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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Tomy Co. of Japan was founded in 1924 by Eijira Tomiyama in Tokyo, Japan, as Tomy Kogyo Incorporated. They company has also been know as Tomiyama along the way. Their diecast car line up can trace its roots back to 1959 when their line of accessories for the Plarail toy train line up from (Tomica World(?) was started. The Tomica brand of diecast toys was started by the Takara Tomy Company in 1970.

The Tomica brand is traditionally associated with the 3" (1:64) scale range of vehicles. But, like many other diecast makers the casting models themselves come in various scale sizes depending on the type of vehicle being modeled.

Tomica brand castings were initially issued with metal bases. Plastic bases came into the production design in the 1980s. Their base plates included the model name, casting number, scale ratio size, and their country of origin. At first, production occurred in Japan, but like almost all other diecast makers - production eventually moved to China. Most castings were produced in Japan, but a few were made in Hong Kong and are considered rare.

The first series of small-scale diecast cars consisted of (6) Japanese brand cars in September of 1970. These were nicely detailed Japanese cars and commercial vehicles with a metal base plate, opening doors and solid type chrome wheel sets. A 7th casting was issued later in that same year. Other new car models, along with taxis, buses, trucks and construction vehicles were also added over the next few years. Even a steam engine and an ocean liner were offered at one time.

From the initial range produced as toys for children, Tomy has expanded the brand to include a number of collectible series featuring models of vintage vehicles with higher detail levels that were aimed at diecast collectors. They also produced the Tomica Dandy range of 1:43 scale vehicles from 1972 until 1993.

In 1973, they launched their Combat Tomica Series. This was a range of 11 tank models done in 1/87 scale. They were only shown in the 1974 catalogue. Models were #ed from 001 to 013, but #6 and #10 were never issued.

In 1974, a line up of North America brand cars was issued as "Pocket Cars" for the American and European markets. By this time, Tomy had opened an office in Carson, California. Like Matchbox, these Tomica castings carry a series # for each model. But, as above, every 5 years or so a new model is introduced that replaces an old casting model with the same number being used again. Based on their blister card data, "Pocket Cars" were issued in America until around 1986.

In April 1976, a new series of other foreign models began to be released with the issue of the Winnebago Chieftan. These were called the "F" series in reference to the F letter that proceeding their base casting number.

Another series released this year was the "Tomica Long" series. Made from 1976 to 1994 the Long Tomica series range included trucks, buses and train locomotives done in 1:100 scale. They were made in Japan and originally came in blue boxes, but after 1984, white boxes with red printing was used.

Another series that soon followed is called "Power Tomica".

Also in 1976, the authors of The Diecast Encyclopedia note Tomica was also known to have made (at least just) the castings for Aviva's 'Snoopy Mini Diecast' Series.

In 1977, Noboru Nakajima included Tomica models in his book on Japanese castings - called Model Cars of Japan, that included images of each casting issued to date.

By 1978, there were 109 models available in the Tomica brand line up. The first #109 model was shown in that years catalogue, but is not known to have been released (?). Models wee numbered from 1 to 110 up to then. As as existing models were phased out though, their numbers were re-used for new castings.. As these new models were issued or replaced an existing model, each was assigned a number from 1 to eventually 120 as was available.

During the 1970s, a Collectors Club was established in America by Roger Zimmerman.


In 1983, due to Tomy’s financial issues, the range was reduced to only 80 models.

Initially, the product boxes used for the Tomica brand range of castings used a black background. But beginning in 1984, each new model came with a new red-and-white background. Existing models issued before 1984 kept using the older style box with the black background until 1988. Then all boxes were updated to the new red/white color style. Most domestic models are commonly referred to as the “black box” or “red-and-white Box” models depending on when they first appeared and their box design.

Except for the "Pocket Car" series of castings which were issued on blistered card backs. Most of the other product line was available in window boxes or in sets, which earned them the nick name as the 'Matchbox of Japan'. They were also available in the USA up until the mid 1990s.

In 1986, Tomica actually even had a brief working relationship with Matchbox as distributing arm for the Matchbox "Road Blasters" series, in Japan.

In 1987, Funrise issued their Takara made Penny Racers in America.


In the mid 1990s, the Chara Tomica line was introduced. These were a series of (14) castings based on the existing Tamiya 4WD RC models and the Manga comic book series Bakusou Kyoudai Let's Go! created by Tetsuhiro Koshita and published in Shogakukan's CoroCoro Comics from 1994 to 1996. It was also a TV Anime adaptation, produced by XEBEC and aired on TV Tokyo in 1996.


In the 2000s, two new series of the Tomica brand were being distributed as "Limited" and "Vintage".

Another offering from the Tomy Yujin Corporation was found in bubble gum type machines. These very small castings were made of plastic and came with a mini "Pocket" car box (?). Tomy Yujin Corp was based in Newport Beach, California.

In the mid 2000s, International Playthings (New Jersey) marketed Tomy's "Tomica World" cars.

In 2009, the Tomica brand line up expanded again with the introduction of a line of models reminiscent of the previous "Long Tomica" series. These models are designated with the numbers of 121-140. (It is not explained if the rest of the line up had stayed at 80 models or had expaned back to 120 prior to this event.)


In 2013, the "Dream Tomica" series were assigned the #s 141 to 156. Not all "Dream Tomica" releases were issued with a # though and #157 did not make a debut ppearance until 2016, further adding to this casting list sequence of confusion.

In 2017, they made (4) castings for a McDonald's Malaysia Tomica promotion. During the Fall months of 2017, a different bagged car was available in the their Kid's Happy Meals. They were the - Lotus Exige R-GT, Mazda Roadster, Nissan GT-R, and the Toyota 86.

Tomica's casting models are still the most popular in Japan, but the internet has made them accessible to almost anyone today. They also produce(d) promotional models for Honda dealerships in Japan.

Recently Walmart has begun marketing Tomica blister carded models with card board boxes included in the USA.


An unspecifed relationship with Parker Brothers (Canada) is noted but not explained.



Sourced references -

HobbyTalk members - @Toyotageek
What's Tomica | Tomica | Products | TOMY Company, Ltd.
Tomica - Wikipedia
Encyclopedia of Small-Scale Diecast Motor Vehicle Manufacturers - Sahakangas, Foster & Weber (2006)
Planet Diecast.
Tomica | hobbyDB
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I added some more information on individual series releases today to the production history in the OP above. :cheers2:
 

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I do not know the how and where and other information but know at least two Tomica models were sold by Sears in the early 1970's. I don't know if they were part of a playset or what but found a green Datsun Bluebird and the Datsun pickup at the Sears store in Spokane loose - which makes me think they might have been part of a set that was damaged. Only saw those two and in those days didn't travel to other cities that would have had a Sears store.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The Bluebird can fit in a few places. Not sure about the truck. If you remember more details let us know. :cheers2:
 

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As I was updating the OP history today for chronological date order and better grouping by decades above, I noticed the information given indicated Tomica brand castings were available in the USA up to the mid 1990s in both picture boxes and as sets. I dont remember them being around the Houston area or in Bryan/College Station as I was growing up and away to College though.

I do remember seeing the Pocket Car series - because of their denim look - at a Sears - in a mall - which would have been sometime in the late 1970s to early 1980s.

It would seem likely though that they would have been more readily available in the Pacific NW and California to me!

I did update the information presented from the Diecast Encyclopedia to include the American (USA) Tomica Collectors Club from the 1970s and the 1977 book reference to Noboru Nakajima 's Model Cars of Japan.
 
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