Designer Posts

From Super Soakers to Redneck Roadkill: Rob Romash Outside of Mattel

super soaker prototypes

The handmade prototypes for Super Soakers had to look correct and be pretty much fully functioning.

We’ve recently brought you some stories of the designers who helped create many Matchbox vehicles from the early 2000s – Steve Moye, Product Designer; Glenn Hubing, Model Painter; and Rob Romash, Master Modelmaker.
romash super soakers

Romash at work/play in his Super Soaker days.

There’s a lot more to their stories, so here’s a look at Romash’s work before and after his days at Mattel. After his second year at design school, he was likely to be scooping ice cream in White House, New Jersey, when he spotted an ad in the local paper. “They were looking for a model maker to build prototypes of toys,” he said. “I had been building models since I was a kid, and figured I’d give it a shot.” To say it was a life-changing moment is an understatement. 

The job was for a local company called Professional Prototypes in White House New Jersey, whose client was Johnson Research & Development Co. who were introducing their Super Soakers squirt gun line. “We had to translate the drawings to life size models,” he said. But these weren’t just for looks. “These were basically fully-functioning models, complete with hollow tanks, tubes connecting everything… we were creating just about the finished pre-production designs.” Not only were these used as the basis for production, but they sometimes were painted and used in commercials, which had to be shot before the final product was available.

romash super soaker tv commercial

Chances are, if you saw an early commercial for Super Soakers, Romash’s working, painted prototypes were used as stand-ins.

The job went well enough that he postponed going back to school. Permanently, as it turns out. And thus began Romash’s career as a toy designer and prototype modeler. 

In 1996, Romash eventually Tyco to produce prototypes for radio control models. (In fact, one of his former co-workers at the New Jersey ice cream shop was working there… small world!) One of the interesting challenges of designing for slot cars or remote control cars is the pre-set design parameters. “Tyco had one chassis setup, so every single car had to be designed to fit those proportions,”Romash said. 

For an original fantasy creation, it’s not too hard to tweak the proportions. But for an R/C car based on a real production car, there’s a lot to consider. Consider this 1965-66 Mustang fastback R/C car (below). It’s instantly recognizable as such, even though the proportions are squeezed a bit from front to back, and the body is wider than the real car. Not only do the wheelbase and the width need to be honored, but the body needs to fit over the motor (which can be a real problem with convertibles).

RC Mustang

Even though the proportions have been modified, this model could only be a first generation Ford Mustang.

The trick was to get the folks at Ford Motor Company to sign off on the design, even though he had to take some liberties. When Tyco was bought out by Mattel in 1997, the electric train line disappeared quickly, but the slot cars and R/C cars became part of Mattel Racing. (You can read the complete history of his days with Mattel here.)

After Mattel closed the Mt. Laurel shop in 2005, Romash found a gig at Estes Rockets, based in Penrose, Colorado. Having worked with radio control cars, Romash had a good sense of how to create a model that looked great, functioned well, and could withstand some hard play time. He worked mostly on R/C airplanes there, developing unlicensed original designs that still had the aerodynamic chops to fly.

romash prototypes

Not all toys make it past the the prototype stage. For whatever reasons, Tyco did not produce this R/C rollover vehicle or this “Star Wars” landspeeder.

His work there also required him to travel to China to oversee various aspects of final productioin. While the Estes job ended when the company was bought out, the experience with Chinese plants proved to be a useful new asset for Romash. Having grown fond of Colorado, he decided to start his own company, Eclipse Toys, continuing his tenure in the world of R/C cars and planes. But instead of taking orders from an established company and hoping his designs would translate properly to production, he now made his own decisions and brought the prototypes to China himself.

There’s a noble purpose to Eclipse Toys as well. “I’m working with the Acadmey of Model Aeronautics to bring our models into STEM programs at schools,” he said. The idea is to inspire kids to think about areo engineering not just as toys and hobbies, but as a career.

On the other end of the spectrum, he has also designed modle aircraft for magicplanes.com. These are very high end, expensive RC planes for “exectuive playtime.” Besides precision performance, they are also limited edition works of art.

 

redneck roadkill

Romash now has his own company, with Redneck Roadkill R/C models as their latest success.

The latest new product is a series of RC trucks called Redneck Roadkill R/C. “I called my good friend Glenn Hubing and asked him if he would work on this with me,” he said. The Redneck Roadkill trucks have a seriously weatherbeaten, dirty patina, the kind of detail only a master model painter could create. “Seriously, there is nothing else like them on the market right now.”

 When he looks back on his career, he knows his success comes from hard work, natural talent, and great teamwork. But also a little luck. “I pinch myself sometimes,” he said of his good fortune. “ If I didn’t see that ad for that first job at Laramie, who knows how things would have turned out?”

Colorful Subjects: Meet Mattel Model Painter Glenn Hubing

glenn hubing

Glenn Hubing’s favorite toy line was the Tyco Dino Riders series.

Over the past few weeks we’ve brought you the stories of some of the folks who helped bring Matchbox cars to life at Mattel. Steve Moye,  and Rob Romash worked together for several years defining the shapes of those cars.

Now meet Glenn Hubing, who created the colorful designs on those models (and many other toys). Hubing was responsible for designing the livery on the 3” Matchbox cars, creating the graphics and helping to decide the color palettes.

In the order of production, Moye first sketched original concepts for unlicensed car models (and also created the technical drawings for those plus the models based on real cars). Then Romash created a series of hand carved prototypes, starting with a size study (to get the model to fit exisitng wheels and packaging) and then more detailed models from which molds could be made.

After those steps, it was Hubing’s turn to shine. He would decorate the preproduction models as accurately as possible, trying to represent what the final production toy would look like. This wasn’t just your average model kit painting exercise, however.“The painting process for most items included primer, and then auto lacquer. For vinyl parts, such as dolls, cel vinyl paints were used,” he said. “Designers provided PMS (Pantone Matching Sytstem) color chips for accurate product colors. Then we had to custom mix and match with Lacquer.”

The painted models were not just used for the approval process, however. In some cases, they were used for photos on promotional posters or for commercials that had to be produced before the final products were available. So they tended to be pretty close representations of the real thing.

dino riders ice age

The Dino Riders Ice Age series included early mammals too.

dino riders funko pops

Can you tell which is the vintage Dino-Rider and which is the recently customized FunKo Pop?

Hubing mentioned dolls in there, by the way. As it turns out, his tenure with Mattel started before Romash or Moye, and he worked on a lot more than just diecast cars. “I worked for Tyco, then Mattel after they bought the company, from 1987-1993. I was hired as an intern from my school, Hussian School of Art in Philadelphia. I started as a Blocks Designer,” he said. That’s Blocks as in the Lego style bricks made by Tyco at the time. Yes, Hubing got to play with blocks for a living.

For Mattel, he had even more opportunities to work with diverse toys. ”I lucked into a painting position that was needed for Dino-Riders in 1988 to ’90.  I painted all dinosaur samples and designed the final year Ice Age line.” To this day, the Dino-Riders remain his favorite toy series that he ever worked on. “Dino-Riders will always be my favorite. I taught myself how to use an airbrush on a Saturday, and by Monday I was painting a Triceratops for production.”

The painting gig became his full time job at Mattel. He worked on everything from R/C vehicles, slot cars, dolls, games, phones  and of course, Matchbox vehicles.

While Romash is selling off a good chunk of his various stages of preproduction models, you won’t be able to get your hands on a Dino-Riders prototype from Hubing. That’s because he has already parted with most of the physical models. “My only regret is selling all my casting sales samples in the late ’90s. , he said. “I also regret tossing 1 of just 2 samples of the original Brontosaurus accessories sets, and a Muppet Dozer working dump truck found in our storage from the late 80’s. I still have my 2-D color dino studies, though.”

Christmas Vacation funko pops

If you’re lucky enough to be on his “nice” list, Hubing might custoimize some “Christmas Vacation” ornaments or figures for you.

This kind of work must have been fun for Hubing, because after retiring from the business, he still enjoys it as a hobby. “I build custom Hallmark ‘Christmas Vacation’ ornaments for the holidays which sell well online, he said. “I also collect and make Custom Funko Pop figures… ‘Christmas Vacation, again, is always a favorite. Considering how many of his creations ended up under the tree as presents every year, it seems fitting that he would be a fan of the holiday.

Redneck Roadkill

The Redneck Roadkill R/C vehicles from Eclipse Toys are one Hubing’s latest projects.

He recently reunited with Romash to help create a new toy line, Redneck Roadkill R/C cars. “I was recently pulled back into the toy world by my old friend and Mattel alumni Rob Romash, to work on Redneck Roadkill,” he said. “They let me use all my design and painting skills to the fullest.The R/C trucks are weathered like nothing else on the market.” (We’ll bring you the more details of Romash and his recent endeavors soon as well.)

They say if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in life. Hubing, Moye, and Romash are living testaments to that saying.

Penny Pinching, Processes and Practicality: Possible Pitfalls of Diecast Design

Matchbox cityWe recently told you the histories of Matchbox Senior Designer Steve Moye and Master Modelmaker Rob Romash, part of the talented team that created many of the brand’s model vehicles in the early 2000s. As much fun as they had working there, not every project goes through without a hitch. From misinterpretations to budget cuts to secretive licensees, here are some of Moye’s more interesting stories about projects that ran into an extra challenge somewhere on the journey from initial sketch to hanging on the pegs. We’ll leave it mostly in his own words…

Simplifying the Process

Matchbox Dune Buggy

The challenge with this Dune Buggy: use as few parts as possible.

How many parts in a diecast model? As many as it takes, right? In some cases, the company might dictate that a vehicle must be made of a limited number of parts regardless of design… “This 2003 Matchbox Dune Buggy was the result of an internal cost-cutting experiment, trying to see if it was possible to design and produce a marketable rescue-themed three-part vehicle (chassis, body, and interior… existing parts such as wheels and axles don’t count in that number). It was eventually adapted for use as a McDonald’s offering. We also were able to add a promotional Fire Engine and a Police Car for
McDonald’s, based on the three-part concept.””

Fighting for Extra Features

Matchbox garbage truck

A trash truck has to have moving parts, right?

Sometimes it takes extra effort and cost to make a working model, but in the end, the results can be worth the struggle… “This Trash Truck actually works as a pickup/dump vehicle with its own separate trash bin. It was a real internal battle to fight for the additional parts, and win, but the extra cost made this toy possible.

Battling Budget Cuts

Matchbox City Police Car

Some of the finer details of this model were lost in translation.

Sometimes management dictates a change to the processes that have worked for so long, resulting in a new learning curve… “In 2004, Mattel implemented some cost cutting measures by moving part of the design modeling process overseas. Issues surfaced early and often, when sources in Asia tried to translate sketches, orthographic and exploded views into Solidworks files. It took many back & forths in e-mails and telephone discussions for them to even be able to get us something that wasn’t ‘block-ish.’ I don’t dislike the final result, but….I’m also confident that had we involved Rob Romash  in the process, the final ’04 City Police Car -particularly the upper front fenders and other crucial areas– would’ve been much more to my liking.”

Meeting Marketing Demands

Matchbox ladder truck

Freed up from marketing demands, this fire truck turned out much better than previous designs.

Corporate management can sometimes make demands of a design that are hard to work with… “After an attempt at adding more kid-oriented, animated vehicles (a few of which I also designed) to Matchbox’s 3″ 1-75 lineup, some of us were able to convince management into getting our model shop back into the process. The last Matchbox Fire Truck embodied elements which I learned over the previous four years designing 3″ vehicles; plus, I wasn’t encumbered with trying to design vehicles with exaggerated ‘super-heroic’ width proportions.”

Being freed up from those demands led to some great work. “The result was what I consider to be my best non-licensed fire truck, and Rob did his always-superb job of translating my sketches into the final 3-D model and finished product. These models would eventually wind up as Matchbox’s last Mt. Laurel NJ-sourced products before the facility closed.”

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Matchbox City Bus

The sides on the bus go ’round and ’round (unless they ended up being straight).

Some designs aren’t easy to produce with traditional modeling processes, resulting in unexpected compromises… “On this 2005 Matchbox City Bus model, the difference between what I proposed and what Rob carved out, (a bus with rounded sides and front end) and what Mattel wound up producing (flat sides) is huge. This major change was only discovered when the production City Bus hit the store pegs, long after Mattel Mt. Laurel’s closing.””

Copyright Complaints

Matchbox trash truck

An original design, but someone apparently thought it looked familiar.

Sometimes a design issue catches you completely off guard… “This trash truck was an original unlicensed design that shouldn’t have run into any issues. But apparently the rear crush area raised some questions with an original manufacturer of trash trucks. The design was eventually produced, however so they worked it out.”

Uncovering Corporate Secrets

Matchbox C6 Corvette

General Motors was secretive and (accidentally) very helpful with this ‘Vette.

Sometimes a licensed design is the subject of cloak and dagger work. You have the permission of the licensee, but they are only able to help you so much… “The last licensed vehicle I was involved in was Matchbox’s 2005 Corvette C6. The big problem: because of secrecy issues, GM was loathe to submit detailed information to us! Their 3D files were as vague (blobs!) as I’ve ever seen, almost unusable. So, I was forced to gather as many ’05 ‘Vette magazine ‘spy shots’ as I could find, do my best to draw them up, and take them over to Rob Romash to make a plausible 1/64 model. Given what we were and weren’t given, Rob did a fantastic job, in a rush situation, making a C6 model that GM reviewed and easily approved.

Every now and then, luck smiles on the designer in such situations, however… “Towards the end, GM mistakenly sent us a 1/18 scale Hot Wheels prototype of the same ‘Vette! Having that at our disposal allowed us to add an accurate underneath chassis, and to double-check the exterior details which Rob and I discerned. Amazingly, Rob only had to tweak a few minor areas before painting and submitting the final 1/64 scale model.”

 

 

 

From Sketch to Blister Card: How Prototypes Shape a Matchbox Model

Rob Romash

Rob Romash, former Matchbox modeler, has a large collection of preproduction models.

We recently met Rob Romash, who has worked in the design department for several companies including Mattel, and got to talking about the design process. For over 20 years (with various companies), Romash has been part of the team that makes the 3D prototypes of toys. He did just that for most every Matchbox car of the early 2000s.

matchbox prototype police car

Some of the many steps towards the creation of a diecast car.

So we asked him how a diecast car goes from an idea to finished model on the pegs. How a bill becomes a law, so to speak.

It all starts with sketches, of course (as photos if the model is based on literal interpretation of a real car). Steve Moye was the lead designer during Romash’s tenure, and they collaborated on countless models. Once those are refined and agreed upon, the Master Modelmaker (Romash’s official title at Mattel)  figure out how big the vehicle will be.

The exact scale of a model car is up to several factors. Some companies like Wiking, make all their cars to a specific scale, such as their 1/87 models. A more common approach, like Hot Wheels and Matchbox take, is to make all the vehicles similar in overall size. Even though collectors refer to their main offerings as “1/64 scale” very few models from these will actually be exactly 1/64. Many will be larger or smaller. So a VW Beetle might be about as big as a Mack truck. As the model nears a certain size, available wheel options are often the factor that will decide if a model needs to go up or down a bit in scale.

At Matchbox, the process began with a “Butterboard” model carved from soft yellow foam. At this stage, the overall shape is represented minus any detail. In addition to wheel size, the vechicle must also fit existing packaging parameters.

matchbox prototype police car butterboard

This is the “Butterboard” size study, carved from soft foam for the 2001 Matchbox Police Car.

In some cases, the design of a real car must be tweaked proportionally to fit these requirements. “Selective compression” involves removing or reducing portions of a design in such a way that most people won’t notice. Romash’s collection includes a pair of Volkswagen Bulli (a modern VW bus concept) carvings that show an accurately scaled model that was too big, and a slightly compressed one that fit Matchbox paramaters. This scaling has to be done just right so as not to offend the licensing department at Volkswagen.

matchbox prototype vw buiil

The longer version of the VW Bulli concept is more accurate, but the final design had to be compressed lengthwise a bit to fit packaging requirements.

 

matchbox prototype police car detail

Here’s a second “Butterboard” model, more detailed, painted gray, and with detail notes written on it. This is an unusual step, and not a lot of prototypes like this exist.

Traditionally, the first design study would be carved out of wood. When Romash was in the Mattel Mt. Laurel modelshop the preferred material for master patterns was an Acetate that had the properties for very detailed carving and the ability to revise the model without noticing. At times some models were modified on the fly during the sculpt process.  “It comes in giant monoliths like 2001: A Space Odyssey,” ( I had a great impression routine of the waking monkey from  the film when a block came in !) he said. “It’s simple. You just start carving away everything that doesn’t look like a car, and you’re done.”

matchbox prototype police car acetate

This is a pattern made from a mold based on the original carving. This would be cleaned up a bit, and in some cases additional details might be fabricated from other materials and glued on, but it’s essentially a single piece from which all future molds would be made.

For most small models, the prototype was usually carved at double size (so about 1/32 scale) to include more detail. Then a pantograph machine was used to make a smaller version (here’s a neat video that shows a pantagraph in action at Matchbox in the early ’60s. It’s the big machine at the 0:59 mark.) For most models, there may be a double sized buck in existence, but not for any of his.

Romash always did his carvings closer to the final, smaller size, allowing for a tiny bit of shrinkage from carving to first test mold . “If you give me a bunch of photos and a block of material, I can carve just about anything.” Romash also eschewed precise measuring tools, prefering to naturally eyeball the carving instead. His results speak for themselves. “I also created my own custom scribing and sculpting tools from carbide blanks to suit my style of building—a lot of 3M carbide sandpaper also came into play.”

“Moye’s sketches had a look and a feel,” according to Romash.  That’s what I went with, at least for the non-licensed models he designed, which was the larger part of the collection per year.”

You’ll notice the bodies on most of the prototypes are a single piece with solid windows and no consideration given to the chassis yet. Once the test casting is approved, it is sent to the factory overseas. As that point, additional designers will carefully remove the windows from the mold, and create a separate molds for those. Same for things like the grill or other details that will not be included with the main casting. Opening doors, hoods, and tailgates also must be taken into consideration here.

matchbox prototype police car resin

Here’s the first “Test Casting” of the design. Notice how everything including windows is a single piece.

Additional chassis details, as well as logos, trademarks, and other information are added as well. Depending on the brand, scale, and budget, the chassis may have a lot or very little detail In some cases, the engine, tailpipes, and other undercarriage details are kind of generic. As long as they line up where they’re supposed to for the design, it’s good enough. Also, at this time, the bits for attaching the axles to the chassis are figured out.

“Interiors are usually the least detailed part of most cars,” Romash said. “Unless it’s a convertible. I didn’t do a lot of interiors, but when I had the chance, it was fun!”

matchbox prototype taxi

In some cases, a painted prototype might be used for promotional purposes, such as the Taxi on this poster featuring the new releases.

The next step is to create a Silicone mold for samples. Then a “First Shot,” wihch is a resin casting of the pattern model. These usually have some flashing and other imperfections, so they are sorted and smoothed out. At this time, the designer’s color schemes were implemented, and sometimes a prototype of a paint master was done. After the paint is agreed upon then more resin castings are done for sales or Toy fairs and other marketing materials. It may also be hand painted to give an even better idea of the final product. (Glenn Hubing, a good friend of Romash, was one of the painters for thise models. We hope to feature him in an article soon as well!)

matchbox prototype police car final

And here it is, the production version of the 2001 Matchbox Police Car.

Once all of that is worked out, final mold is made, usually with 10 of the same body (a “Ten-up” as it’s called in the industry). and production begins.

It’s all simple, really…

  • Sketch
  • Color rendering
  • 2:1 model (Romash skipped this step, saving weeks per project)
  • 1:1 model
  • Silocone mold
  • Resin test casting
  • Paint study
  • (Then the body is sent to the production facility)
  • Separate components
  • Technical drawings
  • Test mold
  • First white metal shot
  • Refinement
  • New multi-car molds
  • Production

Much of this process has been disappearing over the past few years, however. As 3D printers become more precise, companies are first perfecting designs on screen and then having the printer spit out a more or less perfect replica. While it may be more precise, not to mention cost and time-efficient, a lot of the romance of the design process is lost.

In fact, Hot Wheels debuted the new VW Rockster as a “prototype” of sorts, assembling a limited edition of actual 3-d printed models on cards to sell. (If you produce replicas of a prototype for market, doesn’t that make it a production model?) It’s too early to see if the replica/prototype (Replitype? Reprotoica? Reprototype?) will catch on.

“When I was at Mattel, the model came first always, as the human hand can do things you can’t do on the screen. It’s also why pretty much every major car company today still relies on full size clay models for their final shapes before turning it into 3D data,” he said. “The art of the human hand does come into play.”

matchbox prototype police car

With 3D printing, prototypes like the ones Romash owns (and is offering for sale) are becoming a thing of the past from most companies.

 

—–

You can buy some of these prototypes in Robert’s store

If you want to own the real McCoy, you’re in luck… all the models you’ve seen in the article and dozens more, as well as sketches and technical drawings are for sale on hobbyDB. “I thought it would be great to pass some of these on to collectors who will really appreciate owning a bit of diecast history,” Romash said.

Hot Wheels Blister Cards Influenced Diecast Packaging Forever

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Otto Kuhni, one of the great American artists of the last half century, passed away recently. If his name isn’t familiar, you surely knew his work. He was the artist who created the overall look of the new Hot Wheels brand in 1968 and continued to work for Mattel on and off until just a few years ago. He did the art for the carrying cases, advertisements, lunchboxes, and most importantly, the packages those toys came in. The fiery orange-yellow-red blister cards instantly created an identity for the whole brand, and influenced diecast packaging ever since.

Hot Wheels Otto Kuhni lunchboxPrior to his designs, diecast packaging was generally plain and not terribly interesting (although there were terrific exceptions). Most diecast cars were sold in boxes, such as Corgi, Dinky, and of course, the company whose name comes from those boxes, Matchbox. A few cars were offered in blister cards, however. Here are some early designs as well as later cool blister cards where companies realized that toy cars are fun, and they should be packaged that way too. Much credit has to go to Otto’s ideas.

This Dinky Alfa Romeo really looks pretty amazing on its rather basic package. The layout is simple, and colors are very limited due to printing technology at the time. Even the effort required just to change the name and model number was something of a pain in those days. One odd touch is that the car is mounted so high on the card, something you don’t see today.

Husky, an early attempt at 1/64 models by Corgi, also featured simple, not terribly colorful blister cards. This fire engine is unique in that someone got a little creative and added the silhouette of the cherry picker as if it were rising from the vehicle itself. But most featured identical base art to keep costs low. Another neat thing… if you see this era of Husky card, there is often a hole punched in the circle where the price is located, like on the fire engine. Presumably, that happened when a store wanted to charge a different price.

hot wheels blister cardBut then along came Hot Wheels! Brightly colored, dynamic graphics, a custom cut shape, and even a bonus in the blister in the form of the collectors button. (Note the off-center hole punch, arranged to allow the asymmetrically weighted card to hang level.) Not only were the free wheeling cars revolutionary, but the Hot Wheels blister cards themselves created a stir with consumers – and with other toy companies.

matchbox superfast blister cardCompetitors responded quickly. Matchbox began retooling their cars as the SuperFast series, with similar speedy wheels and wilder designs on their new cars. The packaging moved to blister cards, though the art was not quite as exciting as what Mattel was offering. Hedging their bets, Matchbox still included the traditional box inside the blister as a bonus. In fact, many of their cars were still available right in the box, same as always, as if the company saw this new fangled packaging as a fad. The combination of old versus new wheels, and different packaging options has created a colossal number of variants for collectors.

johnny lightning blister cardJohnny Lightning was a new startup from Topper Toys in 1969. Thematically, they represented the closest competition to Hot Wheels, with cars ranging from crazy fantasy designs to mild customs, all built for speed. The packaging had a chaotic, exciting design to match. Curiously enough, they had to make a design modification early on… the “BEATS THEM ALL” tagline ran into a legal challenge, as it could not be proven that JL cars could indeed do that. It was modified to “BEAT THEM ALL” to imply possibility, not fact.

johnny lightning jet power blister cardA later line of JL cars, the Jet Power series, featured their own bespoke card design, with a very energetic illustration of one of the cars in action. Sadly, these new cars underperformed the promise of the packaging and were a flop. More sadly, Topper ended the entire Johnny Lightning line (and just about everything else) after only three years due to company wide financial difficulties.

corgi rockets blister cardCorgi tried to compete in the high speed 1/64 market with their Rockets series. Note the two hole configuration on the card, requiring double pegs to hang the car from. The folks who stocked the stores couldn’t have been happy about that. Cool graphics, fast cars, but no match for the Hot Wheels marketing behemoth, at least in that scale. Corgi remains a major force in diecast, but wisely decided to focus more on their main market of 1/43 and larger cars.

tomy tomica blister cardTomy (Tomica) had a lot of fun with their packaging as well. Their Pocket Cars series was printed on a card that looked like denim, complete with stitching and buttons. Such designs really stood out from the pack and looked impressive together on the pegs at the stores. Many of their later series like the Series 60 also had playful graphics.

woolworth peelers zee toys pacesettersMinor brands like the Woolworth’s /Woolco Peelers cars saw the benefit of an exciting package, even if the vehicles themselves were a notch below in quality from the big brands. Or consider what Zee Toys was doing with this Pacesetters blister, mounting the car in a position to go along with the lines of the graphics.

It’s hard to say where modern diecast packaging would be today without the influence of Otto Kuhni’s designs for Hot Wheels, but it’s safe to guess playtime would be little less exciting (also read Otto’s Diecast Hall of Fame Obituary). If you have a favorite diecast blister design, let us know about it in the comments!