Monday, December 31, 2012

#232 MICRO MACHINES – TUFF TRAX COLLECTIONS #1 and #8 (1991)



MICRO MACHINES' MONSTER TRUCKS

Although the first Bigfeet were released as early as 1988, it took a few years until this Tuff Trax collection (together with 4 more) was released.

In 1988, between the “normal” collections, there was the #20: “Super 4x4 Collection”. This comprised 4 cars or vans with big black wheels; this collection in particular was surely one of the most interesting for children, and one of the most sold.


Proof of that is that in 1989, the “Super 4x4” were separated from the normal “Ultrafast” collections, and there were 4 “Super 4x4’s” collections made. The first of them was the same that one year earlier was sold under the Ultrafast #20 name, just the cars were coloured differently. But those were not the only “Monster Trucks” among all new releases; a second series, named “Turbo Wheels” comprised 6 collections of 4 cars each with overdimensioned wheels. The difference was, that these wheels were “slick”, while the wheels of the super 4x4’s were “off road”.

These two collections were re-released with new colours in 1990, but discontinued in 1991, when the Tuff Trax were first released. The new series had soft plastic wheels, which give better grip and were also funnier to drive. There were 8 collections made in 1991 and a few more in 1992. All of them are vans or small trucks and tractors.

In 1991, there were other Bigfoot series, like the “4x4 Crankers”, also with soft plastic wheels and wind-up mechanism, the “4x4 Crushers” that had an electric motor, operated by a small battery, or the “Stunt Maniacs”, which included a powerful motor (pull-back, I think) that pushed the car to make very impressive tricks and acrobatics.

In 1992 there were 3 Tuff Trax collections released, together with two new series “Monster Tredz” and “Spring and Steer”(Crankers, Crushers and Stunt Maniacs were discontinued in 1991).


Back to the Tuff Trax collections, they were reproductions of real cars that could be seen at the “Tuff Trax” TV show by TNT Motorsports. This first collection, for example, included:
- Grave Digger
- Jersey Outlaw
- Clydesdale II

Here's the opening theme of the TV show. Note that the Grave Digger appears at the beginning of the video, and the Clydesdale II by the 0.21 seconds. Cool!


UPDATE: Collection #8 is a bit different, since it comprises three tractors: Mean Mistreator (red), Mission Impossible  (blue) and Ohio Gold (yellow)




FACTS AND FIGURES
  • Name: TUFF TRAX COLLECTIONS #1 and #8
  • Scale of the cars: 1:150 aprox.
  • Year: 1991
  • Company: Galoob (U.S.A.)
  • Size: approx. 2 cm

Friday, December 28, 2012

#231 MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE – DRAGON BLASTER SKELETOR and ROBOTO (1985)


 

It’s been a long time since I wanted to write this article, but normally, I take the pictures first, and then I write the text. I wanted to take good pictures, so it all delayed a little bit. This article deals with two figures of the 4th MOTU wave: Dragon Blaster Skeletor and Roboto, for me, the best two figures released that year. I made this diorama in the forest, hope you like the pictures!






The first one is the third incarnation of Skeletor, which came with the dragon backpack. This figure is relatively difficult to find complete, because it came with a chain and two small green plastic parts. The dragon is chained to the backpack and fixed to Skeletor’s wrist. The other extreme of the chain is secured with a lock (very often missing). This whole backpack is what’s new in this figure, because the figure is identical to the original, 1982 figure. It also came with the classic purple sword, as the previous two versions of the character.






The backpack is quite big, because it is a water tank. The head of the dragon can be removed to fill that tank, and then, it “spits” the water by pressing the head down. This mechanism was also used in Kobra Khan one wave earlier.

The second figure is a robot with a transparent plastic chest that reveals the inner mechanism; that’s a few catherine wheels, cranks and the heart that beats up and down. This figure share a bit of the concept behind Trap-Jaw, as it also moves the jaws up and down, and has 3 interchangeable hand parts. These three parts: claw, axe and gun, are the only accessories that came with the figure. 


 



These figure was considered by many to be a variant named “pink boots Roboto”, but it was found that the pink colour was really some kind of oxidation of the metallic silver paint. I took all the pictures with the pink boots, but I later cleaned them with a bit of alcohol and cotton. As you can see in the picture, the “pink” goes revealing the silver paint. It’s not that easy, but with a bit of patience, the figure looks as if it was just taken of the package. It seems that only some figures have this problem, I own a second Roboto since I was a kid, and it always kept its silver boots.

 FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: DRAGON BLASTER SKELETOR (Ref. 9017) and ROBOTO (ref. 9041)
  • Toy Line: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (Wave 4)
  • Year: 1985
  • Company: Mattel (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: Around 10 cm

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

#230 EFSI – T-FORD 1919 (Around 1971)




Apparently, these models are based in one of the most reused casts ever in the history of die-cast models. Best Box already had this cast and produced several T models. After the rename of the company as Efsi, this model kept being produced and sold.
Note that all three models are almost identical, the only differences are in the colours of the body and plastic parts, and, most notably, in the rear section of the car. There are around 15 different “types” of Ford T, these are just three examples.

The most common model, however, is not among these three, and is the “ambulance” model, presenting a big box behind the cockpit. Painted in different colours, this model has been used as a promotional article with different decals on it. If not painted white it doesn’t look like an ambulance, but as a delivery van. The Tanker was also used for promotional purposes, for example with "Shell" decals.


Among the great details that you have to check in the pictures are the spoke wheels in orange simulating the colour of wood, the beautiful front in metal with the Ford logo on it, and of course the small plastic interior with seat and steering wheel. None of these model had windshields, and if you observe the picture of the cars from below, you’ll see that most parts are hollow in order to minimize manufacturing costs.

The wheels have one great drawback: they are made of plastic and, therefore, they’re not very tough. In many models these are bent, half-broken or directly missing.

This was for the company a very profitable model, and it was produced from the Best Box times to the very last years of Efsi, that’s (approximately) between 1966 and 1971 as Best Box and between 1971 and 1988 as Efsi Holland.


 

Numbering and additional information for this article was taken from “tales of toy cars” by Doug Breithaupt. In the following link you’ll find more pictures of Efsi’s Ford T: http://www.breithaupts.com/totc348.htm

The story behind the Ford T is well known: it was the first model mass produced in the history of automobile, and also the best-selling car until 1972, with more than 4 million units sold. 

Pilen also made these toys, probably after buying a license from Efsi to produce them. You can see an image taken from a promotional catalogue from 1980. Apparently Pilen also produce the trucks and trailer from the dutch company that same year. The following pictures are taken from pilen.jimdo.com:


EDIT: These are two more cars recently added to my collection:







UPDATE: Ambulance




 
FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: 1919 T-FORD MODEL PICKUP, TANKER and BREAKDOWN (Nrs. EF-101.0, EF-102.0 and EF-103.0)
  • Scale: Approx. 1:64
  • Year: Around 1971 (see article)
  • Company: Efsi (Netherlands)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

#229 FIGURAS EN ACCIÓN (F.E.A.) Nr. 7



Download link (it's free!): http://tinyurl.com/c29zerh
 
Our new magazine about action figures is now available for download! As every year, we have our Christmas issue ready, with all the classic sections (news, interview, places to visit and books) and a bunch of new articles.

This time, we have tried to upgrade the magazine by dealing with more specific topics, and I think the results are great. In this 7th issue, you’ll find articles about Big Jim, Sticker Albums, the ulta-rare vintage Bobba Fett, Playmobil Far West series and much more.

My contribution this time deals with female action figures and action figures representing other races than Caucasian. There are only few of them made, so I make an overview from the 60s to today and try to bring as many interesting facts and curiosities as possible you might not know yet !

I also collaborate in the "travel" column:  I visited the "Museo de Miniaturas Militares de Jaca" in Jaca, Huesca (Northern Spain).

It was a great pleasure to write something completely different to what I usually do, and I hope you find my article, and every other one in the magazine, interesting.

Enjoy it! And if you like it, don't forget to check the previous editions.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

#228 REAL GHOSTBUSTERS – ECTO 2 (1987)





Another vehicle for the Real Ghostbusters, after the Ecto-1 I presented a long time ago. This vehicle was part of the second series, and therefore it was released one year later than the car.

I received it as a gift some Christmas, and I have it boxed. The box is not depicted, because I have it somewhere else, but as soon as I can take pictures of it, I’ll update the article.




The vehicle itself is a three-wheeled motorbike that turns into a helicopter with wings. As a concept is quite strange, but as a toy is great. It doesn’t appear in any of the movies, but it does in the tv series and the comics, for example, in the Bastei Comics edited in Germany “Die echten Ghostbusters”. I don’t know which company released these comics in English.



Note that in this drawing, the Ecto-2 has place for two people, while the toy can only carry 1 figure.

The helicopter can be hold like a pistol and it does even have a trigger to move the blades. Together with the blades, there’s a hook hanging from a rope that moves up. A similar mechanism was available in the Ecto-1.


The red clip by the blades can "lock" the trigger
  
Also interesting is that every vehicle in the Real Ghostbusters collection came with one ghost except this one. It came, however, with an accessory bomb that attaches to the lower part of the helicopter under the cabin. The bomb has one “spike” that goes inside the cabin.

Ecto-2 bomb
Ecto-2's cockpit (detail)
Like other vehicles in this toy line, the Ecto-2 was made in Mexico

If you're looking for this vehicle, pay attention to the following points:
  • the bomb is ofter missing
  • the security belt is sometimes broken
  • the hook mechanism does not always work correctly
  • the blades (red part) are not broken (if broken they are very difficult to repair)
  • stickers are present and in good shape
In this entry we used Fright Features’ Peter Venkman, who is still looking for his hook-weapon. As soon as I find it, I’ll show an entry with all 5 figures. I already presented the other 4 in entries #21 and #179.

Something I wanted to comment about this line is that most figures and vehicles are very easy to find at low prices, and there’s only a handful of “rarities”. The rarest toys are the last wave unproduced figures and playsets. There are a few of them made, but I consider them prototypes, and I will never get one of them. Another very rare toy in this line are the “finger pop fiends” a group of three ghosts that were sold together and that are made of a soft, flexible plastic. You could deform them, but they would always return to their cylindrical form. These are the rarest item in this series that is no prototype. From the rest of the toys, only the Ecto-1 and the first 4 Ghostbusters figures (with backpacks, guns and ghosts) have a certain value, the rest of the collection is really cheap. Great toys for very little money!

Security belt, one of the weak points of the Ecto-2
UPDATE: I have recovered the box of the toy, that I keep since 1992 or so. It is a bit worn, but it still displays nicely.

French front
French side

Dutch front

Dutch side

Box flap with Loustau & Sachnovsky (importer) information. It includes a translation of the instructions in Spanish.

FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: ECTO-2
  • Toy Line: The Real Ghostbusters
  • Year: 1987
  • Company: Kenner (U.S.A.)
  • Size: approx. 30 cm

Monday, December 17, 2012

#227 PLAYART – FIRE ENGINE, MERCURY POLICE and AMBULANCE (nrs. 7130, 7132 and 7167) (Around 1982)






I recently found three die-cast vehicles in a flea market. They are a nice sample of what Playart was doing in the early 80s.

The company was settled in Hong-Kong from the late 60s to the early 80s, and as many Hongkongese companies at the time, produced cheap(er) toys for the European, American and Japanese markets. Sometimes it was sold under its own “playart” brand, some other times under other names. Sometimes they were exclusively packaged for important department stores like Woolworth’s, Sears or Charles Merzbach as "in-brand". This way they could compete with more expensive toys like Matchbox or HotWheels. The first “Playart – Fast Wheels” packages are pretty much a rip-off of HotWheels packages from the early 70s. A more detailed list of the packages types can be found in Gary’sCars.


They made toy cars in several scales, being the most common 1:64. In this scale (by far the best selling scale), Playart made around 250 references, each reference belonged to one car model, but many colour variations are many within each model. In some models there are also different tampographies. Additionally, there are models with a large lifespan that might have different types of wheels, depending on when these were made. Earlier types of wheel (2 different) are two pieced with a chromed hubcap, somehow similar to Schucco or Mira. Later models present the type of wheels you’re seeing in these models, with exception to some models that had “Tomica”-wheels and models with two concentric circles.

From these 250 references, many of them are copies of models by HotWheels, Corgi, Matchbox, Tomica and maybe more brands. You probably have noticed that the Mercury car in these pictures is a copy from the one made by Matchbox (Mercury Police Car, nr. 55D from 1971). The ambulance is similar to models made by Siku,although it has big differences, and the truck is original by Playart and is available in many different casts, and different types of trucks.




I own a few more models by Playart that I’d like to show some other time, some of them are interesting because are models that were not made by many other brands in 1:64 scale, making rare collectibles. What many experts think about Playart, is that, even though they made cheap cars copying from other brands, the selection of the models tells us, that the people in charge of the production were real car lovers, and had very good taste.


FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: FIRE ENGINE, MERCURY POLICE and AMBULANCE (nrs. 7130, 7132 and 7167)
  • Scale: Approx. 1:64
  • Year: Around 1982
  • Company: Playart (Hong-Kong)
  • Size: approx. 7 cm
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