From Russia With Lugnuts

Strangely, the best 1/43 truck model kits readily available have been sold by a Russian company called AVD. Unfortunately for us international truck model lovers, the models are nearly all Russian trucks and buses, with some Tatras and Skodas thrown in. The kits are manufactured in China and are of relatively high quality. The kits aren’t vintage but many of the subject trucks are. Older kits in AVD’s extensive production line have metal bodies and frames; the trend in recent years is toward resin.

I purchased a semi tractor kit on eBay (they are expensive—$50–$100 with shipping) and waited months for its arrival. When it came it was a bit out of place among the other packages laying about.

It sat there in a pile of boxes for another several months before I finally opened it up. Gotta let the nerve agent wear off, that’s common knowledge.

One of the best things about these AVD kits in my opinion is the rogue graphic designer who inserted images of famous musicians, movie stars, dictators, etc. on the box covers. This kit that I bought had John Lennon, as seen on the cover of Abbey Road. Looks like he’s about to get unceremoniously maimed by the truck in question. Another kit features Charlie Chaplin, toddling next to an otherwise completely nondescript truck. I do believe Stalin graces one of the boxes, behind the wheel of a large vintage hauler, while gravelly-voiced lead vocalist Brian Jones of AC/DC seems to appear next to a dump truck on another. I think that’s who that is.

The model itself is pretty fantastic. Everything comes together very nicely, with good detail. Rubber tires, rolling axles, detailed engine and undercarriage, nice decals. Hard to believe no American company is offering something similar with USA-built trucks, using the same Chinese factory to produce the goods. I don’t know why they don’t when the molds are already made and they’ve got at least 1 certified sucker right here ready to go.

Had a few interesting issues with the build. My model glue did not work on this plastic, not sure why. Just did not work. Maybe not bonding with the nerve agent, that’s just a guess. No big deal as I just used epoxy which was better for most of the construction anyway. Also, one of the pieces was seemingly missing from the sealed box, also not a huge deal but annoying and possibly the reason this particular kit, the MAZ-6422, is among the cheapest AVD kits available.

Altogether I really enjoyed this trip behind the Iron Curtain that supposedly no longer exists, and the finished model is lovely. I would enjoy building more of these, but what would people say about a guy in possession of a fleet of tiny Russian trucks.

Stay tuned for the finished product…

Approximately 1 stamp for each week in transit

Orange Daytona

’71 Daytona

The latest chapter in my ongoing descent to the musty depths of old manness involved the interception of several vintage Solido metal 1/43 kits, and the unavoidable completion of one of em, a ’71 Ferrari Daytona, which I painted orange with black wheels in complete defiance of the 3 sets of included race decals just because I thought it would be cool. Update: It is!

The Solido kits, made in France, come together a lot more, mmm, solidly, than the FDS kits or Hubley kits I’ve built. The bodies are made with better metal, parts are machined with greater precision, and almost everything snaps into place with righteous finality, which no doubt makes them a lot better for kids or novices. Decals are superbe with an e on the end. When finished, they could even serve admirably as toys, with suspension and working doors. (A cool project would be to build one of these and give it to a kid like any other toy. Think about building it as tough as can be so the kid can really go to town on it, epoxy, clearcoat, etc.) Despite all the positives, the Solido kits are not as sought after as the older clunkier kits. Just not as sexy to collectors for some reason. But I’ve got 2 more for sale right now, a Citroen (!) rallye car and a Pugeot rallye car. Get at em before I do.

This saga is just going to get weirder too. Stay tuned.

All Coked Up

We’re all coked up about this new Matchbox Lesney 37A Karrier Coke truck that we acquired by accident a while back. We just figured out that this unassuming little fella is a rare version of the 37A, with grey plastic wheels. 99.9% of 37A’s were installed with metal wheels, with a few grey plastic wheels sneaking in at the end of the production run. Can’t tell you how close we were to just putting this rare item up for sale on Ebay for like 15$ without figuring that out. I can’t stress this enough: Our ignorance is your opportunity!

Proves this passage from the previous post:

Quite a haul. Nice stuff. A small bit of paint damage – most in what we call Excellent Condition (see the explanation of terms over on your right). No super rare ones as far as I know, but I don’t know that far. Experienced collectors could do themselves some favors by sorting through my inventory and checking for whatever jewels might be laying on the ground over there, ready to be plucked. No doubt I’ve sold some highly sought-after pieces for the proverbial penny, simply because I am a stupid, stupid man. My ignorance is your opportunity. Maybe we will paint that on the water tower.

The 37A is not to be confused with the 37B. The 37A does not have a base plate, which means that if you try to drive this thing around delivering tiny Cokes the cold wind will blow right up your knickers.

How much should we ask for something like this? We know it’s very rare (much more scarce than the famed “uneven load” version), we know it’s in very good-to-excellent condition and hauls a lot of tiny Coke very smoothly on its plastic wheels. And we know crazed Matchbox collectors are known to pay a lot for such things. Can’t help themselves. The grey plastic wheels add, oh, up to $100 to the normal value. With that in mind I think the price we have on it now is quite a bargain, and if it doesn’t sell, we’ll happily find a permanent place for it in the barn.

Looks just like a 37B ’til you flip it over

New Batch of Lesneys

Quite a haul. Nice stuff. A small bit of paint damage – most in what we call Excellent Condition (see the explanation of terms over on your right). No super rare ones as far as I know, but I don’t know that far. Experienced collectors could do themselves some favors by sorting through my inventory and checking for whatever jewels might be laying on the ground over there, ready to be plucked. No doubt I’ve sold some highly sought-after pieces for the proverbial penny, simply because I am a stupid, stupid man. My ignorance is your opportunity. Maybe we will paint that on the water tower.

No. 45 Vauxhall Victor, made in 1958

More Wiking

Received more Wiking, and having to figure out some place to park it. The lot now completely surrounds Helga’s place, except for her frontage along West Bacon. Lot has also taken on a distinctly German flavor. Schnitzel!

Note to self: Is Helga German? Only speaks cryptically about “Old Country.” Must ask Mert if he knows.

The 2-tone Mercedes cabriolet is a 1959-61 vintage and pretty special. I put it up on the Bay and it sold in about 45 seconds to a US collector – a good sign for future sales.

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.