Thursday, 16 August 2012

ABCs of Tomica Collecting (Introduction)



Tomica "Hi-Five"

If you had intended to pick up some for your own collection, why not start today! It is a really fun and interesting hobby and this section was created to share experience/tips with interested individuals how to start Tomica Collecting laugh

A little history about my collection. When I was really young, I used to have them Matchbox & others miniature cars (including Tomica). Alas I did not understand the value and the meaning to collect back then, so *poof* they were all gone and a pity that I had not kept them.

In the beginning, I collected all brand types as long they were small-scale diecast such as models from Real-X, Majorette, Matchbox, HotWheels, Wellys, CMS, Kyosho, Choro-Q.. well you name it. Soon I realised that not only budget was a constraint, but storage space had become the overriding factor in my decision to focus more on Tomicas.

Fast-forward till today. I'm back with Tomicas & other miniature cars. Though I have collected sporadically all these while, I only started seriously on the collection just about a few years ago..

Year of Release


Here's a little Trivia brow

For the later generations of Tomica models, the year of release is indicated at the back of the box. A single digit would mean which year in the 1990s was the item released and to counter issue of the millennium year a "0" was appended at the front to represent for the year 2000 onwards (examples below).


Year of Release: 1995


Year of Release: 2007

However do take note that since Tomy had been producing Tomicas for the longest time, they were re-using the base plates over so the markings on them cannot be relied upon as accurate. There is a 3-number method to keep track of the exact number, model and variant type and should be a topic for another day.

Guide to Collecting (Tomica Line-up)



Tomica Logo

Tomy started producing Tomicas since 1970 and will reach its 40th anniversary year in 2010. So given the length and depth of the Tomica product lines, it is thus safe to declare it as an impossible feat for anyone to collect every single piece of Tomica ever produced.

The current situation is a sea of series and yet the company continues to develop new ones and collaborate with other organisations for even more special runs. It not only becomes challenging to keep track but will require an extremely generous budget to pursue them.

Question: What Should I Collect?? wonder2


Catalogue 2007-2008

I made a summary and description to my best on the plethora of product lines for reference below. Well a good way to start is to collect 1. Regular Box and 2. Tomica Limited because they are released on a regular schedule, at two and one model release(s) a month respectively, and add on more series as we go along. Remember to grab a Tomica Catalogue (free hand-out) too!


Standard Tomica Series:

1. Regular Box
  • Domestic Series (Black/Yellow) - genesis of Tomica with Japanese domestic models (1970)
  • Foreign Series (Blue/White) - American, German and European Models (1976 ~ 1987)
  • Modern-day version (Red/White) - consolidated domestic and foreign models (1988 ~ )
2. Limited Edition
  • Regular - high level of details and targeted at the premium collector.
  • Box Set - comes in all bundles typically from 2 to a 12-car set.
  • S-Series - larger in scale and very detailed. Only 10 models were produced.
3. Gift Set
  • Box Set - commonly a standard 4-vehicles set which are mostly colour variants with little add-ons/changes like a police siren or a new tempo etc. A good choice for those who are unable to locate the desired model type in regular box or other series.
4. Special
  • Single Box - released by TakaraTomy or a one-off collaboration with external organisations.
  • Series - a limited run of cars that are usually theme or brand specific such as the: D1 Professional Drift Grand Prix (6-car set), Kazuyoshi Hoshino (6-car set) and Museum (30-car set) etc. This is how it expanded exponentially into many different series.
  • Character - brand new castings are used with examples such as the Pokemon, Disney and Thomas Train Series.
5. Event-Factory-Special
  • Event Models - sold only at at events but and usually a colour variant with some decals.
  • Factory Models - known as the Tomica Assembly Factory (AF), only available at Tomica Shop whereby a staff member would assemble your hand-picked interior and exterior choices. Up to 4 model colours per AF set.
  • Special Models - not to be confused with the Special Box, these are actually a running series of their own that started in 2003 (25 cars per run).
  • Shop Original - the popular red/white Tomica Shop Model cars are sold only at the Tomica outlets which sports the shop logo.
6. Carded
  • Regular - same as Regular Box but in blister pack.
  • Hyper Resuce - a new series showcasing rescue personnel and their equipment.
  • Hyper Blue Police - akin to Hyper Rescue but focusing on the Police.
  • PLAKids - human characters of Tomicas, comes bundled with a car but also sold individually.
7. Lottery (Kuji)
  • Currently up to Kuji (くじ) Set XI. The word Lottery gives meaning of a lucky draw where collectors would random pick from a case of blind boxes though many prefer to purchase the entire box instead.
8. Tomica Town
  • Introduced to complete the urban diorama scene which included important town establishments such as the hospital, police & fire stations, roads, street lamps, gas pumps, traffic junctions and car parks etc. Some Town Sets may come with a complimentary car/truck or PLAkid.
9. Tomica Memorabilia
  • Tomica Style - ranging from penholders, lunch boxes, caps, shirts and shoes etc.
  • Others - keychains, tissues packets and all sorts of collectibles.

Other Tomica Series:

Anniversary Tomica
  • Tomy has the habit of celebrating all sorts of anniversaries and have released many models such as the 30th Anniversary (12-car set), the Skyline 50th Anniversary Parts I & II (6-car sets) and so on. Year 2000 is the bumper year with the most number of such releases.
Not For Sale Tomica
  • Shareholders Set - issued to company shareholders. There were years where bigger and smaller shareholders receive different models. There is also a tendency to likened the models to movies or some anime characters.
  • Point Card - redeemed at the Tomica Shop on a points system based on value of purchase for card members only.
Long Tomica
  • Not commonly available, they come extended in length and requires a long box (1977 ~ 1993). Some can still be be found in gift sets and the good news is that they are making a comeback in 2008/2009.
Combat Tomica
  • An attempt by Tomy which lasted only a few years. Production models included military vehicles such as tanks, rocket launcher trucks, troop trucks, and jeeps. Rare stuff in today's context.
Pull-Back Tomica
  • Started in 1980s with 6 models and re-introduced in year 2002 with little success.
Power Tomica
  • Otherwise known as the Motorised Tomica, this series started in 1980s and was re-introduced in 1992 as Battery-Operated (B/O) Tomicas and numbred B-01 to B-20. It was finally renamed as Motor Tomica in 1997 and the letter A was used instead of B.
Tomica Dandy
  • Similar to the Tomica Limited S-Series but was produced from the 1972 until 1993. Foreign models were introduced in 1977 but unfortunately, they are now all out of production. These are larger scale models with high level of details.
Vintage Tomica
  • Tomica Limited Vintage - produced by Tomytec, the models released are mostly 1950s and 1960s classic Japanese vehicles like Nissan Cedric, Prince Gloria and Toyopet Crown and of great details.
  • Tomica Limited Vintage NEO - models catering to popular JDMs made after 1970s.