More Matchbox Prototypes With More Working Details

matchbox prototype lead

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

A few months ago, we shared a treasure trove of Matchbox prototypes and preproduction versions of later production models from the collection of Rob Romash. Romash was a Master Modelmaker at Mattel, working primarily on 1/64 scale Matchbox vehicles in the early 2000s, but also on a surprising range of other toys. We also had the pleasure of meeting Steve Moye, who was one of the artists creating illustrated concepts for inspiration, and Glenn Hubing, who hand painted many of those prototypes and designed graphics for Matchbox cars.

The skill and precision required to turn a block of acetate into a finely rendered, highly detailed first rendering of a model car is beyond the comprehension of most collectors. Which is what makes these models so freaking cool. The ones you see here are early test shots made from the molds made from the original carvings, so only a couple of each one may have ever existed. Know what else is cool? These are all for sale on the hobbyDB Marketplace!

matchbox prototype ford explorerQuite a few of the cars in this batch feature moving parts, some with intricate detail. Take the Ford Explorer Sport Trac model. It’s a pleasant surprise for the tailgate on a truck like this to function, but in this case, the separate bed extender gate also works. That’s a pretty fine detail for a toy truck that sold for under a dollar! It’s incredible to see it in gray resin to see how much tiny detail is there.

matchbox prototype ramp trucksThere are two different ramp trucks in this batch. The first is a fantasy design, with a ramp extension that slides down from the main structure. The other flatbed tow is a little more restrained in design, not based on any particular real truck, but plausible enough to fit in with other licensed designs. The ramp on that one slides back flat before dropping down. The cab and chassis on the second truck are shared with another vehicle, a box truck with opening rear doors.

matchbox prototype cement truckThere’s also a cement truck with a spinning container on the back, complete with gear teeth to mesh with the rear axles. At this stage of development, the rest of mechanism wasn’t in place yet, so on the prototype, it just spins easily on its own. It doesn’t appear that this one ever made it into production.

matchbox prototype corvetteAnother car in the batch might not be recognizable to collectors. Sure, it’s a 1997 Corvette, the first year of the C5 chassis, but this particular model was never produced by Mattel. It features a very thin opening hood and more detail underneath that isn’t usually expected on a basic Matchbox car. The interior is also much better detailed than their usual offerings. Unlike most preproduction models, this one has a completely finished chassis complete with the text identifying the car, copyright dates, and country of origin. Also, this one has a clear windshield with graphics, not common on such models.

matchbox prototype tvrAnother car you really might not recognize is the TVR Tuscan, an oddball design from an oddball company (and as car enthusiats, we mean that sincerely). As rare as Tuscans are in real life, there are actually a pair of resin bodies in the collection.

matchbox prototype vw taxiThere’s also a Volkswagen Bug that feels like it’s’ actually made of metal. In fact, it’s a repurposed production body, but in this case, a tiny “TAXI” sign is fixed to the roof. It might not look like much, but that kind of detail had to be mocked up for production, too. On the finished car, the taxi sign was part of the main body casting.

matchbox prototype golf cartFinally, there’s a golf cart. While it doesn’t have removable accessories, it does have some remarkably finished golf bags in the back. It’s the kind of detail that usually gets simplified in the final process for cost or durability issues. On this one, you almost feel like you could pull out the driver and give a golf ball a ride.

And as we mentioned… All of these prototypes and more are for sale on the hobbyDB Marketplace. They’re one of a kind (well, except for the TVRs), so grab them while you can.

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Which Holiday Owns The Nightmare Before Christmas ?

nightmare before christmas

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

If you want to feel old this upcoming holiday season, here’s some good news. Tim Burton’s classic stop-motion movie The Nightmare Before Christmas turns 25 in 2018. But when we say “holiday season…” well, which holiday? Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie?

nightmare before christmas pop

Awwww, look at those two, celebrating… which holiday, exactly?

Consider this list of films that folks watch in the spirit of October: GhostbustersNighmtare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th… What do they all have in common? They’re all kinda scary/spooky to some degree, and also… they technically don’t have anything at all to do with Halloween. In fact, aside from the Halloween movies, very few movies do. Heck, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial has more Halloween content than most horror films.

As far as Christmas movies, there are tons to choose from. Die Hard leads the list, of course (you disagree? bah humbug, I say!). And Lifetime/Hallmark have filled the broadcast waves with mushy romantic movies that have only the tiniest bearing on Christmas. It’s A Wonderful Life gets a lot of play, but really, it’s only kind of coincidentally related to Christmas.

nightmare before christmas santaThe Nightmare Before Christmas straddles a curious line between the two holidays. The main characters are ghosts and goblins and ghouls of all sorts who live in Halloweenland, preparing year round for their one special day. Sort of like elves making toys year round, right? Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, wishes his holiday could in fact be more like Christmas, so he decides to take over the Yuletide season. In fact, most of the movie takes place after Halloween, during the buildup to Christmas.

The monsters are generally more gothic and cute instead of creepy and scary, and act good-naturedly in most cases. Instead of a hostile takeover, the plot to take over Christmas involves a sincere desire to understand the Christmas spirit in order to embody the nature of the season. Does this all sound kind of like a Christmas movie? It does indeed.

In fact, the stop-motion animation technique gives the whole thing a toy-like feel reminiscent of those classic Rankin-Bass holiday specials. (In an ironic twist, Rankin-Bass gave us an Easter special with the scariest stop-motion villain of all, Iron Tail.)

Since this is hobbyDB, let’s try to settle the issue by looking at some of the collectibles from the film…

nightmare before christmas hot wheelsnightmare before christmas snow globe

Well, Santa Claus does get a lot of screen time in the movie. Not as much as Jack, but he’s pretty pivotal to the action. And when the chips are down, he gets pretty vengeful, kind of like Bruce Willis’ character in Die Hard, which we have already declared the greatest Christmas move of all time. Also, it’s worth pointing out that Zero the ghost dog has a glowing nose sort of like Rudolph. And he files. Very Christmas. On closer inspection, that nose is a tiny pumpkin. So Halloween.

Consider this Jack Skellington snow globe (right). Okay, stop right there for a second. Snow globes belong to winter, not any other season. Totally Christmas, right? Now look at the base of the sculpture. Sure, people give away candy for Halloween, but those peppermint sticks are a bit too much. In fact, there’s an entire series of these snow globes, all leaning heavily on the yuletide spirit. Christmas all the way.

nightmare before christmas jack skellingtonLet’s take a closer look at Jack himself. He is, by title, The Pumpkin King, which is about as Halloween as you can get. And he’s quite comfortable in the role, in fact, darn good at it. But he longs to be something, not different, but more. He wants to be Santa.

The list just goes on… Socks? These are decidedly Christmas themed. Or this sculpture? Well, if everyone in Halloweenland is on the naughty list, that means Santa has them on his radar. Or how about this video game? When did you get a copy of it? Your birthday, perhaps? Or as a Christmas present?

nightmare before christmas misc

nightmare before christmas ornamentHow about this collectible? It’s Jack, who is a skeleton, rising from a jack-0’lantern. What could possibly be more Halloween than that? Well, technically, this object is in fact… a Christmas ornament. So there ya go.

Despite the overriding gothic tones, the dark color palette, the fact that it takes place in Halloweenland… well, The Nightmare Before Christmas is really more of a Christmas movie than a Halloween movie. But since it covers both bases so well, the solution is to cue it up sometime in early October and watch it several times through the end of the year. Really, it’s that good.

In the spirit of both holidays, Jack Skellington lives inside all of us… like, say, a skeleton. Which is what he is, of course.

Do you have an opinion regarding which holiday this classic movie belongs to? Let us know in the comments!

Comments (1 Comment)
Samuel Ace

To me it is both holidays Halloween and Christmas.👍

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This Lego Bugatti is a Million Bricks (Not a Million Bucks)

lego bugatti chiron

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Lego has a facility in the Czech Republic where designers are responsible for their really large scale models that go on tour and on exhibit around the world.. Most of them are more static, such as famous buildings from around the world. Then there’s the Lego Bugatti Chiron, a full-size, actual running, drivable car. And it’s built almost entirely from Lego blocks.

Total number of bricks is said to be around one million pieces. As a rule of thumb, Lego models usually retail for around ten cents per brick, so that would be about a $100,000 set. Considering the real car sells for about $2.4 million, that’s a bargain. Remarkably, almost the entire car is built of bricks. The wheels and tires, of course, are real Bugatti spec.There is a also a steel tube frame underneath everything for support. But the interior including seats, rear view mirror, even the removable steering wheel are all Lego.

lego bugatti chironAs with many Lego creations, you have to use a bit of imagination. There is no window glass, as there aren’t any pieces that will quite fit that size and shape. The bricks are primarily Technic brick, which lock together in more complex ways than the standard stacking bricks. Aside from the missing glass, the contours of the car are recreated rather faithfully.

lego bugatti chironLike any exotic racer, it required intense testing, so it was sent to the Ehra Lessien Proving Grounds to be driven by Bugatti’s own development driver, Andy Wallace. The car tops out at a whopping 19 miles per hour, just a bit shy of the real Chiron’s 261 mph top speed. The engine cranks out 5.3 horsepower (again, a tad short of the real car’s number at 1469). What’s remarkable is that the entire motor is constructed of tiny Technic Power Function motors, over 2300 of them, connected through a mind boggling array of over 4,000 Technic gears.

lego bugatti chironlego bugatti chiron

While you likely can’t afford a real Chiron, and this one isn’t even for sale, Lego has you covered in a couple of smaller ways. Set 42083 includes everything needed to create a 1/8 scale Bugatti Chiron. That’s 3599 pieces for  around $349, adhering to that ten cent a brick ratio closely. Despite the smaller size, (it’s still about 22 inches long) the car does feature working suspension, steering, shiftable transmission, and many other amazing parts. The engine block, with cranking pistons, is a work of art unto itself. The instructions even come in the form of a decorative coffee table book, to be displayed along with the model.

lego bugatti chironIf that’s still too rich for your tastes, there’s Set 75878, the Speed Champion Bugatti Chiron. This one is much smaller, built to Minifig scale (and it includes the driver), who can fit inside. It doesn’t quite have the same working features, but at about $15 for 181 pieces, it’s an excellent value. Even at this scale, the distinct contours and two tone livery of the Chiron are unmistakable.

The whole point of Lego toys is dreaming, imagining, and creating. This Bugatti just takes the concept to a whole new scale.

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Hue Must Be Kidding: More Diecast Cars That Look Odd In Other Colors

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Awhile back, we compiled a list of model cars that looked strange in certain colors.

hot wheels buick grand nationalA few, like the DeLorean DMC, only existed in one color in the real world. Some, like the Red Baron, had obvious color choices in their names. Here are a few more diecast cars that might make you want to adjust your eyeballs.

Buick Grand National
The real ones came in other colors besides black, right? You’re certain you’ve seen them in white and maybe silver? You’re thinking of the Regal T-Type, a slightly less potent but still turbocharged Regal variant. Those could be had in a few other colors. But not the Grand National and certainly not the GNX, the most amped-up version of that car. Diecast companies have played fast and loose with other tones for years anyway.

1938 Phantom Corsair

hot wheels phantom corsairThis sleek concept car was designed by Rust Heinz of the famous ketchup family. Instead of tomato red, the Phantom Corsair was midnight black, and since there was only one produced, it looks odd in any other color. Especially with colorful graphics.

McLaren M6A

hot wheels mclarenIn real life, this CanAm legend could be seen in a few different liveries, but when you hear the name “McLaren” in racing, your mind likely sees a bright, yet pale hue of orange. One of the early Just-Outside-the-Original-16-Redline cars, Hot Wheels offered this model in every SpectraFlame color. And eventually, they did an enamel orange variant that looks pretty close to what you expect.

Chevrolet Mako Sharks

mako shark playart topperThe original Mako Shark concepts cars were designed to show what upcoming C2 and C3 Corvette models would look like if they wore shark costumes. Not really, but there was a definite tiburon theme going on, with exhausts in the places where gills and fins might go, sharp, pointed grill/mouths, and silver/blue paint schemes evoking the colors of a Mako Shark. Playart offered the earlier version in a bunch of non-shark colors. Topper was among several companies that made models of the second Shark concept, in every color except “shark.” Aurora also offered the second car as an early ThunderJet slot car molded in all their standard tones.

Chevrolet StingRays

sitingray hot wheels auto artSpeaking of Corvette concepts, the 1957 Stingray race car, which previewed the C2 styling, and the 2009 Stingray (C7) both only existed in silver. None of that has stopped diecast companies from producing both of them in other, more garish hues. Meanwhile, the 1992 Stingray III concept was a very 1990s purple, but has been produced in several less garish but nonetheless strange colors.

Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

hot wheels wienermobile“I wish I drove an Oscar Mayer wiener…” There have been numerous generations of the giant tube steak on wheels over the years, but what they all have in common is their general shape their colors. Yellow bun fenders with a, well, meat-colored sausage body. Several companies have made models of the Wienermobile over the years, but only Hot Wheels has dared to get creative with the coloring, including chrome and NASCAR themed versions.

Goodyear Blimp

hot wheels blimpThis one might be a stretch… in 1992, Hot Wheels introduced a casting called “Goodyear Blimp” with revolving signage. It was appropriately colored silverish-gray with the expected logos. The casting has been released in other color schemes, although they solved this by changing the name to just “Blimp.” Also, it’s not a car.

The Batmobile

christmas batmobileWhen George Barris was given three weeks to create a car for the Batman TV series, one of the things he didn’t have to think about was the color. It had to be black with some red pinstripes, no further consideration needed. But Hot Wheels has taken the paint gun to several generations of Batmobiles, such as the dark blue Burton era Treasure Hunt car. The TV car has been done in holiday colors, chrome, and all kinds of hues.

Of course, sometimes a diecast car seems to be an unexpected color, but nope, it actually does have some basis in reality. We’ll look at some of those in an upcoming article.

Can you think of any other diecast cars that look odd in certain colors? Let us know in the comments!

Comments (3 Comments)
Samuel Ace

School buses have always been yellow and hotwheels has made the school buses in a bunch of different colors. And the purple passion only came out in purple in real life and hotwheels has made a bunch of different colors of the purple passion over the years.👍

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Garbage Time! The Original Garbage Pail Kids Live On At hobbyDB

garbage pail kids completeWe’ve been digging through piles of Garbage at hobbyDB headquarters, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Piles of Garbage Pail Kids collectibles, that is.

At hobbyDB, we want to be the go-to place to research and document anything and everything collectible. So even though we started with an emphasis on diecast vehicles (especially Hot Wheels), we’ve been able to dig deep into other areas. And to that end, we’ve finished documenting the GPK cards through OS15 (That’s Original Series 15). The OS cards go through 1988, but won’t be the end of it.

Matt Oldweiler, who runs the GeePeeKay.com website, is crucial to this project. hobbyDB was able to access his extensive (one could say darn near 100 percent complete) list of anything and everything related to the Kids. He has been collecting the cards since 1985 when they first came out. He’s a recent addition to the hobbyDB Advisory Council.

garbage pail kids allBy adding his archive to ours, collectors can cross reference between all kinds of collectibles that fall out of the range of GeePeeKay’s scope.

Andy Goodman has also been instrumental in the project. If his name sounds familiar in hobby circles, he is a big time collector of all kinds of diecast. Turns out he has a thing for Garbage Pail Kids as well. Like many of us, he collects collections.

Chris Wuensch, Data Team Manager at hobbyDB, leads the effort to get the entire GPK line into the database. As it turns out, he’s been an avid collector since he was a kid, too. “I can still remember sitting in the car in the Grand Union parking lot opening my first GPK packs as a kid,” he said. “We’re talking Original Series 1 in 1985. I still have about 75 to 100 cards from those early series. The appeal was through the roof back then, especially for a nine year old. Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage, so the GPK cards were a nice counter-balance for boys who didn’t want a doll.”

The Garbage Pail Kids began in 1985, as a parody of the enormously popular Cabbage Patch Kids. Despite legal threats from the doll company, Topps was able to continue making the cards, and they have been in and out of production ever since. After a hiatus, the Garbage Pail Kids made a comeback in 2003, and hobbyDB is already at work adding those and the more recent ones to the database as well.

garbage pail kids allOne interesting thing about collecting GPK cards… there are at least two versions of each character card. Topps decided right from the start that there would be a pair of names attached to each illustration, each being an equally terrible pun on the misfortune being shown. So Adam Bomb, who became the brand’s unofficial mascot, is also known as Blasted Billy.  Or sad skateboarder Hurt Curt is also known as Pat Splat.

In most cases, it would seem that one name is no rarer than the other, but there are some unintended exceptions. Double Heather and Schizo Fran were released as part of OS2, a two-headed girl fighting with herself. Advocates for mental health took exception to the term “schizo,” so Topps agreed and changed that one to Fran Fran shortly after. Shizo Fran is one of the rarest of all GPK cards as a result, but since Fran Fran only got a partial print run, she is on the rare side as well.

garbage pail kids list

Even Garbage Pail Kids have reasonable limits on their sense of good taste.

Throw in the fact that some cards were available as glossy or flat, and the number of variants really start to add up. Also, the backs of the cards can differ as well, featuring certificates, puzzle pieces, or other fun bits. Some versions might have a checklist (as a kid, these were boring, but as an adult collector, they are valuable, especially if they haven’t bee unchecked).

garbage pail kids backsThe Garbage Pail Kids are a collectible phenomenon that won’t die. And if it did, they would probably make a card of a character commemorating it.

What are your favorite Garbage Pail Kids collectibles? Let us know in the comments!

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