Advisory Council Posts

Sergio Goldvarg, Collector and Manufacturer, Hosts Archive at hobbyDB

goldvarg collection

The Goldvarg Collection of model cars is the latest addition to the official archives at hobbyDB. If that name sounds familiar, maybe it’s because you know Sergio Goldvarg as the world record holder for the biggest collection of large scale model cars. Or that he has a collection of George Barris TV Batmobiles in every scale (including a real, drivable one). Or that he is a member of the hobbyDB Advisory Board.

sergio goldvarg collection

Besides all that, however, he was the founder of a company best known for producing models of American cars from the 1940s and 50s, The Goldvarg Collection.

goldvarg collection kaiser henry j

Sergio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and fell in love with Matchbox cars at an early age. His very first one was the Matchbox Merryweather Marquis Fire Engine, which he still owns today with its original box, and in perfect shape. But when he was six years old, he received a 1/43 scale Solido Jaguar D-Type, and his fever for collecting took off. While he is best known for his large scale collection, he has countless 1/43 scale cars, and his own products favored that scale as well. By the age of ten, he was buying damaged, even nearly destroyed model cars and restoring them. “I came up with an interesting idea,” he said. “I began placing ads in the local newspapers offering to buy used miniature collections. I would restore each of the models and offer them to the shops in my neighborhood. Soon I had enough money to buy my own toys and collectibles.”

sergio goldvarg collection

Sergio with just a tiny fraction of his large scale diecast collection.

His next jobs, as an auto racing journalist (he would also later be involved in the organization of the Argentine Grand Prix), and an architect, related to his passion for cars and design as well. “I was the first journalist in South America to write weekly about diecast cars,” he said. His model car column ran in Corsa and Parabrisas, (two well-known South American motor racing magazines) and later Classic Wheels magazine. He still writes today.

goldvarg collection factory

Goldvarg Collection models required quite a bit of hand assembly.

As his collection grew, he also served as an Advisor for Buby, an Argentine diecast manufacturer.

So all that passion and experience eventually led him to start his own model manufacturing company, Miniturbo, in the 1980s and it featured all sorts of vehicles, trucks, vans, pick-ups and buses, which he designed himself.  These were created primarily as toys for younger kids, but he decided to try his hand at something geared more for collectors.

goldvarg collection 1957 oldsmobile

Thus was born the Goldvarg Collection, the first 1/43 diecast cars produced in South America. “Back in those days I was blown away by the beauty and conceptual design of 1950s -’60s American cars,” he said. “To me the British white metal models were the best, but their line lacked some of the items I treasured the most, such as the 1957 Oldsmobile Starfire Coupe. I loved its sexy lines. So the time had come to create my own scale line of models. That Starfire was the basis the first offering in his new line, one year after he set out to start the company.

goldvarg collection packard wagon

His mission was to produce models of cars that he loved, but that had never been manufactured in any scale. In fact, the slogan for his company became, ”From a Collector, to the Collectors.” Some of his models, such as the Kaiser Henry J, and the Packard Woodie Station Wagon 1948 (with real mahogany wood in the sides!), were best sellers when compared with other well-established brands, so his hunch was correct.

He took that first model to Autofanatics, a store in Sherman Oaks, California.  The owner immediately ordered 100 units, and collectors that were in the store at that moment wanted to buy it regardless of price.

In the early 2000s, he moved to the U.S., where among his other tasks, he opened the first “scale model cars related restaurant.” Waffleworks, in Hollywood, Florida, has a permanent exhibit of nearly 900 of his model cars. His idea was to share part of his diecast collection in a place with a unique atmosphere. And serve great breakfast all day!

sergio goldvarg collection

Since 2004, Sergio Goldvarg has been the New Product Development Advisor for Sun Star, working mostly in 1/18 scale. He has helped develop such models as the 1952 Nash Ambassador, 1958 Ford Fairlane 500, 1960 Plymouth Fury, 1956 Mercury Montclair, 1955 Pontiac Star Chief, 1959 Pontiac Bonneville, 1951 Kaiser Henry J, 1959 Mercury Park Lane and 1959 Oldsmobile. Over the last decade or so, Sergio has worked with several model car companies such Sunstar.  In 2011, he wrote a history of Carlos Pairetti, a famous Argentine motor racing driver.

With all that on his plate, we’re glad and very fortunate that Sergio has the time to be on our Advisory Board as well.  While he was never able to put a complete archive of Miniturbo vehicles online before some of them were lost to history, he jumped at the opportunity to document the Goldvarg Collection. You can see the complete archive here.

Michael Knab, Diecast Dealer and Commentator, Joins Advisory Board

michael knab

hobbyDB welcomes Michael Knab to our Advisory Board to share his generous knowledge of the diecast car industry with our community. He is best known as one of the developers of the online community of collectors through the Diecast Zone. Michael also created Legacy Motors, which became a leading online retailer for scale model cars, trucks, motorcycles and military vehicles.

Michael, who lives in San Diego, also founded his own advertising agency in 1980, which grew to serve a broad range of notable companies, like Revell Monogram. Among his favorite diecast of all time, he suggests the1:20 Creative Masters line from Revell. “My agency launched that line,” he said. “To pick one, the GT-40 that won Le Mans in 1969 was especially gorgeous. Livery was iconic and garish, really radiated specialness within a collection!”

revell creative masters camaro g

As far as real cars go, if money were no object, he would love to own a Bentley Mulsanne Speed. As for actual ownership, he said, “I think the first generation of Oldsmobile Toronado and the Buick Rivieras from the 60s on are incredible. I’ve owned several Rivieras.”

His first car was was the white MGB, also a respectably cool ride. “I purchased it in 1973. I got to drive it and park it on Knob Hill and Russian Hill in San Francisco,” Michael reminisced. “To get a feel for the inclines on these two hills, re-watch ‘Bullitt.’ Parallel parking in an MGB on a 60 degree incline is… special.”

Aside from that history, he does not consider himself much of a collector. “I’m primarily a dealer and blogger and commentator. My company owns and manages a website, Automotive-Art.com – which I launched in May of 2016. I love my work.”

So with all that pedigree, he has a lot to offer. “I hope to be of value through my experience in developing online communities of collectors and resources that deepen participation,” he said. “I’ve spent almost 20 years respecting and understanding the passions of collectors. I think I can help the advisory board in a strategic manner as well: to anticipate future trends in collecting, given changing demographics and technology”

“My objective in joining the Advisory Board is to prove a valuable asset to hobbyDB. My motivation: there was a Ted speech in the last year or so where a guru spoke of defining and measuring yourself as how you share yourself to inspire others.” We’re glad to have him share those values with us.

Advisory Board Now has a Monopoly on Board Games

neil scallan monopoly

Neil Scallan with a his “modest” collection of Monopoly games

Everybody wants to own Boardwalk in Monopoly, but Neil Scallan owns it 1,730 times over. Neil is a collector of different editions of Monopoly games, and is the current world record holder for the most versions in one collection (the previous record was around 500 sets). We’re glad to report that he is adding them to the hobbyDB database and joining our Advisory Board as well.

world's largest monopoly collection

Amazingly, Neil, who lives in England, only began collecting these games around 2005, picking up the official national editions for countries he traveled to. “It’s like many postcards in one but just a lot bigger to carry,” he said about his souvenirs. “No other board game has so many variations and now so many countries have official sets. One of my favorite versions is the Hong Kong handover to China set.”

monopoly collection

The United States counts for the largest number of Monopoly variants worldwide, with Germany second and The U.K. third. That German contingent has provided a big boost to his collection Neil says. “I love the history and the search for new games. The company limited editions are the most sought after by collectors,” he said. Kinder, a German candy company, was the subject of one of his other favorites. Unable to get one direct from the Kinder, he contacted Winning Moves Germany, the publisher of the game. He finally got in touch with their main distributor and gets games from them on an almost monthly basis.

neil scallan monopoly

Counting Neil’s collection for the official record.

One of the coolest versions in his collection comes from Belgium… After meeting with Yolo Games there, the company added a square with a caricature of Neil’s face on it.

Monopoly collectors face a disadvantage over some other collectors in that their publishers are very secretive about future releases. “Finding out about games is the hardest thing about collecting as the producers won’t let you know and if they do still trying to get one is a mission.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Neil has never worked in the toy and game industry. More surprisingly, he rarely plays Monopoly. In fact, he mostly collects only sealed, newer editions. “As my sets are sealed I haven’t played for over 20 years but I did manage to play at a game launch in Belgium for Les Gauff . My rarest set the Millionth Edition with only 100 made.”

He’ll also tell you his favorite token is the dog but also adds that “Older USA sets had jewel tokens and lamps… they are amazing but for many years I only collected sealed brand new sets . So the jewel tokens are special and I have no sets with them maybe future purchase.” It’s part of his goal to get to 2,000 sets. So even if you’re not playing the game, you still have to know what property to buy.

Richard Gottlieb Brings Global Toy Expertise to hobbyDB

richard gottlieb

The Advisory Board at hobbyDB is proud to bring Richard Gottlieb onboard with his toy expertise. As a bonus, he also has an impressive collection of vintage “Wizard of Oz” books.

richard gottlieb

Richard is best known as an toy industry commentator and the CEO of the Global Toy Group. Among other things, he’s the publisher Global Toy News, the industry resource for news, trends and analysis of the business of play. He is also co-founder of Global Toy Experts, an intellectual property incubator for the toy and play industry, as well as the World Congress of Play, the only conference that includes all forms of play. As such, he’s a frequent speaker at toy industry conferences and trade shows.

When he’s not working with toys, he’s off in another world, the Wonderful Land of Oz. “Like millions of children, I was drawn to the movie as a child, he said of the classic 1939 film. “But I was really turned on when I saw that the adventures continued in a series of books. There were fourteen by the original author, L. Frank Baum, and dozens more by various authors.”

ozma of oz

He started collecting them when he was in his 20s. “I found a store that carried old books and they had quite a few original editions.” He first bought “Ozma of Oz” with with color plates. “The illustrations by John R. Neill are both beautiful and highly evocative,” he said. After that, he was hooked.

“Since then I’ve discovered that they’re hard to find and that books was a rarity.” He currently owns 35 editions of “Oz” books as well as a few volumes of commentary on the subject.

richard gottlieb ambassador to the kingdom of wal-mart

Richard has written a book himself, “Ambassador to the Kingdom of Wal-Mart,” and also writes a popular blog on the Global Toy News site, about trends and predictions in the toy business. He is also part of the voting committee for the National Toy Hall of Fame.

At the end of the day, however, he’s basically a toy collector like most of us. “I think what all collectors have in common is the love of the pursuit of the next find and the joy that comes with having a passion.”

Jim Cowen of Automodello joins hobbyDB Advisory Board

automodello headerWe at hobbyDB are proud to announce that Jim Cowen of Automodello is joining the hobbyDB Advisory Board. He’ll be assisting us with his own company’s model cars, of course, but he brings other unique expertise to the table as well.

See, many of Automodello’s high-end resin models are based on rare, one-off vehicles or versions of a car built for a specific event or purpose. In the course of researching which incredibly rare vehicles to reproduce in miniature, Jim has gotten to know the current and past owners and drivers of many of them. It’s hard to argue that anyone else knows more about these coachbuilt, customized, or concept cars besides the actual owners.

automodello corsair phantom

1938 Phantom Corsair

Automodello began in 2008 as part of Diecasm, in 2008. “Automodello started by producing replicas of dead marques and interesting models,” said Jim. “We began with 1:43 scale, 1:24 in 2011 and finally 1:12 in 2015. When Automodello entered 1:24 scale it was with the 1938 Phantom Corsair, then the 1935 Duesenberg SJ Speedster Mormon Meteor, 1930 Cord L-29 Brooks Stevens Speedster, all of which were one-offs.” Such concepts and customs are unusual for model makers to produce, because with only a single livery or configuration to offer, there isn’t much opportunity to use the same casting over and over again.

Automodello mormon meteor

1935 Duesenberg SJ Speedster Mormon Meteor

When Automodello decided to work on the big three American manufacturers to go after, they started with Ford, where a license was obtained to do the 1962 Ford Mustang I Concept and 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III, all of which had not been produced in larger scale. While Automodello has since added licenses for GM, All American Racers, Classic Team Lotus and Noble Automotive, it has always remained true to building interesting models.

automodello lincoln continental

Lincoln Continental Mark III

In some cases, their models are as rare as the cars they’re based on… literally. “Our first model was the 1964 Griffith Series 200 in two editions,” said Jim. “The Standard Edition was Maroon Red with a build of 262 which represented the total number of actual units of all their models produced by Griffith Motorcars. We also produced 192 Founders Edition models, which were hand-signed by Jack Griffith, founder of Griffith Motors and represented the number of Series 200 cars that were produced.”

automodello griffith 200

Autographed 1964 Griffith Series 200 Founders Edition

When you ask about Jim’s favorite model, he has trouble deciding. “It’s like asking me which of my children do I like best… luckily for me I only have one child, so she always wins,” he laughed. “For Automodello I now have close to a hundred children. I have found the ones I like best are the ones that have just been released because we can continue to hone our skills and quality.”

Regarding the people who own some of the rare cars Automodello has modeled, he has many stories to share. We’ll be bringing you some of Jim’s conversations and memories of these encounters in the weeks to come.