Events Posts

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?

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 4.37.17 PM

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.

Join hobbyDB at the Dana Cain Toy & Doll Supershow

Dana Cain Toy & Doll Supershow

About the only thing we like more than collecting things at hobbyDB is meeting other collectors. We’ll have a table at the Dana Cain Toy & Doll Supershow in Northglenn, Colorado, Sunday, April 24.

The event will feature dealers and collectors of everything ranging from action figures to model cars to tinplate toys to board games, to… well, you get the idea.

We’ll be demonstrating how to use our collectibles database, including adding or editing entries, searching for items, and buying and selling on hobbyDB. You can also sign up on the spot to become a hobbyDB User. And if you want to get even more involved in hobbyDB by keeping our database free of errors and missing information, you can learn to be a curator, too.

Time Warp Comics of Boulder will also have a booth at the Toy & Doll Supershow. We’ll be joining them for Free Comic Book Day on May 7, 2016… Details to come soon!

Dana Cain Toy & Doll Supershow

Ramada Plaza Convention Center
I-25 & 120th in Northglenn
11 am – 3 pm

Admission is $5, kids under 12 are free.
Early birds can get first dibs at 10 am for $10.

For more details and other upcoming events, visit the Dana Cain Events page!

Dana Cain Toy & Doll Supershow

Technomodel Brings Back Disco at the 2016 Nuremberg Toy Fair!

We just keep finding more and more interesting upcoming models at the 2016 Nuremberg Toy Fair. If you missed our earlier posts, you can read them here, here, here, and here.

First, from Tecnomodel, we have the resin first shot and the pre-production versions of the Disco Volante concept car from Alfa Romeo. (In case you didn’t know, “Disco Volante” means “flying saucer”). These are 1:43 offerings.

Technomodel mythos superleggara Alfa Romeo Disco Volante

Technomodel mythos superleggara Alfa Romeo Disco Volante




Also from Tecnomodel, this 1:18 McLaren GTR race car. Since you will never own a real one, you should buy this model when it comes out.

Technomodel mythos mclaren p1 GTR


Speaking of things you can never own, here is a giant, life size, 1:1 scale Lightning McQueen model. No word on if it has a working drivetrain (probably not) or if it is sentient and can talk (also unlikely). Pixar’s “Cars 3” is scheduled to hit theaters June of 2016, so expect many more models in more collectible scales.

life size full scale lightning mcqueen


Schuco is expanding the US-flavored models in their Piccolo range of 1/87 scale cars with one of the most ‘Murican rides of all… the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazard.

Schuco general lee



Racing Champions will be offering these highly detailed models, including a Plymouth Road Runner, 1960 Chevy Impala, Pontiac GTO, Buick Roadmaster, and 1955 Chevy Nomad.

Racing champions buick chevy nomad



Johnny Lightning’s Back in Town

Johnny Lightning is coming back Under the Playing Mantis brand! Here are a cool new cars we snapped at Nuremberg…

Johnny Lightning

1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 and a 1971 GTO

Johnny Lightning 1970 AMC Matador Rebel Machine

1970 AMC Matador Rebel Machine

Johnny Lightning 1963 Nova

For those who prefer things zingier, a 1963 Nova.

Johnny Lightning 1958 Plymouth BelvedereAnd a 1958 Plymouth Belvedere