A New Volvo Model Database

Musings By Joschik
Christian Braun obsesses over collectibles, models and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Documenting collectibles has been a passion since helping his brother writing a guide on Siku models in 1987.

 

Bert Jan Nijhuis has been a Volvo driver since he is 17 years old.  He already had been a Volvo collector, in fact, he has been collecting Volvo models since he was 8 years old.  Naturally, Sweden was their vacation destination and Volvo and ABBA were his youth.  In 2013 he founded the Volvo Model Cars Facebook group which now also has an Instagram and Youtube presence.  The group has almost 9,000 members and designers at DNA, Minichamps, Norev, OttO, Scalemasters but also executives at Volvo Cars and the Volvo Merchandising in Gothenburg that follow the discussions.

Bert & Volvo cars in 1:1 Scale all the way to 1:160

I recently spoke to him about their annual Volvo Model Car of the Year contest.  The group became a Community Supporter of the Model Car Hall of Fame (which I share).  We then discussed a group project, a Volvo database and agreed to build it together.  It is now housed on a new website, naturally called www.volvomodelcars.com!  The group is now comparing their spreadsheet with almost 6,000 Volvo models with what is already on hobbyDB and is adding what is not.  We look forward to many more Volvos on hobbyDB!

And Bert, don’t take it too hard that your wife is driven a Citroen!  Anybody wanting to create a Citroen database?

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Hot Dog! You’ll Relish These Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Collectibles

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Hey, kids! Do you relish the opportunity for a job that lets you ketchup in your career? Oscar Mayer is looking for Wienermobile drivers, but only if you can cut the mustard! Okay, terrible buns… er, puns aside (and repeating them frequently is part of your duties), it’s quite frankly a fun job. Side note… yours truly was a candidate for this very gig in the early 1990s, but I got roasted in the interview.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile collecitlbesIn any event, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is an enduring icon of promotional stunts that has been loved for decades. There are actually several of them that roam different regions of the country. As big as that fleet is, there are even more Wienermobiles in smaller, collectible form.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile whistlesWiener Whistles  The earliest Wienermobile collectibles were whistles, given out to kids at promotional appearances. They are usually molded in the red “meat” color instead of the tan “bun” color. They have a couple of small holes that can be covered to produce different tones. There have been several variations over the years including a sort of pan flute version made of a pack of hot dogs (technically not a mobile sausage, but let’s go with it) that offered enough notes to play the famous jingle, which is now stuck in your head!

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile bankBanks – After the whistles, the earliest Wienermobile models were plastic banks… well, sort of. Starting in the 1950s, there was a 1/25-ish scale model molded in a bun colored base and a meat-hued sausage. And as it rolled, a flat sculpture of Little Oscar bobbed up and down from a slot on top. Later releases of the same model ditched the driver, with the slot now serving as a place for your savings deposit. Banks have been updated with recent designs in the real fleet, so there are several different generations available. One thing they have in common… most of them are unbranded as far as what toy company produced them. They are simply “Oscar Mayer” offerings.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile Hot WheelsHot Wheels – One of the rare exceptions to the unbranded mass-produced tube-steak vehicles comes from Hot Wheels. The first variant from 1993 was accurately colored, as most have been since, but there have been a few exceptions. A silver chrome version came out the next year. Also, NASCAR themed variants, while featuring correct body colors, have displayed different graphics and logos. The rarest Hot Wheels variant is likely the Micro Vehicle version from 1996. This short-lived series of half-sized cars was designed to compete with Micro Machines. It’s like one of those delicious cocktail wieners in that red sauce your parents used to serve in crockpots at parties. (And no, this one doesn’t count!)

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile ornamentChristmas Ornaments – Another example of a branded Wienermobile is the Hallmark Christmas ornament from 2001. Accurately scaled, it’s a nicely detailed model and with a push of a button, plays that jingle. There have been other, more traditional ornaments, usually unbranded as well.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile dispensersCondiment Dispensers  One of the most abstract Wienermobile models is this ketchup and mustard bottle set. The red top holds 4.5 ounces of ketchup, while the yellow base holds 11 ounces of mustard. (If you’re from Chicago, that ratio should be NO ketchup ever and ALL the mustard!) Functional and delicious!

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile Mold a RamaMold-a-Rama – This collectible brings back the smell of childhood for a lot of collectors. No, not the aroma of hot dogs on the grill… the scent of hot, waxy plastic, fresh out of the Mold-A-Rama machine. Insert your money, watch the gears and gizmos crank, and take in a whiff of the still-hot plastic toy that pops out. These machines were first made in 1962 and appeared mostly in the midwest and Great Lakes area. Several of these technical marvels are still in operation around the country including ones at the Field Museum and Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. And despite the last machines being manufactured decades ago, new molds are occasionally installed, including one for the 1952 Wienermobile at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

If you meat Oscar Mayer’s requirements and can take the intense grilling of the interview, you should apply for the gig driving the Wienermobile here.

And if you want to see more, or know of any collectibles we don’t have in our database, this is the link you’re craving!

Comments (1 Comment)
Trigger Bontrager

I remember riding in the real Weinermobile once years ago.  Way cool and the collectibles are extremely cool and fun.!

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Meet Mac Ragan, Diecast Collector, Historian (and Industry Icon)

Mac RaganOver the past couple of months, hobbyDB has been featuring the stories of some of the folks who bring you the diecast cars you know and love. Mac Ragan is well-known for his work in the diecast vehicle industry over the last couple of decades (he was inducted in the Model Car Hall of Fame, then still called Diecast Hall of Fame in 2010), but he got his start as an avid collector and historian of the hobby.

Many collectors know him as a Johnny Lightning designer and Brand Manager (with Playing Mantis and RC2, from 2003 to 2007. He was also GreenLight’s New Casting Director from 2007 to 2008. His life with toy cars goes back to the 1990s when he became a book publicist in New York City.A background in art history helped me secure a job at the exclusive art-book publisher, Harry N. Abrams, Inc.,” he said. “My responsibilities included getting new books reviewed and featured in magazines, plus securing spots for authors on television shows.”

After a few years, he decided it was time for a change in his career. He was already a long-time collector of toy cars, so he decided he wanted to photograph them. His mother bought his first camera in the late 1990s.These were the final days of film, and the camera was a fully manual Nikon FM2. My idea was to photograph cars from a child’s vantage point, and treat them as objects to be played with by children and admired by adults,” he said. By this time, he was on the road to creating his own books.

Johnny Lightning 1955 Chrysler C300

Johnny Lightning 1955 Chrysler C300 (Photo courtesy jlcollector.net)

From 2000-2004, he published 5 books on various diecast brands. Titles include Diecast Cars of the 1960s (2000), Hot Wheels Cars (2001), Tomart’s Price Guide to Johnny Lightning Vehicles (2001), Matchbox Cars: The First 50 Years (2002), Hot Wheels: 35 Years of Cool Cars (2003), as well as a pair of Hot Wheels Car-a-Day Calendars (2003 and 2004).

Given his tight connection to JL, the Matchbox and Hot Wheels titles may come as a surprise. “You need to make contacts at the brand, no matter what kind of toy-car book you’re creating. I wrote all of my books before I worked in the industry, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of current and past employees.”

Mac Ragan booksMac would have a second career at Johnny Lightning. The brand disappeared for a while, but Tom Lowe revived it at his new company, Round 2. Mac returned to meet up with much of the original crew in 2015.This time I was Director of Social Media for Johnny Lightning, Auto World, and Racing Champions Mint. My photography skills came in handy on the new websites as well as the Facebook and Instagram pages.”

GreenLight 1971 AMC Javelin Police Cruiser

GreenLight 1971 AMC Javelin Police Cruiser (Photo courtesy Wyatt Davis)

He left Round 2 in 2017 to focus on his collection, and feature it on Facebook (@macragan) and Instagram (@macragan500). “I primarily collect 1/64-scale toy vehicles from around the world. My favorite toys replicate everyday cars we see on the streets. Four-door sedans and station wagons are favorites, from the 1960s to present day.”

Among his favorite JL creations are the 1955 Chrysler C-300 Mexican Rally Racer, 1936 Hispano-Suiza, and the 1959 De Soto Fireflite Police Car. He is also fond of the Johnny Retro series, with colorful tinted transparent lacquer over brushed bare metal, and the later Holiday Classics assortments from 2004 to 2007.

At GreenLight, Mac is proud of a change he helped institute for the overall brand. In 2008, they went to smaller, more accurate tire and rim molds for many models. “I consider this my most valuable contribution to the GreenLight casting bank,” he said. “It was priority number one from my first day, as I felt that the pre-2008 wheels and tires were often too large.” His favorite designs from that brand include the 1971-1974 AMC Javelin and AMX, and the 1960s Dodge D-100 Pickup casting and over-the-cab camper.

Auto World 1970 Dodge Challenger TA

Auto World 1970 Mercury Cougar (Photo courtesy awcollector.com)

Even before he was on staff at Round 2, he helped develop several early castings. Among his favorites are the Auto World 1970-1974 Dodge Challenger and 1970 Mercury Cougar (“My chance to improve on the old Johnny Lightning Convertible version!”)

“My parents told me that I played with toy cars from the age of two,” Mac said. “That was in Auburn, Alabama. My favorite real car, at three years old, was apparently the Karmann Ghia. The first toy cars I remember was a set of plastic European vehicles, all about four inches long. I soon graduated to Matchbox toys and then Hot Wheels cars.”

Johnny Lightning 1936 Hispano-Suiza

Johnny Lightning 1936 Hispano-Suiza (Photo courtesy jlcollector.net)

Surprisingly, JL was not his initial inspiration as a childhood diecast fan. “Although I’m closely associated with the Johnny Lightning brand, my first love will always be regular wheels Matchbox cars,” he said. “I played with them in my early childhood, and these happy memories remain with me to this day. From the modern era, my favorites are Johnny Lightning, Tomica, Siku, Norev, and Auto World.”

Like many collectors, he is attempting to recreate the lost collection of his childhood. “I gave all my cars to a younger neighbor when I was 11 years old,” he said. “I began truly collecting after college. Although I have a few models from the late 1950s, the core of my collection begins in the mid-1960s.”

As a child, he collected other things as well… rocks, seashells, coins, and stamps to name a few.As an only child and the final member of my family’s branch on the tree, I ended up with many inherited ‘treasures,'” he said.Paintings by my mother and a close friend cover the walls of my home. I’m a casual collector of art pottery and contemporary ceramics. However, I don’t consider myself a serious collector of anything other than toy cars.”

GreenLight 1965 Dodge D100 with Camper

GreenLight 1965 Dodge D100 with Camper (Photo courtesy Wyatt Davis)

The collector and designer come together whenever Mac wanders over to the toy aisle at a store that carries diecast. He can’t help but scan the pegs looking for his handiwork. “I always do that,” he exclaimed. “I did that when I was designing and I still do. Castings have long lifespans, and I continue to find GreenLight models with wonderful new deco schemes on castings I created over ten years ago.”

Auto World 1970 Dodge Challenger TA

Auto World 1970 Dodge Challenger TA (Photo courtesy awcollector.com)

Clearly, he has been fortunate to turn a lifetime passion into a successful career. “For me, my toys tell the story of the automobile (and more broadly, popular culture) for the past 60 years. It’s something to pass to the next generation after I’m gone.” He finds the hobby relaxing as well. “I know that when I enter the die-cast aisle I’m transported to a calmer place. I forget about all the stress of everyday life.”

“It’s not always easy to know why you collect. But if you think about it sometime when you have a quiet moment, you’ll probably learn something important about yourself.”

Comments (6 Comments)
Paul Barron

Mac - Nice article about your passion for Diecast Cars. Thanks for being a big part of our fun Diecasst Car Hobby.

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New hobbyDB Price Guide Features for your Collection

We’re ringing in the new year with 1.3 million new price points and new features to help make your hobbyDB price guide even better! See all that’s new –

Total Collection Value

You put in the work to track down your favorite collectibles, and now you can finally show off their estimated values with hobbyDB’s price guide.

How it works: Whenever we have an estimated value for a collectible, you’ll see that price factored into your collection’s total value. You can see your collection’s total value in your Collection Stats Section on your showcase. This is currently only available on desktop, but mobile view is coming!

hobbyDB Price Guide

As some collectibles in the database don’t have prices yet, this number may be a bit lower than people expect, but as the hobbyDB price guide continues to grow, you’ll be able to keep track of your collection’s value over time.

price guide

 

Your top ten most valuable items

On top of seeing the value of your full collection, you’ll also be able to show off the top ten most valuable items in your collection.

How it works: Our value tracker compiles and displays your most valuable items in an easy to share top ten list! You can see your top ten on the left-hand side of your showcase. You’ll be able to witness the changes every week to see if your items are gaining or losing value. Shortly we’ll also be adding the ability to build out more lists, so you can sort your top most valuable items, your Disney items, your favorite items, etc. This is currently only available on desktop, but mobile view is coming!

 

 

 

Add the original purchase price to your collectibles

Now you can record how much you paid for your collectible in your collection management dashboard. This way (thanks to the hobbyDB value guide), if you notice one of your items has gone way up in value since purchase, you can decide if you’re ready to part with it, or love it forever.

How it works: Head on over to your collection on hobbyDB. Once there, you can search for the item that you’d like to add an original purchase price for. Click on Actions, then Edit and then add your price, where you bought it from, purchase date and then click save. Once you’ve added paid prices, you’ll see them on the collectible page like so –

 

Millions more prices are coming in 2020!

As we continue to expand our value guide, we’re constantly looking for more places where we can source new price points. It has always been a goal of ours to include Auction House prices in our guide, and with our new partnership with Heritage Auctions, we’ll have 5 million new price points coming to hobbyDB’s value tracker in 2020.

Read more about the details of our new partnership here. 

Moving forward, we’d like to deem 2020 the year of the hobbyDB value guide. We’ll continue to work hard at making the best price guide for collectibles on the web; A guide that includes tons of price sources, so that we can ensure that you’re getting the most up to date and accurate price points to help you value your collection. If you know anyone who has a guide or would be interested in getting involved with our price guide project, just contact us and we’ll be in touch shortly!

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Christmas Presents of Past Become Toy Collection of Present

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of memories of Christmas that have shaped me in ways no one would have ever guessed when I was a little kid. While Santa is to thank for much of that, I should probably also thank my parents who at least took lots of photos along the way. So many fond memories.

Alas, a lot of those toys are only photos and memories, as they went away in the Great Yard Sale of 1974 before we moved from Wisconsin to Tennessee when I was eight. But some of those toys survived in my custody… and I still have a lot of them.

christmas race trackHot Wheels galore – Orange track. Maroon tongue connectors. And those oh so colorful cars. I was only two when these debuted, but had quite a few of the originals by the time I could start remembering those things. The track showed up under the tree a couple years later. I still have an original Rally Case full of my Hot Wheels cars that survived the sandbox well enough to still be recognizable.

Johnny Lightning cars – Speaking of track, one year I got the Cyclone 500 track set. JL made a surprisingly wise calculation on how to add speed to tiny diecast cars. Hot Wheels relied on gravity and motorized boosters, but the folks at Topper put hooks on the bottom of the cars that could be snagged by the drivers and slingshotted around a track and into towering loops with a flick of a lever. Yeah, I had that set. I don’t have it anymore, but a few of the cars are still along for the ride.

christmas tonkaTonka Crater Crawler – Tonka’s large scale construction vehicles are staples of many fond childhood memories. Like a lot of kids, I had several of them. But my favorite vehicle of that scale was a bit less utilitarian… it was the Crater Crawler, a moon buggy molded with gray tires and sparkle blue plastic body panels. Doesn’t sound Tonka tough? I still have it in remarkably good condition despite the fun play heaped upon it.

christmas sspKenner SSP cars – I’ve written about these several times for hobbyDB. I had about six different models of these gyro-wheeled racers, all of which got scraped and bashed on driveways and basement walls. I still have one original, the Sidewinder, from then. About twenty years ago, I worked on completing the collection… right now I have about 85 different models of them. I guess that got out of hand.

christmas tyco trainTyco Spirit of ’76 train set – My father had American Flyer trains since I can remember, and I wanted my own train set for just as long. To celebrate the American Bicentennial, I got this Tyco set with the very patriotic livery that Seaboard Coastline had applied to one of their real locomotives. And yes, I still have every bit of that train, although it hasn’t been set up in decades. Maybe it’s time to fix that.

comic book christmasPeanuts “Speak Softly and Carry a Beagle” – A surprisingly non-transportation related present. When I was a kid, Grandma Ruelle worked for a comics publisher, Gold Key, who did the Disney, WB, Walter Lantz, and Depatie-Freleng comic books. And I relished them, copied them, actually got sort of good at it. So my parents… I mean Santa gave me a copy of the latest “Peanuts” book by Charles Schulz. Mid-1960s to late ’70-s Peanuts is about as good as comic strip writing gets. Yeah, I still pull that one out and flip through it every now and then.

christmas legoLego Auto Chassis (Set 853) – Hard to believe the Lego Technic sets have existed since the late 1970s. This was game-changing stuff from Lego, a set with axles, universal joints, pistons, cams, and gears. The car was a huge model of a front-engine, inline 4-cylinder, 4-passenger car. I still have it, but, over the years, the parts got rearranged into this…

christmas lego indy carFive years ago, I brought a few of these toys to an interview for a role on the hobbyDB project. Let’s just say I almost didn’t need a resume after I pulled them out of my 1969 Hot Wheels lunchbox (which was not a Christmas present, so it doesn’t count here).

Those toys were great. Those memories were great. It’s especially great to still have both in some cases.

christmas toysWhat are your favorite toys you got for the holidays as a kid that you still have? Post some vintage pics in the comments if you have them!

Comments (3 Comments)
Karl

All great toys!  How did I miss that JL sling-shot thing???  I was into HWs more I guess back then.   Is that you in all the photos?  What nice memories!

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