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Monday, July 31, 2017

#837 PIATNIK - AUTOS´75 (Ref. 4228) (1975)

I am aware of many sets from Piatnik from several years, like Autos´74 and Autos´76, and I think this was a good idea.

The families of this quartett are cars in different gas consumption categories, starting from 7.5-8.8 liters/100 kilometers to 14,0 to 19,0 liters/100 kilometers. This would be today quite crazy, currently, there are many cars that can make 100 kilometers with less than 4 liters, but at the time it was normal. The Renault 8 was the one with the lower fuel consumption with only 7,5 liters.

Unfortunately, these series didn’t last very long. Piatnik probably thought this is too much work and the decks are obsolete only one year after its release, so they went back to the most generic “Tolle Autos”, “200 Km/h” and so on, that only had to be updated every now and then with a few cards each.

This set has the Piatnik-typical pictures in landscape format. The cars shown are quite atypical for a quartett game, since they are the same you could find in any street back in the days. No Ferraris, no Porsches… but “ordinary” brands like VW, Opel, BMW, Renault, Fiat…

Card promoting other Piatnik Quartets of the same series

Some cars are even very rare, like the DAF 66, Matra LX 530, Saab 99, Opel Commodore, VW 412 E, Opel Admiral, NSU Ro 80 or the Dodge Polara. Probably many of them were made very specificly for the West-German market or their own countries’ markets. At the time, importing/exporting cars was not so common.

  • Name: AUTOS´75 (Ref. 4228)
  • Year: 1975
  • Company: Piatnik (Austria)

Friday, July 28, 2017

#836 G.I. JOE – R.P.V. (EUROPEAN EXCLUSIVE) (1988)

I recall as if it was yesterday the day I got this vehicle. It was one of those rare (or well, not so rare) chances in which my mother bought me toys. It was one of the small vehicles from the 1988 line, and thus not very expensive, but it surely costed around 1000 pesetas (6 Euro). I remember opening the box while still on the car and trying to mount it on the back tray of the car (at the time children could travel with no security belts or whatever safety restrictions).

I never had many G.I.Joe vehicles, so the R.P.V. was part of many adventures and I played hours with it.

As you can see from the pictures it is a small vehicle that looks quite heavy and slow. I used to play that the Joes had to scort it from here to there and the Cobras tried to ambush them to steal it. I like the idea of an incredible powerful rocket in such a small vehicle, but, of course, this is quite ridiculous form the perspective of an adult collector.

Many collectors will recognise the vehicle, but not the colour, since this grey version is an European Exclusive item. In the U.S. it was released in some kind of light brown, kind of desert brown, which I think is a worse choice.

The tank had capacity for one figure. It has one side seat, which is something I dislike about it. In the box it is Hardball that drives the vehicle. From this seat, and attached to a long black flexible cable, there is a mini-radar unit, that I usually carried under the missile launcher, as I imagined this mini radar may be even slower than the tank itself.

Although I still keep the tank I got as a kid, I later could buy one new in box, although not sealed (the seals deteriorate and leave the box open after many years), but still unassembled. The artwork of the box is truly great, but actually “mirrored”. The back of the box displays the actual toy over a black background (later waves would use dioramized pictures, see for example #478, #624 or #714)

  • Toy Line: G.I. Joe (Wave 7)
  • Year: 1988
  • Company: Hasbro (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 9,5 cm (3 3/4'')

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


This series started in 1991, and uses the same models and the same casts than the Deuxe series, only the cars are made in transparent colour.

It is difficult for me to think why did Galoob bring this series out... maybe they just wanted to keep the Deluxe series living, but the casts for them were too expensive to produce new model. What seems clear to me, is that more "repaints" of the existing cars, plus mixing them up to create new collections wouldn´t work, after 3 years of doing this already. The X-rays ist just another turn of the screw, with which Galoob can present old models (and reuse old casts) in a completely different way. Note that the feature is not anymore that the micro car has practicable parts, but that you can see the interior of the car.

Of course, the only Micro Machines with interiors are the Deluxe models, so, by making them in transparent you would be able to see the seats, the motor and other parts which, of course, are painted to make them "visible".

The cars in the pictures are:
  • Chevrolet Camaro Z-28
  • Chevrolet Corvette '87
  • Packard
  • Ferrari Mondial
That year of 1991, all Deluxe Collections were discontinued, except the later "Space collection" (which included a moon rover, the Apollo capsule and a lunar module, just like the Deluxe collection XIII) and the "European Exotics" (which included a Lamborghini Countach, a Ferrari Testarossa and a Mercedes Gullwing, but in new, previously unreleased colours).

The X-Rays debuted with 4 collections (numbered #1 to #4), each of them with 4 cars each with no repetitions (all of them previously released as Deluxe models), so 16 different cars. The deluxe series had more different models (30 including the 3 belonging to the space collection, a.k.a. deluxe collection XIII), but only 16 were chosen for the X-Rays.

The following year (1992) the series was still available with the same 4 collections, only each of these included a "bonus" vehicle belonging to another series.

X-Rays are very fragile, and it is very common to find them with broken parts (for example missing doors). If you are looking for them pay attention to the details, to make sure they are complete.

  • Name: Micromachines X-Rays Collection 4
  • Scale of the cars: 1:150 aprox.
  • Year: 1991
  • Company: Galoob (U.S.A.)
  • Size: approx. 2 cm

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#834 SCHABAK – AUSTRIAN AIRLINES FOKKER 50, AIRBUS A310-324, and AIRBUS 321-111 (WB514, WB515 and NN) (Around 1993 and 2008)

I have seen these small planes for sale on airports in Germany and Austria, I assume they are also available in some toystores, but, being perfect scale reproductions, I would say they are not intended for playing or as a toy you buy for a child, but for teenagers and adult collectors.

I found two of them in flea markets over the years, plus a third one loose, and All three together will make a nice blog entry. Note that all three have Austrian stickers, although I am quite certain that they were also available with stickers from Lufthansa and many other major airlines. Schabak planes are made in 1:600 scale, or sometimes in 1:520.

What I like most about them are the boxes, small, with the picture of the actual plane, and the logo of the company, each box in the right size for the model inside. Very cute. The planes are protected with a soft paper, I don't know if this is original, or a later addition of the previous owner of these items.

The two boxed units are from the early 90s, while the loose plane is much more modern, probably from around 2008.

Fokker 50

 The company is based in Nurnberg, Germany, and is now property of Schuco. The story of these two companies is very much related, as I will explain next.

Schabak was founded in 1966 by Max Haselmann, Gerhard Hertlein, Horst Widmann and Wolfang Stolpe, and originally, it was a toy distributor, mainly for Schuco Modell. When Schuco went out of business in 1970, Schabak purchased many of their casts and tools (both for cars and airplanes) to start producing their own toys, although other companies like Gama did the same and also bought casts from Schuco and after several agreements with airlines, started producing these nice series.

Airbus A310-324

Schabak’s cars are all German-makes, first in 1:43 scale: BMWs, Volkswagens, Audis… many of them, officially approved by the manufacturers.
Later, Schabak moved to larger scales, producing miniatures of the same German cars in 1:24 scale. The products were oriented to an adult collector, and that’s why the brand is rather unknown, even for great die-cast collectors.

Airbus A321-111

UPDATE1 (Dec/2018): Another A310, this time with Lufthansa stickers

  • Name: AUSTRIAN AIRLINES FOKKER 50, AIRBUS A310-324, and AIRBUS 321-111 (WB514, WB515 and NN)
  • Scale: 1:600
  • Year: Around 1993 and 2008
  • Company: Schabak (Germany)
  • Size: approx. 4 to 6 cm

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

#833 MAJORETTE – GAZELLE (Nr. 371) (1976)

Majorette's helicopter is maybe one of the most iconic scale models made by the French die-cast manufacturer. It was first available in 1976, and it has been constantly re-released in new decorations until the late 90s.

It is bigger in size than the ordinary 3 inches car, and thus classified with a 300 reference. This is another price category, although the helicopter has many plastic parts and is probably cheaper to produce than the rest of the 300 series models. Maybe this is the reason why Majorette kept it so long in the catalogue...

Apart from that, it was surely a best-seller, since it was the only helicopter in the line until 1988, where the Dauphin 2 (Nr. 322) was also included in the assortment. Being different to the rest of your counterparts, makes you an eye-catcher, and, my theory here is that it sold very well.

It was also not uncommon to see it as the load to a bigger trailer truck, like that one the 600 series.

There have been so many decorations of the Gazelle that listing all would require a considerable amount of time. That is why, I am just showing the two I own. One of them (in "Red Cross" / "Croix Rouge" decoration) is quite old, while the second one (Rescue decoration) is more modern.

The blades can be bent in order to fit in a regular plastic box, and they are of course a bit fragile. Also the tail is made of plastic, and can present stress marks if it is not completely broken.

  • Name: GAZELLE (Nr. 371)
  • Scale: Unknown scale
  • Year: 1976
  • Company: Majorette (France)
  • Size: approx. 10 cm
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