Monday, March 7, 2011

Canberra Model Vehicle Collectors Club March 2011 Meeting

The March meeting of the Canberra Model Vehicle Collectors Club was held last night at its usual venue, the Eastlake Football Club in Kingston. This months theme was 'convertibles'. 
Setting up displays is serious business
Louies Volkswagen convertibles
Very interesting Minichamps 1/43 of a rare Swiss VW custom convertible. The engine cover looks like a bonnet. This was an exquisite model.
I bought along 1/64 Hot Wheels and Matchbox VW 181's or Things. The red one is a Lesney Edition VW 181. I like both these castings. The tan VW was never available locally, and I bought it in the US. 
Clive bought along this extremely interesting rubber model. US made with Auburn as the only ID mark underneath it. Rubber wheels, wire axles. Scale - about 1/24 but I doubt thats exact. This is a one piece rubber model, similar to a slush cast toy car. I did a bit of googling and found this article on Auburn rubber toys
Del Prado 1/43's with a Corgi in the centre 
Sam's display. That VW is umm an acquired taste. Sam had a display board, which he arrayed his cars on. Then looked at it, put the cars back in the cases, stacked them in a artistic manner and put his display board away! He had a 1/43 Bugeye Sprite which looked really nice. 
1/43 Corvettes. I forget the maker. 
There was a bit of trading going on last night, a few loose 1/43's, some Matchbox regular wheels and Superfasts, Hot Wheels, Yesteryears. I asked if the blue Matchbox cases were for sale, they weren't...
I sold a trio of Hot Wheels Falcons. The red Falcon is not available in Australia and was imported from the US. It's a nice model, metal base and body, rubber tyres on separate rims, unique paint. The Fimcar book wasn't for sale, I took it with me to show people.
After looking through the diecast treasures, I did buy these three Matchbox cars. The wrecker is in very good condition, its a transitional model - a regular wheel model with superfast wheels. The VW and the Porsche 935 are black Matchbox 1/75's and will fit neatly in my collection. I have almost completed my sub-collection of Matchbox wreckers, only a few to go. I bought these off Sam. I asked him about the garish paint job on the Porsche, and he told me its from a set of Chinese New Year cars, he had the other four cars in the set - but I didn't buy them. 

The meeting was a lot of fun, with discussion on all sorts of subjects tangentially relating to model cars. If you are a model car collector in Canberra, its well worth coming along to the monthly meetings. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Fimcar Story - Book Review

Last year I published the history of the Leyland P76 in diecast and resin, in the P76 national magazine, published to coincide with the Leyland Clubs National meets every two years. I thought I had delivered a pretty comprehensive history and was satisfied that I had done my research. So imagine my surprise - pleasant surprise - when I received an email from Ged Fitzsimmons just before Xmas last year, informing me that I had overlooked his role in the Dinkum Classics Leyland P76. The Dinkum P76 was the next car to come out as a Fimcar before Ged threw the towel in and sold the moulds to Mike Stack of Dinkum Classics. I will cover this in an in-depth article for the Leyland magazine in the very near future. 
Ged also told me in his email, that he had just published a book 'The Fimcar Story' with info on the P76 and all the other Fimcar models. I could hardly wait to get back to Canberra and meet him, and read his book. I did this last month, and will publish an interview with Ged soon. 

'The Fimcar Story' is an excellent read, and you will find out a lot about the diecast scene in the 80's, early Australian diecasts - especially of Holdens - and a complete soul baring description of success and failure in the diecast trade, told in a very readable way. 
The 'master' metal casting of the 1/43 Leyland P76 that was meant to be a Fimcar, but became the Dinkum Classics Leyland P76.  

The book is a must read for anyone who is a collector of Australian model diecast cars. Ged was heavily involved in the diecast collecting scene in the 80's and into the 90's. He and his wife ran a business called 20th Century Models, buying and selling diecast cars. Later on he also ran the Sherrifs Mini-Cars diecast car shop in Canberra from 1992 to 1995. But at one point - he also decided to make and sell his own diecast white metal 1/43 scale cars - which he branded as Fimcars! Short for Fitzsimmons Model Cars.

Like his life, the book is really divided into several parts. It begins with a short rundown of Ged's life, including the fact that he was born right across the road from a Dinky subsidiary factory in England! His family migrated to Australia and later became involved in collecting and selling obsolete toy cars.

The first main part of the book then focuses on Holden toys and models from different manufacturers from the 50's through to the 70's. I found out more about these early miniatures from this book than I knew before. This alone makes the book a worthwhile purchase, especially if you are a collector of Holden diecast cars.
1/43 scale Fimcar FJ Holden utility, EK Holden sedan and EH Holden sedan

The rest of the book then examines the process of creating and marketing model after model, and the difficulties that small businessmen face, especially when they tackle something that is a bit different and a lot harder than it appears. The final part of the book lists all Fimcar models, colour variations and production numbers and even shows some fake Fimcars (which Ged sort of regards as a compliment, while not happy about it at the same time, and reckons he knows who is responsible...). There are plenty of illustrations throughout the book, with clear photos of all Fimcar models produced.

After reading Geds book, I can see why models of Australian cars are now made overseas. It is a combination of costs, rising quality and production volume. The Fimcars were in their day equal to other hand-built models available, but they were priced at a premium (and even then, it barely covered his costs) and compared to the quality and accuracy of a diecast car you could buy today from Biante, Trax or Classic Carlectables - it is doubtful that a small volume production run like Fimcar could ever compete. Fimcars were made using a form of diecast metal, remember - not resin. Ged discusses this with a reflective look at early Trax cars when John Easie was behind that innovative company. This book is as much a history of early Australian toy/model industry and personalities, as it is a Fimcar history. 
1/43 scale Fimcar HR Holden sedan, Fimcar also made a 1/43 scale HR Station Wagon

Ged has been quite entrepreneurial with this book, he wrote it, edited and self-published the book. You can buy it from him directly or through eBay. He also made a video with more photos from the book and placed it on YouTube! The book costs $45 (free postage in Australia) and I recommend it to all serious collectors of Australian motoring toys and diecast models. Even if you have no interest in Fimcars themselves, the first part of the book, some 30 pages or so,  on early Holden model diecasts is worth the price. 

Contact Ged at to buy this book.