Events Posts

Join the Hot Wheels Fireside Chat with Bob Rosas and Larry Wood

If you’re going to the Hot Wheels Collectors Convention in Los Angeles in October, make sure to set aside time for a special event with long-time designers Bob Rosas and Larry Wood.

Bob Rosas Larry Wood

Bob Rosas, Eric Tscherne, Redline collector Dave Lopez and Larry Wood discuss a few Hot Wheels cars on display. Photo by the late Roy Nakamura

Bob Rosas Larry Wood

Wood (left) and Rosas work on the design for the Firebird Funny Car.

hobbyDB will host a “ Hot Wheels Fireside Chat ” with both men. Friday, October 6 at 4pm. We will be onstage interviewing Rosas and Wood, featuring questions from Hot Wheels fans around the world. If you’d like to suggest a question for either or both of them, please post it in the comments below (include your name and where you’re from, please).

Even if you’re not planning to attend the convention (tickets are sold out), you can participate by submitting questions. We’ll be featuring the interview on YouTube shortly afterwards.

There is no additional fee to attend the chat, but seats will be limited and on a first come basis. The event is scheduled to last around 90 minutes and should feature discussions of about 20 questions. The exact room location will to be announced soon.

Hot Wheels Bob Rosas

Rosas designed Hot Wheels cars from 1969 to 1988. He worked on developing many series including Mean Machines Motorcycles,  Steering Rigs, Ultra Hots, and Real Riders. One of his big contributions to the diecast hobby was working on improving the tampo process in the 1970s. The intricately designed graphics you see on model cars today wouldn’t be possible without his efforts.

Hot Wheels Larry Wood

Wood also joined Hot Wheels in 1970, and is still with the company as a consultant. His first design was the Tri-Baby in 1970. He also created the ’49 Merc, the Boyd Coddington collector set, the Ramblin’ Wrecker (which originally featured his phone number on its sides) as well as several school bus designs. Rosas and Wood are both members of the Diecast Hall of Fame.

The first part is now published, we will link to all five parts as they get published

  1. History

Customizers Corner: Karl-Martin Karle Sanger of KrautCustom

Karl-Martin Karle Sanger Krautcustom

Karl-Martin Karle Sanger Krautcustom

Most diecast customizers started collecting model cars early in life, and Karl-Martin Karle Sänger is no different. Well, his story is a bit different, as he grew up in Dresden, East Germany, so it wasn’t as easy for him to get his hands on such things. “I often received as a child Matchbox and Hot Wheels from West Germany. But I’ve really only been a Hot Wheels ‘collector’ since 2003.” he said.

With the falling of the Berlin Wall, toy cars were easier to find, but he still mostly admired them from afar. “When I went shopping, I always looked at the Hot Wheels cars and was delighted with the cool designs,” he said. I’ve never bought them. But in  autumn 2003, my wife bought me the first Hot Wheels for my collection. It was the Steel Flame, No. 014, which I still own and hold in honor.”

Despite having “several thousand” Hot Wheels cars now, he limits himself to being a completist on only a few castings. One of them is the Dairy Delivery, a popular choice among customizers. You can probably see where this is going, right? “I started to collect Custom models and so had my first indirect contact with Bryan Pope, Chris Walker, The Boxman, Al Gonzales, and many others,” he said.

So he got the urge to try it himself, calling his company KMS Krautcustom. And of course, the Dairy Delivery served as the basis for some his earliest custom work. 

Karl-Martin Karle Sanger of KrautCustom

Lorrie Davis and Karl-Martin Karle Sanger

KrautCustom Datsun BluebirdHe created his first real custom model for Lorrie Davis, a collector from West Chester, Ohio, sparking a lasting friendship. “We met for the first time on the SuperToyCon 2015 in Las Vegas. In my first ever event, I won a 1st and 2nd place in the amateur field. Nevertheless, my sales were very poor.” So Lorrie has become his manager and agent, and sales have picked up. He won another first and second at the Hot Wheels Nationals in Indianapolis in 2016, and this time buyers noticed his models for sale. His custom Datsun Bluebird Wagon was a popular model at Indy. 

“I’m particularly proud of my VW Drag Bus “Star Wars Boba Fett” series.” At first glance, his Boba Fett models might look familiar. After all, Hot Wheels did produce a Boba Fett car resembling the “Star Wars” bounty hunter… but it wasn’t based on the Drag Bus or the Kool Kombi like his are. For these models, Karl-Martin cuts the front of the bus to look like the Boba’s helmet. Designs range from impeccably new to severely battered. The result is unmistakeable.

Boba Fett Hot Wheels

Although a lot of his models look beaten and weathered, he can also create crisp, pristine looking modes. as well. Many KrautCustom models feature hand-painted designs that are almost too perfect to believe. for example, the flowers on this Drag Bus are all done that way.

KrautCustom Hot Wheels Drag Bus

Meanwhile, he has produced several very limited runs of custom models, anywhere from a single unique build 5o maybe 5 or so copies. He plans to be at the 2016 Super Toy Con, but no longer as an amateur. “I am very proud to be a Pro Customizer within 3 years,” he said.

Custom Dairy Delivery zombie

Now We’re Archiving Hot Wheels Conventions on hobbyDB


Several companies and individuals have teamed up with hobbyDB to create official online archives of their products. In a single search, you can find every model car or vinyl art toy from a particular source, and a history as complete and accurate as possible because it comes straight from the horse’s mouth.

This week we’re launching a different kind of archive. Mark and Jennifer Millhollin of Collectors Events Unlimited have joined forces with hobbyDB to archive all convention cars, convention hats and other merchandise issued as part of the Hot Wheels Conventions. This would even include RAOK cars (these Random Act of Kindness cars are given out by convention visitors to others and are very much part of the spirit of these events). As the organizers of these events, their historical perspective is priceless for collectors. There are actually two pages of archives. One is for Hot Wheels Annual Collectors Conventions that are held every year in California and the other is for Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals that are held in a different city every year, in the Mid-West, the South, on the East Coast etc.


Mike Strauss started the Hot Wheels Conventions in 1986,” explained Jennifer. “He thought it would be fun for collectors to get together. We came along in 2000 to help out, worked alongside Mike, and eventually, took over the day to day of running the conventions.” So they definitely have the inside scoop.

While you might suspect a lot of work goes into organizing one of these events, you probably have no idea how long it takes. “We schedule one and a half to two years out for hotels, “she said. “ Then, choose, design and order cars one year out…  Lots of patience, flexibility, and time…, and we could not do it without all of our fantastic volunteers!”


A%2771_Datsun_Bluebird_510_Wagon_Model_Cars_ea81aa52-647d-4c16-8f2f-2ad22c26a278bout those special cars… One of the highlights of these conventions is picking up the special collectibles exclusive to the event. The super limited edition cars have gone from simple tampos on the roof to complete liveries with alternate and chase versions and custom packaging. And don’t forget pins, hats, and other items that are available at these gatherings. All of these things will be archived on hobbyDB as well.

These shows are about more than just collecting toys cars, however. “One of our long time attendees lost his collection to a fire.” Jennifer said. “Some great friends let everyone know, so they rounded up Hot Wheels from any and everyone and set up with us to present them to him at the Nationals…  He was super surprised to see how many people came out and supported him.”

Hot Wheels Convention

This partnership will be a boon to all Hot Wheels collectors. ”hobbyDB works tirelessly to support the collecting community and promote established and new events,” said Jennifer. “Rob and the other team members have a deep understanding of what it means to be a Hot Wheels collector. They put the community first when developing the database. We love seeing them at our events and are so excited to have our official Hot Wheels event archive on hobbyDB!”


When they’re not organizing events Mark’s career has him building motors for drag racers, which he has done in his own shop for over 25 years. Jennifer is in the toy business with her own shop. Both interests dovetail nicely into the Hot Wheels collecting business.  “The people, camaraderie, our passion for little toy cars!” she said. “It’s all so exciting!”


If you have not gone yet, try it!


To find out more info or to book a ticket for the 30th Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Convention, October 5-9th in Los Angeles go here (but hurry, they usually sell out well in advance of the event!).

Diecast Car Toy Shows and Conventions – a Continental Divide?

Rob with just a small portion of his collection.

Rob Graves is a Hot Wheels collector and was the creator and for 16 years the only operator of the South Texas Diecast database.  He is now the Head of Data for the hobbyDB project.

When I met my European hobbyDB colleagues Andrew and Christian, I was surprised to find that on “the other side of the pond,” even the biggest diecast events last just a few hours! Events like Sandown Park in England, Houten in Holland or Aachen in Germany are one-day-events and the longest last for about eight hours.  You can find some amazing stuff but there is no other program!

Sandown Park Toy Fair draws up to 5,000 collectors - for a few hours each

Sandown Park Toy Fair draws up to 5,000 collectors – for a few hours each


The NAMAC event in The Netherlands attachts even more - up to 12,000 collectors

The NAMAC event in The Netherlands attracts even more – up to 12,000 collectors

It’s a little different in the US. Imagine if you will, a Hot Wheels car show that lasts for 4-7 days. Hundreds of attendees are there, some of whom have traveled from all over the country – some even from overseas. They include everyone from seasoned collectors to new enthusiasts. There are competitions for individuals who customize diecast cars, a huge charity auction, charity bingo and poker games, a dinner honoring a special well-known guest, autograph sessions with Mattel designers, multi-lane downhill and battery powered oval car track racing, a question and answer open forum with Mattel. Oh, and in the evenings, everyone who has models to sell puts up a sign outside their hotel room and everyone goes from room-to-room, buying, selling and trading everything from Original Redlines to the latest Treasure Hunts.

Customzier Competitions

Customizer Competitions, …


Hot Wheels Racing

Hot Wheels Racing, …



Board games, …


Dinners and interesting talks

Talks over plush dinner (here with Larry Wood) and much more!

No you haven’t entered the Twilight Zone, this is a real event that occurs twice a year. Currently the fall event occurs in California and the spring event can be found in different towns across the Midwest or East coast each year. The first Hot Wheels convention was held in Toledo, Ohio in 1987. It was produced by Mike Strauss of Hot Wheels Newsletter and Tomart’s Hot Wheels Guide fame. This was a single, annual event, until 2001 when the 2nd show, the Hot Wheels Nationals, was added.

Both of these Hot Wheels conventions are now produced by Jennifer and Mark Millhollin from Collectors Events Unlimited under license from Mattel. This year, the fall convention is the 30th Annual convention and will be held in Los Angeles.

Some of the most notable conventions include those held in 1998 and 2003. The 1998 Convention coincided with Hot Wheels’ 30th Anniversary and was the first convention for which Mattel officially produced event cars. This was also the event where ZAMAC (unpainted) cars were first offered. There were 25 carded models (only 500 each produced), a baggie release, and a 4 car set.

At the 2003 Convention, Mattel was celebrating Hot Wheels’ 35th Anniversary. In addition to producing the event cars for both conventions, they also provided all the event baggie cars (which are normally Code 3 versions). The Nationals convention in Cincinnati featured nine different colors of the Midnight Otto casting and the fall convention in Irvine featured nine different colors of the ’32 Ford casting.

In the past there have been smaller conventions, including the Wild Weekend of Hot Wheels (hosted by Randy Price of Randy’s Wooster Street Pizza), Summer Smash, and DiecastSpace. The DiecastSpace convention is now part of the Super Toy Con which is held in Las Vegas in the month of August. And other brands are now doing their own events.  Jim Gallegos has been organizing the  Matchbox Gathering since 2003 and Andy Goodman, CJ Cramer and Sean Taylor from M2 Machines are now organizing an annual M2 Experience,

The US-style Hot Wheels conventions have now even spread to other countries, including Brazil, Mexico, and Australia. The Brazil Hot Wheels show started in 2008 and now encompasses all major diecast model car brands. It is produced by Marcos Torresi at Expo Diecast. The Mexico Collectors Exhibition also started in 2008 and will be hosting their 9th Annual event on 11th,12th, & 13th of November this year. The Australia Diecast Models Expo was started in 2011 and also includes all the major diecast model car brands.

And on the other bonuses these conventions have is that there are always special convention cars!

Libery Promotions' Flamethrower VW Drag Bus for the last Brazil Convention

Flamethrower VW Drag Bus by Liberty Promotions for the last Brazil Convention

In fairness to the Europeans they have an annual 3 day Matchbox event (link to come); the NAMAC event is organized by the largest toy car club in the world (NAMAC also published a great diecast magazine) and the Danhausen event is organized by Minichamps and you can combine it with visiting their fantastic inhouse museum!

As they continue to thrive, conventions become ever better places to meet, socialize and talk diecast – and a truly unique experience for anyone attending!

If you want to go here are the next ones coming up

Where else can you discuss planned models with folks like Hot Wheel designer Brendon Vetuskey?

Where else can you discuss planned models with folks like Hot Wheel designer Brendon Vetuskey?

Make sure you add going to each of these events to your bucket list!

Star Wars: A Chronological Conundrum

By cpowell2112

In honor of “Star Wars” Day (May the Fourth be with you…), we look at a way to maximize your enjoyment of the most popular film series of all time.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 4.27.04 PM

When the first “Star Wars” movie came out in 1977, it was a worldwide phenomenon. At the time, it was the highest grossing film ever, earning $775 million worldwide. It was’t until “The Empire Strikes Back” was released in 1980 that we found out the secret of “Star Wars”… It was actually the fourth installment of the series.

That fact isn’t a secret anymore, what with the prequel trilogy disappointing us through the early 2000’s and the sequel trilogy bringing us “new hope” for the Star Wars series. But the big question is why didn’t George Lucas give us the Star Wars saga in the correct order? I’m sure there are many answers, even a few given by Lucas himself, but I personally believe the explanation is quite simple: The prequels are boring.

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I know what you must be thinking, “Uh-oh, here we go again. Another angry fanboy complaining about the prequel trilogy”. Well, before you start getting a bad feeling about this, let me assure you that all the bellyaching in this article is done. Instead of trying to explain how the 2000’s Star Wars movies could have been made better, let’s focus on making the movies better in a different way.

How you watch a series of movies can greatly impact the meaning and message of the story. Most movies are pretty straight forward, with a sequential release pattern and short delays between each sequel. Look at the Harry Potter series for example. If you sit down to marathon those films, you obviously start with The Sorcerer’s Stone, and move on in order from there. But what if i ask which “Star Wars” film to watch first? Do you go with episode 1, or episode 4? And where do you go from there?

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This dilemma is a two pronged problem; chronological and technological. In all technically, the “correct way” to watch “Star Wars” is to start at 1, and go forward. I’ve personally found that method a little distracting due to the sudden drop in special effects ability from “Revenge of the Sith” to “A New Hope.” The practical effects in the original trilogy were groundbreaking at the time they were released, but technology moves far too fast for something that innovative to be the best for long, and the prequel trilogy came out almost 30 years later. The CGI in the newer trilogy was yet again a breakthrough for it’s time, leaving the beauty and simplicity of the original trilogy in the dust, and when you come from the latter to the former, it feels as if you’re stepping back in time rather than following a sequential story. So how does one combat that? Simple, you would think, watch the movies how they were released.

Many diehard “Star Wars” fans would agree that 4-5-6-1-2-3 is the order to watch these films, and I used to be one of them. The effects loose the distracting quality, and you save the worst movies for last, but the story was not meant to be told that way. While I hate to admit it, the prequel trilogy has very important information to help understand the original trilogy, such as Anakin’s fall to the dark side and the destruction of the Galactic Republic to make way for the evil Empire. So why wait to get the full story to the end?

My very good friend introduced me to a new way of watching these films, and I personally find it to make the most sense. Start by watching episode 4 and 5, they came out first and are arguably the best Star Wars films. Also, they do the best job of creating a universe and story that we can easily get lost in, not to mention the HUGE cliffhanger at the end of episode 5. After you have found out about the Star Wars galaxy, and learned of the Force and the true identity of Darth Vader, that is when you go back to find out what happened to the Jedi, the Republic, and why Anakin Skywalker was seduced by the Dark Side of the force. Watching “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” will do just that, and make you even more excited to see the final resolution of the Darth Vader story in Return of the Jedi.

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Hold on, what about “The Phantom Menace?” We are talking about watching the whole Star Wars Saga, so why aren’t we watching the very first episode? The answer is simple, if unpopular; Episode 1 is not important to the story. The only things that “Phantom Menace” shows us that are not in the other movies are that podraces are cool and Darth Maul deserved more screen time. Even the absolute loathing for Jar Jar Binks that episode 1 delivers is taken care of in episode 2, when he single handedly gave Palpatine the ability to create the Empire. I mean, let’s be honest, if “Phantom Menace” had been released as the first Star Wars movie instead of “A New Hope,” “Star Wars” could have been one of the biggest box office flops of all time.

Now, I’m not saying this order is the right way to watch these movies. I won’t even say it’s the best way to watch these movies, but it is the way I enjoy most. I have found that this order (4-5-2-3-6-7) not only enhances the story by giving you backstory and closure right when you need it, ending with “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” Also, you skip over a whole bunch of extraneous information and it’s hard to follow political debate that permeates episode 1. Give this order a shot, and I’m sure you’ll see why I love it so much. Happy viewing, and may the force be with you.