Saturday, December 24, 2011

An Outback Christmas

As it is Christmas, I felt it was time for a reworking of the traditional nativity story, replacing the three wise men with three wise kangaroos, including two outback teenagers from Alice Springs as guardian angels, and replacing the donkey with a much snazzier and faster mode of transport, a VW Minibus, with Eriba Puck caravan tagging along as a mobile manger.

The model itself is a Schuco 1:43, and it's a beautifully made model. Though it's a bit too hard
to photograph, inside the little caravan there's a breakfast table and bench seats, plus kitchen
benchtops and a stove. Lovely attention to detail that is maintained in the Minibus, too.

And here's wishing everyone who ever reads, or at least accidentally stumbles across, my very quiet little diecast car and bike model blog a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Successful young man and his Valiant AP6

It's the mid 1960s, a smart young Australian man, already making a success of himself in business, has just bought his first status symbol, a brand new AP6 Valiant Regal , the top of the line model back then. On his arm is his gorgeous girlfriend, while out on the street the other boys are either watching jealously, or pretending not to notice.

As soon as I saw this photo of a 1960s milk bar in Australia I knew it was almost perfect for
my Valiant Regal diorama. If you want to be picky, you can see that the news posters are
of the moon mission of 1969, not 1965, but fortunately I'm not that picky. The model used
here is a 1:43 Trax model of the AP6, and it's very nicely made indeed.

I have a soft spot for Valiants, not because I've ever owned one, but because there's a nickname for these cars which involves the suburb where I live in Sydney. Valiants in Sydney have earned the extra name of 'Marrickville Mercedes', because these were the status symbol cars bought and driven by migrants who had made a success of themselves in their new home, Australia. Marrickville is the migrant suburb par excellence in Sydney. Even though it is slowly gentrifying now, alas, it's still home to lots and lots of Greeks, Italians, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Africans, Turks, Lebanese, Indians and Sri Lankans, Indonesians and many many other cultures. Everyone seems to get along with each other pretty peacefully and happily too.

There are still plenty of Marrickville Mercs getting around, being driven very slowly by Old Greek men. Their grandsons are waiting patiently for Pop to drop off the peg, so they can get their hands on that mint condition Valiant. Can't blame them really.

So a diecast collection for this Marrickville boy just wouldn't be complete without a couple of Marrickville Mercs in the garage.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Long-distance Corvettes

Well, long time no blog! I've been busy. I've been busy driving. Four thousand miles in fact, and so it's time to report in on how our 57 Corvette went on its long road haul, and to show you a few photos along the way. Before I show the map, here's the steed itself.

Pictured in its home town, with fairly well-known landmarks in the background, the Corvette was ready to soak up some US hospitality, burn lots of US tar, and bask in stacks of US sunshine.

And here's the map. The wriggly blue bits are the road miles. After a short stay in Hawaii we started our road trip in that den of iniquity, Las Vegas, then headed east, stopping along the way at Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Lubbock, San Angelo, Austin, Galveston, Lafayette, Natchez, New Orleans, Montgomery, Macon, Savannah, Charleston, then, finally, Atlanta. At this stage we abandoned the car trip, jumped on a train to New York. Then we flew to San Francisco, then flew home to Sydney. Eight weeks, lots of miles, and here's some holiday snaps taken along the way.

Hilo, Hawaii, on the 'Big Island', where those very active volcanoes are.

Red Rock Canyon, not far west of Las Vegas. It was cool that day, only 97°F.

Getting our kicks on Route 66, somewhere between Flagstaff, Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Where else but Santa Fe, New Mexico, where adobe-style is compulsory, you hear me!

Trying to make our mind up about which road to take down in the 'Hill Country' of Texas, in the town of Mason, where everything is very German. Nice bratwurst, potato salad and sauerkraut around here.

Natchez, Mississippi, with a riverboat on the mighty river itself in the background.

The French Quarter of New Orleans, party town.

It's a lot quieter on the banks of the Alabama River in Montgomery, Alabama.

And the surf was as flat as a tack the day we visited Tybee Island, on the Atlantic Coast, just east of Savannah, Georgia.

Who would have thunk that you'd get snow in New York in October, but we did.

Here's the Corvette parked outside Yankee Stadium in the snow, real snow, in October.
And here's the Corvette overlooking those steep, steep hills of San Francisco.

Finally, an amazing postscript to the whole long-distance Corvette story. This is the 1:43 model I wanted to take with me across the United States, a lovely bronzey-golden Corgi-Matchbox 56 model Corvette, which I bought on eBay in March 2011. It never turned up, not in April, May, June or July. I figured it was lost forever. As we were leaving on our trip in early September, I bought the cheap little 
57 Corvette which features in all our photos, as a substitute. It's not anywhere near as nice as this Corgi one, but it did its job wonderfully well. And then, a week or so after I arrived home in Sydney in early November, the 'missing' Corgi Corvette magically appeared in the mail.  The box wasn't that damaged, and nothing seemed amiss with the way it was addressed. It had just gone on its own long-distance journey for all those months, from March to November, then decided to show up when I got home.

The guy who sold me the 'missing' Corvette had kindly refunded my money after about three months of waiting, so I got in contact with him to refund his refund and pay for it all over again. He sells a lot of cars via eBay, and this golden 56 Corvette is indeed a record-setter in its own right as far as his experience goes.

And so now I have two record-setting, long-distance 1:43 scale Corvettes in my diecast cabinet: the road version, and the post-office version.