Bob Finn, Longtime Toy Executive Joins hobbyDB Advisory Board

Bob Finn

hobbyDB has a new member on our Advisory Board, Bob Finn. Finn has a long history as an executive in the toy industry, starting with Hasbro in 1976. In over a quarter century there, he saw the toy industry grow from dolls and cars board games into the digital age and beyond.

When he started, Hasbro had just discontinued one of their most popular toy lines, the G.I.Joe soldiers, so the company had some big toyboxes to fill. Joe would only be gone a few years, however; Hasbro reintroduced them as 6-inch tall “action figures,” which became wildly popular. Other major successes from his era there include My Little Pony and Transformers, the last of which Finn lists as his favorite from his tenure with the company. Hasbro also acquired Kenner, Tonka, Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers on their way to becoming the giants they are today.

Finn has since worked for other toy companies including Fantasma Toys and Master Pieces Puzzles. His interested in puzzles continues in his collecting habits. “I have over 100,000 of them,” he said. “No theme, just puzzles.” (If you conservatively averaged each one at 250 pieces, that’s over 25 million pieces.) His toy industry pedigree also extends beyond the companies he has worked for. “I’m a member of the Mensa Game selection committee that decides annually which new games should get the Mensa seal of approval,” he said. We hope to add quite a few of them to the database.

puzzle colletion

Finn’s extensive puzzle collection includes 3D wooden sculptures as well as assembled, flat, framed ones.

If that all sounds like it should keep him plenty busy, hold on… “I’m a mountain climber,” he said, “I’ve climbed over 500 mountain in Europe and Asia, as well as the United States, including The Matterhorn, Mount. Blanc, Mount Fuji, and the highest peak in Australia.” So clearly, he likes a challenge. As if that’s not enough to bring to the table, he has other collecting interests including “comics, a fairly complete matchbox diecast collection, the best collection anywhere of hand carved mechanical wine stoppers from Europe – all antique- and an extensive collection of German nutcrackers.” He currently lives in Northern California, so the wine stoppers are a natural fit.

We at hobbyDB think he’ll be a key piece in building our database into something bigger and better.

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Daytona 500 Collectibles Gear Up For Race Season

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

“Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” became the unofficial slogan of NASCAR back when the word “stock” actually meant the race car had some connection to the regular street version. With the Daytona 500 kicking off the Winston Cup… I mean Nextel… er, Monster Energy Drink Cup, this weekend, we decided to look at some promotions related to the race.

Now some of you kids might be too young to realize this, but the retired Hudson Hornet played by Paul Newman was not just a character in a Pixar movie. Hudson was the cool car to own back in the early ’50s, with its sleek shape and low roofline. Their early success on the track made its way into advertising (just barely, anyway), but it wasn’t enough to save the marque. They merged with Nash-Kelvinator and eventually became part of American Motors.

hudson hornet daytona 500

In fact, a lot of the early racing oriented advertising in the 1950s was subtle. If you didn’t read the text, you would have no idea that the Chrysler 300 was the car of choice for MOPAR drivers.

daytona 500 chrysler

In the early 1960s, auto manufacturers were facing pressure from Congress and various safety groups to be more responsible with their marketing and image building. By 1963, all American car companies formed a “gentleman’s agreement” that they would stop engineering and promotion of any cars specifically for racing. As such, there aren’t a lot of ads from that era from car companies themselves.

davey allison daytona 500

The sponsors and parts suppliers proudly touted their efforts, however, which is why you see mostly ads like these from Carter Carburetor and  Sun Electric Tachometer during that time. By the end of the decade, government pressure was off, car companies were back in the race, and ads revved up again.

sun tachometers daytona 500

Take a look at these next two ads for the Dodge Charger. One is the Charger R/T, the other the Charger 500, as in  “Daytona 500.” The most obvious difference is the 500’s smooth fascia with the headlights out front instead of in deep recess. Remember when stock cars were basically stripped and hopped up a bit for racing? This was the beginning of the era in which auto manufacturers started to make unique modifications for aerodynamics purposes. To keep things fair, NASCAR imposed rules regarding minimum production numbers for cars if they were to be allowed on the track. So Chrysler had to make a certain number of cars with this aero change in order to race it. Since companies often produced only the bare minimum number of these cars, such “homologation specials” are often very rare as street cars.

daytona 500 dodge chargers

The peak of this trend came in the “winged warriors” era when the Dodge Charger morphed into the Daytona and the Plymouth Roadrunner became the Superbird. Both cars wore long nosecones and tall rear wings, legal because Chrysler made the minimum required street cars with those options. Sales were miserable at the time, but now you’re looking at six figures to even get a beater ‘Bird. At least there are tons of miniature models to choose from, including this groovy Richard Petty kit from Jo-Han.

jo han superbird petty daytona 500

The mid 1980s were the last hurrah for race cars that could be called “stock” with a straight face. Even though the body work used much of the original sheet metal, and some drive train components were factory spec, the cars were sharing fewer and fewer parts with their street counterparts. The black number 3 car in this ad for Winston cigarettes (That’s Dale Earnhardt’s car, of course) was one of the last homologation cars, with a special nose and fastback rear window. By the 1990s, not even the lugnuts were the same as production cars. Tobacco advertising was getting pinched as well… in a few years, Winston would surrender the keys to sponsoring the series.

daytona 500 winston cup

Still, the image of racing was a powerful selling point, even it had become just a marketing gimmick by then. In reality, Chevrolet had as much to do with Jeff Gordon winning a race as DuPont (He won the 500 three times, by the way). . Ads geared to sell you a car just like the one on the track pretty much disappeared. Merchandising, especially model cars, was revving into high gear by then.

daytona 500 jeff gordon

Daytona 500 related advertising took a grim turn in 2001 when Dale Earnhardt died on the final turn of the final lap of the race. Oreo had been running a promotion offering a limited edition 1/64 model of the Intimidator’s car with proof of purchase and a few bucks. After the crash, they sent letters to anyone who had requested the model, stating that there would be a delay, but that they would still honor the deal. The model is somewhat rare, but the letter makes it a more valuable, albeit more sad collectible.

earnhardt oreo daytona 500

What are your favorite Daytona collectibles? Let us know in the comments!

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Brumm Becomes Latest Archive Added to hobbyDB

brumm ferarri transporterBrumm, a longtime Italian model vehicle manufacturer, is the latest company to host its archives at hobbyDB.

Brumm has been in the model car business since the early 1970s, making nicely detailed, affordable models in 1:43 scale. As an Italian based company, they’ve understandably placed quite a bit of emphasis on Ferraris, Fiats and Alfa Romeos. However, they’ve also paid a lot of attention to other European marques such as Lotus and Mercedes-Benz.

brumm horse carriage

They started out offering not cars, but horse drawn carriages and steam engines at first. In fact, the name “Brumm” comes from a loose pronunciation of “brougham,” a type of carriage.

brumm ferrari f1

After a few years, they expanded into cars, mostly contemporary, famous race cars from Formula 1 and LeMans. Later offerings would include models of vintage racers, dating back to the 1930s, while they continued to make current cars from the ’70s and 80s. The range also grew to include street vehicles, often quirky ones such as the Fiat 600 Multipla van.

brumm multipla

Instead of mass assembly line production, Brumm models have always been built by hand at their factory. Over the last 25 years or so, Brumm cut back on the number of new releases in favor of more detailed, limited edition offerings. They’ve also focused on creating dioramas that use vintage photographs and artwork to show off their models. The dioramas have in turn spawned a line of figures pit crew and other track personnel, which can be used to enhance any brand of models.

brumm porsche

Brumm’s own website focuses on their later models, but they generously provided hobbyDB with a complete history of their production to put on display here. With their long history versus the current production, it’s safe to say that the Brumm archive on hobbyDB is by far the most complete information you will find about these models anywhere online.

brumm fiat assembly line

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Model Auto Review Archives Up and Running at hobbyDB

MAR Model Auto ReviewThe publishers of Model Auto Review magazine are adding their Official Archive to the hobbyDB database. The magazine was published for 31 years as a print edition, and we are working with the current editors to make sure every issue is documented in the database.

Rod and Val Ward published the premiere issue of the magazine in Summer 1982. It started quarterly, with the season and year as the date, and then expanded to a fifth Christmas issue for the next few years. Rod and Val were the owners of Modelauto, a model car shop in Leeds, England. He is also known for his series of books about models and cars. “Rod, the first Editor, set the tone of the magazine in the first issue,” said, Maz Woolley, current MAR Online Editor and Website Manager. “All scales, materials, and eras of model vehicles are covered: model and toy cars, trucks, buses, etc.

In addition to Rod Ward and Maz Woolley, the staff of MAR Online includes Karl Schnelle, US Editor and Website Contributor and Hans-Georg Schmitt, Consultant Editor for Germany. Schenelle has also contributed to hobbyDB as a Curator and Champion.

MAR Model Auto Review

Even though much of the information about each issue can be found on MAR’s own website, by putting it on hobbyDB, content can be linked to information about relevant models, brands, and people. These additional connections make the archive on hobbyDB extra useful.

As a British publication, it makes sense that their biggest readership came from the U.K. “Most readers were from the UK naturally, followed by the American, German, French, Dutch, and Scandinavian readers. Some readers were also from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and Russia.” Exact subscription data isn’t easily available from the early years, but their very active Letters to the Editor section reflects these data.

MAR Model Auto Review

The magazine changed in ways that improved the quality of printing (especially the photography) and frequency reaching 10 issues a year in 1990. The name on the cover became “MAR Model Auto Review for the next decade or so.” Despite these changes, the focus remained the same as in that first issue. “We have followed this guidance through all the iterations of the publication.’ said Maz. “Our purpose has always been to provide information for collectors.”

In the mid 2000s, the most radical change occurred with a new, smaller page size. “Circulation was down to 25% of the 1982 numbers and printing costs were up.  The advantage of the smaller format was easier portability, better color reproductions, and better B&W photos.”

Issue 276, December 2013 marked the final print edition of MAR. From that point, content was released online, still in a monthly format for 2014. Since then, the “MAR Online,” as it is now called, has released articles in a blog format, publishing news as it happens rather than as a monthly collection. The 2014 issues are no longer online in their original form, but most of the content has been compiled in the new format.

MAR Model Auto Review

As for the print edition, the content is gradually being digitized and added to this website. Meanwhile, we have begun adding them to the hobbyDB archives. So far, there are only few early ones missing that images are not available for. If you happen to have any very early issues, MAR and hobbyDB would be thrilled if you could let us know.

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My Collection on hobbyDB is why I joined

Christa hobbyDB

Who here hasn’t remembered an item they bought ages ago and squirreled it away nice and safe, only to open up the closest or look at the stack of boxes and just… stare at the intimidating wall that is “My Collection?” The ability to search through my horde without opening all those boxes is why I joined hobbyDB. Otaku AF I’m the type that keeps their packaging. Not only do the boxes include pretty graphics, but I also have all the weapons and accessories stored safely. I also  know one day I might sell my figures. I can easily look at the back of the box for any details I need, like scale or special features, but I don’t really want to look. I’d rather be lazy and hop online and see all the details. It’s also a life-saver for those who don’t save the original packaging.While I’m thinking about my figures, I should check up on my Figma series and how many I own–guess I have to peek inside my closet. Oh, but wait! I can go to My Collection on hobbyDB and search for any figures or for how many Links I own.

Legend of Zelda Windwaker Link

And guess what; the highly anticipated search feature is here! I don’t have to scroll through all my collectibles anymore. Managing my collection just got a lot easier to manage. mycollection That brings me to my next eventuality: I must buy more! Searching in the database lets me see all the reference pages. I like to think of it as looking at a ‘straight from the factory’ version. Clicking the Shop button on the reference page for the Supernatural Chevy Impala is like window shopping except without going out into the cold and bumping into weird people on the streets. I can see right there on my screen which stores carry it, just as if it were in a display window and I’m walking on the street.My favorite option is clicking the More Info link to learn about item condition and shipping costs from that specific store. It’s like stepping inside the store except without that door jingle announcing my entrance. I’m the type of collector who needs Mint on Mint surrounded in Mint until I’m all Minted out, which never happens. So even if the conditions are set to Mint, I still need to confirm with the seller before I commit to any purchase. It’s a gift and a curse to be such a pristine-orientated collector.

I can ask the seller a question and confirm that this Han is UGH (Ultimate Galactic Hunt).

I can ask the seller a question and confirm that this Han is UGH (Ultimate Galactic Hunt).

I always wondered if there was an easier way (okay, a lazier way) to contact sellers–especially after I finally decided, “Yes, you are the one. You will sit on my shelf and look pretty forever!” and made my purchase, only to give them the wrong address. Oh No! What have I done!? With the site’s newest feature, I don’t have to waste time searching the database for the item I bought and ask a question about it. I can visit their store and ask any question I want. It’s the same process I’m used to, but streamlined. I can ask if they are willing to gift wrap it or add extra padding for shipping to keep the box corners safe and my precious figure snug tight. Overall, I’m super pleased to see the site improve and meet my needs as a collector. I don’t have to worry whether my voice is heard, because updates like these are proof. I feel like I have my own little place here I can share and watch grow.  

Comments (2 Comments)
Michaela Kaylie Nightingale

I'm like you Christina.  I buy the best, and if sometimes the best isn't good enough, I wait and buy a better version.  What really irritates me is sellers who advertise their wares as 'fresh from package'.   I ask them where the package is, and they say, '   i threw it away'.  Ouch!

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