Darby C Posts

Garbage Collector: Meet Matt Oldweiler, Garbage Pail Kids Connoisseur

garbage pail kids adam bomb

Oldweiler doesn’t care to share photos of himself, so enjoy this image of Adam Bomb instead.

Snark and shock have always been profitable forms of entertainment, from Mad Magazine to “South Park” to fail compilations on Youtube. In the mid 1980s, one particualr brand really stood out for its trashy nature. Garbage Pail Kids hit the scene as a parody of the Cabbage Patch kids and in all honestly had a longer cultural impact than than the subject of their satire.

GeePeeKay.com is the brainchild of Matt Oldweiler, who has been an avid collector of GPK stuff since he was a kid. ‘I was 10 years old when I saw my first Garbage Pail Kids sticker (Dead Ted), and I was instantly hooked,” he said. ‘They were this perfect storm of everything my little brain could handle. GPK were little pieces of artwork that were both funny and gross…they were hated by teachers and despised by parents…and every kid in their right mind was obsessing about them 24/7.”

garbage pail kids

Oldweiler’s office is full of all sorts of GPK items.

As one of the foremost experts on a popular collectible, Oldweiler, is now also a member of the hobbyDB Advisory Council.

He began collecting in 1985, the original heyday of the stickers. “Pretty much every waking minute of 1986 was spent looking at my collection, and doing whatever I could to make that collection bigger. I took a little break in the 90s (although I still picked up some items at the occasional card show), but jumped back in with both feet in 2003 and haven’t slowed down since.”

garbage pail kids

Binder after binder of valuable garbage!

Time to mention the elephant in the room of this cultural wonder/wasteland… The “Garbage Pail Kids Movie,” which opened to terrible reviews and bad box office. Surprisingly, he doesn’t hate it. “I’ve been a fan of the GPK movie since day one, and still have the collector cards that they handed out at the theater when I saw it way back in 1987,” he said. “And sure, the movie is @#%ing terrible, but that’s part of what makes it so awesome! Unfortunately I think the original movie is SO BAD that it has ruined any chance at a new version.  But if by some miracle it DID happen I think a lot of fun could be had with a ‘Roger Rabbit’ style approach of mixing animation and live-action together. Maybe one day…

garbage pail kids

Just a few of the cards in Oldweilwer’s collection.

His collection is partly on display in his office. “For decades I kept almost my entire collection in boxes. Sure…it was safe and secure, but I found that I wasn’t getting the enjoyment out of it that I wanted, he said. “So a few years ago I made a conscious decision to display more of my collection and began work on redesigning my home-office (GeePeeKay HQ).  Today I have close to 25% of my collection on display, and I am constantly adding something new to the shelves and walls!”

garbage pail kids

Is this a museum in a workspace or the other way around?

An exact count of GPK items would be hard to calculate, but Oldweiler says it’s in the thousands rather than hundreds. “Over the years I’ve managed to assemble a collection that includes every sticker and (almost) every toy from the 80s, foreign albums and stickers, comic books, skateboards, plush and vinyl figures, and much much more. Although it’s nearly complete there is always SOMETHING out there to add!”

garbage pail kids

Oldweiler collects a few other things as well, including Star Wars and TMNT.

In addition to GPK items, he has collected a, well, collection of collections. “It would be easier to list the things I have NOT collected over the years. For as long as I can remember I’ve collected Star Wars and Disney memorabilia, but I also have a hard time avoiding the occasional Kidrobot/vinyl toy purchase.”

Over thirty years later, the Garbage Pail Kids are still going strong, certainly more successful than the pudgy dolls they satirized back in the ’80s. FunKo has even commemorated some of the trashier entries in the catalog in Pop! form.

hobbyDB hopes to have his entire collection added to our site soon, closing a big gap in our ever-growing database. In case you were wondering, maintaining his vast online library isn’t his actual job. He’s an engineer at a “large telecommunications firm near Denver” when he’s not collecting.  As for his favorite piece in his collection, the answer might surprise you. “My favorite piece in my collection is card #84a JOE Blow,” Oldweiler  said. “Monetarily it’s worth about a buck, but sentimentally it’s priceless.” Spoken like a true collector.

“Black & Gold” Explores Legend of John Player Special Brand (and more) in Motor Racing

John Player SpecialOf all the auto racing liveries to ever race around a track, one of the most iconic is the John Player Special scheme. Solid black with delicate gold accents and understated script, the cars exuded an unmistakable sense of class. Once the national flag of the host country dropped at the start of a Grand Prix, these Lotus-engineered cars performed in historic fashion as well. 

Black & Gold John Player SpecialJohn Player Team Lotus is the subject of “Black & Gold: The Story of the John Player Specials,” a new book by Johnny Tipler  from Coterie Press. The vivid storytelling and beautiful photos are every bit as elegant and exciting as the cars themselves. Best known for their Formula 1 cars from 1972 to1986, JPS also sponsored Trans Am Mustangs, Formula 3 cars, and even power boat racing. All of these are covered here.

Black & Gold John Player Special“The depth of research and the beautiful photos make this a truly special book,” said William Taylor of Coterie Press. This large format book includes 316 pages of the rich history of John Player Special in motor racing, written by the team’s Press Officer in the 1970s, Johnny Tipler. This is Tipler’s seventh book on Lotus cars. New and vintage images come from Ian Catt, the team’s official photographer. In other words, this is as official as a book like this can possibly get.

jps andretti

This autographed bookplate will be inside the Emerson Fittipaldi edition of the book.

There is also two different limited, leather-bound “Special” editions of the book, autographed by one of two racing legends. You can get one of 72 copies autographed by Emerson Fittipaldi, who won the Formula 1 title in 1972, the first year of the JPS program. (His version of the car was the Lotus 72.) Or you can order one of 79 copies signed by Mario Andretti, who won the F1 title in the Lotus 79 in 1978. The “Special” Edition comes in a clamshell case with JPS badging on the front.

jps fittipaldi

This is the autographed bookplate from the Mario Andretti edition.

In addition to Fittipaldi and Andretti, JPS drivers such as Nigel Mansell and Johnny Dumfries were interviewed for the book. Several of the original engineers and mechanics offer up their recollections, as does JPS Project Manager George Hadfield. Paul Rego at Regogo Racing was also indespensable in the creation of this book.

Black & Gold John Player SpecialThe Standard edition will sell for $64.95, and the Special Editions will be $250.00 each. The book will ship in late October, but you can preorder it at the Coterie Press Store on hobbyDB.com. With the very limited quantities, it will sell out quickly.

John Player Special book badges

These badges will be affixed to the Special Edition box covers of “Black & Gold.”

Curiously enough, while John Player had been in the tobacco business for many years, the “John Player Special” name was created as a product to be promoted by this racing effort. The name was chosen partly because it sounded like the name of a racing car, so it was a natural fit when it showed up on the livery. And even though the cars were built and engineered by Lotus, they were specifically called “John Player Specials” so that even in countries that didn’t allow tobacco advertising the name would still be mentioned on air and in print.

Black & Gold John Player Special

Johnny Tipler

“Black & Gold” author Johnny Tipler at the wheel.

With over 40 books published on a variety of motoring topics ranging from racing cars and driver biographies, to motorcycles and commercial vehicles, motoring journalist, historian and author Johnny Tipler is based in Norwich, England. A major contributor to the Lotus Club International magazine, interviewing well-known Lotus personalities, writing drive stories and book reviews, Tipler is also author of seven books on Lotus road and race cars.

He also writes on new model launches, significant historic vehicles, famous drivers, and covers a host of classic racing events such as the Mille Miglia, Spa 6-Hours and Goodwood Revival. His most recent book, on one of his favourite events, La Carrera Panamericana: the World’s Greatest Road Race, was published in October of 2008. Johnny has a degree in Art History, and in the black-and-gold era he co-ran the John Player Team Lotus press office, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi, Ronnie Peterson, Jacky Ickx and of course Colin Chapman, trumpeting the fortunes of JPS-Lotus and Player’s sponsored events around the world.

To date Tipler has owned just one Lotus, a 1970 Series 4 Elan SE, though a recent drive for the in-house Lotus Club International magazine from Stuttgart to Marrakech and through the Atlas Mountains, made owning a modern Europa an attractive prospect he still hankers after.

Odd, Obscure, Out-of-the-Ordinary: 10 More Unusual Model Car Brands

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Over the past couple of years, we’ve shared some brands of diecast vehicles that are off the beaten path, obscure, or just plain odd. Some of them are offshoots of famous brands, some of from other countries and never widely distributed worldwide, and some disappeared quickly for various reasons. Some of these unusual model car brands have strange histories, some occupy weird niches, and some of them make really exquisite models. What they have in common is that you haven’t heard of most of them… until now.aurora vibrators

Aurora Vibrators

The original early 1960s Aurora slot cars were slow, and not really ideal for racing. And they emitted a loud buzzing noise, resulting in the name “Vibrators.” Yikes! In the mid 1960s, the company upgraded the chassis for performance with faster engines and wider tires (which sometimes required cutting a bigger fender opening on older castings. And despite the loud name, the new ThunderJet chassis was also much quieter.

AJ’s Race Savers

aj's race saversSpeaking of slot cars, AJ’s was best known for their accessories and “hop-up” kits to make your cars perform better. They created their own segment of slot vehicle, however, with the Oscar Track Cleaner. These were futuristic street cleaner designs that actually functioned to clean the metal electrical rails in the tracks. The design was expanded to add ambulances and other trackside vehicles. Neat and clean!

Maxwell Toys

maxwell toysVehicles from this Calcutta brand fell into two categories: crude knockoffs of other diecast brands like Matchbox and Tootsietoy, or crude original models inspired by other diecast brands. There is something sadly funny about the ill-fitting, weirdly proportioned parts that makes you want to give them a home. Also, the box art is pretty great across the board.

Fine model

This was a curious brand from Japan… Every modestly detailed 1/43 car they made appears to be a sedan shape. No fastbacks, convertibles, wagons, trucks. Just sensible, Japanese sedans. Nothing fancy. Just, well, Fine.

Kawabata Kikaku

Kawabata Kikaku mazda cosmoLike Fine Models, this company made only models of 1/43 JDM vehicles. Unlike Fine, they were a bit better detailed and had a lot more variety, including sports cars, wagons, ragtops, and even a nice miniature of the legendarily strange and wonderful Mazda Cosmo.

Nakajima Dreamcar

Nakajima DreamcarAnother obscure Japanese brand, this company thought outside the box. Their niche was fantastic concept cars like the Ferrari Modulo or the Fiat Abarth Coupe 2000. These are cars that largely don’t exist from other diecast companies, so they are rather unusual.


hasbro amaze a maticsIn the late ’60s, Hasbro produced “The Fantastic Car with a Brain.” These models were propelled by a drive system similar to an old computer punch card that dictated when the car would turn, stop or back up. The first batch included an early GT-40 and three very rare American concept cars. In fact, this might be the only model of the Buick Century Cruiser show car ever made. Later models (a Dune Buggy and a VW Beetle) were designed for customization including larger rear wheels and other features. These were released as Computacars by Mettoys in the U.K.

Wiz-z-zers Spin Buggys

This was a spin-off from another toy… literally. In the early ‘70s, Mattel created a line of gyroscopic spinning tops called Wiz-z-zers. Instead of the old method of pulling a string to spin the top, these had a built in friction motor with intense gearing that would let them spin for a really long time when revved up on that delicate hardwood floor. (Sorry Mom and Dad!) As cool as that was, the company also made the Spin Buggys (sic), a pair of vehicles that were motivated by firing up the top and dropping it into a hole in the roof so it engaged the rear axle for instant acceleration. You could choose from a blue funny car-esque model or an orange C-Cab delivery van. Both were made of thin, lightweight, flexible plastic, so while they moved quickly, they were also very delicate and few examples have likely survived.

The Essence Of The Car

essence of the carThis is a case where odd is beautiful. Imagine illustrating the most iconic features of a unique classic car in a few brush strokes… The Essence of The Car basically does that in 3 dimensions. These models are really abstract sculptures that use minimal shapes to unmistakably capture, well, the essence of a particular design.


avon mail jeepSure, you could give your 1970s man aftershave for Fathers Day or his birthday… but if that scented, burning liquid came in a car-shaped bottle, even better. Avon offered their wares in all kinds of shapes (including a mail box for the “First Class Male.”) But the most collectible were the vehicle based ones such as a Ferrari, Jaguar XKE, Corvette, and a U.S. Mail Jeep for that “Extra Special Male.”

Did you have any of these when they were new? Do you collect them now? Let us know in the comments!

To Infinity and Beyond… Well, to $4K, anyway, for this Buzz Lightyear Prototype

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

One of the great lessons of the “Toy Story” movies was that toys need to be taken out of their packages and played with in order to  become loved through such interaction.

One of the great lessons of “Toy Story” collectibles is that some of those toys are, well, pretty darn valuable and must be treasured.

Take this 9-inch tall Buzz Lightyear figure. If he looks a little colorless, that’s because he is a very limited production model. Sorry, he’s a pre-production prototype of that very limited model. A very nice one to boot. And Rob Romash is selling it right now on hobbyDB..

mattel Buzz Lightyearmattel Buzz Lightyear

This Buzz Lightyear Prototype comes from the collection of Romash, who if you’ve been reading our blog lately, was a designer for Matchbox and other companies in the early 2000s. While with Matchbox, he actually worked for the overall Mattel brand as well, occasionally sculpting action figures and other non-diecast toys. The production Buzz figure was released shortly after “Toy Story 2” hit theaters. “It is a one-of-one for a high value licensed item,” said Romash. “It’s worth the price especially for the collector who wants something not anybody else can get.” He estimated about 250 man hours went into this project.

The model for sale here is not a solid figure, but is actually made up of resin molds of each individual part that eventually went into the final product. As such, not only did it need to look perfect, but it had to function and hold together like the real thing. “The final model had lights and sound,” said Romash. “I wasn’t the electronics guy, but many of the buttons and other features in Buzz had to do with electronics. These would be added later… It was my job just to make sure they could be incorporated in the next step.”

“This model was scanned for 3D and then that scan is put into PRO-ENGINEER software. It would be in the computer that the final additions for electronics would be added,” he said. “Each part would be scanned and then they could do any other final tweaks in the computer.”

“After the 3D is in the computer, the model gets translated to steel molds for mass production. Its a lot like a full size clay model car manufacturers do. They still depend on the human hand for that full size clay model to make sure the car is as the designers want, those clay models (full size) also are then scanned and put into 3D and from there tooling plans are done and production starts, pretty much just like Buzz here.”

What you’re looking at here is the one and only master from which, if not all, final molds were made from, including a few minor adjustments made with putty (you can see the different colored material in a few places.) Also, the facial expression is slightly different, suggesting another last minor change. Mattel’s final model included new features that Buzz “discovered” during the highly-rated, universally-beloved sequel. Here’s a nice video showing what the production model could do.

mattel Buzz Lightyear“I worked on several “Cars” models and was privy to all PIXAR movies years in advance,” he said of his days at Mattel. “I remember seeing very early drawings and storyboards for “Monsters University” years before release, among other PIXAR and Disney stuff.”

“Now I’m out of the cool loop,” he sighed. At least he got to play with this stuff for a few years, right?

mattel Buzz Lightyear

Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Special: Making History on TV

hot wheels history channel

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

In case you missed it Thursday night, The History Channel aired a one hour “Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Special” with plenty of interviews, diecast images and video, and, well, history of the brand.

Larry Wood, who has been one of the principal designers for the brand since almost the beginning, had a lot to say. (“We weren’t even paying Barbie’s taxes,” joked Wood about the humble beginnings compared to Mattel’s other big brand.) So did Jay Leno, known for his very large collection of full size cars, but also an enthusiast of the smaller ones. And several current designers, who clearly enjoy their jobs more than most people ever will.

hot wheels history channel Some of the most compelling bits during the hour were the vintage commercial clips, with bombastic announcers and amazingly well-shot footage of Hot Wheels cars in action. If you’re a certain age right now (Hot Wheels’ 50 plus a few years to be old enough to have gotten in on the ground floor), those commercials were the voice of God, speaking directly to your 5, 6, 7, ten-or-so-year-old self.

Discovering that the oil crisis in the ‘70s threatened to kill the brand? A terrifying glimpse into a sad alternate reality. Finding out that the orange track started out as garage door seals turned upside down? Let’s just say a good part of your happy childhood was discovered by accident.

hot wheels history channel zarnockAside from Leno, the most screen time from a non-Mattel employee went to Mike Zarnock (“Hot Wheels Expert/Collector” according to one on screen blurb.) Zarnock, is of course, a legendary historian and ambassador for the brand. Seeing photos of Harry Bradley’s custom El Camino, which served as the basis for the Custom Fleetside was a blast.

According to professional Diecast customizer Chris Walker, “To make the perfect car, many cars have to die.” Really, as much as we like to protect and preserve our Hot Wheels, taking them out of the package and making them less than mint condition is what makes them so beloved. And if you can chop and reassemble them into something new, then you get to turn playtime into a career.

hot wheels history channel walkerZarnock and Walker originally didn’t expect to have as much screen time when first approached by the History Channel. “My role in the show initially was just going to be just to say a few words about Hot Wheels and the hobby at the Dallas Hot Wheels Nationals,” said Walker. “After talking with them and showing them on camera all about room to room shopping and what we do, they went  changed up the direction of things based on the chemistry of myself and Mike Zarnock.”

A lot of the show centered on the quest to design “HW50,” the car that is supposed to sum up the entire 50th Anniversary. Designed to be a  “statement of our heritage and our future,” the car is being built as a 1/64  model and a 1,000 HP running full-size replica. (Yes, the real car will be a replica of the model. It’s been done before, actually… ) The amount of 3-D CAD rendering used to design the car is both mind-blowing and a bit melancholy. Revealed in sketches and painted prototypes, HW50 looks to be a suitably retro yet modern car that should honor the legacy of the brand.

hot wheels history channel

This is about the best look you get at the HW50 until Fall.

As far as reliving your childhood through collecting, there are different takes on that. Walker, whose collection started with the Mach 5 inspired Second wind, but now owns over 10,000 Hot Wheels Cars said “A lot of people say collecting is our way of buying back our childhood. I say it’s more buying the childhood we never had.”

Expect the Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Special to show up on The History Channel many times over the next few weeks, and also to make it online eventually.

hot wheels history channel