Saturday, July 30, 2011

#45 PILEN – INDRA Ref. M343 (1975)

 SHORT HISTORY OF PILEN


This model was released many times with different reference numbers and decorations. From the Pilen catalogue, I guess it should be one of the most popular, because of its coupé design and pop-up headlamps (as a kid, I always thought this is what makes a car a sports car). There was even a black version, which intended to be Kitt, the Knight Rider, although that version was made many years after this one. Note that the tyres are made of plastic, while body, chassis are made of metal. It has practicable doors, bonnet and trunk.
 

Although the car has been played with, the jewel case is still the original one.
 

By the way, Indra is a model made by the italian car manufacturer Intermechanica in 1973. This company specializes in sport cars and replicas.
 
Pilen is another Spanish toy company from Ibi (Alicante) that was born in the late 60s. The founder was already a toy-maker, and had together with his three male brothers a very successful company, called Clim. Clim is the short form of the surname Climent, and the names of the brothers were José, Ramón, Rafael and Enrique.
 
Enrique was the one who chose to start this new business together with his wife Pilar. He sold all his interest to his brothers, and founded Pilen in 1967. The name of the company comes from the first letters of their names: PIL-EN.
 
Pilen (later also Auto-Pilen) would be one of the best scale cars manufacturers in Spain. Their production quickly oriented to 1:43 scale, a size in which the level of detail is much higher than in 1:64. Their cars are very similar to the ones made by Joal, Guiloy or Mira, and there is evidence, that in some cases, some of these companies shared casts to produce the same models. It is also said about Pilen, that they copied models from Corgi, Politoys and other international companies, which is very probable. I cannot confirm it, because I never had the chance to compare them. 


Curious: most Pilen models have the date of their design in the chassis. This model: 4/75.

It is also said that Pilen purchased a license to produce Dinky models in Spain, although what really happened is that Dinky ceased its production in France in 1972, and the Pilen factory was selected to manufacture Dinky models for the French (and European) markets. Pilen made 26 models between 1976 and 1980, but without any reference to Pilen, except the “Made in Spain” on the chassis, or the “Fabriqué en Espagne” in the boxes.
 
FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: INDRA (Ref. M343)
  • Scale: 1:43
  • Year: 1975
  • Company: Pilen (Spain)
  • Size: approx. approx. 9-10 cm

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

#44 HOT WHEELS! PICTURE MAKER /ZEICHENMEISTER (1969)


Although this product was intended for the german and dutch markets, I guess it was also commercialized in many other countries. This kind of drawing sets was very popular before and along the 70s. During the 80s there were some tries, but as far as I can remember, that sets were mostly intended for girls, as they allowed to draw fashionable dresses by combining three parts of a model (head, chest and arms, legs) creating a “unique” look.
This one is intended for boys, as it allows drawing Hot Wheels! cars. Up to 216 models can be drawn by combining 6 patterns. In this next picture, we can see the contents of the box, and a detailed view of the six patterns. These contents are: the Mattel-o-Graf, a set of four crayons, a pen, the six patterns, plus instructions. I guess it was very cheap to produce.
The patterns have three slots in each side to be attached firmly to the Mattel-o-Graf. One of the slots is placed in the middle of the drawing frame, depending if you want to use the upper, central or lower pattern. Previously, you have inserted a sheet of paper under it. Then you can draw the lines with a pencil, and repeat this operation three times. To complete a car, you have to superimpose three patterns: a red, a black and a green one.

To my surprise, the paintigns are great. I tried myself drawing (randomly) a couple of cars, and I was astounded to recognise real Hot Wheels models. I don't know who designed this toy or how, but, it's a great work.

The last page of the instructions show another "Picture Makers" / "Zeichemeister" that were also available at the time: one to design dresses for Barbie (which is also a Mattel product), and another one to make caricatures (see last picture). Unfortunately, these toys are now very rare to see. With the internet there are many possibilities to find images to colour (this tool seems very primitive in comparison to web applications in which you can design virtually an infinite number of figures, changing heads, chests, arms, hands....) I guess children nowadays don't find entertaining to draw using this kind of invention. Or maybe they haven't tried yet...


FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: HOTWHEELS! ZEICHENMEISTER 
  • Alternate Names: HOTWHEELS! PICTURE MAKER CAR DESIGNER SET
  • Year: 1969
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

#43 GOOD TIMES - KULT! Nr. 4 (2/2011)

I discovered this magazine during my holidays last summer. I had to change the flight in Berlin's airport and I visited the newspaper kiosk as usual. There was a magazine that fully captured my attention; I had never seen something like that before, a magazine about pop culture in the 60s, 70s and 80s? I couldn't help but buy it!

I read the magazine during the following week, and I liked it very much. There are articles about toys (that was what captured my attention at the first place), but also about old comic books, cars, TV series and movies, and of course music (the same guys who make this magazine also publish a rock magazine with artist from the past decades). Each article is completely different from the previous one, so it's very amusing to read.

I definitely wished there was more about toys on it, but since it's the only "professional" magazine that dares to talk about toys, I felt I had to write this article. If you're interested in vintage toys, and if you read this blog, you'll probably be interested in vintage cars, or sci-fi characters that come from comics, or even in movies that got to release their main characters as action figures. Everything is in, this is the definitive pop-culture magazine for german speaking countries.

So, if you live in Germany, go and get the last number of this wonder. It costs 6,50 Eur and includes an article about the slot cars Carrera, The Muppets show, Jaguar E-Type, Westerns (movies), Donald Duck comic books and many more. Also worth mentioning, there's a very interesting news section called "news from the past".

If you live in Austria or in Switzerland, you can possible order it in a good book store. I did it like that with the last number, and this one came by itself (in these countries it costs 7,50 Eur and 12,70 CHF).

Some excerpts of the magazine can be read on their website, where you can also order it: http://www.goodtimes-magazin.de/kult.php

Remember: the magazine is written in German and the full name is: "Good Times - Kult!" (blogger does not allow "!" on the title of the entry).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

#42 BIG JIM – BOAT ‘N BUGGY SET (1973)

Entry #6 dealt with the motocross Honda, so this is the second time that we deal with this toy line from Mattel. This time, another “sports” vehicle: the Boat ‘n Buggy set.

Released in 1973, this set is a huge blue buggy (it was also released in other sets in yellow), with two seats, steering wheel, and very nice stickers. The car is equipped with a tow-ball (a “tow-bar” actually) in which the boat trailer can be towed.

This trailer is nothing special, is white and has the same wheels that are present in the buggy. It doesn’t have any feature apart from being towed and carrying the boat.

The boat is more interesting, because it’s made of plastic and it floats. It consists of several parts: two seats (thwarts), the engine and two rows that fit two holes at the sides. Although it’s a bit unstable, it can carry up to two figures. The main problem is that the plastic is relatively thin, and it breaks easily.

To complete the set, there are three more accessories: a box to carry fishing apparel, a fishing rod with a rather long thread and a hook, and a big fish. The box can be placed at the back of the buggy, and the rod seems to be missing the handle (I have it somewhere, just didn’t know it was from here, until I saw other pictures today). The fish can also be played in water, because it’s made of the same plastic than those inflatable mattresses we take to the beach.

The box is enormous. The front is printed in colours and presents a very nice illustration in which Big Jim fishes while Big Josh drives the buggy. The back of the box is printed in black and red, and shows a child playing with the figures. One of the sides shows the contents of the box. Unfortunately mine is not in its best shape, but it still looks very nice.

The figure in the pictures is Big Jeff, one of the friends of Big Jim. He’s blond and fits somehow the image that people have of Australians. In the first wave of Big Jim figures (1972) there are surprisingly no villains, just Big Jim and his friends Big Jack, Big Josh and Big Jeff. Chief Tankua was a native American character, that was also friends with Big Jim, and then there was Dr. Steel. He doesn’t seem like a friendly guy, so most children chose him to play villain. In the second wave, it was released as a part of the P.A.C.K., what proves him to be a good guy.


It’s curious, that when it comes to toy figures, children always prefer heroes better than villains. Some collections like this one, started without a villain, to introduce in the second wave of figures Zorak (1976). Zorak did not look like a man, but some green-faced creature.

I recently read, that Hasbro also had that marketing politics in mind when they designed the G.I.Joe: ARAH line. They didn’t want to include any villains on it!. M.A.S.K. (Kenner) is another toy line in which the good guys are much more numerous than the bad guys. Other companies that tried to be fair and made so many villains like heroes, had to correct their politics, and include more heroes in following waves, see for example Dino-Riders (Tyco). It’s an interesting topic to discuss, but this article ends here. Maybe some other time?

Leave me a comment if you wish!

FACTS and FIGURES:

  • Name: Boat & Buggy Set (Ref. 8890)
  • Toy Line: Big Jim
  • Year: 1973
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)
  • Size: Buggy approx. 30 cm. Boat approx 35 cm.
  • Scale: 1:8

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#41 GOZÁN – MINI 1000 (Around 1972)

Juguetes Gozán is another Spanish toy company that has recently disappeared. Although in the last years their production was negligible, this company has more than 50 years history behind them. The company comes from the split of a previous firm: in 1945, Ernesto Coloma (worked as a mechanic for Payá) and his brother-in-law José Pastor Guillem had a bicycle workshop that also built their own tricycles for children. These tricycles were partly made of wood, so they received help from another local family of carpenters, the Pascual, while the metallic parts were made by these two gentlemen.

During those first years, in their catalogue there were plenty of toys, with the common factor, that all of them had wheels, including prams and chairs for dolls.

This company broke up just a few years later, and the Pascual family, founded Juguetes Gozán in 1948, together with other mechanics from Payá. Their first product was a truck made of wood with a cabin made of tin. That tin was retrieved from cans of condensed milk, and the model they built was a famous Spanish truck at that time: Pegaso.

Unfortunately, Gozán disappeared as a company in February 2009. At that time the company had less than 5 employees.

A distinctive sign of this company is the tin used in their toys, very common until the mid-80s. They built mainly trucks, jeeps and cars, but also cranes. This car here is an exception, because it’s completely made of plastic.

The car is the popular Mini Cooper. The mould seems to be a copy of the model made by Exin in 1970 for Scalextric (Ref. 4045). We have included a picture comparing both models (the scalextric Mini Cooper is not the original model, but a re-edition from 2002, with an almost identical mould).

As you can see in the pictures, this car was sold in a carton box under the reference number 90. At each side of the box is depicted the car in a different colour: red, green, yellow and blue, although it was also available in white. The decals remind also very much of the original Scalextric models.

The chassis is made of black plastic, and there’s nothing especially remarkable on it. Just the reference number is 93 instead of the 90 marked in the box. This has no explanation; maybe the different colours had different reference numbers? This seems to be very unlikely. Maybe it was just a mistake when printing the boxes, or the casting the chassis.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Name: MINI 1000 (Ref. 90 or Ref. 93)
  • Scale: approx 1:32
  • Year: Around 1972
  • Company: Gozán (Spain)
  • Size: approx. 9 cm

Sunday, July 17, 2011

#40 EXIN: SU HISTORIA (XAVIER ARUMÍ)


I had read this book (165 pages) in approximately 24 hours, it is amazingly easy to read, and includes an amazing amount of data. Maybe you’re one of those who think that everything can be found in the Internet, and you’re probably right… almost. 
 
First thing to emphasize is that you won’t read this book only once. It’s the perfect handbook, you can check it every time you find an Exin toy, because it includes the whole history in one volume. Behind it, there’s a great work of documentation, and you don’t need additional books, because the information is perfectly framed on its time and context.

Second point to emphasize is that, additionally, the author has researched on his own many aspects that were not clear to him, or about which, there is a lot of rumorology. The author has collected information from first-hand sources, mostly Exin ex-employees, and the whole work was supervised and checked by members of the Arnau family, founders of this great toy company. 

The book covers the whole lifespan of the Spanish company from 1942 to 1993, and even beyond, because many toy lines like Scalextric, Tente or Madelman were sold to other companies and were produced for a longer period of time, or exist even today.

The most important toy-lines have a chapter of its own: Arquitectura Exin, Exin Blok and Idea Basic, Exin Castillos, Exin West, Cinexin, Ibertren, Madelman, Scalextric and Tente. There’s a very interesting chapter about Exin México, which is mostly focused on Scalextric.

If you’re interested in this book, you can buy it here. The book is written in Spanish, and has a price of 12 Euros plus shipping costs.

If you find this book interesting, you might also be interested in this other book.

About the autor: Xavier Arumí is the host of www.rosaspage.com, has already written a few books about collecting and about toys, comic books (that he also illustrate), and novels. He is a collector himself, and as you can check on his website, or reading his books, a great expert on toys, apart from a good writer.

Friday, July 15, 2011

#39 MICRO MACHINES – DELUXE COLLECTION IV (1988)

Due to the high popularity of the entry #30, I’ll post now an update. I am unfortunately skipping the deluxe collection III, because I do not have it. I’ll go directly to collection IV.
The cars in this collection are:
-Ford T Pick-up Rod in yellow – with practicable doors.
-Ford Roadster ’36 in black – with practicable doors, bonnet and trunk.
-Funny Car in gray – with practicable body
As already told in #30, this collection was also available in 1989, and the same cars were repainted at least twice for other deluxe sets. That’s why you can find the Ford T in blue, black or x-rays; the Ford Roadster in yellow, green or x-rays; and the Funny Car in yellow, or yellow/orange/red.
 
UPDATE: Some more pictures:
 


 
FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: Micromachines Deluxe Collection IV
  • Scale of the cars: 1:150 aprox.
  • Year: 1988-1989
  • Company: Galoob (U.S.A.)
  • Size: approx. 2 cm

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

#38 DINO RIDERS – PLACERIAS with SKATE (1989)


We have already presented two dinosaurs from this collection, but they were both from the first wave. This one is one of the two “small” dinosaurs from wave 2. The Placerias is a small herbivore, that according to his description, is one of the strongest dinosaurs in its size. Maybe it’s a fact, maybe it’s invented, but the toy designers from Tyco equipped this dinosaur with a claw to trap other dinosaurs. This claw can be oriented in all directions and is connected to the harness with a bracket. The dinosaur includes the usual brain-box for Rulon’s Dinosaurs.
Dinosaur and figure with all accesories, missing only the axe/mace

The figure that came with this dinosaur was Skate, which is some kind of manta ray. The cast for this figure was done for this second wave on, and is one of the rarest in the whole collection, it was only used in 3 figures (including the fourth “Ice Age” wave). This group of three is often referred as the Raymen. They do not have a leader because they are part of the sharkmen, whose leader is Hammerhead (came with the Triceratops).

I have prepared this small diorama to show how does the Placerias’ claw when capturing a Stegosaurus.


The second wave of Dino-Riders included many new dinosaurs: the giant Brontosaurus, the medium-sized Stegosaurus and Edmontonia, the small Dimetrodon and Pachycephalosaurus, and the even smaller Struthiomimus and Protoceratops belong to the valorians, while the Rulons were equipped with a medium Kentrosaurus, a small Saurolophus, and the even smaller Placerias. This wave, unlike the first one, is much unbalanced, that’s why in the image at the back of the box were displayed the Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Pteranodon and Quetzalcoatlus. Misteriously, the Kentrosaurus is not depicted. We don’t know if those four dinosaurs were re-released (which is in my opinión very unlikely), but many of those boxes should have remained unsold in toy shops. The most probable explanation to this, is that the person who drew that scene needed a few more enemies to complete the battle, and a few flying dinosaurs in the sky, that otherwise might have been flat.
Note: Although this dinosaur and this figure were copyrighted in 1988, they were sold in 1989, which is the year I always use to classify toys. The same happens with the first wave, that was released in 1988, but copyrighted one year earlier.

BONUS - Spanish Instructions sheet:



Do you want to make any comments about this article, toy line, or whatever? I'd be pleased to answer it!

FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: PLACERIAS with SKATE
  • Toy Line: Dino-Riders (Wave 2)
  • Year: 1989
  • Company: Tyco (U.S.A.)
  • Scale of the dinosaur 1:24
  • Size of the figures: 2½’’ or 6,5 cm

Saturday, July 9, 2011

#37 GUISVAL – TRANSPORTE PESADO MILITAR Ref. 151 (1978)


The "Escorpión" series from Guisval include cars in 1:37 scale and trucks in 1:50 scale. They are the “big” brothers of the “Campeón” series, which are made in a 1:64 scale. The first models sold under this name were released in 1972, and came in a carton box. These cars were always numbered with a three digit number, starting with 101. In each catalogue, the references were reused, so there are several cars with the same reference number. This number was only available in the catalogue or boxes, so if you find one of them loose, you’ll have to check the reference number in the internet.

I recommend you all to visit this website for a great collection of pictures. If you do it, you’ll probably notice that many of those cars came with some kind of add-on that made them very attractive: from the driver figure, some siren or lights (police cars) or a roof-rack to a cameraman, bicycles, a lion, skies, or a music band’s equipment. These additions to the base model were made of plastic, so if the item is not MIB, they might be missing. That’s one of the reasons why these models are so expensive, mostly are only to find in their original boxes.


These 3 Pics are courtesy of Miguel Soto (http://miniaturasenmetal.jimdo.com/)


This “Transporte Pesado Militar” (Heavy Military Transport) was released in 1978. This was the first and only “Escorpión” wave in which there was a “Escorpión Remolques” (trailers) series, which we could consider as a sub-series of the original one. This subseries consisted of only 5 models, all of them included the same truck and trailer (with different colours), but the load differed. 


The truck seems to be inspired by a Matchbox model that the British company made for their SuperKings series (named transporter, but sold under many references, for example: K-13 Aircraft Transporter). However, the cast is completely new, and only the futuristic design remains.

For this model, the colour is olive green, and the load consists of a tank (M.K. III) and a army transport, both in brown colour, desert camo decoration. Like any other model of this brand and these years, it’s very well done and very robust, with suspension. The only plastic part in the whole group is the chassis of the tank, the interiors, windows, and the canvas of the small truck. The small vehicles were also available as part of the “Campeón” series since 1977 (one year earlier). They were two of the first military vehicles released, which are relatively strange in this spanish brand.



A similar tank transporter was shown here.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: TRANSPORTE PESADO MILITAR Ref. 151
  • Scale: approx. 1:100 (Tank and army truck, transporter is an invention)
  • Year: 1978
  • Company: Guisval (Spain)
  • Size: approx. 26 cm
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