Advisory Council Posts

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.



Authors and Publishers Tell Their Stories on hobbyDB

Over the last couple of years hobbyDB has become home to the official archives of many brands of toys and collectibles as well several museums that highlight the sorts of things we love here.

The latest trend is for authors and publishers to set up an archive page on hobbyDB. The benefits are similar to how well it works for brands and museums, in that their books can be cross-referenced with a variety of subjects and collectibles. We talked to a few authors of books on automobiles, automobilia, and collectibles who now have archives here to get some insight on the process.

Arthur Ward airfix

Arthur Ward, Airfix expert and author, also knows a thing or two about vintage cars.

Arthur Ward might be a familiar name to certain collectors as the authority on all things Airfix related. In addition to being on our Advisory Board, he has an archive on hobbyDB. “My first book, The Model World of Airfix, was published in 1984, a few years after they  spectacularly went bust in 1981 to be rescued by American multinational General Mills. I knew, and the publisher agreed, that a history of this famous brand would catch the zeitgeist prevalent at the time – the Brits had nearly lost a famous and iconic brand.” As you can tell, this is a bit more than just a hobby for Arthur.

He’s since written several guides to the Airfix brand, but is also the author of books on other subjects such as World War II collectibles. This isn’t too much of a stretch, he says. “The models I built as a kid, the Spitfires,  Messerschmitts, Lancaster bombers, Sherman tanks, Flying Fortresses and the like, encouraged me to research their subjects carefully,” he said. “Making models was always about much more than simply assembling a selection of components – it was about immersing yourself in the subject. Airfix understood this, which was why their box top artwork by people like the legendary Roy Cross was so much more than a simple illustration of the subject at hand.”

Having an expert like him not just curating his books, but also the models he writes about helps lend a lot of credibility to hobbyDB with collectors, which benefits everyone with an interest in collecting.

Frank Barrett

Frank Barrett is the latest automotive author to host his archive on hobbyDB.

Frank Barrett is the latest author to archive his books on hobbyDB. After spending 25 years as editor/publisher of The Star, the national magazine of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, he generally writes about Mercedes-Benz and his first love, Porsche, but his biggest and best book is about a British/American collaboration, the Shelby Cobra. “Writing is hard work,” he explains, ”so you have to find the best publisher you can. For example I did this book with David Bull and he was fantastic to work with.”

Since Frank has worked with several publishers over the years, it can be hard to find all of his books online unless you stumble onto them in a neutral place. Or, you can go to his archive, and find them all. Long story short, it’s good to have a single source that ties them all together. Frank is only in the process of moving his Toad Hall Motorbooks store to hobbyDB where you can buy his books – plus over 1,000 other vintage automotive books and more than 200 original factory-published Porsche posters.


William Taylor and his company Coterie Press have published a huge array of automotive books.

William Taylor, another author archived on hobbyDB, has found a reliable publisher he likes to work with… his own company, Coterie Press. Their books (and his own) cover a range of mostly European makes, everything from the manufacturer, the cars, the races, the memorabilia, the models, anything related to the subject. If you don’t believe us, just punch in “Coterie Press Lotus” and look at the depth in coverage.

“Over the course of 15 years publishing automotive books, Coterie Press has archived the motor racing images of photographers Ian Catt, Peter Darley and myself,” William said. “Along with the Classic Team Lotus Collection and several other smaller collections we’ve acquired, Coterie currently have over 100,000 images accessible to them when working on a book project.” So add the vintage photos to their stunning original photography, and that results in some really nice books.

Taylor’s (and his company’s) accurate, beautifully designed books have earned them a reputation with folks in the auto industry and the racing world to grant them access to even more in depth writing possibilities. In this case, we don’t just get a single author’s work accurately represented, we get an entire company to go with it.

We’re looking for other authors and publishers of books that appeal to any type of collectors… brand histories, spotter’s guides, price lists, let us know what you write. When you add your books to our database, we can build a great online library for collectors!