Category Archives: Collecting

As the Pandemic restrictions lift

As I observed in my last post, restrictions are easing here in Tbilisi; COVID-19 is still a threat but the country is easing out of lockdown.  Public transport is working again, although we have to wear a mask to use it. This means I can get around town again as I don’t have a real car and it is too hot to walk far.

In May, I didn’t add a single model to my collection for the first time since I started blogging. Monthly Acquisitions May 2020

diecast expenditure
My expenditure on diecast models is much lower  this year 2020 (in red) than last year (in blue). The y axis should read in lari not USD.

This Sunday I again ventured to Dry Bridge Market, I didn’t visit other pre-Pandemic haunts, although I had gone to Vagzlis Basroba in the week. There were fewer traders than before the pandemic but a few were selling diecasts.

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Some carded Hot Wheels

My favourite stallholder, Gocha, was still absent, but I did buy a model from Karo. A Matchbox Super Kings Ford Sierra XR4i. Karo’s prices are usually high, I asked about a Moskvitch break he had, he stated a price of 150 lari… $49.18. For the Ford he suggested 35 lari, I offered 30 lari ($9.84), which he accepted.

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The green Moskvitch with black hood was on sale at 150 lari, the boxed Niva and trailer, I’m sure would have been even higher, I didn’t ask

After Dry Bridge Market, I went to Carrefour to do some grocery shopping. I noticed they had replenished their Hot Wheels pegs again, but saw nothing new, which I wanted (the stock is still from the 2020 D Case).

I have bought three models this month, so far: a Porsche 917 LH (from XS Toys last Sunday) , a glittery Chevrolet Monte Carlo (from a secondhand toy shop near the station) and the Sierra XR4i, I picked up today.

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This month’s additions: Chevy Monte Carlo, Ford Sierra XR4i and Porsche 917 LH

I hope you are all safe and well, the pandemic isn’t over, but we can at least get around more freely.

Hunting for model cars during a Pandemic

The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are easing here in Tbilisi. Georgia (the country not the state) has been touched by COVID-19 less than many other countries, we have only had 13 deaths to date (unlucky for some). Georgia is hoping to open up to overseas tourists from selected countries where infection rates are also low on 1 July. Public transport is working again, although we should wear a mask to use it. This means I can get around town again as I don’t have a real car and it is too hot to walk far.

As it is Sunday, I thought it would be a good time to explore my pre-Pandemic haunts and see if I could find some diecasts to add to my collection. Last month, I didn’t add a single model to my collection for the first time since I started blogging. Monthly Acquisitions May 2020

My first destination was Dry Bridge Market, the big flea market in the centre of Tbilisi.

Blog tin plate cars
Tin plate cars and trucks

There were fewer traders than before the Pandemic, my favourite trader, Gocha, was absent. I saw a few model cars but nothing to add to my collection. Those I saw being too recent, too big or just of no interest to me.

blog Kinsmart selection
These models are too recently manufactured and mostly too large a scale to interest me. I do already have the red 1954 Packard by Welly (front row left)

After half an hour or so at Dry Bridge, I visited the Galleria Mall near Tavisuplebis Moedani. I hadn’t been to either Dry Bridge Market or Galleria since the beginning of March, when the COVID-19 restrictions came into force.

tbilisi markets route
my route

Galleria Mall has two toy shops on the third floor: XS Toys and Super Toys. The Mall was much less crowded than before the Pandemic. Entering the mall, a security guard checked everybody’s temperature. The use of escalators was restricted and masks were required at all times. Both toy shops were having a -30% sale. In XS Toys I was careful not to touch anything, until I chose my prey, a Hot Wheels Porsche 917LH in blue, they had some tempting Majorettes but their prices are too high almost 20 lari ($6.78) for a single model !, Hot Wheels were still 7.90 lari ($2.68) (or 5.50 lari ($1.86) with the discount). Super Toys had nothing to interest me.

 

Then, I took the metro to Station Square. Vagzlis Basroba, the sprawling market around the central station in Tbilisi, has three secondhand toy stores, which I frequented before the pandemic. Only one of the three was open and they told me they weren’t expecting any ‘new’ stock until 20 June.

blog vagzlis cheap secondhand shop
One of the secondhand toy shops at Vagzlis Basroba…closed

After exploring the Basroba (market),  I headed home with just the one model acquired for my collection. The Porsche 917LH  looks fantastic, it is based on the real-life Porsche 917 LH, ‘Langheck‘ (Long Tail). Only five 917 LHs were made and competed in the endurance racing in the 1970 and 1971 season.

blog porsche 917
Porsche 917 LH

Counting the Collection, again: Part 2

The count is finished! I believe I have 1561 model cars scattered around 50 locations around the house. Most are in the bedroom, where I have the shelves, but some are in the living room and some are in the hall. I don’t have a loft, a cellar, a shed or a garage, if I did I’m sure they’d have some of the collection, too.

shelves
My shelves, most of the collection is in this area, some are hidden in boxes under the table.

By brand 38% of my collection is Hot Wheels, this hasn’t changed since November 2017, Matchbox accounts for 27% (up from 22%), Majorette accounts for 5% and Corgi 4%.

Totals by brand (November 2017’s totals in brackets)

  1. Hot Wheels        588 (407)
  2. Matchbox            406 (244)
  3. Majorette              70 (42)
  4. Corgi                      68 (44)
  5. Bburago                 48 (37)
  6. DeAgostini           47(47)
  7. Kinsmart               36 (38)
  8. Siku                         35 (?)
  9. Made in USSR      31 (29)
  10. Welly                     28 (27)
  11. Maisto                    22 (14)
  12. Norev                      10 (6)
  13. Tomica                    6 (5)
  14. Dinky                       6 (?)

Other *                            160 (144)

___________________________

Total                           1561 (1083)

*other includes Johnny Lightning, ERTL, Schuco, RMZ etc…

pie charts of collection

I want to focus on collecting Matchbox, Majorette and Corgi. I’m sure I will continue adding more Hot Wheels because they are readily available and have a lot of attractive models. I don’t want any more Kinsmart or DeAgostini, I prefer to collect the Matchbox 3 inch size (approx 1:64 scale), not larger scales (with the exception of older Corgi, Dinky and Matchbox King Size models made in the late sixties and early seventies).

My favourite shelf is the shelf for older Matchbox models (location 8). Only 4 of the 63 models in the picture are not made in England, can you tell me which ones?

Count location 8 Matchbox older
Older Matchbox Models (mostly pre-1980)

Some locations had only a few models others had a lot. Location 15, a big plastic box held 128 cars.

I have been taking the contents of one shelf down at a time, counting them, dusting them, photographing them and adding the details to an Excel document. Checking through the photos, I realise I will have to retake photos of location 5 and 34 for my records, that can wait until tomorrow.

I have significantly increased my Majorette collection since the last count, currently I have a shelf for Majorette and Norev but it is overcapacity. I should separate the two brands.

Count Location 29 majorette and Norev
Location 29 Majorette and Norev

I didn’t take all the cars down to photograph on the table. Some I counted in situ, particularly those in the living room.

Count Location 44 Maserati lambo
Location 44: Maserati and Lamborghini shelf in the living room

I didn’t count any small plastic cars of the type that might have come from a Kinder Surprise egg, nor did I count the model cars in the children’s bedroom, I have relinquished those from my collection. I hope the next time I count the collection the number will be similar or even less, I can comfortably accommodate a thousand but I don’t really have the space for the number that I have. This COVID-19 lockdown has helped slow down my acquisitions, last month I only added a couple of  models, which I picked up on my grocery shop, this month I haven’t added any yet and I’ve even given a few away to my grandson.

 

Counting the Collection, again

The time has come, the walrus said, to count my collection again. I haven’t counted my collection since 2017, I would guess I have around 1500 cars, last time I counted I had 1083 cars. Counting the collection

Last time, I didn’t have these shelves made by my brother-in-law, Paata and most of the collection was tucked away in boxes. There are still some cars in boxes. Stuck at home because of this COVID-19 Pandemic, it seems an ideal time to count.

Count Location 4 shown
contents of the third shelf taken down for counting

I have been taking the contents of one shelf down at a time, counting them, dusting them, photographing them and adding the details to an Excel document. This will take a while. In the picture is the contents of the third shelf, a shelf devoted mainly to Hot Wheels but also containing other brands such as Matchbox, Maisto and Majorette.

Count Location 4
Shelf 3: Location 4: 33 HW, 3 MBX, 1 Siku….

Ok, can’t sit around here writing, I must continue the count…to be continued…

Two of my Favourites

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Iso Grifo and Ford GT Racer

These two Matchbox cars come from around 1968, shortly before Matchbox transitioned to Superfast Wheels. The Ford GT had been successful at Le Mans (the film Ford v Ferrari is well worth watching), the Iso Grifo is modelled on an Italian exotic car with a powerful American engine.  I have never seen an Iso in real life just in pictures and in these diecast models. For me the lines of the Iso Grifo make it one of the most beautiful cars in the world (other contenders for me would be the Maserati Ghibli, Ferrari 250 Lusso and Jaguar E Type). Holding one of these in my hand transports me back to my childhood, I have written a few times about  That Nostalgia Buzz which fuels my interest in the hobby of collecting diecast model cars.

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Looking through the collection

This time of being forced to stay at home gives us the opportunity to enjoy our diecast collections. Below a few Corgi cars I pulled off the shelf.

Corgi x 5
Here are some of my Corgis: Mini Marcos, Mini Cooper, Ford Capri, Morris Marina and Rover 2000TC

I was reading about the Porsche P-911 that Marc of  The Race Case had found on the Facebook Marketplace, Hot Ones P-911. This inspired me to find my own P-911, then I found myself pulling off the shelves some other favourite Hot Wheels, old and new, for a photoshoot. These aren’t all my favourites, some favourites like the Mystery Machine Super Treasure Hunt are still in their blisters.

Hot Wheels old and new
11 Hot Wheels cars

In the picture are some recent models like the Lamborghini Countach Pace Car’70 Ford Escort RS1600, BMW 3.0CSL, VW Kafer Racer, Lamborghini Aventador and TV Series Batmobile. Also a few older models like the P-911, Mercedes 280 SL, Rodger Dodger, Z-Whiz (Datsun 240Z) and my only “sweet sixteen” a Custom Firebird.

This period of quarantine won’t be ending anytime soon, so I’ll have plenty of time to explore my collection further in the coming weeks.

Stay safe and healthy.

Being Grateful for What we have

I haven’t added any new models to my collection since the beginning of the month. Yesterday, a state of emergency was declared in Georgia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have something like 1 500 diecast model cars. Sometimes in the excitement of collecting new models, I fail to appreciate those I already have. In these days of self isolation and social distancing, this could be a time to examine what I already have. Finding models in my collection I’d forgotten about, has almost the same buzz as finding interesting new models in the markets.

I tried to pull off my shelves my favourite Matchbox models from my collection.

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Matchbox favourites

5 of the 11, I picked came from my friend Bert in the Netherlands (Package from the Netherlands).

I could also do a count of all my cars to see how many exactly I have.

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the tip of the iceberg

Reading and Collecting Habits and Charles Dickens

Bibliomania_of_the_Golden_Dustman
The Bibliomania of the Golden Dustman (artist: Marcus Stone)

I am currently reading “Our Mutual Friend” by Charles Dickens. “What does this have to do with diecast car collecting?” I can hear you ask. “Our Mutual Friend” came out in monthly instalments from May 1864 to November 1865, a hundred years before I got my first diecast model car. The first diecast cars didn’t appear until the early 20th century. The first actual model car from Doewst (later TootsieToys) was produced between 1909 and 1911, a closed limousine which was followed by a 1915 Ford Model T open tourer. (History of TootsieToy)

Whilst reading, the collecting habits of one of the characters, a Nicodemus “Noddy” Boffin also known as “The Golden Dustman” piqued my interest, he sought out books about misers, going from one bookshop to another with his companion Bella.

Miserly literature not being abundant, the proportion of failures to successes may have been as a hundred to one.

In a similar fashion, my expeditions looking for transitional Matchbox cars, meets with more disappointment than success. The hunt is part of the reason I enjoy the hobby, even if many days I come back empty handed.

he pursued the acquisition of those dismal records with the ardour of Don Quixote for his books of chivalry,

There are other elements of collecting in the tome, Mr Boffin has a yard full of mounds of dust, in those mounds amidst the dust were treasures like bottles, china and cash boxes. In the secondhand toy stores and fleamarkets I seek my amongst the junk for treasure.

matchbox haul 2
maybe I’ll find something in there for my collection

The character of Noddy Boffin may have been based on Henry Dodd, a ploughboy who made his fortune removing London’s rubbish. Reading another Dickens novel, I was slightly disappointed that in “The Old Curiosity Shop” there was little description about the shop itself.

Highlights 2019

At the end of the year, I like to indulge myself looking back on some of my favourite diecast finds throughout the year. Previous highlights : Highlights 2018  and Highlights 2017

Some months’ finds were better than others.

Highlights 2019
Highlights of each month 2019
  1. January, not a great month, a ’64 Chevrolet Impala from the Hot Wheels Black and Gold 50th Anniversary series was my favourite find.

    Highlights 2019 HW
    Hot Wheels highlights: the ’64 Impala celebrates the 50th Anniversary and the Custom Firebird was one of the orignal cars when the brand was launched in 1968
  2. February was a far better month, making the choice difficult, I choose the Porsche 924  from Majorette, because as a kid my favourite cars were the Maserati Bora and Porsche 924. Made in France.
  3. March, Euclid Dump Truck. An older Matchbox from the mid sixties. I found this at Dry Bridge Market for 10 lari from Karo, who I was expecting to ask more. It is in better condition than the Euclid I had before. Made in England.

    Highlights 2019 mbx
    Matchbox Highlights
  4. April, I found three old Corgis, which pushed me way over budget, my favourite of the three was a Datsun 240Z.

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    Three Corgis in April
  5. May Highlight of the month was the Chrysler 180 and Caravan by Majorette with its box. When I was a nine year old visiting Paris for the first time I brought home 3 Majorettes: a BMW 3.0 CSL, a Datsun 280Z and a Chrysler 180. I have no idea where those models are now but finding the Chrysler again gave me an insane nostalgia buzz the caravan was an added bonus.

    Highlights 2019 Majorette
    Majorette Highlights : Chrysler 180 and Caravan (May) and Porsche 924 (February)
  6. June This was a disappointing month. Highlight was a Matchbox Mercedes E430 Wagon “Police”…from 2002, 1:62 scale. Made in China.
  7. July There were 30 models added to the collection, highlight of which was a Custom Firebird. This is one of the original “sweet sixteen” Hot Wheels launched in 1968, made in Hong Kong. The only one of the sweet sixteen in my collection.

    Custom Firebird
    Custom Firebird
  8. August Highlight was a Corgi MGC GT

    Highlights 2019 Corgi
    Corgi Highlights : MGC GT (August) and Datsuns 240Z (April)
  9. September Mercury Commuter Police Car. Matchbox Speed Kings. This was the highlight of the month, coming from Gocha at Dry Bridge market. A previous owner had decided to redecorate the police car as an ambulance, it makes for an interesting Code 3 model.

    Mercury Commuter Police car
    Mercury Commuter “Ambulance”
  10. October ’71 Nissan Skyline GTX. Although it is  a recent casting, I was very happy to find it.
  11. November The Austin A40 Van (Dinky) I looked at in a previous post (Dinky Austin A40 Van from the late fifties.) It is the oldest model in my collection. It cost 40 lari ($13.47) also from Gocha at Dry Bridge Market, source of many of my favourite finds.

    Austin A40 Van
    Austin A40 Van (Dinky) this model is from the late 1950s
  12. December Matchbox Super Kings K-63 Mercedes Benz “Binz” Ambulance. There is a lot of nostalgia with this one.

5 Matchbox, 2 Hot Wheels, 2 Corgi, 2 Majorette and 1 Dinky a reasonable reflection of the brands I like to collect.

Over the whole year my highlight would be the Datsun 240Z by Corgi, I had wanted to find one of these for a long time and finding one here in Tbilisi in such good condition with its box was great.

Highlights 2019 winner
Datsun 240Z My favourite find of 2019

 

Wabi-Sabi

wabi-sabi is a world-view of Japanese origin, centred on the acceptance of imperfection.  The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.

I came across this idea from watching the Toy Polloi channel on YouTube (Toy Polloi on Wabi-sabi Toy collecting).

Many collectors want to collect a toy, as perfect as can be, in mint condition, preferably never removed from its packaging. This is not how I collect, most of my cars are play worn with their own intrinsic charms.

Austin A40 Van

Last Sunday, I picked up a Dinky Austin A40 Van from the late fifties. This is the oldest model in my collection being around sixty years old, it has paint chips and a cracked tyre but I think that is part of its charm. If I were to resell it, it would fetch far more if it were in mint condition and with a box (Toymart estimates the price to be around £210 for a mint in box model). But I’m happy to keep it as it is, some child (who may now be older than me!) has probably had a lot of play value with this model sometime in the past.

I often pick up incomplete models. Below, you can see a cargo trailer without a tractor cab, a Matchbox Unimog missing some tyres and a Husky Snorkel fire engine without its hydraulic lift.

wabi sabi before
models missing parts

I am not skilled at model detailing, I watch videos by baremetalhw with awe, he restores and customises many Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. Patience is a virtue in Wabi-Sabi toy collecting. A couple of weeks after finding the Husky fire truck, I found an extendable ladder, though not the original hydraulic lift, it does make the model a more credible fire engine. For the Unimog, I found some washers in the appropriate size to act as tyres and for the trailer, I found a suitable Tractor Cab (a Matchbox Ford Cargo cab) to tow it. These weren’t the original parts but I am pleased with the results.

wabi sabi after
with “new” parts

I often find tow trucks without hooks, and improvise with a bit of chain or a twisted paper-clip. I have two  Euclid Dump Trucks one is highly playworn and its yellow paint has faded from too much exposure to the sun but I feel it has more character than the tidier model next to it. The Matchbox models I like to collect were toys, they were made to be played with. Most diecasts are made from a compound alloy known as Zamak or Mazak which is virtually unbreakable in normal play use.

wabi sabi
tow trucks with improvised hooks and the Euclid Dump Trucks in different states of wear

I have a Matchbox carry case, itself a bit battered, to hold many of my rougher  Matchbox models.

wabi sabi case
some rough Matchbox models in a carry case

I do keep some of my collection in blister packs, unopened but I would estimate this only accounts for 10% of my collection. The two Hot Wheels Super Treasure Hunts, which I found on the pegs are still on their short cards, but I have opened most of the regular treasure hunt cars.

Mystery Machine Super TH
Mystery Machine (Super Treasure Hunt)

My collection isn’t accumulated with the thought of resale. Having no boxes for the Matchbox cars instantly halves their potential value. Whilst, I prefer to have the cars in as good condition as possible, I will happily settle for a few paint chips on a model I especially want. I don’t like buckled wheels and most of my cars have sound wheels, Early Matchbox Superfast and Hot Wheels with thin axles were especially prone to buckling. I am also not keen on models that have been repainted by a previous owner unless it was done really well.