Tag Archives: Matchbox

Big cash for small cars

A tale of two companies

matchbox cars, matchbox car valuesIt all began almost 67 years to the date in a closed down pub in London where an industrial die-casting company, Lesney, was born, leading to a huge collector market for metal 1/64th scale model cars. Lesney is the creator of Matchbox vehicles. The name itself came into being when one of the owners’ daughters wanted to bring a toy to school but the school only allowed children to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox so a scaled down version of a Lesney model went with her to school. Thinking they might have something, they used the one-0ff creation, the idea of selling a model of  a vehicle small enough to fit into the size of a matchbox. Matchbox was born and propelled Lesney to worldwide, mass-market success. Continue reading Big cash for small cars

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Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970 Indy winner, Al Unser driver

Replicarz goes big with its 1/18 scale PJ Colt … 1970 Indy 500 winner

One of my favorite race cars, and that of many other youngsters in the 1970s was the PJ Colt that Al Unser drove to back-to-back Indianapolis 500 wins in 1970 and ’71.

It was colorful and with its lightning bolts on the nose and tail the car looked fast and, well, cool!

Replicarz knows that and created beautiful versions of both the 1970 and ’71 cars in 1/43 scale a couple years back. Now it turns its considerable attention to the more detailed 1/18 scale model of the original 1970 racer. This takes the detailing on the Colt to a much finer level and creates a stunning desktop display car.

The History

Al Unser teamed up with former racer Parnelli Jones’ race team for 1970, driving its Ford V8-powered PJ Colt chassis to win the national driving title and the Indy 500 that year. Sponsorship, and the beautiful car livery, came courtesy of sponsor Johnny Lightning, a toy die-cast car maker (Topper Toys) competing with the likes of Matchbox and Mattel’s Hot Wheels brands.1970 Indy 500 winner

Unser won 10 races in 1970, none bigger than Indy. This was the first of Unser’s record four Indy 500 wins and put him on a path to racing fame, along with brother Bobby. Al was the fastest qualifier in 1970 and led 190 of the race’s 200 laps. You can’t get much more dominant than that. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1970 Indy winner, Al Unser driver

Die-cast: Replicarz 1970 and ’71 Indy 500 winners

1970 Indy winner
1970 Indy winning PJ Colt in Johnny Lightning trim.

Replicarz adds stunning 1:43 Unser Indy 500 winning Colts

By 1971 Al Unser was no longer just Bobby Unser’s younger brother, he was a 2-time Indianapolis 500 winner, while Bobby had won just once.

The decidedly quieter, more humble Al had wisely hooked up with Parnelli Jones’ team and had the dominant PJ Colt chassis and a Ford V8 engine behind him. That helped Al lead 190 of the 200 laps after winning the pole position as fastest qualifier in 1970. He would not only win Indy that and the following year, but the Indy Car National Championship in 1970.

unser1970bUnser and the team also were lucky to have the colorful sponsorship of Johnny Lightning, a then new die-cast toy car maker that was challenging the likes of Hot Wheels and Matchbox. The result was a colorful bright blue racer with yellow lightning bolts in 1970 and a darker blue version with those same electric bolts for 1971. Every kid in America knew this car and its color scheme.

Now Replicarz reprises the car brilliantly in 1:43 scale with excellent attention to detail. This is part of Replicarz new 1:43 scale Indy Car series that already includes the 1947-49 Indy-winning Blue Crown Spark Plug specials that won Indy three years straight. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz 1970 and ’71 Indy 500 winners

Die-cast: Auto World’s True 1:64 Series

Muscle and detail in 1:64 scale? Yes, from Auto World

Hats off to Round 2 and its Auto World line of TRUE 1:64 scale cars, both muscle cars and newer models, all offered at modest prices for collectors to augment their collections.

Auto World delivers six handsome die-cast models in 1:64 scale for $2.99 each. This is the series 1 release.
Auto World delivers six handsome die-cast models in 1:64 scale for $2.99 each. This is the series 1 release.

These are new tools and Auto World is taking a unique strategy with 1960s muscle cars and other classics, plus some of those classics’ newer counterparts. It is offering 1:64 scale cars with better detail than in the Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars that flood the market. Yet these cars come in at three attractive price points, $2.99, $5.99 and $6.99.

The TRUE lineup includes cars with accurately scaled wheels and tires, even at the $2.99 entry point. These have die-cast bodies, but plastic chassis with free-rolling hard wheels. All are nicely displayed and sold on blister cards. Detailing is good with painted head and taillights and logos, plus accurate hood and air scoops, such as on the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible and 1984 Camaro Z28 samples we got. Continue reading Die-cast: Auto World’s True 1:64 Series

Die-cast: Autoart Mercedes-Benz 190 SL

SL epitomizes elegant roadsters of 1950s, ’60s

Mercedes-Benz 190 SLMazda’s Miata wasn’t the first small drop-top to gain popularity in the U.S. market. Way back in the 1950s and early ’60s Mercedes-Benz created an iconic roadster, the 190 SL.

This wasn’t the first famous roadster either, but it was a big hit for Mercedes, and set the styling trend for upscale two-seat convertibles for the better part of a decade. Autoart’s 1:18 version is bathed in a creamy white finish that accentuates its smooth elegant lines, lines that captured well-off driver’s attention, and cash, during those heady classic sports car years.

Like Miata today, the 190 SL had a removable hardtop ($4,295), but also was available with a soft top, that model going for just $3,998. Remember, in 1953 a new Corvette started at $3,490. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart Mercedes-Benz 190 SL