Originally released in 1971, the Tomica Building was one of the most popular and iconic playsets from the diecast company’s early years. The palm-sized diecast cars that had debuted in 1970 had turned out to be a big success, so it was only natural to accompany them with a large playset where kids could roll them down ramps. Now, for the 50th anniversary of the Tomica brand, they’ve re-released an updated version.
The original 1971 Tomica Building was molded in white with a yellow base and red tower. It featured two stories of parking for Tomica cars, a spiraling ramp, and even a car elevator. On the ground floor was a fuel station, car wash, and repair bay. Nothing but the best full service for your diecast Toyota Crown!
The style of its architecture, though, was pure Showa Era modernism, recalling the works like Mamoru Yamada’s Kyoto Tower. There was a rotating restaurant on top called the Sky Lounge, a tiled plaza at the base, and even a lazy susan platform to show off the latest new models, which was a common advertising device back in the day.
Over the years, the colors and designs were changed several times. In 1972, Tomica issued a Tomica Building Deluxe, which was the same design but with five floors. In 1982, the set was reissued with a blue building and white top (lead photo). The fonts were updated, the colors changed, and the Sky Lounge became some kind of control room for an action emergency squad, but the mold was still the same as it was 11 years prior.
In 2010, for the 40th anniversary of Tomica, redesigned the regular and deluxe Tomica Building, which first introduced the screw-design elevator that could lift multiple cars at once.
For the 50th anniversary this year, Tomica has released an new version of the Tomica Building. It’s a completely new tooling, but it’s clear where the inspiration came from. The bigger and better building now as four stories for parking, capable of holding 30 cars.
Like the cities of Japan, the set has been modernized. The ground floor is now the Tomica Grand Mall. There’s not as many car-servicing provisions anymore, which sadly reflects real life cities as well. However, the new one has one cool party trick.
It can completely transform by swinging out the third story, all while keeping the ramps and elevator connected. The space created is big enough to fit a smaller Tomica playset underneath (like the Eneos gas station shown in the image above). It’s not cheap, retailing for ¥6,800 ($65 USD) pre-tax. But, as Tomica’s longest running playset in its 50 years of existence, it’s a piece of history that every car-loving Japanese kid probably has a fond memory of.
Images: Tomica, Kyoto Tower.