Advisory Council Posts

Sergio Goldvarg (and possibly Batman) are on the hobbyDB Advisory Board

sergio goldvarg

Do you like waffles? Of course you do! And model cars? You bet! Then you’ll love Sergio Goldvarg, one of the members of the hobbyDB Advisory Board. He is lending us his considerable expertise on model cars, both as a manufacturer and a collector.

To say Sergio collects model cars is an understatement. He’s been featured in the Guiness Book of World Records for having the largest collection of large scale model cars, over 14,000 and counting.


Oh, we mentioned waffles earlier…Waffleworks restaurant in Hollywood, CA, not only serves fantastic breakfast all day, it also displays a good chunk of his collection on the walls, in cabinets, between the comfy booths. Waffleworks also hosts frequent car shows in the parking lot, where Batman sometimes shows up.

Sergio has a thing for the Batmobile, specifically the 1960s TV car built by George Barris. His collection includes several versions of it in different scales from 1:64 to pedal car size to… well, is a real 1:1 scale Batmobile considered a model? Because he has one of those as well.

sergio goldvarg

We’re not at liberty to say if Sergio is also Batman, but no one has ever seen the two of them in the same place. So jump to your own conclusions.

He’s owned many other interesting cars over the years as well, including a BMW Isetta, an Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint Bertone and a Renault Gordon. You can see photos of them on his blog.

goldvarg collection mercury

As an architect, he has a keen eye for detail and thinking in scale, so it’s no surprise that he has also dabbled in his creating own line of model cars. He is the founder of Miniturbo Toys, makers of simple, colorful vehicles for young kids in the 1980s. And his Goldvarg Collection series featured highly detailed 1:43 scale white metal models of American cars from the ‘40s through the ’60s. Sergio has also served on the advisory board of model car manufacturers Buby and SunStar.

Sergio a founder and member of the the Diecast Hall of Fame. So far, there’s no Waffles Hall of Fame, but he should be a shoo-in for induction there, too.

Goldvarg collection

Here’s a good sample of the variety of cars offered by the Goldvarg Collection.

Hugada Video Game Database Now on hobbyDB

hugada atari 2600 simpsons video game

Klaus Brandhorst’s first home computer was a bit underwhelming, a simple Commodore 16. “It only had a datasette and it came with one or two programs to fiddle around with, so there weren’t any games,” he said. “It was only black and white on my old TV at the time and BASIC wasn’t so interesting for most 9 year olds. It wasn’t love at first sight.”

Luckily, it didn’t scare him away from computers for life, because Klaus is the founder of, short for Huge Game Database. The name is the only thing short about the venture, as Hugada is a database of over 63,200 versions of 43,700 video game titles. And all of that is coming to hobbyDB.

Back to ancient history… That original C-16 was followed by a C-64, an Amiga 500, then an Amiga 2000. “On the Commodore, we played everything we could get for so many hours until we were thrown out by my parents to see the sun for a few minutes,” he laughed. “We liked games where you could explore and search for easter eggs or hidden rooms, for example the strange ‘Mad Doctor’…  We loved Cinemaware-Games on the Amiga because they looked and played very good but what made them special was the story and the atmosphere. But my all-time favorites are strategy games: “Carriers at War” from SSG, and “Second Front” from Gary Grigsby.”

 dysentery pac man x box commodore 16

The Amiga was followed by a string of more modern PCs. By the mid 1990s, PC games were becoming more advanced and but old video-games became worth collecting. That’s when Klaus started looking back.

“People were giving away their old video games like they were worthless,” he said. “I guess they were at the time. One time, I bought an Atari 2600 system with packaging, never used, for about $5 and the owner said, ‘here, this comes with it’ and handed me over a big plastic bag with 60 or more modules, some of them still wrapped and lots of Xenox double enders. I also bought a Vectrex for less than $10, and a whole shoe box of Nintendo games and a watch in original packaging for a few bucks.”  Considering the original cost of home video game systems in the 1980s, and what they sell for now, he got great deals all around.

“Within a few years it was maybe 150 video game consoles and home computers and thousands of games for them. After I brought home a DEC PDP-11 the size of 2 washing machines, my parents became a bit worried what i was planing to do with their cellar.”

Along the way, he started a list on the computer of every game he could find for every platform. Like the basement collection, it too began to get out of control. “It started with a list of Playstation 1 games my friends and I owned where we noted who has which one. It quickly grew with the titles we wanted to have and then with other systems like the Nintendo 64 and also PC-titles. Then, retro-gaming with all the emulators started, so we had to make lists of the games of course…” Before long, Excel wasn’t up to the task, so he moved it to a real database and put it online.

atari soccer Madden xbox

That was in 1997 or ’98, making it likely that Hugada was the first ever online database of video games. “But I soon realized it’s a lot of work to take care of the site. When I went to university, I basically closed the data for the public additions and entered data for myself from time to time,” he said. “I was really only interested in collecting the data, but not so much in maintaining the site and caring for a community and forum.” So he started looking for a partner to take over the project. As luck would have it, one day he asked his uncle to help him sell some extra models cars, and one of them was purchased by Christian Braun of hobbyDB.

Klaus said, “It turned out my uncle had known Christian’s Family for years. When I was young, I had a SIKU model cars collectors guide written by Christian’s brother – the world is smaller than we think.” So he contacted Braun and shortly thereafter, he started moving the data to hobbyDB. “I’m very happy to see all the data I collected over so many years is now available to a big public to be used for what they were being started for: your own collection of video games and consoles.” Klaus has joined the hobbyDB Advisory Board, so he will still be active in maintaining the database he worked to hard to compile.

In the meantime, he is still active in video gaming and also collects other interests. “Mostly model SIKU cars, but also model planes and ships (the latter in 1/700 scale) of which I have over a thousand. I also cannot leave any Lego Star Wars set in the store and let’s better not talk about DVDs and Blu Rays…”

His favorite game system is kind of obscure, the Amiga CD32. “It had a shabby looking and creaking case, bad controllers and only a handful of games and almost all of them were just normal Amiga 1200 titles, only on CD. When it came out, we dreamed of all the fantastic titles we would liked to have – and never came. I guess I’m always for the underdog.”

If you do a search for “Video Games” on hobbyDB, you’ll be amazed at the number of items we’ve added lately. More will be showing up over the next few weeks, so keep checking in. And if you have screen shots or videos of these games in action, please sign in and upload those to make the Huge Game Database even more huge!

Jim Garbaczewski Brings Hot Wheels Newsletter to hobbyDB

Hot Wheels Newsletter

 Jim Garbaczewski, publisher of the Hot Wheels Newsletter, is now working to archive all the past issues on hobbyDB. “I started collecting Hot Wheels in 1989”, he said. “ I didn’t know much at first but I became obsessed with these cars. As I read the newsletter I’d see cars I needed and also cars that I had but were not listed. I contacted Mike Strauss to mention it.’ He continued… “We had long conversations about Hot Wheels and would fax each other our want list and traded a lot of cars at the time.”

Long before the internet existed, collectors had to use other methods to communicate and connect with each other. Magazines such as the Hot Wheels Newsletter, debuting in 1986, were so crucial to this task.

While many club newsletters and magazines have fallen by the wayside or been converted over to just an online presence, the Hot Wheels Newsletter still thrives as a printed resource. The Newsletter does have a website and a very active Facebook presence, but the printed version remains so important to the hobby, in fact, the magazine is being inducted into the Diecast Hall of Fame.

Eventually his collection reached 40,000 unique Hot Wheels cars. “I try not to put duplicates in my collection but I know I’m still missing quite a few.” By the mid 90’s Jim started going to the Conventions and Nationals, growing his collection and his knowledge of the hobby immensely. “In 2007 I started helping with the Tomart’s Vol 6 price guide. About this time Mike was ready to retire from the hobby and asked me if I would like to take it over. After some negotiation I accepted.”

Hot Wheels Newsletter 70 Chevelle SS Wagon Hiway Hauler

The Hot Wheels Newsletter has produced several limited edition vehicles over the years.

His favorite castings are all Volkswagen Beetle related. “There are so many things in my life that happened around this car!” As for his favorite memories of the magazine, Jim is of course neutral.  “If I had to pick one issue it would be the Turismo/DeLorean issue,” he said. “Just the fact that it brought so many collectors from around the world together that collect Hot Wheels cars, that’s what I love about it.”

Hot Wheels Newsletter

The style of the Hot Wheels Newsletter has changed over the last 30 years, but the mission has not.

Jim’s latest project is to include information about every edition of the Hot Wheels Newsletter in hobbyDB’s archives. He has the majority of them covered, especially the later ones, but could use some assistance from longtime subscribers. “I have most all of them but I’m not as organized as I’d like to be. Early issues from ’86 through ’90 would seem to be the hardest for me to find.” If you search hobbyDB’s archives, you might be able to fill in some of the blanks. “hobbyDB is an amazing source of almost anything collectible and getting bigger and better everyday.” Especially with folks like Jim and his fellow collectors helping out.

Arthur Ward, Airfix Expert, Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

Photo of Arthur Ward © The Argus, Brighton and used with permission.

Arthur Ward is the latest collectibles expert to join the hobbyDB Advisory Council

. His specialty is Airfix kits, including military aircraft, tanks and trucks, as well as their soldier figures.

Arthur has a long history with Airfix, building his first models over 40 years ago. “My father was a good modeler and helped me construct my first kits,” he said.”Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Airfix kits were a most affordable treat – I could purchase a Series One kit and a tube of cement for less than three old shillings.”

Airfix Spitfire Supermarine kit

As you may have guessed by the Airfix affiliation and mention of shillings, Arthur is from England, Pulborough, to be exact. As a kid, he was an “Army Brat,” also living in Hong Kong, Northern Ireland and West Germany.” Back in the day, every British boy was infused with stories about the Battle of Britain, Douglas Bader and all that,” he said. “So my first kits would have been Spitfires and Hurricanes, soon to be accompanied by Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs of course.”

Arthur Ward Colliectingfriends
His love of the brand became more than a hobby, and he has written several books about this brand of models. His first book in 1984 was an ambitious production. “‘The Model World of Airfix’ was unusual in that it was a book/kit compendium and came in a slip case with specially produced examples of kits which weren’t available in the Airfix range at the time.,” he said. He’s written several other Airfix books, as well as titles guides to TV toys, Film toys,  military collectables, and an illustrated history of British Army Cap Badges.

Arthur Ward Wartime Collectibles

Despite not working in the model kit industry directly, his publishing made him an insider and he has gotten to know many people in the business. “Back in the day the great work of artist Roy Cross, whom I know well and even worked on his first biography, Celebration of Flight, really inspired me,” he said. “His box art for the 1:24 Spitfire Mk 1 ‘Superkit’ was fantastic and I loved that kit when it first appeared.” For several years Airfix/‘Palitoy used photos on the boxes, but have since gone back to art. “I also know the new artist, Adam Tooby and he was involved in Collectingfriends’ Guinness World Record winning Spitfix event at the RAF Museum, which was sponsored by Hornby/Airfix.”

His interests go well beyond the Airfix models. “I’m afraid I’m an inveterate collector, always have been. I collect old model kits, old toys, action figures, postcards, militaria, cap badges, the list is endless!” Just the kind of person we love knowing at hobbyDB.

(Photo of Mr. Ward at top of page © The Argus, Brighton and used with permission.)

Designer Notes: Heller Porsche 917LH

Lincoln Futura Philippe de LespinayPhilippe de Lespinay started with Heller, the French model kit company in the 1960s as a designer and project engineer. He also also worked for Cox, who are now known for their remote control and gas powered vehicles, but also created many kits over the years. More recently, he was the curator of the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum. And he’s on the hobbyDB Advisory Board, so yeah, he’s our kind of guy.

hobbyDB will be regularly sharing his insights on particular models he has worked on including production kits, never-produced projects, and his own custom builds. We hope you enjoy the journey through his career as well.

Read more about his history in the toy and model business here.

Heller Porsche 917LH

Heller Porsche 917 kit

Another that was not issued in the original form, I drew the car in 1969 as a Porsche 917LH, but it was later modified in the “K” version and issued as such. I would actually have preferred this, the more brutal-looking 1969 model.

Here are some of the built kits in the 1978 Heller catalog. The 917 was now the “Kurz” version.

Heller Porsche 917 kit