Hot Wheels Posts

Christmas Presents of Past Become Toy Collection of Present

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of memories of Christmas that have shaped me in ways no one would have ever guessed when I was a little kid. While Santa is to thank for much of that, I should probably also thank my parents who at least took lots of photos along the way. So many fond memories.

Alas, a lot of those toys are only photos and memories, as they went away in the Great Yard Sale of 1974 before we moved from Wisconsin to Tennessee when I was eight. But some of those toys survived in my custody… and I still have a lot of them.

christmas race trackHot Wheels galore – Orange track. Maroon tongue connectors. And those oh so colorful cars. I was only two when these debuted, but had quite a few of the originals by the time I could start remembering those things. The track showed up under the tree a couple years later. I still have an original Rally Case full of my Hot Wheels cars that survived the sandbox well enough to still be recognizable.

Johnny Lightning cars – Speaking of track, one year I got the Cyclone 500 track set. JL made a surprisingly wise calculation on how to add speed to tiny diecast cars. Hot Wheels relied on gravity and motorized boosters, but the folks at Topper put hooks on the bottom of the cars that could be snagged by the drivers and slingshotted around a track and into towering loops with a flick of a lever. Yeah, I had that set. I don’t have it anymore, but a few of the cars are still along for the ride.

christmas tonkaTonka Crater Crawler – Tonka’s large scale construction vehicles are staples of many fond childhood memories. Like a lot of kids, I had several of them. But my favorite vehicle of that scale was a bit less utilitarian… it was the Crater Crawler, a moon buggy molded with gray tires and sparkle blue plastic body panels. Doesn’t sound Tonka tough? I still have it in remarkably good condition despite the fun play heaped upon it.

christmas sspKenner SSP cars – I’ve written about these several times for hobbyDB. I had about six different models of these gyro-wheeled racers, all of which got scraped and bashed on driveways and basement walls. I still have one original, the Sidewinder, from then. About twenty years ago, I worked on completing the collection… right now I have about 85 different models of them. I guess that got out of hand.

christmas tyco trainTyco Spirit of ’76 train set – My father had American Flyer trains since I can remember, and I wanted my own train set for just as long. To celebrate the American Bicentennial, I got this Tyco set with the very patriotic livery that Seaboard Coastline had applied to one of their real locomotives. And yes, I still have every bit of that train, although it hasn’t been set up in decades. Maybe it’s time to fix that.

comic book christmasPeanuts “Speak Softly and Carry a Beagle” – A surprisingly non-transportation related present. When I was a kid, Grandma Ruelle worked for a comics publisher, Gold Key, who did the Disney, WB, Walter Lantz, and Depatie-Freleng comic books. And I relished them, copied them, actually got sort of good at it. So my parents… I mean Santa gave me a copy of the latest “Peanuts” book by Charles Schulz. Mid-1960s to late ’70s Peanuts is about as good as comic strip writing gets. Yeah, I still pull that one out and flip through it every now and then.

christmas legoLego Auto Chassis (Set 853) – Hard to believe the Lego Technic sets have existed since the late 1970s. This was game-changing stuff from Lego, a set with axles, universal joints, pistons, cams, and gears. The car was a huge model of a front-engine, inline 4-cylinder, 4-passenger car. I still have it, but, over the years, the parts got rearranged into this…

christmas lego indy carFive years ago, I brought a few of these toys to an interview for a role on the hobbyDB project. Let’s just say I almost didn’t need a resume after I pulled them out of my 1969 Hot Wheels lunchbox (which was not a Christmas present, so it doesn’t count here).

Those toys were great. Those memories were great. It’s especially great to still have both in some cases.

christmas toysWhat are your favorite toys you got for the holidays as a kid that you still have? Post some vintage pics in the comments if you have them!

Rise of the Return of the Attack of 11 Star Wars Collectibles from 11 Episodes

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

With the final chapter of the Star Wars trilogy of trilogies about to hit theaters, let’s look back at the history of the franchise in terms of Star Wars collectibles. Which character (and related collectible) was the most significant from each movie? It could be the most popular, the rarest, the most controversial, or the most ground-breaking. Also, let’s look at these in the order you’re supposed to now watch them, instead of when they were actually made.

Star Wars collectiblesEpisode I – The Phantom Menace: Let’s just get this out of the way. It’s Jar Jar Binks. It has to be Jar Jar. Fans of the original trilogy (or the middle trilogy depending on how you count) had some trepidation about reviving the franchise for a trio of prequels. And much about Episode 1 was not received well when it hit theaters. History has been a bit more kind to the movie in the 20 years since its release, but poor Jar Jar was hated then and his persona has aged even worse. Some sort of talking Jar Jar figure has to be it. Perhaps one that dances as well?

Episode II – Attack of the Clones: “Boba, I am your father!” Boba Fett rivals several other characters for coolest rogue in the universe (Apologies to Han Solo and Lando Calrissian). This film concerns Jango Fett, Boba’s father. Well, Boba is his clone, so “father” is a loose term. Either way, Someone from the Fett lineage had to make this list, and since they’re genetically identical, it’s Jango time!

Star Wars MerchandiseEpisode III – Revenge of the Sith: Remember that plucky kid who won the pod race in Episode I? No spoilers, but it turns out he becomes the baddest of the bad, Darth Vader himself. If you watch the movies in order, this is the first on-screen appearance of Vader. This movie doesn’t have a lot of strong collectible contenders contemporary with the film’s release, so let’s go more modern with this diorama of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi dueling for the first time.

Episode IV – A New Hope: Over 40 years after its release, this movie has held up impeccably well. The entire cast of characters and the spaceship designs haven’t lost any of their magic over the years. This was also the dawn of the modern collectibles age, and the studio was not at all prepared for the popularity of the movie or the toys and other products it would inspire. One thing they did get right at the time… The Marvel comics adaptation of the saga. When the movie hit theaters, “Star Wars” issue #1 was not far behind. Lessons were learned, memories were made. Issue #1 combines everything great about the movies plus the world of comics. And there are some rare variants, too.

Star Wars ToysEpisode V – The Empire Strikes Back: In the first movie (or fourth?) Princess Leia was kind of a MacGuffin, a damsel in distress in a frumpy gown. But in this installment, she busts out a laser rifle on Hoth, and then gets several chances to be the hero in ways viewers never saw coming. And let’s face it, the scene with Jabba the Hutt and Salacious Crumb is memorable for so many reasons. So, this Funko Pop set with Leia, the giant space slug and his jester works.

Episode VI – Return of the Jedi: By the time the third installment (or sixth by this count) arrived, toy companies and collectors were becoming savvy on how to deal with collectibles. Tons of action figures were sold, and many of those were preserved in their packaging, so many of them are not all that rare. On the other hand, a pre-production glitch created one unintended collector’s item. Early versions of the movie poster referred to the film as Revenge of the Jedi, but for various reasons, Lucas decided to change the title to Return. So original posters with the early title are worth a lot more than the official version. (Just make sure it’s not a reprint!)

Star Wars collectiblesEpisode VII – The Force Awakens: A lot of folks saw this film as something of a reboot/remake of the first Star Wars movie (or the fourth… you get the idea.) Our hero Finn impersonating a Stormtrooper, Kylo Ren wearing a black mask and cape (nowhere near as menacing as Darth Vader ever was, though), and Rey… okay, not a damsel in distress, but a fierce fighter right from the get-go. But the movie, from a collectible standpoint, belongs to BB-8, especially the remote control version!

Episode VIII – The Last Jedi: No spoilers here, but it’s neat to see Luke Skywalker again, especially with Han Solo and Leia in short supply. Let’s just say Rey really owns this movie. So any figure where she’s wielding a lightsaber fits the bill here. (Not that she’s the Last Jedi referred to in the title or anything. No spoilers, remember?)

Episode IX – Rise of Skywalker: Baby Yoda isn’t in this movie, is he? Since it doesn’t come out until this weekend, we can’t be sure. So far, the available collectibles haven’t revealed any apparent spoilers. Regardless, it really feels like nothing in this movie can’t possibly top Baby Yoda.

Bonus episodes:

Rogue One – A Star Wars Story: This is a strange entry into the Star Wars Canon… it’s a prequel to Episode 4, but not part of the three other prequels. So there are a lot of characters who were never heard from before or after. So let’s give this to K-2SO by default.

Star Wars toys

Solo – A Star Wars Story: Not a character, but it’s gotta be young Han Solo’s Speeder, right? Sure the Millennium Falcon is the coolest spaceship of all time, but what piece of junk did Solo pilot before that piece of junk? Also, the rocket engines in the back look like the taillights of a 1960s Ford Falcon. That’s the kind of loving detail that makes the Star Wars saga so great.

If you have other suggestions for the most significant collectible from any of these movies, please let us know in the comments!

What are We Thankful For at hobbyDB? A Lot, Thank You!

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

As we spend our long weekend preparing the turkey (or the tofurkey) while enjoying football and avoiding politics (or avoiding football and enjoying politics), this is the perfect time to reflect on the things that make life great. Here at hobbyDB, we have much to be thankful for.

Geek Culture. (And Nerd Culture, Fanboy Culture, Collector Culture…) It’s what drives the collectibles world. But the best part is when we talk about the things we go crazy for, we don’t judge each other. What’s the real difference between someone who collects vinyl art figures of obscure cereal spokes characters or someone who tries to snag one of every vintage Hot Wheels Redline button ever made? They’re the same person, really (Okay, that person is me. I do both. Along with license plates, lunchboxes, Star Wars action figures…).

thanksgiving collectiblesThe companies that keep making all those wonderful toys and collectibles. Some of us collect toys from old, defunct brands, which results in a finite set of items and variants to find on the road to “completion.” Reaching that final destination can be bittersweet. So thanks to companies like Mattel, Kidrobot, Funko, Hard Rock Cafe, and thousands more who ensure that our hobby of collecting never really has an expiration date.

Architect Charles Haertling. He was the Frank Lloyd Wright of the Denver area, known mostly for his wild mid-20th-Century commercial buildings and churches as well as some very unconventional house designs. In 1969, he created a strange, curved, multi-level, rounded building for an eye surgery clinic in Boulder. That building is now known as Tatooine, the home of hobbyDB’s global headquarters (and other fine companies as well). The walls are loud primary colors, very few of them are parallel or perpendicular, and it’s the perfect space to feel creative and playful at work.

Al Gore (or whoever invented the internet). At least, he sort of claimed he did on the campaign trail in 2000 (but let’s avoid politics, right?). Regardless of who deserves credit for our online world, hobbyDB couldn’t exist the way it does without it. Heck, we even have a European office and a South American office, and the camaraderie with those friends thousands of miles away is the same as it is with the person sitting at the next desk.

thanksgiving collectiblesthanksgiving freddieThe hobbyDB family. That includes you, our Users, our Curators… In addition to the fine folks who work here, none of this is possible without those of you who log in daily and make hobbyDB even better. From the Users who add to our database, to the Curators who expertly ensure our data is correct and complete, to our Advisory Council who shine their experience like a guiding light, you have helped build an amazing resource for collectors. And of course, our Marketplace has become a great place for Buyers and Sellers to come together. So, thank you all!

The holidays themselves. As much as we enjoy coming into the office at hobbyDB, there’s something to be said for the occasional long weekend. We love to celebrate various holidays around the calendar, and what better way than to look at some of the holiday-related collectibles out there?

As for my family, it’s turkey meatloaf, football all day, no politics allowed, and lots and lots of slots! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Interested in becoming an even bigger part of the hobbyDB family?  Learn more at our Wefunder profile. We thank you!

Every Collector Benefits as hobbyDB Database Expands into New Territory

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

A couple weeks ago, we told you about hobbyDB’s endeavor to add every collectible shot glass from Hard Rock Cafe to the hobbyDB database. In their typical fashion, Hard Rock has created thousands of different designs, including each location, year, and event when possible. Combined with their pins and other collectibles, the hobbyDB database has surpassed 80,000 different Hard Rock collectibles.

hobbydb expansionMany long-time users discovered hobbyDB when diecast vehicles were far and away our biggest subject, and Hot Wheels dominated those listings. In fact, a quick check of our database shows close to 50,000 items when “Hot Wheels” is punched into the search bar which is a lot!

But we’ve come a long way in the last five years. Now with more than 500,000 items and subjects in the database, we’re working to add all sorts of different collectibles. Here’s a quick look at how we got here.

hobbydb sloganFirst, a reminder of hobbyDB’s mission… our slogan, found at the bottom of the main page is “Over 100 Billion Collectibles… Eventually.” And that includes every kind of documentable collectible under the sun. The very first items in the database years ago were from a collection of James Bond Corgi cars. Sprinkled in with those were some View Master reels, corkscrews, and chess sets.

We then moved to diecast cars, particularly Hot Wheels, and quickly became an authoritative source for information on those. Why? Because hobbyDB grew from a diecast website, and our founders have always had a keen interest in diecast, and that brand had the best and most complete data available at the time.  We integrated data from Diecastlovers, Gary’s Cars, Model Pack Rat and South Texas Diecast.

hobbyDB has and will always be a user-driven site. We count on collectors to see where there are holes and add their own items to fill in the blanks. And we have a data team that does the same thing, keeping track of the current offerings as they come out.

dysentery pac man x box commodore 16After working to build out our giant Hot Wheels database, it was time to add video games! So, we partnered with the owner of Hugada (the HUgh GAme DAtabase), to import the result of his long years of adding video games that included fan favorites such as Assassin’s Creed, Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda.

Another way we expand is by partnering with companies who see the value in having their entire inventory documented not just on their own site, but alongside other seemingly unrelated topics. Kidrobot, conveniently located in Colorado, also home of hobbyDB Headquarters, was one of our first big partners. Their online archives were incomplete and randomly documented enough that some of their history was in danger of being lost over time. So they partnered with us to form one of our first Official Archives. These archives (and there are a lot of them now) are the result of a collectible company providing the data to us so we can provide that data an organized home.

We’ve also partnered with Funko to add not only their complete archive, but up to date pricing information on their vinyl art toys, old and new to their App.

The benefits of Official Archives are many… the data is accurate and complete because it comes directly from the horse’s mouth. And it’s going to stay up-to-date, as the companies can easily provide listings of new and upcoming products as they are announced. And one of the best parts is any entry can be cross-referenced with other collectibles in the database.

July 4 hard rock cafe

The Hard Rock Cafe items came about another way, though. In this case, we found a community of dedicated collectors of their pins (Pin Masters) who were looking for a new home. So they decided to locate it all on hobbyDB in a standard format with easy search functions and cross-referencing. The result is over 80,000 pins and other collectibles.

Over the past year, we’ve worked hard to add more pop culture brands as well. These include Dark Horse Deluxe, Diamond Select Toys, Garbage Pail Kids (in cooperation with Geepeekay.com), Hot Toys, Eaglemoss, Kotobukiya, Mego, NECA and more!

We are now adding model boats, Lego minifigs, film posters and much, much more! If you have some collectibles that you’d like to add to the database, join us! Find out more about how to become a Contributor here.

 

Interested in joining forces with hobbyDB to take charge of our collectible destiny? Learn more at our Wefunder profile.

8 Real-Life Customs That Became Hot Wheels Vehicles

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

If you had a chance to see the Hot Wheels Legends Tour this summer, it was an amazing gathering of customs, hot rods, stock cars, whatever’s cool in car culture. Each stop on the tour featured lots of local cars, but there were also several amazing customs that made it to every location.

In addition to being a good-time festival, it was also a competition among some very serious customizers. The grand prize included the winning car being miniaturized by Mattel and turned into an actual 1/64 scale Hot Wheels diecast car.

hot wheels legends the nashFor 2019, the winner is The Nash, a slightly modified Nash Metropolitan by Greg Salzillo and Dave Ford. By slightly modified, we mean the original 40 hp engine was replaced with a Small Block Chevy 305, cranking out 300 horses. It also has unique headers coming out of the fenders, dice shaped coves on the velocity stacks, old school stock steel wheels, and original bias-ply tires that stick way outside the fenders.

This isn’t the first time Hot Wheels has commemorated brilliant real-life customs like this, of course. Here are some others.

hot wheels beatnikEd Roth’s Beatnik Bandit – Most collectors know that some of the early fantasy designs for Hot Wheels were based on actual custom show cars. One of the very first and most famous was the Beatnik Bandit by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Some of his other designs would be miniaturized later, but the Bandit is the pioneer.

hot wheels paddy wagonTom Daniel’s Paddy Wagon – Another legendary customizer/hot rodder of the 1950s and ’60s, Daniel created many wicked hot rods that were turned into model kits. And some of them would also make it to 1/64, such as the Paddy Wagon, one of the “just outside the Original 16” offerings.

hot wheels fleetsideHarry Bradley’s Custom Fleetside – Many of the customs have been turned into Hot Wheels cars over the years, belonged to Mattel employees. One of the Original 16 cars, the Custom Fleetside was based on a custom El Camino owned by designer Harry Bradley. In fact, this car inspired the mild custom look that was shared by many of the Original 16 and beyond.hot wheels larry woodLarry Wood’s Ford COE Truck – Wood joined Hot Wheels one year after their debut, but he may as well have been there from the start. Among the hundreds of designs he has contributed, his actual custom ’38 Ford Cab Over Engine Truck has been replicated in 1/64 for the Hot Wheels premium line.

hot wheels vetuskeyBrandon Vetuskey’s Custom Firebird – More recently, Brandon Vetuskey has been one of the lead designers at Hot Wheels, turning out all sorts of new classics. His real custom ’67 Pontiac Firebird became 1/64 legend a couple years ago.

hot wheels zarnockMike Zarnock’s Altered Roadster – Zarnock is not a Hot Wheels employee, but he may as well be. He is one of the prominent historians of the brand and also a part-time drag racer. Mattel decided his pedigree and design skills should be honored with a 1/64 model of his red dragster.hot wheels 2jetz Luis Rodriguez’s 2JetZ – This is the second year of the Legends Tour competition. For 2018, a completely different kind of car was the winner. Luis Rodriguez’s 2JetZ custom car, a completely scratch-built jet fighter/salt flat racer-inspired ride, was the winner. That car should be on the pegs any day now as well.

The exact release date of The Nash has yet to be determined. “We’re extremely overwhelmed, proud and excited over what Dave and I created with The Nash,” says Salzillo. “I can’t wait to see my kids’ faces when they see their dad’s car turned into a real Hot Wheels toy.” Best of all, these cars will be part of the mainline collection, so they will be affordable and available to most collectors.

Expect to see The Nash in stores sometime as part of the 2020 series.

 

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