An Interview With The “Darda Brothers”

This article originally appeared in German on Daddylicious.de. Special thanks to them for allowing hobbyDB to repost it here.

by Mark Bourichter – Nov. 19, 2015

Good old Darda track is back. While researching this story, we became aware of the “Darda Brothers”, two Australia-based Dutchmen, who build miles-long Darda tracks through houses, barns and gardens in inimitable fashion and race numerous cars through the track’s stop & go function. DADDYlicious goes to Australia!

Darda Track

DADDYlicious: Your videos are world famous and click numbers reach into the six-figure range. How did you become fascinated with Darda toys and how you did you come up with the idea to produce videos?

“As children, we often played with the Darda tracks. In the local toy store, there were countless variants of Darda cars, and we were allowed to play with them there. When my father became very ill, I was pulled back to my family in Melbourne. We relived the good old days when we found the Darda track from the attic. We started to build the track, and it grabbed us so much that we began to expand our collection. The number of items for sale on the Internet was huge. After my father died, I moved back to Melbourne, where I still live. There, I recorded the first video with my brother. He began to collect from then on, and during each of his visits here in Melbourne we were shooting new videos.”

DADDYlicious: In one of your videos you can see one of your kids first. Are your children also Darda fans?

“Of course our children love to play with Darda! And we play well together, but we usually build the great tracks when they’re in school. We tried before with the children to build a great setup, but as we put the tracks together on one side, the children dismantled the other side.”

Darda Brothers

DADDYlicious: Fathers like to play with her sons with Darda tracks. Why has the Darda line remained so fascinating to young and old?

“I think the most fascinating aspect of Darda is to build infinite possibilities of tracks, to test, and again to rebuild.”

DADDYlicious: Do you think that Darda can also be educational in addition to fun and traditional?

“Physics plays a large role in playing with Darda. You build something up, and physics are your friends. You start again and build until you have created the perfect track at some point.”

DADDYlicious: The Darda track system hasn’t changed in the past 45 years. How does Darda fit in with the digital world?

“To play with real, analog toys is always important for children. Nowadays, children often play alone with their smartphones and tablets. These are not activities you do together. The good thing about Darda is that it is a common game. It’s a great toy for the father-son bond! Also playing with Darda creates great memories on earlier.”

DADDYlicious: And what are your favorite cars?

“My favorite car is the A-team Van. And my first track with the Go-Kart was the Darda Champion.”

Darda A Team Van Mr T

DADDYlicious: Which car would you like to as a Darda model?

“I really like cars from famous films. But Darda has produced so many nice cars, so actually no wish goes unfilfilled. “

DADDYlicious: To conclude: you tell us your three tips on how everybody to the Darda can become a professional?

“This is so easy! 1: Just start to play! 2: Gloat if your car works. 3: And definitely create photos or videos. Then you’re a real Darda Pro!”

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Mocking Up the Mach 5

This article first appeared online at diecastxmagazine.com

Speed Racer Mach 5

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

As diecast collectors, we seldom consider the amount of effort that goes into creating a miniature version of a real car, especially one with working features. Rolling wheels are a bare minimum, but when a vehicle also features opening doors and hood, working steering and even suspension, it’s really a miniature marvel of engineering that we often take for granted. But what if that car only existed as two-dimensional animation? How hard would it be to make a convincing 3-D replica? How about one with a lot of unique, imaginary working bits as well?

Let’s then take a moment to appreciate some of the models of the Mach 5 from the Speed Racer cartoon that have been released over the years. Until about 20 years ago, such replicas were few and far between—usually simple, small-scale plastic cars available mostly overseas. They were cute, but none of them fueled the imagination as much as they could have with functioning bits. After all, there are six buttons on the steering wheel of the Mach 5, fans know they all have a purpose! Thankfully, several later models addressed the gadgetry with different approaches.


JL Speed Racer Mark 5

In 2000, Johnny Lightning retooled and released their second series of Speed Racer vehicles, with an even better detailed Mach 5, this time featuring different snap-on accessories in different packages. So if you dared take them out of the package, you could pose the car with saw blades extended and resting up high on the auto-jacks. Heck, the hood even flipped open to reveal the engine. Not bad considering the size! There was also a very limited edition of the car in bronze as the Mach 4.

rare Speed Racer Mach 4 Johnny Lightining

Shortly after that, a company called ReSaurus got really ambitious and created a large scale Mach 5 along with 6-inch action figures of Speed and the gang. Assuming Speed is about 6 feet tall, this car would be roughly 1:12 scale. In truth, it looks a bit bulky when he stands next to it, but you forgive that when you see the features.

ReSaurus Speed Racer playset

The car came beautifully packaged with snap on gadgets visible: Auto jacks (with springs), saw blades, bullet-proof/water proof canopy, pop-up periscope, and homing pigeon (but no opening hatch for the bird to hide in). That’s five out of the six buttons represented, which is pretty impressive. (Alas, bullet-proof belted tires are just not available in any scale). The hood didn’t open, but the trunk lid did, which anyone who watched the show would appreciate… this car came with figures of Spritle and Chim Chim as well as a picnic basket, all of which could fit comfortably in the trunk.

But the most impressive Mach 5 has to be the 1:18 scale version from American Muscle. The overall intricacy of detail is better than the ReSaurus model, which to be fair, was designed as a toy instead of a display piece. But instead of separate snap-on gadgets, the folks at Ertl managed to hide these elements within the car when not in use.

Mach 5 open Ertl

The auto jacks retract into the chassis, as do the saw blades. The periscope pops up, and the homing pigeon tucks into a hatch on the hood. There is no canopy, but other features make up for it… it has an opening trunk (early releases came with a Chim Chim figure, but he won’t quite fit in there), opening doors, working steering, and an opening bonnet. The entire front end flips open to reveal a 12-cylinder engine with some wiring, and exhaust pipes that extend to the convincingly detailed chassis.  Just like the real car… oh, wait.

Considering that there was no real version of this car to model the technical details after, the creators of all of these did a fantastic job bringing the Mach 5 to life. Now if someone could just get working on an affordable 1:1 replica, we could complete our collections!

mach5lead1 copy

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Introducing the Chris Stangler Customs Archive on hobbyDB

Chris Stangler head shot

One of the most respected diecast customizers around, Chris Stangler is no stranger to the world of Hot Wheels. He transforms 1/64 Scale models into magnificent works of art, which is why we are so excited to announce the launch of the official Chris Stangler Customs Archive now at hobbyDB! Travel back in time and take a look at all of the past designs that made Chris one of the most popular Hot Wheels customizers in the industry.

Chris Stangler Snake Mongoose Hot Wheels 55 Panel

His customizing history dates back to 1992. “I was really into full size cars and was inspired when I went to The World of Wheels in Minneapolis Minnesota,” he said. “There were vendors who had custom painted some 1/64 cars, so I bought a few as samples and I asked a few questions and headed home to research and started customizing a few Camaros for my collection.” Since that first IROC Camaro (he chopped the top off and repainted it), he has created over 8,000 customs.

Chris Stangler Kustom City Evo Snake Mongoose

It’s easy to find your favorites, whether it’s the Kustom City Evo, the Batmobile, or any of the other special designs that immediately caught your attention. Chis is equally excited about the opportunity. “I’m happy to be part of the HobbyDB site, as they are an up and coming database that really gives people a chance to come across my work if they haven’t had a chance to see my work elsewhere online,” he said.
Chris has also opened up his own storefront on hobbyDB and will be giving our community members exclusive access to never before seen items such as the Snake and Mongoose versions of the Drag Bus, Blown Delivery, and ‘55 Panel. In addition to mashups of classic liveries on unexpected castings, he takes inspiration from customers. “I have done many requests for people as wedding gifts, memorials, designs made to resemble a full size car,” he said. “The most difficult design that comes to mind was custom order ‘55 truck. The details and design he wanted was very complex and it took many attempts to draw it up the way he wanted it. In the end he was excited and happy with the outcome which made it worthwhile.”

Chris Stangler Snake Mongoose Hot Wheels 55 Panel

hobbyDb has also official archives for other customizers including Liberty Promotions (added in early February) and many more of your favorite diecast legends. In the past, it was easy for a customizer’s work to get lost as time flew by. Now, we can finally document and preserve the great work these customizers have given to the world of diecast in the hobbyDB catalog.

Chris Stangler Snake Mongoose 55 PAnel

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Customizers Corner: Chris Stangler - The hobbyDB Blog

[…] Chris recently started hosting his historic archive and his store at hobbyDB. You can read more about his work (as well as his upcoming models when he shares them) here. […]

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Meet Modern Mattel Matchbox Maven John Lambert

lamley group matchboxWe have a new expert on board to help us wrangle one of the most popular diecast brands into shape in our Catalog. John Lambert will be member of hobbyDB’s Advisory Board as an expert on newer Matchbox vehicles.

matchbox ford mustang police car

Lambert started the Lamley Group as a blog with David Tilley to discuss just about any brand of diecast vehicles. (The Lamley name combines part of each of the surnames.) Their blog evolved mostly into musings about the newer Mattel era Matchbox cars.  “We started it mainly as a joke when we realized that he and I both had a knowledge of Mattel era Matchbox that matched the knowledge of some of the Regular and Superfast-era experts. Nothing came of it until I decided to start a blog to showcase my photos.”

His pictures aren’t just well-lit and focused, they are often creatively staged with scenery and props, such as this dealership diorama full of Toyota Land Cruisers.

matchbox toyota land cruiser

As for his favorite all time casting, well that’s a moving target. “I’ve tried hard to pick one favorite casting, and it’s near impossible… One day it’s the BMW 1M, but I have a feeling the upcoming ’71 Nissan Skyline will take its place.”

He displays a “small portion of my collection loose on custom wall cases”, in his Salt Lake City home. How many Matchbox models would you guess he has? “I have no idea.  I have never counted. I am probably a little afraid to know.”

In 2013, Lambert was named the 8th “Matchbox Ambassador To Collectors” at the annual Matchbox Collector’s Community Hall International Gathering Of Friends.

matchbox off road fire engine

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13 Video Games Based on Blatant Product Placement

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Product placement in video games has become an annoying intrusion (except for driving games, in which case branded realism is more than welcome). But over the years, several companies have developed promotional video games starring their actual products, logos, and spokescharacters in acts of commercialism so blatant it’s almost cute. Here are some of the more memorable games of this genre, most of them snack-or-fast-food based, some of them kind of fun.

Kool-Aid Man” (1983)

Kool Aid Man video game

If you sent in 125 proof of purchase seals from Kool-Aid packs, you got this Atari 2600 or Intellivision cartridge for free. And you know what? It was a pretty cool game. Players moved Kool-Aid Man around the screen in an attempt to knock out the Thirsties while also collecting the ingredients for a pitcher of sugary drink before time ran out via the pool at the bottom of the screen draining empty. Confusing? Sure. But, seriously, way more fun than it sounds.

Pepsi Invaders” (aka “Coke Wins”) (1983)

Pepsi Invaders Atari 2600 game

This game was not a huge seller. In fact, it wasn’t for sale at all. Coca Cola poked fun at their rival by producing this version of Space Invaders for their 1983 Sales convention, handing out about 125 copies of this Atari 2600 cartridge to attendees. They replaced the alien shapes of the original game with the letters from PEPSI, but it’s otherwise identical to the mass produced game. Original cartridges sell for a lot of money these days.

Domino’s Pizza “Yo! Noid” (1990)

Dominos Pizza Noid video game

Perhaps no spokescharacter in the history of advertising was more despised and ridiculed than the Noid. With that strike already against it, Domino’s released this Nintendo game to terrible reviews for its pointless play and frustrating level of difficulty. It was like getting double anchovies on your pizza.

Chester Cheetah “Too Cool To Fool” (1992)

Chester Cheetos video game

Long before Goat Simulator, this game allowed you to become a cartoon cheetah who promotes fried cheese curls by riding around on a scooter and jumping on unsuspecting victims’ heads. Because, y’know… EXTREME! The first of two Cheetos based games of that era, it was available for Super Nintendo and Sega systems.

McDonald’s “Treasure Land Adventure” (1993)

McDonalds video game

Connoisseurs of fast food could get this Sega Genesis game to go with any meal (Happy or otherwise). Similar in play to Super Mario World and many other games, the graphics on this are surprisingly well developed for the era and price. This was one of several games McD’s has offered over the years.

7 Up “Cool Spot” (1994)

7up Spot video game

The mid ’90s were a golden age for anthropomorphic junk food stars and their related games. For that reason, 7 Up turned part of their logo into a radical red dot with sunglasses to appeal to the youth market, and inserted him into this surfing game for Sega, GameBoy and PC.

Chex Quest” (1996)

Chex Cereal video game

This video game is an important part of your nutritious breakfast. Here’s a first person shooter game that came as a prize in boxes of Chex cereals. It was based on the engine that ran the awesomely popular Doom video game, so the action rocked. But instead of killing Martians, players used their “Zorcher” to “teleport” “phlegm-based monsters” to “another realm.” It was PC based, but not to worry. If you don’t have a mid-90s Pentium machine laying around, you can still find it to play online.

Burger King “Big Bumpin’,” “Sneak King,” and “Pocket Bike Racer” (2006)

Burger King video game

Not to be outdone by McDonald’s, Burger King offered these Xbox games for a buck each with purchase of a combo meal. Big Bumpin’ was a bumper car game, too slow to be much fun. Sneak King required the scary rubber-headed King to present unsuspecting strangers with burgers (creepy, complicated and stupid). But the Pocket Bike Racer game was kinda entertaining, probably because it was based on the dynamics of existing racing games with new skins applied.

“Super Mario Spaghettios” (2012)

Mario Luigi Nintendo Spaghettios

Oh wait, this wasn’t a game… it was a can of pasta shaped like objects from Mario’s world. Never mind. But that would’ve been really cool.

Taco Bell “The Waiting Game” (2013)

Taco Bell Waiting video game

In the history of dull video games, this one was the most exciting. After Taco Bell introduced their first flavor of Doritos Locos Tacos to worldwide acclaim, it took them a loooong time to release the next variation. So, a month before the Cool Ranch Doritos flavor was to hit restaurants, these arcade games showed up at Canadian Taco Bell locations. Gameplay was based on the excruciating angst of that waiting period in the form of your character standing in line and gradually moving forward. Seriously. Your reward for finishing the intentionally dull 10-minute odyssey? A coupon for a free taco. To be redeemed later. Of course.

Levi’s “Skate-A-Rama” (2014)

Levis video game

Not a console or PC game, and not online either, this virtual reality game required players to perform real skateboard tricks on a stage coordinated with graphics projected behind them to score points. The ramps and rails are pretty basic, so the novelty wore off pretty quick. Levi’s set this up at trade shows to promote their skate wear line. Because, y’know… EXTREME!

Know of any others? Mention them in the comments below, and add them to the hobbyDB database if they aren’t already there!

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Tuna

Glad to see Yo Noid mentioned but sad seeing damn Treasure Land Adventure included over the far superior McDonald's product placement game, M.C. Kids

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