Monday, May 31, 2010

Matchbox Error cards

They say that more than three of anything is a collection... so I guess I have a small collection of Matchbox error cards. The problem is that apart from the VW 181, I dont really collect these other Matchbox cars, so i have decided to let them go to another persons collection via my Ebay store

I find these error cards interesting, and I guess that with the millions of cars that the factories churn out, there has to be a few mistakes made such as these. With the bulk of these cars bought by kids, who dont care about errors, error cards are scarce - especially as the years go by. 
I always keep my eye out for these errors for some reason, and end up buying them. With enough cars in the Capital Diecast Garage, I dont need to start another large sub-collection, so I will let these go. 

Ebay Paypal dispute resolution unfair to sellers

To try and make my diecast collecting hobby self-sustaining I have been selling diecast cars through ebay for the last 6 months or so. 99% of transactions have gone perfectly and I have been very happy.

My feedback is very very good, and that pleases me. I go to great lengths to bubblewrap cars, I use foam peanuts and proper Australia Post packaging. I have gone out of my way to not engage in 'postal gouging'. My attitude is 'I want you to receive a tiny car in the same way that I would like to receive one'. I have seen very shonky packaging, boxed sets sent with no bubblewrap or peanuts so I always over protect the items. I have only had one report of a car arriving broken, and that was a piece that came adrift from a 1:18 Bburago Ferrari F50 in transit. Fortunately the person was able to clip the part back on the model. I was pretty distressed when i heard about that, and now I pop foam peanuts inside the models own packaging to avoid this.

On a few occasions items have not arrived at the buyers end. This is unfortunate for both buyer and seller.

Usually I hear nothing from the people who buy my tiny cars, in about 5% of sales, they let me know the car has arrived. Happily I have several repeat customers.

Once I sent the wrong cars to buyers, a case of switched addresses. This took a week or so to resolve, but it was. The person expecting their yellow jag was a bit surprised to receive a golden volkswagen!

When it goes wrong I usually get an an email from the buyer asking if I have sent the item. I then go through my Australia Post receipts (which list the postcode and date) and tell them when the item was mailed. Almost always the items turns up, one parcel took 3 weeks, others mailed that same day arrived 2 days later.

Twice they haven't. Once it was a 1:18 scale Biante XY GT. The buyer wasn't happy, and neither was I. I had only just started selling my cars and hadnt used registered post. After an 'investigation' Ebay refunded them the 140 dollars, plus the 14 dollars postage, and kept the fee they deduct from the sale as their commission. So I was out 140 plus 14 plus 9 (fee) plus the original cost of the model way back when. It put a real crimp in my very small revenues.

Im sure the person who was expecting their car to arrive was disappointed as well.

After that experience with Paypal I insisted that all sales over 20 dollars went 'registered mail' from that date, and I started to keep much better records - photographing parcels with the postal sticker applied at the post office and keeping the receipts listing postcodes.

One of the problems with the Paypal dispute resolution process is that they have very restrictive views on what constitutes 'proof'. See below:

What do Paypal consider 'proof' ?

This is where it is important that you keep receipts listing postcodes and photos of parcels showing addresses and postal stickers.

Im also not convinced that Paypal actually read any notes or evidence that sellers provide (outside the above three categories). They do not provide any decision making reasoning back to you. It is an imperfect process.

My advice to all sellers is to use registered mail and/or postal insurance. This raises your postage and handling charge, and takes extra time to fill out paperwork, but does protect you. Also, photograph all addressed parcels and receipts for postage (showing postcodes).

I am genuinely dismayed when an item does not arrive but Im also convinced that we have to be responsible for decisions we take. That includes choosing not to register and insure items that are purchased online.

Im interested in your ebay buying/selling experiences - particularly if you have gone through teh paypal dispute process as a buyer or seller. Please leave a comment. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dinkum Classics FBA472 - BA Bathurst Falcon V8 Supercar prototype

Dinkum Classics were the company that began the modern era of Australian diecast collecting with a wide range of modern Australian cars, all in diecast, with a high degree of accuracy and finish. Sadly, they ceased operating around 2001 for several reasons - including increased competition from Australian companies that had outsourced manufacturing to China, but the main reason was a fire that destroyed the moulds Dinkum used to produce their models.  I am researching Dinkum and will post a more indepth article when that research is complete. 
One of the last hurrahs of Dinkum was this car - the BA Falcon V8 Supercar prototype in 1:43.  To the best of my knowledge Dinkum did not produce a range of Falcon V8 Supercars, only this prototype model for the 2001 season. 
This is a very attractive model and has been reproduced fairly accurately, with a striking colour scheme. The wheels are fairly accurate for racing vehicles, and the model has an accurate racing stance, although there is no negative camber on the front wheels! Curiously the front headlights are diecast, not clear plastic, which would make sense as most racing teams use the headlights for advertising/sponsor purposes. 
Im not sure from which angle this car is best viewed! The distinctive BA bonnet bulge, which is becoming as iconic as the XB bonnet nostrils, look great from the front, but the satin silver and blue colour scheme and bold Ford signage makes it enjoyable (for a Ford fan) from many angles. The grille is also nicely moulded and representative of performance Falcons. 
There are a few problems however, the glass is flimsy and not robust like Biante/Trax model glass. It is more like the moulded clear plastic you get in a resin kit. It also doesnt fit that well, if you look closely. The rear door, and that heavy treatment of the door channel between the two panes also looks a little out of scale. Small quibbles I know, so lets look at a few more positives - the interior is clearly specific for a racing car and not a road car, with a single moulded racing seat inside, sadly the tint on the glass makes the interior difficult to view in a photo. No rollcage inside though, Dinkum weren't at the level that Biante are today. 
Flipping it over you can see that the base plate is very basic, but the wheels are nice and wide, and the racing exhaust is also moulded in. Typical of the era in diecast models. The handwritten sticker is a nice touch from a small company. When new this model cost $130 and I do not know what the current value of it could be. Many Dinkums are listed at high 'Buy It Now' prices on Ebay, but they stay there for a long time.  The person who I bought this from, who had many Dinkums, tells me this is 1 of only 2 produced. I do know from talking to people close to Dinkum manufacturing, that although many runs were claimed to be limited to 99, as few as 20 could be made, sometimes less. So is this 1 of 2 made or 1 of 20 ? In either case - its a rare model. 
Packaging is very basic, a cardboard box with a white cardboard slipover. The car itself is wrapped in a tissue, then bubblewrap. Safe and secure but nowhere near the level of presentation that a car in a little clear plastic box arrives in. I dont  think it matters though, at least its not secured with infernal wires! I do recall the thrill I had when carefully unwrapping the bubblewrap and tissue - so maybe some Steve Jobs style packaging psychology was used.  

This model is very nice, and will stay in my collection. Its scarcity and striking looks secure its place.  

To the rating:

Dinkum Classics FBA472 - BA Bathurst Prototype

Quality  7
Design    7
Colours   8
X-factor  9

Rating: 31/40

Code 3 - Maisto VW Type 3 Wagen - part 1

My friend Glenn and his son have taken this VW Type 3 Wagon to the last two Summernats. Its a nice car, and they have a lot of fun cruising around in it. It was a father and son project, so means a lot to both of them. 
So when i saw a VW Squareback hanging on the shelves of Toys'r'Us I decided to build a tribute to my friend and his son. Im in the 'acquiring parts needed' stage at present. My next post will be on the strip down. And for blog reader Russ - this car is 1:64...

TR11B - Trax Police Valiant Charger

In the Trax catalogue there is only one police car that I am aware of, and that car was an unusual choice, a NSW Valiant Police car, based on the TR11 Valiant Charger casting. 
According to Trax:

"The Charger was done back in '95 and is still rated as the slowest selling Trax model of all time. We had planned to do the SA Police version after this but very quickly learnt that apart from a very small group, models of police vehicles are shunned by the collector community, maybe because they invoke bad memories. Sad really because given the wide Trax tooling bank, there are so many original Aussie police vehicles we could create, but the tiny volume and production hence costs simply does not warrant it."

It is a shame that Trax haven't ventured back into this line, Im sure it could be profitable as Code 3 police vehicles seem to be popular. Perhaps the Police collector market is just too small. 
The TR11B is a very attractive model, and was well presented by Trax. It has a nice stance and presence, and looks to be accurate. The light bar is probably not as accurate as it could be, I have seen most light bars attached to roofrack systems which attach to drip rails. Of course in 1:43, you cant see drip rails too well. 
That quibble aside, detail is pretty good for a car of this era (now 15 years old). Both the grille and the rear lights (always difficult to get right in this scale) are fairly accurate, and not too clumsy. I think the R/T Charger badge is a little large, as are the front indicators. 
The interior is moulded in a light blue plastic, and is nicely done for the age of the model. 
The base plate is basic, but typical for a model of this age. Fortunately Trax got the wheelbase right on this model, unlike some others. 
Packaging is typical mid 90's Trax, and nicely done. The model is easy to access and remove, by unscrewing two screws. No wires fortunately.

It is an attractive model, nicely presented and a good choice by Trax to offer the collecting public. Sadly, low sales at the time it was made and low resale value since, have affected its reputation. The colour scheme is clever, and shows us that in the early 70's, garish police cars were not the norm, often a police car had a siren and a discreet police logo on a door. Compare it to the mobile billboards that patrol our highways today! This car will remain in my collection. 

To the rating:

Trax TR11B Valiant Charger Police Highway patrol

Quality  8
Design    8
Colours   9
X-factor  8

Rating: 33/40