The comfort zone of our heroes: in play and for real.

Sitting in style: time travel into the interior of toy cars

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It was getting loud in the kids’ bedroom. Four little rascals were on the mattress jumping as high as they could. “Who can jump the highest?” Full of laughter came the replies: “Me!” – “No, me!” – “No, I can fly the highest!” – “This is nearly as cool as Grandpa’s car!”

Grandpa’s car?

There’s some truth to that, actually. It was an old, yet unbelievably beautiful Mercedes-Benz 190 SL from the 60s, with seats like living room chairs. Only wing chairs are more comfortable. And the springs in the seats made them perfect trampolines. I remember it as if it were yesterday. And so begins our little “children’s bedroom heroes” time travel into the world of vehicle interiors. A world full of unforgettable seats.

Today, as ever, seats are every car’s comfort zone. You might say they – both the big ones and the tiny ones – make us feel like heroes. The tiny ones? That’s right. The seats inside toy cars have a storied history, too. It’s an enticing proposition, the thought of actually sitting in such a car and driving it, rather than just pushing it across the carpet.

But sure, toy cars, above all, have to be sleek and stylish, fast and sporty. With numbers on their hoods. A spoiler. Sometimes even a siren. You can even stow cargo in them. Open the doors. Close the doors. Open, close, open … oops! Never mind, a missing door or two won’t stop them. They’re our heroes, after all. The heroes of our childhood bedrooms.

After all, the bigger the opening, the more you can fit inside. And if the seats cooperate by folding down, even better. Unfortunately, today’s toy cars aren’t standard equipped with hinged seats. That’s a wonderful thing about the children’s bedroom heroes of the past. It allows you, for example, to place those crumpled pieces of tissue paper on the rear seat bench, in proper style.

And, in the case of the nearly 50-year-old Opel Rekord 1900 Coupé by Dinky Toys, the seat bench is upholstered in the same red velvet as the two front seats. Even with red interior side panels. In leather, of course. The seats still without headrests, but no doubt super comfortable. Ditto the magnificent Iso Grifo by Corgi Toys. Just open a door, fold down the front seat and stuff it all inside…

Iso Grifo 7 litre, Corgi Toys, 1970
Iso Grifo 7 litre, Corgi Toys, 1970

The authenticity of toy car seats is not an exception. The designers – especially of toy car design studies – paid close attention not only to the outer form but to the finer details of the interior, too. Just like today, sitting in style was always a must – both in real cars and in the little heroes of our childhood.

Bertone’s K-31 concept car (Matchbox Speedking by Lesney, 1971), the splendidly shaped Vauxhall Guildsman (Matchbox by Lesney, 1971) and a glamorous beauty from Munich, the BMW Turbo with wing doors (Schuco, 1972) all feature elegantly shaped sports seats.

It’s almost heartbreaking that, not even ten years later, the best-known children’s room hero of the so called Generation Golf – the 1981 Golf I Convertible was subject to some minor cutbacks in the attention-to-detail department. But due to the Golf’s trailer hitch, we were willing to compromise and accept the shortcomings. After all, hauling things around was always cool, and still is.

Apart from that, we still love to dream about the good old days. About the Targas of this world. And the hot rods and runabouts. And quietly wish that one day we’ll get to drive one of those heroic toy cars into our real-life garages…

Which is why it’s even more wonderful to see that the latest sports cars, like the new Porsche 918 Spyder, not only have racing seats for real but in the toy car version, as well. In fact, this contemporary hero of children’s bedrooms not only shines in terms of its sleekness and fine details, it also has a racing number on its hood and a real spoiler. So that, in the same spirit, we older boys still get to say: Buckle up and don’t talk to the driver. Vrrrooommm! We’ll keep on dreaming…







About the author and photographer, Christian Blanck

What happens when, on a very early Sunday morning, a father is woken up by his young son to play with toy cars? The playing spawns an idea, and the idea turns into two books, and the two books end up thrilling both young and old. “Crazy!” says the photographer and author. “Really crazy!” And yet so real. The volumes titled “Kinderzimmerhelden” (Heroes of Children’s Bedrooms) and “Kinderzimmerhelden. Das Porsche Buch” (Heroes of Children’s Bedrooms. The Porsche Book.) are published in glove compartment and coffee table formats by Edition Panorama, Mannheim.

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