Monday, August 3, 2015

#574 VAM - RENAULT 5 (Around 1984)

VAM is a toy company that became famous in the 70s for its cheap plastic cars and trucks. They were very popular due to their low prices and their availability: you could find them almost anywhere, from kiosks, or drug-stores to bakeries and coffee shops. When I bought them in the mid-80s, the small models (1:64, 3 inches) were 5 or 10 pesetas, that's 0,03 to 0,06 Euros, so they were really affordable.

VAM takes its name from its founder: Valeriano Aguilar Monforte, who started the business in Zaragoza. First in Belchite street number 1, and later in the Carretera de Castellón without number, a industrial zone.

Each car was made of several plastic parts, for example, the chassis, the wheels and axles, the pilot, maybe some antenna. Other bigger models included body and chassis, and maybe more parts. The pieces were assembled by private people at home, mostly housewives. According to people who saw it (as recalled in, it was usual to see a small van in some quarters of the city taking big bags with parts to be assembled. The assembled toys were returned to the manufacturer and then distributed to shops around the country.

If I recall well, cars were stored in the shops in big transparent plastic bags. The bag usually hung on the wall, so you could chose any car you liked, and the seller would take it out of the bag for you.

With the improvements in the economy, and the slow introduction of foreign and quality car models, VAM started selling less and less toys, although it took many years to see it closed. When that happened, VAM casts were sold to two different companies from the same city that coincidentally were located even in the same area/region: "Baratijas Ruiz" (that is still active today) and "La Ilusión".

The model shown today is a big car, I would say it is a scale between 1:43 and 1:36, maybe closer to the first as to the second, although I should have somewhere a small bag of 1:64 scale cars (race cars, land rovers) and 1:100 scale trucks. They will be shown in other entry in the future... I need to check if they are VAM or Ruiz.

In the link above, there is a nice collection of plastic cars made by this company. Watching them, I recall how many of these I had as a kid. Recommended to click here!

  • Name: RENAULT 5
  • Year: Around 1984
  • Company: VAM (Spain)
  • Size: Around 10 cm.
  • Scale: Around 1:43

Friday, July 31, 2015


I have 5 out of 6 books from this series. They were printed in 1984 (or 1985 if the German translation) in different languages: At least English, Dutch and German. I found mine in flea markets and I hope I can still find the sixth one. Mine are in German, and the one that is missing is "Die stählerner Gigant".

Ordered by publication number, the titles are:
2985-0 Die Schwingen des Unheils
2986-0 Eine Falle für He-Man
2987-0 Skeletors Eisblockade
2988-0 Der stählerne Gigant
2989-0 He-Man und das ungeheuer
2990-0 Castle Grayskull in Gefahr

Later, there were two more titles released. One of them is called "He-Man and the Asteroid of Doom". The other one "He-Man and the Lost Dragon". These are rarer, and to my knowledge are only available in English.

They are written for children by John Grant and are beautifully illustrated by Robin Davies. The stories are simple and involve a few characters each, including monsters and secondary characters from which there was never a figure made. The pictures of these characters (also vehicles and landscapes) are very interesting and add some interesting background for playing or even for customizers.

The books are more or less A5-sized, hardcover and intended for children´s hands. They have 43 pages each, more than 50% of them are illustrations, the rest are filled with text. With a big font, the text is easy to understand. Nevertheless I had to search for a few words in the dictionary each time (German is not my mother language), so not really an easy thing for children, kids younger than 10 will probably learn a few words in each book.

There was a similar book collection published by Golden and also licensed by Mattel.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#572 TIGER QUARTETT - MOTORAD WM (4241), TOLLE JETS (Nr. 4253) and MOTO CROSS WM (Around 1978)

Just the pictures of three more quartets, see previous entry for more information!

TOLLE JETS (Nr. 4253) - Based on Tolle Jets by Piatnik? (later reissued with a few changes as "Flugzeuge" Nr.4243)

MOTORAD WM (4241) - This card is a Piatnik quartet, probably a later versión of the deck shown here (#351), which had the number 4233. Both sets share a lot of cards, but there are a few ones which are different.

MOTO CROSS WM - Based on Piatnik's MotoCross WM Nr. 4249

  • Name: MOTORAD WM (4241), TOLLE JETS (Nr. 4253) and MOTO CROSS WM
  • Year: Around 1978
  • Company: Tiger (Germany, Austria)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

#571 TIGER QUARTETT- SCHIFFE (Nr. 76) and RENNWAGEN (Nr. 79) (1972)


I have bought a few more decks by Tiger, and I will present them in this and the next entries. There is not much to add to the introduction made in entry #337, the only difference is that this time I have two decks which are older than those shown in the first entry.

I remember there were at least 3 "releases", each one characterized by a reference number (either 2, 4 or no digits). According to (very nice blog in German, recommended!), these three releases were:

1972 (2-digit reference number): Schwarzer Peter (Nr. 71), Blumen (Nr. 72), Tiere (Nr. 73), Städte (Nr. 74), Tierbabies (Nr. 75), Schiffe (Nr. 76), Flugzeuge (Nr. 77), Autos (Nr. 78), Rennwagen (Nr. 79)

Late 70s (4-digit reference number): Motorrad WM (Nr. 4241), Exotische Tiere (Nr. 4245), Tolle-Jets (Nr. 4253), Tierbabies (Nr. 4256), Schnelle Eisen (Nr. 4259)

Late 70s (No reference number): Airlines, Autos, Auto-Cross, Auto-Rennsport, Crazy Cars, Dicke Brummer, Dragster, Formel 1 WM, Hobby-Flitzer, Klassische Renner, Lokomotiven, Militärflugzeuge, Miniflitzer, MotoCross WM, Motor Monster, Motorräder, Motoryachten, Rennfahrer, Rennwagen, Schiffe, Schnelle Eisen, Schwarzer Peter, Sportwagen-Stars, Tiere, Tierfamilien, Tolle Autos, Tolle Bauten, Tolle Coupés, Tolle Flitzer, Tolle Flugzeuge, Weltrekord Fahrzeuge, Windjammer, 200 km/h-Club

SCHIFFE (Nr. 76) -  based on "Schiffe" by Piatnik (Nr. 4242)

RENNWAGEN (Nr. 79) - based on "Rennwagen" by Piatnik (Nr. 4229)


These three cards promoting other Piatnik sets were in the box of "Rennwagen", but I cannot assure, that they were originally included, or if they were put in afterwards.

In the first entry dealing with Tiger decks, there was another versión of "Rennwagen", but they are completely different decks.

  • Name: SCHIFFE (Nr. 76) and RENNWAGEN (Nr. 79)
  • Year: Around 1972
  • Company: Tiger (Germany, Austria)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


These cars were found in a flea market around one year ago. I immediatly recognised the quality of the cars and decided to buy them: they are marked APS 1/77 Italy, they represent very charismatic models from the 50s and the 60s, and despite the age, they are in very good shape.

Later, at home and to my surprise, I discovered that the cars were manufactured by Polistil, so I guess they were intended to be sold for vey little money, or to be combined with electric trains. I have also read somewhere, that Polistil also had some kind of ferry boat to carry many models from this series.
The cars reproduced are popular Italian and European cars, including many Fiats (500, 600, 600 Multipla, 1100...). The three models I own are:

CITROEN 19DS (French car sold from 1955 to 1975)

VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE (German car sold from 1938 on in several versions)

AUTOBIANCHI BIANCHINA (Italian car sold between 1957-1969)

Note that the Bianchina is not very well finished. One of the windows has not been properly done, and is almost covered by plastic. I am not sure if the chassis has also been mounted in the wrong direction, note that the wheels are not very well centered with the body. The other seem to be ok.
These models belong to a very short, very interesting and very rare series. Maybe because of the plastic, many of the units sold might have been destroyed during play (it would be enough to step on them) or thown in the trash, because their appearance is that of a very cheap toy.

  • Scale: 1:77
  • Year: Around 1960
  • Company: Polistil (Italy)
  • Size: approx. 3,5 cm

Sunday, July 19, 2015


We have already talked about M.A.S.K. small sets. I also mentioned that there were two-figure sets that were sold independently, although those figures were identical to the ones sold together with the vehicles.

I don´t really know how much success this small two-packs had, but there were not many of these made. In Europe and Argentina, there were some more packs released as in the U.S. The European figures were mostly repaints of some pilots released with vehicles, and so an interesting collectable for M.A.S.K. collectors worldwide, as most "Euro Exclusive" items are.

In this case, I have Matt Trakker with Lava-Shot and Jacques LaFleur with Maraj

Something that I don’t like about M.A.S.K. is that they keep reusing the same characters again and again… For 4 or 5 waves and over 40 vehicles, there should be more characters, and not new figure casts with the same old characters. I always thought, as a kid, it was enough to have one Snake Eyes and one Storm Shadow, I didn’t need a second one with a different uniform… One example is that I got Prince Adam from the Masters of the Universe line, and I never ever though of buying He-Man, because they were actually the same character, and you cannot play both at the same time. It’s either Adam or He-Man. With M.A.S.K., if I had had them at the time, I guess it would have been the same story. If you have one Matt Trakker, one Miles Mayhem and one figure of each character I wouldn’t have bought a second one.

Was it the same in your case?

  • Toy Line: M.A.S.K.
  • Year: 198
  • Company: Kenner (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 2½’’ or 6,5 cm
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