Found in the Letterbox
The following are e-mail responses to 'Tales of Toy Cars'. Your letters are welcome and may be submitted via e-mail

Kaiser Henry J and Hot Wheels 2002 FE Jaded

Nash Metropolitan and Hot Wheels 2000 FE Metrorail

'49 Ford Coupe and Hot Wheels 2002 Launcher Shoe Box

Morris Traveller and Hot Wheels 2002 Repaint MG Rover

"Hi Doug,

I just read a past issue of TofTC titled "Hot Wheels at the Strip 50's Style" and thought how nice these cars would look stock, so I did the reverse and made a custom into a standard car. I hope you enjoy them. What do you think?

As a big fan of TofTC I'd be honoured if you use the images in a future issue. Maybe I might be able to think of a couple of others I could do. Maybe some of you guys might have some ideas, but make it easy I'am only a new kid on the block.

Doug, it's really hard to give a time frame on making these models as I find I do a little and then come back. But in saying that I would say in total about 8 hours. Some models like Henry J (Jaded) that need alot of work would be longer. The Jaded was a big job, but look at the photo you would not think so. The flaired rear fenders had to be cut off and made flush fitting to the bodywork like the real car, but it gives you satisfaction when you have finished and if I can give a little to you guys it makes my day. Besides I didn't have a Kaiser in my collection and now I have, it looks good next to my Studebakers and Nash models. Kind Regards, "

Chris Saunders, Brisbane, Australia

Editor's Reply: You have amazing talent! Thanks for letting me share your images in TofTC? I am very serious in saying that a cottege industry, creating stock models out of customs, could be financially viable. I wish I had just a little of your talent!

"Suggested article for "Tales of Toy Cars" in response to the editorial from Mr. Breithaupt: "They did it to me again!" that inspire me to write about it. (Hope you like it).


I think that is not only great buy a replica of a car that we already drive or have into the garage, lets face that many of us wait to see the reproduction of the automobile we dream to drive some day. When we see the reproduction in small scale of some new stunning car or celebrated classic, we think that finally found the perfect "vehicle" to enhance our personal aspirations. But some times result in disillusion, when Hot Wheels, Matchbox or other factory reproduce some cars with some modification, customization or Hot Rodding, that is not always good for the image of some designs.

On the other hand, you must agree that Hot Wheels make good points in the "Concept Car" and "Super Cars" fields, where few brands take the line. After all, many Concept Cars, shows decisive industrial trends. At least two of the cars for this year from "2003 Firts Editions" comes with nice image, I'm talking about the replica of the Ferrari Enzo called by Mattel as the Enzo Ferrari, and the replica of the 7.9 liter jewelry car Bugatti EB 16/4 Veyron called by Mattel simply as the Bugatti Veyron.

I understand, that Hot Wheels trend to cultivate the image of the "American Dream Car", with replicas of designs from Chevrolet, Ford or Chrysler and the reproductions from some European car brands like Ferrari, Lotus, Volkswagen and Porsche, but I think that Mattel could increase the number of other European and Japanese brands like Marcos, SAAB, TVR and Mazda. Just imagine how cool a Marcos Mantis with 5 spoke Hot Wheels could look.

So here I decide to include in this message to "Tales of Toy Cars" some suggestions to the die cast car manufacturers, and share personal dreams, with renderings made by me. In this opportunity I show two of the cars that I really like to drive some day:

The first one is the Morgan Aero 8, the car from the British Car manufacturer, that show us how a conservative design could evolve with alluring style. Is true that the head lights generate discussions, but the shape and performance that this car offers in real life, deserves to be emulated in a 1/64 replica. AUTOart, HotWheels, Matchbox and even TOMICA, could make real good points with a reproduction of this British aluminized sport.

The second, is a sport racer, from the DTM (Deutschland Touringwagen Masters), the racing series in Germany that takes my breath out be cause the meaning image that those spoilers and rear wing do for the Mercedes Benz C class. The Mercedes Benz CLK DTM of 2002 in 1/64 scale could make a hit in the collectors community. AUTOart, SIKU, and even Hot Wheels must take the initiative. Or what you think?.

Daniel Vasquez Burke

Editor's response: Thanks for your comments. I agree that the Morgan Aero 8 would be a good choice. I don't think anyone could better the Minichamps DTM Mercedes-Benz models.

Editor's Note: The following is a collection of five e-mails received in communications with a reader regarding Asian diecast companies. I think you will find them as intereswting as I did.

"Hi, I've always thought, and still do, that "ss" prefixes on part numbers of Asian diecast toys stands for Sunnyside (not Sunshine), as in Sunnyside Ltd., a company not connected with Summer Metal Products. Check out the Sunnyside website: . You'll be glad you did.

Yes, connections between toy manufacturers can certainly be confusing! Several things can contribute to this. First, nearly all toy manufacturers supply proprietary toys to other manufacturers. For example: Yatming made toys for Mattel and numerous toys for other companies, as well as their own brand products. Often their own brand products were packaged under other brand names. Second, tooling was sometimes sold to another company. Zee sold tooling to MC Toy and Red Box, MC Toy later changing their name to Maisto, and Red Box recently selling their products under the brand name MotorMax, adding more confusion.. Third, knock-offs muck things up even more. A good example would be Tai Chong, a company that has repeatedly copied Sunnyside products and even disguised the packaging to look similar. A note here on knock-offs: I have often heard people say," This appears to be from the Tomica (or some other company's) mold", when describing a less well-known company's product. It is rarely the case that any company used another company's molds, unless they bought the molds(the Zee case is an anomoly). Usually, a company will make their own tooling. The end product may resemble someone elses, but resemblance is as far as it goes. Even Tai Chong uses their own tooling.

As for connections between SS, Summer and Sunnyside, SS appears to be used on Sunnyside products, and Summer is another company. All directories of Chinese businesses list them as such, and I've never been able to trace any direct connection between the two companies. I would expect a connection between Summer and a company called High Speed, since they make very similar (but different) products, but even they are seperate entities. Sunshine doesn't appear in any diectories of diecast toy manufacturers that I can find, and I've never seen a product made by them, though it may happen yet. And be wary of the name Superior. It is not a brand. The Chinese like the word and use it for what it is: an adjective. Sunnyside, Maisto, Welly and others have all used it on their packages. It is not trademarked or copyrighted. It's just a word the Chinese like, used confusingly!

I hope you don't mind this unsolicited (and probably confusing) email. I've spent the last six years trying to untangle the history of the Oriental diecast toy manufacturers, mostly as a spare time hobby that goes hand in hand with collecting diecast toys. I've found that there is a lot of incorrect or misleading info about, or no info at all on the lesser known Oriental manufacturers. I've still got lots more digging to do in this area, but in the mean time, I like to share what I've found. By the way, I've been in the cast metals business for the last seventeen years as a product designer for a foundry, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that I'm interested in this stuff.

Wish I had a definitive answer for you on the Yatming/Playart connection, but I don't. I hadn't heard of that connection until I read your email, but I surely am curious as to what you've heard! What I can tell you is that Yatming is the Great Hired Gun of the diecast toy industry.At one time, they proudly listed the companies they produced toys for. It was a long list. Mattel was their biggest customer, even though they were in direct competition with Mattel. This is not an unusual situation. The company I work for has produced items for other companies (even our competitors), and we have hired other companies (again, even our competitors) to produce our items. Some of our best stuff was produced by a competitor. If there is demand for your product, but you don't have production capacity, you hire someone else to do it! Yatming discovered very early that this was good business. They produced way more items for their competitors than they did of their own items, and made money doing it. Perhaps this was the connection between Yatming and Playart. Unfortunately, Playart was long gone before I ever saw the list of companies that Yatming was manufacturing for. There were some mergers of diecast manufacturers, and takeovers, but I don't know of any involving Yatming. They had a good thing going in the way they did business, and I'm sure they knew it. Of course, I'm only hypothesizing about the Yatming/Playart connection.

The simplest way of finding the facts may be to contact Yatming. Some companies love to talk about their history, while others will just tell you to mind your own business. If you haven't tried contacting someone at Yatming, you should. The worst that could happen is that they never answer you. As for re-printing my previous email, go ahead. Just keep in mind that it is a simplified and condensed synopsis of work in progress with some inaccuracies as a result. I didn't want it to go on forever, with details and explanations like Redbox is still Redbox, but now they sell their products under the brand name of Motor Max, so most people think the company is Motor Max. See, it makes it even more confusing.

Sounds more and more like Yatming was producing at least some of Playart's product. I've seen cases before where the same part number was used on slightly different castings, and even where different part numbers were used on the same casting. The toy industry is not static. Things get done or changed by the constantly shifting demands placed on it, as in any business. I have two Tootsietoy 1/38 scale '84 Corvettes that were sold as the same item, yet one is a Tootsie, and the other is, yes, you guessed it, Yatming, complete with the Yatming part number. Yatming took up everybody's slack, so to speak. I suspect that Tootsie couldn't Make enough of the Corvettes, so they bought ready-made substitutes from Yatming. Yatming may have aquired Playart's tooling when Playart died, or it may have been their own tooling to begin with. I suspect they were(and are) very capable of whipping up tooling for their customers, quickly and without blinking! Most of the Oriental diecasters can do so. I have a Welly '32 Ford, major parts of which are interchangeable with the Yatming '32 Ford. There are small detail differences between the two, but the design and engineering approach to both is identical. That includes pattern making and tooling design. I suspect that the Welly was at least designed by Yatming, if not produced by them. Or the guys at Welly knocked off Yatming with the utmost skill (a not impossible feat, as Welly has proved to be no slouch!).

However, similar, yet different, items, even with the same part number, don't necessarily mean two different sources. As I said, most of the Oriental diecasters are quite capable of making new tooling quickly. Sometimes tooling is damaged and has to be replaced. Other times a product is redesigned to make it less expensive or easier to produce. Sunnyside redesigned their Ferrari Modulo at least three times, finally replacing it with a Pontiac Fiero that bore the part number previously used on the Modulo. The Modulo was originally too heavy and complex to sell as a budget toy, an early lesson for Sunnyside on how not to produce a cheap toy! Perhaps the slightly different Playarts are simply the results of a need to simplify the tooling for that part number. Lawsuits can also be a good reason to replace tooling, too, and can be seen in many examples of diecast cars. Sunnyside, Welly ,Yatming and several others have all replaced tooling at one time or another because a car manufacturer (or another toy manufacturer) sued them or demanded they pay for a licensing agreement. Rolls Royce, Volkswagen and others have attempted to stamp out unlicensed toys of their products. In many cases, the toy companies made changes to their products to to skirt around the specifics of the lawsuits. It beats the forced halt of production of the item in question or paying fees that cut into your profit margin.

I'm sorry to hear that nobody at Yatming will respond to your enqiries. They used to be more open, but since Hong Kong was returned to Chinese control, it has become much harder to get information from anyone. Not a big surprise. Maybe it's paranoia. Sadly and strangely, in returning to Communist control, they seem to have aquired the capitalist attitude of only wanting to talk to paying customers. It's a multiple whammy! Getting back to those slightly different castings, it should be noted that most diecasters use(d) different approches and techniques for producing their products. This can be almost like a fingerprint, in its usefullness in identifying who made a particular casting. Parting lines, ejector pin and sprue locations can point to who did it. The level and type of finish is important, too. Wheels were, in most cases, specific to manufacturers. The differences in these (and other things) can be quite small, but they are there. One has to really train their eye to spot them.

Unfortunately, no amount of training one's eyes will help spot a toy car that I helped produce. The company I work for, Heritage Metalcraft, Inc., doesn't make them. It was discussed at one time and some preliminary work done, but, much to my great sadness, that's as far as it ever went. Regards,"