Volume IX, Number 1

The Big Picture - Volkswagen in Miniature
by Doug Breithaupt

There is no doubt that miniature Volkswagens are some of the most popular toy cars. The toy versions of VW Beetles and VW van and busses have tempted legions of collectors to seek out these models. Why these models are so popular is both easy and hard to understand. It is easy to see how the cute VW Beetle in miniature is as beloved as the full-size cars. The appeal of the VW vans and busses is more complex. Sure, many people have fond memories of owning or having a family member own one of these vehicles but that is just one reason for their appeal. The popularity of several VW models from Hot Wheels has raised interest in all VW models. The VW 'Beach Bomb' with it's surf boards in the back or sides has become a toy car icon. Prices for the super-rare rear-board version have set records for the amount paid for a small-scale toy car. Both versions have now been re-produced by HW in collector versions that are snapped up at ten times the price for other models, or even more. The VW 'Drag Bus' that was first offered in the 1990's has remained a very popular model with many variations.

While I enjoy VW toy cars, they have never become a primary focus of my collection. I have over 150 models and my favorites are not the Beetles van or busses but rather the lesser-known models like the Passat, Karmann Ghia or Scirocco. Almost every toy car maker from AutoART to Zylmex has offered a VW model at some time. Majorette has done every VW Golf body style over the past 30 years. Johnny Lightning finally did a small-scale version of Disney's 'Love Bug' movie car although Matchbox had done a rally version of their Beetle that clearly took advantage of the popularity of the first 'Herbie' movie, back in the late 1960's. Off-road and hot rod VW models have proved popular with many Beetle and even Golf/Rabbit variations. My favorite VW model is a Beetle however. Siku's VW Beetle of the 1960's is shown at the beginning of my collection (lt. blue) and is an excellent casting. It even has a rear engine cover that can be raised, a very rare feature for the Beetle. The white-wall tires were added by a previous collector, are made of paper and could be easily removed, so I have left them as I like the look.

The Siku VW Beetle at the beginning of the first row (lt. blue) is a special favorite. Siku has three other versions of the original Beetle, including a cabriolet.

VW vans and busses have become cult collectibles for some but not for me. My favorite version is by Tomica.

I forgot to add my original VW 'Drag Bus' to this model selection, hence it's inclusion as a single image above.

The Beetle is easily the most popular model Volkswagen.

My collection is quite modest as other have thousands of VW models.

While I have never owned a real VW, my wife had a VW Rabbit before we married. I bought her a Matchbox and Tomica Golf (both here) before I started collecting again in 1985.