Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Proton Saga Iswara Taxi

I found a Proton Saga Iswara Taxi last week when I visited the usual flea market I frequent. The scale of the Proton should be approximate 1/20 when compared to the 1/35 Hyundai Sonata. It's a plastic model which is actually a coin bank rather than a toy. I have heard that one of the bank has given this as a gift some 20 years ago. I have been looking for this item and I know I have to get it when I saw it parked at one corner of a shelf.

It puzzles me as it has "The Singapore Taxi" decals on both sides of the car. We have never used a Proton as a taxi because our taxis in the 80s or 90s are either Nissan Cedric or Toyota Crown and Corona. Occasionally, you will encounter a Opel Omega Wagon, London cab or a Mercedes taxi. This coin bank must have been issued in the early 90s as it looked more like a Iswara rather than the earlier Saga. Red and White are used by TransCab but this company is only founded in 2004. Before 1994, we have only Yellow Top taxis, Blue Comfort taxis and White SMRT taxis. I figured that this is actually a Malaysian taxi as Malaysia has Red-White colour combination similar to this Proton taxi and Proton is Malaysia's National car.

The Taxi does comes with a registration number which is a Johore registration plate. I do not know if the previous owner custom his own decals onto the taxi. Although the taxi is play worn and has missing wing mirrors but it is a rare find. Anyone knows which bank issued this as a souvenir? Just like to know more of the history of this item.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hino Dutro Hybrid

Special Edition Tomica made by Hino. Hino has made a Silver and a White Hino Dutro.

Hino Dutro is actually based on a Toyota Dyna and it's a Hybrid. I have brought a few sets of these Hino trucks from Japan. I am keeping a set and my collector friends can have the spares if they like it. 

Comparing the Hino Special Edition with the regular release Hino Crane truck. The Hino Special Edition has slightly more detailing on the front. I always like special edition Tomica made by car manufacturers. I will feature more special editions in the future and have to dig them from my box of Tomica when I have the time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Tomica Memories - Crown & Civic

Here is another edition of my childhood Tomica memories. I did not keep any Tomica from childhood so I am trying my best to buy all those which were owned by me. Usually, I paired up my Tomicas because they are related in some ways in my memories. They come in pairs because they were bought at the same time. Why must it be in twos? The answer is simple, when you have 2 kids in the family, you can't just buy one.

My parents or my grandma did not buy the Toyota Crown and the Honda Civic Country as featured above. How the hell did I get them then? 

Let me turn back the time back to 198x, sorry, can't remember which year though. Again, I was brought to my aunt's place. I always visit my aunt (and cousins) because my mum visits her sister (my aunt) regularly. As usual, I played with my cousin's (the one who has the gift shop) toy cars whenever I was there. He has lots of Matchbox, Tomica, Yatming and I found 2 new cars in his lot. I asked if they were "new" in the family and he said that they were bought recently. I was a bully at times when I was a kid and he was also one of my victims at times although he was older than me. I didn't really take these cars from him. If I recalled correctly, he offered to give them to me willingly. As a Tomica lover, I couldn't resist this offer and took them home happily. I should show him this post one of these days but I reckon that he will not recall a thing at all.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Toyota 86

The Crystal Black Silica edition of the Tomica Toyota 86 is not a regular release Tomica. The car is not for sales and it's a bonus car from the Tomica City Parking.

 Presenting all the 3 colour variations of the Toyota 86.

I don't know if you realised that Tomica made in China are not shrunk down like the Vietnamese counterpart.

The Black 86 looks cooler than the other 2 colours.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bosz Creations Collector

I took a half day leave last Friday to replace the old side tempo on my car. The black has already faded to shades of gray some time ago but I did not realised it. It was when a friend asked me if I had change it to gray from black last year. I decided to contact Bosz Creations who done the tempo 6 years ago. I gave UK (the shop owner) a different art work this time and he did a marvellous job. It's actually better than the one I originally had. The old one had the yellow lettering "TURBO 130" as part of the decal but the new "TURBO 130" yellow accent was formed by the yellow background of my car.

While I was sitting in his shop, I saw boxes of Fujimi and Aoshima model kits on the shelves so I asked if he is a toy collector. UK told me that there is a cabinet full of cars beside the book shelf. I got excited, got up from my seat and sprung towards his collection.

The cabinet was filled up with Transformers, Choro-Q and some Tomica. UK customized a car park lot to park all his Choro-Q. This is the first time I encounter a collector who likes "Q-version" of toy cars. He also had all the huge Choro-Q as well. I also saw one big lot of Choro-Q Grandis on his desk so I asked if he is a Grandis fan. He told me that those are corporate gifts and the company has thrown lots of Choro-Q before UK salvaged them from being dumped as rubbish. I was thinking to include UK's card here but on second thought, better not so as not to attract any wrong attention. UK provide printing service, sticker, fabric customization, corporate gift, silkscreen and digital printing, vehicle advertisement and so on. He told me that if my friends are interested in the water base (if I remembered right) sheet used as decals for model kits, he can bring in one lot if there is interest generated. You can customize your own design and print using home printer. Anyone interested in UK's service can email me for his contact or you can google it on the net.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Kombie in Bangkok, Thailand

I haven't been to Bangkok for 7 years and this time I have stayed in Holiday Inn Express which is a new hotel just opposite to the National Stadium.

I requested for Thai food on our first dinner. 

Loft is a place I will visit whenever I visit Bangkok. They are still surviving today after my last visit 7 years ago. Loft is a Japanese lifestyle shop which sells household items, gifts, toys, stationary, fashion all in one shop.

I can get all these in Singapore at lower prices.

Tomica selection is limited and more expensive than Singapore. I thought Tomica in Singapore is considered expensive already.

So I bought some Aoshima since they are cheaper than Tomica and we don't have them in Singapore.

Then we went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner.

Next day, we went to China Town where there are many shops doing wholesale. There is also one full stretch of toy shops.

 More toy shops.

Sorry, my hand shakes while taking picture of this shop. Saw some VW Microbus and truck which might be Kinsmart, wanted to buy it for a friend. I asked for the price and that really shocked me as the lady in red told me it's 1500 Baht for one. I saw some in MBK for 290 Baht but that price is already high for a Kinsmart.

China Town Scala, heard that it started from a roadside stall and grew into a restaurant today.

We went to a Chinese medical shop to buy some stuff.

Last stop in Bangkok, time to go home the next day. Time to prepare for another trip.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Is Tomica Limited Worth Collecting?

I used to preach to my friends that Tomica Limited is a range not worth spending my hard earned money based on the price charged to consumers. It is basically a regular Tomica with some detailing. As I always felt that a true Tomica should be a toy car with regular button wheels, I don't really buy this range unless I fancy certain models. The first few models of Tomica Limited is a total turn off to me because most of the models made are based on mould made 30 years ago. I often teased them as "re-issues" because the Japanese mould are modified for expansion of product range. I wouldn't mind buying the detailed Tomica if the initial mould are China made. My collection of Tomica Limited is also "limited" because I have not more than 20 models of this series. There are also some other brands which is doing similar strategies such as Matchbox with its "Superfast" series and Hot Wheels Speed Machines. The two Mattel products are dropped in this comparison as they still have some distance from being labelled as detailed models. I have short listed Tomica, Siku, Norev and RMZ City. I understand that there are brands such as Johnny Lightning but they are almost non-existence in Singapore and they are distributed mainly in America. Let us just stick to these four for this moment.

Only 1 type of packaging to I know of for Tomica Limited. Black card box with plastic inserts securing the car in it. Clear plastic cover over box made it looked like a static display stand. Earlier series does comes with a metal name plate.

Cars Release:
Like the series suggested, they are limited to what is available in the regular Tomica. There are also some exceptions like the new Mini Cooper which TL is released before the regular button wheel version. There is also a Lexus GS300 which Tomica regular is not available. The LFA super car is also not available in the regular series.

Build Quality (In General): 8.0
Paint used are good. Detailing is an upgrade from the regular series. The car felt solid with a little more mass comparing to the regular series.

Accuracy & Detailing (In General): 8.0
Most of the body frame looks proportionate to the real thing with exceptions of some models having smaller wheels. Rims follow closely to actual models.

Dealer's Promo Car: 7.0
Most promo cars' emphases are on the proportion, accurate shut lines so usually they do not have any opening features. As Tomica does not have full range of Japanese cars, it will restrict the number of models made into TL series. Nissan love to use Tomica for their promo car in the regular series.

Overall Package: 8.0
- Reuseable box that able to display the car
- Suspension that works well
- Most Tomica has one opening feature or at least one moving part
- Rubber tyres
- Realistic rims

Value For Money: 6.5
Price: SGD$12.95

Strictly for the Tomica die hard fans. It will be more reasonable if price is lowered to SGD$9.90.

Siku are packaged in a short blister for 0800 series to 1400 series. Anything above these series are boxed.

Cars Released:
Most of the cars are based on German cars since Siku is a German brand. Occasionally, you will find a few Toyota models in their range.

Build Quality (In General): 8.0
Let's based on 1000 to 1400 series for Siku since 800 and 900 series are either generic or base cars. Siku is one of the few toy car maker who still use extra material on the front and rear lights which is a very nice touch. The rear windows are made with clear plastic rather than paint on metal like what Tomica did to reduce production cost. Siku rolls well too, thanks to the 100 hours endurance test performed on its wheels.

Accuracy & Detailing (In General): 7.0
Most Siku are built to scale of 1:55 which is good to be uniform although I think that there are a little too big for some models. 1:60 will be a much appropriate for today's car since most cars has grown in size. Siku loses points here for the oversize ugly wheels.

Dealer's Promo Car: 6.0
I don't think I will regard Siku a good choice for promo car in the showroom mainly because of its rather generic wheels. It will be a nice promo car if realistic rims are used and they made the door shut instead. The doors open extraordinarily wide in my opinion.

Overall Package: 6.0
- Opening doors
- Rubber tyres
- Nice touches maintained throughout the range

Value For Money: 7.5
Price: SGD$5.90

Siku display nicely to my surprise. It has toy like features build with Germanic quality.

Norev Mini Jet Series comes in various packaging. They have "Show Room", "Racing", "Drift", "Tuners" and so on. They have made and packaged for car makers which I supposed are the promo cars for dealers. Norev are window boxed which display like Tomica Limited.

Cars Released:
Most of the European cars which you can think of. They do have a few Japanese cars as well but they are really limited. I can only think of Suzuki Swift Rally, Subaru WRX in many variants, Mitsubishi Pajero Rally and Nissan 350Z. You will have a wider range of Japanese cars in the 1/43 scale range.

Build Quality (In General): 7.0
I must admit that Norev look best in presentation among the competition here. I can forgive some minor bloops on the details as it is not really serious, keep in mind that we are not paying Kyosho or Ebbro price here. What actually is a little disappointing is mainly the wheels. Not the rim designs but they don't really roll well. Some cars had only 3 wheels touching the floor. Norev has suspension like Tomica but the suspension is built similarly to the early Hot Wheels. Tomica has the suspension of a Honda but Norev has the Type R suspension. It's too hard but at least they will not give way easily (although the wheels might because some Norev has bent wheels before taken out from the box, could be due to mishandling during transportation).

Accuracy & Detailing (In General): 9.0
Everything look so right that you might think that they look expensive for certain model such as the 2 VWs above. If Norev has plastic rear lights similar to what Siku did, they will look fantabulous.

Dealer's Promo Car: 9.0
It will be the best choice if you are to launch a car in Europe since almost every model is available. The overall presentation have nothing much to fault. If you do not look close enough, you might not know they don't run on rubber tyres.

Overall Package: 7.0
- Reusable box
- Suspension
- Realistic rims
- Many colour variants available per model

Value For Money: 7.0
Bought at 5~6 Euro per model, Approx. SGD$15.00 per car after shipping in.

Norev are available mainly in Europe and they have all makes of European cars. It is still worthwhile to specially ship them to Singapore if you appreciate 3 inch cars with some details.

RMZ City are either packed in blister card or you buy as a dozen in a wholesale box.

Cars Released:
Only 24 models available for the 3 inch range. The larger scale RMZ has numerous models. Since
this series is launched just this year, we hope to expect more models to arrive.

Build Quality (In General): 7.0
Cars are properly assembly with exceptions on material used on the spoiler. The plastic looked fragile and will shattered after some hard playing. Some cars such as Skyline has spoiler dismounted slightly when I receive the car. I just do some refitting and they look perfect again. Some models such as Toyota Prius and Honda Insight looked flawless.

Accuracy & Detailing (In General): 7.5
The cars looked proportionate and nice rims are used. Downside for RMZ is the detailing is very minimal.

Dealer's Promo Car: 7.5
RMZ City looks quite similar in terms of design flair to my Mitsubishi i dealer's promo car when displayed together. Coincidentally, the Mitsubishi has motorized wheels just like RMZ. It's a shame that RMZ has only 24 models available at this moment.

Overall Package: 6.5
- Rubber tyres
- Realistic rims
- Motorized wheels (Subjective to individual)
- 4 colours available per model

Value For Money: 8.0
Price: SGD$2.80

Amazingly value for this low price. This brand has yet achieve certain pedigree and a small fan base.