Friday, 30 June 2017

A barn-find Mazda of sorts - Sindy's Miata!

..the 'of sorts' being used for a combination of:
a. it's not really a Mazda.
b. it's not actually a barn.
c. it's not really a 'find' when it was never lost - it's a 25-year-old plastic replica of a 30-year-old Japanese sports-car, designed for a little girl's doll - yeah, it doesn't see much action these days..
d. it's a 25-year-old plastic replica of a 30-year-old Japanese sports-car, designed for a little girl's doll: nobody here gives a flying f...

But today we are. Right now we will. Because I took a whole damn impromptu-photoset of this thing in a friend's garage last weekend, and bloody hell.. a 1/6 scale plastic replica of a much-loved sportscar with a plastic doll jammed in it.. well that just makes me smile.

Sindy's 1993 "Surprise SPORTSCAR" - a 1989- NA Mazda MX-5.. or Mazda Miata.. or Eunos Roadser, depending on which market it was you first came across the little Mazda roadster..

Thanks to a quick bit of googl'ing (ahh, cheers again internet!), I can tell you that what you're looking at was produced in the early 90's for Hasbro's 'Sindy' - an (English) knock-off of Mattel's likely-better-known 'Barbie'.
Whether Mazda knew anything about it.. yeah, I don't know. There's likely nothing really negative about it for Mazda either way; good for subconsciously converting little girls in to Mazda customers decades-on, and a hilarious skeleton-in-the-closet for those "track-day bro!" MX-5 owners when these cars finally became acceptable/cool/appreciated.

I was more than a bit surprised by the detail on this thing anyway. The random accuracy. On a toy designed as an accessory for a doll? Wow. I'm impressed. I reckon I had toy cars - designed with no other purpose than being a smaller reproduction of a car - that were worse than this!

The most obvious sway from a more accurate replica being those wildly chunky tyres on the eight-spoke (there's one for the trainspotters!) 'daisies'. Slammed, spacers, and 235's on the factory 14x5.5" alloys; Sindy's got taste - It looks tough!

I don't think she'd left the driver's seat in a while..

..oh, let me just fold those (NA-update) mirrors for you. Genuinely killer detail..

To get a better idea of what this thing looked like new, I jumped onto good ol' ebay in the search for an original un-played-with example.. or one that hadn't sat perched on a garage shelf for the last bloody decade!
Incognito-mode activated (wisely, as I don't particularly want ads/suggestions/emails on sweet Sindy accessories deals..) and away I went:
18pounds Buy It Now out of the UK, here; yet if you're keen to spend an extra 20 for whatever reason...

..there's this one - also not surprisingly in the UK.

The second listing (kindly!) gives us a good look at the original box art too..

Yeah, I had no idea that's how the side decals worked. Here's me thinking it was just faded to all hell..
..but no(!), you wipe it with a frosty sponge for it to appear, then with that love-heart-shaped number to activate subtle-Sindy mode. It's logical.

Be sure to look out for Surprise Jeans Sindy and Paul and the Surprise Scooter too! "Ask your parents for their credit-card details!"

And we're done.
Learn something new every day..

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Lakeside LandCruiser.

As promised in the previous post; here's the first of those "closer looks" at one of the daily finds from a two-week run around Japan earlier this month. 

The Lake Biwa '60series.

Sitting in a nondescript carpark not far from Otsu's clearly-freshwater Lake Biwa, and brutally conspicuous amongst the plastic; it was worth the detour.
Not as though it's a minter or anything, but a 30-year-old LandCruiser is far from the norm.. and hell, awesome's awesome.
This particular example actually scored a bucket-load of bonus points (redeemable nowhere) just for being the first 60series I'd seen in Japan that actually looked used. In a country where spotless classic 4WD's are a currently-very-trendy 'thing', even among its fellow '60s (so often sporting a backdated utilitarian look) it manages to be different.

SO, as usual, "what is it?"
Well what you're looking at is a late, top-tier, HJ61 Toyota Landcruiser VX. Possibly an '88 or '89 build (yeah, 'late', as-in the 1989/90 '80series was nipping at its heels) and powered by Toyota's four-litre 12H-T  turbo-diesel straight six.
And how 'top' is this 'tier'?
In VX trim (VX > GX > STD) the HJ61 (diesel) and FJ62 (petrol) LandCruisers were right up there price-wise with Toyota's 7MGTE-powered Soarer and Supra!


Continuing on...
There's a mild lift (these are solid-axle leaf-sprung F/R), and beefy alloys wrapped in Yokohama Geolander M/T's replacing the original styled steel wheels..

..and plenty of stickers in those rear windows, making up for the patina-riffic wear-and-tear on those tremendous factory side-stripes.

'turbo' VX 4WD.

I have to mention again at this point just how rarely I see tow-bars in Japan. Coming from a country where even the most worryingly-small cars are set up with a hook on their bum; their absence in Japan is noticeable.

..around to the left side to prove that yep, there is one; and we're done.

Want one of these for your very own? Well curious about just how much something similar would currently set you back in Japan, I went browsing...

Stock-as-a-rock from tape-deck to steelies, and seemingly tidy; this 303,000km (188,000mi) '89 HJ61 is currently at a dealer in Fukuoka for a whisker under 1million yen.
If it's genuinely as rust-free as it looks, I could absolutely go for that.

..not mint enough though? Well going a little further...
2.5million yen at FLEX (a dealer network that specializes in older LandCruisers) in Okayama, will get you an '89 HJ61 with 163,000km (101,000mi)...

...while at another dealer in Hokaido; the same 2.5million yen will get you a '89 HJ61 with only 128,000km (80,000mi) on the clock..

...and in Miyagi? Amazingly, again, 128,000km (80,000mi) on this HJ61 (an '88 this time) for the same 2.5million.

Decisions, decisions...

Now to wind this post up with some period promotional shots, just to make your wallet really sweat..
Lower-spec barn-door FJ62.. (I actually did a post on a now-seemingly-rare FJ62 in the high-spec VX trim in the past, here)
..and boom(!) 'photoshop' magic from a time when the process probably involved a little more arts&crafts. Never trust a brochure image! 

I really should do a post on that one day....

..but for now?
Nope, we're done. Enjoy.