Friday, November 26, 2010

Cars Tomica Should Make Part I

"Do you have a Honda Stream?" This is the most common question I have been asked when I am doing my weekend flea market. I do ask myself on the criteria Tomica is looking at before making into one. I also felt that some models should be made but was not. I will not bring my wish list too far back in time; just 20 years will be enough for me to list out the cars I wish Tomica should make.

Daihatsu YRV Turbo
I heard some people shouting “Kelong”, apologies for those who do not understand Kelong, you may like to check in search engine under Singlish. For friends who know me, they know that this is my ride. Well, not really “Kelong”. I’ll explain a little to support my claim. How many Daihatsu does Tomica make? Some Midgets, Moves, Mira & Copen. Can’t they make something a little bigger like the Boon, Materia or Terios (I do know that they are a specialist for micro cars). They did make the Toyota Passo which is originally a Daihatsu Boon but many thought that it’s Daihatsu who “steal” the design from their parent company. The same goes for the Materia and Terios. There is one car which is supposed to be a prototype which really goes into production, the YRV. Although using the same platform with Yaris but the YRV is a model which Toyota does not have. I also do hope Tomica can make a Daihatsu Boon X4 but unlikely as it is already been made into a Passo. To make the Materia will not be possible too because they will rather make it into a bB (2nd generation). Since YRV is the stand alone model (which is not a Toyota) Daihatsu has made in recent years and a non-Kei car because Tomica has not made a Daihatsu bigger than the Kei-Class.

1st Generation Honda Civic (rear engine)
2nd Generation Honda Civic Country
3rd Generation Honda Civic 3 Doors Hatch
JDM Honda Civic Type R
Honda Civic EG6 (5th Generation)
This is one of the more popular Civic of all time so why didn’t Tomica make this? If they made this in the 90s, they could include this into the Initial D gift set. Tomica has made a total of 4 Civics. 1st generation Civic (rear engine) as a 2 door hatchback, 2nd generation Civic as a Station wagon known as the Civic Country, 3rd generation Civic as a 3 door hatchback and 8th Civic as a JDM 4 door sedan Type R. Nobody know why they miss out the 4th to 7th generation Civics.

Infinity G37 Coupe
Tomica has never made an Infinity before. I know they made a Nissan 350GT Coupe (based on Infinity G35) but it’s under the name of Nissan. Since Tomica is making a comeback into US of A this year, why not make this one? It’s a nice car actually.

Isuzu 117 Coupe (One & Only Isuzu Passenger Car)
Isuzu ELF & Many more other commercial vehicles
Isuzu Piazza (Impulse)
I felt that it’s a shame that Isuzu no longer make cars today. Tomica in the past make more trucks, buses, vans, fire engines compared to passenger cars. In fact, Tomica only made one Isuzu car, the 117 Coupe. I would really hope Isuzu can return to the passenger car scene due to their sporting heritage. If you asked me, I would say they are the Japanese Alfa Romeo. Isuzu cars are very European styled and most of their cars are sports salon tuned by Lotus. My favorite of the lot will be the Isuzu Piazza aka Impulse. Don’t you find that it looks a 80s VW Sirocco? The very last of Isuzu which see the daylight in Singapore is the Gemini (reminds me of a Tercel because of its short tail).

Lexus LFA
Tomica never made a Lexus except for the equivalent of LS series and Soarer. Strange enough, the only Lexus made is under the Tomica Limited branding. The LFA should be a Soarer / Supra replacement and the specifications of the car look really much superior to the Supra in the early 90s. Tomica has been making Soarer and Supra and they are always in my collecting list. I have a feeling that Tomica might make this car in 2011. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Tomica has made these 323 but missed a few generations
Mazda 323 Familia Astina
I think that this is the most beautiful 323/Familia of all time. The new “M3” is nice but somehow has lost some identity. The Astina sports a pop-up head lamps and a svelte rear. This car is popular in the 90s but I was too young to buy one then because I am still schooling then. I don't think I will buy one now too because most cars of that era are not in pristine condition and I am not ready for occasional hiccups from my car. The only company that made this car is Yonezawa Diapet. Good choice.

Part II coming up. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Collectors

I was always a lone toy car collector till I started meeting local collectors 3 years ago. I did not really have a chance to meet any because most of the toy collectors in Singapore have bigger interest on 12 inch figurine collector or action figures. Yes, those who will need to buy 2 piece of the same product, one for play and one to keep it untouched. If it is opened or there is a hairline scratch on the box, the price will depreciate as what they explained (What the....!?). I felt lucky that I have negative interest in figurines. Back to car collecting, I was kind of surprise that there are locals who actually collect Tomica but I wasn’t going to have high expectation based on what they have been posting on the forum before the gathering. The minimum I expect is they do have some knowledge on Tomica but to my disappointment; nobody has any except current Tomica range. Can you imagine nobody ever seen a Japan made Tomica at the gathering? They might not even know that there are Made in Japan Tomica since everything are made in China ever since they started collecting. After knowing some local collectors and doing a series of flea market with friends, I started to understand what the local market wants. I respect what they want to collect but I do not want to understand some of the people who I consider unbearable. Here are the Good, the Bad & the Ugly (based on people I have met & seen).

The One Make/Model Collector
I treat these collectors with respect because they know what they want to collect. I have seen collectors who are contented with just collecting Minis or Beetles of different sizes and makes. Like my quote “I collect any toy cars as long as it is a Tomica”. For these collectors, they substitute my “Tomica” to “Mini” or “Beetle” or whatever their interest. I also know a “Toyotageek” who is a nice person who collects any Toyota and has very good knowledge of Toyota cars.

Tomica does make gift set for Toyota, Honda etc.

The Car & Driver
These are not real collectors but they happened to be a “collector” because of what they drive. My brother happened to be in this category as he displays Suzuki Swift of all sizes and colors in his room. Some of his collections are my contribution from my business or holiday trips. I do get approached by patrons at flea market asking me if I do have a Honda Stream or Toyota Wish on sale at my stall. My Toyota Wish is also the top harassed car at my stall which I do not mind at all as long as they don’t break it. The Toyota Wish on display at my stall is a Promo car for Toyota, strictly Not-For-Sale item in Japan.

My brother's Suzuki Swift Sport collection
Most Harassed Car at the Flea Market: Toyota Wish

The Vintage Collector
I have known people who collect mainly old toy cars regardless of condition as long as they find them charming. I like to talk to these collectors because we can learn from one another and we can have hours of discussion. I do not consider myself a full pledge one yet because my collections are from the 70s till current day (well about 70% are before 1990). There is once when a smart Alec told me that I am not a Tomica collector (which is a big insult to me because he knows nuts about Tomica) but a vintage collector. His intention is not to compliment me but to insult me softly. Anyway, I take it that he complimented me.

Various makes of die cast like Matchbox, Schuco, Husky etc

The Diehard Fans (but Blind)
Although my quote is to collect any toy cars as long as it is a Tomica but I do collect other brands too like Schuco, Matchbox, Majorette, Diapet, Cherica etc. I am trying to say that my main core is Tomica but I am not restricting myself to just Tomica. There are many nice and charming toys out there, why restrict yourself to just one? The diehard fans are the royal followers from Hotwheels or Tomica. I would say that they are good customers to Mattel and Takara-Tomy but somehow they do not know what they want. I am referring to “collectors” who will buy whatever the company release. Tomica for instance, they will buy all regular series from 1 to 120, all Long Tomica and all the Tomica Limited. Why? To complete the series since they start collecting based on what is available in store. They might not like the vehicle but they must buy every release model because they think that it proves that they are a Tomica collector.

The Fast & the Furious
These bunches are mostly from the Hotwheels gang who I like to tease at my flea market. Their favorite line is “I collect fast cars only”. Upon heard that, I will ask “How fast?” answers will be Ferrari, Lamborghini, Skyline being the usual suspects. I will queried them,” Is Golf GTi, Swift Sport or AE86 consider fast?” They stunned a little and I show them my Tomica first Generation Mazda RX-7 and asked, “Is this fast?” They told me that my RX-7 is an old car, not fast car. Darn!

Fast Car
Old Car

The Scrap Metal Collector
Many a times, I see “collector” putting a car on his palm and comment “Ah, it’s very heavy”, “Look! The base is metal too”, “It’s worth it buying this car”. I am starting to wonder if they are buying paper weight or they really like the car. If the car has got rubber wheels, they go crazy. Rubber wheels are nice but when I was a kid, I hated them because the car cannot skid when roll on the floor. To this lot of people, they think that a good quality toy car must have metal base and the toy must be heavy, a bonus to them will be additional rubber wheels. I consider them shallow. I always tell them off that a good quality car doesn’t really mean that it must have a metal base or must be heavy. There are many vintage Tomica which has plastic base, are they bad? Are they going to sell them as scrap metal too when they got tired of the hobby?

Good example of a "Good Quality" toy car

Not-So-Good Toy Car due to plastic base????

The Hunter (aka Scalper)
I have friends saying in exaggerated manner that this piece of Hotwheels (regular release) is “hard to find”, “cannot find” or “don’t have already”. I will tell them, how hard can it be? If I like it, I will just buy it from eBay (of course the eBay sellers might be scalpers too. Ha! Ha!). They are people who will hunt from place to place as many as 5 to 6 spots per day in Singapore and buy all “HOT” cars. They will leave their number at all major departmental stores who are selling Hotwheels so that the store assistant will contact them whenever there is new stock arrival. The same happens in Malaysia too, they pay the store assistant for information of new stock arrival and they mark their territory as well. Why can’t these people enjoy the joy of collecting die cast and why do they have to resort to all this unnecessary moves?

One is never enough. They must make sure nobody else get it besides them.

The Know Nuts
There are many collectors who claim that they are collectors of Hotwheels or Tomica brand. If probed deeper, they know nothing in terms of the brand’s history. For Hotwheels, they will pay very high price for a latest release car which is crazy but they care less about the vintage from 60s or 70s. You can try asking anyone of them using a 60s up to 80s model and they go speechless but if you ask them about what is going to release in 2011, they tell you more than what you know. Tomica collectors are kind of similar to Hotwheels collectors but the vintage models are much more expensive than vintage Hotwheels (in general). There are people who claim that they are collectors but never even seen a vintage model. I decided to give one a test and asked if he will start thinking to collect the vintage ones. He said that he will consider if the price is selling at market price. I asked what he meant by market price for a vintage? He said “$5.95, box and car condition must be excellent”. I was not mad but EXTREMELY pissed because $5.95 is the price of a current Tomica in Singapore and I felt my time was wasted meeting someone who claimed to be a Tomica collector. I just told him politely that I don’t think he will ever find someone who will willingly to offer him a MINT CAR with a MINT BOX vintage which is MADE IN JAPAN at retail price. Whoever does that, he must be a NINCOMPOOP and I wish him luck. These people also like re-issue Tomica (of 70s & 80s) very much (from Made in Japan to Made in China) but they do not know that by doing so, the original die is considered destroyed. They disagreed, they said that if Tomica doesn't produce re-issue, they never have the chance to own a vintage because they are expensive.

This is a dead stock which I acquired recently and should be Mint car in mint box (to my standard) but I will not sell it for $5.95 definately.

The Nit Picker
There are the people who amazed me, mainly the people who buy Tomica. These nit pickers not only nit pick but they are also totally inconsiderate and selfish too. When I started buying Tomica during my SOGO days (my favorite store but closed in Singapore more than 10 years ago, sad), I am glad that every single Tomica are wrapped in clear plastic despite each car cost only $2.90. I will just grab any Tomica as long as it is wrapped because it’s new and it is also being considerate not to open it. In the first place, I never have the thought of opening it. At that time when Tomica started shifting the production to China, the quality varies between models. Example, Nissan Primera has suspension problem, Mercedes C Class has paint blots all over, Range Rover has both. What I did then was to buy 2 or 3 of the same models and I will choose the best one, the balance to sell in eBay. I was still a student then, no income but I am proud to say that I am being considerate to other shopper or collectors. I know that there are people who will open up all boxes of the same model (as many as 20) to choose the best car and the best box. I find this is totally unacceptable just to satisfy your own desire. I knew 2 people who actually do this so I start investigating by asking them. They said that Tomica quality these days are quite poor in terms of paint work which is misalign paint or blots. I took a very close look, almost at the verge of seeking help from a microscope, and it was just a minor over paint and a very tiny blot. I felt disgusted and told them that this is normal and what I experience with the C Class was really much worse. They refused to listen and said that they have the right because they are consumers. These are the people who also buy 2 units of each model, one to play and one to keep untouched. Find some similarity? I urge all Tomica collectors who have this BAD habit, please do not do that again. Be considerate and be fair to others who are also buying Tomica.

I bought these 2 models few days ago and I wonder if they pass the nit picker's test.
I can't really find any flaw, maybe the nit picker will be able to.

This Forklift will not pass for sure because the box has some dirt.

Above posting is based on Singapore toy car collecting scene (I have seen). All comments based on what I felt and strictly my opinion only. You can disagree and have your own opinions or views too.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tomica Nissan Skyline

This is a Skyline sold in USA as an Infinity G35. I took no notice of this car until I got the one issued by Nissan. This Nissan issued Tomica was originally in my flea market stall waiting for the right person but eventually nobody did. As time passes, I grew more and more on this Skyline and I took it off from the shelve to keep it under my collection. What's the difference between the regular Skyline and this Nissan issued Skyline. Well, this special edition is a commemorative car when you visit the Nissan plant in Japan. I do not know if this is a free gift but it is consider rare if you compare to the regular issue.

Comparing the front and rear view of these 2 cars. I can't find any difference on the detailing.

Side profile is similar too. The only difference is the colour, special edition is dark metallic gray while the regular is Matt black. The special edition car paint work is really nice. Are they using real car paint on this car which is what I am wondering. I hope so but it remains a mystery.

If there is not much difference, why am I keeping this car? Well, I have to say that this is really a nice car overall.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tomica from Jordan

Recently I got myself 18 pieces of Tomica from Jordan, a country in Middle East. I didn't know that Tomica ever get to Middle East in the 80s (or 70s). Thanks to Raed for the offer. There are a total of 108 pcs but I couldn't get all 108 pcs because I will not have enough storage space and I do not have a shop. In order to help Raed to clear all, I ask a friend in Hong Kong if he wants to take the balance. Hong Kong collectors, you are in luck and you should know who to look for. These are the same Tomica range as your Uruguayan Tomica in Toyzone so you might be dissapointed if you happen to have these.

I got 6 of each model and they are packaged in Tomica factory box. These are stored in a toy shop in Jordan and discovered recently according to my friend. Old new stock.

I actually wanted to offer to followers of my blog but I have sold 4 sets in just one day before I managed to post here. I am selling at a price so attractive that some regular customers of mine who don't keep trucks don't mind getting a set from me too. I am keeping a set and only last set so not offering any more. I just like to share this with you guys.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tomica LVN vs Cherica - Nissan Violet

Nissan Violet Auster is one of the nicest cars ever made in the 70s by Nissan. Maybe the name doesn't ring any bell to younger collectors (or older collectors who just started buying Tomica in last 5 years) . But if you are collecting Tomica Limited Vintage Neo and wanted everything which Tomica release, then you should know what is a Nissan Violet (not that you really want to know what is a Nissan Violet). The car was replaced by Stanza, sounds much more familiar? oh, never mind. The Violet has close relations with Sunny but was supposed to be one level up from Sunny. The Stanza name is long discontinued, so what is the Violet replacement of today? I would think Bluebird/Sylphy but there are also cars that came out of nowhere which believed that they are Violet Auster replacement like Presea, Primera and Cefiro.

Cherica vs Tomica Limited Vintage Neo

Cherica Violet 2dr vs Tomica Limited Vintage Neo Violet 4dr

It's actually unfair to compare the 1973 Cherica with the 2008 Tomica LVN. The Cherica is targeted at kids in the 70s and it was made to be slightly bigger than it's direct rival, Tomica. At 80mm long and scale of 1/52, it's anytime 10% bigger than a Tomica. The LVN on the other hand, targets at collectors who wanted a classic car or road car (mainly from 70s to 90s) but has better details than any regular Tomica. I am hearing people chanting "Tomica Limited" now, if you think Tomica Limited is a toy car of good details or a bettered regular Tomica, I wouldn't and will never agree to that. It's crap! The LVN are standardized to a scale of 1/64 which I think is a good size as compared to the tiny HO scaled cars which I never fall in love with. My first ever Tomica LVN is this Violet shown above. I bought it because it is a Nissan Violet (that's all).

It's a Tomica! Didn't expect the base looks like a regular Tomica but I like it.

Yes, it's Japan made and by Yonezawa too.

Since it's my first Tomica LVN, I decided to "study" it. Actually I had bought Tomica LV before but I didn't really like them. I can understand why the Tomica LVN is more of an adult toy after some "studies". The car is almost flawless (almost), more details build in, just look at the interior. It look like a 1970s Tomica with more additional details. Car is coated with good paint finish, nice rear lamps and detailed white washed tyres with class Sunny style hub caps. The hub caps reminds me of my tutor's ride. He used to ferry me in his '73 Sunny (we are in the 90s then) and the rims looks exactly like this Violet. The Cherica is also a collectible item by today considering that it is more than 35 years old. I don't think you can find any Cherica in eBay (even if you don't mind buying a JUNK Cherica). Cherica is almost non-existant today, I believe I can fetch a handsome price in eBay if I bear to part with it. The Cherica is build like a regular Tomica except that it is bigger.

Nice interior and nice detailing on the body

Although not born to be a detailed toy, that is what I like about about 3 incher toy cars. It's has a kind of charm which is hard for me to explain in words. I used to hate super size steering wheel but now, I find that they look so adorable to me. The ugly rims might not be of my cup of tea but they looked perfectly matched with Cherica.

Cherica or Tomica LVN more collectible? I have to say it's Cherica anytime (for me). For Tomica LVN, it is super good value, it won't dissapoint you if you buy those models you like. I love the Violet so I think this LVN is lovely. As for Cherica, I will try to get any of them if the price is right for me. Feel free to post your comments.