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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Our RTE (Resident Tomica Expert) is back with a look at vintage Tomica Pocket Cars...

Find the Pocket Cars on eBay

Back by popular demand, our RTE (Resident Tomica Expert) Jay Kho has another feature on vintage Tomica, this time the Made-for-the-US Pocket Cars.  Some of you might be old enough to remember these gems.  Whether you remember them or not, these are some of the coolest Tomicas around.  Enjoy the article...

Thanks Jay.

Pocket Cars

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to add Tomica as part of our hunt?  Imagine going to our big chain retailer store, seeing these wonderful minicars hanging on the pegs, and figuring out if we want to add a certain model to our collection or buy several to trade for others?  One could only hope…..Oh wait! That did happen.

Yes folks! Some of you might remember - and some might have not been around yet, or even cared - Tomica entered the U.S market after having much success in Asia.

From 1974 through 1986, they were named and marketed as Pocket Cars, made by Tomy, and were introduced to us in a blue blister pack.  The card art was highlighted by a blue jean pocket while the minicar sat on a plain white background in clear view for very excited kids or the kids at heart.  (Yes we will never be too old for toys.)

This package style stayed the same throughout the years, and was quite different from its counterpart in Asia.  Asian Tomica were packaged in “black box” style, which forced the buyer to wonder if the toy car looked as good as the modeled car displayed on the outside.



In its early years Tomica only produced cars that were made in Japan, but later decided to create European and American cars, as well as construction trucks, fire trucks etc.  That meant a successful toy maker from Japan was ready to compete in the U.S market.

So, what happened? Why can’t I go to my grocery store and, before I buy whatever I came for, make sure to stop by at the toy aisle first in hopes to find a freshly stocked Tomica?  Why can't I peek through the pegs or use my hand to brush them on the side of the blister to scan through?

It’s not like they didn’t market it well.  Look!  They even hired a famous comedian to be the spokeperson in a commercial.





Was the production line ugly or poorly made? I actually believe that it was one of the best in the market at the time, which is not an overstatement, considering how well they have been received in other parts of the world.

Tomica, even in its early production days, was really good at capturing the essence of the real cars, our dream cars!  Cars that we only see in magazines or movies and TV, (yeah no internet) Ok fine! That’s the adult car enthusiast talking, but as a kid most of the toys had moving parts, opening doors or hood, spring loaded suspension, fire trucks had a working ladder, and construction trucks had a moving thingamajig!  So why can’t I go to the stores now!?!  Why do I have to search on the internet to get the cars that I like or talk to a certain toy pimp!!  Sorry I'll be right back as I need to use my Hello Kitty pillow to muffle my scream of frustration.

I have my own theory.  I would need to think back to the time when they were released here in the U.S, the later part of the muscle car era, when "Made in America" was proudly written and supported, and Japanese cars on the road was close to non-existent.  If you drove a Japanese car back then some will probably point and laugh. So I think Tomica in the U.S market never recovered from that stigma of “Jap is crap” and the company decided to move on and focus on a market that works for them.

What do you guys think?  I would love to hear your feedback on this and maybe someday Tomica company would decide to come back and take this Hello Kitty away from my Kung-Fu grip.

In the meantime, let us show you some more prime example of early Tomica cars with a 1E wheels. Mark my words folks, there will be a point in our life when we will utter the words that we only hear from our parents, “They don’t make em like they used to.” '






Datsun Bluebird 610







Toyota Celica RA29







Toyota Corona Mark 2






25 comments:

  1. In the time period these were sold most US cars were crap and names like Sony defined quality. I worked at a store while in high school that sold Pocket cars. They didn't come close to selling the HW and MB did in our store. Back then I didn't care for the packaging. It looked boring, didn't stand out. I can't offer a better explanation though on why they didn't move.

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  2. I loved the pocket cars! The quality was top notch and the doors all closed and fit perfectly with a crisp little 'snap'.

    There seemed to be limit distribution in my area however and although the car and pickup sized models sold well some of large/semi truck style models were so far out of scale and unusual to what was on the American roads at the time there was limited appeal to some. Today there are far more Japanese and European large trucks in the USA and recognition might not be an issue anymore.

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  3. I remember seeing these in the store as a kid in the early 80's. As a kid at the time, I concur that the packaging was a major turnoff as well as no being familiar with a lot of the cars they made. However, the one thing I remember the most, is the wheels. As a kid I HATED the wheels on these.

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    1. Cmon!!! Coming from Mr. Mitsubishi himself, hated these cars? 😄

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    2. Ha, no, no. Did not hate the cars....hated the wheels! But I will admit, as a young kid growing up in the states in the 80's I was unfamiliar, everyone lusted after 60s muscle cars. If you told 8 year old me that 30 something me would have 7 Mitsubishis a Toyota and only one Camaro.....I would have called you crazy, haha

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    4. Haha I was about to fly over and take those cars away from your yard

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    5. You can, just leave me a Lancer EX in their place ;)

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  4. I love Japanese cars, my parents started buying them in the early 70's. Those imports into the UK made a huge impact on the sales of British cars. As they were reliable, well built and came loaded with loads of goodies. Tomica had very limited distributions during that period, it was only in the late 80's did a select number of carefully chosen pocket models make it to the pegs. I have a '75 wagon version of the 610, and the TA22 sedan's sister, the Carina as part of my j-tin collection.

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  5. That Martini Porsche looks pretty good from the top. Would love to see some more detailed shots of it.

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  6. These things are so cool. My buddy still has a ton of them from when he was a kid and they are in really good shape. I'm super jealous of his collection and wanted some of these but they go for some big bucks on ebay.

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    1. some can be had for cheap, and the ones that fetch high dollar are the rare variation of the models. Very fun to collect

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  7. I of course was an adult and at the time not collecting hotwheels or 1/64 diecast at all. I have 3 pocket cars. The 55 Mercedes sl. The Winnebago and one other. These are terrific castings. Always on the lookout for more.

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  8. Tomica Pocket Cars disappeared because they were pricier than Matchbox and Hot Wheels. In 1986 Pocket Cars were $1.25 each while Matchbox and Hot Wheels were .79¢ each. Tomy had a big presence in the late 70's and early 80's with quality toys, just as good as Fisher Price and Mattel. I think they just couldn't compete.

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  9. Tomica Pocket Cars disappeared because they were pricier than Matchbox and Hot Wheels. In 1986 Pocket Cars were $1.25 each while Matchbox and Hot Wheels were .79¢ each. Tomy had a big presence in the late 70's and early 80's with quality toys, just as good as Fisher Price and Mattel. I think they just couldn't compete.

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  10. Tomica Pocket Cars disappeared because they were pricier than Matchbox and Hot Wheels. In 1986 Pocket Cars were $1.25 each while Matchbox and Hot Wheels were .79¢ each. Tomy had a big presence in the late 70's and early 80's with quality toys, just as good as Fisher Price and Mattel. I think they just couldn't compete.

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  11. moreover lot they've been rating brings a yeah free-for-all run our hot chocolates for over five years Derma Promedics these are all in the eye anybody here may have thought we were on our way home and you have never received your products Friday know what I mean everybody megastar November doesn't say how many they only.

    http://renovocremefacts.com/derma-promedics/

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  12. and money if you could be honest with yourself and say how by got the 10000 hours you know how Ideally
    Expert Lift IQ worked in this industry for to 25 years to 10 the market cannot predict the future can I survive inch in troubled timesaver us financially emotionally can I manage work and family life and not everybody.

    http://renovocremefacts.com/expert-lift-iq/

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  13. I didn't grow up in the states but where I came from Tomica is still going strong. They even have their own store display just like matchbox in the 60's. The actual models are displayed and you can pick up the boxed models (not blister pack) and pay for it. Whenever I visit my homeland the first stop I go to in a toy store is the Tomica. :). Looking at the packaging here in blister pack compare to other areas where it was boxed like a matchbox, the blister pack look more like generic brand compare to the beautiful art printed on a box and being unknown at that time the price is no help at all. As to whether Tomica can make a comeback it was tried inTRU but didn't last long. I think it may be due to limited selections and place near the toddlers section instead of the diecast. I would like to know if others have any info as to why Tomica did not succeed.

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  14. I recently bought two #80-1 Mazda Savannas. Both are plated (one in chrome and the other in gold). I'm told these were Tomy mail-ins and that they are quite rare. Does anyone have any knowledge of them?

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  15. I recently have published and am selling on Ebay a complete guide of the 1974 to 1979 years of Pocket Cars. In it you will find values in dollars, rarity, and desirability rankings on every car made. There are pictures of every car - in the blisterpack. I would encourage every Pocket Car collector to take a look at my listing and consider getting a copy. Noone else has written a guide for Tomy Pocket Cars !!! My user id is The-Omega-Man

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