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. I spent my early years 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. This was before I adopted an awesome stray dog, discovered soccer and learned to ride my bike. So most of the time, 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.
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. I had a vivid imagination, to put it mildly. I tended to enact rescue dramas—fancied myself quite the little rescuer and watched plenty of bad 1970s rescue TV to stoke the fires: SWAT, Emergency!, Chopper One. 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 they didn’t look like real cars. 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 1970s Fall of Saigon 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? 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 the F off. Played with. 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 be devastated. What broken dam of emotion would that call forth? I don’t want to go there man.
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? I guess maybe. So I made a deal with myself, as there was no practical way I could start accumulating loads of vintage diecast cars and keep them around the house. I could get the tiny goods, but I would have to get rid of them quickly, and maybe make a little side money in the process.
Of course you have to realize that the POTUS campaign was ongoing at the time and it was shredding my soul, so so hard. So some sort of escape was warranted, and the more ridiculous the better. I have several passions—researching and writing about history, making music, riding bikes, hanging out with my wife and daughter (who loooves tiny cars by the way, and has about 80)—but none is nearly as ridiculous. You think you’re getting ridiculous, America? I’ll show you ridiculous. I’LL TEACH YOU!! And so it began.
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.