the land of Tomica! In fact to 2 lands of Tomica where the collectors in these 2 regions are MUCH MUCH MUCH more serious than tiny Singapore. Some of my collector friends will benefit from my trip as 80% of my purchase goes to them. I will usually buy those older or vintage Tomica rather than the new release. So guys, wait for me till maybe end of March till early April and I should be back again with more updates on my blog.

1977 Tomica Chevrolet Chevy Van, Scale: 1/78, Made in Japan

Mandarin Chevrolet Chevyvan, Made in Singapore, Scale & Yr unknown

Model & Casting:
The Tomica looks "miniature" when compared side by side with the Mandarin. Basically the 2 models are almost identical except Tomica being sized "S". I will prefer the size of the Mandarin because the Tomica looks too small for a van. On the other hand, Tomica has nicer details, for example, the front grill and head lights are made of metal rather than plastic. The Tomica also wins slightly in terms of refinement in the lines and curves.
Tomica: 4/5
Mandarin: 3/5
Quality & Finish:
Actually there is no doubt for the Tomica, paint and fitting is excellent. The strips on the sides are painted (and nicely painted too), not decals or stickers that is pasted over. Mandarin are "famous" for being poorly built but at least this featured Mandarin does survived and made it here, less the worn decal and some paint loss.
Tomica: 4.5/5
Mandarin: 2/5
Wheels & Suspension:
On my last article on Mandarin, I omitted that Mandarin toys are or might be based on Dinky Toys too (Hong Kong Dinky). The wheels of the Mandarin are identical to Dinky and I also realised that they do share some models range as well. Dinky are well known to the British and it is always a preferred choice over Corgi. They closed down in 1974 (if I am not wrong) and production was shifted to Hong Kong, Mini Dinky was born since. Mini Dinky and Corgi Jr are equally bad actually. After all these years, Mandarin still has some suspension left which might be due to heavy play. The Tomica is in total mint condition so all wheels and suspension are still available.
Tomica: 4/5
Mandarin: 2.5/5

Tomica metal base with some details of the car against a very simple plastic base even omitting the car model.
Tomica: 4/5
Mandarin: 2/5
This Tomica van is quite easily available in whichever condition and doesn't really cost you an arm or a leg to buy it from eBay. If based on same condition, mint vs mint, as a serious die cast collector, the Mandarin will be worth easily 2 times more than the Tomica. The Mandarin is so rare that most collectors are willing to accept in any condition provided all parts are not missing and suspension is still sufficient for the bounce.
Tomica: 2/5
Mandarin: 4/5
Verdict on Total:
Tomica: 18.5/25, 74%
Mandarin: 13.5/25, 54%