Volume VII, Number 1

O F F - T H E - S H E L F

The following editorial reflects the personal thoughts of Doug Breithaupt relating to our common hobby of miniature cars. It is intended to generate discussion
relating to 'Tales of Toy Cars'. Your letters are welcome and may be submitted via e-mail.

The Best Toy Cars and Toy Car Maker of 2003

The results are in. The percentage of votes received overall are indicated next to each listing. Thank you to everyone who voted. The top 3 results in each category are as follows:

Manufacturer of the Year
1st - 17.1% Norev
2nd - 14.6% Johnny Lightning
3rd - 7.3% Hot Wheels
Regular Line 1:64 Scale Model of the Year
1st - 19.5% Norev - 2003 Citroën Xsara WRC
2nd - 9.8% Real Toy - Mercedes-Benz C-Class
2nd - 9.8% Welly - Mercedes-Benz 190SL
Collector Line 1:64 Scale Model of the Year
1st - 17.1% Johnny Lightning - Tucker Torpedo
2nd - 12.2% Biante - Holden Monaro HT GTS 350
3rd - 9.8% Matchbox - Shelby Cobra 427

The big winner is clearly Norev. With victories in the manufacturer and regular line categories, Norev has impressed collectors with an amazing variety of models in a single year. If anyone would have predicted several years back that Norev would be the darling of diecast collectors in 2003, they would have been laughed out of the toy car aisle. The winning regular line model is the 2003 Citroën Xsara WRC which won Citroen the team championship for the first time. Norev moved quickly to produce the 2003 model and that type of response to popular models is appreciated by collectors. The message to other manufacturers is that collectors want quality models of realistic cars. Congratulations to Norev.

Johnny Lightning took 1st place in the collector line category with their stunning Tucker Torpedo. Combined with a second to Norev in the manufacturer category, Johnny Lightning confirmed their position as a favorite with collectors. After a decade of great cars, Johnny Lightning is clearly not content to rest on their laurels. In producing the Tucker, JL was responding directly to the request of collectors who had long wanted a quality example of this unique car. Hot Wheels ended up with just half the votes received by JL but this was good enough for 3rd place in the manufacturer category. With two realistic Bugatti models nominated in 2003, Mattel might want to consider more cars of this level of style and quality in their future offerings.

Biante of Australia is a boutique diecast producer who is getting noticed. Considering the limited distribution of their models, a strong second place showing in the collector line category is a real achievement. Collectors also gave Matchbox credit for their fine example of a Shelby Cobra 427 with third place in the collector line category.

A tie for 2nd place in the regular line category is perfectly appropriate. Real Toy and Welly have been offering some of the best toy car values for several years. Like Norev, they focus on realistic models in correct colors and use their tampos to add correct details. As the major diecast producers have abandoned realism for fantasy and excessive pad-printing, Real Toy and Welly are showing the market has not followed. With better distribution and retail space, these two manufacturers could be a serious threat to challenge the big boys.

Honorable mention goes to Pioneer for their quick turn-a-round on the 2004 Porsche Carrera GT and to Racing Champions for their fun Tomb Raider Land Rover. Manufacturers will be notified of the results of our first annual 1:64 Scale Diecast Awards with presentations to the 1st place winners when arrangements can be made. Time to start thinking about 2004 nominees. Full results for 2003 are below.

7.3% Hot Wheels
4.9% Regular Line - Bugatti Veyron
7.3% Collector Line - Bugatti Type 57C

7.3% Regular Line - Pontiac Vibe
9.8% Collector Line - Shelby Cobra 427

Regular Line - Nissan Micra

17.1% Norev
19.5% Regular Line - 2003 Citroën Xsara WRC

2.4% Siku
2.4% Regular Line - Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG
Collector Line - 2003 Sauber F1

Regular Line - Alfa Romeo 156 Carabinieri

Tiger Wheels
2.4% Collector Line - 1970 Ford Maverick

Regular Line - 2002 Peugeot 206 WRC

4.9% Hongwell
Regular Line - MGB (open top)

Yat Ming
2.4% Regular Line - Alfa Romeo 147 GTA

2.4% Racing Champions/Ertl
7.3% Collector Line - Tomb Raiders Land Rover

2.4% Muscle Machines
2.4% Collector Line - Nissan Bluebird SSS 510

2.4% Collector Line - Mitsubishi Eclipse

2.4% Jada
Collector Line - Cadillac CTS

2.4% Collector Line -1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

14.6% Johnny Lightning
17.1% Collector Line - Tucker Torpedo

2.4% Regular Line - Ford Street Ka

2.4% Real Toy
9.8% Regular Line - Mercedes-Benz C-Class

4.9% Welly
9.8% Regular Line - Mercedes-Benz 190SL

Motor Max
Regular Line - Ford Ranger pick-up

Mega Speed
2.4% Regular Line - 1970 Ford Mustang

7.3% Regular Line - 2004 Porsche Carrera GT

Collector Line - Mazda Savannah RX-7

2.4% Tomica
4.9% Regular Line - Mazda RX-8
2.4% Collector Line - Subaru R2

2.4% AUTOart
2.4% Collector Line - Lamborghini Murcielago

4.9% Biante
12.2% Collector Line - Holden Monaro HT GTS 350

4.9% Collector Line - Corvette C5R