Official Archive Posts

Elva is Newest/Oldest Official Archive on hobbyDB

elva gt160 modelsElva, a British Sports and Racing Car manufacturer, is the latest Official Archive to appear on hobbyDB.  This Archive is a little different, though, as the company’s last car was produced almost fifty years ago. But the Elva name lives on under the tutelage of Roger Dunbar (a.k.a.. ElvaRacingRoger), who is currently reviving the name for a new production car. He also happens to be the Curator of the brand on hobbyDB.

If you’re not familiar with Elva, that’s understandable. And unfortunate, as Elva made a series of relatively inexpensive race cars as well as production models of small, fast, sports cars. The name comes from Elle Va, French for “she goes.” Their early sports racing cars were seen on circuits on both sides of the pond, used for hill climbs and budget-minded racing series such as Formula Junior. Faster is usually better, so Elva race cars were found mingling with Lotus, Cooper and all the other serious manufacturers of the period.  The cars were continually upgraded and used a number of power units including Coventry Climax, Ford, Cosworth, DKW, Porsche, BMW, the V8 grunt from Buick and Chevrolet to make lightweight race winning cars. The cars are still raced around the world, often still bringing home trophies.

elva service truck

Roger Dunbar drives the Elva Service Truck to historic races and other events to fly the flag.

There was enough early success on the track to create their first road car, the sporty 1958 Courier roadster. It was essentially a front mid engine car using MGA ‘B-Series’ engines combined with swoopy, gorgeous fiberglas coachwork.  Development of the sports racing cars continued during the 1960s, New models included the beautiful GT160 coupe that attracted much attention but due to competition rules changing, just three prototypes were built.

elva headerDunbar’s history with Elva is extensive. He has been with the company since 1970s, and in 1986, formed the Company Elva Racing to provide specialist parts and undertake vintage restorations and race preparation. “This involved in particular the marque’s sports racing cars and the Courier models on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said. “Elva Racing Models was just an extension of the intense interest in the marque.”

elva gt160 coupe

The Archive features information on the real cars, as well as various scale models. Many of the cars are made by Axel’R with cooperation from Dunbar. “We’ve commissioned various 1/43rd models of the GT160, Elva-Porsche, and Elva-BMW sports racers in different formats.” He said. As for what cars to expect for future scale offerings, Dunbar says “Whatever will attract interest and that we haven’t covered yet.  However there has to be an Elva connection.”

elva mclaren kitsIn the 1960s, slot car manufacturers produced a number of excellent kits of the McLaren-Elva series. Monogram, Tamiya, and AMT also offered some of their cars in 1/24 scale kit form.

As for Dunbar’s favorite full size vehicle, his answer is kind of tricky… “It’s the lovely old 1947 Elva Engineering van, which is a Morris Commercial type PV,” he said. So, not a sports car, but an exact replica of the support van for the original company. It can often be seen at Goodwood and other events. “I commissioned a stunning 1/43rd scale model of the full size van. We also have the Ford E83W pickup. Both of these vehicles represent the original workhorses used by Elva Engineering in the late 1950’s.” Of the more sporty cars, he would choose the Elva GT160.

elva truck models

There is a surprisingly bulky award winning book detailing the history of the company available via David Bull Publishing entitled “Elva: The Cars, The People, The History” by Janos Wimpffen.

While the new Elva road/track car is close to being announced (and perhaps a model of it will be appropriate sometime) it’s nice to know there are faithfully produced models of the previous era available and maybe others on the way. “I have worked with various very talented model makers based in the UK and Europe who have skillfully produced excellent models on our behalf,” said Dunbar. “I’m always happy to hear from people who have an interest in Elva.”

Have you ever owned an Elva car? Big fan of the marque? Let us know in the comments!

Unusual, Unique, Even Nonexistent… The AutoCult Official Archive Has Them All

Autocult leadAutoCult is the latest diecast company to host their Official Archive on hobbyDB. If you’re not familiar with them, that’s okay… you’re probably just as unfamiliar with the cars they model. But once you see what AutoCult does, you’ll be hooked.

Most model car companies play it relatively safe when they decide what automobiles to reproduce in miniature. It’s not a giant leap of faith to recreate a mid 1960s Corvette or a cup winning Formula 1 car and hope collectors will buy a copy. Sure, there’s great risk for the company, but the odds of reward are pretty good.

AutoCult does things pretty much the opposite way. Focusing not just on nearly forgotten, but in some cases, almost never-known cars have been their specialty. One-off prototypes, cars with production numbers limited by odd circumstances, legendary but fictional cars… you name it, AutoCult is interested in reproducing it.

Autocult Saab 92H camperTake their Saab 92H model. Not the Saab 92, a car which you’ve probably at least heard of… the 92H was a special one-off camper bodied version of the car, immortalized in 1/43.

Autocult VW Beetle MinihomeSpeaking of campers, how about AutoCult’s 1977 Volkswagen Beetle Minihome concept, a vehicle previously only remembered in the pages of Mechanix Illustrated. Autocult’s releases are organized into numbered series such as Campers (09000), Prototypes (06000), Delivery Vehicles (08000)… you can see the complete list of series on the Archive.

autoculttour vehicleOr speaking of really odd Volkswagens, this VW Kåfer “Wolfsberger Båhnle, a beloved tourist hauler used for sightseeing in Wolfsburg, Germany. Seriously, the question isn’t who would collect these models, it’s who would honestly take a chance on making them? It’s the AutoCult way.

Autocult Brandpowder_911_DSHeck, AutoCult even made a model of a concept so bizarre it only existed as a viral marketing campaign for a creative marketing firm… The Brandpower “911 DS” consisted of the front end of a Porsche 911 and the back of a Citroen DS, presented to the world as if someone had actually built it. Never mind the complications of where the engine would go, some publications were fooled into printing stories about it. Of course AutoCult had to build it.

Autocult VW curry busAnd seriously, what is this thing? Why, it’s a tribute to the ever lovable Volkswagen Bus and the ever popular but not too slimming delicaty of currywurst. And yes, it’s based on a real vehicle!

Autocult Mercedes-Benz SL-XNot to say their models are all oddballs… AutoCult’s new 1965 Mercedes-Benz SL-X answers the question of how one could possibly improve the legendarily perfect design of the Gull-wing SL… well, just look at the concept MB cooked up. And you can own it in 1/18 scale.

Models are released on the AutoCult website on a monthly schedule like a magazine. Each one is resin cast and limited to only 333 copies, so everything they do is rare. Consider their annual yearbooks, and other ephemera like the playing cards they offered in 2016, and it’s hard to resist what AutoCult is doing.

Autocult Ganz VolkswagenCustomer involvement comes at a unique level in projects such as their model of the original “people’s car,” or “volkswagen” by German engineer Josef Ganz. In a nutshell, this innovative rear engine concept was shown at the 1933 Berlin Motor Show, but forgotten to history to another similar, more famous Volkswagen. Autocult is actually running an Indiegogo fundraiser to recreate it – not in miniature, but to restore one of the actual 250 or so Ganz cars to its original glory. Neat, huh?

They’re the kind of diecast company we love at hobbyDB, and the kind you’ll love learning about.

Cult Scale Models Joins hobbyDB as Latest Official Archive

Cult Scale Models is the latest company to host their Official Archives on hobbyDB. The company specializes in large scale, high end resin models, which is an unusual combination, but when you see some of their offerings, you’ll see how they got their name.

“In the last 100 years of automotive industry many cars have been produced,” their website proudly proclaims. “Some successful cars gained a CULT status, even long after their production had stopped. Cult models now creates these models for you in scale 1:18.” Odd variants of well-known models, unusual nameplates from familiar marques, and underrepresented vintages of otherwise common cars are among their specialties.

Cult Scale Models Aston Martin shooting Brake

If James Bond needed just a bit more room for gadgets or equipment, he might have gone for this Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake. Few were produced, few models have been made of it.

Cult Models is the brainchild of ID bv, the business of Jaap van Dijk and Mark Asbreuk. If those names sounds familiar to collectors, they are also the founders of Matrix Scale Models. “I have always been interested in cars and during my studies I worked at Volvocar company in the design department,” said Jaap van Dijk,  “End of the nineties, I decided to step out and became my own boss.”  Mark had started A.M.C. Miniatures which made high-spec 1/18 Scale models.

In 2000 Jaap bought Replicars where Mark after a stint for Modellissimo then worked.  Later they together formed another company, Neo Scale Models. The difference here is while those brands mostly focus on 1/43 scale models, Cult does theirs in 1/18 only.

Cult Scale Models Mini ClubmanFor instance, despite changing marques a few times, the iconic Mini Cooper didn’t change its styling much during its original production. But in 1969, BMC decided a more modern replacement was needed. Enter the Mini 1275GT and the Mini Clubman. The “hot dog” grill and headlight design was met with a mixed reaction and the original 1959 face (which continued alongside it) ended up out-living it by 20 years. Since then, however, the Clubman has developed a devoted following, for whom Cult offers a 1974 Clubman Estate.

Cult Scale Models Aston Martin LagondaOr take the Aston Martin Lagonda… with its wedgy, very long coachwork, it’s one of the more controversial Aston Martins ever produced. Which is why there aren’t a lot of models of it. (Johnny Lightning made one in 1/64, just to be part of their Evel Knievel series). But Cult was willing to take a chance on it, and considering the very limited numbers they produce, there will be enough fans to buy them all.

Cult Scale Models Jaguar E TypeAnother example is their Jaguar E-Type. Widely considered one of the most beautiful automotive designs ever, Cult’s model is a later Series II car, which featured some minor changes implemented to accommodate U.S. safety standards at the time. While most companies offer models of the more “pure” early Jags, Cult decided the later one needed some love as well.

Cult Scale Models Volvo BertoneCult’s offerings are mostly European marques, although many of them will be familiar to U.S. collectors, yet just a bit strange. The Volvo 262 Bertone carries much of the boxy styling familiar to the brand, but with a lower, sleeker roofline. You’ve probably seen one in person, maybe, but probably never seen a model of one, either. It’s obscure enough that you forgot about it, but you want one now, and Cult has you covered.

A browse through their Official Archive will reacquaint you with of plenty of other cars that feel oddly familiar or familiarly odd. Either way, you’ll eventually want to be part of this Cult.

Maisto Adds Their Collection to hobbyDB Official Archives

Maisto Mercedes

This 1967 Mercedes-Benz 280SE is indicative of Maisto’s high quality models.

The diecast database on hobbyDB just got a huge boost, as Maisto is the latest company to host their Official Archives. Maisto is a major player in large scale diecast, offering models in scales from 1/18 through 1/64. Including planes and other vehicles, there are over 3,000 Maisto items listed on hobbyDB.

Maisto made their mark in the diecast business with their 1/18 offerings, a wide variety of nicely detailed, reasonably priced models. Their biggest competitor in that realm was Bburago, who focused on European cars, while Maisto made models of just about everything else. Maisto acquired Bburago in 2007, forming a worldwide ring of automotive nationalities. (Just last week, we announced Bburago’s Official Archive as well.)

Maisto 1972 Chevelle SSMaisto’s models have included concept cars such as the 1993 Porsche Boxster, and classics that inspired them like Porsche 550A Spyder. They also did a version of the production Boxster for good measure. They have also made models of classic but underrepresented cars like the Datsun 240Z. Maisto has made more motorcycle models than most companies as well.

Maisto Datsun 240ZThe 1/18 cars from both companies usually host a feature of opening hoods, trunks and doors, as well as working steering and suspension. Some models, such as their Chevelles, are detailed to represent multiple years (’71 and ’71) as well as convertible or hardtop. Several models are available as prepainted kits with optional wheels and other details so collectors could personalize their cars.

maisto dodge 330 kitMaisto’s first entries in the 1:64 market were inexpensive and mostly fantasy creations unlike anything the company was producing at larger scales. More recently, they have focused on premium priced, well detailed models of real cars that fit in more with the rest of their line. In the Official Archive, you will be able to search for their products broken down by the many series they have offered such as Fresh Metal and Burnin’ Key Cars.

Maisto Fresh Metal

Maisto’s Fresh Metal 3″ series features a wide range of models based on real cars and wild concepts.

With Maisto and Bburago on board, the hobbyDB Official Archives now feature two of the biggest brands in large scale diecast. Combined, they represent well over 5,000 entries in our database.

Keesie25’s Custom Corgi Models Will Make You Look Twice

corgi budget batmobileIf you do a search for “Corgi Batmobile” on hobbyDB, you will find several variants of their model of the 1960s TV car as well as many versions that appeared in comic books. In addition to the Barris car however, you will find an oddity called “Budget Batmobile.”

keesie25 corgiAt first glance, it looks like it could have been a model you somehow never heard of. It looks plausible, and it has a box… but nope, it’s custom. Welcome to the world of Keesie25 (online, he goes only by that nickname). He’s a collector and customizer who lives in a small village in the Netherlands. He takes broken, beat up models, mostly 1/43 scale, and turns them into all kinds of creations.

“I remember going to the toy store with my dad one day, nose flat against the shop window, and I could not decide which one to choose,” he recalls. He chose the 1130 Chipperfields Horse Transporter.

His interest in Custom Corgi Models started with an eye on budget collecting. “I wanted to have the complete collection and did not want to spend too much money on it, so I started to restore,” he said. “Now I don’t need to choose anymore, as I have all I wanted. Every time I restore a model, I compare it to the one in my collection, and sometimes I swap them around. I buy and get worn out and crap models, because everyone knows I’m into old Corgis, 1:43 scale.”

corgi restoration

Many of Keesie’s models are restorations to original specs and colors.

“I want to restore with better materials than original, so I replace plastic with stainless steel. I mainly use throw-away materials, When you open an old VHS videocassette, you’ll be surprised what is in there that you can use. I only buy new rubber tires nowadays.”

He has a knack for fixing and repurposing other things as well. “I am a member of the ‘repaircafe’, where people come in with al sorts of broken things,” he said. “That could be household stuff, but also old toys.”

corgi octopussy set

Spoiler alert! There’s a tiny airplane hidden behind a fake horse’s rear end in that trailer.

Many of Keesie’s models are restorations to original spec. Some of them are modified for different color and wheel combinations, such as his Mercedes-Benz 300SL  models. And then there are wild custom creations such as the afore mentioned Batmobile or the Beatles’ Cadillac ambulance. In addition to the models themselves, he spends a great deal of time creating realistic boxes, some of them including full diorama display panels and instructions. His James Bond Octopussy set includes a horse trailer with a faux equine behind (this will make sense if you seen the movie.)

corgi beatles mobile

The packaging for his Beatles Mobile includes instructions and a sticker!

So what is Keesie’s next project?” There is no real plan,” he admits. “In general, I open models and store all parts. The metal goes into a separate box, and once or twice a year I sandblast 100 or more parts in one go. Then I spray everything in primer, From then on I pick out the ones I want to work on. In between customers come around now and then with their own models they want me to do.”

corgi repro boxes

Keesie designs realistic boxes for his custom models.

That’s right, he takes requests. “When a buyer has a specific wish I will do it. First we talk about what the buyer wants, and I state a price. When I work on the model, I take pictures of the process, so the buyer knows what to expect.” A complicated model there will sometimes require small additions in between, for which there is usually no extra charge.

Check out his Official Archive on hobbyDB, where he’ll be posting new creations including models for sale.

corgi car bodies