With Lockdown still very much present, I haven’t been able to do much hunting for diecast cars. There was a small window when the shops were open around New Year and I picked up a MatchboxJeep Wrangler from the Jurassic World Series, this could be the last new Matchbox car I find in Tbilisi, as the brand hasn’t been distributed here since 2018.
The other cars I can add are those I found in my local supermarket, where I go to find my food and other provisions. Carrefour has recently stocked some new 2021 Hot Wheels from the A case. I added a couple of these this month to add to the few I picked up last month see: Monthly Acquisitions December 2020. I have most of the ones I want I even left a few that were quite tempting like the 2018 Bentley Continental GT3, Mercedes A Class and the Chevy Nova Wagon Gasser.
I added a 2019 Audi R8 Spyder, I have a few R8s in my collection, I find it a good model for comparing diecast brands as many have cast this model. The Hot Wheels model is nice and clean with tampo decorations on the front and rear. I also picked up a Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo in a fetching metallic blue, not the Super Treasure Hunt unfortunately but still an attractive model.
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.
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.
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.
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 WheelsPorsche 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.
XS Toys, Galleria
Super Toys, Galleria
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.
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.
I had some time on my hands, so I thought I’d take a look in the secondhand toy shops near Tbilisi Central Station, I’d been told they weren’t expecting fresh stock in until the end of the month. But I thought I’d take a look and boy, I’m glad I did! The box of cars didn’t look too promising at first but then I spotted a Freeman Inter-City Commuter, a Matchbox model from the early seventies.
Searching more closely I found nine models that interested me.
They weren’t in great condition but included four regular wheels Matchbox models, the nostalgia buzz was strong. The Fiat 1500and Cadillac Ambulance had been on my Wants’ List. There was also a Hot WheelsCustom Firebird, my first “sweet sixteen” model. The shop assistant suggested 2 lari a piece, because that came to 18 lari she suggested I add a tenth model to make it an easy 20 lari. So, I added a Lotus Sport Elise. I then went to a second store and was surprised again, when I spotted a Matchbox8-wheel tipperfrom 1969 in the box with a lot of more recent Chinese toys..
I also found an ERTLBatmobile (from the Tim Burton movie) and a MatchboxRefuse Truck, making 13 models in all. Some say 13 is unlucky, but I was happy with the haul.
The total cost of the haul was just 30 lari ($10.54), I paid 30 lari earlier in the month for just one car (a CorgiLotus Elite).
The condition of many of the vehicles was rough, the Fiat 1500 looked rather playworn and was missing its luggage, but it still had its tow hook intact after over 50 years.
Nine of the 13 models were Matchbox, the brand most associated with fond childhood memories.
If I want to save money, I should avoid visiting Gocha’s stall on Dry Bridge Market. In recent weeks he has had a few Corgis from the seventies. Today he had the John Player Special, this model graced the cover of the 1974 Corgi catalogue.
The John Player Special was one of Corgi’s best-selling models, at school in the seventies Formula One models were popular as you could race them across the playground without them tumbling over because of their low centre of gravity. I wonder how many of my school mates went on to smoke the advertised cigarette brand, the Marlboro McLaren was also very popular. The model I found today is without the chipped paint from playground racing. It is 1/36 scale.
He also had a Peugeot 504 in East African Rally guise. This model was made by Norev in France. It is 1/43 scale. My brother once had a real Peugeot 504, he has had many real cars, I remember him visiting me at university in the mid-eighties in his 504, his was red.
In the dictionary a haul is defined as “a quantity of things that are stolen, or a quantity of stolen or illegal goods found by police or customs”. A haul can also be (esp of fish) the amount caught at a single time. On collectors’ forums on Facebook, we refer to hauls as the total quantity of models “caught” from a single visit to a flea-market, auction, Walmart etc…. This week I’ve had two decent hauls.
On Thursday, I visited the secondhand store and came away with 14 models (That Box Looks Interesting), today (Saturday), I revisited the store to see if I’d missed anything and came away with 16 models… including 5 by Siku, a brand I don’t usually find in such numbers.
Once brought home, the next job is finding out some details about each vehicle. Being secondhand they are not usually in their original packaging, so I have limited information about the actual vehicle (if it is unfamiliar) and have to search the internet for similar models. The main brands I collect have some information on the base but some Chinese made models will just have “China” on the base and nothing else. Matchbox, Majorette and Hot Wheels have useful wiki pages… eg Matchbox Cars Wiki
These I use frequently, although the information is not always correct; below the wiki entry for Battering Ram asserts the model I have is “Made in China” but the base of the actual model reveals it was actually “Made in Thailand”.
Sometimes if I have a mystery model, I can’t identify, I will post a picture of it on one of the many diecast forums on Facebook to see if another member recognises the model and has some information.
Siku, Made in Germany
I haven’t been able to find much information about the Polizei Helicopter, made by Siku in Germany, that I picked up. I don’t generally collect aircraft but this was a nice looking model at just 5 lari ($1.89).
Magiruz-Deutsch Mercur Fire Truck(Atlas). 1:72 scale, a recent model made in China but it looks good.
Mercedes 0303 Coach (Siku). #0806. One of five Siku models in the haul. “Foto Safari” deco.
Mercedes Benz 350 GLK (Siku). #1441. Opening doors. 1:55 Scale.
Porsche 356 (Schuco). 1:87 Scale.
Ford Gran Torino “Fire Chief” (Corgi Juniors). I have found two of these this week but they are different this one has a metal post cast into the roof for the emergency light. The other has a hole in the roof where the light was but fell into the interior. One has a white plastic base and grille, the other has a chromed base and grille.
Police Helicopter (Siku). This has opening rear doors. Made in Germany.
Mitsubishi ASX (Majorette). Opening bonnet. A recent Majorette model, made in Thailand. 1:57 scale.
BMW R1100 “ADAC” Motorcycle (Siku). #1324
Oshkosh HEMTT A4 (Matchbox). From the Working Rigs series. This is a heavy-duty, four-axle roll-off truck, missing its container featuring a fold-down door.
Porsche 910 (Matchbox). This is a Lesney era Matchbox model from the early seventies. I was very happy to find this, the car is missing a racing number (usually 68). Made in England. 1:55 scale.
Fourgon Ice Cream Truck (Majorette). Made in France. 1:67 scale. A plastic awning comes out from the body, mine has part broken off.
Chevrolet Impala“Military Police” (Majorette). There were many variations of this casting. The model has a metal base. 1:69 scale. Opening doors. Made in Thailand.
Battering Ram (Matchbox). A militarised police vehicle. Made in Thailand. From the Dragon’s Lair 5 pack, released January 2007. Gun turret turns.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (C2) Highway 35 World Race (Hot Wheels). This was from a series celebrating Hot Wheels 35th anniversary in 2003. Features co-moulded wheels. Made in Thailand. Designed by Larry Wood.
De Tomaso Pantera (Matchbox). Introduced in 1975. 1:56 scale. Made in England by Lesney.
The secondhand toy store, which I frequent near the Central Station, has some “new” stock, a box full of toy vehicles, I can’t resist. I can already see a Cosmobile (Matchbox) and a Ford Torino (Corgi Juniors). After 10 minutes, I’ve picked out a few that interest me.
They are not in mint condition, but they attract me for various reasons. After looking around the store I come away with 14 models for a grand total of 40 lari ($14.95). My biggest single day haul in a long while.
Jaguar E Type Cabriolet (1:38 scale). This model is Made in China, I don’t recognise the brand markings on the base. I got it because it is an E-Type, one of the most beautiful cars in the world. The model has opening doors and is missing the back to the passenger seat.
Hydraulic Crane(Siku). A recent model in very good condition. The crane boom lifts extends and rotates.
Ferrari 512 (Bburago).This is an Italian made Bburago model in 1:43 scale. I also saw a BburagoPorsche Turbo, usually I would choose a Porsche over a Ferraribut the 512 has good memories. As a teen I visited a local car concessionnaire, which had on display a Ferrari 512BB, it must have been a slow day the salesman was happy to show us the car and lift the hood to reveal the incredible 12 cylinder boxer engine.
Porsche 959 (Siku). This car has been painted by a previous owner. It is quite weighty and the base shows it was made in West Germany.
Honda Prelude (Majorette). This model is missing a windscreen but it represents a Honda sports car I don’t have in my collection and it is Majorette, one of my favourite brands. This was made in Thailand.
Audi Quattro “Notarzt” (Welly). Notarzt=Emergency Doctor (in German). I love sports cars from the late 60s to early 80s. The new Hot WheelsAudi Sport Quattro is on my wants’ list. This model is made in China.
Porsche 911 SC Targa(Hot Wheels). The windscreen looks like it has been shot. This is an ex-Corgi casting. Corgi – Hot Wheels
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (Hot Wheels). I’m wondering whether to keep this or give it to my friend Zura who has a real Mitsubishi Lancer.
Ford Torino “Fire Dept” (Corgi Juniors). I would like some day to find this model in the Starsky and Hutch livery. The emergency light has been pushed into the body of the car.
Fire Tender (Matchbox Super Kings). This was not in the box but had been put on one of the shelves in the store. This was the most expensive in the haul (10 lari). The ladder goes up and down and rotates but it is missing its extension ladder. This model was introduced in 1972 and made in England.
Vantastic (Matchbox). A fantasy model from the mid seventies, the first model had an exposed engine. It would have originally had a sticker with the number 34 on the bonnet. Made in England by Lesney.
VW Transporter (Matchbox). This is from the Matchbox International Era, made in Thailand, with “DINKY” stamped on the base.
Cosmobile (Matchbox). A science fiction model, seeing this model got me really interested in what was in the rest of the box. Made in England by Lesney.
Plymouth Gran Fury (Matchbox). The police tampo has rubbed off but it is in otherwise good condition, the base is metal. Made in England by Lesney.
A few missing parts and playworn exteriors. I was pleased to find four Matchbox models from the Lesney Era (pre-1983). An interesting box, indeed.
After around ten months of waiting, a new selection of Hot Wheels (2018 D Case) has finally hit the stores of Tbilisi (I’m still waiting for some new Matchbox models). I visited XS Toys last week (on Wednesday) and was surprised to find some new models on the shelf, sadly at a new price, too (7.90 lari up from 6.90 lari). (7.90 GEL = $3.23 (US))
Difficult decisions, should I get the ones from my wants’ list or should I wait until there is a sale day (Once or twice a month, there is a day when the entire selection is reduced by 30% a significant saving!). They also carried the new Zamac range, the first time I have seen Zamac models here in Tbilisi.
On the Wednesday, after much deliberation I bought the Fairlady 2000 in light blue with “fifteen” livery. I got it because there was just one and there were 3 models of the ’85Honda City Turbo II, which was very tempting, I also left the Batmobile (1989), which I’m already regretting as it had gone when I returned. The following day I went to Pepela in Merani Mall and found they ,too, had new models and the Zamac range (my local Pepela still has the old selection (2017 G Case)). This time I got a Mazda Repu and a Zamac ’67 Ford Mustang Coupe.
I checked on YouTube, the Race Grooves D case unboxing video to see what I should be looking for in the D Case selection. These were the models that interested me the most:
’85 Honda City Turbo II
2015 Ford Mustang (Super Treasure Hunt)
2016 Ford GT Race
Morris Mini (Urban Outlaw decoration)
’16 Cadillac ATS VR
VW Golf Mark 2
’16 Mercedes AMG GT3
On Saturday, I could resist no longer the pull of the ’85 Honda City Turbo II. Then today, I saw Pepela was having a -30% sale but only in the stores in Rustaveli Avenue and Pekini Street. I strolled down to the Pekini Street branch. They had a few of the new models but more 2017 models. They had the ’85 Honda City Turbo II and Mazda Repu, had I waited I could have saved some money. They didn’t have the 2000 Fairlady, ‘16 Mercedes AMG GT3, 1989 Batmobile or 2015 Ford Mustang (Super Treasure Hunt).
I had a difficult choice, they also had some of the Zamac series, I finally opted for the ‘68 Copo Camaro from the Zamac series for 8.40 lari instead of the usual 11.90 lari.
They had a regular version of the 2015 Ford Mustang but not the Super. The Regular Treasure Hunt is Street Stealth, which I did see but it doesn’t interest me. I have broken the budget again this month. I’ll be looking out for the 1989 Batmobile (the one that got away!) and the 2015 Ford Mustang (Super Treasure Hunt). I still might be tempted by some of the others.
Fishing had been a bit thin at my usual stores, so I decided to cast my nets further afield and visit Saburtalo Mall.
Saburtalo Mall has five locations for finding diecast models: Super Toys, Goodwill, XS Toys, Pepela and Biblus.
I started with Super Toys on the opposite side of the road from the Mall. They had some Matchbox but mostly unlicensed and nothing new. The Hot Wheels selection had three variants of the Cool One, which despite the name is a real peg warmer. I would have taken a photo but the security guard was eyeing me suspiciously.
Second came Goodwill which despite the name in Tbilisi it is an upmarket store. It didn’t have much to excite me in its diecast selection, just some Maisto and Bburago models
After Goodwill it was time to visit XS Toys. XS Toys have a new display for Majorette, so I was excited. There were lots of helicopters, fiction racers, a few Limited Edition models but the only model from the Premium range was the Mercedes G63, this is a nice model but I was hoping to find the Jaguar F Type.
Still no bites. Onto Pepela which means “butterfly”. They had two cool Matchbox 5 packs but I already had those. There was a part opened box of Hot Wheels on the floor, a 2017 E Case (Georgia is a long way behind other countries, which are getting their first 2018 cases now). I wanted to ask if I could look in the box but shyness overcame me, also the shop assistant was having a seemingly unending chat on her phone
On the pegs I noticed an Aston Martin DB10 with some flashing on the wheel rim, an unfortunate factory error, which impedes the running of the wheel.
I came away empty handed, lastly I tried Biblus, a book store that has a cabinet of Chinese made diecasts by manufacturers like Welly and Kinsmart.
The Maserati Gran Turismoand Lamborghini Miuras are very nice but I know I can find them cheaper elsewhere (like in Vagzlis Basroba), so I left them.
Not all fishing trips end with a successful catch. I did pick up some Rooibos Tea and my lunch (savoury rice) from Goodwill, so the journey wasn’t entirely wasted.
…collecting diecast cars, like the 3" Matchbox cars I had as a kid