Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Buying Diecast Cars in Canberra

Yesterday I wandered over to Belconnen Westfield Shopping Centre to see a movie (Surrogates, excellent - Bladerunner lite for the 00's). As I was early, I decided to take advantage of the cluster of toy departments (K-Mart, Toys-r-Us, Coles, Woolies) and see if there were any Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars that caught my eye.

I thought about it later, that the other cluster of diecast suppliers is Fyshwick. I have visited all three, but prefer one over the others. The three are - Super Toyworld, Fisher Discounts and Monaro Models and Hobbies.

Super Toyworld        5 Barrier St, Fyshwick

An enormous toyshop, with dedicated R/C and diecast sections. The range is good, and they have an excellent display of 1/18's and a good range of Hotwheels and Matchbox (strangely in the toy section NOT in the diecast section). Prices are not outrageous, but limited 'specials' on diecasts. 1/43 is not a prime focus of this store. Staff are friendly and helpful.

Fisher Discounts        68 Barrier St, Fyshwick

A strange store. Downstairs is a large old style hardware store, specialising n power tools for tradies. Upstairs is a model car/train/plane area. It is jam packed and there is a strong focus on diecast cars. There is an enormous range of diecast cars in 1/43. They have good specials and very reasonable prices. Staff are very friendly and helpful.

Monaro Models and Hobbies        80 Newcastle St, Fyshwick

A large store, nice and open and not as jam packed as Fisher Discounts, but the focus here is very much on R/C. Diecast cars have a small dedicated room in the corner, which i always feel odd entering. Although I have been there several times looking for particular cars, I've never bought anything. The range is small, and doesn't have a real focus. The staff are friendly and helpful but I think they are more focussed on R/C.

Where I shop

The store with the greatest range in 1/43 is Fisher Discounts.  I prefer to shop there due to the range, the ever changing specials and the friendly staff. I was once overcharged $10 (didn't realise until i got home) but apart from that all my experiences there have been good. I still visit the other stores, especially Toyworld as it shares a street with Fisher Discounts, but reviewing my purchase spreadsheet its clear that Fisher Discounts are ahead on parting my money from me in exchange for miniature cars.

If you know of any other stores in the Canberra region that specialise in Diecast cars, please email me or leave a comment.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Badge engineering in 1/64 Hot Wheels and Happy Wheels


I have always been a Hot Wheels and Matchbox fan. If you ran a meal detector over my mums backyard and dam walls at the farm, you would find dozens of these little cars. Hot Wheels and Matchbox collectors are slightly different breeds though, a bit like the cars themselves.

Crooze Ooze Coupe

Hot Wheels always had a more 'hot rod' and 'custom' approach to their cars. Moreso than Matchbox where the oddities such as Mini Ha Ha stood out because they were unlike the other Matchbox 1/75 cars. The majority of Hotwheels cars these days are of this custom variety, indeed they market outrageous impractical car designs, and hire noted full size car designers to design whacked out cars for them.

Hot Wheels collecting is popular, and several years ago was frantic. I believe the bottom has dropped out of the collectible and valuable aspect, but the collectors are still keen and seek out different variants of cars. As most of these cars can be picked up for a few dollars at Safeway and toyshops, it is easy to assemble a collection over a few months that is significant in size but not in money.

Occasionally a scarce variant will appear, and those 40 year old blokes you see fossicking through the Hot Wheels racks in Safeway at ten o'clock on a Thursday night, are the collectors looking for the scarce or new variants of cars.

So imagine my surprise to discover that Hot Wheels or their parent company, licensed some Hot Wheels designs to be produced specifically for McDonalds Happy Meals. These cars are in unique colour schemes (which attracted me to them, already having some of these in regular Hot Wheels carded variants)  and there are no real records kept on what Hot Wheels car appears as a Happy Meal car.

2Cool Hardnoze - stickers peeled off 

Unlike most badge engineering exercises, where a person knows that the Lexcen is in fact a Commodore, these 1/64 badge engineered cars are a mystery. My favourite Hot Wheels reference site makes no reference to them at all. They are collectible though - to both Happy Meal Toy collectors (yep, they exist) and Hot Wheels collectors.

As far as I can tell, the differences are these:
  • stickers used instead of tampo printing
  • mono paint schemes
  • plastic bases (see picture below)
  • no hotwheels reference on base plates (see picture below)

Every other aspect of them screams 'I am a Hot Wheels car' and so, I have a few in my collection. However, as I am redefining my collection I have gone through and selected six that must leave the garage and find new homes. On the Ebay listings I have used the Hot Wheels names (see the photos here for the real Hot Wheels names) but I have no idea how they come out of the Happy Meal box. The plastic base plates say nothing of any real use, apart from a year, Mattel and McDonalds.

On a Hot Wheels car, this sticker would be tampo printed

One is a complete mystery. It looks like a Hot Wheels car, and is constructed in that way, but I cant find any references to it. It even has a small Hotwheels sticker on it. It is a little go kart with a rider. The Hotwheels range does have a go kart, but this one is different to the Hot Wheels go kart, in design and also in having a small person driving it - the Hot Wheels go kart does not have a rider. It doesn't fit in my collection, so it is leaving the garage as well, hopefully to fill a gap in someone elses collection.

If you know more about these Happy Meals Hot Wheels, or anything about the mystery go kart, please leave a message in the comments. All these cars are leaving the Capital Diecast Garage via my Ebay store of the same name. I will ask the purchasers whether they are Hotwheels or Happy Meal Collectors.


Update 28/10/09 - Some of these little cars sold, I was curious about the go kart so i asked the buyer what he knew about it, and why he bought it. His reply: hi damien its a toy from maccas i collect anything different from all types of cars to motorbikes i have a large collection and just keep adding thanks.

So there you go - it went to happy Happy Meal Collector!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Code 3 - A short guide to diecast car 'codes'

Every subculture has its own jargon, or shorthand. It occurred to me that some people may not know what a 'Code 3' diecast model is. A brief rundown on terminology follows.

The 'codes' relate to the condition and modifications on a particular model.

Code 1 : A standard model as it comes from the manufacturer. Only ever called a Code 1 in a guide like this.

Code 2 : A standard model from the manufacturer but with differences in packaging or badging. An example could be a promotional model of a Trabant made for say Capital Diecast Garage by the manufacturer, and I decide to rebox it or apply an extra sticker to it. Another example is the application of aftermarket decals to models such as Brock HDT Commodores that are produced without tobacco company signage in accordance with legislation.

Many people collecting Brock cars are unwittingly becoming Code 2 artists, when they purchase decals from places such as Pattos Place to ensure that the model they have is accurate and not inaccurate.

Code 3 : Massive changes made to the appearance of the model without the permission of the manufacturer. This can include new or different decals, changing the paint scheme, different wheels, swapping components, or a massive redesign using a base model and turning it into something different. Some Code 3's are good quality, and others atrocious.

Code 3 from 'Santers Workshop' note poor painting of detail, inaccurate paint around upper doors and sloppily applied decals. Even the wheels are wrong, I doubt a taxi ever used Targa Florio mags! It looked OK in the Ebay ad. Caveat Emptor. 

If you are offered or buy a Code 3, you should be advised that it is a Code 3 and not represented as a factory original version of a particular model. That is fraud.

Some people like collecting Code 3's and others frown upon it. My opinion is that as long as its not represented as something it is not, then enjoy the Code 3. You can find interesting examples of cars which you might never see if someone hadnt attempted to Code 3 a car.

  Original Trax P76 at top, Code 3 at bottom of photo. Correct colour paint for Yellow Cab, but sloppy detail work has ruined this model.

Y22 Ford Model 'A' van 'OXO'

Exiting the Garage is an old friend, the Y22 Ford Model 'A' Van in 'OXO' livery from the venerable Matchbox Models of Yesteryear range. A stunning red and black livery complements the OXO printing on the body, and a nice black roof adds to the vintage touch.

Matchbox churned this model out in several different variants and colour schemes during the 80's, but this was the first of the Y22's. It would have been purchased in the early 80's from Wayside Hobbies in Ringwood, Victoria.

This particular Y22 is in the first livery offered and is an early 'Made in England' Y22, before production shifted to Hong Kong. Oddly, it is in a box that mainly appeared with the Hong Kong cars, in brown and maroon with gold lettering, but it is the box the model arrived in.

If someone knows when different types of boxes were produced and used, please let me know in the comments field.

This model spent some time on display back in the 80's, with a fleet of other Yesteryear companions, then went back into his box for the last 15 or so years. Now the time has come to let him find a new home - so I have listed him in Ebay at my Ebay shop 'Capital Diecast Garage '.

The detail on this model is not stunning, but it is an early 1980's model and compared to the Caldecott 1/43 XY Falcon Utility I bought three weeks ago (reviewed on my other blog ) it is pretty good. I would have paid 12 or 13 dollars for it, but am selling him at half that price.

It is a hard thing to let go of old friends like this, but I am redefining my diecast collection and focussing on different areas, and I would never display him again. Better to set him free.

Quality   7
Design    7
Colours   8
X-factor  8

Rating: 30/40

Listed on Ebay and in my Ebay Store 'Capital Diecast Garage' .

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Welcome to Capital Diecast Garage


If you are reading this then you have an interest in diecast cars. On this blog I will post items relating to my collection of diecst cars, cars I am buying or selling, and other snippets of interest related to diecast cars. Occasionally I will also veer into resin models as well!

I have been collecting diecast cars since I was a small child, and stopped smashing my Matchbox cars with a hammer when I was about twelve. By 18 I had a display case with Matchbox Models of Yesteryear, Brumm, Lledo and others. I then lived like a gypsy and although the collecting continued, they went into boxes as I flitted from state to state and house to house.

Over time, my collecting became far more focussed and I now concentrate on 1/43 diecast cars, mainly of Australian vehicles. I do have a few 1/18 and other sizes, but I prefer 1/43 cars. I have bought a few Code 3's from Ebay and after my last purchase, have decided to modify some of my cars to Code 3 and try and make them a little more accurate.

So welcome to the Capital Diecast Garage. I would offer you a tiny 1/43rd scale beer, but I am yet to see a 1/43 scale Esky!