|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…
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