How Is it I Do For Making To You The Scam, Matey? Is It? Helloooo…?

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Apparently we are under attack yet again by the telephone scammers. I could not be more delighted.

We’ve all had them by now – the long pause and/or hiss, then the ever-so-slightly subcontinental voice telling us that they are from Microsoft and that we have a virus in our computer. And then we must go to the computer and turn it on and follow commands and tell them our credit card numbers…

Up until now this sort of thing has been exasperating – coming as it so often did while I was trying to cook dinner. It is hard enough to get something fried or grilled well if you have it under constant observation and intervention, but this becomes impossible if someone is Gunda Dinning it into our ears that we need to play with the computer.

My Indian and Malaysian and Singaporean readers will forgive me a certain cynicism in this – to be fair I will say that dodgy telephone calls really could come from anywhere in the world – even Brisbane – and the tricksters trying for that credit card number could be of any ethnicity at all. But they aren’t, are they…?

Perhaps this will change in the future now that I am retired from shop work and am writing and photographing here at home. I will be available all during the day and different time zones can dial up and try it on. I look forward to the Balkan and Russian adventurers. I shall practise my best fractured English to answer them. No profanity or bad language, mind. Kindness and concern will be my approach, but if I can lead the scammer to believe that English is only my third or forth language, that approach can be at 90º from the conversation and dead into the teeth of the prevailing wind.

My goal is to frustrate them so badly that they will explode in rage. I did achieve this once with an insurance sales lady from Melbourne by telling her that our family business was train robbery. If I did it to Melbourne, I can do it to Mysore or the Mekong delta…

Come Back Dinky. Come Back Matchbox. Come Back Corgi…

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Some of my readers who collect die cast models will say that Dinky, Corgi, Matchbox, Solido, etc have not disappeared – and they will be right. They can be found on eBay, at dedicated hobby shops, and through on-line sellers. The models they make are marvellous and cover a wide range of vehicles and aircraft. Any adult can afford them.

But.

The offerings that are seen in large chain toy shops – the shops most likely to attract the youngsters and their parents – are not in the same class. I have just visited a model shop here in Perth this morning, followed by a chain toy store, and the experience convinces me that the toy store is doing a distinct disservice to their customers.

If you wish to by plush toys or dollies or board games then you are far better at the chain store – but if you try to find realistic and affordable cast models then they are the pits. There is a great deal of franchise/merchandising tied into the latest animated film or comic strip, but the sort of vehicles that we used to get to show us what reality on the roads was like are missing. You can applaud the fact that they encourage play, but the play becomes pretty media-centred when all the toys are studio caricatures of reality.

In contrast, as a child we had access to Dinky, Corgi, and Matchbox cars and trucks at a price we could save up for. A Dinky race car was 50¢ to $1.00. The models were cruder than today’s Chinese die casts but they were a reflection of real vehicles in real colours on the road. We could collect them or dirt road them as we wished, but at least they were real.

I should hesitate to do the same with the collector’s items that I collect, and at the prices the other collectors want to re-sell things at, I would also not give classic Dinky’s from the 1950’s to the kids. I wish they could have the modern cars in the old style.

Note: A big hand for the Japanese Tomy company who does do precisely what I have asked for in diecast models of modern vehicles. They also make die cast trains that kids can actually play with. Big in Japan, and Singapore at the big chain stores. If only they could penetrate those same brand chain stores here…

The Guild In Singapore

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I have often been asked whether the Backstabbers Guild of Australia confines its attentions solely within our own country. The answer is yes, but a qualified yes. That means no, but not a complete no. Can you tell we write policy statements for Canberra…?

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Here is an example of Guild activity in our sister organisation, the BGS – Backstabbers Guild of Singapore. The venue is the Singapore City Gallery – a delightful building featuring planning offices and scale model representations of Singapore- open for free to the public, and a great entertainment for fans of miniatures and small worlds. Also a good way to understand the layout of the city/nation. Thoroughly recommended.

But be careful that when you go there, you are not tempted to sit down on the convenient glass-topped bench near the scale model on the ground floor. Because it is not a bench – it is a perfectly clear water fountain with imperceptible water flow over the edge. Like a small infinity pool, but placed to catch the unwary traveller. Sit on this one and you disappear with a shriek and have to be hauled out by the grinning locals.

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Farewell, dignity. Hello, wet trousers.

Congratulations to our Singaporean Brethren – this is a perfect example of the aqueous betrayal. The Bishop of Salzburg would have been proud…

Car Models In The Lion City

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I have just returned from a 10-day holiday in Singapore – the island/city/nation north of Australia. During the stay I visited botanic gardens, zoos, bird parks, casinos, shops, and museums. I rode the MRT – the public transport system – above and below ground. I ate on the beach, on the top of a skyscraper, down the hawker centre, and at roadside stalls.

And I shopped.

This is easy to do as Singapore has more than one shop…many more than one shop…and they have as wide a selection of the world’s goods as anyone could want. So wide, if truth be told, as to outstretch my imagination. Here are three Chinese statues expressing my amazement at the variety of goods…

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Once I had overcome my initial shock at the size of the stores and the level of the stock, I repaired to my notebook and looked out all the model car shops in the city. I had made a careful list of them from the internet – the locations in shopping malls and the floor and location number were all listed. Then I hopped on the MRT for Orchard Road ( The big-time shopping hub ) and hit the shops.

Or…hit the place where the shops had been…while I did find one shop with some die cast cars on the road, three vendors were missing – replaced with bridal shops or empty spaces. It started to look as though there were to be no die cast models in the city. The hobby had died. How sad.

But I took one final chance at 14 Scotts Road – the Far East Plaza just a little further on from the Hyatt Hotel. The first shops in the plaza were not encouraging – tailors and tourist shops touting for business. I kept on until the directory panel came into sight. It finally got me to Auto Models Pty Ltd. A real die cast store with a real stock of models.

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I browsed, as we all do, and one of the ladies serving in the shop mentioned that there were certain levels of discount on the stock dependent upon how many you bought. She was discrete but helpful.

There were all scales, types, and brands of model available – vehicles and aviation in particular. I toyed with a Minichamps three-wheeled German delivery truck but eventually settled for a 1:10 scale Indian motorcycle that was older stock. Older stock is exactly what I want for my collection. The deal was done with a discount, carded carefully, and I was able to show off some of my Hot Rod Honeys images on my iPad. I asked for permission to blog a report and it was granted.

What a pleasant experience! It is a shop I would certainly recommend  a collector to visit if they are in Singapore. I have a new model and will watch their website for anything that crops up in the future. Their site is:

http://www.nikkodiecast.com.sg

If you are in their city the telephone number is 6732 7717. The shop is easy to find, and there is even a plastic model shop further around on another section of the plaza to make it worth a double visit.

A successful day.