Featuring 1:64 scale diecast vehicles of all makes and models.

Monday, March 30, 2009


There are a lot of places to get away to....
....and from.

I packed a light bag, grabbed the credit card and before 9 a.m., Simone and I were headed north on 90 out of Santa Barbara in the Toyota Sequoia.

Having lived within hours of the Sequoia National Park for most of my life, I had the thought to make that the first stop on our little getaway; it being the namesake of my truck and all. For the first couple hours, we just drove without talking to each other; it was a beautiful day and the sun shone warmly. Once inside the confines of the park, I left the road to find my own way around.

Those big trees are something to see!

We had stopped at a little store on the way and picked up some items for a picnic - a French loaf, cheese and wine. Once we found a suitable spot, we stopped and unpacked the buffet. Like the wine, Simone's smile has a certain intoxicating effect on me as well.

Termites from all over the world must love this place. They probably send back postcards to the termites at home telling of all the great wood to gnaw on. I prefer cheese myself.

Leaving the park, we came to a wooden suspension bridge. It was a long way up, but quite scenic.

We found some hills so I reasoned this was a good chance to try out the traction on the Toyota. Four Wheel Drive is a good thing!

The hills grew steeper, but it didn't faze our truck. It kept right on climbing to the top of the world.

Once we got to the top, what a view it commanded! We could almost see the Pacific Ocean. But not quite. Simone remarked with a slight yawn that she was getting tired. I nodded.

The natural rock formations were huge, but fairly smooth going. The wine tipped over and spilled in the back floorboard. We broke the rest of the bread up into crumbs and threw them to a flock of white and yellow birds we saw by the side of the road.

By late afternoon, we were both tired and ready to return. One last view of the cavern and we started back. I knew there would be hell to pay when I got back to my wife. Sigh.

Summer Toyota Celica LB Turbo GR.5 Restoration

Summer Metal Products Manufacturing, Ltd., began making 1:64 scale toy diecast vehicles in the mid-1970's and marketed them under the name Summer (SM). Their first cars released used the numbers S671 through S698, starting approximately 1976-1978. Later in the same decade, they came out with their second group of vehicles using the numbers S8001 through S8108. It is from this second group and time period that the title car of this post first joined my collection. By 1980, my collection consisted of only two Summer vehicles, both acquired around the same time. The first one was a silver 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III, with the base number S692. It is pictured below:

Knowing that the numbering system they used for their first run of cars ended at S698, I noticed that my Rolls-Royce was among their final castings in this group. In fact, it was the next to last release in that first collection. The other car I purchased was the Toyota Celica LB Turbo GR.5, with the base number S8001. Seeing as how it was the first casting in the second list of numbers they used, it made sense to me that I got them both around the same time and that they had both been released close together. The Roll-Royce still looks like the picture above, but the Toyota Celica suffered more abuse. I suppose it was bias on my part that saw me treating the Rolls-Royce with more care than a Toyota. Through the early years I had it, the paint faded and chipped off in several places and the adhesive paper decals it had come with became very worn. Perhaps the paint on this first version wasn't as sturdy or something. Anyway, I decided to customize my Toyota and repaint it a bright red. Here is what it looked like for that first "restoration" attempt:

When it was originally released, it was blue and had a racing theme with decals that consisted of a number "1" and Esso sponsorship. Over time, my original car became so worn it looked a lot like this other one now in my collection:

I have also seen this same Toyota Celica with different decals, real tampos this time, and sporting the number "12" and Marlboro sponsorship. This model looks like this:

The reason I know that mine was the earlier release is by examining the base of both of these models closely. The first one, the Esso "1," has a base that shows the Summer logo, the model number, the name of the car and where it was made - "Made in Hong Kong. " The second release, the Marlboro "12," has had the name of the car and the country of manufacture routed out of the original mold. To me, that signifies that it is a later release rather than earlier. I'm told by Steve Masson that the reason the name was removed from the bottom of the car is probable licensing issues with Toyota. That makes sense, now that I think about it. Compare both bases and see what I mean:

Esso "1" base

Marlboro "12" base

Esso "1" base detail

Marlboro "12" base detail

Tampo detail on the hood of the Marlboro "12" version

Decal detail on the hood of the Esso "1" version

Back wing detail of the Esso "1"
You can see that the decals are obviously paper on the earlier version. Even though the name "Esso" was all but obliterated on the back of the car, I was able to recognize that it was the Esso logo. Compare below to see what I mean:

I have seen four different styles of wheels used on this model and they include a "5 Star" wheel, a "6 Point" wheel and a "4 Spoke" wheel. I have also seen a version with an un-chromed, white plastic "5 Star" wheel used.

The wheels on my car were all used up, but you can still see that they were "6 Point" wheels:

Seeing it's deteriorated condition, even after I had repainted it years ago, made me want to "bring it back to life," so to speak and make it look like it did when I first got it. It deserved that much. Most Summer models have a simple chrome-plated plastic interior, which in the case of my Toyota, held the front and rear wheels in place. Here is what the base and interior looks like, with the addition of the new wheels it so needed:

I decided to paint it close to the original color, a dark blue, but I wanted it have a little extra sheen. I used an automotive paint which first required a silver basecoat. Here is the basecoat with some early wheels holding it up for a picture:

I have since painted it with a couple coats of the upper color and reassembled it. I'd like to recreate the exact look of the original adhesive decals and add them on in the proper places, but I don't know - I think it looks kind of nice with no designs on it anywhere. What do you think?

So, there is the complete story of my Summer Toyota Celica LB Turbo GR.5 - from it's humble beginnings to it's colorful present restored appearance. Tomica has made a version of this casting, so it must be popular with other people besides me. Even though Summer vehicles are considered to be some of the cheapest made, I think there's a certain attraction to some of their models. Does anybody else have Summer models in their collection that they treasure? I'm almost certain that I've seen this same casting of a Toyota Celica race car in a group of non-descript vehicles packaged in a big set. It's tempting to buy this set just to have a new version of my old favorite to go along with it's older sibling!
I've also been informed by Steve that this little Toyota was based upon a real-life race car driven by Harald Ertl, in 1977, and Rolf Stommeln in 1978. While my car seems loosely based on the paint scheme that was used in 1977, the Tomica version of this same car is almost identical to the 1978 paint scheme. The actual car showed speed and promise, but in the end turned out to be disappointing in it's racing results. Too bad! But I like my little version anyway!
As you can see, I have found a new version of this venerable casting. The only thing about it is that it is a cheaper version - the seats (there are two of them now instead of only one) are molded into the base and there's no dash or steering wheel; and the body looks similar but it is slightly different. It's much thinner metal, too. There are also side windows molded in, not just the windshield piece. I suppose it's mainly interesting in that they just won't let this casting die. It's painted with no racing decals on it and made to resemble a regular car:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fired Up

From a young age, I always had fire rescue vehicles of some kind or another. Whether it was the long tiller trucks with ladders that raised up and down or complete playsets with warning signs, barricades, figures and vehicles. When a fire broke out, I could handle it! Perhaps that is why to this day diecast fire trucks and vehicles hold a special place in my collection. Here are some of the fire department vehicles made by Maisto, in their Fresh Metal collection, that are a proud part of my diecast collection:

Mercedes Benz Tiller Truck

Cab detail of the Mercedes Tiller Truck


Ladder Truck

Cherry Picker

Equipment Truck

Fire Department Search Truck

Maisto also has a Denver Pumper, a Snorkel truck and a Utility Truck painted in fire engine red to go along with their other fire vehicles. I'm still looking to add those to my collection. I've also heard that a 1955 Buick Century is coming out shortly, painted in red and white and sporting "Fire Chief" graphics. I can't wait for that one!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Lindberg Line - Mini-Lindys

For Christmas of 1968, I got not one, but two brands of tiny 1:64 toy vehicles. Hot Wheels were new and so I found 2 of those underneath the tree, a Deora and a Custom Eldorado with that oh, so satiny smooth black top. But another brand also debuted that year. The Lindberg Line, which had been making model kits of cars, trucks, airplanes, and the like for several years, introduced a new line to compete with Matchbox and especially Mattel's new cars. They called these realistic little vehicles Mini-Lindys. Mini-Lindys came in a tiny, black box and were basically plastic model kits, roughly the size of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars which snapped together and were fastened with two screws in the base. They had rubber tires and metal axles and weights that could be added to give them a little more "heft." It appears that they released 32 different models overall, (with eight additional models appearing after the Mini-Lindy name was no longer being used), of which the black moving van pictured above was one. It was called a "Ryder Truck," and was based upon a Ford truck cab and running gear. I painted mine black, but it came molded in bright yellow plastic, to match the Ryder corporate colors.
Lindberg offered the Mini-Lindy line from 1968 to 1970, at which time they split the vehicles up into specialty groups and gave these new sub-series names like Hi-Rollers, Truckin' Big/Over The Road, Van Go, Big Wheels, Speedy Wheels, Hot Shots and Super Sports. They were even released in a few sets. This then is that initial group of 32 vehicles, listed in numerical order, plus the first 8 releases in the Super Sports series:

Series number and name:
1. Porsche Carrera.

2. Ford Pickup.

3. Corvette Stingray.

4. XKE Jaguar.

5. Ford Mustang.

6. Jeepster.

7. Volkswagen Camper.

8. Chevy-Van.

9. Camaro SS.

10. Fire Engine.
11. Dump Truck.

12. Greyhound Bus.
13. Mail Truck.

14. Cement Mixer.

15. MG-TD Sports Car.

16. Tow Truck.

17. 1968 Corvette.

18. Austin-Healey 3000.
19. Volkswagen.

20. Mercedes SSK.

21. 1930 Packard.

22. Ford Camper.

23. School Bus.

24. Tractor-Trailer.

25. Pontiac Firebird.
26. Porsche Targa.
27. Dune Buggy.
28. Jaugar D-Type.
29. Ford Bobtail "T".
30. Ford GT.
31. Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Station Wagon.
32. Ryder Truck.

So, there you have it, the complete lineup of 32 different cars and trucks. Some new models were released in 1970, with bright red boxes instead of black and re-using some of the same numbers, but these appear to have been the end of the "Mini-Lindy" line:

25. Ford GT.

26. Porsche Targa.

27. Ford Maverick.

28. AMC AMX.

29. Ford Cobra.

30. Dodge Charger.

31. Dune Buggy.

32. Ford F-Series Oil Truck.

After the "Mini-Lindy" name was dropped, further models appeared using the "Super Sport," "Speedy Wheels" and "Hot Shot" series names. These are some of the vehicles known to have been released in these series:

1. Maverick Grabber. (Hot Shot series)
2. Lincoln Continental Mark III. (Super Sport series)
3. Cadillac Eldorado. (Super Sport series)
4. AMC AMX. (Speedy Wheels series)
5. Chevy Monte Carlo. (Super Sport series)
6. Chevrolet Vega. (Super Sport series)
7. Porsche Carrera. (Speedy Wheels series)
8. AMC Gremlin. (D-236)
9. Buick Century. (No. 367)
10. Chevy Corvette.

April 1st, 2012 update:
A follower to this blog has shown me pictures of additional vehicles in this same scale, and they do in fact have the Lindberg Line logo on the base. At least one of these cars is made by Lindberg for it calls it a "Buick Century," with the number of "#367." So, maybe the Lindberg Line released further additions to their "Super Sport" series.
The Lindberg Line corporate name was bought out by "J. Lloyd International," and they continue to release several of the old Lindberg models to this day. I failed to find any of the Mini-Lindy-sized vehicles still being sold by them, but I sent a request asking them if they acquired these Mini-Lindy models. Maybe they'll be able to fill me in on the whereabouts of the molds to this series, if there are any plans to re-release them or if the molds are lost to time. I'll stay on top of this, so stay tuned.

On further research, I've found a few of the original Mini-Lindy models re-released under the series name "Hi-Rollers." I have seen the No. 8 Chevy Van, No. 11 Dump Truck, No. 14 Cement Mixer and No. 24 Tractor Trailer released as part of this series.