MBX's CHARACTER CAR pieces are quite nice - even if the cars may not
be authentic. This is an endorsement only of the dolls attached to the vehicles,
and as such should not be confused with diecasts at all, but should be classified
as dolls because, at least, the dolls MUST show authenticity! And I don't
collect dolls - do you? My point is that these items should not be confused
with authentic show vehicles just because they sport the name. Well, I wish
we as diecast collectors would not buy them - that's all.
Some new television diecasts that I have uncovered in the
last few months include a Buby guncar, a Buby Maserati (repackaged regular
line casting) from the TV series "The A-team", a.k.a.
"Brigada A" (1983-1987) and, in addition to Ertl's
1981 Camaro, a Corgi 1957 Chevy convertible from "Simon & Simon"
(1981-1988). Ken B. of PA alerted me of the Chevy and that Corgi may
have, also, repackaged a redecorated version of its 1977 "Kojak"
Buick casting as a police car for that TV series. Howard P. of ND sent me
a picture of the box panel from a "Riptide" (1984-1986)
set but could not supply any other information. This makes me believe that
in addition to the 1960 Corvette, Ertl produced the red and white GMC pick-up
truck pictured along with the Corvette and helicopter.
As mentioned in last month's article, Pamela Anderson's "V.I.P."
TV series will be represented by JL - however, not by just three cars but
by a Viper and five newly casted year 2000 cars. Plymouth Prowler, Mustang,
Monte Carlo, Jaguar XK8, and Mazda Miata appear to be slated for both this
show and the new MODERN MUSCLE line. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
(1997-Present) starring Sarah Michelle Gellar will be represented by
a four-car JL set which may include a 1950's Desoto. James F. wrote that
most of Majorette's tie-in models to the "Dallas" TV show
were painted inaccurate colors and that a Volvo wagon was never driven by
Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) on that show. Also, the rumor mill has it that the
custom Chrysler Imperial from "Green Hornet" (1966-1967),
starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee, will be replicated soon in 1/64 scale.
Some newly uncovered movie castings include a Kidco Ferrari 308 authentic
to "The Cannonball Run," 1981, and several Corgi offerings.
James F. commented, also, that Corgi, for "On Her Majesty's Secret
Service," 1969, made James Bond's Mercury Cougar convertible with
a raised top and four skis on a trunk mounted ski rack, a Mercedes 280 SL
with "Spectre" tampo, and a Ford Capri and a Ford Escort, both
with rally logos. I could not locate anything pertaining to these pieces
but all sound like they could be reworkings of existing Corgi castings.
Ertl will be releasing three cars for the movie "American Graffiti,"
1973. I know the 1958 Chevrolet Impala is an existing casting, but the
1932 Ford Deuce coupe and 1955 Chevy are new. Not sure if these were part
of the movie as depicted, but Ertl is making this set in both 1/64 and 1/25
scales. JL redecorated and repackaged its existing GMC van for last season's
"Blair Witch 2," a movie I was warned was so poorly done
that I would not survive watching it to verify the actors much less the
In my previous articles I had neglected to mention Ertl's gold 1977 Pontiac
Bonneville sheriff's car from "Smokey and the Bandit," 1977.
This casting is the same one used later for the white police cars in both
the "Dukes of Hazzard," (1979-1985) television show and
"The Cannonball Run," 1981, as pointed out by me beforehand.
The photos here show two of the more inclusive sets of the many combinations
that have been marketed over the years for these two shows.
As for vehicles many of us would like to see, the list is long and varied.
In the original "Superman" television series, reporter
Lois Lane drove an old Nash Rambler convertible that resembled a bathtub
on wheels. Many of us love all the old Ramblers, Studebakers, Packards,
Kaisers, and Hudsons because they were easily distinguished from Ford and
General Motors products from that time period. In an impromptu survey, six
of my fellow collectors agreed that JL's HOLLYWOOD ON WHEELS (HOW) should
undertake Ms. Lane's car. My brother has a lot of backing when he insists
on Jed Clampett's old jalopy from the 1960's "Beverly Hillbillies"
television show. He assures us that a new casting from either MBX STAR CAR
COLLECTION (SCC) or JL HOW would do the job nicely.
Most everyone agrees with me that the metallic blue 1966 Ford Thunderbird
convertible from "Thelma and Louise" (BEFORE impact, thank
you) would make an excellent 1/64 scale casting. In "Thunderball,"
a white 1965 Thunderbird convertible with its top up and agents inside is
shown following and then losing the bad guys. Either of these two cars would
be acceptable, as it would be the first time that this particular Thunderbird
body style, from 1964-66, would be replicated in this scale. We are split
between JL's HOW and MBX's SCC as to which would be more successful with
replication of Davis and Sarandon's dusty getaway vehicle, but think JL
has the edge when it comes to copying BOTH T-birds. (You listening JL? JL?
There are several Rolls and Bentleys on our list. In "From Russia
With Love," a British luxury automobile is one of the few vehicles
we see in this James Bond movie classic. After having been paged, Bond retrieved
his message from a car phone in his Bentley - only about thirty years before
both pagers and car phones became technologically mainstream. Bond trailed
a Phantom III Rolls Royce by using his homing device in "Goldfinger."
The significance here is that the Rolls had been plated in gold and painted
over to make it the perfect smuggling apparatus.
And who can forget 007 pursuing Scaramanga in a very sleek Rolls Royce in
"The Man With The Golden Gun?" By the time Bond and the
local police apprehend him, Scaramanga is ready to take off with wings and
a jet engine attached! Also, in "The Man With The Golden Gun,"
007 and his old friend Sheriff J.W. Pepper, in pursuit of Scaramanga, stole
an AMC Hornet off the lot of a car rental agency. Particularly memorable
here is that this fast and flashy car performed Bond's legendary barrel
roll with the aid of a broken bridge to leap across a river. With these
vehicles and more that you may have thought of yourself, Johnny Lightning
has a plethora of material from which to choose for its future HOW or 007
series! (JL? HelloJL? JL?)
Most collectors of character diecast are serious about the subject. Consequently,
their knowledge of specific castings, packaging, the manufacturer, and,
most of all, the TV show or movie will be vast. Though packaging, per se,
is not as significant an entity to regular collecting, it is of utmost importance
to this segment of the market. As you have seen, packaging will have the
show's title, photos of the main actors and, often, will contain interesting
information pertaining to the show itself.
Hence, packaging should be considered an integral part of this market for
anyone desiring to maintain the highest value for his or her collection.
In the television and celluloid segment, loose pieces in excellent condition
can muster only 30-40% of the value of their unopened counterparts, whereas
loose diecast replicas in general will retain about 50-60% of the value
of the unopened packages.
Pricing individual pieces in this segment of the market can be very difficult.
Most of the books I used to research this article simply did not cover the
material well. They either concentrated on other areas of television or
movie-themed items or were written over three years ago, in which case they
could not have included the great number of recent pieces mentioned in my
article. Sadly, they usually missed the older pieces, too. My greatest beef
was that many resources did not think it necessary to even mention the size
or scale! The only book which covered pricing adequately to some extent
was Today's Hottest Die-cast Vehicles, by Elizabeth A. Stephan, Krause Publication,
c2000. It was very up-to-date and could help if you were in need of a guideline.
Nothing printed on paper prepares you for today's newest method of acquisition.
I follow Ebay auctions extensively and that forum has drastically changed
pricing. Essentially, online purchasing has negated the problem of the purchaser
being physically present at the point of sale, which has made a wealth of
product, however limited or antiquated, available to entirely new and differing
audiences. Consequently, the most sought after items are commanding exorbitant
prices, often in a last minute electronic 'feeding frenzy'.
Moreover, online auction sites like Ebay.com, eToys.com, and Ubid.com have
taken away the fine art of negotiation. Collectors love to bargain and inspect,
but online, those who have the 'cold bucks' simply win out and prices escalate
disproportionately. To be sure, diecast vendors and even our grandparents
have begun abandoning their rectangular table fortresses and are learning
how to manipulate the Internet to earn extra cash selling character vehicles!
My advice online is to know your limit by shopping at trade shows, diecast
fairs and swap meets first. Compare products and prices from vendors and
try to negotiate further with the vendor of your choice. If that does not
result in a purchase, then go online. However, with attendance and sales
at trade shows down markedly you might be able to secure a great deal on
that desired item.
Well, this concludes my five-part series on television and movie diecasts
in 1/64 scale. It was a lot of fun researching. Doug has set up a fantastic
site. Thanks to the collectors who sent me emails offering information about
the topic and their varied interests. And a special thanks for the support
of my friends and fellow collectors like you for reading. (JL? JL? You there?