I don't talk about toy cars a whole lot on this blog, being a bit more into action figures and whatnot, but that doesn't mean that hours upon hours of my childhood wasn't spent down on the carpet or the kitchen floor making "vroooooom!" noises while speedily hurtling my Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars in an endless series of edge-of-your-seat chases, hair-raising near-miss accidents and the occasional Dukes of Hazzard style slow motion jump over a a washed away bridge.
In fact, collecting cars was such a staple of my childhood that everyone I knew had a vinyl-smelling carrying case or two, packed to the gills with their favorite cars taking up every single slot in the blue grated carrying trays.
Often, we would all gather in my next door neighbor's garage (it had an empty upstairs that was probably at one time meant to be an apartment, but turned into our defacto secret headquarters/home base) and crack open the cases for a rousing round of manic toy car trading, always being careful to set aside the ultimate favorites which were always "not for sale".
Recently, I've picked up a few childhood favorites (most of them at a recent vintage toy show) and can already feel, as I sit here and write this, the creeping bug of the vintage toy car collector just about to bite. I'll soon need to get a carrying case. I hope it still smells the same.
First up was a personal favorite of mine as a kid, considering the fact that it combined toy cars and superheroes in one toy. The Hulk Van was a member of a special class of toy cars, at least as far as I was concerned, that never, ever, ever got traded. Along with the Thor Van, Spider-Man car and Captain America muscle car, the Hulk Van help to develop a world in my mind where logic when right out the window in favor of fantasy. I mean, did I seriously believe that the Incredible Hulk, an imbecile on his best days, could actually drive a van around, much less one that had his image painted on the sides? Yes. Yes, I did.
And speaking of vans, I present to you... The Vette Van! What the hell a "vette van" is, I'll never know, but when I was a kid, this was the apex of cool wheels. In fact, once, while we were all hanging out with all of our cars, my neighbor, Randy Kendall, all asked us if we could pick any one of our toy cars to have as a real car, which one would it be, and I picked the one pictured above. Why? It's a van with friggin' t-tops!
Next up we have a car that was almost a prerequisite in order to play cars with us back in the day. If you didn't have a Red Baron, you just weren't serious enough about toy cars. I snapped up the one above recently on the cheap, however it is slightly different than my original, as I remember it with a flecked coat of paint and redline wheels. But I could be wrong. Regardless, I got one now. So now I can go play with the other kids.
Above we see a couple of little known toy cars known as Burnin' Key Cars! These weren't really all that popular when I was a kid, but I had two of them; the police car and the baby blue Firebird seen above, and I loved them to death. I've already talked about the police car in a past video blog, mentioning that it was a stand-in as Roscoe's Hazzard County Sheriff's car during my Duke's adventures.
But I was stunned to find the baby blue Firebird that I once had as well! This was also from the last vintage toy show I went to, and I found this (slightly beat up) beauty in a tub full of old cars. More surprisingly, I also found the correct key that went with it! The keys worked by plugging them into the back of the car, where they "locked". Then you would squeeze the key, releasing the lock and the now coiled spring inside would send the car zooming across the table, or through the air, or into a kids eye, which I found out in 4th grade.
And finally, they may not have been awesome, but you'd be hard pressed to find any American male that grew up in the 70s and 80s that didn't have at least 10 of these crappy little Tootsie Toy cars. Molded into hollow car-shaped shells out of the cheapest pot-metal possible, these toys were often found being sold by the handful on toy racks of such fine establishments as Woolworth and other five-and-dimes. Often appearing in Christmas stockings or Easter baskets, they were destined to be the least played with toy cars in one's collection, at least until one discovered firecrackers. Still, nostalgia being a wicked mistress, it's toys like these that make 30 something dudes like myself dig through dusty boxes art toy shows yelling out, "Oh man! I had that one!" and forking over the buck or two on the spot.
Like I said, I'm not suffering from full-blown toy-car-collectoritis, but I feel it may be coming on. But if it does ever hit me full force, I'll try my best to keep it in control and only hunt down those vintage toy cars that I remember having myself, which is a lot, but at least it's manageable. Beside, that's the point of being a toy car lover... you're in it for the chase!