Sunday, January 27, 2013

Best Tomica of 2012

Like previous years, I will do a Best Tomica of the year for 2012. I am doing this as a reference for my own record initially but recently I found that there are more collectors having the same interest like myself. It benefits me in a way as I will need to read up some history on Tomica and a chance to interact with fellow Tomicans, so I am continuing with this award. This year I do it a little different as compared to previous years. For a start, I wanted friends and readers who follow my humble blog to decide the best Tomica. After speaking to a few contributors, it seems that they are voting for their personal favourite models instead of the best so I decide to convert this into a subsidiary award to "My Favourite Tomica of 2012" instead, Go! Go! Tomica edition it is. I have received slightly more than 20 contributions but that is enough as I only take in votes from fellow Tomicans or people who appreciate Tomica. These votes comes from various parts of the world including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Japan, India, Austria, Belgium, Canada and the United States. No, I did not vote as it is strictly an award decided by YOU! I like to thank all friends and readers for the contributions as some of you really take the time to inspect every Tomica before deciding your top 5 favourites in random order. Finally, after 3 weeks of polling, I present you the final results and awards given by you and me.

Most Unloved Tomica:
Komatsu Towbarless Tractor
UD Truck Condor
Toyota Prius Alpha
Honda Fit Shuttle

I don't know if this comes as a surprise but come to think of it, I think it could be due to being "forgettable" models. Forgettable as they are not the favourite or the most hated models. Most collectors do not really bother if these models are made. Take the Honda Fit Shuttle for instance, it belong to the range of Tomica which are on a "budget exercise" like the other 3 models sharing the same award. The Fit Shuttle is a Japanese domestic model not meant for export. Some of you might argue that we do have it here in Singapore but those are parallel imports rather than official models brought in by authorized dealers. It is hard for people to relate unfamiliar models so this might be due to the reasons why they are unloved. Nobody actually voted even once for them out of the 24 models released in 2012.

The following are the Top 10 voted totally by you.

My Favourite Tomica 2012

My Favourite Tomica 10th Place:
C11 1 Steam Locomotive (Released Date: 05/2012)

Tomica revived many model range they did years ago. The last Steam Loco was released in 1975 before it was discontinued in the last 80s. Most of us are not fans of railways otherwise we will be collecting Faller or even Pla-Rail. Be prepared that Tomica will make a Long Tomica out of this model. I have a feeling they will. For the steam loco to get a 10th place is consider respectable.

My Favourite Tomica 9th Place:
Peugeot RCZ (Released Date: 10/2012)

I am actually quite glad that Tomica finally made a Peugeot. No Peugeot was ever made in Tomica history.  I was hoping Tomica to make the bread and button hatches or sedans but the RCZ is a good choice as well. I don't mind owning a real RCZ but our company disapproves us of buying coupes although I have heard reviews that the rear seats swallow 2 full grown adults. There are a number of people rooting for this model but this car is not the top choice. The RCZ is usually ranked 5th among voters so the low scores did not help the RCZ to propel into higher position. I hope that Tomica can open up to more foreign makes in the near future. Revived a Jaguar!

My Favourite Tomica 8th Place:
Renault Megane RS (Released Date: 09/2012)

Another French car ranked alongside to one another. It's not a surprise that the RS is in the top 10 because people just love sport models. I just love the idea that French cars are taken into considerations now. Citroen was left out might due to there isn't a sports model worthy enough to start production. It seems like only sports models are produced among foreign cars in order to cover the licensing cost.

My Favourite Tomica 7th Place:
Toyota Camry (Released Date: 06/2012)

I was quite surprise that this car actually beat the 2 French ladies. 2 Tomicans who I spoke to actually wanted to rank it the 5 worst Tomica. I agree that it wasn't the best but there are worse models. People like it because Camry is a common road car which you and I see it everyday so there are some sentiments values involved in the voting. 

My Favourite Tomica 6th Place:
Mazda CX-5 (Released Date: 12/2012)

Just before 2012 is coming to an end, Tomica released one of the nicest SUV to date. I wasn't expecting many votes for the Mazda because there is another SUV competing with the CX5. Indeed, the CX5 was not loved by most people but it received constant votes during the 3 weeks to push it to the number 6 spot. Those who actually voted this car in either owns a Mazda or family member has a Mazda.

My Favourite Tomica 5th Place:
Honda CR-V (Released Date: 08/2012)

The CR-V was leading the rest of the pack in week 1. I almost thought that this car might win the title or at least a runner up position. I am not surprise if the CR-V were to win it because the ASEAN region love this car. Who could imagine during the contribution in week 2, the CR-V ranked 8th while the CX-5 was 5th. The 3rd week was worse which it shared the same scores with Suzuki MR Wagon, Panda Truck and Nissan March Patrol. The Honda CR-V eventually beat the CX-5 by a whisker to claim the fifth spot, thanks to its exordinary results in week 1.

My Favourite Tomica 4th Place:
Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 (Released Date: 07/2012)

The Lamborghini might take better position if it is not build on a budget. It managed to get constant support from its fans during the 3 weeks. The highest position was week 2 when the Aventador shared 3rd place with Lexus. Only 2 contributions voted it as their favourite Tomica of 2012.

My Favourite Tomica 3rd Place:
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (Released Date: 01/2012)

I am always happy to see more Mercedes models because Mercedes is always the preferred models for my collection. I am actually thrilled that a SLS gull wings is made because I had one Mercedes 300SL gull wings during my childhood.

Total votes below means percentage of contributors who vote the car into top 5.

Total Votes (%): 63.6
Voted Favourite Tomica of 2012: 2 Votes

My Favourite Tomica 2nd Place:
Lexus IS F CCS-R (Released Date: 12/2012)

This is the first time Tomica includes a Lexus into the regular series. The Lexus GS300 and the LF-A was in the Tomica Limited series before. I just felt that a humble IS250 should be good enough to wow Tomicans. The IS F did a slow start in the polling until week 3 ranking 2nd and breeze past the SLS to claim a final 2nd position.

Total Votes (%): 59.1
Voted Favourite Tomica of 2012: 6 Votes

My Favourite Tomica 1st Place:
Toyota FT-86 (Released Date: 06/2012)

This is a within my expectation for the 86 to win this poll. During Week 2, the SLS was fighting strong with the 86 neck to neck. The SLS managed to lead the 86 for a while before raising the white flag at the end of week 2. The 86 was under the limelight then because it is somehow associated with Initial D AE86. It is regarded as a successor to the AE86 because it is front engine and rear wheel driven. But, what is so special about that? There are a number of cars around with this drive train. The AE86 is actually a Toyota Corolla 3 door hatchback or 2 door coupe in disguise. The FT-86 is not even based on a Corolla, it was co-developed with Subaru which Toyota had acquired earlier. The last Levin was code named AE111 but that was from the last century. Shouldn't the sucessor be code named as FT161 or maybe AE121? What I do not understand is why name it 86 if it is not a Corolla? Anyway, this Tomica model did create quite a stir in 2012.

Total Votes (%): 90.9%
Voted Favourite Tomica of 2012: 4 Votes

Most Disappointing Tomica:
Most Clueless Tomica:
Most Discussed Tomica:
Most Promising In Value Appreciation:
Toyota Avensis (Released Date: 04/2012~10/2012)

The Toyota Avensis has bagged the most award for 2012. I am sad to say that the Avensis is famous for all the bad reasons. I am sure that I don't have to explain why. It totally lost the Tomica flavour with exception of the button wheels. The button wheels for the budget range Tomica has shrunk as well. It look exactly like a Tomica junior gotten from a gashapon machine. I cannot understand why the experienced Tomica design team can come out with something that doesn't look Tomica. It is seriously undersized, offers no opening/ movable parts (except the wheels) and the rear windows including the 3rd quarter side windows are paint over. If Siku can maintain its quality after all these years, why can't Tomica? It seems like they are totally lost in directions with this model. I believed Toyota Avensis owners must have sulked for days after waiting anxiously for its Tomica variant of their cars. This car is also been most talk about among Tomicans on its quality and directions till today. The Tomy office must have suffered tremendous pressure hearing complains from the public that the Avensis had to be pulled out within 6 months. It is now replaced by the Toyota Aqua. The Avensis should be one of the shortest production Tomica in history. This Tomica will be considered rare in no time, so grab whatever the shops have while you still can. The ugliest toy and toys people who do not want to buy are the hardest to find many years after its release.

Best Foreign Car Award:
The candidates are -
a. Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
b. Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4
c. Renault Megane RS
d. Peugeot RCZ

Best Foreign Car Award:
Peugeot RCZ (Released Date: 10/2012)

I know some will disagree due to the fact that many has voted the SLS. I have to consider which Tomica follow closest to the Tomica traditions. The Tomica SLS is indeed a nice car especially when viewed from the front with a beautiful grill integrated. But that's all about the Tomica SLS, the gull wing doors has ugly gaps which they supposed to be seamlessly shut. Keep in mind that the doors are not spring loaded like the usual Tomica which gaps are hard to avoid. The rear window is a cut cost design without extra material to act as a rear window. The Megane suffered the same costing cutting design and detailing is a little crude based on today's standard. The Aventador came closest but it is build slightly undersized at a scale of 1/68! The RCZ does not have any parts that open but it looks more proper as a Tomica.

Picking the best Tomica this year is neither easy nor tough. I have to say that I am always neutral as I do not favour any models.  The objective for me is to choose the best made model PERTAINING TO TOMICA TRADITIONS. It's easy to eliminate many models and I am left with only 5 models. They are Lexus IS F CCS-R, Peugeot RCZ, Toyota FT-86, Komatsu Excavator and Mazda CX-5. I can only pick 3 models for this award and it's a tough decision. I ranked the Peugeot RCZ as 2nd place initially but had to pull it down from top 3 for models more deserving models for the title. I really like the Mazda CX-5 very much, I have to rank it 5th because of the opening rear hatch. The window paint over job on the hatch started when the productions shifted to China in the 90s. Since then, all opening hatch do not have a through hole. I do understand that most current hatchback, SUV or MPV today has a one piece window covering the D-pillars totally. Tomy could have cut a hole on its hatch and produced an extra plastic covering it. The CX-5 is the definitely the best SUV to date.  

Best Tomica 2012: Bronze Award
Toyota FT-86 (Released Date: 06/2012)
Made in China

There is nothing special about this model, really. It is made just like any other China made Tomica in the past, suspension, opening doors and not build undersized. The FT-86 won the 3rd place because it didn't do any major faults but it's not fantastic too.

Best Tomica 2012: Silver Award
Komatsu Excavator PC200-10 (Released Date: 10/2012)
Made in Vietnam

I am never a fan of excavators and this Komatsu is the last Tomica model I bought last year as I thought that I had one already. This excavator did not fare with flying colours in the polling. This is what I have expected because most collectors prefers "fast cars". The Komatsu wins my approval as it is build like what a Tomica should be. At least the rubber tracks are still intact rather than what Matchbox is doing. Compared it with its predecessor and you understand what I meant.

Best Tomica 2012: Gold Award
Lexus IS F CCS-R (Released Date: 12/2012)
Made in China

I would actually prefer Tomica to do a IS250 instead but they did great on this tuned up Lexus. Tomica never had much tempo on its regular line of vehicles and they did it beautifully with this one. The car in generally wasn't too soft or too loud as a sport sedan, it was done just nice. I wasn't much of a fan for GT wings but I could bear with it for the sake of a nicely crafted body which Tomica had never do so for a long time. I hope there will be variants of a regular sedan IS250 in the future. I hope you have enjoyed reading the 2012 edition of Best Tomica.

Let me know your comments (if any).

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Favourite / Best Tomica Poll For Week 1

Sorry for taking a long time to announce the results. This is results of week 1 for this 3 weeks My Best / Favourite Tomica poll held between 6th to 25th January. I will stop accepting votes once the clock hits midnight later. I like to thank all friends and readers of my humble blog for your contributions. I will announce the results of the poll plus my own version of Best Tomica of 2012 this Sunday on the 27th January. If you have voted between 6th~12th January 2013, here is the results for week 1.

No. 1 Spot For Week 1: Honda CR-V

This is actually a surprise to me for the CR-V to take the number 1 spot but there are 2 weeks more to go so anything could happen.

No. 2 Spot For Week 1: Toyota FT-86

Not surprising. Let's see if the 86 can hang on to top 3 spots.

No. 3 Spot For Week 1: Lexus IS F

Another nice car in the top 3 spots.

Now you have seen the top 3 of week 1 but keep in mind that the first week is a slow week and it only comprises 20% of the total votes. Final results will be revealed in 2 days times. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Adovanspirit by II ADO Co - Nissan Cedric 430 Fire Chief

Adovanspirit by II ADO Company - Nissan Cedric 430 Series Fire Chief 
Scale: 1/43
Origin: Made in Japan

White metal toy car is something which I like to add to my collection. They are extreme solid and lots of mass built into the weight of the car. I was in II Ado Company last month when I was in Tokyo. The white metal model cars are offering at a very reasonable price so I must get one for myself. I was actually spending a full 30 minutes going through all the white metal cars deciding to pick Toyopet Crown, Cedric or Prince Skyline. I would like to take one model of each but I am happy with just one since my focus are still 3 inch toy cars.

Eventually I picked the Cedric because I always wanted a Cedric or a Gloria coupe as a real ride. It's rather impossible due to the rarity of this car in Singapore. Even if they are available, they are not going to be cheap and the maintenance cost is going to break an arm or leg in order to drive one. After chosen the model, I gotta pick the variant which I like most. There are patrol car, road car, fire chief, taxi and many more for me to crack my head. I picked the Fire Chief because it has the most presence felt among other Cedric on the display. 

What I like most on the 430 series is the front and rear of the car. It is unmistakeably a Cedric which no other car looks like it. This Cedric reminds me of our Singapore taxi during the 70s and 80s but all are scrapped due to short life span of taxi here. Will I get another white metal model? Yes, if the price is right and only Japanese.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Tomica vs Hot Wheels - Hakosuka & Kenmeri

1971 GP Nissan Skyline KPGC-10 Hakosuka Racing

Japanese GP Racing which was held some 40 years ago on 3rd May 1971.

Gulliver made these 2 Tomica racing Hakosuka in year 2000.

No. 6 car was the champion while No. 8 car the runner up.

Hot Wheels made quite a number of Japanese classic recently such as 510, AE86, TA22 and this year a Toyota 2000GT. It's so maddening because these are cars made by Tomica and Diapet then. Most toy car makers produce the current model line rather than turning the clock back. Most Hot Wheels fans in Singapore don't know anything about classic Japanese cars. They either like it or hate it only after Hot Wheels produced them because they don't know that there's such a car until Hot Wheels made one. They like it because it's made by Hot Wheels. They hate it because they look at it as an old car rather than classic. They are only interested in fast, super or exotic car. I felt that if they know nuts about these cars, shut up! I felt disgusted in a way. Not the toy car but those fans who are shallow.

Hot Wheels actually benefits on the casting because the front grill and the rear spoiler follows closer to the real thing. This is mainly due to a new casting overdue by 40 years. Tomica front and rear is similar to the road car version because the casting is based on an old casting which was lightly modified. When comes to proportions, Tomica is better because all Tomica are made to scale while Hot Wheels are totally not.

The decals on the Tomica Hakosuka follows to the actual racing car. One obvious detail can be found on the tail of the car. "PMC.S" on the Tomica while "JUN.S" on the Hot Wheels. Many Hot Wheels fans don't even know what the hell is that. Skyline was a line of model produced by Prince Motor Company since 1957 and the then Datsun took over this company when Prince Motor wasn't doing that well. "PMC.S" actually stands for "Prince Motor Club. Sports". "JUN.S" because the car is designed by HW designer, Jun Imai.

Many HW fans don't even know how Jun Imai looks like. I am not a even a HW fan at all. Some might be asking what is Hakosuka? Every Skyline has got a name or nickname. As the C10 looks boxy, the Japanese people called it Hakosuka which means "square box". The Hakosuka is also the first GT-R ever produce under Datsun.

The best feature about the Tomica is the special made Watanabe wheels. If you are asking what is Watanabe wheels? I will make it simpler for Hot Wheels fans to comprehend. You watch Initial D right? It's the same type of rims used by the Trueno, 8 spokes nolstagic styled sport rims. You don't find it in Hot Wheels.

This is the 4th generation Skyline but 2nd Skyline to have the GT-R version and it's also the least number of GT-R produced due to the oil crisis during the 70s. 197 units was made to be exact. There are also Hot Wheels fans who doesn't know that this C110 Skyline is also know as the Ken and Mary Skyline or simply Kenmeri Skyline. I have a HW friend who trades HW but he doesn't know much about this car too and said that it is a KPGC-110 so I asked if he is referring to the Kenmeri Skyline? He said that it should be and pretend that he knows it. Anyway, he usually knows nothing about Japanese classic or Tomica but will always continue to talk nonsense hoping to bluff his way through. Usually if I don't know my stuff well, it is best to shut my mouth up.

This is a Kenmeri Skyline made by II ADO Company. It was still made in Japan just before the Tomica Limited series was released and the casting was modified to China. That is why I hate re-issued items especially those which production are shifted to China using the same old mould.

The Kenmeri HW build and quality is nowhere close to Tomica. The HW front left wheels not able to contact to the surface rolled on. It was rolling with just 3 wheels. I do agree that some Tomica had wheels which are undersized but most Hot Wheels has over sized wheels.

The nomenclature of the HW is imprint on the car. Tomica had it moulded on its body. Basically most HW does not have opening doors or working suspensions. I already heard someone saying who the "F" cares about the suspensions. Sour grapes. Why are Hot Wheels priced cheaper than most brands? Simple, no opening parts and suspension, hence, less parts and tools are used in the process. No scale involve so it take lesser time to develop one as number of Hot Wheels models release per year are more than any other toy makers. There are some models which are produced without licence too and rename with a fanciful name. The quality checks are not as stringent as any other brands too so you can find the so called "error cars" easily. I would hope Hot Wheels to stop making these Japanese classic cars as I wouldn't want to see beautiful classic made for people who doesn't appreciate them. I would rather HW to produce current Japanese cars or old Japanese cars Tomica never made such as AE101 or AE111.

This is my friend's Kenmeri. I think it looked really nice but Tonegawa, my friend, send it to the workshop for restoration. He told me it is a 10 months project and he is taking public transport at the moment. I will take photo of his Kenmeri once it is restored.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Dear Philippines

Dear Friends in The Philippines,

As I will be traveling to Manila and Makati City in March, I would appreciate if you can advise which is the best hotel to recommend in terms of convenience and comfort. Preferably 4 or 5 stars if budget allows. I would also appreciate your advice as well what are the things to look out for during my stay as this is the first time visiting Philippines. I can't say it will be a 100% firm to go but everything should be finalised by February. I am the type of person who like to plan ahead when it comes to traveling and I need to submit my proposal early for approval. If any Tomica fans like to meet me, I will try to arrange a time in the evening near the hotel as I will have a heavy schedule during the day time.

Thank you & Regards,

The Search For The Best Tomica of 2012

Another year passed so quickly and it's time to pick the best Tomica of 2012. I would say that It's a bad year for Tomica. I would agree to the direction of down sizing the scale but it seems that it has been done overboard. Most of the Older Tomica of the 70s till early 80s did not cross the 1/67 mark for a 4 door luxurious sedan (for example) unless it's a Rolls or American.

Take Crown or Cedric, they are approximate scaled around 1/65 range. In the late 80s, most cars of this range grew to around 1/63 which make Tomica of the late 80s looked larger. As most car makers grow their cars when a new generation is introduced, Tomica should scale the cars of these era to the same scale or maybe kept to a maximum of 1/66 depending on model but they are sized up instead. So from late 80s, most Tomica are larger than the earlier ones. It went on with this strategy until 2011 December with the introduction of the Nissan Juke.

The scale of the Juke isn't too bad but somehow the down sizing strategy is much more of a cost cutting movement rather. 99% of Tomica before the Juke does have a minimum of one movable part but the Juke does not have any doors or hatch that opens. If the rear hatch doesn't open, there should be a rear plastic window but there isn't any. The rear window is painted on the Juke rather than installing a piece of plastic to signify as a rear window. This has somehow change the traditions of Tomica.  

Then the new Impreza WRX came along and it has an astonishing small scale of 1/67. The current day WRX should be similar to the size of a Bluebird of the late 80s. The difference in the size department is just too big. Most current collectors who started collecting recently and do not know much of Tomica history are upset by this change as they are so used to big size Tomica. 1/67 is just too small for a car this size.

Sometimes I wonder why Siku is able to maintain their quality and retain its roots but why not Tomica? Both Tomica and Siku cost almost the same. Both cars are design in Germany and Japan respectively but production is either done in China or Vietnam.

It's a really tough decision to pick the best so I have asked my friends, Pooh and Keong to choose their top 5 vehicles in random order. I will take their choice into account which will take 20% of the total score since this is my blog. I do welcome your views and I will take your choice into account as well. Just send your top 5 choices to my email address in random order, 1 being the best and so on till 5. Let's do this together, results will be posted here by end of January 2013.

My email : bonu@starhub.net.sg

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Japan 2012 - 18th December, Tuesday

Today is the second last day in Japan as we will be going home the next morning. Tokyo trip will not be complete without seeing the Tokyo Tower and visiting Asakusa. I have been to both but for the benefit of Keong as this is his first trip. Anyway, it could be nice for me to revisit since I have hardly taken any photo of myself wherever I travelled. 

What I like about Asakusa are the shops before the temple. There are different variety of  Japanese food stuff, souvenir, fashion, toys, shoes and many different kind of shops along this street.

Some nice toys found in one of the toy shops in Asakusa.

Reached the main temple, said my prayers and hopefully it will be answered.

We were lucky this time as there was a carnival with around 50 stalls selling local food beside the temple. We tried almost everything which comes along and our lunch was settled there. The amount we spent on food at the carnival was more than enough to visit a decent restaurant.

We tried almost everything at this stall with exception of octopus.

I bought a bowl of stuff from this stall. I call it "stuff" because I don't know what the hell I ate even until today. Initially I thought they were selling braised pork but half way through eating, it tasted like chicken. I look at the stall again and I can understand only one word, "bird".

Taito Station is just around the corner in Asakusa. I was filled with excitement as I wanted to play with the Tomica Catcher Push Table. There is another similar machine with Meiji chocolate stacked like Tomica.

Seriously, I didn't know I played for nearly 2 hours. I did managed to topple most of the Tomica in the machine. I spent a total of 10,000 yen on this machine. It was fun for me as we don't have Tomica theme machine in Singapore. What we get are lousy candies or cartoon character miniature stuffed toys. I didn't know I love Tomica this much.

Tokyo Sky-Tree is just near to Asakusa. It's taller than Tokyo Tower.

After visiting Asakusa, I suggested to visit II Ado for last minute shopping but Keong decide to go to Akiba to buy a spare battery for his out dated digital camera instead. He is too afraid to go to II Ado. He is afraid that he cannot resist the temptation and started buying again.

This time I stayed for 1.5 hours in the shop trying to inspect every corner of the shop. I requested to open every cabinet so that I can see every car better. I tried getting one car from every shelve I opened. First car I picked was a Gama VW Microbus, followed by a Diapet, a Popinica and a Solido. Finally I decided to go for another 6 Diapets from the 90s which are very reasonably priced.

Total damage done was a mere 20,000 yen. Not bad for a last minute shopping to end the trip. I still have not inspecting all my purchase although I am back to Singapore for 2 weeks. I wanted to open them slowly and most of the cars are still in a big box. I plan to re-organise my toy cars in my room so that the new ones can go into my display shelve. I did a more thorough shopping this time comparing to my last trip in 2010. I hope to visit Japan soon. Good-bye Japan and I will be back.