Wreck Royale Vehicles Are Smashing Good Fun

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

In 1970, Kenner’s SSP Smash-Up Derby toys crashed their way into the rec rooms of kids everywhere, inspiring good, wholesome vehicular violence (you remember the jingle, right?). Fifty years hence, there’s Wreck Royale from MGA Entertainment. This series of seven vehicles are designed for explosive impact and maximum chaos with multiple parts that fly off when crashing.

Loud, chaotic, fun! That’s the name of the game here, and these new cars deliver.

Wreck Royale crash

The aftermath of an explosive collision…

Wreck Royale consists of seven different cars designed for crashing, reassembling, and repeating. Luis Tanahara designed the look of the cars. If his name sounds familiar, he has worked for a number of toy companies, but diecast collectors might know him better for his wild custom small-scale creations.

wreck royale double trouble king crash

Double Trouble and King Cra$h are sold as a set.

None of these models represent a particular real-world car, but they all call on Tanahara’s expert familiarity with the tropes of car culture. There are a couple of muscle car-inspired rides, a pair of Euro and JDM tuners, a ‘30s hot rod sedan, a vintage pickup truck, and a custom van. The graphics on each car further tell the story of those different automotive subcultures. Most of them even feature unique California-inspired license plates representing different eras of that state’s car culture.

Wreck Royale Big Boss Da Bomb

The Big Boss pickup takes on Da Bomb tuner.

Of the initial seven vehicles, only one body is used twice. And with different graphics and fly off parts, it takes you a while to notice. In fact, of about 28 parts, only a few of those molds are used more than once and decorated differently each time. Wreck Royale shows even further dedication to design effort with certain cars having unique rims or tires.

wreck royale packagingThe packaging is well done, too. Each car sits nose down as if it had just rammed into something, and the design elements on the labels fit the theme of each car.

While kids should love this kind of noisy fun, it should appeal to adult collectors as well. If you’re of a certain age, you had those original Kenner SSP Smash-Up Derby cars. The first set of those pre-dented racers was an instant smash hit. Kenner would go on to create 8 different body styles over the decade, including a pair of luxury cars that didn’t come pre-mangled and two European models.

Unlike the ripcord/gyro wheel propulsion of the SSP cars, Wreck Royale cars ar free-wheeling. Another difference is the new cars have interchangeable parts. Not only can you swap parts between cars, but any part can fit in any slot in the front, back, hood, roof, or sides. Between seven cars, 32 pieces, and six slots per car, the combinations are almost infinite.

But we’re really here for the action. And it lives up to the hype and then some. (Be sure to watch that video at quarter-speed or even slower again to really see those parts fly!)

Each Wreck Royale vehicle has a trigger in the front that sets off a violent expulsion of parts. At the same time, a trigger underneath the car launches or flips the whole thing into the air. The first time you see it in person, it’s startling. The parts don’t fly off as much as they explode. Reassembly is easy, once you learn the sequence of resetting the trigger and adding the parts. So with no tiny parts and a bit of education, these can be enjoyed by younger kids.

wreck royale ricky rodder

Ricky Rodder is a 1930’s sedan delivery with shark features.

Most cars are sold individually, retailing at a reasonable $10 or so apiece. The Big Boss and Double Trouble are sold as a pair, with each containing two more fly off parts than the single cars. (It’s also worth noting that the media kits for these toys came packaged in a brilliant semi truck shaped box, which should become a collectors’ item in its own right.)

Wreck Royale mixed up

There are unlimited ways to mix and match parts with Wrecky Royale.

The world of collecting can be funny sometimes. The toys we remember most fondly as kids are often the ones we played with the hardest. But as collectors, we look for pristine, well-preserved examples to display years later. Wreck Royale makes a case for ripping those boxes open and having a smashing good time.

Do you have these new cars or any vintage smash-up vehicles? Tell us about your memories with your destructive playtime!

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The Ultimate Poser: DC Sculptor Tim Bruckner Captured Iconic Moments

tim bruckner wonder woman

“The Kiss” is one of Bruckner’s finished pieces currently for sale.

A few weeks ago we introduced you to Tim Bruckner, who spent about 20 years sculpting action figures and statues for DC Direct (now known as DC Entertainment). As his career there evolved, he spent more and more time on statues instead of poseable characters. A lot goes into the decisions on how to represent a figure the best way.

“The artist or art director has decided on a pose and facial expressions before I start working,” Bruckner said. Illustrations of the basic concept, such as Superman about to kiss Wonder Woman might be done specifically for the project, or they might come from actual comics panels. “Then all I have to do is recreate that in three dimensions.”

“Some of the artists like Alex Ross, with a more realistic style, require more reference,” he said. “But Ross always had so much material to work from for any character, so it was never a problem” In addition to the specific artist’s renderings, photos of people in action poses provide clues to getting muscles and angles just right. “We have to decide what ‘makes’ the character and brings it to life.”

tim bruckner alex ross

There is no shortage of Alex Ross renderings for a sculptor to work from. This prototype is for sale by Tim Bruckner.

Tim Bruckner Green Arrow

Bruckner is offering various stages of prototypes like this paint master of Green Arrow.

In a few cases, the design might not be based on any particular comic or live version of a character. “In the Superman and Lois Lane sculpture, he’s based loosely on the Christopher Reeves era of the character,” Bruckner said. “But it’s not an actual rendering of the actor, just a new way of designing him that looks familiar to collectors.”

At that early stage of the process, Bruckner would work in clay that could be bent or adjusted slightly if someone suggested a change. After those decisions are settled, the next stage is the perfectly detailed wax figure that will ultimately serve as the basis for the molding process. Several of these early prototypes are for sale in his hobbyDB Marketplace shop.

tim bruckner supergirl

Bruckner’s sculptures have a feeling of motion, often from different directions. You can get this one directly from Bruckner on hobbyDB.

tim bruckner

This playful cat is one of the hidden structural elements that hold up a pin-up statue of Catwoman.

Unlike an action figure who will be posed by the customer, a sculpture needs to capture a moment in time but still look like it’s moving. “This pose has to stand for everything about the character,” he said. You want something that says ‘this is Green Lantern,’ and it has to be convincing. Fans will let you know.” Aside from a moment when a superhero is proudly standing in triumph, they are usually seen in action. Bruckner’s statues are well known for conveying motion, action, tension, and lightness.

That last criterion is one where Bruckner has always excelled. “You want to give the illusion of weightlessness. A character running might have just the tip of their foot touching the base of the statue. Or Superman might be just landing, with the tiniest contact point to the ground.” He is particularly fond of a statue of Green Lantern fighting Sinestro at the peak of a mountain. “Sinestro is the only one touching the ground, and he looks like he is falling, about to lose contact. Green Lantern is only supported by points where he is making contact with his foe.” Often the support comes from an unexpected direction like a cat tugging on Catwoman’s dress.

tim bruckner batman

The ivy-covered gargoyle really puts Batman in context here.

Another trick for the weightlessness is that these figures are almost never mounted on a plain base. It will be something key to the environment of the scene, or an iconic prop. Such support pieces help remove the figures from being perceived as “static.”

Despite many of these characters being wildly proportioned, strange-looking, even non-human, Bruckner believes the human connection is what makes it work. “Each pose does represent a human experience,” he said. “If an artist has done that well, the collector can put himself in that experience by looking at this piece.” Bruckner insists that pop culture can be in danger of losing that human connection but doesn’t need to. “As an artist, it has to mean something to me, or it means nothing to everyone else.”

We’ll be taking one more look at Bruckner’s work in a few weeks, much of his work before and after his DC years.

 

 

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Tim Bruckner, Man of DC Action Figures!

A couple weeks ago we introduced you to Tim Bruckner, who spent about 20 years sculpting DC action figures and statues for DC Direct (now known as DC Entertainment) and other companies. We barely scratched the surface of his stories, so here’s a look at some of the design processes he went through in his career.

tim bruckner dc artistHis sculpting roots go back to his childhood. “I used to take those wax bottles with the juice in them (Nik-L-Nips) and play around with the wax and create all kinds of sculptures,” Bruckner said. He showed them to a neighbor across the street who happened to own a jewelry store. “He was impressed enough that he hired me as an apprentice when I was a teenager,” he laughs. That lucky break led not only to honing his finer wax sculpting skills, but also an understanding of the molding and casting processes.

tim bruckner robin

This Robin paint master is for sale on hobbyDB right now.

For those of you who collect model cars, the original sculpting is usually a subtractive process, where the artist starts with a block of some material like acetate and carves away the bits that don’t look like a car. “Figure design is an additive process,” said Bruckner. “It starts with a blob of wax, and I shape it into the character mostly by adding material.”

For those of you who collect figures, he’s now selling some of his rarer pieces on hobbyDB as the_Sculptor. These include production pieces as well as various stages of preproduction models. It’s a chance to own a bit of DC history as well as a one-of-a kind original piece for your collection.

tim bruckner dark knight

You can get this Batman action figure directly from Tim Bruckner.

Another difference between the two types of collectibles: Model cars are often sculpted with details such as the grill and windows in place. How those are divided into separate pieces is usually determined at the factory instead of by the artist. In addition to the original wax figure, Bruckner had to determine points of articulation, and how to separate the figure into multiple parts. “For poseable figures, I create a fully-functioning prototype with the joints worked out.” If that sounds complicated, yeah, it is. “After you’ve done several of them, that part gets a lot easier,” he said.

Much of the diecast world is headed towards 3-D modeling and prototyping, which has its advantages in speed and accuracy. “Since a statue of a character is organic in design, it’s still somewhat common for sculptors to make their molds the old way. “With the advent of 3-D design, that skill set is evaporating,” he said. “Hopefully digital sculpting and hand carving can coexist.” Even for static statues, he has to figure out what parts can be molded as one and what needs to be a separate part.

tim bruckner red skull

It may look finished, but this is a hand-painted prototype available from Bruckner.

Many of his figures are interpretations of drawings, which may have varied thought put into how a particular feature would be rendered as a real-life object. Sometimes an item like a hand, which might be molded in a different color, becomes a separate piece.

After approval of the shapes, Bruckner was responsible for painting the master from which the production pieces would be colored. “These statues are hand-painted in the factory, believe it or not. My painted prototypes were usually pretty spot-on,” he said. “They have to rely on a perfect example to copy, so it needs to be very accurate.” A lot of color breaks, such as the logo on Batman’s chest, are rendered in relief or as grooves or ridges to make coloring easier. A close look at his Red Skull master shows how much intricate detail can be involved.

tim bruckner supergirl

These three stages of the development of the Supergirl statue are for sale together.

In some cases, they are only part of the model, but otherwise, it’s really hard to tell them apart from the finished production piece. He has even listed a 3 stage set of Supergirl prototypes that really show how the process takes shape.

tim bruckner dc dynamics

tim bruckner

This Joker from the DC Dynamics line is from Bruckner’s private stash.

Those color breaks and separate molds can lead to some great opportunities for design. “My favorite statues are the DC Dynamics line,” he said. For those, a character such as the Joker is seen rising from a raging swirl of green slime. The shapes themselves are lively, but he was able to use translucent material for the goo, adding to the realism. “Being able to work with clear materials for water, smoke, or flames really helped make these even more realistic.”

Speaking of lively, dynamic shapes, there is a lot that goes into deciding every nuanced detail of a character’s pose and facial expression for these figures. We’ll take a look at some of the designs and decisions that go into the final product in an upcoming article.

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A Collection of 10 of the World’s Largest Collections

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

One comment we at hobbyDB hear a lot is “do you get to play with toys all day?” (The answer, sadly is no.) Another is “you must have the world’s largest collections of (Hot Wheels, Funko Pops, video games, etc.)” Also, no, but most of us do have a pretty good collection of something or another. We all geek out about some kind of collectible culture here. It’s sort of a requirement to be part of the hobbyDB project.

Which got us to thinking… who does have the world’s largest collection of bobblehead dolls? Or diecast cars? Or baseball cards? Or Barbie dolls? So, we did a little digging. Most of these figures have been verified by some organization, such as the Guinness Book of World Records, and exact numbers might not be up to the minute, as one trip to the toy store can add several more to the totals.

The hobbyDB database has a pretty good start documenting some of these (and some of the most complete data on the internet on others), but we are always looking for collectors and experts to contribute their knowledge to make it even more complete. If you’re interested in getting involved, let us know! We also are running a WeFunder campaign if you want to really get involved!

bobblehead hall of fameBobbleheads, Nodders, Wobblers – Just over a year ago (February 1, 2019), The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors, a project started by friends Phil Sklar and Brad Novak of Milwaukee. They have collected over 10,000 bobbleheads, wobblers, and nodders, dating back to some of the earliest sports models from the 1960s. While most of the collection is on display at their gallery, they often loan out part of the exhibit for special events. If a particular team is visiting the Milwaukee Brewers for a baseball series, figures related to that team might be on display at the ballpark.

As far as individual collectors with a focus, Philip Darling is credited by Guinness as having the largest gathering of sports-related bobbleheads, with over 2,300 of them, with an emphasis on hockey.

largest model car collectionDiecast VehiclesNabil Karam of Beirut, Lebanon, has a documented collection of over 37,000 diecast model cars of all brands and scales (37,777 at most recent count). Many of them are on display in some 400 painstakingly assembled dioramas. He says he has a weakness for Porsches, so it’s likely he has the largest collection of models of just that marque.

As far as single brands go, Mike Zarnock, well known among diecast fans, is said to have the world record for the largest Hot Wheels collection. But at an estimated 20,000, it’s just that… an estimate (a really big one though). He is verified as having the collection of the most models of different cars, at 8,128 (and if he’s been to the store in the last few days, he’s probably picked up a few more). The hobbyDB database shows over 40,000 distinct Hot Wheels variants, so Zarnock is halfway there! And if you have a collection of your own, you can utilize the hobbyDB tools to organize, manage, and track it.

worlds largest hot wheels collection

 

worlds largest funko pop collectionFunko PopsPop! figures have only been around a handful of years, so the largest collection isn’t as massive as some of the older toys. Nonetheless, Paul Scardino of Virginia had amassed a documented 4,475 of them by the end of 2018. Considering how many have been released since, that number has probably expanded.

If you’re really into Pop! figures, check out poppriceguide.com, part of the hobbyDB family. As the name suggests, it’s probably the most complete Pop! reference online, and has current, accurate pricing information.

worlds largest lego collectionLego sets – To be technical, this record also includes some other brands of building toys… Frank Smoes of Melbourne, Australia has 3,837 complete plastic building sets. He started building his collection in 1980 and estimates there are over 1.2 million bricks and at least 8,000 Minifigures in the collection.

The most complete collection of just Lego products is likely the vault at Lego’s headquarters in Denmark. They have preserved at least one copy of virtually every set ever released by the company, locked safely away for preservation (though it would be fun to play with some of those).

Video Games – Antonio Monteiro of Richmond Virginia has 20,139 games in his home. Not just the games, of course, where’s the fun in that? He also has over 100 consoles and computers to actually play the games on. Guinness said the collection was so big it took eight days to count before they verified the record.

world's largest license platesLicense Plates – Peter and Tamas Kenyeres of Hungary have amassed a collection of 11,345 license plates over the years. The oldest plate in their collection is from Austro-Hungarian Empire (1900). They also somehow acquired a plate that just says “B7,” which was a Hungarian minister’s plate from 1945 to 1948. 

But wait… Paul Franke of San Diego has since compiled a collection of over 22,000 plates, twice the size of theirs… but it hasn’t been verified by Guinness yet. It’s possible someone reading this right now have a bigger collection than that. If so, please contact us!

Since hobbyDB is located in a state with one of the most iconic license plates, this is a topic dear to our hearts!

worlds largest funko james bond collectionJames  Bond MemorabiliaNick Bennett of Leigh, Lancashire, UK, has a collection of all things Bond-related totaling 12,463 gadgets and other goodies at last count. Not just toys and action figures, but actual movie props in some cases. And yes, he keeps them in a secret lair in his basement.

hobbyDB is putting together the world’s largest collection of, well, collectibles, at least the largest online. Even better, because we include everything collectible, we can cross-reference any collectible that’s related to another by even the most obscure strand. The examples above are some areas where we have a pretty good start on documenting everything, but it’s collectors like you who help us complete the set. So, if you see some gaps in the hobbyDB project, please help fill them in for us.

Soon, we’ll look at some other giant collections, in areas where we really could use an expert or several to grace us with their knowledge and jump-start those parts of the database.

If you want to be a bigger part of the hobbyDB family, here’s your chance… Learn more at our Wefunder profile. We thank you!

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Saying good-bye to Gemr

Over the years, different collectible companies have emerged with the goal of helping the collector community. One of the coolest parts about being a part of this community, is that you get to know the people and teams behind many of the awesome platforms created to serve the different needs of the collector. Yesterday was a sad day for the collecting community as one of the largest players, Gemr, is shutting its doors. Although some people may have seen Gemr and hobbyDB as competition, we actually complimented each other perfectly in terms of what we each can offer the collecting community. Gemr was created to offer collectors the ability to come together and share their collections and passions. As a natural alternative to Facebook, the Gemr community was a space for like-minded collectors to connect and chat about their new finds and coveted grails.

A graphic used by Gemr to explain what their website is all about

hobbyDB, on the other hand, was built to give collectors the tools that they need to research, track, value, add to their collections and ultimately show it off (with our new Showcase feature).

We want to say a huge thank you Brannen, Brian, Carlee, Tim, Tom and the rest of the Gemr team for giving us a shout out in this sad time. As collectors ourselves, we really respect what they have built both in features and community. We know from experience how hard it can be to continue to fundraise and we so appreciate them for suggesting us as an alternative. As I mentioned, we’re a tad bit different in what we offer, but also the same in that we are here to serve the collector. If you’re a Gemr user that is looking for a new home for your collection, we would be lucky to have you come aboard. It’s free to register for a hobbyDB account where you will get all the tools that you need to power your collecting journey. If you need help setting up your collection, or want to ask us some questions about who we are and why we exist, feel free to reach out to us, we’re here to help.

The Gemr Good-by Email

PS:  Here is Tim’s take on the end of Gemr

Comments (4 Comments)
Brian Rusch

Sad to see them go, but the end was inevitable unfortunately.  They went far too broad and did not have a value proposition strong enough to make significant revenue.  Satisfying the wants of eclectic collectors is very difficult.   Time will tell if hobbyDB reaches the same fate.

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