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