Collecting Posts

A Barn-Find (err, Yard-Sale) Ford GT-40!

Over the past two years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy the story of this Ford GT-40 diecast model.

jouef evolution Ford GT-40

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

So I found this exotic car at a yard sale a few weeks ago… It’s a 1/18 Jouef Evolution Ford GT-40 in Gulf livery. It’s not perfect, but seldom do you stumble onto a pristine real GT-40 for sale, either. On this one, the windshield wiper is missing and the clear deflector on the hood is chipped. And it was dusty, like any proper barn find. But for five bucks, this model made over 20 years ago was a real steal.

Some impressions of the model… Parked next to models of 1/18 street cars, the GT-40 is TINY in all dimensions. You don’t really get that sense when you see one sitting in the paddock or in a museum with other comparable race cars. Contrary to its size, for a scale model, this Jouef car is really heavy. There’s a lot of metal in play here.

jouef evolution Ford GT-40

The doors open in such a way that only a short, thin, flexible person could possibly get into the car. (Dan Gurney, who is not short, famously had Ford add a bubble to the roof to give him a skosh more room. This isn’t a model of his car, so no bubble here.)

jouef evolution Ford GT-40

jouef evolution Ford GT-40

The undercarriage detail is rather sparse, but that’s accurate… the aerodynamic bottom of the real car is smooth as a baby’s butt, too. Other nice details are the guide pins that help hold the hood in place when it’s closed. The removable panel up front reveals a spare tire featuring the same gorgeous wheels with orange knockoffs. The tire is a bit narrower than the ones mounted on the car, but you don’t notice that unless you try to remove it. (Don’t, try by the way, it’s permanently attached.)

The paint is lovely (and in immaculate condition for a used car) but doesn’t have the Gulf logos or other sponsor decals. Also, the windshield shows some wear where someone had moved the missing wiper back and forth a few times. Which brings me to my conundrum… Even though it’s kind of rare and old and in good shape, should I tear this car apart and add more detail? Paint, plumb and wire the engine? Add some appropriate race wear and grime?

jouef evolution Ford GT-40

Did I mention this version of the car ran in the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans in this car? Lucien Bianchi and Pedro Rodriguez drove it to victory that year. So it might be appropriate to add some champagne spray to that post-race finish. By the way, Gurney is credited with being the first to spray champagne after a race, in 1967.

Websites, Blogs, and Facebook Pages to Diecast For!

die cast blogs websites

In the eternal quest to fill out their diecast collections, hobbyists have many sources for news about model cars new and old. There are, of course, official sites of manufacturers like Hot Wheels or Johnny Lightning, but sometimes you just need some information that crosses between brands and interests and might even include some commentary that isn’t always 100 percent sunshine. Here’s a list of hobbyDB employees’ favorite “nonpartisan” diecast blogs and websites. (Besides our own ever-growing database, of course!) This isn’t a ranking, by the way; each one of these is at least one hobbyDB staffer’s favorite go-to site.

One more note… this list includes only sites primarily written in English… we’ll do a roundup of sites based in other languages soon!

HW Newsletter Facebook Page

hot wheels newsletter

This might be the largest Hot Wheels related group on Facebook, with over 12,000 members. With that many participants, you can find commentary about pretty much anything related to Hot Wheels. As a bonus, other Mattel brands such as Matchbox and Disney Pixar cars are sometimes covered as well.

The Lamley Group

The Lamley Group

John Lambert specializes in 1/64 diecast of all brands, particularly new releases. His beautifully lit photos can sometimes fool you into thinking the cars are much bigger, maybe even real. And the insightful commentary goes into great detail about, well all the details that you might never have noticed on these models. And it’s updated daily, so it’s worth frequent visits.

Live & Let Diecast

live and let diecast

This is one of the Gawker Media sites that survived the parent company’s bankruptcy, so be thankful it even exists. Several staff writers comment on anything and everything diecast related, as well as aggregating and linking useful items from other sites. There are several posts throughout the day, so anytime is a good time to check in. The comments section is usually pretty lively, read that part too.

Model Auto Review

model auto review

Model Auto Review was a British print magazine that was published for 31 years until 2013. The title lives on as a blog site combining original content with articles that are aggregated from other sites of interest. Since it’s European based, they offer a different perspective from most sites listed here.

Model Collector

model collector magazine

Speaking of U.K. Publications, Model collector is still very much alive and well as a print magazine. They cover a lot of the British model brands like Corgi and Dinky that don’t get as much press stateside, so it’s a valuable resource if you collect these brands whether new or vintage.

Die Cast X

Die Cast X Magazine

This magazine is published quarterly in print, but they produce additional digital articles for the months in between. Die Cast X cover all brands and scales with a strong emphasis on the high-end large scale offerings. Some online content is available to everyone; full access requires a subscription (the offer deals for digital access or a print plus digital combination.)

Orange Track Diecast

orange track diecast

As you might have guessed from the name, Orange Track keeps you up to date on the latest Hot Wheels news with in depth reviews of upcoming models and store exclusives such as Wal-Mart or Target-only offerings. It’s updated every week or so as news warrants.

Darthvaderr’s Very Hard To Find & Limited Edition Hot Wheels

darthvaderrs hvhtf Hot Wheels

The blog site with very long name referencing a Star Wars character is actually a good source of information about custom diecast and the artists who build them. And despite the “hard to find” moniker, there are in fact a lot of super rare customs and limited run models for sale, easy to search right there on the site.

ZA3 Collectibles

za3 collectibles

ZA3 is a great place to keep up to date on GreenLight Collectibles models new and old. While they are not as big a player as Mattel or many other companies, Green Light makes accurately detailed diecast in a premium but not over-the-top price range. In addition to selling, this site also encourages trading if you have some extra old stock you want to deal.

HW Stangs

hw stangs

At first, this would seem to be a kind of limited page.. how many Hot Wheels Mustangs could there possibly be? Well, if you search for just that on hobbyDB, you’ll find over a thousand catalog items including variants, so, yeah, that’s a lot to write about. Jason Ray Duncan, the founder, is also very active on the HW Stangs Facebook page.

Racegrooves Youtube channel

Race Grooves

This is a large collection of videos reviewing track playsets and virtual driving games, with quite a few fail/crash/glitch videos thrown in, because that’s always fun to look at. (For collectors who like to keep their cars in the blister, Race Grooves also features “unboxing” videos to show what comes in crates direct from the manufacturer.) All in all it’s good reminder that many of these collectibles are in fact toys designed to be played with.

Got any other diecast blogs that you just can’t get through the day without checking at least twice? Let us know in the comments!

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.

More Odd Brands From the Island of Forgotten Toy Cars

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

A few weeks ago, we shared a list of unusual car brands with strange histories. The response we got was terrific, so here’s another batch model and toy cars you may have forgotten if you ever heard of them at all. All in all, these models come from seven different countries if you’re counting! These models from the Island of Forgotten Toy Cars are even more obscure than the last batch!

Muky

Muky

There’s something familiar about Muky model cars, even if you’re not at all familiar with the brand… Many of their models bear a (ahem) strong resemblance to various Hot Wheels offerings. These cars were obvious knock-offs from Argentina, but the mold and decoration quality suggests a copy of a copy of the original. Or were they? Some Hot Wheels historians believe the molds were sold to this company, and that Mattel no longer owns them.

Alskog Design

Alskog

Approximately 1:43 scale, these models are molded in bright, soft plastic with oversized wheels and cartoonish proportions. The design and materials of these cars resemble the rubbery plastic cars of the ’50s, but they are much newer than that. This Swedish company began in the mid ’60s and has produced much more recent models including late 1980s Volvos (did we mention they’re Swedish?)

Best Box

Best Box

Why settle for Matchbox when you can have Best Box? This Dutch company designed them to be cheap competitors to the 1960s Matchbox offerings, but these less detailed cars didn’t make the leap into Superfast territory. The brand was later renamed into Efsi and the molds are now owned by Holland-Oto but are not in production anymore.

Dream Tomica

Dream Tomica

What. The. Truck? This very strange series of models inspired by Japanese anime includes some really weird mashups of overly cute animals and cars/trucks/buses. The series also features some almost but not quite realistic models, which seem out of place at first. These other cars are based on illustrations from the Initial D comics and cartoons, so they actually fit in.

Phat Boyz

Phat Boyz cars

The scale on these cars is hard to pin down… from the side, they are slightly larger than a Micro Machines car, but as you turn towards the front, they are about twice as wide as they should be. The effect can be sort of dizzying.

Anguplas

Anguplas

These plastic 1/87 scale cars from Spain are ideal for a model railroad but might need a little work to fit in. The detail is very basic, and they had a tendency to melt and warp over the years. Still, these represent some fairly unusual models, so improving them might be worth it. Or you could try to find the Eko versions of these cars… This better-known company bought the molds in the mid-60s and continued to produce some of them using better materials.

Jo-Han

Jo Han

This company made numerous dealer promo cars in the 1960s for marques such as Rambler, Studebaker and DeSoto, as well as ambulances and hearses. The molds were only in use for one year as promos, but someone at Jo-Han had the brilliant idea of re-releasing many of them as kits, an idea for which we should all be grateful. The original castings were usually curbside models with no opening features, so the kits often were modified to include underhood detail and sometimes custom options or even working steering. Jo-Han kits enjoyed a resurgence in the 1980s and were most recently produced sometime around 2013.

Sabra

sabrachevelle

Sabra was a model car company from Israel that produced some very nice models of mostly American cars from the late ’60s through the early ‘70s. The full name of this line, “Gamda Koor Sabra,” translates roughly to “Israeli-born midget toys.” Given the ongoing state of conflict in the area, their model of a 1964 Chevelle station wagon in United Nations livery seems appropriate.

Midgetoy

Midgetoy

Like many other companies in the immediate post WWII era, A&E Tool And Gage Company found themselves scrambling to keep their machines running after their military products were no longer needed. As mold makers for Structo Toys, who made 1:12 and other large scale vehicles, they decided to apply the same technology to a smaller scale around 1:64 or so. Since the bodies were created with a simple two part mold, detail was seriously compromised, but in a way that’s actually kind of charming and fun. Many of their vehicles featured full wheel skirts which made production easier, and gave them a sort of futuristic look.

Winna

Winna

These were similar in construction to the Midgetoys, right down to the hidden wheels. Made in the 1930s, the designs were not based on any specific models and the brand is largely forgotten. But seriously, when’s the last time you saw a Bakelite model sports car with a clockwork motor?

A Look at the Scary Side of Collecting

The macabre, the horror movies, the candy, the decorations, the candy, the costumes…oh, and the candy.  Just a few of the many reasons I look forward to Halloween every year, and why it’s been my favorite holiday since I was a kid donning my Ben Cooper Boba Fett costume.  (You know, those plastic costumes you couldn’t breathe in or see out of, but were worn by children everywhere). As an adult….ok, as a “big kid”…it’s always amazed me to see the variety and cult following of horror-related collectibles and toys.  You can find action figures and statues for virtually every pop culture franchise these days, but you can still find a few classic collectibles from the horror genre.  Here are some of my favorite Halloween-friendly collectible ideas… the Scary Side of Collecting!

1979-kenner-alien

1979 Kenner Alien Large-Size Figure

Its evil brains glow in the dark! When Kenner picked up the license for the 1979 Ridley Scott movie, Alien, they were hoping to be on track with the next big thing after Star Wars.  While the movie was undoubtedly a success, the film’s R-rating and graphic violence resulted in a very quick death for the toy line. While a line of 3 3/4″ figures was planned (and later reproduced by Funko & Super7), the only item to make it to production was this behemoth 18″ figure. Given that these are often found missing the dome, one of the five back spikes, or tail, and often with a broken set of retractable teeth, finding one of these complete and in nice condition can be difficult.  Gentle Giant later reproduced these in larger scale (24″ tall).

 

maxxfx-freddy-krueger

Matchbox MaxxFX Freddy Krueger

Kenner wasn’t the only company to have a toy from the Alien franchise planned, only to later ditch the concept.  In the late 80s, Matchbox was to include the Alien Warrior from the 1986 film, Aliens, in their MaxxFX line. These 9″ action figures were similar to Mego figures in style, and allowed the owner to dress up the character as one of multiple horror characters.  Several prototypes were developed for this line, but ultimately only Freddy Krueger was released.

 

cult-classicsNECA Cult Classics

McFarlane Toys might have set the stage for horror figures coming to the mainstream with their Movie Maniacs line, but in 2005 NECA took it a step farther by introducing their Cult Classics line. Similar in style to the Movie Maniacs, these 7″ tall figures took small-scale collecting to a new level with their incredible sculpts, statuesque posing, and the diversity of the line. While the line featured many horror favorites such as Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, fans were also treated to debuts of figures such as Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, Frank the Bunny from Donnie Darko, and The Jigsaw Killer from Saw.   The line continued for a solid five years and gave us dozens of unique characters from the genre.

 

neca-nbxNECA The Nightmare Before Christmas

What Halloween would be complete without some of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas? In 2004, NECA launched a line of figures from the cult movie, and what is in my opinion one of the best action figure lines of all time (despite the occasional quality issues).  Over the course of five years, nearly every character from the movie saw release in this line, making it not only a fun set to complete, but also making for an amazing display.  (Note: the image shown is only part of the line!)  NECA even produced the Spiral Hill and the Snow Buggy Jack heisted from Christmas Land.  The only downside to this line is that it’s *sooooo* close to being complete, those of us who are completists will feel annoyed about the few missing characters.  (The band, Finklestein’s second creation, the tree with hanging skeletons, and the reaper…I believe these are the only characters not made.)

 

mcfarlane-twisted-christmasMcFarlane Toys Twisted Fantasy

NECA has had many successful 6-7″ action figure lines, but along side them has always been McFarlane Toys, the company that sparked the highly-detailed figure lines in this size.  McFarlane is known for Spawn, various sports series, and their Movie Maniacs, but some of my favorites fall in the “Twisted” categories.  McFarlane has lent their horrifying takes to The Wizard of Oz, Christmas and general Fairy Tales, creating masterpieces in action figure form and inducing nightmares everywhere.  Some of this stuff is not for the faint of heart (like Humpty Dumpty), or oversexualized (like Mrs. Claus), or both (like Red Riding Hood), but these series add an extra degree of macabre to any collection.

 

sideshow-horrorSideshow Collectibles 1:6 Scale & Statues

OK, so maybe the smaller figures aren’t really  your style.   Maybe you’re looking for something a bit larger to be the centerpiece(s) of your frightful collection.  That’s where a company like Sideshow Collectibles comes in.  Sideshow has made a name for themselves making top-notch large scale figures, having started with 1:6 scale action figures and moving into 1:4 and even larger.  Some of their early offerings included 1:6 scale versions of horror icons like Freddy, Leatherface and Jason, which then progressed into their mixed media 1:4 scale line, the Premium Format Figures.  These days, Sideshow is revisiting new versions of their classics with all new and improved sculpts and features.

 

lovecraft-sota-statuesSOTA Toys H.P. Lovecraft Statues

In my humble opinion, H.P. Lovecraft is the undisputed master of terror.  Writing well ahead of his time, Lovecraft let the imagination run wild with indescribably horrific creatures in other-worldly settings, creating horror that to this day remains some of the best of all time.  Many have tried to capture the spirit of the creatures of Lovecraftian lore, but few have been as successful in doing so as SOTA Toys.  In 2010-2011, SOTA released statues of Cthulhu, Dagon, and Nyarlathotep, each measuring over a foot tall, with insanely good detailing and paint.  While these retailed in the $200 range, they generally go for at least twice that now, when and if they become available.

 

funko-horror

Funko Pop Vinyl, Mystery Minis, & ReAction Figures

OK, maybe you love horror, but the blood and guts or a two-foot tall machete-wielding murderer isn’t the best decor for your home.  Or maybe having a large statue of the Master of R’lyeh is enough to give Grandma a heart attack when she visits.  If so, then Funko has some much more tame, adorable options for you.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the last few years, you’ve no doubt seen or heard of Funko’s Pop Vinyl figures. This collection of cute, stylized 3 3/4″ tall figures includes everything from My Little Pony to A Clockwork Orange, including a wide variety of your favorite horror characters. The beautiful thing about these – they’re small, inexpensive (with a $10 price point) and won’t result in the neighbors running from your house screaming.  If the Pop Vinyl isn’t enough, Funko also makes retro style ReAction Figuresblind box mystery figures, and even various forms of plush.

No matter your taste or budget, there’s always something out there for those of us with the horror gene.  Tell us about your favorite horror collectibles in the comments!