Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Hubley Steamrollers - Some of Them

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Hubley Steamrollers
(Some of Them)

     Most of the toys of yesteryear are simple but elegant in their design. Today's toys need all of those "bells and whistles" to attract the young, and even then, that's not enough. The X-Box, the Ipod,,and, the Samsung, and of course the Blackberry (Canadian, eh!) are all in high demand. They come with Apps, so that one can sit down for 5 hours and do nothing but play a game or 10 on them!

    When I started out selling toys,  I didn't know much about toys,. I bought what I liked ,and what I could afford on a limited budget. Gradually, I purchased books, broadened my spectrum of toys, and  have starting selling more than the initial 4 brands. Those are Hubley, Wyandotte, Doepke, and Tootsietoy.

     I've always had my eyes on the cast iron toys. They're very simple in design (most of them), but being much older (1900's-1930's) they of course , cost more. I say today's Hubley Huber and decided to bid on it. It has a piece broken off in the left rear, so I was able to bid, and win the auction.  

    It measures 8" (L) x  3 1/4" (W) 5 3/8"( H) or in metric dimensions, 
204mm (L) x 83mm (W) x 137mm (H).

  I'll have to do research on this toy, as I don't know much about it, suffice to say, that it is modelled after the real Huber Brand of steamroller of that era.  It's a great toy to photograph as it has lots of curves and round circles that contrast with the linear (lines) design of the toy. SO today, I present to you the Hubley Huber. I've also found the newer Hubley steamrollers of the late 1940's and early 1950's that I started to purchase when I first started out. They too are great toys to photograph!

        Notice how my style of photography has changed.  Initially when I started out, I thought that good photography with flat lighting (not much shadow) would sell and be be honest in terms of presenting the item to the viewer.  However, as I said 2 days ago, I can't believe that E-Bay lets some photographs be shown for sale- underexposed, out-of-focus, and off-colour!

Below are photos of the Hubley Huber with my newer style of photography. I prefer the latter style. It's more enjoyable to view, and more challenging to take as a photograph.

  I Like how the rider is placed into the rear of the steamroller. Notice the projection above, where the hole is. The rider's feet are placed parallel with the hole, and then turned. I tried, but I couldn't remove the figure. I've learned not to force or apply too much pressure with old toys! I've broken some in my "toying around"!

  It's certainly a beautiful toy!

Thanks for dropping by for a visit.
As always, have a great morning, afternoon, or evening,
wherever you may be.

A Different Kind Of Barclay Slush Toy

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Different Kind of 
Barclay Slush Toy

     This nice Barclay Slush Toy arrived yesterday. It's  3 11/16" long or 92 mm. It's hard to purchase Barclay Slush toys because they are in such demand. THere is also the Savoye Slush Toy Company, but they're even more expensive.

    If you're reading this, and happen to be with a 2-3 hour radius of Montreal,Quebec,Canada then send me an e-mail. We can work form there (send photos) , and then I can come to Ontario, Connecticut, New York, or Vermont and have a look and buy some nice toys.  

   With E-Bay charging sometimes up to 8.5% commission for sales and for shipping, my profit margin is tight!  BTY (By the way), my e-mail address is Please title the
 e-mail with the word toys or I won't open it. I got an e-mail from my wife's cousin and it turned out to be a virus! And they say Macs never have viruses! Luckily, the virus was limited to my Hotmail account, but 1584 saved message addresses were used to send the virus to other people! What a mess!

   What's different about this Barclay slush toy is that it doesn't have the usual 2 openings at the bottom of the toy. The way the slush toys were made is by pouring molten alloys of zinc/lead or zinc/tin (I';ll need to check that) into moulds, and having the excess liquid metal pour out.

    This toy was made differently. Perhaps, it's not a "Slush" toy, but a lead toy made differently. Whatever the method of manufacture, this toy certainly is beautiful! Of course, it cost me a "pretty penny", but it's worth it for this instalment, and I usually can make back my money and even make a profit!

   So here's Barclay # 317 in all of its' majesty and glory! On the E-Bay description, the car was described as a Police Patrol Car.

        I like the way "Made in USA" in cast in the left rear part of the car. Most people want to come to live in the USA, and to better themselves. Once upon a time, that dream was much more believable than today. I don't know what happened to Her, but hopefully, America will overcome the problems of the last 50 years, and return to what it once was. Perhaps that a big dream!*

*I hope most of you don't mind the small editorial.

Thanks for dropping by, and as always,
Have a good morning, afternoon, or evening, 
wherever you may be.

America's Love of Speed

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Only once in every 4 years

America's Love of Speed

     February 29 only occurs every 4 years. The reason is that the earth rotates around the sun in 365 1/4 (365.25) days. So every 4 years the 4 quarters are added to the year in February, which needs the day, because it's the shortest month.

     America loves speed. Right now the NASCAR series of races are high-profile, and have need the association billions of dollars in TV revenues, and advertising. Then America has the Indy 500, and of course the land-speed record that occurs on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Great Britain periodically held the land-speed record on the Salt flats intermittently between American record holders. Sir Malcolm Campbell held records for land-spped in the 1920's and 1930's. There are some beautiful racers that Kingsbury made, but they're way out of my price range.

     I just received this Hubley # 22 cast iron racer. It was manufactured in the USA in 1946-47 and identified as Hubley model # 456. Other variations of this beautiful car were made after. I purchased one of these when I first started selling toys, but didn't photograph it like today.  Back then, I was photographing  to illustrate the detail, and without "drama".  However one has to wonder at some of the photographs that e-Bay allows on their site (underexposed, out-of-focus, and badly lit)!

    So for today, I thought I'd present to you this nice toy, which measures just shy of 7 1/2"  or 190mm.

        Starting in July, E-Bay is going to allow 12 free images to be uploaded for each item. If you've ever looked on E-Bay, I've been presenting a photo combination of 4 small images. As well, I like to take nice photos. 

      Now I'll be able to present these photos for selling, although, like I've mentioned above, good photos don't always sell merchandise on E-Bay, garbage photos sometimes do!

Thanks for visiting, and have a good morning, afternoon, or evening wherever you may be.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Life-Like Train Set

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Life-Like Brand -
 Train Set

     This train set has been on my mind to re-photograph for a while. I purchased it last year at the nearest Salvation Army store, and photographed it. I thought that it would immediately sell on E-Bay, but no, it didn't! So today, I decided to take it out of storage and re-photograph it.

    It's not an old set, as it has the new Canadian postal code that was implemented within the last 25 years. I checked up the name "Life-Like Trains" (owned once by the Tyco Company), and discovered that it was purchased in 2005 by the Wm. K. Walthers Company, located in Milwaukee, Michigan in the USA. That appeara to be a large company that sells and I guess makes model trains, so it's good to see that the "Life-Like" brand lives on.

    Getting back to the set of trains (4 in all), I decided to re-photograph them in the more-dramatic lighting that I like to use, even though a lot of current photography, "à la sloppy digital-era photography lighting" is still around-ugh!  By that I mean, flatly-lit, overexposed highlights, no shadow detail, and so on. Fortunately ,excellent photography lighting has been around, and now is coming back stronger!

    What I like about photographing these toys is that there is so much detail to be seen in the train cars. They are plastic, and I have to admit to making 1 huge mistake. I didn't blow the dust off the toys, and they certainly photographed with "tons" of dust on them!

    Another thing that I found interesting was that the previous owner had loaded the interiors of the caboose, the coal train, and the Tuborg train with small nails, called penny nails. I think penny nails were called that because you'd get them  for a penny (a very long time ago). The owner must have doesn't that because the trains, being made of lightweight plastic probably either didn't make good contact with the rail bed, or perhaps flipped over on corners.  The problem I have now is how to get the nails out, in order to reduce their weight when I sell the train set! In 1 case, the owner drilled a tiny hole in the top of the coal pile, and then simply loaded the train with all those nails!

    So for today, I present to you the Life-Like Brand of toy trains. What's interesting is that they are CN, which is stands for "Canadian National". Once owned by the Canadian Government, the railroad was privatized and went public on the stock market. The company has done extremely well on the stock market and as a company, due to smart management.

       I couldn't find the gauge of the train set for all those of you who are train aficionados.  The word "gauge" is similar to the word "scale" when representing the relative size of a toy or set of toys.  As a 1"43, this ratio of number means that the toy is 1 inch  compared with 43 inches of the real item.  Or, you can say that the toy is 1/43 or the real item is 43 times larger than the toy. 

     When you mention "gauge", there are different letters representing different train sizes of toys.

     I just got an answer to a question that I posed previously. I didn't know the gauge of this train set,and the  suggested that I do some reading at Wikipedia.  Anyway that reply got me to look at the box the trains came in, and lo and behold, I had my answer.

This train set is HO. As for the size, it measures 4 1/2" (L) x 1 3/8" (W) x 2" (H) 
or 115mm x 32mm x 50mm. HO gauge is 1:87. 

That means that for every inch of the toy, the real train is 87x as big.

So the real "caboose" is  391.5" x 119.19" x 176" or  32.625' (L) x 9.93' (W) x 14/.66' (H) 
or 9.94M x  3.02M x 4.47M.

The caboose was at the end of the train , and trained railwaymen would watch the train for any problems. The caboose and the respective railwaymen became obsolete and disappeared in the 
mid- 1990's. Electronically monitored railway tracks were introduced and completed throughout Canada at that time.

     Here's an interesting story that someone told me about "real trains". I met a friend of my sister-in-law at a party who was from Australia. I'm always very inquisitive and like to ask all kinds of questions when I meet someone new or from a different part of the world. We were talking, and she mentioned an interesting fact about  a train line in Australia. A while ago, 2 different companies from 2 different European and British countries built 2 rail lines. The problem turned out that they both used different gauges of railroad tracks, so a train going in 1 direction could only go so far, whereupon, everyone and everything had to be transferred to the other gauge, and continue on their final destination!

    If you're interested in the lighting, I'm going to be talking about the topic and trains in my other blog today called

Thanks for dropping by, and have a 
great morning, afternoon, or evening,
wherever you may be.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Evolution of Toys

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Evolution of Toys
From the 1920's

     I usually like to try and do things well, so buying and selling toys is no exception. I've purchased books on old toys, did my share of surfing the Net, and spoke or e-mailed people to ask all kinds of questions.  

   As with most things in our lives, we often think that we had the best of times when we were young, and the topic of toys is the same. Times were very different in the 1920's and  the toys that we now see on E-Bay were not in the hands of most children in the US. I mention US toys, because that is what I mostly deal with, although I have "ventured out" a bit. In the 1920's toys may have been inexpensive, but for a father making  an average salary  of $ 1238.00 (US) or about  $ 3.50 a day, buying even a 
 $ 3.00 toy was out of the question, since food, medical care and medicine had to be paid for, amongst other things.

   In the 1920's many toys were made of cast iron, a process that used lots of iron, and of course lead paint, which by the early 1960's was banned outright from being used toys. THe same would be said also of lead toys and especially toy soldiers. If you go on E-Bay today, and bid on certain toys, a warning at the top of the page will come up, warning you to read the notice with regard to  certain dangerous (small pieces) or harmful if ingested (eaten) lead toys.

Early 1930's Hubley Chrysler Airflow

Another Hubley Cast Iron Coupe, circa 1930's

A Barclay Slush Toy, circa 1930's
This toy was painted with lead paint, and the metal alloy was usually an alloy of zinc and other soft metals. Some manufacturers made these toys out of lead.

Another nice Barclay Slush Toy

   Of course, as time moved on, new processes of making metallic products evolved, and toys were no different. The die cast  process was 1 method that evolved. Molten metal forced under pressure into molds (moulds) allowed for faster processing with less materials. Naturally, costs would be lower and profits would allow for more diversity and variety of toys.

A Die Cast Tootsietoy Graham, circa early 1930's

     I don't know who was first in creating these small toys - Dinky or Tootsietoy, but I would suspect Dinky. With the die cast process, small toys could be made with lots of nice detail, both in large quantities, and at lower prices. Dinky toys were British made, and in canada, these toys most likely were imported more that the Tootsietoys. One also has to remember that Canada in those times had a population of about 11,000,000 compared with the USA with a population of 122,775,000. And with Canada being so spread out, distribution costs would have been very expensive.  Keep in mind that Canada is the second largest country in the world, after Russia.

   Another process that also found a niche (position) in you production was rubber and vinyl toys. The Sun Rubber company seemed to have produced solid black rubber toys which were finished with paint (probably lead-based). When I first started to buy these toys for an article, I was amazed at how well these toys had stood up over a period of 60 years! The rubber had ages and cracked, but for the most part, the paint seemed to adhere better to rubber than to cast iron or die cast toys.

A Beautiful Sun Rubber Coupe from the late 1930's-early 1940's

     Pressed Steel also evolved in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Dies or shapes were made and sheet metal was placed in these shapes and then heavy pressure was applied to bring out the design of a toy. Several different bending and cutting machines would be used to shape the toy. 2 good examples are found below.

A Nice Lumar Toy From the Early 1940's
(Pressed Steel)

A Nice Wyandotte Toy from the Early 1940's
(Pressed Steel)

     Anyway, the die process replaced the cast iron process and this process continues into the late 1940's and even into the early 1950's. However, WWII put a stop to the world and of course toy production. Many American companies stopped production to patriotically work producing armaments and accessories for the war effort. Rubber toy companies such as Sun Rubber made rubber products such as gas masks (the seals around the face were rubber), while metal toy companies made items such as gas cans, airplane nose cones, and so forth. Also, rubber became in short supply since most of the rubber had come from the Far East (Asian countries), which at the time were being occupied by the Japanese. 
American and Allied countries were to work on synthetic  materials to replace rubber. 

    The worst years in the world were to be from 1939-1945 (WWII), which unfortunately had replaced the "War to end All Wars" of  WWI (1917-1921). THe Allies were to be the victors, but with the German and Japanese economies in ruin, much investment poured in from the US and other countries to bring back the devastated Axis countries economies and societies. 

    I haven't purchased any "Made in Western Germany" or "Made In Japan" toys that were produced in postwar WWII, but they survive still,. Like all other toys, there are people who collect them, and of course they were imported into the former Allied Countries". THe US economy of post WWII thrived, and there was the greatest expansion of their economy probably up to that time and later on.

    Again, different material were being used, with the invention before of plastics. American toy companies who had produced war products, had to return and re-tool for peacetime. Some adapted to the new materials, and others were slow to adapt. As Japan started to heal from the devastating effects of WWII, their toy production thrived, along with their many other industries. COnsidering how inexpensive plastics and plastic toys cost to produce, the age of metal toys started to dwindle.

    Another factor that entered into the picture was more safety regulation into all areas of society, and toy safety was no different. Small toys with breakable parts, or toys previously made with lead and lead paints, had to be stopped, and new materials, such as plastics were used.  Also, again in Japan and other Asian countries, they started to produce all kinds of toys. When one looks at the toys of the 1920's and their diversity compared with the 1950's-1980's, one can easily see how much diversity there would become.

A Very Nice and detailed Matchbox Toy
Modelled after a Mercedes Fire Truck Engine
Made of Metal and Plastic.

     I need to research when it was made.However, it was made in China, and that should narrow the year.Of course, we all know how the world has migrated to China for inexpensive production of all kinds of things. I read last year, that there was a city in China that produced 97% of the world's socks. Aside fromm the political issues there, you just go to wonder!
    I found some information about Matchbox. It was created by the Lesney (Great Britain) in the 1930's, but like many other companies succumbed to prodution costs and a changing world. It was purchased a few times, and now is currently owned by Mattel.

Another Very Nice and detailed Matchbox Toy
Made of  plastic and metal

    I've only just touched the surface in this instalment about the history of toys in the US, and all is not "gloom and doom" even with today's Ipods, Blackberries, X-Boxes, and a myriad of other modern-era "toys".  I've had my eyes on a Schuco (Germany) wind-up toy, but even the old ones from post WWII  fetch a good price on E-Bay. So I found a seller on E-Bay from California who sold new one at a modest price of $ 29.99. I'll be playing with this toy (even at age 63) to see what all of the fuss is about, but I can tell you that it's a bargain form someone who had a 27" Imac but doesn't yet own a cellphone, XBox, IPAd, IPod or any other modern era toy device. My wife says I don't need them.

   So I go about my business buying an selling old toys, and writing about them. She doesn't yet know about this Schuco yet, and I hope our dog Buddy won't tell her!

A Very Nice Schuco Toy With a Wind-up Mechanism
Circa 2012

Here in Montreal, we had a snowstorm yesterday.

For the most part, Eastern Canada had been fortunate to have a mild winter. I think the last time it snowed here was about 3 weeks ago.

Mother Winter is not over yet.  I think the annual "ritual" of waking of the groundhogs here to forecast the spring (winter will continue or spring will start early). If they see their shadow winter will be longer, if not, spring will come early.

Sadly in Europe, it's been a devasting winter in some of the former communist countries mith many deaths from the cold (e.g. Poland).

So today, as with any other day, I bid everyone a good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, whereever you may be. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Tootsietoy LaSalle- I Finally Bought One!

Thursday, February 25, 2012

The Tootsietoy LaSalle -
I Finally Got One!

     Finally, I now have a Tootsietoy LaSalle, however briefly, before it goes back on the marketplace. The LaSalle is a "Build-A-Car" from Tootsietoy that was built from 1933-1939. It's die cast, and is the "higher class" cousin to the Tootsietoy Grahams. For some reason they are much rarer than the Grahams, perhaps because maybe they manufactured less of them, or more people don't want to part with them. I've bid on most every LaSalle that has appear on E-Bay, but every time I was outbid, and wouldn't pay over $ 100.00 for this small toy, no matter how rare or valuable it was.

    Finally, this one arrived yesterday, and it's quite nice. It's just as beautiful as the Grahams, but it is one of the "jewels" of the Tootsietoy Manufacturing Company.

    It measures 4 1/8" (L) x 1 1/2" (W) x 1 1/2" (H) or 104mm (L) x 40mm (W) x 40mm (H).

The LaSalle  -A Sedan

The Graham - A Sedan

One of the unique features that distinguishes the LaSalle from the Graham, 
is the set of 5 air vents on the side of the car.

Another distinguishing feature is the  the criss-crossed design of the front grill.

Also, the front door had a gentle curve to the part closest to the front of the car.

So that's it for today.

Have a great morning, afternoon, or evening, 
wherever you may be.