February '08 News Archive

2/25/08 - Dukes - Release 4
I love having a package waiting for me when I get home from work.  This time it was Johnny Lightning's The Dukes of Hazzard - Release 4 from my sponsor Movie Car Mania.  Making up this series is, from top left:

- General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning - the ill-advised 2007 DVD/TV movie prequel to the ill-advised 2005 movie.  Identical to the car from Release 3 except the tires now sport BF Goodrich Radial T/A lettering. 
- Daisy's Plymouth Road Runner Zinger - for those of you who like Zingers.
- State Police (Georgia) '77 Dodge Monaco - first seen in the episode "Baa Baa White Sheep"
- #44 Buick Grand National Race Car - seen in the episode "Undercover Dukes" as Bo drives for Mary Beth Carver's NASCAR race team. 
- Black Tillie II '67 Ford Mustang - my favorite of this release, Uncle Jesse races Boss Hogg's Grey Ghost, Jr. in the episode "Days of Shine and Roses." 
- "Carnival of Thrills" '71 Chevy Vega - from the two-hour-long episode "Carnival of Thrills" that kicked off season three.

The Dukes of Hazzard gallery has been updated with the new pics.

2/24/08 - Indiana Jones and the Quest for Photos
After searching and searching and searching the internet, I finally stumbled onto these photos.  What you see pictured above are some of the die-cast vehicles slated for Hasbro's Titanium line.  Above left is the motorcycle and sidecar from The Last Crusade, above middle is the truck from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and above right is the rocket sled from The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  I can't wait to see what else will be included in this line.

2/23/08 - Hey, Hey!  It's the Monkeemobile!
I grew up watching The Monkees in reruns after school.  I thought Davy, Mickey, Mike & Peter were hysterical.  I loved the music, and of course, I loved the car.  According to various sources, legendary car customizer Dean Jeffries was given two 1966 Pontiac GTO convertibles and created two Monkeemobiles within the span of a month.  Both cars were eventually used on the TV series. Click HERE to see a clip on YouTube from the episode The Monkees Race Again, featuring the #2 car.  After the series ended, the #2 car was sold to George Barris.  I got to see the car with my own eyes when I had the chance to visit Barris' shop in North Hollywood in 2005 (right.)  In 2006, the #2 car was restored in conjunction with the 40th Anniversary of the car's creation.  In January of 2008, Barris put the car up for auction at the annual Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. It sold for $360,000!!!  Click HERE to see the auction on YouTube.  A few days later, I was STUNNED to find out the winning bidder lives here in the Metro Detroit area.  I couldn't believe The Monkeemobile was coming to the Motor City.  I was able to contact the new owner, Mel, through the MSN Group dedicated to The Monkeemobile.  It took a couple of weeks for the car to travel to Michigan from Arizona.  After exchanging e-mails with Mel, and a short phone call, I was invited to come visit the car at its current location.

Upon my arrival, I got to meet Mel, a local businessman, and his two sons.  All three were eager to show off their new acquisition.  Mel got inside the car and the engine rumbled to life.  He slowly and carefully backed it out of its carpeted room and out into the open where I could photograph it.  It was beautiful from every angle.  Familiar Monkees tunes played from the impressive sound system.  It was such a huge thrill to examine this car up close.  For me, seeing a museum-quality car like this is as exciting as meeting any celebrity.  I really enjoyed chatting with Mel and his sons about the car.  Here is a brief e-mail interview I did with Mel before meeting him in person:

JJ:  Can  you give me a brief history of the car you purchased?
Mel:  It's a 1966 Pontiac GTO.  It was originally used (briefly) on I Dream of Jeannie.  Then, Screen Gems hired Dean Jeffries to customize it for a TV show called The Monkees.  Dean Jeffries, with the assistance of Dick Dean, actually created 2 cars inside 4 weeks.  There is a little controversy about which one was created first.  George Barris (the former owner) and Mike Gray (the man who did the recent restoration) are convinced that my car was the first built.  The other car was the first to be shown on the TV.  During the recent restoration the car was turned into a "100 point car".  It is a masterpiece.  It has been altered from the original show car.  Now it has a huge stereo system that takes up some space - but sounds great. 

JJ:  Tell me about yourself.  Age? Married? Kids?
I'm 48, Married, 3 kids.  I have been a workaholic since my early 20's.

JJ:  Describe your level of obsession with The Monkees.  Did you grow up watching the TV show?
I loved watching their shows as reruns - probably after school.  The first record album I bought was The Birds, The Bees, and The Monkees.  I really thought their car was cool.  And their music was generally upbeat.  I used to go to used record stores and shows looking to expand my collection.

JJ:  Did you go to their concerts?  Have you ever met any of them in person? 
Mel:  I went to two reunion concerts.  One was at Pine Knob in Clarkston, Michigan.  The other was in Toronto.
I think one was a twenty year reunion.  And the other may have been a 25 year (reunion.)

JJ:  Do you own collectibles from The Monkees, such as die-cast versions of the car?
I bought a bunch of the 1/64 scale cars off of eBay.  I have 3 or 4 of the 1/18 scale Ertl die-cast too. I built the model recently (in the past 5 years).  I videotaped 2 days of their shows that were played on MTV years ago.  And probably have 20 Albums.

JJ:  Had you seen The Monkeemobile in person before?  Like at the AutoRama or anywhere else?
Mel:  No.  Just on film.

JJ:  Describe what is it about the car that appeals to you? 
Mel:  It's radical!  It's wild! It symbolizes a great show where people were happy and silly.
And the music was excellent.  It seems to me that anyone that remembers the car thinks it's wonderful. It's part of the history of America! 

JJ:  What was your reaction when you heard it was going to be auctioned off at Barrett- Jackson?
Mel:  I was excited.  The car of my dreams was going to be made available.  For days I tossed and turned trying to decide if it was worth the money and effort to go there and compete with the big shooters.  I figured that I would not stand a chance.  I had to determine how much I was willing to pay and how much I could afford.  Then, registering to bid is somewhat complicated and expensive.  It was a fun trip.  There is plenty to do.  And, especially, if you register to bid - there are plenty of amenities that you can enjoy.  It's a great time

JJ:  Describe the atmosphere and the excitement during the bidding process?
Well, for two days I sat there and tried to figure out how to bid.  I don't think I ever really saw anyone bidding first hand.  You are facing forward and if bidding is going on behind you it is generally out of sight and bidding in front of you is behind bodies.  It was a nervous feeling.  Just before the car was going up I walked over to the closest bidding assistant and told him I was interested in The Monkeemobile.  He came to the end of my aisle.  I just moved my head and arms in a positive fashion every time he looked at me.

JJ:  What was your reaction when you realized you won the auction?
It was fantastic.  It really happened so fast - I was surprised myself.  I thought the car could have brought in much more than it did.  It still seems like a miracle.  Here is a car that was used in The Monkees TV show for a couple years and then owned by George Barris for almost 40 years.  Now I own it.  Wow! 

JJ:  What are your plans now?  Will you display it?  Will you drive it?  Will you take it to car shows?
I am trying to figure all that out right now.  I definitely want to take it to some shows.  Yes, weather permitting I will drive it.  The car doesn't have windows.

JJ:  Will we see it at the Woodward Dream Cruise?  If so, are you worried about dents, dings and mileage?
Mel:  I suspect it will go to the Woodward Dream Cruise.  And the Telegraph Cruise.   And the Downriver Cruise. Of course I am worried about damage.  But, I am also an optimist and tell myself things will be OK.  The mileage? It only has 5061 miles on it.  I think it needs to put some miles on it.

2/22/08 - "That's gold, Jerry!  GOLD!"
I had the day off work today, so while out running errands I stopped into my local K-Mart.  I kid you not, I was listening to Life is a Highway from the Cars soundtrack when I pulled up.  Inside, I struck gold!  Well, gold Mia & Tia to be exact from the Dinoco Dream Gift Pack.  Now all I need is Flik & Flea and Dudley Spare to get caught up, unless something new has hit that I'm not aware of.  Gold Mia & Tia have been added to the Cars gallery.

2/21/08 - "Atomic batteries to power!  Turbines to speed!"
Last night when I got home from work, there was a UPS slip waiting for me.  I knew what it was and I immediately made arrangements to pick it up at Will Call today.  When I got the package into my car, I couldn't open it quickly enough!  It was Mattel's new 1:18 scale die-cast 1966 Batmobile!  I got it from Pro-Models, one of my sponsors.  I grinned like an idiot as I laid my eyes on it.  This is something I've been hoping to add to my collection for a very long time.  At first glance, the car is beautiful, with lots of detail, including a Bat Phone (right.)  The doors open and the steering wheel turns the wheels. I don't know if the the hood and trunk opens.  It looks like they might, but I was afraid of scratching the paint job trying to pry them open. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, I was a little disappointed with a lack of quality control.  The red pinstriping had some chips and flaws, there was some glue or residue on the windshield, and when I removed the car from the box, the exhaust fell right off!  I'll have to glue it back on!  I may pick up another one if I ever find a more pristine version at a store.  Until then, I'm happy to add this to my collection, right along Mattel's other Batmobiles.  I highly recommend picking this up, especially if the upcoming Elite versions are out of your price range. 

STOP! - I've just found out that the hood and trunk don't open on this version!  Don't damage your car trying to pry them open.  Visit Scooter's Custom Batcave to see an informative video.

2/21/08 - Making the Toy Rounds
I stopped at a few stores on the way into work today.  I didn't find much, but I did pick up the Cars Pit Row Race Off Octane Gain at Toys R Us (above, left.)  This is the first time Octane Gain has been offered outside of the Target-Exclusive Dinoco 400 Boxed Set, and since Toys R Us was having a Buy 2 Get the Third Free sale, I picked up Lightning McQueen and Chick Hicks, too.  While at TRU, I also stumbled onto a bunch of new Titanium vehicles by Hasbro.  There were quite a few new Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica vehicles, but the only one I picked up was the classic Battlestar Galactica (above right) to go along with my classic Colonial Viper and Cylon Raider.

2/20/08 - Sponsor News
I got an e-mail from sponsor Movie Car Mania today alerting me of some new arrivals.  Johnny Lightning's The Dukes of Hazzard - Release 4 has arrived.  I ordered my case today.  Check out the carded pics above.  Also, I had no idea Jada had the license for Reservoir Dogs.  Movie Car Mania will be receiving the 1:18 scale '65 Cadillac DeVille (right) from the 1992 Quentin Tarantino film in a week or so.  No word on whether or not it comes with a cop in the trunk.  Be sure to visit their website to see all the cool TV and movie cars available for purchase and pre-order.  Click on the link at the top of the right column.

2/19/08 - Toy Fair News has posted pics of upcoming Cars product shown at Toy Fair 2008.  Lots of stuff to get excited about, including correct red rims on Mario Andretti in the Movie Moments 2-pack.  Click HERE for tons of pics.

2/17/08 - Knight Rider:  My Review
The two-hour Mustang commercial known as Knight Rider finally premiered on NBC and my feelings are mixed (I mean, c'mon, KITT morphed into ... um ... other Mustangs.)  First the good:  I liked the car.  Although I missed the Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am, the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR was pretty impressive and ominous.  However, despite nano-technology and morphing capabilities, the interior of the new KITT wasn't as fun as the KITT of the eighties.  Remember all the lights and colors of the old KITT?  The new KITT's interior wasn't much more impressive than my sister's SUV and her new talking GPS.  And, honestly, I missed the voice of William Daniels as KITT, even though I looked at IMDB and was SHOCKED to discover that Val Kilmer is the voice of the new KITT!!!  "It's the car, right? Chicks love the car."

Now the bad:  The story was weak, the pacing was awkward, the acting was wooden and the action sequences were mediocre.  I understand that characters had to be introduced and backstories established with corny dialogue, which didn't really allow for a self-contained story to develop.  With that behind them, I hope we can get to the good stuff on future episodes.  I do think that giving the two main characters, Mike Traceur and Sarah, a romantic relationship in the pilot is a big mistake.  It limits possible scenarios and situations for Mike in future episodes.  I think it would've worked better as a X-Files-Mulder-&-Scully-type-of-relationship, with unspoken feelings and sexual tension.  I also hope they kick up the action sequences a bit.  They were a little underwhelming. 

And finally, it was kind of cool to see David Hasselhoff return, albeit briefly, as Michael Knight.  I hope he occasionally appears to shake things up.  I think Knight Rider has potential and I'll be tuning in to see if the characters find their groove.  Let's hope NBC gives that time to happen.

2/13/08 - It's almost here!
Ernie Renn sent me a pic he found on the 1StopDieCast website of Mattel's 1:18 scale 1966 Batmobile BOXED!   I cannot wait to hold this thing in my hands.  Also, Gregg Lacarte sent me pics of Mattel's ELITE Batmobile (below,) shown at Norimberk Toy Fair 2008.  It looks absolutely spectacular.  I just hope I can afford it.  I'm sure we'll get more info and pics as the 2008 American International Toy Fair kicks off next week!

2/13/08 - Mack VS Mack
Recently I discovered a new Disney Store opened in my local mall.  There I spotted a very nice version of Mack from Cars.  Known as Lightning McQueen Runaway Racer, the version I saw included Mack and plastic Radiator Springs Lightning McQueen (there's another version that also includes Dinoco McQueen.)  Priced at $29.50, it rang up at the register for $9.99.  I decided to pick it up and compare it to Mattel's version of Mack. 

First of all, the packaging on the Runaway Racer set is terrible.  The clear plastic on most of the packages was cracked and broken, producing sharp, jagged edges.  I tried to get a good one, but by the time I got home, it was cracked and jagged.  Upon opening the package and comparing both Macks, the first noticeable difference is the size.  The Runaway Racer Mack is slightly larger than Mattel's Mack.  Comparing faces, there are several differences.  Comparing the faces to a still from the film, I have to give the edge to Runaway Racer Mack for accuracy.  Overall, Runaway Racer Mack has nice chrome touches, where Mattel's "metal" parts are flat gray.  So for appearance, Disney's Runaway Racer Mack is the winner.

However, before you run out and buy one for the little one, there are some concerns about Runaway Racer Mack.  Almost immediately upon trying the spring-loaded launch feature, I jammed the door shut, not quite knowing exactly how it works.  I had to pry it open. Once I figured that out I inserted the plastic McQueen, pressed the launch button on top of Mack and BAM, McQueen shot out like a bullet!  I can't imagine what would happen if a little one was looking inside when that button was pressed.  If you're going to buy Disney's Mack, it makes a nice display piece, but don't buy it for the little ones to play with. I'd stick to Mattel's Mack for play value.

2/12/08 - RIP: Roy Scheider
Roy Scheider passed away on February 10th.  Although he will always be best remembered to his fans as Chief Martin Brody in 1975 blockbuster Jaws, he was in quite a few OTHER entertaining action flicks, too.  Although Gene Hackman drove the car, Roy was great in The French Connection.  Roy got his chance to drive the car in one of the greatest car chases on film in the 1973 film The Seven-Ups.  He was also in Blue Thunder and on the TV series SeaQuest DSV.  If you haven't seen any of those flicks, check 'em out and appreciate the work of the late Roy Scheider.

2/6/08 - Coming Soon!
I got a package from Johnny Lightning via UPS today.  In it were a couple of cars from JL's 4th Series of cars from The Dukes of Hazzard.  First up, we have the General Lee.  It's the same car from Release 3, however, it's on packaging from the 2007 TV movie/DVD The Dukes of Hazzard:  The Beginning, featuring the beautiful brunette April Scott as Daisy Duke.  Unfortunately, this prequel to The Dukes of Hazzard: The Movie (2005) is a pretty awful and forgettable mess, BUT, if you missed picking up this ultimate version of General Lee in Release 3, you have another shot at it.  Release 2 included a Zinger version of General Lee.  Release 4 includes a Zinger version of Daisy's Plymouth Roadrunner.  If you're into Zingers, here ya go.  These cars, plus the other four from this series (scroll down for a pic) should be hitting stores later this month.  My thanks to Johnny Lightning for the sneak peek.

2/5/08 - Revvin' Up the Powerful Mach 5
I got an e-mail from Rodney at Movie Car Mania announcing that in addition to Mattel, Jada will also be offering 1:64 scale die-cast cars from the upcoming Speed Racer movie.  Pictured above, from left to right, are Mach 5, Shooting Star, Snake Oiler and Prince Kabala.  Rodney has ordered several cases if you're interested.  Visit his site by clicking on the link at the top of the right column.

2/5/08 - Who ya gonna call?
I got an e-mail today tipping me off to this interesting eBay auction.  It's a little too steep for me, but interesting nonetheless.  Click HERE to check it out.

2/1/08 - Happy Birthday to ME!
Today marks the 5th anniversary of the debut of Hollywood Die-Cast.  It's amazing how quickly the years fly by.  For those of you who don't know, it all started when my buddy Dennis and I were collecting TV and movie die-cast cars and had no definitive source for reference.  eBay was a good tool to find out what was out there but we needed more.  There were a few small websites that had little bits of info but we felt something more complete and thorough was needed.  So I took it upon myself to photograph our collections, buy a domain name, find a host and BAM, Hollywood Die-Cast was born.  I thought the site would appeal to only a select few with similar interests, but was I surprised to find out 1000 people were visiting the site every day.  And the visitors came from all over the world, as did the e-mails, which I had to translate on occasion. 

Since that cold February day in 2003, it's been so much fun.  I've been featured on television and I've met some of my idols, like the legendary George Barris and the cast of The Dukes of Hazzard.  I've made a lot of friends because of this site. My sincere thanks go out to contributors like Tony Moe, Joe Nest, Metro Privratsky, Craig Mueller and others.  I can't express how much I appreciate my sponsors like Movie Car Mania, Pro-Models and RPM Die-Cast.  And of course my thanks go out to you, the visitor.  Whether you have an ever-expanding collection of die-cast cars, a passing interest in TV and movie cars, or you just grew up with Herbie the Love Bug, thanks for visiting and sending e-mails.  Please keep them coming.

Let's take a look at some of the major milestones that have taken place over the last five years in the world of TV and movie die-cast cars, shall we?  Click HERE for a stroll down memory lane.

2/1/08 - It's a bird!  It's a plane!
After giving up trying to find these in stores, I went the eBay route (again) to add these to my collection.  I got them for a great price:  .99 cents each plus shipping!  I really like the Daily Planet delivery truck.  More pics have been added to the Superman gallery.