Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Trax TO05B Ford Falcon XB GT sedan

Sometimes you open a box and look at a diecast model car and you just know you love it. That's the reaction I had when I opened the box this car came in. The Trax TO05B Ford Falcon XB GT sedan is a beautiful model - well executed, highly detailed, fantastic paint. Because of the opening parts, some of the fit between panels is a little heavy, but I think its a worthwhile tradeoff. The opening parts on this model are: doors, boot, bonnet.
However, you will note that all these photos are of the car on its display base. Thats because although its a beautiful model, and has attractive packaging it also has highly irritating wire ties that hold the car onto the display base. I fear that I cant untie the car, and then get it back on to the base. Its a detail thing that detracts from the overall high standard of presentation. 

If I was to display the car somewhere and never use the box again, I would be likely to snip the wires, but if I was to sell this model (when the black version comes out) then it would be foolish to remove the car, as it would be difficult to place it back in and advertise as Mint.
Trax have produced a great model. The paint is just flawless and the decals and period markings are all captured accurately. factory painted bumpers really add to the period effect. Even the exhaust pipe ends are accurate. Every model that Trax puts out is incrementally better than the one before it.
It is my opinion that the XA-B-C series of Ford Falcons were the high point in Australian automotive design. I know the dynamics weren't great (as I own one) but for sheer excitement - the shape of the cars and sound of the 351 V8 have never been equalled. Trax have done a great job with this casting, neatly capturing the shape of the car and the stance.
As part of the Opal range, Trax have upped the detail and added opening doors, bonnets and boots. The interiors have been improved and engine bays added. This brings Trax back into competition with Biante and Classic Carlectables. Its not just the Opal range that shows improvements, you see this high level of detail trickling down into the regular Trax line. 
 Even underbonnet stampings are factory accurate. 
Beautiful little 1:43 scae 351 cubic inch Cleveland V8 engine and detailed engine bay. The aerial may be a little thick, but its there, as are compliance plates on the firewall and a selection of period engine bay decals and stickers. 
 Boot opens, and it has the rubber mats, the filler pipe and accurate dimensions.
Trax have an accurate dash, with tiny instruments and a rimblow steering wheel. Door cards look good as well. I half expected the window winders to work!
If you don't remove the car from the wire and display it elsewhere, then this is how the model looks in the Trax packaging using the nice plastic box.
To the ratings. Trax have produced a very attractive model of the XB GT sedan and the level of detail in the Opal range is impressive. I do like the Opal packaging - apart from the wires. Trax - please find an alternative


Trax TO05B Ford Falcon XB GT sedan in Orange with Black interior 1/43 scale

Quality  8
Design    8
Colours   8
X-factor  8

Rating: 32/40

Friday, February 11, 2011

Granville Diecast Swapmeet February 2011

 Setting up

Steve Maher is a comrade of mine from the Leyland P76 movement and knowing that I am a diecast tragic, has long recommended that I make the journey from Canberra to Granville for the regular diecast swapmeet that the Sydney Model Auto Club run. So yesterday I decided to drive up today and have a look. The drive up from Canberra was actually quite pleasant for Sydney traffic, and took less time than anticipated. The swapmeet venue is at a Catholic school in Granville, using their hall as the main trading area with tables arrayed quite densely, and tables also available outside the main hall. 

As I arrived early, I started spending money even before I went inside! Some of the vendors on the tables outside had cars I was looking for, and also cars I already have. I resisted, mostly... I wandered around the tables setup outside for a good 20 minutes before walking in - where an efficient but friendly gatekeeper arrested my passage and tapped his watch indicating I had a good 15 minutes to wait. This was OK, and I chatted to fellow diecast tragics also waiting. 

I was genuinely surprised at the great range of cars arrayed. Everything from tinplate to the latest 1:18 Supercars. There were quite a few professional traders and also a lot of people with a small table selling spares or a few bits. I was really pleased to see that one vendor had a few boxes of spare dinky, corgi and matchbox tyres. Now I know - I can take a few samples and fit out some of my cars that are up on tiny diecast blocks. 

Main area

Once inside it took me a good 90 minutes to make my way from the main entrance right around. You would be amazed how many tables and people you can pack into a school hall. I also went back to a few vendors a second time to pickup and scratch my chin and think about some cars I passed on earlier. The doors open at 6.45 PM, but all of the vendors arrive earlier, and I am in no doubt that collector/vendors probably swap or snap up a few choice cars before 6.45! 

It was interesting to note that the Hot Wheels XB GT Falcons are readily available at the Granville swapmeet with prices ranging from $4 to $25. The market in Yellow XB's appears to have been satisfied, red XB's are still scarce but a few vendors had them. Saw a few Matchbox VE utes as well. In general - if you want Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars - go to Granville. New in blister pack Hot Wheels - a buck. Mint loose - from 50 cents. Many holes in my collection were filled.  I doubt I will ever use Ebay to buy Hot Wheels ever again, if I cant find it at Granville i'd be surprised. 

I didn't spend a great deal of money, but I did manage to pick up a few cars I had been after for some time, and also a few that I thought were bargains. There were cars I passed on due to the vendors price, but overall I would say that prices were reasonable with haggling welcome. As I have already mentioned the range of diecast on offer was extensive. There was also some odd items - such as a timplate Zeppelin about 5 feet long.  

It was a really good educational experience as well, with lots of tiny cars that I was interested in and was able to pick up, have a close look, ask a vendor a question. They all knew their stuff. They would also ask what I was interested in. Surprisingly I managed to find some Fun Ho! and some Streamlux.  As I am interested in 'pre-going broke and remade in the 80s/90's Fun Ho!' I found but passed on some others. 

As I am also interested in getting a Canberra Swapmeet running, I spoke to a few vendors about that as well, they seemed quite keen - which is a good sign. One in particular spent quite some time explaining how he operates, what he likes, what he doesn't like etc. Every question I asked him he answered with a carefully considered view or opinion, based on years of experience. Exactly the info I need. 
See those plastic boxes in the lower right corner... full of spare dinky/corgi/matchbox tyres!

There were also a few vendors from Canberra that I introduced myself to. Every one of them told me that Canberra used to have a swapmeet. I did forget to talk to a few vendors about it, usually they were in the middle of a transaction and I didn't want to interrupt them, or I got lost in a moment with a car trying to figure out if I had it already etc. If they read this I apologise to them for forgetting, it wasn't personal and I will try and speak to them about it next time. Or they can email me... capdiecast at gmail dot com

The only odd moment of the night for me was quite surreal. 

I bought some cars off a vendor, he had older pre 1970ish diecast and good stuff too. We haggled and he knocked five bucks off two cars. A good deal I felt, not cheap but reasonably priced.  I was chatting to him about my proposed Canberra swapmeet, he seemed interested - then I gave him my card and he looked at it, the cogs started whirring, and he remembered me - I had given him a neutral rating on an ebay transaction a few years ago and he was still furious! To say he went OFF would be an understatement. He gave me back my card, said I could insert it somewhere, he didn't want to talk to me, I wrote crap about Leylands etc. He was very emotional. I was quite taken aback. It all sort of poured out... I tried to reason with him, but it didn't help. Let me put this in perspective - I'm a qualified mediator - and I still couldn't even begin to reach a point where we could discuss the matter. Glad I didn't give him negative feedback!

Wow - I would have given neutral or negative feedback a handful of times. Seriously - very very few times. The incident he recalled quite clearly related to two Trax cars I bought from him - he did not mention in the ad that they had no boxes. They arrived. I was pissed off. I gave him a neutral feedback. 

He still felt very raw about it, so I apologised to him. He refused to accept my apology, saying he had to live with that damaged reputation for a year on his feedback profile. As I said - he was quite emotional, it had really affected him. Then he walked off on me and went to talk to someone else. 

When I got home I had a look through the emails relating to the transaction,  and I must admit he has a point. I perhaps should have emailed him after I received the cars and discussed it with him. I can understand why he was and still is pissed off. I was fairly new to ebay at the time, so I probably acted far too hastily. I guess I have to be honest here and recall the key thing I have learnt on how to deal with people that I have found to be truly effective - treat people how you would like to be treated. In this instance, I didn't. I was in the wrong. What can I do? I have already apologised to him in person, in private, but perhaps it should be public - like Ebay feedback.

I publicly apologise to Bob Williamson for affecting his Ebay feedback score. I should have discussed the matter with him before posting the feedback that I did. I was wrong to act so hastily before discussing the transaction with him.

Apart from that, the rest of the evening was tremendous. I had a long yarn to Steve about Leyland matters (all car clubs have politics and gossip), but was slightly disappointed he didn't have the prototype of the 1:43 resin Leyland P76 London-Sydney 1973 Rally car with him.   

The Sydney Model Auto Club organise and run the Swapmeet very efficiently. It had a good mix of professional stall holders and people selling off spares, with a great atmosphere. Everyone was knowledgeable and friendly, and really interested in what you collected when you talked to them. Its definitely worth the trip from Canberra. I wont bore you all with a detailed report on my trip back to Canberra in the XF V8 Panelvan in the rain with a wiper intermittently failing to wipe... but I did get back home in time to catch the Abu Dhabi V8 Supercar race  on TV.

See also: Canberra Diecast Swapmeet 2011?

Trax TR81 Valiant AP6 Sedan

There is no doubt that Trax castings and general quality improves incrementally. Although their recent Opal series has jumped up the quality table quite a few notches with opening doors, boots and bonnets, with detailed engine bays and undercarriages, their is still life in the regular Trax series. 

This is Trax's latest Chrysler Valiant offering, the TR81 AP5 valiant sedan in dark Red with Maroon interior. The colour certainly suits it, and the paint quality is excellent. Flawless. Released in 2010, it is still available on Traxs website (as of Feb 2011). 
Although is is a beautiful model, it still has some flaws, relating to  previous Trax practices, which are gradually being updated on new castings.  Example - the headlights: Trax are still using their old style headlamps on this car with obvious sprue right in the centre - Trax please work on your headlights. The door mirrors also appear to be a little oversized.

Grilles, badges and indicators are excellent. This model in real life featured a complex grille arrangement with body coloured panels and chrome, Trax have tackled this and executed it very well. Look at that boot badge! I also like the dealer number plate. A nice touch.
The interior has good detailing, with dash, seats, rear view mirror etc all looking accurate. The white steering wheel looks great. Like the door mirrors, the wiper also looks a little thick. Contrast this with the corner vent windows in the front doors, which are finely cast. Odd how Trax can be so careful in one area and not in another. The whitewall tyres and detailed hubcaps are a nice touch. Trax could have just used black tyres. I like this touch, it shows consideration.
Nice stance.Trax have got this absolutely right. 
Clean base, with some detailing on the exhaust and sump. Trax are still using screws in their regular 1/43 line, which are much better than the infernal wires in the Opal series. I do like the current clear cases and screwed bases that Trax are using. The cars are secure for travel, easy to remove and look good on display with the clear case removed or left in place.  
To the all important ratings.

I like this car, it doesn't have the X-factor of other cars, but Trax have presented a nicely detailed, and attractive offering. The Valiant had plenty of chrome and badges all over it to attract the higher end of the car buying market in 1965 and Trax chose a nice colour and variant to offer. Trax certainly haven't skimped on the chrome in this model - mirrors, grilles, bumpers, door handles, C pillar badges - plenty of tiny chrome pieces on display here! This model will please Chrysler fans and people who appreciate quality diecast cars in their collections. This car will stay in my collection.


Trax TR81 AP5 Valiant Sedan in Dark red with Maroon interior 1/43 scale

Quality  8
Design    7
Colours   8
X-factor  6

Rating: 31/40

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hot Wheels XB GT Falcon 3 pack

Sadly, this is fake.... but I thought it would look cool and I reckon Hot Wheels would shift THOUSANDS of these if it existed! The red one is only available in the U.S. but I have a few spare ones if people are interested - see my Hot Wheels For Sale page or my Ebay auctions.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Matchbox K7 Racing Transporter - Martini Racing

The Matchbox Super King K7 Racing Transporter is without question my favourite Matchbox Super King casting, and one of my favourite models. It came out in two different liveries - yellow Team Matchbox, and white Martini Racing. The casting had minor changes, mainly to the cabin over the years, but the basic shape remained the same while it was produced from 1972 to about 1980. 
Sadly I dont own a mint in box version of the white Martini racing version of the K7, but I did pick up this mint version last year. Its almost flawless, apart from some minor rubbing on the base and a minor blemish to one of the stickers. The rear glass has a minor crack, and all parts are present, and so are the stickers. I doubt this car has ever been used by a kid on his loungeroom carpet. 
I have only a clear rear glass variant of the Martini Racing K7. The white and yellow K7's came out with clear and orange rear glass. You can tell if the glass came with the K7 you are looking at as the rear glass and cabin glass match. The major difference, apart from glass colour and paint, between the two versions is the roof castings. On the yellow K7's there are three horns, on the white K7's there is a strange spotlight arrangement that can be rotated and two horns, on a rectangle base, that fits on the K7 roof.
 I've seen red rear ramps on Martini Racing K7's - this one is white.
Of course a racing car transporter needs a racing car to transport, and the Martini racing K7 came with a Matchbox Porsche in Martini livery. 
The base of the K7 - it appears to be the same on all versions right through this castings run.

At some point I will post a complete listing of all the variations of the K7 that I am aware of. I've been collecting info on this casting for several years and tracked it through UK and US catalogues, and bought different versions that I come across if its a variant I haven't seen. I even bid for a 'cream' K7 only to find it was a yellow one that must have been bleached! 

If you have a version of the K7 that isn't yellow or white, or if you have any pre-production versions - I would really like to see photos of them. Please email me at capdiecast at gmail dot com or leave a comment. 


Matchbox Super King K7 Racing Transporter - Martini Racing

Quality  9
Design    8
Colours   8
X-factor  9

Rating: 34/40

See also: K7 Racing Transporter

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dinkum Classics EF Ford Falcon Allan Moffat HO Special

The EF Falcon is a largely under represented car in Australian diecast. It had a couple of contemporary releases, but few of late. Even this era of V8 Supercar racing and associated releases is a sparse area. One diecast company that did offer the EF Falcon was Dinkum Classics. And the version they offered is a rather curious choice - Its an Allan Moffat HO Special.
Dinkum was never big on over detailed cars, but for the time the detail was pretty good. HO and Ford badges are clear and distinct. Im pretty sure the Moffat HO's had vents on the bonnet, but they seem to be missing on the Dinkum Classics version. 
Allan Moffat signature and HO Special badge look good, as do the special 17 inch rims, not common in the early 90's. 
That rear wing was controversial and Australia hadnt seen anything like this on a road car before. Its not quite a Dodge Daytona wing, but it really makes this car. 
Very sparse base
This is a low run for any diecast model. The HO Special was also offered in other colours.

The EF was the pinnacle of design for this particular body, although with the grille and bonnet being so aerodynamic, there were serious problems with under bonnet heat. The bonnet vents introduced on the GT's were soon seen on everything from the GT to taxis in an attempt to get the heat out of the engine bay.

The car that this is modelled on is a curious choice. Ford dropped the V8 in the XE model and it didn't return until the EB sedan. Many people had a go at turning out performance versions of the sedans that were used in Group C, group A and then V8 Supercar racing. Brock and HDT were the most successful. Dick Johnson also had a shot, as did Allan Moffat.

The first Moffat HO special was an EB and they came in supercharged six and supercharged V8 versions. Attention was paid to suspension and trim, but the main reason to select the Moffat HO was the name and the extra performance - which exceeded the XR options from the Blue Oval. It also came with 17 inch alloy wheels, high performance tyres, and a serious body kit: front spoilers, side valances, bonnet scoops  and a rear wing. All aimed at making the ordinary Falcon into something approaching the racing version - at least to the eye! Sadly, very few of these cars were ever made - the run from EB to EF seeing perhaps as few as 15 sold in total. 

I think it is important to assess all diecast cars in comparison to their contemporaries, and Dinkum Classics are no exception. This car is less toylike than the Trax of the day, and more of a collectors model. This car is nearly 20 years old and still looks good. Produced in Australia and nicely presented, this is an important car to have in your collection. Allan Moffatt was a major figure in Australian Motorsport, and small chapters in his motoring biography represented by this Dinkum Classics offering are nice place markers. It was a niche product then - with this being one of 20 produced - and is scarce now. Although its rating is not as high as other cars, this car will stay in  my collection. 


Dinkum Classics Ford EF Falcon HO Moffat Special 1/43 

Quality  7
Design    6
Colours   7
X-factor  6

Rating: 26/40

See also:

Dinkum Classics BA Falcon V8 Supercar prototype
Biante 1976 Allan Moffat Bathurst XB Falcon Coupe   

Canberra Model Vehicle Collectors Club - Feb 2011

Im not sure if there was a January meeting, but this was the first Canberra Model Vehicle Collectors Club meeting I have attended this year, and tonights theme was 'colour'.  It was a well attended meeting with over ten people present and lots of discussion about recent diecast bought or seen. 

As well as cars on display, some trading took place and new cars were shown off. I have to remember to take three Hot Wheels falcons to the next meeting. Louie the Volkswagen tragic had a neat Wiking box set with three Volkswagen Beetles, some little plastic people and a round tobacco tin shaped garage, all in a nice presentation box - scale about 1:87. Another person had a lovely 1:43 Dinky Tucker Torpedo.
Hot Wheels 1:64  Plymouth Roadrunner Superbirds and Dodge Daytonas. 

I thought about the theme and selected the Hot Wheels Winged Warriors as I knew they would make a colourful display. This year the winners wont be announced until the end of the year. So I dont know who won Februarys comp.

After my embarrassing displays last year, over the festivus period I created a base to display my diecast efforts on at the CMVCC meeting this year. Its a picture frame with the glass replaced with a sheet of MDF with sandpaper and railroad grass glued to it, and a white line painted between the sandpaper and grass. It's supposed to look like a road with a grass verge. I used the same grass on my diorama of the diecast wrecking yard. Although I thought this would be simple to make, it wasnt. but I am pleased with this result - although I may make a second improved version if I have some spare time.
 Del Prado Ferraris in 1/43
 Red Volkswagen Beetles in a range of scales
 Green Dinkys and Corgis
 Pink Corvettes
This is a Matchbox Corvette!
Discussing important diecast events like a car advertised as 1:43 is really only 1:42!

At this meeting the themes for the rest of the years displays were discussed. The themes I remember are: 

  • Non-articulated trucks
  • unusual diecast
  • diorama
  • same car in a range of scales
  • less than four wheels
  • Australian cars.

Being February, dues were also due. I received a member ship card and a warm feeling. There were several recent diecast magazines to pore over while people chatted, and I also asked dumb questions which were answered well. I learn something new at every meeting. 

The highlight of the evening for me was P76 related - I was given the details of the AFP constable shown standing next to the P76 used as a police car, in the photo used in Hal Moloneys book on the Leyland P76 several years ago. I plan to follow this up. 

The next meeting will be at 7.30 PM on Monday 7 March at the Eastlakes Club in Kingston.