Turning Into That Guy

“You are turning into one sad motherf*cking old man.”

Bob’s Used Cars is slower than usual lately. We haven’t sold a tiny car in almost 2 weeks, which is a sad record for us. The machine has gone from forsaking us to merciless donkey punching.

In the interim Mert intercepted several shipments of vintage Hubley model kits – the old metal kits with the working steering that transport you back in time to some Ward Cleaver garage – and I couldn’t help myself. Before you could say “you are turning into one sad motherf*cking old man” I had built 2 of them. BAM! Both 1932 Chevy Roadsters. I may even build some more. Why the f$#k not? I mean, other than the long list of obvious reasons.

Gateway Drug: Hubley 1932 Chevy Roadster

Actually, these things take a lot of work to put together. There is no BAM! about it. The metal pieces all need to be painstakingly cleared of flashing and burrs, etc. Takes a while, and chops up your fingers if you’re not careful. Then with the sanding. The matter of toxic metal dust should not be taken lightly when sanding a metal kit. I would do it outside with a stiff wind blowing away from you. Do it in somebody else’s yard. Don’t huff it like Mert. Mert needs metal dust to survive, according to Mert. Mert is not a doctor.

Chevy sales brochure 1932: In reality, there weren’t all that many whitewalls on Chevy Roadsters

Gabriel took over the Hubley molds

I had so much fun with the Hubleys – Hubleys were the gateway drug – that I decided to intercept and build one of the 1/43-scale metal kits I’d been selling. Oh yeah. Those perfect little boxes. How could you resist? I can’t. I culled one of the 1961 Ferrari 250’s with Tour de France rallye decals by FDS Automodelli. Despite its size, it was a little snarlier to build somehow than the large Hubleys with all their moving parts and terrible screws. I went with the blue instead of the historically accurate silver, but I like the payoff. Looks better in real life than it does in photos. Turns out I’m not very interested in building models that are accurate representations of real-life race cars, “1st place at Le Mans 1965 yadda yadda.” Gotta have the right shade of red, etc. I’d rather build something that nobody else has.

Somewhere in England right now there could be a guy freaking out on my ferrari because it’s not the correct color. But think of it this way, Clive, now you know what that car would have looked like, had it been this color instead. Anyway, Ferrari race cars from that era were red, silver, dark blue, lighter blue, black, white and sometimes yellow. It’s ok, Cliver.

Ferrari 250 GT 1961, FDS kit

These intricate little 1/43 kits were super popular in Italy, England, France, Australia in the 1970s and 80s, and still are quite popular apparently. The out-of-production metal or resin kits are worth about 30-100 bucks unbuilt depending on scarcity and beauty. Maybe I’m a biased source however. I’ll just say I’ve paid 30 and would probably pay more; I’ve seen plenty of people pay north of 100 for a cool 1/43 kit in new condition.

How can you resist? I can’t.

It’s interesting how 1/43 kits sort of missed the American market, where motor sport stuff has always been less popular, strangely. I was into building models when I was a kid, hanging out in hobby shops during the prime years for these 1/43 kits, and I never saw one for sale or considered the possibility of their existence. However it’s been well established that I’m a idiot. Maybe I just missed the whole thing. Now all I want to do is accumulate and build the damn things. Frankly I’d like to cover every horizontal surface in the house with shiny Ferraris of every possible iteration. My wife is going to divorce me so hard you guys.

“Don’t get high on your own supply bro,” reminds Mert.

Hubley Model A decal sheet

“How are you a 60-ish guy with suspenders and calling me ‘bro’ right now.”

“How are you a 50-ish guy building models in the middle of the night and hoping nobody notices.”

He’s right again of course. If I abscond with and build many more of these kits, the miniature profits of the enterprise will quickly turn into not-so-miniature deficits, and I won’t have time for my 6 other part time jobs.

So come on down to Bob’s, under the water tower at West Bacon Road and County Road 12 and take some 1/43 kits and Hubley metal kits off our hands before our hands start building.

Wintage Wiking

Got one word for you, kid. Plastics.

We’ve long been curious about Wiking (“Viking”) and their tiny HO scale (1/87-1/90) plastic cars and trucks, made in Germany since the 1940s. Still made in Germany, in fact. Some of their classic models are still in production and look exactly the same as models the company made in the 1960s, right down to the wheels, interiors, script on the bases, everything, which makes dating these little suckers tricky indeed.

As a tiny vehicle salesman I’m looking primarily for Wiking stuff created prior to the early 1980s, when the company was purchased by Siku. That’s my personal line in the sand here. Don’t have a lot of room on the lot for 1980s models, of any brand. To determine the year of origin of specific Wiking models and avoid accumulating trickily-disguised 1980s models, I’ve been devouring online databases and learning a little bit of German by default. Ohne Lenkrad! Unfortunately I learned that some of the models we already bought aren’t quite as vintagely vintage as I thought. The good news is that almost all of them date to the pre-Siku years – the prime years of Wiking vintage plastic. And I’ve learned a lot about them in a short time, which is fun. There is a lot more to learn, which is also fun.

Wikings have an undeniable coolness factor. Despite their lack of heft, the models exude quality and, somehow, solidity. The consistent scale of all the models is a welcome contrast to Matchbox, Hot Wheels and Tomica, who decided long ago to make their models roughly the same size so they could all fit into the same size packaging. Wiking puts realism ahead of packaging – semis and buses are huge compared to little sports cars – and it’s refreshing.

About 15 tiny truckloads of Wikings arrived here at the Lot last week. Mert has been marveling at their details and mysterious weightlessness, trying to find a place to park them. “Freakin’ plastic!” he says, shaking his little head in amazement. Check em out over on the Bay, or drop by the lot, out on West Bacon Road at County Road 12 – in the shadow of the water tower.

These below all date to the 1970s, I believe. If you can find Wikings in great condition dating to the 1950s, they’re probably worth about $50-100 each – a real pot of gold for estate sale gold-diggers. These 1970s models are less exciting to collectors although already they’re worth about 10-15 times what they cost in the 1970s. 

Why Has the Machine Forsaken Us



We “borrowed” this Komatsu fork lift from a tiny Costco

If you call the Ebay customer service folks—nice people!—and ask them if they have some ideas about why your listings have suddenly become completely invisible in some extremely important types of searches (a situation that seems to be the culprit in the tiny car lot’s sales dwindling by about 80% in recent months compared to the glory days of the previous summer) the first thing they’ll do is roll their eyeballs, almost violently. You can hear it over the phone. They get this kind of thing all the time. Yeah right! Not bloody likely! they want to say. But of course they can’t say anything like that. They have to go and do a search and find your listings to prove you wrong, and then break the news to you in a gentle and gracious fashion. After several minutes of searching, however, you’ll hear a bemused “Huh!” They can’t find the listings where they are supposed to be, and they don’t know why. Now this is strange! they say. Unfortunately, the Ebay algorithm turns out to be about as much of a mystery to the help crew as it is to the customers. Their suggestions are well-meant, but useless. They don’t know. Perhaps there is not one single human being in the world who knows exactly why the Machine has shunned the tiny car lot. But if you are that human being, please, drop us a line. In the meantime, if you collect or otherwise enjoy the tiny cars, take a minute and scroll through the goods on Ebay. Lots of Tomica going on (aka Pocket Cars), Matchbox, Corgi for the discerning collector and everybody else too.

Pontiac Grand Prix and Leyland Petrol Tanker: A Symbiotic Relationship

One thing you need in abundance if you have a Chinook-load of tiny vintage cars is gasoline. This is especially true if you have a near mint ’64 Pontiac Grand Prix Sports Coupe, which demands to be cruised and burns over 7 gallons per coffee table.

Unsure of how we would be able to maintain our rigorous Grand Prix cruising schedule amid dwindling fuel supplies, we made arrangements to purchase a tanker’s worth of gas for our private use. The vintage tiny tanker truck arrived right on schedule last week, rumbling like a jungle cat, but there was something very wrong… There was no gas in it. Apparently the BP-contracted driver had left the tank’s valve open while he drove and our precious cargo leaked out all over America, fouling rivers and farmland from coast to coast. When confronted about this issue, BP guy ran away, and hasn’t been seen since. Last we heard he was in Washington receiving either the Distinguished Helter Skelter Medal from the American Petroleum Institute or a Presidential appointment to head one or more federal agencies.

We didn’t get our gas, but we did get a nice Leyland tanker out of the deal. Near mint condition. We are going to fill it with Love and give it to You.



Tomica to the Rescue

Still have a few Tomicas left after the Piranha feeding frenzy. Check out all our latest inventory on ebay. CLICK HERE.

I have a big place in my heart for these Japanese gems, and I’ll tell you why.

When I was a young grommet, there was no daycare or fancy preschooling for me. My older brother was in school and my dad worked all day. I spent those awkward post-toddler, pre-Kindergarten days primarily with my mom, who seemed to drag me along on marathon outings to the fabric store at least four times per week. She must have spent six hundred thousand dollars at the fabric store. Or, I’m just now realizing, she may have actually worked there full time. Anyway, these grueling excursions laid the groundwork for my later interest in painful endurance sports.
Diamonds_&_Rust_(Joan_Baez_album_-_cover_art)During those rare moments when we weren’t at the fabric store, I was corralled in or around the house to keep me safe from the omnipresent molesters in vans and left to entertain myself while Mom did things like look into the distance wistfully over her macrame project, and Joan Baez records spun thirty three and a third times per minute on our dusty cinder block-and-board shelf wall. Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light… That’s how I remember it. Not sure how accurate that is. It was the 70s, and I was right in the thick of it.

Now the things that I remember seem so distant and so small
Though it hasn’t really been that long a time
What I was seeing wasn’t what was happening at all
Although for a while, our path did seem to climb
When you see through love’s illusions, there lies the danger
And your perfect lover just looks like a perfect fool
So you go running off in search of a perfect stranger
While the loneliness seems to spring from your life
Like a fountain from a pool

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light…


My attention was often focused on the ground or floor in front of me, where some sort of minor make-believe drama was working itself out. Sirens! Action! A young lady named Lisa with a ponytail who is in need of rescue! I had a vivid imagination, to put it mildly. Fancied myself quite the little rescuer and watched plenty of bad 1970s rescue TV to stoke the fires: SWAT, Emergency!, Chopper One. Sirens all day long. Always with my modest collection of toy cars, which included a handful of Redline Hot Wheels and at least one Tomica.

Even then, five-year-old Bobby could easily see a big difference between the Hot Wheels and the Tomica, and there was no question which I liked better. The Hot Wheels were cool, but over-the-top flashy. With their fat wheels and engines popping out of hoods they didn’t look like real cars to me. The Tomica was much more realistic, which made my little rescue dramas work. I didn’t know what a “Cedric” was, or where Japan was, but I knew that I loved the real low-key look and feel of that Nissan Cedric Fire Wagon with its opening hatch. And the way it rolled, so smooth, and with suspension. Obviously better. I still remember loving it.

It sounds crazy, but that little red car gave me some kind of hope for a world that was often Fountain-of-Sorrow, Send-in-the-Clowns rust-colored bleak. What a great little machine! What a serious toy! They didn’t have to make it so great, but they did. Maybe the future would be kind of like this toy car? Thoughtfully engineered just to bring joy to children and the young at heart? Better than it has to be? It wasn’t just playing with the thing that made me happy — its existence made me happy.

Last year my mom brought me a box that held, among other forgotten treasures, my old Tomica Fire Wagon. How it survived all those decades without getting tossed is a miracle—or evidence of a mother’s love and understanding. When I opened the box and saw it, a rush of weird forgotten emotions flooded my systems. I almost fell over, for real.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

The car was almost totally bare of paint. Its lights, siren and hatch were missing, or rather, torn right off. I spent so much of my early childhood hunched over that thing. In my head, it was always bright red, shiny and new, just like the one in the photo above.

Of course, it remains my all-time favorite toy, if not my favorite material object, and the most valuable diecast car that I own. I would carry it around all the time except then I would lose it, it would roll silently out of my pocket at the DMV, still so smooth on its suspended wheels, and I would no doubt experience such a disconcertingly high level of emotional devastation that it would make me question my whole deal. Keeping the thing tucked away for now.

Seeing my old beloved Cedric after 40-plus years started me on this admittedly strange if not outright worrisome vintage diecast jag. It gave me the sudden and very strong urge to accumulate massive piles of 1960s Matchbox and 1970s Tomicas—the more realistic toy cars—just so I could hold them and look at them up close. I don’t pretend to understand it. A simple urge to regress?

Of course you have to realize that the POTUS campaign was ongoing at the time, and things were going south in a big hurry. It’s natural to want to escape such a reality, at least for part of the time, and the more ridiculous the escape the better. You think you’re getting ridiculous, America? I’ll show you ridiculous. I’LL TEACH YOU!! Come to think of it, I might have been looking closely at tiny cars for that same sense of promise in the future that I felt when I was a little kid.

Long story short, I love Tomica mini cars and you will too. They remind me of good things about my childhood and about the world. And if I don’t sell all of those that I currently possess, it will be all right with me.

UPDATE: Sold every last one. But good news! We got a lot more of ’em and they’re for sale on our ebay page CLICK HERE.







Excitement on the Lot

We’ve been so busy over here with the tiny vehicles we haven’t been able to keep up with our highly informative postings. We’ve had several huge (to us) shipments come in and we’ve been shipping them out at a good pace. Mert has been working dawn til dusk with no breaks as stipulated in our verbal contract. We’re stocked with Matchbox regular wheels from the 60s as usual, but also Superfast from the 1970s. Currently having a huge super-sale on Matchbox Superfast on ebay.  GO THERE.

Here’s a small sampling of what we’ve been buying and selling over the past few weeks. Expert collectors will notice right away a few interesting items among those below:

We also made room on the lot for a bunch of high quality vintage Japanese mini-cars by Tomica. These date from the early 1970s to early 1980s and include almost all near mint or mint-condition stuff. Included are some with the highly sought after “early wheels” from the early 70s. The cars have names like Sunny Excellent 1400GX and Cherry F-II and almost all have opening doors. The market for these Tomica mini cars is different. Most of the energy is in Asia where millions of kids grew up with these. (Tomicas were marketed in the US as “Pocket Cars,” and they did fairly well but ultimately couldn’t hang with Hot Wheels and the rest, being more expensive and initially featuring many obscure Japan-only cars.) It’s also a more hoppin’ market than the vintage Matchbox market these days. It’s not hard to find reasons why when you hold TOMY Tomica mini-cars in your hand.

And that’s not all. We received a 60-pound box from Ed, a former hobby shop owner and diecast collector back east who has accumulated a large amount of Corgi Classics, Models of Yesteryear, big Solido models and the like over the decades. New Old Stock, as they say. I’m having a great time going through it, trying to learn as much as I can on the way as this has not been my forte, and we’ll put em up for sale as soon as we can. The market for these things is not exactly hot but we’ll see what we can do for him. No more room in Ed’s basement. EVERYTHING MUST GO.

Check out our current inventory on the bay.

Tomica Daily News Truck

“What’s that truck for? I don’t get it.” Mert was confused. He was an old fella and had seen plenty of newspaper trucks in his day, but I guess it had been so long he had forgotten what they were for. “Do they put the I-Pads in there?”

“No, that’s a tiny newspaper truck, Mert. Newspapers in there.”

He sounded it out. “Newssspapers.”

“That’s right.”

“I don’t get it. Is it like a mobile wifi hotspot?”

“Well, no.”

This vintage Tomica Daily News Truck, a Nissan Caball (No. 107-1 in the series), is in just about factory mint condition, with the slightest storage wear visible, but only to those who are extremely careful in their examination of tiny vintage vehicles. Made in Japan. A rare model in extremely rare very very near mint condition.

Comes with a load of tiny newspapers. Just kidding, no tiny newspapers.


Ferrari Berlinetta

Ever since this very near mint Berlinetta came in last week, Mert has been standing out there staring at it. He is bedazzled. Can you blame him? Unfortunately work around the lot has been backing up.

I went out to have a talk with him about it. Before I could get halfway across the lot he turned around with his hands waving over his head like a football referee and yelled “Halt!”

“I’m going to have to ask you not to approach the Berlinetta, Bob,” he said, trying to calm down.

My Berlinetta?”

“Bob, this Berlinetta is in very near mint condition. Any disturbance could result in degradation of the vehicle. I simply cannot let that happen.”

“Mert we’ve got a whole fleet of Greyhound buses to wash, and that  Lotus needs a t—”


I have to admit Mert was very good at guarding the Berlinetta. Luckily it sold almost immediately and Mert didn’t have to guard it any more.

The Berlinetta is another unlikely V-12 with obscene overkill power hidden under the bonnet. Lesney modeled a few of them. Six carburetors on this one.

In the “real world,” vintage Berlinettas in very nice condition go at auction for 3-4 million dollars. You read that right. See here. Roughly a half million per carburetor. Real world!