Collecting Posts

Here’s Another Collection of the World’s Largest Collections

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

We recently shared a large collection of the world’s largest collections, ranging from diecast cars, Funko Pop figures, and James Bond memorabilia. In each case, hobbyDB has a pretty good start on documenting those segments of the hobbies. For example, we have over 40,000 distinct variants of Hot Wheels in our database.

And we have you, the avid collectors and experts to thank for much of that.

So here are some more record-setting collections, but in these cases, we don’t have a huge representation of these items in our database… yet. But maybe you can change that for us! If you’re an expert or even a novice collector in these areas, you can help fill in the gaps in the world’s largest collectibles database. One of you out there must collect banana label stickers, right?

 

worlds largest matchbox collectionMatchboxes – No, not the diecast kind of Matchbox, although someone out there must hold that title… The actual boxes that matches come in, along with matchbook covers. Steven Smith of Great Yarmouth, UK, has amassed over 20,736 as of the last official count. Since many of them still contain matches, he has multiple fire extinguishers around his home.

 

world's largest beer can collection

Beer Cans – In the early 1970s, beer can collecting went from an obscure hobby to one of the biggest collectibles markets. In essence, you were collecting, well, garbage, or at least something meant to be tossed away. The hobby hit its apex in the late ’70s and by the end of the next decades, was more of a niche hobby. Jeff Lebo of York Haven, Pennsylvania has what is considered the current largest privately owned collection in the world, over 87,000 of them. If you want to see it in person, you can stay in Brew House Mountain for about $470 a night.

 

world's largest baseball card collectionBaseball Cards – Collecting baseball cards became popular among kids in the 1950s during a golden age for the sport. They were largely obtained by buying blind packages at the store (with bubble gum!) or by trading. By the 1980s, it was becoming a big business, and around 1990, it hit a different kind of bubble with perhaps too many companies making too many variants of too many cards. Paul Jones of Idaho recently had his collection verified by Guinness at over 2.7 million different cards. hobbyDB is home to a big collection of other kinds of collectible cards, but sports cards are a whole ‘nother game.

 

world's largest banana label collectionBanana Labels – True story: Christian Braun of hobbyDB was recently contacted by CNN to comment on a story on the world of banana label collecting. While most of us throw them away with the peel, thousands of people carefully remove them and place them in display albums. Over the last three decades, Becky Martz of Orlando, Florida, has collected and catalogued over 21,000 banana labels from around the world. hobbyDB has an Item Type for stickers and decals, so if you collect these or any other kind, please share your collection with us!

 

world's largest world's largest pez collection collectionworld's largest hummelHummel Figures – Long before Precious Moments kids, there were Hummels. Donald E. Stephens, of Rosemont Illinois, has the biggest publicly displayed collection of different Hummel figures, over 1,000 of them. If that doesn’t sound like a colossal number, the company only produces so many new figures in a year, so he probably has just about one of each. The world’s largest Hummel figure is at Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn, a German restaurant on Staten Island, standing at over eight feet tall. Either way, you can help fill a void in our database if you’re a Hummel expert!

 

world's largest pez collection

Pez Dispensers – Pez dispensers are functional and fun! At least Jim Blaine of Michigan seems to think so.. what started with buying one dispenser at a gas station has blossomed into a collection of over 17,000 different versions. While we have hundreds of them documented in the hobbyDB database, they tend to skew heavily towards newer models, especially Funko characters. If you’re a collector of the more vintage ones, we’d love to hear from you.

The Ultimate Poser: DC Sculptor Tim Bruckner Captured Iconic Moments

tim bruckner wonder woman

“The Kiss” is one of Bruckner’s finished pieces currently for sale.

A few weeks ago we introduced you to Tim Bruckner, who spent about 20 years sculpting action figures and statues for DC Direct (now known as DC Entertainment). As his career there evolved, he spent more and more time on statues instead of poseable characters. A lot goes into the decisions on how to represent a figure the best way.

“The artist or art director has decided on a pose and facial expressions before I start working,” Bruckner said. Illustrations of the basic concept, such as Superman about to kiss Wonder Woman might be done specifically for the project, or they might come from actual comics panels. “Then all I have to do is recreate that in three dimensions.”

“Some of the artists like Alex Ross, with a more realistic style, require more reference,” he said. “But Ross always had so much material to work from for any character, so it was never a problem” In addition to the specific artist’s renderings, photos of people in action poses provide clues to getting muscles and angles just right. “We have to decide what ‘makes’ the character and brings it to life.”

tim bruckner alex ross

There is no shortage of Alex Ross renderings for a sculptor to work from. This prototype is for sale by Tim Bruckner.

Tim Bruckner Green Arrow

Bruckner is offering various stages of prototypes like this paint master of Green Arrow.

In a few cases, the design might not be based on any particular comic or live version of a character. “In the Superman and Lois Lane sculpture, he’s based loosely on the Christopher Reeves era of the character,” Bruckner said. “But it’s not an actual rendering of the actor, just a new way of designing him that looks familiar to collectors.”

At that early stage of the process, Bruckner would work in clay that could be bent or adjusted slightly if someone suggested a change. After those decisions are settled, the next stage is the perfectly detailed wax figure that will ultimately serve as the basis for the molding process. Several of these early prototypes are for sale in his hobbyDB Marketplace shop.

tim bruckner supergirl

Bruckner’s sculptures have a feeling of motion, often from different directions. You can get this one directly from Bruckner on hobbyDB.

tim bruckner

This playful cat is one of the hidden structural elements that hold up a pin-up statue of Catwoman.

Unlike an action figure who will be posed by the customer, a sculpture needs to capture a moment in time but still look like it’s moving. “This pose has to stand for everything about the character,” he said. You want something that says ‘this is Green Lantern,’ and it has to be convincing. Fans will let you know.” Aside from a moment when a superhero is proudly standing in triumph, they are usually seen in action. Bruckner’s statues are well known for conveying motion, action, tension, and lightness.

That last criterion is one where Bruckner has always excelled. “You want to give the illusion of weightlessness. A character running might have just the tip of their foot touching the base of the statue. Or Superman might be just landing, with the tiniest contact point to the ground.” He is particularly fond of a statue of Green Lantern fighting Sinestro at the peak of a mountain. “Sinestro is the only one touching the ground, and he looks like he is falling, about to lose contact. Green Lantern is only supported by points where he is making contact with his foe.” Often the support comes from an unexpected direction like a cat tugging on Catwoman’s dress.

tim bruckner batman

The ivy-covered gargoyle really puts Batman in context here.

Another trick for the weightlessness is that these figures are almost never mounted on a plain base. It will be something key to the environment of the scene, or an iconic prop. Such support pieces help remove the figures from being perceived as “static.”

Despite many of these characters being wildly proportioned, strange-looking, even non-human, Bruckner believes the human connection is what makes it work. “Each pose does represent a human experience,” he said. “If an artist has done that well, the collector can put himself in that experience by looking at this piece.” Bruckner insists that pop culture can be in danger of losing that human connection but doesn’t need to. “As an artist, it has to mean something to me, or it means nothing to everyone else.”

We’ll be taking one more look at Bruckner’s work in a few weeks, much of his work before and after his DC years.

 

 

Tim Bruckner, Man of DC Action Figures!

A couple weeks ago we introduced you to Tim Bruckner, who spent about 20 years sculpting DC action figures and statues for DC Direct (now known as DC Entertainment) and other companies. We barely scratched the surface of his stories, so here’s a look at some of the design processes he went through in his career.

tim bruckner dc artistHis sculpting roots go back to his childhood. “I used to take those wax bottles with the juice in them (Nik-L-Nips) and play around with the wax and create all kinds of sculptures,” Bruckner said. He showed them to a neighbor across the street who happened to own a jewelry store. “He was impressed enough that he hired me as an apprentice when I was a teenager,” he laughs. That lucky break led not only to honing his finer wax sculpting skills, but also an understanding of the molding and casting processes.

tim bruckner robin

This Robin paint master is for sale on hobbyDB right now.

For those of you who collect model cars, the original sculpting is usually a subtractive process, where the artist starts with a block of some material like acetate and carves away the bits that don’t look like a car. “Figure design is an additive process,” said Bruckner. “It starts with a blob of wax, and I shape it into the character mostly by adding material.”

For those of you who collect figures, he’s now selling some of his rarer pieces on hobbyDB as the_Sculptor. These include production pieces as well as various stages of preproduction models. It’s a chance to own a bit of DC history as well as a one-of-a kind original piece for your collection.

tim bruckner dark knight

You can get this Batman action figure directly from Tim Bruckner.

Another difference between the two types of collectibles: Model cars are often sculpted with details such as the grill and windows in place. How those are divided into separate pieces is usually determined at the factory instead of by the artist. In addition to the original wax figure, Bruckner had to determine points of articulation, and how to separate the figure into multiple parts. “For poseable figures, I create a fully-functioning prototype with the joints worked out.” If that sounds complicated, yeah, it is. “After you’ve done several of them, that part gets a lot easier,” he said.

Much of the diecast world is headed towards 3-D modeling and prototyping, which has its advantages in speed and accuracy. “Since a statue of a character is organic in design, it’s still somewhat common for sculptors to make their molds the old way. “With the advent of 3-D design, that skill set is evaporating,” he said. “Hopefully digital sculpting and hand carving can coexist.” Even for static statues, he has to figure out what parts can be molded as one and what needs to be a separate part.

tim bruckner red skull

It may look finished, but this is a hand-painted prototype available from Bruckner.

Many of his figures are interpretations of drawings, which may have varied thought put into how a particular feature would be rendered as a real-life object. Sometimes an item like a hand, which might be molded in a different color, becomes a separate piece.

After approval of the shapes, Bruckner was responsible for painting the master from which the production pieces would be colored. “These statues are hand-painted in the factory, believe it or not. My painted prototypes were usually pretty spot-on,” he said. “They have to rely on a perfect example to copy, so it needs to be very accurate.” A lot of color breaks, such as the logo on Batman’s chest, are rendered in relief or as grooves or ridges to make coloring easier. A close look at his Red Skull master shows how much intricate detail can be involved.

tim bruckner supergirl

These three stages of the development of the Supergirl statue are for sale together.

In some cases, they are only part of the model, but otherwise, it’s really hard to tell them apart from the finished production piece. He has even listed a 3 stage set of Supergirl prototypes that really show how the process takes shape.

tim bruckner dc dynamics

tim bruckner

This Joker from the DC Dynamics line is from Bruckner’s private stash.

Those color breaks and separate molds can lead to some great opportunities for design. “My favorite statues are the DC Dynamics line,” he said. For those, a character such as the Joker is seen rising from a raging swirl of green slime. The shapes themselves are lively, but he was able to use translucent material for the goo, adding to the realism. “Being able to work with clear materials for water, smoke, or flames really helped make these even more realistic.”

Speaking of lively, dynamic shapes, there is a lot that goes into deciding every nuanced detail of a character’s pose and facial expression for these figures. We’ll take a look at some of the designs and decisions that go into the final product in an upcoming article.

A Collection of 10 of the World’s Largest Collections

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

One comment we at hobbyDB hear a lot is “do you get to play with toys all day?” (The answer, sadly is no.) Another is “you must have the world’s largest collections of (Hot Wheels, Funko Pops, video games, etc.)” Also, no, but most of us do have a pretty good collection of something or another. We all geek out about some kind of collectible culture here. It’s sort of a requirement to be part of the hobbyDB project.

Which got us to thinking… who does have the world’s largest collection of bobblehead dolls? Or diecast cars? Or baseball cards? Or Barbie dolls? So, we did a little digging. Most of these figures have been verified by some organization, such as the Guinness Book of World Records, and exact numbers might not be up to the minute, as one trip to the toy store can add several more to the totals.

The hobbyDB database has a pretty good start documenting some of these (and some of the most complete data on the internet on others), but we are always looking for collectors and experts to contribute their knowledge to make it even more complete. If you’re interested in getting involved, let us know! We also are running a WeFunder campaign if you want to really get involved!

bobblehead hall of fameBobbleheads, Nodders, Wobblers – Just over a year ago (February 1, 2019), The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors, a project started by friends Phil Sklar and Brad Novak of Milwaukee. They have collected over 10,000 bobbleheads, wobblers, and nodders, dating back to some of the earliest sports models from the 1960s. While most of the collection is on display at their gallery, they often loan out part of the exhibit for special events. If a particular team is visiting the Milwaukee Brewers for a baseball series, figures related to that team might be on display at the ballpark.

As far as individual collectors with a focus, Philip Darling is credited by Guinness as having the largest gathering of sports-related bobbleheads, with over 2,300 of them, with an emphasis on hockey.

largest model car collectionDiecast VehiclesNabil Karam of Beirut, Lebanon, has a documented collection of over 37,000 diecast model cars of all brands and scales (37,777 at most recent count). Many of them are on display in some 400 painstakingly assembled dioramas. He says he has a weakness for Porsches, so it’s likely he has the largest collection of models of just that marque.

As far as single brands go, Mike Zarnock, well known among diecast fans, is said to have the world record for the largest Hot Wheels collection. But at an estimated 20,000, it’s just that… an estimate (a really big one though). He is verified as having the collection of the most models of different cars, at 8,128 (and if he’s been to the store in the last few days, he’s probably picked up a few more). The hobbyDB database shows over 40,000 distinct Hot Wheels variants, so Zarnock is halfway there! And if you have a collection of your own, you can utilize the hobbyDB tools to organize, manage, and track it.

worlds largest hot wheels collection

 

worlds largest funko pop collectionFunko PopsPop! figures have only been around a handful of years, so the largest collection isn’t as massive as some of the older toys. Nonetheless, Paul Scardino of Virginia had amassed a documented 4,475 of them by the end of 2018. Considering how many have been released since, that number has probably expanded.

If you’re really into Pop! figures, check out poppriceguide.com, part of the hobbyDB family. As the name suggests, it’s probably the most complete Pop! reference online, and has current, accurate pricing information.

worlds largest lego collectionLego sets – To be technical, this record also includes some other brands of building toys… Frank Smoes of Melbourne, Australia has 3,837 complete plastic building sets. He started building his collection in 1980 and estimates there are over 1.2 million bricks and at least 8,000 Minifigures in the collection.

The most complete collection of just Lego products is likely the vault at Lego’s headquarters in Denmark. They have preserved at least one copy of virtually every set ever released by the company, locked safely away for preservation (though it would be fun to play with some of those).

Video Games – Antonio Monteiro of Richmond Virginia has 20,139 games in his home. Not just the games, of course, where’s the fun in that? He also has over 100 consoles and computers to actually play the games on. Guinness said the collection was so big it took eight days to count before they verified the record.

world's largest license platesLicense Plates – Peter and Tamas Kenyeres of Hungary have amassed a collection of 11,345 license plates over the years. The oldest plate in their collection is from Austro-Hungarian Empire (1900). They also somehow acquired a plate that just says “B7,” which was a Hungarian minister’s plate from 1945 to 1948. 

But wait… Paul Franke of San Diego has since compiled a collection of over 22,000 plates, twice the size of theirs… but it hasn’t been verified by Guinness yet. It’s possible someone reading this right now have a bigger collection than that. If so, please contact us!

Since hobbyDB is located in a state with one of the most iconic license plates, this is a topic dear to our hearts!

worlds largest funko james bond collectionJames  Bond MemorabiliaNick Bennett of Leigh, Lancashire, UK, has a collection of all things Bond-related totaling 12,463 gadgets and other goodies at last count. Not just toys and action figures, but actual movie props in some cases. And yes, he keeps them in a secret lair in his basement.

hobbyDB is putting together the world’s largest collection of, well, collectibles, at least the largest online. Even better, because we include everything collectible, we can cross-reference any collectible that’s related to another by even the most obscure strand. The examples above are some areas where we have a pretty good start on documenting everything, but it’s collectors like you who help us complete the set. So, if you see some gaps in the hobbyDB project, please help fill them in for us.

Soon, we’ll look at some other giant collections, in areas where we really could use an expert or several to grace us with their knowledge and jump-start those parts of the database.

If you want to be a bigger part of the hobbyDB family, here’s your chance… Learn more at our Wefunder profile. We thank you!

Hot Dog! You’ll Relish These Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Collectibles

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Hey, kids! Do you relish the opportunity for a job that lets you ketchup in your career? Oscar Mayer is looking for Wienermobile drivers, but only if you can cut the mustard! Okay, terrible buns… er, puns aside (and repeating them frequently is part of your duties), it’s quite frankly a fun job. Side note… yours truly was a candidate for this very gig in the early 1990s, but I got roasted in the interview.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile collecitlbesIn any event, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is an enduring icon of promotional stunts that has been loved for decades. There are actually several of them that roam different regions of the country. As big as that fleet is, there are even more Wienermobiles in smaller, collectible form.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile whistlesWiener Whistles  The earliest Wienermobile collectibles were whistles, given out to kids at promotional appearances. They are usually molded in the red “meat” color instead of the tan “bun” color. They have a couple of small holes that can be covered to produce a few different tones. There have been several variations over the years including a sort of pan flute version made of a pack of hot dogs (technically not a mobile sausage, but let’s go with it) that offered enough notes to play the famous jingle, which is now stuck in your head!

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile bankBanks – After the whistles, the earliest Wienermobile models were plastic banks… well, sort of. Starting in the 1950s, there was a 1/25-ish scale model molded in a bun colored base and a meat-hued sausage. And as it rolled, a flat sculpture of Little Oscar bobbed up and down from a slot on top. Later releases of the same model ditched the driver, with the slot now serving as a place for your savings deposit. Banks have been updated with recent designs in the real fleet, so there are several different generations available. One thing they have in common… most of them are unbranded as far as what toy company produced them. They are simply “Oscar Mayer” offerings.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile Hot WheelsHot Wheels – One of the rare exceptions to the unbranded mass-produced tube-steak vehicles comes from Hot Wheels. The first variant from 1993 was accurately colored, as most have been since, but there have been a few exceptions. A silver chrome version came out the next year. Also, NASCAR themed variants, while featuring correct body colors, have displayed different graphics and logos. The rarest Hot Wheels variant is likely the Micro Vehicle version from 1996. This short-lived series of half-sized cars was designed to compete with Micro Machines. It’s like one of those delicious cocktail wieners in that red sauce your parents used to serve in crockpots at parties. (And no, this one doesn’t count!)

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile ornamentChristmas Ornaments – Another example of a branded Wienermobile is the Hallmark Christmas ornament from 2001. Accurately scaled, it’s a nicely detailed model and with a push of a button, plays that jingle. There have been other, more traditional ornaments, usually unbranded as well.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile dispensersCondiment Dispensers  One of the most abstract Wienermobile models is this ketchup and mustard bottle set. The red top holds 4.5 ounces of ketchup, while the yellow base holds 11 ounces of mustard. (If you’re from Chicago, that ratio should be NO ketchup ever and ALL the mustard!) Functional and delicious!

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile Mold a RamaMold-a-Rama – This collectible brings back the smell of childhood for a lot of collectors. No, not the aroma of hot dogs on the grill… the scent of hot, waxy plastic, fresh out of the Mold-A-Rama machine. Insert your money, watch the gears and gizmos crank, and take in a whiff of the still-hot plastic toy that pops out. These machines were first made in 1962 and appeared mostly in the midwest and Great Lakes area. Several of these technical marvels are still in operation around the country including ones at the Field Museum and Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. And despite the last machines being manufactured decades ago, new molds are occasionally installed, including one for the 1952 Wienermobile at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

If you meat Oscar Mayer’s requirements and can take the intense grilling of the interview, you should apply for the gig driving the Wienermobile here.

And if you want to see more, or know of any collectibles we don’t have in our database, this is the link you’re craving!