Steve Volk of Shelby American Collection Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

Steve Volk Shelby American CollectionThe hobbyDB Advisory Council‘s newest member is an expert on one of our favorite subjects: Carroll Shelby and his legendary cars.

Steve Volk is President of the Shelby American Collection, a museum of everything related to Shelby. The museum, located in Boulder, Colroado, features dozens of Cobras, Shelby Mustangs, and Ford GT-40s as well as other related vehicles. As if that weren’t enough, the collection includes incredibly rare original racing artifacts and probably the biggest gathering of toys and models of these cars.

“I’ve been interested in cars my whole life,” said Steve. “I started building model cars as a kid and started collecting Ferraris and Cobras in my 30s. I read about Shelby Cobras and GT-40s as a kid but never thought I would own one let alone an entire Shelby museum.”

Shelby American Collection museum

Just a few of the GT-40s, Mustang, and Cobras, at Shelby American Collection in Boulder.

The car that started it all was a factory team car that Steve purchased in the 1980s. Rather than hiding in the garages of individual enthusiasts, it made sense to put this and other cars on public display. It helped that Steve was also knew Mr. Shelby and could get his approval and cooperation. “Carroll Shelby was a good friend,” said Steve. “I spoke with him prior to starting the museum in 1996. We wanted his support in the creation of the museum, and he told me he would be there for us for as long as he was vertical. He kept his promise until his passing in 2012.”

With that kind of official involvement, the museum has been able to attract some very rare pieces. “We have a number of original trophies such the 1964 USRRC Championship trophy on display in the museum plus lots of race records and memorabilia from the Shelby American racing years,” said Steve.

As for the cars themselves, the collection includes many permanent fixtures as well as cars that are on temporary loan.The museum or its members own some 70 percent of the vehicles on display. The balance are owned by collectors around the country such as the Larry H. Miller family.

Shelby American Collection pin hood badge doedorantIn addition to the brick and mortar museum, items from the collection are being gathered in an Official Archive on hobbyDB. It’s a monumental undertaking to document the thousands of items on display, but when complete, it will be one of the biggest archives on the site.

“It’s incredible what Carroll Shelby did for the automobile industry,” said Steve, ”and for America having ushered in the muscle car era. He put America on the map by winning the World Manufacturers Championship in 1965, winning Le Mans in the GT40 for Ford in 1966 and 1967 and the SCCA Championship in the Shelby Mustang in 1965, 1966 and 1967.”

It’s incredible what Steve Volk and the Shelby American Collection are doing to preserve that legacy, too. Next time you’re in Boulder, Colorado on a Saturday, you can visit the museum in person.

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DKW and VW: Two Lessons in German Economy

Over the past two years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy this comparison of the DKW Junior and the Volkswagen Golf, two different lessons in German microeconomy.

dkw volkswagen

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

It’s hard to believe the two cars seen here were stalwarts of German economy automotive engineering separated by only a decade. The DKW Junior was available until the mid 1960s, while the Volkswagen Golf debuted in 1974. They could hardly be more different vehicles. The same goes for the models.

DKW, (Dampf-Kraft-Wagen) was one of the marques under the Auto Union brand. They first offered this very basic two-door sedan with a two-stroke engine in 1959, just as fins were hitting their peak as an automotive styling trend worldwide. This DKW Junior model from Revell, does not skimp in the way the real car did. Exterior details include elaborate taillights and a separate sunroof piece (designed to allow a version with the hatch open). The very tiny gas cap has the 4 rings of Auto Union (now the Audi logo) engraved on it.

dkw junior modelUnder the hood, there’s not a lot to see, but that’s because it mimics the incredibly simple engine of the real car. There’s a working prop rod to hold the hood open. Another neat detail is the radiator mounted behind the engine. The chassis underneath includes lots of small suspension bits, although none of it functions.

dkw junior modelThe seats are really nice on this model with a tiny checked pattern on the seating areas. The brackets that hold those seats in place are given much more thought than cars this size usually show. There is also a molded roof liner, which includes the lines for that sunroof again. Like under the hood, inside the trunk, is a tiny wire buried near the hinges that can be used to prop the decklid open. What was a cheap solution on a real car becomes a delicate detail on a model.

dkw junior modelBy the late 1960s, DKW was sold off to Volkswagen, and served as the launch point for the rebirth of the Audi name. Speaking of VW, around late 1969, they got serious about developing a replacement for the colossally successful and iconic, but outdated Beetle. The origins of the modern hatchback are apparent in the first generation Golf (or Rabbit, as it was called in the United States), with its efficiently squared space and transverse mounted engine.

volkswagen golf modelThis 1974 Golf LS by Vitesse is actually simpler in construction than the DKW (which makes sense, as It retailed for around $25 new, while the DKW was a higher end model). It represents a very basic, stripped down version of the car, long before VW gave it the GTI treatment and made it into a hot hatch.

volkswagen golf modelOne nice detail about the interior is the number of extra molded bits such as the side and window chrome and the black plastic gas cap. The engine is far simpler, and even though there are wires in place, they look flat and two dimensional. Also from underneath, the chassis is solid around the engine instead of showing some daylight like on the real car.

volkswagen golf modelThe seats aren’t quite as impressive as the DKW, especially the bolsters that hold them in place. Still, if this was a car from your younger days, it’s a decent model to have of it.

Comparing the two, the DKW is the far more detailed model of the far more interesting car. Since you don’t have to put up with the anemic performance of its tiny engine, this would be the choice for your next German economy car.

dkw junior model

Comments (1 Comment)
Karl S

That DKW is very cool!!!!  1/18 with lots o' detail!

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Guide to Vintage Carded Star Wars Action Figures

A Guest Blog Post by Mark Griffiths
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. 

As with most things in life, ‘something’ is only worth what ‘someone’ will pay for it. This is true for most things in life, whether that be a second hand car, property or collectable toys.

Luke Skywalker x-wing

This guide to vintage carded Star Wars action figures will provide you with an insight into how to begin assembling a vintage Star Wars action figure collection (on cards) from the 1977 – 1983 era as working out just where to start can be a bit of a minefield. Return of the Jedi (ROTJ), Empire Strikes Back (ESB), Power of the Force and Tri Logo are just a selection of the different branded cards which exist, produced by Kenner and Palitoy with 65 back, 79 back and ‘Last 17’ (and more!) – the barriers to entry in collecting these treasures can be huge.

Imperial Commander

Not only is gaining a full understanding of the vast range of these 3¾ inch action figure produces a challenge, this is coupled with how ‘rare’ and ‘valuable’ is defined in different countries the world over.

My 30 years experience of collecting Star Wars carded action figures began back in 1984, after the final movie from the original trilogy had been released, when the obsession with the Star Wars franchise was well and truly over with the UK public. Believe it or not, I still remember working in my parents toy store having to re-box thousands of unsold action figures and playsets before shipping them back to the UK distributer as we could just not shift the stock. Just imagine having dozens of boxes of these gems in today’s market! From the crest of a wave 18 months previous we now had to make room for the next ‘fad’ as a range of merchandise from a Saturday morning cartoon called Transformers was on its way!


Since that time I have had a vested interest in collecting these figures and monitoring their values.

The late 1980’s and early 1990’s brought modest increases to most figures, but 1999 was a game changer. Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, produced 16 years after Return of the Jedi brought a great deal of attention back to the original action figure collection, just as The Force Awakens will in December 2015.

Although there had always been ‘hard to find’ figures such as Yak Face, Boba Fett with firing cannon and the elusive Jawa with plastic cape, the focus now began to move to a much broader range and the immense number of variations of each figure.

Darth MaulBut apart from Episode 1 bringing Star Wars back to the forefront of the public’s hearts and minds, why this increase in prices for the original ’77 – ’83 merchandise? Obviously, the rareness of some of these original figures but it was more than that, it was the newly produced Power of the Force range brought out for the Phantom Menace movie. The figures were not well received by the public, confusing ‘Comm Tech’, massive quantities – hundreds upon hundreds in the range and of course Jar Jar Binks! Kenner also seemed wise to the marketing of the so called ‘rare’ figures in the range. Back in the 80’s these ‘hard to find’ figures almost came about by chance, this time it all seemed a little too well planned.

Yak Face

These figures, now 16 years old themselves struggle to break $10 each, with many exchanging hands for as little as $4 – Mint on Card (MOC). The remaining parts of the prequel trilogy, Episodes 2 and 3 did little to change the collector’s appetite for the updated range and instead, once again the focus reverted back to the vintage collection.

But which figures I hear you ask, which particular figures from the original series are still increasing in value? Well as I am sure you will agree, certain figures which were rare 10 years ago are now even more sought after with onset of time but there are still some figures which are financially accessible. The Rancor Keeper for example on a ROTJ card can be purchased quite easily on another marketplace for as little as $30. That same figure on a Tri Logo card however can be valued as high as 5 times that amount, approaching $200. Yes, thats right, $200 for one 3¾ inch action figure, and not a particularly rare one at that!

The reason for this huge range in valuation is largely down to the quality and type of card which houses the character. A ROTJ card is less rare, whereas the ESB and Star Wars increase in value dramatically. In fact figures on a Star Wars card can cost thousands of dollars, particularly key characters like Han Solo and Princess Leia.

Rancor KeeperSo what of Tri Logo cards, where do they fit into the equation? So the story goes, these figures were run off by Palitoy at the very end of the production of Star Wars figures – a combination of overproduced characters backed on cards for the European market and new characters never released in the USA, once again limited to European stores. This is why the value of these cards holds strong in the US market.

So, where would I begin, what advice would I provide to collectors hoping to move into the vintage Star Wars carded action figure market?

Begin at the end! There are so many variations of just 1 action figure, it would be extremely (financially) challenging to collect every figure from that era as there are literally hundreds and hundreds – just one selling for $18,000 at a recent auction in the North East. Therefore, decide on your target collection, whether that be a full set of 1 character on different cards or a full set of figures on 1 card e.g. a full set of ROTJ backed figures.

BaradaDo your research! Before you begin, consider how many figures there are in a particular collection, which are more common and identify those which are rare – how much are you willing to pay and how are you going to acquire them, there are more avenues than just another marketplace…?

Understand your Cards! Which logo – ROTJ, Star Wars, Tri Logo…how many figures on the back of the card e.g. a 65 back is sometimes worth more than a 79 back, is the card ‘punched’ or ‘unpunched’ and is the card flat and free from sun damage and tears?

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Collecting Shoes, The Perfect Excuse to Buy More Heels!

A Guest Blog Post by Tracy MartinTracy 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. 

Shoes have become the latest must-own fashion collectable with prices rising for rare, historic and innovative pairs.

Some prefer to collect antiques pairs, whilst others concentrate on vintage 20th century heels. Even modern shoes have grown in popularity, with savvy collectors realizing their potential investment for the future.

1890's lace-up ankle bootReflecting our historic past and documenting the innovative progression of shoe design, long gone are the days where footwear is merely for protection against the elements. Now is the time for collecting shoes, the perfect excuse to buy more heels!

Of course we no longer use bark, grass or leaves, but have the privilege of choosing from a wide range of designs, materials, embellishments and visual treats for our feet.


OxfordSo where do you start when wanting to collect shoes? That all depends on your own personal style, taste and interest. Some have a love of the Victorian lace up boots, whilst others wanting to mirror 1920’s elegance opt for Mary Janes with beaded heels.

The 1940’s utility wear shoes are popular and more easily found, whilst good examples of the 1950’s winkle pickers, 1960’s go-go boots or 1970’s glam rock platforms are difficult to track down.

I personally love slightly more wacky shoes as it’s not so much about epitomizing an era for me but embracing visual imagination. I seek out contemporary heels that are slightly crazy, flamboyant and off the scale as I believe these could be the desirable and collectable pairs of the future.

Alien heelsIt is believed that the first instance where heels were worn for fashion was by Catherine de Medici when she walked up to aisle to marry the Duke of Orleans in 1533. Made in Florence, Italy, the shoes are reputed to have been just two-inches in height but gave Medici the advantage of projecting a more towering physique which was paramount as she was to be the Queen of France. The heels were a huge success and began to be worn by all the ladies in the French court as they associated them with privilege.

The Claw
Whatever you choose, it is important to always buy the best your pocket can afford as condition is key when it comes to any fashion collectable. If you’re planning on wearing the heels, ensure they fit as vintage sizing is a lot smaller than modern. If you are like me though and see shoes as miniature works of art then you will be just as happy showcasing your fabulous heel collection in cabinets or on shelves so size doesn’t really matter… although it is better if you can wear them too.

“I design like an architect. It is a beautiful, distinctive art, and shoes are like the foundations.” Jimmy Choo

Thea CadabraLook for key pairs either by renowned designers who have contributed to the progression of shoe design such as Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Roger Vivier, Terry De Haviland, Salvatore Ferragamo, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin to name just a handful.

Alternatively, home in on heels that epitomize an era, however, there are no hard or fast rules to collecting shoes as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As with anything collectable, rarity also plays a massive part of the collectability and the price you have to pay.

Masaya KushinoWhen starting out a shoe collection, begin by checking out charity shops, car boot sales, vintage fashion stores and online, perhaps investing in pairs from the 1920s onwards as they are more affordable.

If spending more than a few pounds then ensure you buy from reputable sellers. Many styles have been revisited in later years and modern designer shoes are often faked.

Shoe styles through the decades


Mary Jane

Mary Janes closed with at least one bar across the instep. These shoes were perfect for dancing the Charleston in as they didn’t slip off. Other styles worn during the 1920s included the T-bar and ankle strap shoes. All, however, displayed straps to keep the shoes in place and all had a heel of around two-inches in height.


roman sandal

Rounded toe pumps, high heels, slip-on and lace ups. Two-tone colored shoes were also at the height of fashion, and the strappy sandal which had not made an appearance since the Roman era once again appeared as the style to be seen in. Having exposed toes, this elegant shoe was perfect for wearing to evening engagements.



Favored designs would be round toed pumps with a small heel, sandals and court shoes. Dull colors reflected the military styles worn by the working women during the day with utility shoes dominant colors being black and brown.


1950 pump

Varied with a choice of Lucite (Perspex) mules, court shoes, flats, sling backs and the prolific Saddle shoe (Oxfords). Closed fronted shoes became very pointed at the toes and backless mules known as ‘Spring-o-lators’ which possessed a bridge of elastic tape between the ball and the heel on the insole to keep the shoes in place when wearing stockings became en-vogue towards the end of the decade. Roger Vivier also introduced the stiletto heel known as the Little Dagger.


go go

The Go-Go boot and plastic shoes, those made out of synthetic materials imitating leather and shiny patent, nearly always with a slender kitten stiletto.


Glam Rock Platform

The Platform of course, the bigger the better!

Tracy’s Top Tip:
If you are extrovert enough, invest in Vivienne Westwood heels. Her vintage and modern heels are collected in their own right. Vintage 80’s Pirate boots, 1990s platforms and more recent bondage boots all have collectability.

A massive part of our fashion social history shoe collecting is fantastic fun (also a great excuse for buying yet another pair of heels) so why not indulge your fashion fetish as there literally is a shoe to satisfy every sole.


Famous Shoes

  • In 2012, a pair of Antoinette‘s shoes came up for sale in a ‘French Revolution Era Artifacts’ auction in Toulon. The heels, size 3.5 were in remarkably good condition with only some fading to the ribbon and made fourteen times their estimate selling for $36,000.
  • Dorothy’s ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film the Wizard of Oz have become one of the most iconic, treasured and valuable pieces of film memorabilia. One of the five pairs known to exist sold for $2 million in 2012.
  • Marilyn Monroe‘s white Salvatore Ferragamo strappy sandals worn with her halter-neck dress in the film ‘The Seven Year Itch,’ form an iconic image of the actress.
  • Alexander McQueen ‘Sea Creature’ heels and ‘Armadillo’ hoof like shoes worn by the likes of Lady Gaga have become iconic for their quirky distinctive and bonkers design.
  • Vivienne Westwood’s ‘Super Elevated Gilles’ worn by Supermodel Naomi Campbell on the catwalk in 1991 will never be forgotten due to the supermodel toppled over in them.
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Diving Deep Into Corvette Mako Shark Models

Over the past two years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy this fish story about the Corvette Mako Shark concept diecast model.

Motormax Chevrolet C2 Mako Shark

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

If you hear the name “Corvette,” what undersea creature immediately jumps to mind? Stingray, right? That name has been used on and off for over half a century on versions of the American sports car legend. The name first showed up on a 1959 race car, the “XP87 Stingray.” Like many one-off racers, it featured futuristic styling, but no one considered that was a clue to an upcoming production car.

But this is a story of another creature, the Mako Shark. In 1961, Chevrolet was considering designs to replace the original generation of Corvette. Many of the sharp, angular lines from the XP87 were carried forward for a new concept called the XP-755, a/k/a, the Mako Shark.

Motormax Chevy Corvette Mako SharkBill Mitchell, the new chief stylist at GM, had a thing for sharks, indicated by the giant stuffed Mako mounted on his office wall. Inspiration for the new car was not limited to the name… the front of the car featured a sharply pointed nose with a severe overbite. The sides had exposed exhaust pipes resembling gills. And the profile of the wraparound windshield could be interpreted as a dorsal fin. Furthering the look, dark blue body paint faded into a silvery white belly. It’s surprising there was no attempt to make tail fins to complete the effect. Equal parts ridiculous and awesome, the basic shape of the Mako Shark predicted the C2 ’Vette, produced from 1963-67.

Motormax Chevrolet Mako SharkRelatively few scale models exist of the first Shark. Motormax made an inexpensive 1/18 version in the mid ’90s. The car comes with the clear double bubble removable top, thoughtfully held in place by the visors to minimize extra tabs and slots. Through that top, you can see the spartan interior, with deepset, but readable gauges.

Motormax Corvette Mako SharkUnder the forward-flipping hood, the most notable detail is the eight exhaust pipes that travel independently out through the fender vents, connecting at the front of the rocker panels. The trunk opens too, revealing minimal detail, accurate for a running, but not entirely functional, concept car. The hood on the real concept was altered at some point to add even more gills to the design. This and most other models show the later version.

Motormax Chevrolet Mako SharkThe exterior captures the “sharkiness” of the concept with a few flaws that might drive a purist nuts. The splash panels under the nose and tail don’t fit very well, but you won’t see that very often. What does stand out is that crazy fading paint job. The original stylists spent quite a bit of time getting the blue and white tones just right. (According to some tales, Mitchell was never convinced that the hues matched his prized trophy fish, so the stylists stole it from his wall one weekend and painted it to match the car.) The transition from one color to the other should fade at an even height from front to back, but on the Motormax model, it looks like the doors were painted separately, and the fade line is significantly higher than on the surrounding door panels. You could try to repaint it, but you’d lose the emblems and other details on the rest of the car. Best solution? Display it with the doors open, and the line isn’t as obvious. Later, more expensive models, such as the one from AUTOart and UT Models do a better job with these details.

Motormax Chevrolet Corvette Mako SharkBy 1965, only three years into the C2’s production, Chevy started working on the Mako Shark II, which sent a strong, accurate signal as the design direction of the next generation of Corvette. We’ll dive into that fish tale sometime in the near future.

Motormax Chevrolet Mako Shark

Comments (1 Comment)
Karl S

I did not think there would be so many in HobbyDB!  23!

I am always partial to the 1/43, so the AUTOart is my fav!

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