Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hallmark Kiddie Kar Billboard

In 1992 Hallmark introduced a line of miniature cars modeled after the Kiddie pedal cars of the 1950s. Along with the cars came a series of accessories like a fire house, garage, billboards, etc. all sized about 1/32 scale. I bought this billboard cuz it looked nice alongside Marx's huge #5424 Freight Station. The sign consists of a lithographed metal sheet overlaid on a foam core. The artwork is different on each side and there are four fake spotlights pointing upwards. Enjoy! opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Here the sign is displayed alongside the Marx #5424 freight Station and you can see it looks just right.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Unk - Metal Garage

Here's a nice garage from an unknown manufacturer made from heavy duty enameled steel with a litho roof. The frontal view makes it look like a covered bridge but the back end is closed. While it fits O-gauge cars just fine measuring 3" (7.62cm) W x 5 1/2" (13.97cm) D x 2 5/8" (6.66cm) H, I wonder if in fact this was meant to an engine house for N-scale engines? Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Going Solar

Toys and Stuff is going solar. Yup, we took the plunge to have solar panels installed on the roof. I had been tracking the progress of solar energy development for years now and especially the last few years. While the cost of solar panels has come down significantly they're still pricey for the average do-it-yourselfer. But there's another way.

A couple of years ago I began noticing more and more articles about a company called 'Solar City' and their essentially cost-free offer to customers. They pay for the panels, installation, and maintenance over the life of the product and you end up paying them for the power generated at a lower rate than the local utility company. I had read somewhere that about 80% of houses don't qualify for solar.   There are catches.  Solar is a  rather hard sell for the northern tier states and especially the sun-starved Pacific northwest. Another catch is that not all houses are optimally oriented. While east-west orientation is preferred it's not a show-stopper. Another catch is the design of the roof. A flat expanse of roof is better to install the panels on. An interrupted roof with gables, dormers or whatever makes it more difficult or even not possible. Their aim is not to generate 100% of the power you require, but shoot for about 95%, the residual power still being supplied by the local utility.The last is your credit rating. Here in Vegas they required at least 650 FICO score.

On the plus side is that over the life of the contract you'll be saving a great deal over the local utility company's rates, and having lived here since 1991 I can attest to the non-stop, ever increasing rates pushed on us by NV Energy! That being said we have tried desperately to decrease our energy usage. We started to have energy efficient windows installed. We got the front and side windows done as those received the greatest heat, the rear windows being shaded by the patio cover (the week we had those installed was the same week I got laid off from work during the height of the Recession and we never got the rear windows done) BUT since then we've gotten all Energy Star appliances, including a new HVAC unit four years ago and have swapped out nearly every incandescent light bulb in the house with LED's or CFL's so our bills have thankfully not sky-rocketed through the roof.

I finally took the plunge after talking with a Solar City rep at the Home Depot and scheduled the first meeting with the salesman. I was already sold before he walked in the house so his spiel was basically a matter of going over the finer points. He went through all the details of the contract, went over our KWH usage for the past year, did a basic panel design/layout on his laptop, and ran the credit check. We were in like Flynn!

This whole thing is a process and it'll be a while before the panels actually get installed and the switch-over from the local utility takes place.

Oh, and BTW, all you space fans and those folks following the exploits of SpaceEx (not Triang SpacEx toys but Space Exploration Technologies), Solar City is another of Elon Musk's companies, along with Tesla.

Well keep you posted. Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Las Vegas,Nevada Der Mond an einem heissem Tag 43 Grad 27 June 2015

Las Vegas,NV 27 Juni 2015 Seit Alle Gegruesst Opa Fritz & Oma Bettina  :)

Astro Mfg Guided Missile Bank

Buying back my childhood, one cool toy at a time! That's really what this is because I had one of these gorgeous banks as a kid, only mine had the matte finish, while today's featured bank is chromed. 

Designed by brothers Steven and John Barzak, this was patented in 1960 and was their first offering for the firm they founded in their garage, Astro Manufacturing after leaving Duro Mold. The classic 'pointy tube with fins' design features a spring loaded device allowing you to put coins up to a quarter ($.25) denomination into the holder on the front side then by pressing the button it propels the coin into the slot under the rim of the cone into the hopper. Often times the red rubber nose cone and fin guard covers are missing. My example is missing the key, also a common occurrence. Some models do not have fin guards (those little metal 'feet' at the bottom of each fin) and may at first appear to be broken. The ship measures 13" (35.6cm) H x 4 3/4" (12.1cm) W at the fins. Enjoy! Opa Fritz and Oma Bettina

I used a couple of different backgrounds to shoot this

A repo sheet of the patent drawings

Here's our intrepid bank soaring through the atmosphere of an alien world (could this be the toxic atmosphere over Wall Street?)