Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bestbox - Jaguar E Type

This is the only Bestbox I have and it's the predecessor of Efsi. Before there is Efsi, it is sold under the name of Bestbox in the 1960s, quite similar to history of Husky and Corgi in a way. Bestbox looks similar to Matchbox in terms of size and its wheels remind me of MB regular wheels.

My Bestbox although not mint, is still a charming little car. The previous owner has add some details around the car. I didn't realise it until Sini (toy car guru friend from Austria) pointed it out to me. I had seen many toy cars, junk to mint condition, had been re-worked on its details. Some are tastefully done and some are the works of kids. It's seems like everyone wanted something more from a toy car so I guessed why Tomica Limited is created. Sini advised that I can remove the paint easily if I wanted. I will keep it as it is since I thought it was done tastefully.

I love Jaguar especially the Mark 2 and the old XJ series. Don't be surprise if I happen to drive a Mitsuoka Viewt one day (but unlikely). It is actually a Nissan March disguised as a Mark 2. I like this car because it look like a Mark 2 without having to do a lot of damages to one's wallet comparing driving the real classic Mark 2. Among all Jags, E Type is the prettiest, coolest and sexiest Jaguar of all times. I have never seen one in Singapore but I heard that my colleague's rich brother-in-law had a de-registered E Type parked in his garage. The car was covered up revealing a very old number plate "SP99" which is from the 60s. The car was actually brought to the States as his daily transport during his university days and was brought back to Singapore after he graduated. He had many cars in his garage but I am just interested in his E Type. As for the Bestbox Jaguar above, it is not made in England. No prizes for guessing the country of origin correctly. It's made in Holland.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Tomica Memories - Red Savanna

I did a search in my box of vintage Tomica. I didn't know I had 3 of these RX7. I have a yellow, green and red one. I had a red one shown above when I was a kid. As a kid, I was the playful and mischievous type but I will be extremely well behave in front of strangers. I would say I played my role well as a kid as I had tormented (enjoyed) all my Tomica, Playart and Matchbox till the last bit. I did the same to my barber as well. I really hated all visits to the barber. No, I didn't hate the barber who cut my hair but I dislike having to sit patiently for minutes and the itching from the cut hair. My brother will take within 10 minutes to have his hair cut but mine, usually ended up half a hour on average. I will fidget with all my might hoping that the barber gives up but he did not. We have to stop every few minutes and he had to powder me as I complained of the itching. My grandma who brought us to the regular barber will usually yell at me in the background, "Sit still, don't move!". There will be a "reward" after every session of "torture". A toy and fruit juice at nearby hawker centre were usually promised on every hair cut session. Fruit juice is consider a luxurious in the 80s (to me as a kid then). You have guessed it. This red Savanna is one of the toys I got after my hair cut.

I can't remember full details on the hair cut session for this one. I will try my best to describe my story for my red Savanna. I used to live in a old estate in Taman Jurong, Western part of Singapore. Everywhere we go is just within walking distance, school, market, food centre, grocery shops etc. The barber shop is about 15 minutes walk from our block (BLK 5). We have to pass through "21 Storeys" (named by my grandma) because BLK 63~66 are 21 storeys tall which were the tallest buildings in our residential area then. That 4 blocks resided many banks and clinics, a NTUC supermarket and I also remember there is a Chee Kiang bookstore which I used to patronise during my secondary school days. Behind these 4 blocks are few rows of shop houses, the block number should be 10* to 10*, I forgot. There are tailors, hardware shops, bakeries, toy shops, garment stores etc. You have to pass these shop houses to reach the barber which was near a coffee shop and a hawker centre which my grandma named it "61 Stalls". I remembered that there is also a toy shop on the same stretch with the barber because we ever bought a MacCross toy, the die cast plane which you can transform into a robot. It's made in Japan and the quality of the toy is superb. This shop was filled with toys of all types, imagine stepping into one such shop today and it will send me crazy because all toys were made in Japan or Hong Kong then. I recalled that I got a white battery operated toy car which in made in Hong Kong as we tested the car before making the purchase. To your surprise, the Savanna was not bought in this shop. We walked towards the row of shop houses and popped into one toy shop there. The shop was huge and it was full of toy cars. Something actually caught my eye, no, it's not the Savanna. It's a Volkswagen Beetle and it's not a Tomica. It is a RC toy car displayed in its box placed on the shelf beyond our reach. The toy was a huge one similar to a Tamiya as the box looked huge to me. I told my brother that the RC VW Beetle is nice as I pointed the VW to him. I knew it's going to be expensive and grandma couldn't afford it so I knew there is no chance of buying that car. My brother told grandma that he wants that VW. After price checked with shop owner that it cost $40.00, grandma says no to my brother. By now, I was choosing my Tomica while my brother struggled buying that VW. The Tomica were displayed in Tomica Store Display Case and there were 2 of them, 40 cars in each case. I picked the red Savanna in no time as I like the sloping rear wind screen. My grandma paid $2.40 for it and tried to convince my brother to get a Tomica. He refused to give up on the VW, started to cry and throw a tantrum in the shop. My grandma had to pull him out of the shop because there is no deal for him since he didn't want a Tomica. Throughout the journey from the shop to our home, my brother was crying, yelling and pulling the pants (and nearly pulled them down at times) of my grandma down to persuade her to buy the VW. Everyone who walked past were looking at us, it must be an embarrassing moment for my grandma. I admit this is my fault as I triggered the time bomb. My Savanna eventually became junk and totally beat up with bent front wheels, broken wind shield and paint loss after hours of hard playing. The barber shop, row of shop houses and food centre were demolished many years ago but my memories stayed to share my story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lamborghini & Formula 1 Promo Cars

I managed to get a few sets of these Japan exclusive Lamborghini and F-1 cars. I will be keeping a set each and selling the balance at the flea market. I received many enquiries from these 2 sets as expected so I will just show case them here before they are all gone. I might be also selling my own set since I am saving up for vacation.

Lamborghini Diablo SE30 Jota

Lamborghini Countach LP500

Lamborghini Countach LP400

Lamborghini Aventador LP700

Lamborghini Reventon

Lamborghini Walter Wolf Countach

Here are the set of Formulae 1 cars from different era.

I find that they are quite charming considering this compliment comes from someone who never like F-1.

Complete set of 6 cars from different era.

I will just show one of the cars.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mercedes Gull Wings - New vs Old

When I know that Tomica is making the new SLS, I was excited because it's another foreign car which Tomica lack of in making them. Beside being a foreign car, the gull wings Mercedes has some placement in my heart. Somehow, I still have some reservations in new release these days. The photo of the car in the official website looks good but will it be another cost cutting model in the Tomica range. Being the first model of 2012, I hope that it will be a good one to start the year rolling.

I got this model last month and it's the most expensive current release Tomica I have paid in a shop during my stay in Hong Kong. I just bought one because I will wait for the "official release" in Singapore (they just did). First the good points, the car looks proportional, have a nice front grill and not so stiff suspension.

For some constructive criticism, I don't want to make it so negatively. I would say some suggestions to make it better. Could the car look a little nicer if it does without the crude ugly wing mirrors? The front of the car looks good until I see the super fat A-pillars, wow, horrendous. Moving to the side profile, the shut lines on the gull wing door has a lot of free play. The gap is a full millimetre which translate into 65mm in the real car. I am not asking for precision but this is a little too much when Majorette is able to produce tighter shut lines even when the material that puts it together is inferior to Tomica. Moving to the rear, there is no clear rear windows. Does it really cost a lot more comparing metal (or zinc alloy) to plastic resins?

Comparing new and old, I still love the classic Mercedes 300SL ever since I saw the real thing in Frankfurt airport last year (regardless of Tomica or the real car). Frankfurt airport was giving classic Mercedes as luck draw prizes last year. Will the new Tomica Mercedes SLS cause a buying frenzy like the Reventon last year? I think it will somehow as some crazy people will buy them out if stock are not replenish faster than the buying behaviour. I would hope Tomica to make a Ferrari after absence from the scene for more than 20 years. It will definitely create a buying frenzy especially if there is a first colour. I will and I know someone else out there will.

Yujin Tomica Upgraded

I hope my title did not confuse you but the latest incarnation of Tomica (Feburary) did (to me). I quite agree with Tomica to down size their cars as Tomica in the past 20 years did put on some weight. They almost close in to Siku size for some of their models at one time, nobody really mind because people see it as "value for money" (VFM).

The designers in Takara-Tomy must have let their imaginations run wild with the Toyota Prius Alpha. Thinking that they could merge Yujin and regular Tomica just like Honda did it with Prelude and Integra. I describe it as a Yujin because the scale went outrageously down to 1/71. To rub salt to the wound, the rear window has no additional piece of plastic. No prizes for the correct answer, it's paint-over-metal again.

I try putting the Tomica alongside with a random Siku. The Siku intimidate the little Tomica with its sheer size.

Next, I park it with its little brother, the Toyota Vitz. The Vitz dwarf the Prius and could owned it anytime.

I paired it with a Herpa and they look really compatible. Don't you think so? You might be asking why didn't I pair it with a Yujin? Honestly, I don't have any and this Prius Alpha will be my first "Yujin".

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Tomica Memories - Yellow Hatch & Flying Car

Some of my toys are bought by my aunt (Gift Greeting's cousin's mum) and that includes Tomica. My family members knows that I like small little toy cars and my aunt together with my grandma are the biggest culprit showering me with these little gems. Every Tomica in my life has a story. Although just a short one but it is part of my growing up during my childhood.
It is another usual visit to my cousin's house in Clementi during the mid 80s. My aunt surprised us (my younger brother and I) with 2 Tomica. The 2 cars are loose so the boxes must have been dumped after removal of the cars. My aunt and cousin told me that the yellow hatch is for me. They says that I love hatchbacks (or small cars) so the VW Golf is chosen specially for me. I was so delighted as it is a hatchback painted in my favourite colour. I started to look at the other car, the Mercedes 300SL, which is for my brother. I find that the car looks amusing especially the gull wing doors so I exclaimed, "Kwang's (my brother's name) car can fly". My cousins quickly shut me up and warned me not to tease my brother's new toy because he will cry, jumped, get mad, reject the Mercedes and took my Golf. I guess I have to shut up (for my own good) and lost a good chance teasing my brother.
I guessed I would have pick the Mercedes if they are real cars. Any car can triumph any car in the Tomica world. Although the Tomica 300SL was not mine then but I paired it with the Golf since then. These 2 cars are inseparable in my memory.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meeting Sini & Karina in Hong Kong

I was so delighted when I heard Sini and Karina are going to Hong Kong because I am going to Hong Kong too. These are not planned but more of a coincidence. They will be in Hong Kong for 10 days and my 5 days schedule falls just in the middle of theirs in February 2012. I can't imagine myself to stay in Hong Kong for 10 days because I will be broke by the 2nd day in Hong Kong and I will want to go home very much. Believe it or not, I been to Hong Kong for about 15 times but I never been to any tourist spots for sight seeing. No Disneyland, Ocean Park or the peak. Just Hong Kong island, Kowloon, Wanchai, Hung Hing, Ken's Garage, Toyzone, SOGO, Tung Chung and all the locations where my customer's offices are. I was actually late on our first appointment because we agree to meet in Lok Fu MTR at 1500hrs as I have made appointment with Ken of Ken's Garage that we come on 20th Feb (Monday). I touched down in Hong Kong at 1330hrs, reach my hotel in Wanchai at 1415hrs, some washing up and unpacking as I brought some little gifts for Sini. Ran out of my room towards the MTR at 1445hrs. Ken's Garage is now really not so convenient for me now. I will need to change 2 train lines from Wanchai station to Lok Fu. Luckily, Sini and Karina were still there and I apologies to them for being late for 20 minutes. We exchanged gifts (toy cars! what else?) and foodstuff from our countries before hailing down a cab to Ken's Garage. It took about 10 minutes from the MTR to Ken's location.

If you wanted to know if you are in the correct location. There are many garages (real working garages) or car workshops near Ken's Garage. Ken's Garage is in Fung Yu Industrial Building on the 10th floor. To our disappointment, Ken's Garage was closed! Luckily, a guy who I believe might be his partner is there to open the door for us. He wasn't expecting us as he is about to leave the shop. Anyway, he was kind enough to call Ken and Ken said that he thought that it was supposed to be Tuesday. Arrrggghhhh.... Ken Fung, why are you so muddle head! Joking, not angry, just a little disappointed as I wanted to introduce Sini to him.

This is the usual stuff where you might really like to enlarge my photo to scrutinise every car to see what Ken has to offer. Sorry, I have to re size the photo for quick uploading.

Did you realised that there are buses in Ken's Garage now? Almost a depot now.

Tomica Limited and some Tomica Gift Sets.

Sini preparing for a mass toy car massacre with a plastic bag. We had only ten minutes to pick what we want as Ken's partner needs to leave soon. We went to toy street after shopping with Ken's Garage.

I will skip all details at Hung Hing and other shops there. We were too busy fighting a war in toy street and we took a rest in the nearby KFC. This is where Sini started to enjoy the prizes he conquered. He was showing off a TLV Mazda truck to me and Karina. He told me that he collect anything that is Mazda mainly because one of his rides is a 20 year old Mazda 323. Now I know why he done many Mazda custom projects. Sini is a cartoonist, I don't know if that is the right word to use but I know he draws cartoons for newspaper and maybe some other projects as well. During his free time, he will do some toy car custom projects and also restoration on junk toy cars which he still find them worthwhile to rescue them for another new lease of life. I always think he is the master at this although he always tell me that there are people who has much better skills than him. Anyway, he is the best I have known so far. Some collectors in my region think that customs is giving the car a fresh coat of paint, swooping of wheels and adding of decals but Sini done more than just that. You may like to see Sini's work on his website, www.sinicars.at but please do not ask him to do customs for you because it is for his own interest only. We had so many things to talk but we had so little time. I had to be back to my hotel by 1930hrs and we agree to meet on 24th Feb, Friday, for a dim sum breakfast and last minute shopping opposite my hotel (which is Tai Yuan Street) just before I fly back to Singapore.

Friday came. We had dim sum at the restaurant just 4 units away from my hotel. That is the most convenient hotel (for toy car shopping) as compared to numerous hotels I have stayed so I will stick to the same one. Not to forget Karina, I also had a nice chat with this pretty lady as I am always worried if she will get bored when Sini and I are hunting for toys. She is very understanding and not many girls can tolerate their partner with this passion.

We had hours of chat that we forgotten that I had little time that day. We also talk about Jeff as well as I told Sini that Jeff hopes he can sit with 2 of us and we should have endless topics. Jeff, I hope to meet you one day as well.

Such a loving couple! After our breakfast, we did some shopping of toy cars before we bid good-bye. I really hate to say good bye to them. They are very nice people and I hope that I can see them again. I told Sini if they will come to Asia again, I will book a flight to meet them as long as my schedule or budget allows me. This should be the most meaningful Hong Kong trip as meeting a friend who I have known 3 years for the first time.
Back to Singapore, my room. I did not buy a lot of stuff this time as compared previously but my wallet was still broke somehow.

Finally found the Camry taxi and the Lancer EVO X police in Hong Kong. Bought multiples since we do not have it here in Singapore. Planning for next trip now.