Tomica's 1:64-scale die-cast playset cars – Click above for high-res image gallery
It's official: the Tomica transport ship has made the trans-Pacific journey and achieved landfall. In this case, the Tomy ship would be just about as long as a compact car, and its cargo of die-cast models is getting ready to take you on a 1:64-scale run down Nostalgia Boulevard. The company gave us an exclusive high-res look at the 20 vehicles that will come with the new playsets (you can't buy them individually), so follow the jump to check them out and get ready to blow that wad of cash you got for the holidays.
You can stop searching eBay or waiting for that trip to Japan to find Tomica's little metal motors. The Pocket Cars of the '80s were the last time Tomica called the United States home, but it's returned with a lineup of 27 playtime creations to get the return to childhood started. The breakdown: seven diecast car sets, three train sets, six accessory sets, six destination sets and five deluxe play sets.
The 17 cars, one bus and two heavy machines that comprise Tomica's initial return will come with the sets and maps – along with little Tomy men and plastic trees and streetlights.
But why now? Tomica said that when it checked out the diecast world, it found that "In the United States, there are currently either diecast car playsets or train playsets, and they are mostly in the fantasy realm. We saw an opportunity to move away from the fantasy aspect and enter a more realistic play pattern with the combination of diecast cars and trains in our playsets."
That word "reality" might seem a little out of place when we're talking about trains like the Hypercity Rescue Drill Liner, looking like it might be here for some sort of mythical rematch with John Henry. The train gear is an evolution of the Plarail system that's been making Japanese kids giggle since 1959, but ultimately Tomica feels the key is in the complexity the entire range offers. The train set has been designed to fit in with the car tracks and mats, and you can start with the insta-built arrangements like the Mega Station Set (below, $79.99) or slowly piece together your own metropolis with individual shops like the Pizza Shop (above left, $12.99) and Mini Tune-Up Set.
Tomica says the 20 diecast models that will come with the various sets were chosen because, "We wanted to bring items to our American consumers that they can identify with most easily, and at the same time something unique." That means a host of Mazdas and Nissans like the RX-8 and Mazda2 (Demio), and X-Trail. Yet there are also a few JDM nameplates that we've come to know only from a distance that are "distinct from the rest of the diecast models out in stores now." Paging the Mitsuoka Orochi, Daihatsu Mira and Mitsubishi Fuso Aero Queen, your table is ready...
Unlike the last time Tomica was here, with the Tomy Pocket Cars of the '70s and '80s, now the cars come with a specific set: the Pizza Shop comes with the Pizza Toyota Pro-Box and a happy delivery guy, the Mega Station Set comes with a Mazda Axela, Mitsuoka Viewt, the Cargo Liner train and an intense little purple conductor.
Before they left the States, the Pocket Cars numbered something like 120 cars, and we imagine that this initial 20-car phalanx will be expanded quickly and regularly. For now, though, here is the complete list of brightly colored metal: HCR (Hyper City Rescue) Fire Mazda RX-8, HCR Police Mazda RX-8, Pizza Toyota Pro-Box, green Daihatsu Mira and tan Mira, Mazda Axela, Demio, RX-8 and MPV, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Fuso Aero Queen, Mitsuoka Orochi and Viewt, Nissan Skyline Crossover and X-Trail, Subaru Legacy B4, Toyota Harrier and Pro-Box, Maeda Seisakusho Mini Crawler Crane and Komatsu Bulldozer.
There are high-res images of each car in our gallery, but for the real thing you'll need to head to Toys 'R' Us or FAO Schwartz and be ready to spend anywhere between $4.99 and $79.99. And then you'll need to be ready to play, just like the old days...
[Live images: Dan Hsu, JapaneseNostalgicCar.com]