The Little World – Just Leave the Milk And Cookies On The Table

When I am finished playing I will eat them. I may be some time – I’m currently in 1959. And if I can find the sort of things I need on the internet, I may not leave for years.

You see, 1959 was the year that I got the Schuco wind-up Ferrari racing car. It cost $ 10 at Uncle John’s Hobby Shop on 7th Avenue in Calgary, Alberta and the $ 10 represented the entirety of my birthday money. I cannot say why the pressed-tin car appealed to me – but I knew that it was a must-have.

Normally that $ 10 would have meant at least three plastic models and some paint from Don’s Hobbies – about a block away from Uncle John’s. It was my central model shop – every other place was judged in relationship to Dons. I’m delighted to be able to report that it still exists – some 60 years later. Changed, moved, but still Don’s.

Well, I took the Schuco home, ran it around every flat place I could find, and carefully kept it safe and sound for decades after that. I knew that there were other Schuco wind-up models as I encountered them occasionally in hotel gift shops, but I never had any money to buy any more.

The Ferrari came down to Australia with me, and for some reason I cannot remember, it was eventually traded for some die-cast ship models. I put it out of my mind…until I went to Nürnberg in Germany in 1995 and visited the largest hobby shop in that toy city. There was a whole cabinet of Schuco tin toys for sale – modern reproductions by the company of their classic models. I saw the red Ferrari, and any thought of other purchases went out the window – At a vastly inflated EEC modern-day price I was the owner of my birthday car again. It has pride of place in the model cabinet…and as you can see, has been the favoured prop of a favoured live model – Jane Hebiton.

And yes, the Ferrari still goes like a rocket when you wind it and set it out to run on a flat tiled floor.

Note that I am still in 1959 for another reason; more of that in the next column.


Civilisation, Captain, But Not As We Know It.


The recent foray to the Plastic Model Exhibition was enough fun to draw money out of my pocket…I bought a vial of tiny nuts and bolts and two diamond files…and it provided a pretty good view into the minds of some of the modellers. The ones that really intrigued me were the ones who had gone past the kits and the hobby shop and who had looked at real life.


The images illustrate this. The second part of the exhibition was given over to models in competition with each other – displayed for prizes. I cannot pretend that I understood the grading system or the categories they were placed in, but I was attracted to the civilian entries more than the military ones. These two vehicles in particular.


There weren’t the sheer numbers that you see at the Super Model Car Sunday  ( Though the SMCS chaps had brought their beach scene along as well to entertain the crowds in the commercial section ) but these chaps have really observed what cars on the street look like. The fact that they are rather dirty streets full of old cars is part of the charm. That’s exactly the sorts of streets we live in.


Unfortunately I wasn’t able to speak to the modellers who had completed these cars so I wasn’t able to find out how the detailed graffiti was put on the VW van. It looks too complex to be decals but too fine to be airbrush…unless the person doing it is absolute master of the instrument.


In the case of the plumbing van, the airbrushing is a little more obvious, but I like the motley effect of the replacement doors. I also applaud the modeller for making a choice to do a working vehicle – few of the models seen on the plastic shelf and darn few of the die-casts are actual working vehicles. I know I am always looking for 1:18 trucks and they are so far pretty scarce. I’ve located a 4WD that is useful and there’s a Chinese commercial van on the eBay but that is about it. I want a tray-top!

A Matter Of Standards



I normally do not criticise my fellow modellers or photographers. I feel everyone should have an opportunity to express themselves in the best way that they can, and I am as pleased by real effort on inexpensive things as upon more costly devices. I also appreciate the levels of skill that one develops over the years – maturity in craftsmanship is evident.

But I must say that I can still be distressed to see neglect. Gross neglect.


The cars that you see in these photographs were not inexpensive things – the Bugatti and the Mercedes were amongst the cream of European vehicles in the 1920’s and 1930’s. In times of poverty and oppression they were the prized transportation modes of the oppressors, and deserve to be recognised as such. What a sad and worrisome thing to see them neglected!


The owner of these vehicles should be ashamed of the way that he has ignored them. There is rust and decay wherever you look – in one case it seems to have eaten entirely through the fenders of the Mercedes. The poor thing is fit for a scrap heap.

_DSC0015And look at the window of the Bugatti. I mean, how much effort would it take to put a new pane of glass in there. The upholstery looks dreadful, and there is no excuse for it. Half an hour with a Hoover would’ve prevented this.


Of course, once you have let leather upholstery go to this extent you might as well throw it out and get new – except the owner of these cars obviously does not realise that these are classics and you can’t just go down to Supacheap Autos and get spares. A little bit of foresight could have saved much of the cars.


And I am horrified to think of those tyres going out on the road. I don’t suppose that the owner cares about the road regulations if he expects to get on the highway with those – I certainly hope the police red sticker him at least. Gaol time would be appropriate…


Still, nothing is as bad as it might be made out. He seems to have made a start on cleaning up and preserving an engine. Whether this more responsible attitude will extend to making the chassis safe and starting on the bodywork remains to be seen. I am not too sanguine about it. Some people just have no standards.


From Those Wonderful People Who Brought You…


The Advertising Minds are a frightening thing for most of us to contemplate. At various times they have sold us chocolate Cream Of Wheat, Pokemon, Hitler, and the 1949 Crosley Hotshot car. Had they been able to arrange conference times for the various agencies involved, they probably would have been able to work them all into one campaign…



Occasionally they went beyond this, as this model entry into the 2016 Super Model Car Sunday proves. It documents, and illustrates, the use of a Ford Mustang convertible in an advertising promotion on an observation deck of the Empire State Building in New York City.


Hint: there is no drive -in access ramp to the observation deck of the Empire State. You cut the car into pieces, put them into the freight elevator, press the button, and listen to the Muzak. At the top you bolt it together for the advertising shot. Then you heave the carcass over the edge of the observation deck, wait until the crashing and screaming dies down, and leave town.


There is another story to it, but this is my column and you have to read what I write.


My compliments to the modelling team who decided to depict this in a tin shed. I am particularly taken with the depiction of the green marble of the lobby. I have no idea whether this is authentic, but I approve of the look of it


And I cannot praise the decision to include the giant gorilla enough. If they would like to have him circled with biplanes I can recommend the ” Classic Planes ” S.P.A.D. as inexpensive and colourful – almost the right scale as well.



Saturday Night At the Nightline


Britons and Europeans…and in a few days those will be two separate classifications…have been sadly deprived all their  lives. Oh, I don’t mean the missing out on milk and orange juice and bombing each other flat every twenty years – that is a legitimate part of their culture and heritage and they enjoy a bit of decimation now and then. Does ’em good. No, I mean they have never had drive-in movies.

Oh, they can go on about the Odeon and the Palais and the Cine d’ Whatever, but girls, unless you have sat on the tailgate of a Holden panel van in the hot darkness swatting mosquitos and your boyfriend you have not lived. I know – was one of the boyfriends and I remember the swatting.

Canada, the US, Australia, and I presume South Africa and New Zealand were all sensible and adjourned the motion picture theatre out into the night at an early stage. In canvas seats that cut the circulation off at your knees or stuffed five abreast in the back of an Oldsmobile, we all saw Ben Hur, or High Noon, or The Road Runner and loved it. The snacks from the snack bar were greasy, sugary, salty, and watered-down all at once and we loved them too. Half of our heart disease and diabetes started at the Snack Bar.

Half of our children started in the back row. I hasten to add this is something I heard from someone who heard it from someone else. I never owned a panel van or ute in those days. But Renault 10 seats were surprisingly comfortable…


Here’s two takes on toy drive-ins – the small N scale one at the Model Railway Exhibition used a cell phone screen to stream the actual movies of the day and there was sound as well – bigger sound than the cell phone could make. I suspect a Bluetooth speaker. Please note the delinquent sneaking in over the fence. And the sin bins parked with their tails to the screen at the back.I believe the maker of this diorama has lived a chequered youth…


The 1:18th scale drives is a project in progress. It was an experiment early in the Hot Rod Honeys series and shows the crude effects of plastic mannequins. In time it will be redone in black and white with real people and with a forced perspective – I have more cars in smaller scales to go down the front. The screen shot is from an actual movie made by the Goldfische Studios; ” Tarzan And the Bird Of Paradise “.


And here’s a toast – in watery orangeade – to the motorised cinemas of the past. We still have one in Perth and it is still fun to go and swat.


Denmark – More Than Just Scandanavia


It is a funny thing about new worlds – they so frequently contain bits of the old ones – and no more so than in place names on new maps. We all know of Windsor in Ontario, Moscow in Idaho, and Paris in Kentucky. That’s the dry Paris, I mean…But did you know there is a Denmark in Western Australia as well as the one stuck between Germany and Sweden?


It’s down on the south coast of the state and is home to timber working, farms, and hippies. The last named is a phenomenon of the 70’s and eighties when rival gangs of new age types were fighting it out in a fierce Karma battle for control of the port city’s mandala and dream catcher market. After the St. Vishnu ‘s Day Massacre – oh the humanity – groups moved on to Denmark to open retreats, coffee houses, and pottery workshops. By now the place is knee-deep in badly-thrown pots.


Before this there was timber and rural produce and that is what this small station dealt in. The era depicted is the late 50’s though there would have been steam working into the 1960’s – I remember it at East Perth Loco Depot here in the city as late as 1968. I think the builders of this layout have been pretty careful to give an accurate picture of the small nature of Denmark, though there is enough space there for a loco turntable. Turning wyes would have used up too much valuable agricultural space.



The river depicted is the Denmark River and the wooden pilings are not an anomaly here in Western Australia – they still prop up a number of road and rail bridges, even in the metro area. Yes, the river colour and texture is correct.


It’s hard to fault the colours of the rest of the structures and rolling stock, though you’ll notice that this modelling group has elected to depict the goods in new and clean condition. The question of new, weathered, or downright grubby is one that can engage modellers endlessly – each camp able to make out a good case for their particular practice. I think that as long as they are able to maintain the same standard throughout a presentation, it is all one. The question of real-world maintenance of a model set against the ravages of airborne dust and grease is another thing – and on that will ultimately determine whether a model can be bolstered and improved over the years. I tip my hat to those who have solved it.


Please note I also dips me lid to the presenters who have elected to keep the structures, models and scenery all in character for this layout. I see other exhibition worlds that are real until the wrong locomotive and train go trundling by… or until you notice the Letraset signage and the inappropriate vehicles on the road. I realise that it can be hard as hell to get the right toy cars and trucks for some layouts…because the manufacturers of the 1:87, 1:72, 1:48, and 1:43 die cast models are also moulding for the collector and toy market. They will make fanciful liveries and colours to get their buyers and leave the model rail buyer with something that is not right.


Here I think the wise model rail builder can conserve their resources and buy or build only the best for their layout. Unless they are modelling the car park at Perth Airport on the day a Russian transport plane comes in, they need only have a few of the best, and have them in the places that real vehicles go. In the case of any particular layout the colours of the road vehicles are the one thing that people home in on first. That, and the signs around the general stores. People live their lives on the road and at the stores, and they have an uncanny feel for real or fake.

Final question: do the trees at Denmark look like that? Yes they do.


Car Models In The Lion City

Singapore 2014 378

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…

Singapore 2014 654

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.

Singapore 2014 413

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:

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.