Tuesday, July 31, 2012

#177 SCALEXTRIC - BUGATTI EB-110 “IMSA” and PORSCHE 911 GT2 “LE MANS” (Ref. 8321 and 8331) (1997)



LAST SCALEXTRIC CARS PRODUCED BY TYCO


[continues from #176]

In 1997 Tyco produces the last models before leaving the company in the hands of Tecnitoys. In this last year, Tyco released a few cars, most of them re-issues of cars between 1994 and 1996. For example, the Bugatti in this entry was originally released in 1995. There was however a new cast, and this was the Porsche 911 GT2. 







Price Tag in Porsche 911 GT2




Multilingual Scalextric instructions (4 pages)

The Porsche 911 GT2 was released in two decorations: “Le Mans” (white, this one) and “Chereau” (metallic gray). This cast was never reused, unlike the great majority of Tyco casts, that were reused at least once by Tecnitoys. Maybe it was not good enough? Or the cast got lost, or damaged?

Note that the Porsche is priced in 2995 pesetas (almost 18,00 Euros), which was the usual price for an Scalextric car in 1997. As said in the previous entry, models that didn’t sold, were sold off a few years later at a lower price. Tecnitoys models were better done, and nobody would buy a Tyco model if they could acquire a Tecnitoys model at more or less the same price.

This Porsche 911 GT2 “Le Mans” was bought a few years ago through eBay from a seller in the U.K. I decided to buy it, since it is a rarely seen model, and it came in the Spanish box. The instructions however were multi-language.
Note how beautiful the decals are.


The Bugatti came with also in a Spanish box, with Spanish instructions and a card to join the Scalextric club. It is made in white with a shiny-pearl effect, a little bit like “Princess of Power” creatures or Ice-Man from the Secret Wars line, and the body is extremely thin.
 





Made in China


Spanish Scalextric Instructions (2 pages)

 

Scalextric Club Registration Form
UPDATE: catalogue image


and one page of the Chicane magazine (Scalextric fan club Spain)


FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: BUGATTI EB-110 “IMSA” and PORSCHE 911 GT2 “LE MANS” (Ref. 8321 and 8331)
  • Scale: 1:32
  • Year: 1997
  • Company: Scalextric Tyco (Spain)
  • Size: approx. 14 cm

Saturday, July 28, 2012

#176 SCALEXTRIC – AUDI 90 IMSA (Ref. 8362) (1993)


THE TYCO ERA OF SCALEXTRIC SPAIN


When Exin closed down in 1993, Tyco Toys (who had their own Slot Cars toy-line “Formula Tyco”) bought the license to produce Scalextric for 5 years. The Formula Tyco was in H0 scale and had a different system for the tracks and the style of playing (some tracks included even loops, cars could not leave the tracks,...), something completely different from Scalextric, which is closer to a real “driving” experience.
During previous years to 1993, Tyco and Scalextric were concurrence in the Spanish market, if we can use this term for so different types of toys.

Formula Tyco was also part of the Scalextric's 1996 catalogue

This American company had to reduce the manufacturing costs, which were too high to be maintained. During the last years of Exin, the price of cars and tracks increased exponentially. First decision was to move the production to China, reducing the quality of the product (most notably the quality of the car replicas). With this decision, the price of the cars decreased, but not as much as expected. As Scalextric’s customers noticed the lower quality of the product and the sales decreased instead of increasing, and many Tyco models had to be sold off at very low prices. The Bugatti I’ll be showing in the next entry was acquired for only 2000 (12 Eur) pesetas in a model shop, and there were many other models to choose. A few years earlier, Exin cars were sold for 3200 pesetas, or even more (Vintage series’ price was around 5000 pesetas).


Accordingto Arumí, Tyco manufactured only the standard series, the SRS2 series (competition, lightweight cars) and the "Vintage" series, although they distributed the last STS cars that they had in stock from the Exin-era (in original Exin boxes). Once that stock was over, they discontinued the line.

After 5 years, in 1998, Tyco left the company in the hands of Tecnitoys, after having failed in many marketing decisions that didn’t got to keep the customers satisfied.



Not everything was that bad during the Tyco era. Some models were well produced and have become some kind of “classics” after these years.

Among the most remembered models are:
  • A series of Mercedes trucks released in 1993 (models “BP” –green- and “Antar” –white-) and 1995 (models “DEA” –white- and “Esso” –light blue-)
  • Seat Ibiza Kit Car, released for the first time in 1996 (models “Repsol” –light green- and “Mercader” -white/orange-), but released many more times, even in the Tecnitoys-Era.
  • Renault Megane released in 1997 for the first time (models “Costa Brava” –grey/yellow- and “Diac” -blue-) and released many more times afterwards.

Apart from those models, some other are also much appretiated by collectors:
  • The vintage models: Jaguar E (1994, green), Seat 850 (1995, white), Ford GT 40 (1996, light blue) and the Chaparral GT (1997, white).
  • The “Scalextric Club” cars: Ferrari F40 “Club 94” (red – very rare), Porsche 959 “Club 95” (orange - rare), Mazda “Club 96” (yellow), Bugatti EB-110 “Club 97” (dark blue – very rare) and the prototype that was substituted by the Bugatti, the Audi 90 “Club 97” (green – mega rare).

And talking about the “Scalextric Club”, it had disappeared sometime in the mid-80s, and Tyco decided to start it again in 1994. I am a member of the club since 1996. I will talk about this in a future entry.

Catalogue image from 1996 - Audi 90 "Imsa".

The Audi in this entry is one of the cars produced in 1993, and we can already see that the finish is not as good as it used to be. It is a little poor in details (note for example, that there is no emblem on the front of the car). Even the decals are not very good. Note that with very few use, the stickers are a little peeled off. This one is a car that most people wouldn’t mind not having it in their collections (and maybe because of this), a rare, difficult to find model. It came with lights


In the chassis of the Tyco models a "Made in China" can be found instead of a "Made in Spain"


[continues in #177]

FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: AUDI 90 “IMSA” GTO (Ref. 8362)
  • Scale: 1:32
  • Year: 1993
  • Company: Scalextric Tyco (Spain)
  • Size: approx. 14 cm

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

#175 EFSI – COMMER FIRE VAN and LAND ROVER AMBULANCE (Around 1983)





Among Dutch die-cast miniaturas, Efsi is probably the best known of all. This company started in 1959 as “Bestbox” in Heerlen, a city located east from Maastrich. The history of the company is really beautiful, since Bestbox started producing these toys as a welfare project (it is not clear who started this project), to employ disabled people. In 1971 the name Bestbox was changed to EFSI, supposedly for the similarity between Bestbox and Matchbox, its competitor. Some sources say that EFSI stands for European Federation for Social Integration, although there is no proven evidence of this.

The cars are roughly built and do not have such elaborated casts as other competitors, but they’re still good enough. Maybe this is the reason why, EFSI miniatures were rarely exported and are rare outside the Netherlands. As I was living in Spain, I just got to see two or three of them in more than 20 years search, but now in Austria I have made a small collection in just a few visits to a flea market.



In one of those visits, I bought these two vehicles. They’re in good shape, and they’ll  be used to illustrate this first EFSI entry.

One of the is the “Commer Van” a model that was released in dozens of different colours and decorations with references 302X. This one is the “Commer Fire Van” with reference 3023. Note that the tampography is still there, and it can still be recognised a crest with fireman helmet and with an axe.
Another nice detail is the ladder that it is carrying on the roof. This miniature has a very simple suspension system.

 
 

The second miniature is a Land Rover ambulance. In the cast there is no reference number, but we know it was also available in a large number of different versions and colours. This model also has nice details, like that canopy with siren. The inside of the car is however not very well done, note the hole in it, used in other versions to fix something to the car.

Both models were long produced, and released with two different types of wheels. These black ones seem to be the older ones, while newer versions included the same wheels, but with a painted three-pointed star in a circle, very similar to the one used in many Majorette models.



Around 1988, the EFSI program was closed, and the company changed to private hands. Now it is called Holland Oto, and is specialized in modern models of trucks, busses and agricultural equipment. They are now based in Weert, not very far from the place were Efsi started.

UPDATE1: Since I have at least three diferent Commer Vans, I took pictures of all of them together and separately. I will add them here as an update.









UPDATE1 (bis): Another Commer Van, this time in Green and with "Circus" stickers.




UPDATE2: And now I will add a Land Rover here.




FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: COMMER (FIRE) VAN and LAND ROVER AMBULANCE
  • Scale: 1:64
  • Year: Around 1983
  • Company: Efsi (Netherlands)
  • Size: approx. 6 cm
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