Ben van Roode, Dutch Diecast Expert, Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

Ben van Roode

The vast collection of knowledge available on hobbyDB keeps growing with yet another diecast vehicle expert. Ben van Roode, best known as an author of articles and books about model cars, has joined the Advisory Council.

“I played as a boy of course with cars,” said Ben, who lives in The Netherlands. “Then in my teens model cars disappeared into the background because other interests took over.” The lapse wasn’t for long, however, as he got his first job at the age of 16 and began collecting Dinky toys along with other brands of model cars. “There was one slight problem. Sales girls did not ask whether it was a present, but supposed right away that the guy of 18 or so was not the one that would receive the gift,” he laughed. “So they wrapped it up in nice gift paper that I removed as fast as I could.

“Dutch society is more individual than ever today, though, and people do not judge about the hobbies you have.”

In his twenties, he joined the biggest society of Dutch diecast collectors. “Rather soon, I was asked to become a member of the board,” he said. “I started a club magazine and was responsible for the contents. In the meantime the number of members rose to around 5500. We celebrated the 25th jubilee in 1990.”

For the jubilee, the club organized a large exhibition of models in 80 glass showcases that was on public display for six weeks. The event was sponsored by BMW and opened by a member of the Royal family, it was a big deal.

MAR Model Auto Review

Big Boys don't play with Dinky ToysAs an adult, Ben has written about model cars in Dutch and English. I wrote among others for a Dutch classic car magazine. I wrote for MAR (Model Auto Review), and so on. In 2004 he wrote a book called “Big Boys Do Not Play With Dinky Toys,” a celebration of 40 years NAMAC (Netherlands Association of Model Auto Collectors) in a print run of 8500 copies. “American cars in all scales were a main theme for me,” he said about his collection, “but the club included models of cars from anywhere.” Despite leaving his functions in the club, he was made a honorary member for life.

Despite many collector clubs losing membership in recent years, the NAMAC continues to thrive, with over 5000 members. “Every two months there is a large model car fair in the center of the country. With over 500 tables and around 6000 visitors, it’s the largest fair in Europe that’s organized this frequently.” Collectors and traders from Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, the U.K., and further away attend the meetings.

NAMAC meeting

The mulit-annual NAMAC diecast shows are among the largest collector events in Europe.

Having recently moved to a smaller apartment, he decided to sell a large part of his collection (large in number and scale). “I now collect mainly 1/64 scale,” he said. “I love Johnny Lightning and to a certain extent also Matchbox and Hot Wheels. I was positively surprised when JL and Auto World returned with their new lines in 1/64.”

Ben’s interests extend beyond model cars, of course. “In art, I especially love the photorealism but am open to all painters, including the modern ones too. Architecture is another thing that interests me,” he said.

He creates his own art as well. “I draw a little myself, but it is not very good. I love collecting drawn art of cars that are drawn, like the Pontiac ads in the sixties and many other car art people, Ken Eberts, William Motta… the list is endless..” he said. “I made a little book of ads from American cars from American magazines.” As an appropriate soundtrack for enjoying Detroit steel, his Spotify account is populated with Motown and Pennsylvania soul music.

At 70 years old, he is nowhere near slowing down For one thing, he writes for Modelauto Krant, an online diecast blog. He volunteers as a member of the board for some charity organizations and still does personal writing. “I need my diary every day. You have to stay active in your life.”

It’s a joy to know someone who enjoys his hobbies so much. Welcome aboard, Ben!

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My Top Ten Collectable Teddy Bears

bearsA Guest Blog Post by Kathy Martin
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in 2016,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

I’ve been a teddy bear enthusiast, aka an arctophile, for more than 25 years, having developed an interest in them when I started dealing in antiques in the late 1980’s. There’s something about the way an old bear slumps as his stuffing relaxes that I find immensely appealing, so here are my top ten collectable teddy bears.  

Almost since the first teddies appeared in the early 1900’s, people have been quietly nurturing a fondness for them but it’s only in the last 30 years or so that the hobby has gone mainstream. Now there are thousands of arctophiles worldwide, supporting a small but significant community of antique and vintage bear dealers, bear artists and manufacturers of modern limited edition bears.

ANTIQUE AND VINTAGE TEDDIES – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

 

bearss

The strict definition of an antique is something that is more than 100 years old. Therefore, to qualify as a true antique, a teddy must have been made no later than 1915. The first teddy bear was created by Steiff, the famous German manufacturer, in 1902 but the new toy didn’t achieve widespread success until 1905 when the design was perfected. Just one year later, 400,000 bears had been sold.

For most collectors of old bears, however, it’s not so much a question of whether a bear is antique or vintage as whether it is pre or post WWII. While there are many devoted collectors of post-WWII teds, the strongest interest lies in examples produced before 1939 and this is where the highest prices are paid.

What is a bear artist? In my 2007 book A Collectible History of the Teddy Bear, I defined a bear artist as ‘someone who designs their teddy bears from scratch, creating their own patterns and using their own skills to make the finished article’. Usually working from home, these talented individuals spend hours honing different techniques in order to create bears that, in the best cases, are literally works of art. Bear artists sell their work via their own websites and at specialist teddy bear festivals. Artist-made bears can seem expensive but the prices reflect the many hours of intensive labour that have gone into their creation, as well as the costly materials that have been used to make them.

MODERN LIMITED EDITIONS

Renowned teddy bear manufacturers such as Steiff in Germany and Merrythought in the UK continue to produce high quality teddy bears for their fans. Sometimes reprising designs from yesteryear and sometimes creating fresh, contemporary pieces inspired by the bear artists of today, these teddies are offered to collectors in limited editions. Editions can be as low as 50 and as high as 2,000+. High quality materials are invariably used and many of the bears are hand finished in some way. However, every bear in the edition will have a uniform appearance and for some arctophiles, this makes them less exciting to collect.

FAVORITE TEDS

Edwina

Edwina

My own collection features examples from across the teddy bear spectrum. Without question the star of my collection is Edwina, a 19-inch Steiff bear made from white mohair in the late 1920’s. Steiff, of course, was founded in 1880 by Margaret Steiff and started off selling elephants as pincushions. It was love at first sight when I found Edwina in a 2002 auction celebrating 100 years of the teddy bear. Not only is she a beautiful bear in good condition for her age, she also comes with excellent provenance, having belonged originally to a member of the Rockerfeller family. 

 

Miles & Zotty

miles

Steiff created two other bears in my top ten. Miles, my oldest who dates from 1908, draws much of his charm from his battered and threadbare appearance. The bears are required to be flame resistant and eye buttons must resist tension, which goes to show the impact Steiff Company motto had on their toys, “Only the best is good enough for children.”

zotty

Then there is Zotty, a 1950’s creation with soft, shaggy fur and an open mouth that seems to be smiling. Most animals were made with materials such as Alpaca, felt, woven plush, and mohair. Many were made with wood or glass eyes and wood shavings or polyester fiber for stuffing. 

 

Mungo

mungo

As well as German bears, I have a good number of English-made teds in my collection. First amongst these is Mungo, the 1930’s Chad Valley given to me by my husband in 1998 when our daughter was born. Chad Valley briefly made stuffed toys before World War I, mass producing them in Harborne.  

 

Paddington & Aunt Lucy

paddington and lucy

Of later vintage are Paddington and Aunt Lucy, created by Gabrielle Designs in the 1970’s. (Interestingly, Shirley Clarkson, the woman behind Gabrielle, was the mother of Jeremy Clarkson). Both bears are sought after today but because of her relative rarity, Aunt Lucy can cost twice as much as her marmalade-loving nephew.

 

Fifi

fifi

From my limited editions, my most special bear is Fifi, one of 20 cream mohair teddies created by Steiff in 2010 for auction at the V&A. Measuring 20.5 inches high, Fifi was dressed and signed by Twiggy before being sold to raise money for charity.

 

Pumpkin

pumpkin

Pumpkin, a bear by Teddy-Hermann Original, has a less exciting background but is a favorite simply because he makes me smile. Based in Hirschaid, Germany, they are one of the oldest teddy producers, and come in Hermann Teddy Original, Miniaturen, and Herman Teddy Collection. 

 

Tivoli & Joseph

tivoli

Finally, traditional Tivoli by Stier Bears and jazzy Joseph by Woodland Teddies represent the sheer diversity on offer in the world of teddy bear artistry.  Kathleen Wallace started Stier Bears in Pennsylvania with her largest bear reaching an astounding 45 inches!

joseph

Woodland Teddies is fairly recent, about 1996. Rita Harwood creates a wide variety of critters out of felt and other materials. These two bears could hardly look more different yet both are unquestionably teds, that in a nutshell, is why I love artist bears. 

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The Most Expensive Cars Ever are More Affordable in Miniature

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

We recently stumbled onto a list of the most expensive cars ever sold at auction, all of which you’ll likely have to valet, name, and put to bed with a few bedtime stories. If you don’t have a few million to spare on one of these beauties but still want to swoon, there are affordable models you can find on hobbyDB of just about every car on the list.

1937 Mercedes 540K Roadster – Sold for £3,900,000 ($4,818,800)

western models 1937 Mercedes 540KOnce owned by Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula 1 Racing, this car was one of only 26 ever built. There are several options to choose from including a 1/43 white metal version from Western Models, which usually sells around $100-125.

1904 Rolls-Royce 10hp – £4,000,000 ($4,942,359)

airfix rolls royce 1905This was the first car ever built by Rolls and Royce together, with a 1.8 liter engine cranking out a whopping 10 hp. (A modern Mini Cooper has an engine about that size and puts out over 10 times that power.) We haven’t found any models of this exact car, but there is a four seat version of the 1905 car that doubled the horses to 20. Airfix made a 1/32 scale model kit of it, available in different packaging for about 30 years.

1929 Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSK – £4,700,000 ($5,807,272)

bburago Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSKThe SSK is one of sleekest cars of its age, longer and lower than many other roadsters from the time. With very few mods (mostly involving removing unnecessary annoyances like running boards), it was an outstanding race car. While there are several models available, probably the best-known one comes from Bburago in 1/18 scale. There’s even a Mickey Mouse version…

1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM – £4,800,000 ($5,930,831)

looksmart 1962 Ferrari 330The one shown here was driven to victory at LeMans in 1962 by Phil Hill. So yeah, there’s a premium to be paid for pedigree. There are fewer models of this car than you might expect. This one is from Looksmart in 1/18 scale.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB – £6,900,000 ($7,289,980)

Polostil Ferrari 250 GT SWBNothing noteworthy about this particular car aside from the fact that it’s rare and beautiful and fast and once owned by actor James Coburn. There are several models of these available including a nice 1/18 offering from Polistil, who are usually known for their smaller scale cars.

1931 Bugatti Royale Berline – £7,900,000 ($9,761,160)

RIO Bugatti Royale BerlineLong before Bugatti became an ostentatious modern supercar, the name was bestowed on ostentatious luxury coupes. sedans and Phaetons. This particular one was owned by the Bugatti family, so again… pedigree has a price. There have been numerous models other Bugattis, but not many of this style. This similar fixed roof model from Rio is about as close as you can get to the real thing, and at $13.99 it’s a bargain even in 1/43 scale. (Or, if you like a project, you can acquire this one for less and restore it.)

1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – £8,000,000 ($9,884,719)

bburago Ferrari 250 Testa RossaUnderneath that sleek, dripping coachwork is a V12 that is often described as the best-sounding Ferrari ever. Bburago brings you several smaller, quieter versions in 1/18 scale.

1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe – £9,200,000 ($11,367,427)

rio Bugatti Royale Kellner CoupeLong, low, and sinister looking, and powered by a 12.7-litre aircraft engine, the Kellner was too expensive for a car launched during the Great Depression. As it turns out, it would have been quite an investment if you could have held on for another 75 years or so. There have been models of similar vintage Bugattis including this 1/43 droptop from Rio.

1963 Ferrari 250 GTO – £12,000,000 ($14,827,079)

pink kar Ferrari 250 GTOOne of the most iconic and recognizable Ferraris ever, there were only 36 of these ever built. But there are lots of models, thank goodness. So how ’bout a version you can actually drive? This slot car from Pink-Kar clocks in at 1:32 scale.

1936 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic – £27,000,000 – $33,360,928

brumm revival Bugatti AtlanticThis is the Bugatti that everyone recognizes from their early days… a low, swoop Art Deco sculpture on wheels. Only three were ever made, so they tend to be expensive. There have been far more models of it, of course, in several scales. Here’s one from Brumm Revival for around $45, which scaled down, is pocket change by comparison.

Do you know of any other record-smashing auction cars that we also have in our database? Or other versions of these models that are even closer to the real ones? Let us know in the comments!

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Laudoracing Models Sets Up Shop at hobbyDB

laudoracing panda rallyWhen you first discover Laudoracing-Models, you’re likely to assume the company is from Italy. After all, most of their models are based on Alfa RomeosFiats and other Italian marques, and even their name sounds Italian. Non, monsieur, they are a French company. Either way, we’re proud to announce that Laudoracing has set up a store on hobbyDB and has also added their complete, Official Archive to our database. Since the information comes straight from the source, you know it’ll be accurate and complete.

laudoracing interior

Laudoracing offers a wide range of resin cast 1:18 models, with beautiful finishes and incredibly detailed interiors. Quite a bit of the detail is hand painted, but with such accuracy that it’s hard to spot. On top of that, they then add crisply printed decals for things such as badges and gauges. One point of pride for the company is that they try to make cars that have never been offered in that scale.

laudoracing seat

laudoracing alfa 75In some cases, it might be just a particular, rare version of a real car that is similar to, yet so much rarer or desirable than a more common car in the real world. Many of their models are available decked out for racing with additional equipment mods and special livery. Often you can even tell what specific race the car appeared in based on sponsor decals and other subtle clues. A few of the rally cars are even available spattered in mud like this Fiat Uno. Not everything they do is based on Italian marques, of course… Take this SEAT 850 Especial (although it’s basically a Fiat built for Spain.)

Laudoracing works closely with the original manufacturers, using their photos and original design drawings to generate 3-D computer renderings of the cars. From there, everything is painted and assembled by hand. Or, if you prefer, they also offer a series of resin kits in scales ranging from 1/24 to 1/18, such as this Alfa 75 model.

spare parts

Some spare parts are available separately, such as weather stripping and window trim for certain cars, which is an incredible labor of love. There’s also a series of aftermarket wheel and tire sets that could be used to modify cars from other model companies.

laudoracing abart 1400Production of their is very limited, usually no more than 500 pieces, sometimes as low as 50 copies. Considering the amount of hand assembly and detailing, it would be impossible to make more than that in some cases. Laudoracing likes to listen to customers for suggestions, and will even consider making a model of your own car if it fits their mix.

laudoracing turbodelta

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Who is Ant-Man and Where Did He Come From?

A Guest Blog Post by Peter Huggins
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in 2016,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

After all of the hype and publicity the new Ant-Man film has finally opened in UK cinemas. Marvel‘s marketing campaign has been so good that even my better half has shown some interest in the movie and asked me questions about the Ant-Man character that, as a life-long comic fan, I am ashamed to admit that I did not know the answers to – other than that he is a small little character who has an affinity with ants and fights the  bad guys. So, who is Ant-Man and where did he come from? Or should I say Ant-men? 

Now, ask me about DC Comics‘s Atom and I am your man but Ant-Man, mmm, other than a few childhood memories of the odd Ant-Man story I might have read from a friend’s collection I know very little about this new movie character that, I suspect, is going to grab hold of many people’s imaginations, both young and old, in the weeks and months to come. So, to be able to answer any further questions about Ant-Man from my other half  and to satisfy my own comic fan curiosity I thought I would do a spot of reading up on the little guy and fascinating and informative it proved to!

Tales to Astonish #27

Tales to Astonish #27

Ant-Man has been around for quite a while and is older than he looks, at least in his original guise. He was created by writer Larry Lieber and famed comic book artists Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers and first appeared in a one-shot story called “The Man in the Ant Hill” in Marvel’s Tales To Astonish #27 (Jan 1962 VF/NM $13,330 – although that was a 2014 price and any would-be buyer of this key issue can expect to see far higher prices in the wake of the film). In the story we are introduced to scientist Henry Pym (yet to design his iconic costume) who shrinks himself to the size of an insect. Sales were unexpectedly heavy, so much so Henry Pym was brought back as a series star in Tales to Astonish #35 (Sep 1962 VF/NM $3,200), in a costume, and given the name Ant-Man. The story was aptly named “Return of the Ant-Man” and this time had Stan “The Man” Lee on writing duties  – Kirby and Ayers retained the artistic chores.

These early Tales To Astonish  Ant-Man stories with their strong insect theme and the opportunity for some dynamic Kirby artwork, depicting such a small character in a world of giant-like humans, have a certain appeal but the series soon needed a bit of a shake-up. In Tales To Astonish #44 (Jun 1963 VF/NM $685) Janet Van Dyne arrived as Ant-Man’s partner, the Wasp, and did an excellent job of livening up Henry Pym’s rather staid and boring scientist character.

Tales to Astonish #49

Tales to Astonish #49

A second major change came in Tales To Astonish #49 (Nov 1963 VF/NM $350) in “The Birth of Giant-Man”. The title of the story says it all! Henry Pym discovers how to grow as well as shrink – a piece of Marvel one-upmanship over DC’s Ray Palmer Atom character  – and Ant-Man now becomes Giant Man. His first outing as Giant Man sees him pitted against the wonderful villain, The Living Eraser – check out the great cover.

Ant-Man and the Wasp, as well as starring in Tales to Astonish, were founding members of Marvel’s new super-hero team, The Avengers, appearing alongside Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk in Avengers #1 (Sep 1963 VF/NM $13,400). Ant-Man only remained an Avenger for the first issue. With Avengers #2 Ant-Man is replaced by Henry Pym’s new alter-ego, the aforementioned Giant Man.

It appears that Giant Man and the Wasp did not capture the reading public’s imagination as much as the likes of Thor, the Hulk, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man  – to name but a few of Marvel’s ever growing stable of new super-heroes. Avengers #15 (Apr Jul 1965) was the last issue to feature the pair and Avengers #16 (May 1965 VF/NM $325) saw the arrival of Hawkeye, The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver as Giant Man and the Wasp were dropped.

Confirming Giant Man and Wasp’s lack of commercial success, Marvel then dropped them from Tales To Astonish two months after their last Avengers appearance. Their final appearance was in a story entitled “Oh, Wasp, Where Is Thy Sting?” in Tales To Astonish #69 (Jul 1965 VF/NM $120) after which the Sub-Mariner featured alongside the Hulk.

Although Ant-Man  – and then Giant Man – did not enjoy the success that Marvel would have hoped for after the initial fan interest, the short run of Tales To Astonish #35-48 that Ant-Man appears in are very collectable issues now, particularly with the new film having been released. Apart from #35 and #36, the rest of the run are still reasonably affordable and in the higher grades, I am sure, will be a sound investment in the years ahead.

Stan Lee must have seen something in the Hank Pym character because not long after his being dropped from both Tales To Astonish and Avengers he resurfaces as Goliath. After the Wasp has been kidnapped by Attuma and the Collector he re-joins the Avengers in Avengers #28 (May 1966 VF/NM $175) to help rescue her in the tale “Among Us Walks… a Goliath”.

Avengers #59

Avengers #59

The Marvel script writers definitely had it in for Hank Pym. Not content with three super-hero identities Pym is given a fourth change when, experimenting in his lab, an accident changed his personality. He experiences increasing mental strain, claims that he had murdered Pym and adopts the identity of Yellowjacket making his first appearance in Avengers #59 (Dec 1968 VF/NM $50). He married the Wasp in the very next issue although they were to divorce later.

Pym reappears as Ant-Man in the now classic Avengers #93 (Nov 1971 VF/NM $135). Written by Roy Thomas and illustrated beautifully by Neal Adams, Pym answers a call for the original Avengers team to gather and as he says to Thor “..it was Ant-Man then… so it’s Ant-Man now”. He then proceeds to take centre stage and single-handedly resurrects a seemingly dead Vision by entering his body and repairing the damage.

Ant-Man makes no further appearances in the Avengers but does appear in the lead stories in Marvel Feature #4-10 (Jul 1972 – Jul 1973) which feature some lovely covers by the likes of Herb Trimpe,  Jim Starlin, Gil Kane, and P. Craig Russell. Marvel Feature #6 sees the Wasp make an appearance and the two resume their team-up of old while #8 tells the origin of Ant-Man and the Wasp. The full seven issue run would probably cost you about $200 in VF/NM condition and would make a very nice little reading-and-financial investment.

What followed for Henry Pym was a series of minor appearances in his Yellowjacket persona during the 1980s after which he gives up any costumed role completely joining the West Coast Avengers in #21 (Jun 1987 VF/NM $3) as the scientist and inventor he originally started out as. This is a very quiet and forgettable period in Pym’s checkered Marvel career.

Heroes Return The Avengers 1st issue

Heroes Return The Avengers 1st issue

Once again, little is seen of Henry Pym until the events of Secret Invasion, the major crossover storyline event for Marvel in 2008. During Secret Invasion it is revealed that the Henry Pym who married the Wasp was a Skrull impostor. The real Henry Pym returns only to see the Wasp die in an explosion (seemingly – as she was really sent into a spatial warp by Thor’s hammer). After accepting Janet’s death, Hank Pym takes on yet another super-hero identity by renaming himself the Wasp in honor of Janet in Secret Invasion: Requiem #1 (Jan 2009 VF/NM $3 ). He re-joins the Avengers in Mighty Avengers #21 (Mar 2009) and eventually leads the team.

Avengers Academy #1

Avengers Academy #1

In Dark Reign, which deals with the aftermath of the “Secret Invasion” storyline, Pym formed his own team of renegade Avengers to work against Norman Osborn. With Osborn’s downfall, Pym felt he could do most good by teaching the next generation of super-heroes how to use their powers and to this end he established the Avengers Academy in Avengers Academy #1 (Aug 2010) and appeared as a supporting character throughout the run until the final issue, Avengers Academy #39 (Jan 2013). In the meantime, Pym appeared as his regular self in Secret Avengers #22-37 (Apr 2012-Mar 2013) and returned as the Wasp in the Ant-Man & Wasp mini-series (Jan 2011)  while a certain Eric O’ Grady was the Ant-Man.

Eric O’ Grady as the Ant-Man? Not surprisingly, with Henry Pym’s long term absence as the Ant-Man, Marvel saw fit to keep the hero in the public eye but through other characters. To date, there have been two successors to the Ant-Man role.

Marvel Premier #47

Marvel Premier #47

The first was Scott Lang who is the Ant-Man of the current movie played by the actor Paul Rudd. We first meet Scott in Avengers #181 (Mar 1979 VF/NM $15). Lang was an electronics expert who turned to crime for a short while to help support his family. He was caught and served time in prison. After his release his wife divorced him but Scott was given custody of his daughter Cassie. Cassie had a serious heart condition and the only surgeon who could treat her had been kidnapped. Lang turned once again to crime and burgled Hank Pym’s home where he stole Pym’s old Ant-Man costume and shrinking formula. Lang rescued the surgeon who saved his daughter’s life. Lang turned himself in but Pym decided to allow him to continue as Ant-Man. Lang’s first appearance in the Ant-Man costume came in Marvel Premiere #47 (Apr 1979 VF/NM $45). He subsequently often aided the Avengers and eventually joined the team in Avengers (Volume 3) #62 (Feb 2003 VF/NM $2).

Scott was later killed in Avengers (Volume 3) #500  (Sep 2004) during the Avengers Disassembled storyline when a zombified Jack of Hearts, under the control of an insane Scarlet Witch, explodes himself in the grounds of Avengers Mansion – along with Scott Lang. Very few heroes stay dead for long and, true to form, The Young Avengers rescue Scott from his death by traveling back in time in the mini-series Avengers: The Children’s Crusade (Sep 2010  – May 2012) and returning him to the present before the explosion. He then saw his daughter killed by Doctor Doom who then went on to revive her in the AXIS event of 2014.

Although he had been given a job at Stark International, Scott desperately wanted to be with his newly-resurrected daughter and turns down The Stark International post – following Cassie to Miami. This is where he currently resides, having set up his own detective agency Ant-Man Security Solutions, and his current adventures and misadventures can be followed in the Ant-Man (Volume 2) series that came out in March 2015.

Irredeemable Ant-Man #1

Irredeemable Ant-Man #1

Ant-Man number three was Eric O’Grady. Eric was a low-level agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. His best friend and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Chris McCarthy had been chosen to wear Dr. Henry Pym’s latest prototype of the Ant-Man suit. When McCarthy was killed during a HYDRA attack on S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Eric immediately stole the armor from his best friend’s dead body. Eric was a cowardly man with very few morals, the willingness to lie and steal and do anything to suit his own selfish ends, Eric was created by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Phil Hester in 2006 when he first appeared in Civil War: Choosing Sides #1 (Dec 2006 VF/NM $3) – a one-shot that serves as a prequel for Thunderbolts #110, Irredeemable Ant-Man #1, Immortal Iron Fist #1, Omega Flight #1 and also a Howard the Duck story. He then appeared in his own title with The Irredeemable Ant-Man #1 (Dec 2006 VF/NM $2) which went on to have a short 12 issue run. The title tells us all we need to know about his character..!

After various ill-conceived adventures, O’Grady took a job with Damage Control in Irredeemable Ant-Man #7 (Jun 2007) VF/NM $2) using a fake ID and a new super-hero identity, Slaying Mantis. Damage Control is the engineering and construction company that specializes in repairing property damage caused by superhero conflict. Later, in Avengers: The Initiative #8 (Feb 2008 VF/NM $3) Eric became a part of the Initiative, the program created to train people with powers and abilities where individuals that pass have a chance of being assigned to one of the fifty officially sanctioned super-hero teams – one for every state.

Secret Avengers #23

Secret Avengers #23

After the Secret Invasion, Eric “graduated” from the Initiative and was placed on Norman Osborn’s newest formation of the Thunderbolts in Thunderbolts #128 (Mar 2009 VF/NM $2). He later betrayed the Thunderbolts when they were sent to obtain the Spear of Odin for Norman Osborn to use to kill Thor. O’Grady turned on his Thunderbolt teammates to make sure Osborn did not get the Spear. Never a dull moment, Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America, then invited O’Grady to join the Secret Avengers in Thunderbolts #143 (Jun 2010) $2). Just as it seemed the irredeemable Ant-Man could be redeemed Eric was beaten to death in Secret Avengers #23 (Apr 2012 VF/NM $3) heroically defending a young child from a group of androids who were part of the Descendant group of machines created by the villain known as Father. A rather inglorious and checkered career as Ant-Man being brought to a seemingly premature end – I am cynical enough to think that he could be brought back in some way!

So, there is a lot more to know about the Ant-Man than one might at first think. Indeed, we are not even talking about one character but three – all very different to each other but all very interesting in their own ways. For the comic collector and enthusiast there is a wealth of material surrounding the character(s) to go out and read and buy. For the larger budgets there are some mouth-watering Tales to Astonish and early Avengers to pick up. What I would not give to be able to pick up Tales to Astonish #27 – even in a FN grade! Then there is the much more recent material, Irredeemable Ant-Man, The Secret Avengers, Scott Lang Avengers issues – all available for $2-3 an issue. All great reads. And if reading the comics is not your thing, go out and simply enjoy the movie. I know I will!

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