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Everything posted by Datsuncog

  1. SATURDAY TAT SAFARI PT 2 Yes, there's more. Of course there's more. I'm like a dog with a bone when it comes to this sort of thing. There's probably not much point in giving you a blow-by-blow account of my perambulations between each store etc, so here's a summary: Cluster 5: This is Cityside Retail Park, and encompasses a few other retailers towards the north of the city. This has proved not a bad hunting ground in the past - especially on some less than stellar Friday mornings, since it's just beside the M2 on-ramp. B&M Cityside- smallish and cluttered store; one Hot Wheels shipper containing the dregs of the early to mid-2023 releases. A few early 2023 Matchbox on clip strips flanking the aisles, but mainly luggage tugs and those acid green fire engines. Home Bargains Cityside - big store, but light on Mattel. No Matchbox at all; no Hot Wheels mainlines either. Couple of Monster Trucks is the height of it. Does still have some Hot Wheels playsets at cheap prices, but they really do nothing for me (transporters shaped like sharks, things with snakes around them). Asda Home - as pointed out elsewhere, their toy section invariably looks like the aftermath of a church jumble sale after the Women's Institute shock troops have torn through it. Some old (late 2022/early 2023) Hot Wheels mainlines, but mostly unwanted fantasy stuff; some current semi-premium and premium HW releases too, but with any sought-after ones already snaffled. Majorette towing twin-packs, some buses and things as well. Lots of larger-scale Jada film 'n' TV vehicles too, but they don't do a lot for me either. Tesco Cityside - a small and rather depressing Tesco store that involves passing through an awful lot of barriers and scanners to get in and get back out again. Well, it is kinda in New Lodge, one of the most economically deprived wards in Belfast. Accordingly, no Matchbox at all and only a handful of very old 2022 release Hot Wheels still malingering in a creased shelf tub. Fun fact: New Lodge was the 'hopeless place' used to film the video for the Rihanna/ Calvin Harris track 'We Found Love'. Poundland Cityside - a very large, two-storey branch that was the site of the Great 50p Matchbox Mixup this time last year. Had been a source of significant quantities of excellent Hot Wheels last year too, but their peg allocation has shrunken down considerably in recent months and they remain stuck with late 2023 selections. A couple of 2024 Matchbox were still swinging on some very inaccessible pegs up top, so they must have cracked open a case recently, but there's none I'm still looking for. Missed out there. Tesco Antrim Road - scruffy mid-size store with low ceilings; probably used to be a Crazy Prices back in the day, before the carpetbaggers at Tesco bought 'em out in the late 90s. Not much in the way of toys; a few early 2023 fantasies loose on a shelf were the best they could muster. Asda Shore Road - similar to Tesco, but with a few 5-packs in addition to the dregs of the early 2024 Hot Wheels mainline selection. This seems to be the same case selection that the red Proton came in; obviously there were none of those left hiding in there... Which brought me to the top of the Shore Rd, under the M2 flyover, and into CLUSTER 6: This is the vast, sprawling retail hydra spanning Newtownabbey and Glengormley, right on the very edge of Belfast, comprising Abbeycentre, Longwood Retail Park, Abbey Retail Park, Valley Retail Park, and Northcott Shopping Centre. Poundland Longwood - recently opened store that had a lot of Mattel diecast this time last year - unfortunately this has shrunk down quite a bit. Some Matchbox remained, but again all just early 2023 releases like the AMC Eagle: Hot Wheels are stuck in mid-2023 cases, apparently. Nothing I'm desperate to add to the collection, unfortunately. Home Bargains Longwood - apparently the biggest branch of Home Bargains in Ireland, this was formerly a Homebase store. Had been sporadically excellent for Hot Wheels, and also stocked some very cheap Matchbox Action Drivers playsets last year - but alas not so much anymore. A few depleted pegs of late 2023 HW mainlines were the height of it. Meh. TK Maxx Longwood - fairly big store with a Homesense sub-store in it; this place has formerly given me jackpot finds of 1/43 magazine partworks, but not so much lately. Majorette and Siku mainlines and premiums crop up here occasionally, Hot Wheels less so, and I have seen some overpriced Matchbox sets on the shelves - but none of those things were visible on Saturday. Double meh. Matalan Longwood - bit of a wildcard, but hear me out; a few weeks back I was in here with MrsDC, and noticed they had Hot Wheels racked at knee height in the queue for the tills. Stupid place for them, as the queue's moving, so you can't really stop and crouch down to see what was there; and that's probably why it was all older stuff. Also, a £2.40 price tag was a bit spendy, BUT a three-for-two offer was flagged. At that time, I could see a Nissan Maxima drift wagon on the pegs (which I don't have), and a very green Audi A4 R-series estate (which I do have, but in a less appealing black colour), but I couldn't quite see an appealing third model that would make it worth my while - but then the queue was moving, and MrsDC was giving me a very particular sort of look, so I didn't. But on Saturday morning, I was back alone - and fully prepared to block the queue if need be. My first shock was realising that the three-for-two offer no longer applied, and that some poor sod had been tasked with going through the entire stock to tear off the no-longer-relevant part of the price sticker. The second shock was that the green Audi was gone. Did I really want to spend £2.40 on a Nissan Maxima? Well, I know I probably should have bought one back last summer when they could be found for £1.50 in Poundland, but hindsight is always 20:20, as they say. I hadn't seen any others anywhere lately... and I had been kicking myself for a while now... Finally, currency was spent. Tesco Abbeycentre - one of the first purpose-built Tesco stores built at the end of the last century, it now looks kinda small and dingy inside. Not much of a toy selection, with no Matchbox at all and just a handful of unwanted 2023 Hot Wheels mainlines rattling round a tub amid assorted detritus. Poundland Abbeycentre - a large, new store in what was formerly a Primark branch, this has been one of the best stores to find newer Matchbox. This is where I finally happened across a much-desired Volvo 240 in January, and recently bagged a number of 2024 release VW Golfs, Lamborghini LP003s and Ford Rancheros for the delectation of a few thread regulars (and myself, of course). More Matchbox here than Hot Wheels, unusually. But I think I have most of the items here that I'm interested in. I'm hoping that there's another fresh case out the back, just... The 1980 Chevrolet El Camino and the Rockin' Railer seem to be some of the most common peg-warmers to be found in most places - which is odd in the case of the Chevy, as it's really a very lovely model in a great shade of green. Ah well. B&M Abbeycentre - biggish store, which typically has one of the best Mattel diecast selections on offer locally. I got a lot of Matchbox here early last year, and it's also proved a surprisingly rich seam of Hot Wheels semi-premiums, with the bulk of my HW Flying Customs and Ultra Hots finds coming from within its walls - along with Anniversary releases and other special edition lines. However, there's fewer and fewer mainlines left warming the pegs now, all of them 2023 releases. However, I was in this store a few weeks ago and noticed they had some of the 2024 Fast & Furious 'HW Decades Of Fast' silver-line releases. None of the Jettas (obviously), but I did quite like the Buick Grand National and the weird Chevrolet El Camino with the (thankfully removable) cage around it. But there were no prices on the pegs... so, chary of a shock at the till, I left them behind. But on Saturday, possibly embittered and rather flattened by my unrewarded tat-hunting efforts, I buckled. £3.49 each for the F&F releases. That's not too bad, I guess... Definitely flagging at this point, I decide to sack off the Smyth's Toys superstore up at Valley Retail Park - I'd done well to find another Hot Wheels premium Mk2 Escort RS1800 on the pegs there about a fortnight ago, but felt it unlikely I'd be able to repeat that trick. Their Matchbox range is down to two half-filled pegs of early 2023 releases, so I doubt there's been much improvement since. Though now I'm doubting myself... Similarly, I couldn't be arsed hauling myself up the hill to Northcott; the morning's travails had done nothing to convince me that their Tesco Extra might have anything special on the shelves. Ditto The Range; if the Connswater branch was still displaying last year's releases, chances were the Northcott branch would be the same. So, I went home. I didn't think it fair of me to put MrsDC through the worry-mill any longer; I'd been gone for hours, and doubtless she'd be wearing a track in the carpet from pacing up and down, anticipating my safe return from Tatland. In the event, she was still asleep when I got back. Oh well. But at least I could make myself a coffee and pop the blister packs... ...then have a good ol' think about what I was doing with my life.
  2. Been a funny old week, kids - could be that the effects of market tat withdrawal are kickin' in. As planned, I did head out on Saturday morning, early-ish, to see if I could happen upon a fresh case of Matchbox or Hot Wheels that had been newly stocked out. Also because out-of-town retail parks are famously lovely* places to be on a damp Saturday morning. I've been heartened by some UK sightings of the K-case Jaguar XJC and Chevy C10 longbed, and had high hopes that today could be my day of days... However, after scouring some twenty-six stores in the Greater Belfast area which carry Mattel diecast to a greater or lesser degree, I'm forced to conclude that, for 2024, it's probably only Poundland which are likely to be stocking any Matchbox mainlines - and even then, I don't think they're all that arsed about carrying them. God help me, I've started divvying the city up into clusters of retailers, so I can carry out precise, targeted strikes on stores. I know. What has my life become? Cluster 1 takes me the furthest away from home - focusing on Holywood Exchange and environs, allowing me to smack a Tesco Extra, a large Home Bargains, a big Sainsburys and an independent Toymaster store plus a Tesco Metro - should I wish to push my luck trying to park in Holywood town centre. Having already stopped off at the big Sainsbury's on Friday night, and made the fateful discovery that they carry Matchbox 5-packs and Majorette premiums (but not mainlines), I didn't bother going back in there again - though their two-5-packs-for-£15 offer was kinda tempting. However, the dark seed had been planted that there could be stuff out there, unbeknownst to me, hence taking an uncompromisingly rigorous and systematic approach to the act of procuring cheap mass-produced children's toys. Because, as any Fule Kno, this are Serious Bizniss. The big-ish Home Bargains proved a disappointment - no Hot Wheels mainlines at all, and only a handful of HW monster trucks huddled at the end of a shelf. No Matchbox whatsoever. I'd held out some faint hope that a few bargainous Matchbox Action Drivers sets might show up on the shelves, as they did this time last year, but nope. The big Tesco Extra at Knocknagoney had a few Matchbox left in a dump bin, but again it was the same early-to-mid-2023 dregs in torn boxes that my local store continues to carry: Not that these are bad - but I just have all I need from this range. There were quite a few late-2023/ early 2024 Hot Wheels in an adjacent tub, including the slammed VW T2 dropside which I probably should have picked up - but ultimately, I left the store empty-handed. Having hit up the Stewart Miller Toymaster store in January and again in February, with diminishing returns, I felt it more prudent to focus my attentions to stores I hadn't visited for a while. So it was over to Cluster 2, in East Belfast - Connswater Retail Park. There's the original but much-modified Connswater Shopping Centre on the site, dating from the 1980s - and the Poundland in the mall was the first stop. Okay, so five pegs of various 2023 case releases - though none of which I was mad keen on. So, so many of those pointless little luggage cart things. I very nearly picked up the blue Goodyear Tyres release of the Renault Kangoo - but I dunno, it just seems like quite a flimsy little thing. I kinda like it, but don't really love it. Especially not at £2. The few Hot Wheels left that weren't daft fantasy releases were ones I already have, too. Just across the concourse, Poundstretcher beckoned... With a dump bin crammed full of import 2021 Hot Wheels longcards they're plainly having trouble shifting, and a shamelessly lying sign. These are not 'great value' at £2.50 - not when Poundland directly opposite are knocking them out for £1.50. Looking closer, these seem to be Japanese-market releases, curiously with no import distributor details stuck to them. Well, okay then - I'll do my best to refrain from putting it in my mouth, or using the sun. No promises, mind. I'm still hoping these will go down to half-price, as Poundstretcher have done before with their slow-selling Mattel stuff, but maybe their corporate buying team cut a dreadful deal to acquire these, and Head Office won't authorise a reduction. They'll be sitting for a while yet, in that case. Further round, in the toy aisle, their 2023 Power Grab Matchbox mainlines were still kicking about, too. I really like these rectangular boxes, better than the blister pack equivalents, but again - I already have all I want from this selection, and I'm not buying any more duplicates just cos they're in different packaging... There used to be a mid-size Tesco store as Connswater's anchor retailer, but it packed up a few years back and there's now a branch of The Range where it used to be. The Range used to have Hot Wheels shipper displays prominently placed a few years back, but now they only had a handful of mid-2023 releases swinging forlornly on some sparse pegs. Other than the little Mighty K pickup in bluey-grey, with the skateboard in the rear bed, they were all mostly fantasy castings and so didn't really appeal... and I already have the teeny-tiny pickup in its earlier metallic pink iteration. I'm not gonna fall down the every-casting-in-every-colourway collector trap... Not today, anyway. So I bustled out past the checkouts, clinking my keys and trying to look confident - as I'm afflicted with this fear I'm going to be challenged as a shoplifter because I'm leaving without buying anything, despite my years in retail teaching me that minimum wage staff don't care - and made my way across the car park to the newer big-box stores. This branch of Home Bargains had a small number of Hot Wheels mainlines on about three pegs - once again, that coppery-coloured Ford Coupe gasser and the Cadillac Seville in two-tone blue were prevelant - but again, nothing I really fancied. The Connswater branch of B&M is one of the larger stores, with several aisles of toys, but they make relatively little of it available for diecast. Instead, there's a few pegs just inside one of the emergency fire exits, which are easy to miss as you approach it from the main entrance. Eh... nothing new, and although a Matchbox Subaru Forester in black and a Hot Wheels Dodge Ram in white did raise my pulse slightly above tickover, they just felt like I'd be settling for something out of desperation, rather than finding something I really wanted. So I left them. While wandering the aisles just in case I happened upon any clip strips, I thought these 10-packs represented quite good value for money, at £20 for two... Good to see the first release version of the Volvo 240 Drift Wagon making it into the multipacks now - although, with a high proportion of them either fantasy or exotic castings, I can't say I was very much tempted. So I left, still without anything small and with wheels. There were other places to try... [TBC!!]
  3. @bunglebus Good to see the Gods of Tat have been smiling on you! Enjoy 😎
  4. Bit of an oddity I happened to spot earlier today, sat atop one of those pop-up stalls that sells phone cases and chargers in the middle of the shopping centre concourse: Seems to be a plastic model of a 1955 Pontiac Star Chief that doubles as a Bluetooth speaker. Of course. It reminded me a bit of those terrible 'classic car' radios and telephones from back in the 1980s. I didn't see it out of the box, but it looks like it might be quite large. And the headlights seemingly come on. Possibly 'inspired by' the rather spendy 1/18 Sun Star version? I didn't see a price on the shopping mall example - but some light internet searching indicates that the 'WSTER WS-598 Music Car Speaker' can be obtained via AliExpress in the sub-tenner price bracket...
  5. DanBox incoming! Something nice to open after my online meeting, anyway!
  6. Happened to be over at the Sainsbury's branch at Holywood Exchange this evening, and darn it if they don't have a significantly better selection of diecast than the lousy Carrick store: Matchbox 5-packs were on the shelves, and plenty of them, though no single mainlines. Still, two packs for £15 isn't a bad price - I was a bit tempted by the Autobahn pack with the brown Mercedes estate and pale blue BMW 2002, but couldn't see another set I particularly liked. Majorette too - first time I've seen these 60th Anniversary releases in real life. At £6 they're fairly pricey, but then they do come with a tin. Anyone urgently needing any of these? Plenty of all four were on the shelf... and I may be carrying out a bit of a dawn raid on potential diecast suppliers across the Greater Belfast area tomorrow morning soooo... We'll see what happens.
  7. Fear not, today's not completely absent of small vehicles. This landed the other day: Yup, the slightly delayed February release from Corgi Model Club - it's the #490 Volkswagen Breakdown Truck. This is one I've been looking forward to for a while - in fact, the next few months are all models I've been looking forward to for a while. And this one is very appealingly rendered. It's basically a reworking of the #431 VW Pick-Up released in March 1964, which saw a metal winch unit, plastic towhook and moulded toolbox fixed to the standard unit in August 1966, to form part of the Gift Set 37 - Lotus Racing Team, featuring the newly converted VW T1, two Lotus Elans (one with detachable chassis), a Lotus Climax racing car, and a trailer. As well as being included in a few other Gift Sets, the VW recovery van was then released as a standalone model in December 1966, and had a fairly long spell in the line-up, surviving well into the Whizzwheels era with its last outing in the 1972 Corgi catalogue. It came in a few different colours; this is the mustardy-yellow version with no stickers. The tools and spares section is rather fetching, and quite cleverly done using a chromed insert covered over by a red top section with cutouts and an integral lid (a similar technique would be used on the Pennyburn Workmen's Trailer). Mind you, the plastic could be a bit fragile when exposed to determined kiddie curiosity, and most of the examples I've seen are missing at least the toolbox lid, if not the entire cover moulding - like my original example, in an alternative white 'Corgi Breakdown' colourway. Also highly unlikely to be found with all but the most untouched of original examples are the two small tyres, which fit into a moulded slot in the back and can be easily removed and quickly lost. All in all, a most wonderful package. The winch mechanism is quite cleverly done, with a spring inside the barrel to maintain tension when the hook's in operation, so you slide the tyre along and turn it to either pay out some winch line or take up the slack, and then it springs back and holds the line in position against some cast-in teeth once you release it. Or at least, that's the theory. While my original example still works nicely, the reproduction seems to have missed getting its spring fitted at the factory - so the mechanism just slides up and down and the hook drops down to the ground, unless you manually move it to engage the teeth and then don't touch it again. Annoying, but not the end of the world. Base is fairly true to the original, with the 'pick up' lettering erased for this version, and of course 'Made in China' now prominent. One other change is that VW now seem to insist on their logo being added to licenced products. The front of the box details all the special features, to help sway indecisive kiddies. I still love the packaging on these, even if the card is much shinier than the originals. As ever, a little collectable card is included. It shames me to admit just how much I enjoy putting this little cardboard square away in its special little tin once a month. Clearly, I'm an easily-amused sort of person. The model for March (which I doubt I'll see until April, most likely) is the Austin A60 Driving School Car, which I happen to have a lot of time for - so eagerly anticipating that too. Other forthcoming issues for 2024 include the Rover P6 with Golden Jacks wheels (oh yes); the Chrysler Imperial with golf clubs in the boot; the London-Sydney Rally Hillman Hunter (more Golden Jacks); the ski club version of the Citroen DS Safari, and the Oldsmobile Toronado (Golden Jacks version also? Not sure yet). I'm a bit less thrilled about another Bond Aston, or indeed another very slightly different version of the Thames Walls Ice Cream Van (this time without the chimes), but I guess it's good that I have the option to just skip these releases as they arise. Even if it does kinda nip at my completionist tendencies - I've missed out on the 'Lazy Bones' Corvette (for some reason I don't like it), the Fire Chief version of the Chevrolet Impala (too much like the previous taxi version) and the reissued 'Saint' Volvo P1800S with the non-faux-aged sticker on the bonnet and the correct Paramount licencing information on the box (which CMC apparently neglected to gain permission for the first time round). But every time I get some discount code sent to me, I find myself looking at them... Ah well. I should just enjoy what I have!
  8. Yeah, it's a dwarf variety that we've had in a pot for about ten years - bit late this time, it normally it starts to flower around early February and is the first thing in the garden to come into bloom. Daffodils, crocuses, muscari, camelia and even a snakehead fritillary have appeared before it this year, but it's getting there...
  9. Not gone... just taking a break!
  10. Decided to give the market a bit of a break this morning, for multiple reasons. But at least the rain has stopped. And even if the Tree of Tat remains bare still, there are other things a-growing. So... maybe a promise of better times to come. Happy Friday, kids.
  11. You could be right - and I'm now wondering if it's even worth heading over tomorrow, as Market Blokey won't be there: Decent of him to give me a heads-up, anyway - don't really envy him, like. Not sure if a 6.20 start can be justified in the morning, as I dunno if I much fancy travelling in just to balefully stare at Sheila's ludicrously overpriced £5 diecast with apparently literal shit all over one of them. Meh. I'll see how I feel.
  12. And decisions were made. I know. What am I even doing with my life?The Park & Play Garage was one I've been trying to find for a while - it's a cracking big set. Not wildly cheap at £27, and that's apparently a reduced price, but it's no cheaper anywhere online that I could find; and hey, I'd sooner support an independent business than give Jeff Bezos more of my hard-earned. He don't need it. The Helicopter Rescue set wasn't one I was as mad keen on, but at £14 it was also a good bit less than I've seen it anywhere else. More toy-like, it's true, but still - this is one of the first Action Drivers releases from 2020, so I suspect it'll become harder to track down before long. I haven't opened either of them yet - it's something to look forward to. And there was more... The Chevette drag racer came from the same toy shop; I had the opportunity to buy this several times last year, for a good bit less in Home Bargains, but for some reason I baulked. Time to make good on that. And I didn't really have time to swing by Poundland on my way out, but I did anyway - and lo, there were recent-case mainlines on a couple of pegs. Not many, and some I had seen already - a couple of green Mk1 Golfs, a lot of green '33 Ford coupes, a solitary blue '70 Ranchero - but the Ford Interceptor Utility and Toyota Hilux were worth bagging in exchange for some loose coins in my pocket, I felt. So I did. And with that, it was definitely time to run. What I'm going to do with these is anyone's guess, but I feel kinda giddy and excited by them - and, leaving aside whether that's age-appropriate, isn't that meant to be what toys are all about? I didn't buy the Canyon Adventure playset - not today, anyway. I previously saw this set in TK Maxx just before Christmas last year for £22, and I wouldn't say that I won't, at some stage. But I kinda like the architectural sets, for preference. Similarly, I didn't bother with the Bus Station as I already have it - at only £4.99 from Home Bargains last summer. Although mine turned out to have incorrect pieces in the box, so the roadway bits won't fit together. You gets what you pays for, maybe. More to come on these, doubtless!
  13. Carried out another lunchtime raid today, in my ever-widening quest to slake my apparently insatiable thirst for Matchbox. Tesco, B&M, Poundstretcher, Smyths and The Entertainer seems to have given up entirely on stocking any new Matchbox mainlines these days; Sainsbury's and Asda never stocked them locally to the best of my knowledge, and stores like Morrisons or One Below simply don't operate here. So really it's a choice of either Poundland or the few-and-far-between local independent toy shops to try to find any late-2023/ early 2024 mainlines, with the indies sometimes also carrying lines like Moving Parts, Convoys, Skybusters, Working Rigs, Collectors Editions and my current weird obsession, the Action Drivers play sets. No, I don't know why either. Having exhausted the eight or so branches of Poundland in my general vicinity, and stripped the sole surviving Stewart Miller branches of anything worth having, it was time to go further afield. So today took me over the Craigantlet Hills to Toytown, in Ards Shopping Centre. There's been a toy shop here for years. I can recall coming here fairly often with my grandparents when I was little, but I'm sure I haven't been near it in thirty years now. It's also moved a little bit further down the shopping mall from where it used to be, but it's otherwise broadly familiar. Strangely underlit, which didn't make for good pics, but still familiar. Running the usual gauntlet of those irritating Fart Ninja things brought me down to the back of the store, and oh yes - paydirt. Orange paydirt. DING DING DING Okay, so the mainlines aren't very new - or indeed very cheap, at £2.30 a go, but they were there. And quite a lot of them, too. Mostly short card, but also some long card and a couple of Power Grab boxed models too (just the Nissan Terrano in silver and the Polaris RAZR left in that format, for £2). Also a couple of Collector Series with an olde-tyme Lesney style box - just a few examples of the TR6 and a Camaro left, for a hefty £9. Some 'National Flag' not-really-premiums were reduced from £4 to £2.75, but they were mostly featuring those legends of French motoring, the Fiat 500 and Jeep Renegade. I flicked through the pegs to see if there were any more VW T3 crew cabs or red Mk1 Golfs, but there weren't. Moving Parts were also priced at £4 a go, and the vast majority of the models offered were that metallic red 1980s Buick convertible and the yellow version of the Nissan X-Terra, with a few of the 1940s delivery van sprinkled through. Convoys sets were mostly the International tanker with Mustang, and the fire ladder with an ambulance (I think), plus the Tesla truck and a Tesla something-or-other lurking right at the back. Not too awful for £7, but that wasn't why I was here... There were a fair few Skybusters on the pegs, but I regret to confess I didn't really look at those. But further on down, we had... Aha. Now we're sucking diesel. Quite a few Mattel playsets and other, large-format toys. Including, to my inexplicable delight, some Action Drivers sets I have on my 'want' list. Some 5-packs too, though steep enough at £11.50. Quite a few familiar looking castings in that one. And even more sets on the shelves opposite, though mainly racing track bits. Mostly they weren't super cheap - some claimed to be reduced, but they were still the same sort of price they're listed for at various online retailers. A few were quite a bit more expensive, but hey. Plenty of Hot Wheels mainlines, but pretty much all were 2023 releases. Towards the top of the price range at £2.30 a throw. Some Hot Wheels premiums and special releases were also kicking about, but none which could dissuade me from my quest. Time was not on my side, regrettably, so I wasn't able to dilly-dally for too long. Decisions had to be made...
  14. Well, I had to look... Bugger, currently sold out. But that's a very handsome model!
  15. Yup, my example's red. Pity about the scratching to the paint on the roof, as it's otherwise quite clean. Never seen a jewel-headlamp version - but, that doesn't mean they're not out there!
  16. Oh, brilliant! I'm absolutely positive this is the same guy. The use of UHU glue, the random words across the top of the screen, the 'spotlights' made from buttons and earrings... I'm gonna have to hoke out all the pics I have of this craftsmanship, aren't I?
  17. Huh, so Selfridges is still packing the same 2023 HW mainlines as Poundland and Tesco - ah well. I notice there's no prices on the shelves or pegs - did you catch how much they're looking for the bog-standard stuff? Just out of interest...
  18. Just following on from yesterday's little packaging-opening party, I thought I'd document how I get models out of their blister packs. I like to open up any models I acquire and handle them, not just keep them pristine and unopened. No judgement on anyone who chooses differently; that's just me. But I also like the packaging, as I feel that's all part of the toy's appeal too. I love the artwork, and for older models it plays a big part in the nostalgia factor. Late 1970s and early 1980s Lesney artwork styles bring back strong memories of staring at toyshop display cases, trying to decide what to spend my pocket money on. I've only a couple of boxed Lesney from this era, but I'd like to find more. Ideally, I wish Matchbox would make their oddly named 'Power Grab' boxes as their standard mainline packaging, as I find them so much easier to open and store. And hey, maybe if there's a continuing drift towards reducing plastic in packaging, it could happen - I note that the 2023 power grab boxes came with tissue paper liners to protect the model inside, while older releases had clear plastic bags doing the job. Meanwhile, the 2024 Moving Parts range (like Bunglebus' newly arrived VW Type 3 fastback upthread) boasts both recycled metal in the models, and 100% biodegradable paper-foam packaging. However, this packaging has drawn some criticism online from collectors who've found that it doesn't seem to protect the models from damage, or paint rubbing while in transit. So we'll see. But anyway. For now, most Mattel mainline releases come in plastic and cardboard blister packs - and removing the model without trashing the packaging is something of a challenge for me, since I like to keep both. I've tried and failed to emulate YouTube videos which use acetone as a solvent to dissolve the blister adhesive - and consumer-grade paint thinners also seems too weak to do the job, though I understand Wilco-branded stuff was good, if sadly unobtainable in Norn Iron. So, what's my favoured technique? I've a little plastic tool apparently designed for use with modelling clay. It's thin and angled at one end, and just slips easily between the card and the plastic blister in the middle, where there's generally a gap or dimple in the plastic. See-sawing it backwards and forwards as I go cuts through each side of the printed paper on the backing neatly, preventing tearing. I generally just go up as far as the top of the blister side, so as to leave a 'hinge' connecting the blister to the back. Then the same for the other side, and out it comes. Of course there's some tearing along the glued surfaces - but when the blister's lowered back down again, it's really not noticeable. So I can mess around with the lil' Honda, display it for a bit, and then ultimately put it away again in the original packaging without it looking too shit. I don't glue them shut again or anything - it'll never be MINT UNOPENED and I don't intend to pass them off as such, but that's not why I collect these; I just do it because it's fun, not for the resale value. We all know where that ends up, anyway. Incidentally, I've noticed that a few Matchbox come with a bit of stiff clear plastic behind the model - the Bronco Sport had this yesterday, as does the Lamborghini LM002. I'm assuming this is to avoid paint loss from rubbing - though I dunno why some models have it, but not others? So yeah - there's some I might open straight away, and others I'll maybe put away for a while, then come back and open them when I feel like it. I'm unlikely to run out of them anytime soon...
  19. So what did I get? These two. I've been looking for a Honda E for a while - I kinda like them, to be truthful. This looks quite nice in red. I nearly bought the Bronco Sport last week in the Abbeycentre Poundland store, but put it back again. Today, I buckled. It's an odd choice of a thing, apparently built on the same platform as the 4th-gen Ford Focus. Apparently, the yanks like 'em. Detailing is good. And then, over lunchtime I called past another charity shop, and to my amazement... One solitary Matchbox '33 Ford Coupe, all by itself on a shelf. I've found more diecast in charity shops today than in the previous decade, and that's no lie. So I did. Apparently, this finish is unique to a few multi packs - it's not a mainline. To cheer myself up, I opened up a few packages of other recent arrivals. Hot Wheels: And Matchbox. Hey, you gotta find some fun where you can in this cold ol' world. Happy Friday, kids - make it a good 'un.
  20. So, Matchbox playset digressions aside - whence Tat Friday? After I'd taken some deep breaths and splashed on some cold water following the disgraceful attempt at rinsing me for some items that were worth 50p at best, it was time to go. But first I sauntered over to check on the 50p tray on Alan's Emporium. Well, that was a waste of thirty seconds. But, Friday without tat just isn't Tat Friday. Clue's in the name. So, trying to make the best of a bad job, I juked off the M2 approach road and on in to Cityside retail park. There are a number of establishments there which can be relied upon to supply Mattel products. And beggars can't be choosers, hey? I chose to interpret the presence of a Seat Inca as a sign of good fortune. B&M didn't really pony up with the goods, mind - just a load of mid-2023 Hot Wheels and some Matchbox of a similar vintage, all of which we've seen ad nauseum. Plus an annoying youth with trendy hair and huge headphones wandering up and down the toy aisle, putting me off my stride. Focus. Home Bargains had even less. No Matchbox anything, and only a couple of Hot Wheels 5-packs and some of those pink Dodge Charger monster trucks left on the shelves. No mainlines at all. Pensively, I went in to a large Action Cancer charity shop nearby, just in case. They'd moved everything round since I was last in there, so it took me a while to find the toys section. But then it's not like these places ever have much in the way of... STOP THE BUS (again) Just as I crouched down and reached out to see what exactly was in these £3 mystery diecast bags - *YOINK* A hand reached from behind me, and deftly plucked one of the bags off the shelf. I just caught sight of a very tidy Superfast Ford A-Series wrecker in red and a Plymouth Gran Fury police car at the bottom of the bag, as they sailed over my right ear... It was him again. Fucking Hipster Haircut Headphones from B&M. Yoinking some very nice 70s Lesney from literally beneath my nose. Like, what? I surreptitiously kept an eye on him just in case he put the bag down again, but of course he didn't. He paid and left. Fuck a duck. I turned back to the other bags, but they were about 60% Hot Wheels fantasy castings, 20% no-name far-eastern tat, and the rest were just modern Matchbox and Hot Wheels which must have spent a brave bit of time in the bath, as the wheel axles were all pretty rusty. So my misplaced sense of outrage decided that if I couldn't have the really good ones, I didn't want any of them. And so I left. I was running late, but my diecast desires remained unmet. I dashed into Asda, but their Hot Wheels were still stuck in mid-2023 too. They had a fair few premiums, mostly of the Fast & Furious variety, but none that took my fancy. A sprint into Tesco revealed nothing more than some fairly ancient Hot Wheels languishing in a corner - wasn't the selection with the orange Mazda Cosmo from 2022? Either way, no dice. So, it was left to Poundland to apparently make my life appear fulfilled.. Huh. A smattering of old-case Hot Wheels, and these 'Turbo Gears' trucks which actually looked not bad for £2, and were giving off Matchbox Convoy vibes. Also in the range were these weird cylindrical playsets: Which kinda looked like tins of tuna. They were all basically the same thing though, just with a different vehicle and only the most minor of cosmetic changes. Nah. I'm not that desperate, kids. But, just as I turned to leave with a heavy heart... Well well well. Right up in the very top corner, well out of reach of all but the gangliest of kiddiewinks - some recent-case Matchbox. Not many though. Perhaps Haircut Headphones was in earlier and nabbed the rest of them too... But, a purchase was made. And all was right with the world.
  21. I had this set too, or a very similar version of it at any rate. It was pretty good, though there was substantially more thin cardboard - and an even thinner Poundland-tablecloth grade plastic playmat - involved than I'd anticipated. I did like the little card signs to pop on the roof of the cars in the 'dealership', with things like 'Low Miles!' and 'Like New!' on them - gave it just that touch of realism. No idea what became of this - probably car-booted in the early '90s. Still boxed, too.
  22. That's the weird thing; these Action Drivers sets are giving me the exact same vibe I remember having about similar sets (chiefly Micro Machines, coincidentally) when I was about ten - being absolutely sick with longing for them, and then upon getting it and unboxing it, feeling slightly disappointed when I realised that there wasn't really much to play with. I've now bought three of the Action Drivers sets, and have had the same feeling each time - but there's like another 18 sets in the range, and damned if I don't want nearly all of them. But I'm nearly 44, not 10. As it happens, I have access to a Supervan City... (MrsDC's brother's, still in the family residence but not for sale) I mean, it is a bit shit but I agree there's just something about these toys... maybe it's appreciating the sheer ingenuity of the toymakers' art behind them? Yeah, I'll tell myself that's what it is...
  23. I absolutely love the brazen chutzpah and chinglish writing on that - from memory I think they're genuine components made by a contractor for Universal Toys-era Matchbox, who were then left high and dry holding lots of stock after the brand was sold to Tyco, and all contracts suddenly cancelled. They were told to destroy all the pieces and not to sell them, but they did anyway... The Motorcity 500 set is the one I really want as it's the only set like that I ever had - I loved the ability to rebuild it in multiple configurations, a bit like clunkier Lego. The problem is that these sets are just so flippin' big, and I really don't have much space for any of this stuff these days. Which is a multiple shame, as those recent Matchbox Action Drivers sets have been winking coquettishly from my Amazon List for months now, and the earlier sets from 2020 are starting to fall into unavailability. I don't know why I'm so recently obsessed with them; God help me, I've even started watching unboxing videos late at night... Maybe one day, whenever I get the attic floored...
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