Wednesday, January 30, 2013

TRAIN TIME: USPS Trains & Locomotives Post Card Series 1999 - Card 5

The next in the series of 'Trains & Locomotives ' post cards issued by the USPS in 1999 is the 'Brother Johnathan' locomotive of 1832. Each of these cards is a mini history lesson and this card is no exception. By adding a front truck to the locomotive to help guide the heavy boiler around curves, the Brother Johnathan was the first distinctly American locomotive.
At the time (1832), basically only Europe and America were pushing forward with railroad construction but there was some distinct differences in their approaches to railroad construction. Have you ever noticed when looking at photos of European engines why they often don't have a separate set of small wheels at the front of their road engines? Even early on in railroad development, the Europeans were building with stout rails and long sweeping curves along well planned and built trackbed allowing engines and rolling stock to enter the curves gradually, thus negating the need for a set of wheels in the front to guide the engine.  Americans got cheap. Plain and simple. Our entrepreneur's, put profit ahead of safety and good sense and did everything they could to save a buck (so that ultimately more $$$ could go into their pockets). Trains running on crappy track on poor roadbed around tight curves necessitated the need to be able to ease those heavy boilers into a curve. Thus the leading truck as seen first on Brother Johnathan. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Marx #3771 Diner - Green

Today is Diner Dienstag (DEANS-tahg; German for 'Tuesday') and Toys & Stuff is featuring a classic plastic Marx Diner from the 1950s. In the early 1950s Marx started producing plastic buildings to go with their expanding line of 3-rail O-gauge trains. They had been producing tin-litho trains since the 1920s and even had several tin-litho train related buildings. What they lacked was a cohesive line of structures to complement the trains. After the war, plastic was coming into its own as a medium for toy manufacture and Marx jumped on the bandwagon by producing a myriad of toys in this new material. They started to offer engines and rolling stock in plastic and beginning around 1952, started selling easy to assemble plastic building kits as part of their 'Marxville' line. The buildings - and the trains - were actually closer in size to 'S' gauge (about 1/64 scale) and were totally compatible to Bachman's series of 'Plasticville' structures. But these are just toys and it's no use getting wrapped around the axle regarding scale and gauge. Let's just say they'll look a lot better alongside an American Flyer, Lionel, or Marx train set-up than they will on a HO or N scale model railroad and we'll leave it at that.
The #3771 Diner (also numbered #477) came out in 1954 - at least, that's the earliest reference I have of it in any catalog. The Marx logo is inside the roof and the detachable sign on the roof says: “MARXVILLE DINER”.  It measures 9 ½” (24.1cm) L x 3 7/8” (9.8cm) W x 3” (7.6cm) H and comes in several color variations:
Yellow walls, green roof and trim
Green walls, yellow roof and trim
Red walls, light gray roof and trim
Light gray walls, red roof and trim
Silver-gray walls, red roof and trim
The accessories included with the diner are designated as the Police and Fire Station Accessories, PL 543 mold group and consisted of ten hard plastic items in either red or yellow hard plastic. Although the artwork on the box rear only shows nine accessories, it is safe to assume all ten were included.  (This has been confirmed through multiple eBay sales by original owners). The set consists of:
1.   Lamp post (w/'ASH' street sign)
2.   Street sign (w/'ELM' & 'OAK' street signs)
3.   Parking meter
4.   Police call box
5.   Mail box
6.   ‘FIRE ZONE’ sign
7.   ‘STOP’ sign
8.   Trash can
9.   Bench
10. Fire hydrant
The figures included were all 35mm, cream, soft plastic:
1.   Man wearing overalls
2.   Milkman
3.   Woman w/attached child
4.   Boy roller skating
5.   Girl jumping rope
Although the diner, figures, and accessories are still relatively easy to get, acquiring the whole set with original box is a toughie. I don't like placing value on stuff like this because of fluctuations in collector interest. If you just like diners and don't care about all the odds-&-ends that go with it then perhaps ca$10-$20 for the diner alone would be a good price. HOWEVER, be sure it's complete as often times the fan on the rear wall is missing. Enjoy! Bettina und Fritz Berg :)

                                                                   Wunderbar :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

West Bros. E&A 812 Confectionary Candy Container

This is the last West Bros. candy container I'll be posting for now as there are no more in my collection however, there are a couple points of interest to bring up here. There are a couple of modelers out there who have used photos as a source for making paper model templates or skins. I've been wanting to feature their work for some time but there has just been soooo much to keep me busy that it just hasn't happened. Sorry guys!! I can get a small start though by featuring the work of at least one or two of them. First, let's take a look at the toy photos and we'll continue from there. Enjoy!

Let's now take a look at one of my favorite websites: Little Glitter Houses by Howard Lamey with Paul Race. Howard's specialty has been constructing small cardboard houses in the tradition of those made by the Japanese for export to the U.S. as Christmas putz displays. But he also has a several series of paper buildings in 'How-To' format complete with plans AND ready made printouts in multiple scales to give the crafter a head-start. One of these series is directly based on the West Bros. candy containers. There is yet another series which uses the same outlines as the West Bros. buildings but with different graphics. Plenty of projects to choose from.  I have used Howard's graphics for backdrops on my own train layout by simply printing the fronts out on glossy, self-adhesive photo paper and applying them to the backdrop material.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2013 Mattel 1-64 #X1628-09A0A Hot Wheels 'Batman Live' Batmobile

'Batman Live' is the latest incarnation of the Batman saga. It is a live action play currently touring the country (AND the world) and is a melding of typical Super Hero fare with Cirque du Soleil type acrobatics. One of the biggest stars of the show isn't a human at all but the latest in Batmobile designs. This sleek little affair has four aerodynamic wheel nacelles and a bullet-like fuselage with rear spoiler. The stage prop shows a pronounced rocket launching array at the front which is only hinted at in this diminutive toy. The toy is done in a nice matte finish and is another terrific offering in the Hot Wheels Batman range. Click 'Batman Live' for more info and a downloadable .PDF brochure/comic. Enjoy!

OOPS! I forgot to take photos of the packaging prior to removing the toy - sorry!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

1996 Mattel Hot Wheels Space Series #4 Treadator

Today is the last of a four part series covering the Mattel Space Series from 1996 and we're looking at the Hot Wheels Space Series #4 Collector #391 Item# 15231 Treadator! Treadator. Ever since Arnie's Terminator came out in 1984 all one has to do to make a name sound menacing or strong is add '-ator' to the end of a word and voila' - new word. Ahhhh, pop culture, how stupid, crazy, and fun! Remember the scene in The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Claus when Santa pins the tag 'Molinator' on the Tooth Fairy? LOL what a hoot! Okay, from now on, I'm The Bloginator! Whaddaya think? :-)

(hahahahahaha OMG I can't believe I did this - how stupid - but fun)
Ahem, I digress, back to the toy....
For my money this is the coolest vehicle of the four with the Radar Ranger being my second favorite. Apparently from what I can see, the Treadator design was popular as it appears in other Hot Wheels series as well only with different color schemes. The design is basically a take on the Moon crawler theme but with amped up treads and I haven't figured out yet if this would be an armed vehicle or just an exploratory one. This being a Hot Wheels offering the treads are non-operable and there for looks - after all these toys are meant to zoom around at high speeds. That rear spoiler, while looking really cool and all, seems pretty non-essential as crawlers wouldn't reach the kind of speeds that would require it. However, let's play 'what if'. 'What if' this thing actually were deployed on an alien moon or planet. What kind of atmosphere would require it? I'm thinking a somewhat tumultuous, windy alienscape. Okay, 'nuff said, on to the pics! Enjoy!