Friday, May 31, 2013

#287 NOREV MINI JET – FIAT RITMO, TALBOT SOLARA and FORD ESCORT (1982)





This entry will only be a short update to entry #149, where I already talked about Norev’s Mini-Jet series. I recently found 3 more cars that I didn’t have, and here they are. Beautiful models of European cars that were rarely made by other manufacturers.

FIAT RITMO (Nr. 432) –in blue– Unfortunately with the classic Norev axles problem.






TALBOT SOLARA (Nr. 438) –in yellow–






FORD ESCORT (Nr. 439) –in white–





Feel free to leave some comments below if you want to add something to this entry. Thanks!

FACTS AND FIGURES:

  • Name: FIAT RITMO, TALBOT SOLARA and FORD ESCORT (Nr. 432, 438, 439)
  • Scale: Approx 1:64
  • Year: 1982
  • Company: Norev (France)
  • Size: 6 cms

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

#286 DIE SIKU-STORY (ULRICH BIENE)


I ordered this book because of my interest in the German toymaker Siku, a company which is not especially well documented on the web. When I tried to write articles about “Sieper Kunststoffe” I never found anything really interesting.

This book covers the whole story of the company, from its foundation in 1950 to 2013. The book is beautifully done and shows not only toys, but also other plastic items they manufactured in their early days, as well as pictures of many documents, boxes, instructions, catalogues, order sheets… these documents were surely provided by the Sieper family, through the company or its museum (Siku//Wiking Modellwelt in Lüdenscheid, Germany).

You won’t find anything more complete than this if you’re interested in the history of Siku, its production and many anecdotes. But consider, this is not a collectors’ catalogue or a price guide, many different models appear in the book, although nothing in particular is said about them... If you’re looking for a checklist, price guide or variants list, this is not your book.

The author Ulrich Biene has written several books about Wiking models, a trademark that also belongs to Siku nowadays. His last book on this topic “Wiking-Welten: Über Modelle, Sammellust und Leidenschaft” was published by the same house “Delius Klasing”. This is his last work and was released in May 2012.

The book is in German language and can be easily found in bookstores or online shops.


Monday, May 27, 2013

#285 JURASSIC PARK – ELECTRONIC DILOPHOSAURUS (JP11) (1993)




I talked about this toyline before: about how did the film and its merchandise come to Spain and about my memories of those years. Find the previous article here: 

As said there, the first wave of Jurassic Park toys comprised several figures, dinosaurs, vehicles, and even the “Command Compound” playset. There were several categories of dinosaurs, each of them with some action feature.


There were 5 dinosaurs species made for this toy line in the "normal" size/price category: Dimetrodon, Dilophosaurus, Velociraptor, Coleophysis (2 units in one pack) and Pteranodon.  These were numbered JP01 to JP05 respectively.

Catalogue image of these two dinosaurs among some others. Taken from jptoys.com

There were also 4 "bigger" dinosaurs: the Young T-Rex,  the Stegosaurus, the Triceratops, and the great Tyrannosaurus-Rex, all with “realistic” plastic skin. These were numbered JP06 to JP09, respectively.

And finally, there were two small dinosaurs (Velociraptor JP10 and Dilophosaurus JP11) that were released in an alternate, battery operated version. These two came with some action feature, but also with a “Dino-Scream” or (what it is the same) an “Electronic Attack Sound”.

Mark in right leg JP11

Dinosaur plus removable frill
In my opinion the electronic dilophosaurus is much better than the normal version because it includes the colourful frill that the dinosaur opens before attacking. The normal version, however, could spit water. This frill is, apparently, fictional, and was invented for the film only. It’s good that the frill can be removed, in case you prefer to have a realistic version of the dinosaur.

 How do you like it most?
 
To activate the Dino-Scream, we have to pull one leg down. Together with the scream, the dinosaur opens its jaws. This feature is called "Striking Jaw" on the card.


FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Name: ELECTRONIC DILOPHOSAURUS (JP11)
  • Toy Line: Jurassic Park (Wave 1)
  • Year: 1993
  • Company: Kenner (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: Around 13 cm

Friday, May 24, 2013

#284 NACORAL/ INTERCARS – CHEVROLET CAMARO (Ref. 103) (1971)




After talking about Nacoral’s Chiqui-Cars and their 1:32's, I will use this entry to talk about, what is probably the most popular series made by this company from Zaragoza.

Inter-Cars or Intercars is the replacement line for Chiqui-Cars. Chiqui-Cars were made in some plastic compound (maybe butirate) similarly to Norev’s from the 60s.

 

Those Chiqui-Cars were quite successful in the late 60s, but by the end of the decade, metal casting was already common for most toy car manufacturers. If Nacoral wanted to keep its market shares, it would also have to adapt to modern types.

There was a first metal-casted series made that was sold under the name “Chiqui Cars Serie Metal” in 1970. The numbering system that was used to identify the models was a continuation of the ordinary Chiqui-Cars catalogue. They just added an “M” (from Metal) to the number.

For example, the Ford GT LeMans in the plastic series was reference number 2014, while in the new “Chiqui Cars Serie Metal” it was 2014M.


The cardboard box had a similar design, but it included for the first time a “window” as well as a flap on the back of the box with a hook to allow the box to be hanged in some kind of stand. From this series there were 11 different models, two of them with more than one version.

The Inter-Cars line officially starts two years later, in 1972, with new car models and new package design. That first year were 10 cars released, one of them (the Porsche 911 Targa Roadster) in Cabrio and Hardtop versions.


One year later, in 1973, there were more new models. Those were given a new numbering system, starting with Ref. 100, 101, 102… The Camaro shown in the pictures is number 103 and belong to this series. On the card of this series, there were references from 100 to 123 (ref. 119 is missing) and then a mysterious reference 1112 “Mini 1000 Rally”, whose difference is basically a plastic roof rack.

In the following years, that catalogue was expanded with new models. The higher reference number for cars was 130. Additionally, other lines of vehicles were released:

Refs. between 201 and 212 Trucks and Trailers
Refs. between 302 and 309 Prototype Cars, Dragsters…
Refs. between 501 and 506 Formula 1s
Refs. between 500 and 507 Military Vehicles

Why references between 501 and 506 were doubled is unknown to me.


If you’re interested in watching pictures of all those references, please visit this website.

Most Inter-Cars have practicable parts, and were built with great quality. The only weak point that these vehicles show are the wheels, made in some plastic compound that is, in many cases, deformed after 40 years. Note that the car in the picture has this problem. 


FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: CHEVROLET CAMARO (Ref. 103) 
  • Scale: 1:43 
  • Year: 1973 
  • Company: Nacoral/ Intercars (Spain) 
  • Size: approx. 9 cm

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

#283 STAR WARS – REBEL COMMANDER and REBEL SOLDIER vs. AT-AT DRIVER (1980)

  

These three figures were made by Kenner for the Star Wars toy-line years after the first movie (Epidose IV), to be ready when the second movie (Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back) came out.

If you know the movie, you’ll remember that most of the history is set in Hoth, an icy planet covered by snow where the rebels have built their base “Echo Base”.

That’s why most of the main Star Wars characters were re-released in proper snow-outfits. These three figures are completely new, since they were not released before. They represent a rebel soldier, a rebel commander and an AT-AT driver. The AT-AT‘s (also AT-AT walkers) were those four-legged vehicles from the Empire that walked the planet Hoth. A figure of its pilot was released in 1980. This pilot basically looks like a normal Stormtrooper, but with slightly different colours and helmet.

AT-AT PILOT: Came with a rifle with strap (the rifle in the picture is original but missing the strap) so the figure could attach the rifle to his back instead of carrying it on his hand.


REBEL COMMANDER: Came with a black rifle with strap (in picture: repro). Interestingly, although there should have been several commanders, the one that made it to action figure is based on the character Major Derlin, played by John Ratzenberger.


REBEL SOLDIER: Came with a Bespin blaster (in picture: repro). This figure has a couple of colour variations.


Something interesting about these figures (as well as about many other in many different toy-lines), is that they do not represent single characters. They have generic names (soldier, commander, driver), and this means that in the story behind the toy-line (or in this case, in the film), there are more than one of those. This leads to a collectors habit which is called army-building. It basically consist of getting as many of those figures as you can: if you have 20 Rebel Soldiers, it is much better than if you have only 10; this way you can arrange the figures to represent scenes from the movie, or some military parade.


The “star” within the Star Wars collection are naturally the Stormtroopers, but both the AT-AT Driver and the Rebel Soldier can be “armybuilderized”. The Rebel Commander too, but is lower quantities.

Almost any action figure toy-line is liable to army-building. Even in character based lines, like Masters of the Universe, there are characters which for some reason were planned to be a group rather than a single character. In this case, collectors amass as many “Horde Troopers” as they get. In military based lines like G.I.Joe: ARAH, this is taken to the extreme with people having hundreds of units of a single figure.

The consequence of this is that the figures that fall in this category are always much more expensive than the average, and they do not flow from one collector to another as the other figures, because many keep them, even if they already have it.

Some collectors even customize (if possible) their figures, so they are slightly different, for example, they paint the figures with different shades of skin colour or hair colour, maybe they add (or remove) a moustache or a beard… so the army is a bit more heteregoneous.

There are really impressive picture on the internet under the search term “army building”. I do not think it is a good idea, since it costs a lot of money to buy multiple figures of the same model, and I try to avoid this, although I must admit, I have some small “armies” of G.I.Joes, that I used for dioramas.


FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: REBEL COMMANDER and REBEL SOLDIER vs. AT-AT DRIVER
  • Toy Line: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Year: 1980
  • Company: Kenner (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figure: 3 ½¨ or 8 cms

Friday, May 17, 2013

#282 TOMICA – MASERATI MERAK SS, LAMBORGHINI COUNTACH LP500S, DETOMASO PANTERA GTS and FERRARI BB 512 (1976, 1978, 1979 and 1993)





This will be a short entry with a few more Tomicas. The first three are cars I own since the early 80s. My father used to buy them in Portugal during his business trips and brought them to me. He loves cars, so it’s no surprise he chose Tomica over Matchbox or Majorette, when he had the chance.

I have selected these, since they’re Italian supersport cars: Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini and DeTomaso. They were even made at the same time, and they’re quite somehow similar, with those flat bonnets.



They’re all played, and some have painted head and rear lights. This is something my father used to do for me. An interesting fact is that the Ferrari and the grey DeTomaso have not the ordinary Tomica wheels. They’re wider and show a ring. Similar models are being used nowadays in many models from the same manufacturer.


Another thing I wanted to remark here is the difference between the 1978 original DeTomaso and it’s reedition from the early 90s (probably 1993). The first one (grey) was made in Japan, while the second one (blue) was already made in China. They’re almost identical, except for the number (F55 and 10) and Made in China instead of Made in Japan. The wheels, as just said, are also different, and the tampographies are much better in the older model.







You can check more Tomicas from the 90s here.

In that entry there’s a (card-)catalogue image in which the model is shown. And it is not surprising that Tomica chose this model and not another one, because the car was in production until 1990. Reference number of the newer DeTomaso Pantera GTS was T10.


FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: MASERATI MERAK SS, LAMBORGHINI COUNTACH LP500S, DETOMASO PANTERA GTS, FERRARI BB 512 and DETOMASO PANTERA GTS (newer release) (Nrs. F45, F50, F55, F57, T10)
  • Scale: 1:61 (DeTomaso, Lamborghini) / 1:62 (Maserati, Ferrari)
  • Year: 1976, 1978, 1978, 1979 and 1993
  • Company: Tomica (Japan)
  • Size: approx. 6 cm
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