Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Las Vegas Toy Shack

Next stop on my Vegas reality show tour was the Vegas Toy Shack, home of Johnny Jimenez, toy expert for History Channel's "Pawn Stars." I talked with one of his staff and got the scoop on a burning question, "did they go back and buy that outrageous Transformers collection?" The answer was "some of it" and that there was even more to the collection than shown on television.

The Toy Shack is a mecca for diecast and toy car collectors. They specialize in Hot Wheels, Matchbox, 1:18 scale diecast and model kits as well as action figures and other pop culture toys. One look at the storefront (guarded by Lion-O) and you know you are in the right place.

The Vegas Toy Shack in Neonopolis:  (c) Terri L. Coop

I admit to being just fascinated by the customized 1:18 scale (or there abouts) Disney Pixar CARS characters. Some were done at Ridemakerz, but some, like the outrageous Tater below came all from the minds and craftsmanship of the Toy Shack staff.

Pixar CARS Custom McQueen: (c) Terri L. Coop

One of a kind custom Pixar CARS Tater: (c) Terri L. Coop

Diecast & Model Kits: (c) Terri L. Coop
The Toy Shack is a great place to buy, sell, trade, and just hang out and talk toys. Located in Neonopolis at the far end of Fremont Street, it is a destination all by itself. Check. It. Out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Count's Kustoms - So Cool, It's Hot

I know the photography rules so well at  Count's Kustoms in Las Vegas because I hadn't been there five minutes before I violated them.

Rut roh . . . 

I worked out the misunderstanding because The Count's staff and minions are truly as cool as the man himself. However, keep an eye on where you point your camera.

Once inside, be prepared to be smited with style (or is that "smote"? meh, roll with me). From Horny Mike's bike and spiked helmet combo to the hot rod swag shop, Count's Kustoms has got it going on. And you aren't even to the cars yet!

Follow your guide and stay on the path (*cough* okay, that was my second warning, but I was just like a kid in a candy-apple shop!) and treasures will present themselves . . . 

There's rare. There's really rare. And there's ZOMFG-freaking-can-you-believe-it rare ... 

Even the logo is rad:  (c) Terri L. Coop
An utterly cherried-out turquoise Chevy Bel Air convertible, perfect right down to the turquoise fuzzy dice...
Fit for a Countess: (c) Terri L. Coop
Where automotive paint work becomes fine art . . .

Automotive fine art:  (c) Terri L. Coop
 The ultimate piece of car memorabilia . . . a full-size Hot Wheels

The ultimate collectible, a life size Hot Wheels: (c) Terri L. Coop

The bona fides:  (c) Terri L. Coop

And, now, before we conclude, here is your trivia for the day. Back in the early 1990s, the Koker family, including Danny Koker of Count's Kustoms, owned a local Las Vegas TV station that featured Danny Koker as "Count Cool Rider" on the B-movie "Saturday Fright at the Movies." A few years ago, a dear friend of mine, Las Vegas artist Suzanne Hackett-Morgan, was part of a Vegas-wide art project to paint and decorate utility boxes. Suzanne did hers in homage to classic Las Vegas television personalities. Here is her tribute to Count Cool Rider himself . . .

Count Cool Rider Utility Box Las Vegas (c) Suzanne Hackett-Morgan

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Las Vegas Fun: Rick's Restorations

Rick's Restorations Exterior, (c) Terri L. Coop
When I planned my trip to Las Vegas, my friends asked me what I wanted to do. Well, duh, I wanted to go to Rick's Restorations, so off we went. Unfortunately, Rick Dale was at the Sturgis Run, but his gorgeous wife Kelly (the model behind the saucy retro logo), talked with me.

You are in the right place! (c) Terri L. Coop

Kelly - sexy and smart! (c) Terri L. Coop
After laying out the rules on photography (customer privacy and to not accidentally reveal projects for upcoming episodes of their show American Restoration), I got an awesome tour of the workshop area from Brett "The Butcher."

I cannot overstate how warm and fun-loving the crew at Rick's Restorations is. Every visitor was treated like a long-lost friend and the entire operation is set up as a combination business, museum, and tourist attraction.

When you arrive, check out the retro small town street scene. Classic cars, restored and unrestored, grace the front for browsing and photo-ops. (Hint, look all around the parking lot, there was some fun stuff to see tucked away in the corners.)

Chrome details on one of the restored beauties
outside of Rick's, (c) Terri L. Coop
Then try your luck at figuring out which of the doors actually leads inside. Luckily, you get as many tries as you need. Once inside the showroom, take your time and explore. The display isn't huge, but the variety and craftsmanship is stunning (I seriously want the slot machine Kelly is posing by AND the gas station paper towel dispenser).

It was practical! Yeesh! (c) Terri L. Coop
And no trip is complete without browsing through the souvenir shop. Why yes, I did get a hat, why do you ask? Las Vegas is very sunny and hot this time of year. It was practical, I tell you, practical. Next time you are in Vegas and, um, need a hat (or an antique vertical gas pump restored), be sure to stop by Rick's Restorations at 1112 South Commerce Street. Hours are 9 - 5, Monday through Friday and 10 - 4, Saturday and Sunday.  You won't regret it one bit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Viva Las Vegas!

Hi everyone!

I just got home from a vacation in Las Vegas and wanted to let you know what is coming up this month in posts about awesome car memorabilia:

1.  I visited the pawn shop made famous by Pawn Stars on History Channel and discovered some cool automotive collectibles.

2.  I then visited "Rick's Restorations" where I met Rick's wife Kelly and got a tour of not only the restoration shops, but a look at the fun collectibles they offer.

3.  Then over to the lair of Count Cool Rider himself, Count's Kustoms, just four days before the premiere of his new show! A great tour of the car collection and memorabilia and gear shop.

4. What? There's more?  Yes, a stop by the Toy Shack and a chat with the toy expert featured on Pawn Stars. I got a look at the fantastic custom toy vehicles they make based on the Disney/Pixar animated movie "Cars." True one-of-a-kind collectibles.

5.  Scratch a car lover and you find a Harley fan. So, a trip to the Harley-Davidson Cafe on the Strip was in order. It did not disappoint.

6.  Whew . . . then a trip to the Goldwell Open Air Museum in Rhyolite, Nevada to check out the remains of a sculpture titled "Desert Flower" made entirely of vintage automotive chrome (one of my favorites!). Tragically, the sculpture was destroyed in a wind storm. However, you'll see before and after photos of this lost artwork.

7.  And yes! We have a new avatar for the About Car Memorabilia Facebook page. I had given away my vintage fuzzy dice in a contest the week before my trip. However, Las Vegas abides and Fremont Street provides. I'll be unveiling our new mascot on Sunday.

So, how was your weekend?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Luxury Car Memorabilia Auction August 16 - 18, 2012

Enzo Ferrari Prancing Horse Sculpture (c) Russo & Steele 2012
Russo and Steele, home to classic collector automobile auctions will be holding its 12th Annual Sports and Muscle auction in Monterey California on August 16 - 18, 2012.

Along with 250 automobiles, the sale will include a spectacular array of automotive memorabilia including the famed Ferrari "Prancing Horse" (Cavallino Rampante) sculpture that graced Enzo Ferrari's office for twenty-five years. This is a one-of-a-kind piece and the king of Ferrari collectibles will be sold without reserve. It is scheduled to be lot number one and sold before the automobiles.

Starting at 5:00 PM each day there will be a huge selection of certified ephemera bearing the signatures of some of automobile history's greatest figures including Ford, Bentley, Chrysler, Ferrari, and Howard Hughes. All sales are without reserve.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Shining It On . . .

Fancy Lady: (c) Terri Lynn Coop 2012
I love chrome. Yes, I know the plastic bumper on my 1995 Mercury Tracer station wagon is safe, sane, and economical. Whatever . . . My heart and my eyes follow the fancy vintage ladies from Detroit loaded down with the shiny stuff. It's a little known fact that chrome makes your car go faster. True story . . . Trust me . . .

Chrome plating was patented in the US in 1926 and car makers caught the bug over the next ten years. By the 1950s it seemed like the Big 3 auto makers were in competition to see who could hang the most chrome on their new models. If GDP could be measured in tail fins, then the US led the world.

So, when I'm out and about, if a pretty lady catches my eye, I whip out my camera and snap her photo. This vintage Plymouth was basking in the sun outside my office building in Independence Kansas. Out comes my smart phone and she is part of my collection. Part restored, part vintage, she was a beauty. Not perfect, but stylish and classy. There were bigger cars in the parking lot and fancier ones, but she was the queen.

When I look at newer cars, I am always bewildered by the lack of style. Look that the burgundy car in the upper corner. Sleek, streamlined, utilitarian and . . . meh . . . Then I realized what the problem was. It has no chrome! The uni-body style with the bumper incorporated into the body is, frankly, boring.

Luckily, you don't have to have Jay Leno's garage to enjoy vintage chrome. Hood ornaments, grille badges, and side panel emblems are a great addition to any collection. With a little care, your house can shine like vintage Detroit on a sunny day.