Advisory Council Posts

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, – 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.

R.I.P. Steve Arlin, Former MLB Player, hobbyDB Advisory Board Member

Steve Arlin San Diego Padres

We at hobbyDB are sad to report that Steve Arlin, a member of our Advisory Board, passed away August 19, 2016. He was 70 years old.

Young Guns Steve Arlin

Around these parts, he was known for his expertise in Western toys, especially toy guns and their matching holsters. In fact, the holsters are such a unique item that we had to create an item type specifically for them. He also published a book on collecting them.

Prior to his connection at hobbyDB, Steve had one of the most awesome jobs ever… he was a major league baseball pitcher for the San Diego Padres and the Cleveland Indians from 1969 to 1974. In 1972 he came within one out of completing a no-hitter, the closest any Padre has ever come to accomplishing that feat (San Diego remains the only team in baseball without a no-hitter in their history). He was also a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes squad that won the 1966 college baseball championship. After retirement, he continued to live in the San Diego area.

hobbyDB is grateful for Steve’s contributions to our site and collecting in general, and he will be missed.