Thursday, January 23, 2014

Shopping for vintage car toys and models in Wichita

If you’re into vintage car collectables, the Internet is a blessing and a curse.  On the plus side, someone will eventually offer anything you could possibly want up for sale no matter how rare it is.  But the likelihood that you’ll stumble upon a bargain is pretty remote.  And it really takes away from the fun of scrounging around to find that hidden treasure.  That’s why sometimes you need to get offline and check out the real world.  We did that last weekend when we stopped at the huge Mid-America Flea Market at the Kansas Coliseum and the Paramount Antique Mall in Wichita, Kan.  I found hundreds of interesting car models, toys, parts, and more. 

Here’s a nice little tin-litho Marx Service Center.  I still have one similar to this that my dad got new as a kid, and it was always one of my favorite toys.  You still see these around fairly regularly, which is a tribute to how durable they were.  This one is missing the guts out of the elevator, but the idea is that you drove onto the platform in the middle stall, raised the elevator, and parked on the roof.  Originally, these were made for little plastic cars, but I can tell you that they worked great with Hot Wheels-sized vehicles.  This toy is probably close to 60-years old, but there are years worth of fun left to be had.

Take a look at this neat Meadow Gold milk truck bank.  This was probably from the 1940s, and is a promotional model for Meadow Gold.  I think there’s something about the crudeness of this hard plastic toy that makes it especially endearing.  It would have been pretty exciting for some kid to get this from the milkman when he delivered those glass milk bottles.  And from the time it sat on someone’s porch in a clear plastic baggie, this thing has survived.  I think it might even be more exciting now.  It is an example of how toys used to be, how milk used to be delivered, and it’s an overall snapshot of what life was like all those years ago.

Here’s a whole case full of dealer promotional models.  If you’re been here for a while, you know I have a thing for these.  They were all protected under glass, lest someone’s grubby brat tried to grab one and roll it across the coliseum floor.  Not that I blame the vendor.  There were some really valuable pieces in here (and based on his prices, he was well aware of that fact), so you wouldn’t want anything to happen to them.  That AMT Charger was a slot car kit, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.  Look at how pretty they all are under the lights there—like a delicious box of candy or something.

One of the reasons we were in Wichita was to attend the Starbird-Devlin Custom Car Show.  This magazine vendor had some poster-sized cover reprints of various custom car rags.  The one at the front of this picture features the Predicta, which was a bubble-top creation that was built by Darryl Starbird himself.  I actually have the originals of these particular magazines, but they sure don’t look as pretty as these posters.  At $4.00 a piece, I think they’d make some pretty cool wall art.  If you’re into bubble-topped “Kustoms”, this was the place to decorate.

One thing that there’s no shortage of out there are metal toy trucks.  This Tonka car carrier was probably from the early 1970s, and even came with its original box.  I’d say it has a nice load of cars too—a pair of Corvettes!  Both of the cars have their A-pillars busted out, so maybe the driver had trouble in transit.  The dealer wanted $80 for this.  That’s $20 for the truck, $20 for the trailer, and $20 for each Corvette.  If you look at it that way, the box was free.

If you like browsing through old car toys and such, I’m including almost 300 pictures in the slideshow below.  You don’t even have to do all the walking that we did.  Click this link for a nicer version.


  1. Sounds like a great trip. There is a cool shop in downtown Wichita named Automobilia who also sponsors a HUGE car show in downtown Wichita that covers several blocks.
    Dan Mc

  2. That looks like a neat place! I'll have to check it out next time we're there.

  3. You have out done yourself Craig. Enjoyed the pictoral trip.

  4. Ooooh. I really like that Marx Service Center...

  5. Oh....the toy cars seem to be an iconic one, its just cool in design and comes in variety of designs. Make sure that you also check for this one as well as this is an impeccable model everyone would love to have one of these as well...""