Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fun Ho! 44 Bulldozer repair using Matchbox 8d parts

I was looking at my Fun Ho! fleet in preparation for the April Canberra Model Vehicle Collectors Club meeting - the theme for that evening will be 'state of origin'. I will be taking all my Fun Ho! along - as they are all of NZ origin.

I would like to take the Fun Ho! bulldozer along - but it lacked treads. What to do?

Knowing that many Fun Ho! castings are close copies of Lesney castings, I had a quick flick through Warmans 'Matchbox Field Guide' and sure enough - it's almost identical to the Matchbox regular wheel 8d bulldozer. The main and significant difference being that the Fun Ho! has a lifting bucket at the front.

Matchbox tractor 8d (ebay ad photo)
Fun Ho 44 (photo from the Toy Cabin)

The castings are so similar except that Fun Ho! 44 has a few alterations, that allow it to be used as a bull dozer with a flat blade, and a lifting bucket. My main concern was - would the Matchbox tracks fit the fun Ho!?

I asked on the Matchbox Collectors Community Hall forums for replacement parts suppliers - and received a few pointers. I went with 'RecoverToy' located in Australia. They were able to supply a set of tracks to fit the Matchbox 8d. 

When they arrived - I fitted them - and they were perfect. They aren't black, like the ones in the photo above - but they fit, and suit the playworn dozer. RecoverToy also threw in a sheet of decals with my order - which was a pleasant surprise. I am very happy with the result. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Worlds smallest scale model car is resin

I once saw some model vehicles meant for the deck of a model aircraft carrier. They were tiny, but still identifiable as vehicles. My eyes probably aren't good enough to identify this model, without access to a microscope. 

Very tiny Indy Car model 
Photo from Wired 'Autopia' Blog

How small is this model ? It is 285 micrometers, or 1/100th of an inch. Smaller than a human hair or a grain of sand! It has been constructed by Austrian scientists using a very advanced form of 3D printing and uses resin as the agent to build the object with. They built this as a demonstration of the new technologies they are developing. 

Of course one has to ask why Austrian scientists in Vienna built a model of an Indy Car, when they could have chosen from any of the fine Austrian cars that have graced the autobahns of Europe. 

I'm not sure if they will be producing any other cars in this scale, or if this is a one off, but its an impressive demonstration of future scale model technology. 

If anyone can advise exactly what scale this is - I'd be grateful.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Canberra Downhill Diecast Dragracers - Round One

After constructing a Hot Wheels racing track - you need somewhere to race it. As a member of the Canberra Model Vehicle Collectors Club, I decided to take it along to the March meeting and set it up and have at it. Two other people had expressed interest - and I had two cars mailed to me by 'Model40fan' at the Redline Racing Forums. Four people is enough for a competition!
The track laid out and all components joined together.  If you look, you can actually see two little cars that have just exited the starting gate.
 There were a few kinks - such as this MAJOR one - and of course, I didn't have a stanley knife to trim it.
The towel is to catch cars that have exited the track after going through the finish line. You can see here where the vintage track meets the contemporary Hot Wheels track (the pieces on the blue painted plank).
Because of the kinks, including some sections where track joined, a few cars tumbled off the track - such as the Hot Wheels Volkswagen Type 181. It was a fast car - but the track needs some improvements.
Half Packid (US Import) vs Matchbox 'Tyre Fryer'

One solution on the night was to lower the track a little. I had the track elevated about a metre to start with, but too many cars came off the track, as gravity, a bumpy track etc caused them to exit the tracks... so we lowered the starting gate to chair seat level. This helped considerably. 
After watching us race, Sam decided to get involved - he had bought along some cars to swap/sell - and came over with this Matchbox Viper. It was pretty quick.
 Viper vs Half Packid (US import)
 Hot Wheels Corvette vs Majorette Morgan
 McDonalds Hot Wheels 32 Roadster vs Matchbox Dodge Monaco
 Hot Wheels Studebaker Avanti vs Matchbox Holden Ute
 Hot Wheels Corvette vs 'Blue Spruce' (US import)
Blue Spruce vs Matchbox Holden Ute
 McDonalds Hot Wheels Go Kart vs Hot Wheels Studebaker Avanti. 

This is the original configuration of the track, with the starting gate raised just over a metre. The starting angle also seems too steep. The other problem is that although there is one button to start races, some cars seem to 'hang' at the gate and not race away. Advice is sought. 

 Matchbox Holden Ute vs Matchbox Ferrari Testarossa. Cars are 'staging' off to the right. 

Lowering the starting gate and the angle of the track, was a partial solution to the problem with cars tumbling off the track. It still didn't stop some cars flying off when they encountered that large bump in the track. 
This is where the two main parts of the track - two 1.8 metre planks - are joined by a hinge, and the four lengths of plastic track join. If I'd had a Stanley knife I could have fixed this kink, but alas I didn't... The wooden guides are not decorative - there are holes drilled through them, into the plank at the front and pins hold the plank on the right in place. You can see some construction photos here.

Racing results (winners Bolded)

Half Packid (US Import) vs Matchbox 'Tyre Fryer'
Matchbox Viper vs Half Packid (US import)
Hot Wheels Corvette vs Majorette Morgan
Hot Wheels Corvette vs Matchbox Holden Ute
Hot Wheels Volkswagen Type 181 vs Matchbox Holden Ute
McDonalds Hot Wheels 32 Roadster vs Matchbox Dodge Monaco (both DNF)
Hot Wheels Studebaker Avanti vs Matchbox Holden Ute
Hot Wheels Corvette vs 'Blue Spruce' (US import)
Blue Spruce vs Matchbox Holden Ute
McDonalds Hot Wheels Go Kart vs Hot Wheels Studebaker Avanti (both DNF)
Matchbox Holden Ute vs Matchbox Ferrari Testarossa
Blue Spruce vs Half Packid
Matchbox Ferrari Testarossa vs Blue Spruce 

And the winner: 
Congrats to Model40fan and the visiting 3 inch sized American contingent!
(the car has a very cool resealable blister and its own printed card!)

  1. I need to fine tune the track - remove the kinks, straighten the left hand track in one place.
  2. The starting gate needs work
  3. I need to experiment with a height to start the cars from
  4. Narrow cars do not race well (Avanti, Monaco)
  5. Cars with weight at the back do race well

Between now and the next race (probably the April meeting of the Canberra Model Vehicle Collectors Club ) I will work on improving the track. If anyone has advice - please post it in the comments section. 

Oh - Big thanks to Sue who raced around collecting cars that tumbled off the track and also returned cars back to the starting gate... even after her Corvette exited the comp! It was also her idea to lower the starting gate height!

And if you want to race - let me know! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

All diecast 1:43 scale cars that have raced and placed at Bathurst

Thanks to 'Tim' I am able to offer a complete list of all existing 1:43 scale diecast cars raced at Bathurst since 1963 that have achieved a podium place. If it's raced there, had a placing, and is in 1:43 it should be in this list!. Tim supplied the original list in a spreadsheet format, but I have converted it to a PDF document. It's an impressive piece of research. 

If you see an error, or know of a car that should be there - please leave a comment below. 

That list is a little long and complex, hence the PDF. I also have a much shorter list of 1:43 scale 'castings' from various diecast manufacturers of cars that have raced at Bathurst. I did not create this list, and found it at the Biante forum. 

1:43 scale castings of cars that have raced at Bathurst

1960 - Vauxhall Cresta - Vanguards 
1961 - Mercedes 220 - Australian Motoring Minatures
1962 - XL Falcon - Australian Motoring Minatures
1963 - Cortina - Australian Motoring Minatures
1964 - Cortina - Vanguards / Classic Carlectables
1965 - Cortina - Classic Carlectables / Dinkum
1966 - Mini - Vanguards / Biante 
1967 - XR Falcon - Classic Carlectables / Trax
1968 - HK Monaro - Biante (Autoart) / Trax
1969 - HT Monaro - Biante (Autoart) / Trax
1970 - XW Falcon - Biante 
1971 - XY Falcon - Biante / Classic / Trax
1972 - LJ Torana - Dinkum / Trax
1973 - XA Falcon - Biante (Autoart) / Dinkum
1974 - XA Falcon - Dinkum
1975 - LH Torana - Biante (Autoart) / Dinkum
1976 - LH Torana - Biante / Classic / Dinkum
1977 - XC Falcon - Biante / Dinkum
1978 - LX Torana - Biante (Autoart) / Dinkum / Australian Model cars / Automodelli
1979 - LX Torana - Biante (Autoart) / Dinkum / Australian Model cars / Automodelli
1980 - VC Commodore - Dinkum / Classic
1981 - XD Falcon - Biante (Autoart) / Dinkum
1982 - VH Commodore - Dinkum
1983 - VH Commodore - Classic / Dinkum
1984 - VK Commodore - Dinkum / Biante 
1985 - Jaguar - Biante / Dinkum 
1986 - VK Commodore - Biante / Dinkum
1987 - VL Commodore - Biante / Dinkum
1988 - Sierra - Dinkum / Model Cars Australia / Automodelli / Apex (Coming)
1989 - Sierra - Dinkum / Model Cars Australia / Automodelli / Biante (Coming)
1990 - VL Commodore - Biante / Dinkum
1991 - Skyline - Biante / Dinkum 
1992 - Skyline - Biante / Dinkum / Apex (Coming)
1993 - VP Commodore - Dinkum / Galaxy
1994 - EB Falcon - Dinkum / Galaxy / Biante(Coming)
1995 - VR Commodore - Dinkum / Galaxy
1996 - VR Commodore - Classic / Dinkum
1997 - BMW 320 - Onyx 
1997 - VS Commodore - Classic 
1998 - Volvo S40 - Onyx 
1998 - EL Falcon - Classic 
1999 - VT Commodore - Classic 
2000 - VT Commodore - Classic 
2001 - VX Commodore - Biante 
2002 - VX Commoore - Biante 
2003 - VY Commodore - Biante 
2004 - VY Commodore - Biante 
2005 - VZ Commodore - Biante 
2006 - BA Falcon - Classic
2007 - BF Falcon - Classic 
2008 - Hogster - Classic 
2009 - VE Commodore - Classic 
2010 - VE Commodore - Classic  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Playart Lamborghini Countach

Occasionally you come across a car that ticks all the boxes in your collecting interests. For me, this car - a black Playart Lamborghini Countach - is one of them. I have been after an example for this for sometime - so when I saw this mint, carded example on Ebay - I was very keen. Fortunately I was the only bidder. Postage was more expensive than the car! Note that the car carries 'Charmers' as the brand name. 

Playart is an interesting company that has now sadly disappeared. Beginning like so many other diecast companies in Hong Kong in the late 1960's, Playart offered a wide range of castings under their own name and for house brands in US and European supermarkets. Many of their castings bear a close resemblance to Tomicas of the era. I'm not sure when Playart stopped producing diecast cars, but one of their last offerings was a 1980's Mustang. 

Rear of Playart Lambo card - showing the range of 'Charmerz' cars. 

This example is mint and carded. Normally, I'm happy to release cars from their plastic blisters into the wild, but I'm having second thoughts on this one. I might look for a good playworn or loose example to sit on the shelf. 

For more info on Playart, I recommed Doug Breithaupts article here

Motormax now stocked in Kmart and Target

With the decline of the Matchbox brand, other diecast brands are filling the niche of the non-Hot Wheels 3 inch diecast car segment. Motormax are a brand that have produced cars for 'house labels' in Australian department stores for some time. Target has carried Motormax 5 packs under the Tough Stuff label for at least the last two years, and now Kmart are carrying Motormax cars in their own housebrand. 

Fairly plain packaging for the Kmart range of Motormax

I've never understood the 'colour changer' car concept - but it must be popular as they keep selling them!

The internal packaging of the Kmart range is identical to the Motormax 5 packs that Target carries, what is different is the outer cardboard slip. Even the range of cars is the same. 

Kmart are also carrying Motormax cars singly. At one dollar, they offer very good value for money. There are only ten cars in the single boxed range. 

It appears that the Motormax singles and 5 packs at Kmart are replacing the Maisto 'Fresh Metal' range at Kmart. There has been no new Maisto stock for some time, and the peg space is gradually receding. Matchbox has had their peg space at Kmart reduced to zero!

Motormax are a brand that have been around for only a few years, but the history of the companies that precede them is long. They started as Zylmex or Z-Toys back in the 1970's sending three inch castings to the world from Hong Kong, then became Red Box and are now Motormax. Not only do they produce cars under their own name in several scales and price points, they also produce cars that appear under other makers names such as these house brand cars and more recently in Australia - the DDA EH Holdens in 1:64 scale. 

What is the quality like ? Lets have a look at a 5 pack. I bought this 5 pack from K-Mart specifically for the black Mercedes SLS, so if anyone wants the other 4 - drop me an email and we can work something out! 

 Mercedes SLS

To the rating:

Normally I would review each car - but this time I will apply the rating to the 5 pack. The cars have uniformly excellent paint, with accurately applied tampo painting for logos, tail and headlights and some grilles. The interiors are attractive for the scale, and the clear glass is a pleasant surprise in this price point. Some of the wheels on the cars look very toylike, with overlarge rims and small tyres, others look very good. At roughly a dollar each (a little more at Target) they are very good value for money and even if they are meant for kids to play with, some of these castings do deserve a home in the adult collectors collection.

Motormax 3 inch diecast cars - 5 pack (Tough Stuff - Target house brand)

Quality  8
Design    7
Colours   7
X-factor  6

Rating: 28/40

Diecast downhill drag racing track construction

In a previous post I asked if anyone was interested in racing Hot Wheels or other three inch diecast cars in Canberra. The response was underwhelming - but I forged ahead nevertheless! To begin racing you need a track. I thought about my options and experimented with new and old hot wheels and superfast track, and decided to build a dedicated track. 

I started by buying a 20 foot roll of vintage Redline era Hot Wheels track from ebay. I also used a vintage Hot Wheels starting gate and a contemporary Hot Wheels finishing gate. I then went down to the hardware store and bought four pieces of 10cm x 1.8 meter pine. 

You have to start somewhere, so i mocked up the best way to mount the starting gate - while also making it removable. I carved up a piece from a Hot Wheels criss cross crash set and screwed it down near the end of a 1.8 meter length of pine. 
 It slides neatly onto the connector sized tongue. 
I used standard Hot Wheels track connectors - which still fit the vintage redline track - and screwed them into the pine using countersunk head wood screws. I placed them at various places along the pine planks, and then slid the track onto the connectors. This holds the track in place pretty well.
A door hinge connects two 1.8 metre lengths of pine. The connectors allow the track on each plank to join. 
This starting gate is from a contemporary Hot Wheels racing set, which i picked up at a garage sale. I had to lever it off the ends of the flimsy track it rolls out from. Then carve away on the interior so that two pieces of track would fit and allow cars to go through it. Its not perfect, but importantly - it indicates who actually won. The first car through triggers a tiny chequered flag. 
I painted a length of pine blue and screwed down some connectors and track. The actual gate itself comes off for travel. 
The starting gate. Underneath is another hinged piece of pine which goes to a stand. This didn't work too well so its also resting on the top of a chair back. Needs a bit of fine tuning...
Ready for travel. Two 1.8 metre planks, with track, hinges and starting gate. There is also a third 1.8 metre length which connects and a separate piece with the finish line.  All up its just short of 20 feet. 

Here it is fully extended with everything slotted together. I need to work on the supports and the track is a little wonky.