Model Cars Posts

Meet Collector, Scratch Builder, Fabricator Jack Reynolds

jack reynoldsWhen you see the models of Jack Reynolds, you might not know what to think at first. Is he a collector? Well, kind of. But he collects mostly his own models. Is he a model manufacturer? Yes, but he doesn’t sell his models, so not in the traditional sense of the word.

jack reynolds mc laren

Something about McLaren orange that just looks perved on a CanAm racer.

Jack is a Scratch Builder … well, that’s not even the perfect explanation of how he makes his model cars. Let’s let him explain. “I sometimes use other sources for a few parts,” he said. “That’s why I refer to the cars as ‘scratch built fabrications.’” For the last 20 years or so, Jack has built large scale cars with some amazingly intricate detail out of sheet metal, wire, resin, and anything else he can get his hands on. When we say large scale, we mean it… 1/6 to 1/8 are his favorite scales.

D Type Jaguar

D Type Jaguar

Just about every bit you see in his cars is hand built, and one of a kind. “Sometimes a part with a compound curve is just beyond my ability or I don’t have the right tool,” he said. “Early on, I used other sources for tires and wheels, but they were usually a compromise. For example, in order to make an accurate 1/8 scale Halibrand wheel with a 3 tread Firestone it is necessary to create it with resin.” Most of his cars are assembled by screws, so they can be disassembled for further work or detail.

jack reynolds maserati

The handmade sheet metal on this Maserati captures the look of a purpose built, slightly used race car.

In other words, it’s not really cheating. But just the same, he’d rather spend a lot of effort on a piece if it creates the best detail. “It”s all about complexity when it comes to time involved. Four wire wheels may take longer than a complete but simple body. Sometimes I get frustrated that I need 4 wheels,” he laughed. “Lately I’ve been building parts with no plans for a complete car. I enjoy this exercise as there is little or no duplication. Often when enough parts exist a car will materialize. Much less hurry this way.” (If he sounds like someone with time on his hands, he’s been retired since 2004.)

jack reynoldsHis first project was a 1/6 scale McLaren racer that met with a tragic end when it careened off his shelf. “To date the #33 Bowes Seal Fast Indy roadster is one of my most complex models,” he said. You can see it above as well as many more on his website.

jack reynolds wheels

Jack’s obsession with scratchbuilt detail extends to the wheels he builds for most of his cars.

Since he doesn’t sell his creations, he never makes the same model twice. “I enjoy the challenge of creating something new such as the spoke layout of different makes of wire wheels. When I was about 12 years old I carefully studied a wire wheel in Road&Track magazine and still use that as a basic layout. Making more than one model of a car is just labor.” As far as other hobbies, he has a significant collection of racing memorabilia. “I worked for a racing publication and was also a racing video photographer for 7 years during the mid sixties and early seventies,” he said. “I’ve attended the 1000 km of the Nurburgring, the Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indy 500, and numerous other motorsport events.”

 So, basically, he’s our kind of people. Check out his models on hobbyDB!

jack reynolds dino

This Ferarri 246 Dino model can be seen at the top of the article, just to give you a sense of the scale of Jack’s models.

Rally ‘Round these Hot Hatch 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 story about the miniature versions of a couple of pioneering hatchbacks.


Sun Star Ford Escort Kyosho Lancia

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Not long after the invention of the automobile, someone figured out that stuffing a bigger engine into a smaller car would make that car exponentially more fun. One modern variation on this concept is the Hot Hatch , transforming pedestrian hatchbacks into screaming rally cars. Add a turbo, tweak the suspension, strip out heavy options, and add a body kit, and you’re in business. From early Mini and Fiat 500 rally cars to the modern Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, these cars offered crazy factory performance on a relative budget. If you lived in Europe in the late 80’s to mid 90’s, you may have seen examples of these two: The Lancia Delta Integrale and the Ford Escort MkIII XR3. Here are a couple of 1/18 of these cars to consider.

The Lancia model shown here is from Kyosho, so you know you’re in for some insane levels of detail. The bright yellow exterior is offset by lots of separately cast details, such as the black door handles (which themselves features tiny chrome keyholes), badges, turn signal repeaters and so on. Every little badge is legible. Heck, there’s even a tiny loop under the rear bumper, the designated hook for pulling the car our of a ditch when you hoon it just a bit too hard on a dirt road in the country.

Kyosho LanciaThe opening parts are hard to access, as the panel gaps are precise and tiny. When you open that rear hatch, (marvel at the defroster detail before you do) there is a movable cargo cover, showing the donut spare tire. In a rare feat of miniature engineering, all four doors open, and are sprung so they snaps securely shut. The interior is sparsely appointed like the original, but what’s there is impressive: flocked seats, red buttons on the seatbelt retainers, and readable gauges.

Kyosho LanciaUnder the hood (it’s hinged at the front, by the way) the engine detail is remarkably well done, with flexible wiring harness, readable warning labels, and a structural support beam connecting the fenders. The whole car feels tight and precisely engineered.

Sun Star Ford EscortThe Ford, from Sun Star, is also well done, especially considering the original price of the model was about half that of the Kyosho car (about $40 vs. $100). The paint is chalky yellow hue (Subaru offered a similar color on the WRX). Like the Lancia, there are gobs of separate black plastic bits, including mudflaps and bumper parts, giving it that signature ‘80s-on-a-budget look.

Sun Star Ford EscortAlso like the other model, it features the moving cargo cover in the back, as well as even more detailed seatbelt clips and gauges. The seats are rendered to represent vinyl, striped in two hues of gray. Underhood, engine detail is about what you would expect, but Sunstar took care in replicating the tiny, hidden sheet metal details like weld spots in fenders, something you never see in a model at any price.

Both cars have working suspension, and have all windows rolled up, which is kind of unusual (it also makes it hard to open the doors). The different sheens from paint, chrome, flat plastic lend an extra air of realism to both cars. There aren’t a lot of models of these cars made in any scale, so if hot hatches are your thing, grab these two.

Sun Star Ford Escort Kyosho Lancia

Challenger Joe Has a Great Store and a Cool Story

Challenger Joe RothpearlChallenger Joe is one of the newest sellers on hobbyDB, and his hobby DB store is a bit different. So is his story. Challenger Joe (Joe Rothpearl, but he prefers to just use the nickname online) is a car guy… he likes all kinds of interesting rides, but you can probably guess his favorite, right? Yeah, he loves some MOPAR, but specifically Dodge Challengers.

“I built model cars as a kid,” he explained, “whatever cars caught my eye at the time.” But when he was a teenager, his perspective was locked in forever when his friend let him drive his 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. “Cool cars stop you in your tracks when you’re a kid. I was 15, so I didn’t have a license yet, but we did some donuts in that car, and I was hooked.” (He fondly remembers the /66 1/2 Charger owned by his family when he was three.) Like many of us, he went on to own other cars over the years, some more interesting than others, always longing to recreate that initial burst of excitement.

model cars

Joe enjoyed customizing model kits and shooting them outdoors in real lighting.

When Dodge first showed off their new retro styled Challenger concept in 2006, the bug bit him again. “I figured there was no way ever they would really build that car,” he said. But when they came out with a production model a couple years later, his jaw dropped. But he still didn’t get one yet. Then, when his father and father-in-law died not too far apart, he decided life was too short to not drive a cool car. “I went online to look for the exact package I wanted and found one only 10 minutes away…”

Not just any Challenger, though… he bought his with the upgraded RT package (kind of rare), the Super Track Pack (way more rare), the Classic Package (unusual) and in a particular hue (Billet Silver Metallic) that turned out to be very limited. “The tsunami in Japan disrupted the supply of certain colors for all auto manufacturers for awhile,” he said. After that, Dodge moved on to other colors. According to Chrysler, his car is one of only nine ever produced with that exact set of colors and options. Rare as the car is, he drives it daily, including the harsh winters of upstate New York.

About the store.. You may have noticed he deals primarily in models of Dodge Challengers. Part of that comes from the fact that he collects every possible mutation of those models and has a few extras. The collection includes early models from Matchbox and Hot Wheels (The Rodger Dodger is one of his all time favorite models) as well as newer models in every conceivable scale.

dodge challenger diecast

Besides this wall of miniature Challengers, which is about half of his 1:64 collection, Joe collects records and comic books.

The other thing about the store… all of his proceeds are being  donated to charity. “The money will all go to the Rochester Challenger Miracle Field,” he said. Wait a second, did he get to name this place? Nope, there’s a division of Little League baseball for kids with various disabilities, called the Challenger Division, and these fields are designed to cater to their needs. On top of his donations, hobbyDB is waiving its usual fees for his store so the maximum amount can go to good causes.

Joe deals with his own struggles daily as well. He gets debilitating migraine headaches on a regular basis and has also had a couple of neck surgeries. Despite all this, he’s an unrelentingly positive guy. “I have some good days and some not so good days,” he said. “I’ve tried all kinds of therapy, but when I’m in my Challenger, I feel no pain. It’s the best medicine.

dodge challenger diecastAs we mentioned, he’s a car guy in general. “I like any car that’s interesting,” he said. “I don’t want to get caught up in the negativity of only liking one brand or one model and saying bad things about the rest,” he said. “I’m a positive person. I like to make people smile. It’s my super power.”

His website, as the name indicates, is devoted to the Challenger of the Day. It might be a real car one day, or a model the next. “It’s nice to mix the different interest groups together,” he said. “I just like bringing people together for common ground, making people smile.” Visit the Challenger Joe Store on hobbyDB and you can help do that too.

dodge challenger diecast

Maisto Adds Their Collection to hobbyDB Official Archives

Maisto Mercedes

This 1967 Mercedes-Benz 280SE is indicative of Maisto’s high quality models.

The diecast database on hobbyDB just got a huge boost, as Maisto is the latest company to host their Official Archives. Maisto is a major player in large scale diecast, offering models in scales from 1/18 through 1/64. Including planes and other vehicles, there are over 3,000 Maisto items listed on hobbyDB.

Maisto made their mark in the diecast business with their 1/18 offerings, a wide variety of nicely detailed, reasonably priced models. Their biggest competitor in that realm was Bburago, who focused on European cars, while Maisto made models of just about everything else. Maisto acquired Bburago in 2007, forming a worldwide ring of automotive nationalities. (Just last week, we announced Bburago’s Official Archive as well.)

Maisto 1972 Chevelle SSMaisto’s models have included concept cars such as the 1993 Porsche Boxster, and classics that inspired them like Porsche 550A Spyder. They also did a version of the production Boxster for good measure. They have also made models of classic but underrepresented cars like the Datsun 240Z. Maisto has made more motorcycle models than most companies as well.

Maisto Datsun 240ZThe 1/18 cars from both companies usually host a feature of opening hoods, trunks and doors, as well as working steering and suspension. Some models, such as their Chevelles, are detailed to represent multiple years (’71 and ’71) as well as convertible or hardtop. Several models are available as prepainted kits with optional wheels and other details so collectors could personalize their cars.

maisto dodge 330 kitMaisto’s first entries in the 1:64 market were inexpensive and mostly fantasy creations unlike anything the company was producing at larger scales. More recently, they have focused on premium priced, well detailed models of real cars that fit in more with the rest of their line. In the Official Archive, you will be able to search for their products broken down by the many series they have offered such as Fresh Metal and Burnin’ Key Cars.

Maisto Fresh Metal

Maisto’s Fresh Metal 3″ series features a wide range of models based on real cars and wild concepts.

With Maisto and Bburago on board, the hobbyDB Official Archives now feature two of the biggest brands in large scale diecast. Combined, they represent well over 5,000 entries in our database.

Two Maisto Porsche Models That ’Ster the Soul

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 reading about a pair of Porsches that have more in common than it seems.

maisto porsche boxster 550A

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Porsche has always charged a premium for high performance cars, but every now and then they hit the reset button and try to offer a somewhat affordable model to entice new buyers. One early model, the 550A Spyder, a tiny, extremely lightweight speedster, gained fame (or infamy) as the car James Dean was driving when he died. Some revisionists would claim he was operating it safely and within the speed limit, but such nonsense tarnishes his legacy as a, well, rebel.

Flash ahead 35 or so years to when Porsche decided a no-frills, “budget” roadster would be just the thing for the 1990s. The 1993 Boxster Concept (a mashup of “Boxer” and “Speedster”), blended modern and vintage styling cues and proved to be an instant hit. The Boxster would soon go into production looking much like the show car (minus a few sexy details) and at a relatively low starting price, which is quite a miracle.

maisto porsche boxster 550AHere are two models from Maisto representing these cars in 1:18 scale. They both feature fully sprung suspension, opening doors and other panels, and show a stark contrast in the overall size of the real cars when parked side by side. Both are finished in the appropriate not-too-flashy silver with appropriate badging.

maisto porsche boxsterThe newer Boxster concept accurately skimps on details in one important area… the drive train. Since the concept was a non-running design exercise, one could only imagine what the engine would look like at the time or where exactly it would go. The chassis is also devoid of working bits because of this omission. Maisto also made a model of the 1996 production Boxster if you prefer that version.

maisto porsche boxsterThe Boxster’s interior reproduces some strange quirks that never made it into production… the door panel inserts are asymmetrical to the point where they don’t look like they came from the same car. The dashboard and rear view mirror also echo this lack of symmetry. Also, the seatbelts are mounted to go over the occupants’ inside shoulders instead of the more common arrangement. The soft red surfaces in the model look and feel like you could sit in them.

maisto porsche 550ASuch details are of no concern on the 550A, as there was very little interior included in the original 550A. And seatbelts were just considered extra ballast. Nonetheless, the details and surfaces that are present in the Spider look and feel like they were hand assembled from as few extraneous components as necessary for the sake of speed and simplicity. The super thin steering wheel is beautiful, too. The skinny tires and bare steel wheels look perfect on this car.

maisto porsche 550AUnder the hood, a very tiny engine is dwarfed by the spare tire. Up front, there is little more than a gas tank taking up the entire compartment. The chassis on this one is also quite smooth with only the necessary bits hanging down from the engine bay.
maisto porsche 550AIt’s great to see these Maisto Porsche models representing something besides the usual 911 offerings. Side by side, the 550A and Boxster make nice bookends for two cars that aren’t that far apart in concept.maisto porsche boxster 550A