August '08
News Archive



8/28/08 - Talking Cars - Back by Popular Demand!

Wow, I can't believe it's been almost TWO YEARS since the last installment of Talking Cars.  The main reason for its disappearance has been the popularity of the forum.  In the forum, not only do you get an immediate response to your queries from myself, but from other knowledgeable collectors, as well.  Nevertheless, the e-mails continue to pour in from all over the world, and I do my best to respond to all of them as promptly as I can.  Here now is a sampling of some of the more interesting e-mails I've gotten over the past few months.  The topics are, well, too diverse to mention here.  You'll just have to see for yourself.  Click on KITT above for the long-overdue latest edition of Talking Cars.




8/27/08 - Death Race:  My Review

Fans of Roger Corman's 1975 Death Race 2000 might be upset about this remake that pretty much disposes of the original's storyline and uses only the title (or part of it) and retains a few character names.  Personally, I can't imagine a remake that includes drivers running over pedestrians to rack up points.  Instead, the premise involves a former racecar driver (the always terrific Jason Statham) who is framed for murder so that he can compete in the prison warden's (Joan Allen) sensational and lucrative Death Race.  "Win and get your freedom or die trying."


Now, I've complained in the past about movies that have the look and substance of a video game, and Death Race goes as far as having drivers seek power-ups to activate weapons and defenses.  So why didn't I hate this movie?  I think it's because the cars were REAL and not computer generated abominations.  The cars were driven by real STUNT DRIVERS, which made the action feel real.  It was exciting to watch the speed and carnage of real cars and not just imagery created by some guy on a computer at his desk (I hope the Wachowski Brothers are paying attention.)  This movie had the look and feel of a movie created in the 80's, which is a huge compliment.  Take a heaping tablespoon of 1987's The Running Man, add a dash of The Road Warrior and sprinkle in a little The Fast & The Furious, and you start to get an idea of the feel of this movie.  It's a testosterone-infused, high-octane, adrenaline rush of a movie. 


Jason Statham is terrific in this movie.  I love most of what he's done so far, and I think this movie may rank among his best, right up there with 2002's The Transporter, and maybe even better.  Ian McShane, who was remarkable in HBO's Deadwood, portrayed Coach in the film.  I enjoyed his character and he perfectly delivered some great lines, but I was hoping for the same intensity he showed as Al Swearengen on Deadwood.  Newcomer Natalie Martinez provided some nice eye candy, but it was tough to swallow the idea that she and her fellow supermodel inmates were bused in from the women's prison.  But hey, she was nice to look at.


In conclusion, I found myself loving this movie early on and never lost my enthusiasm and excitement until the credits rolled.  It was very stylish, with its grey-scale palette (it could've EASILY been a black and white film) and enormously entertaining and fun.  You'll root for the hero, utter a few "WOWs" at the stunts, and cheer the ending.  What more could you want from a movie?



On a side note, there were two trailers before the movie that are worth mentioning.  Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are together again in Fast & Furious ... and I couldn't be happier!  The trailer was awesome.  Click HERE to see it.  The movie will be in theaters next June, 2009.



There was also a trailer for the latest teen sex romp comedy.  The unfortunately-named Sex Drive tells the story of a geek who "borrows" a '69 GTO Judge (above) and drives across country to meet the hot blonde he's been chatting with online.  (I may have to sue for copyright infringement, because that pretty much sums up MY love life lately.)  Click HERE to see the official trailer and you be the JUDGE (pun intended.)  Sex Drive arrives in theaters in October.




8/26/08 - Road Trip!

This is a little off-topic, but regular visitors to this site know that I occasionally like to hop into my car and take a drive somewhere I've never been.  Well, would you believe I've never been to NEW YORK?  That situation was remedied when I received a phone call from a representative from The Late Show with David Letterman telling me I had tickets waiting for me for the August 25th taping.  I cleared my schedule, hopped into my car and headed east early Sunday morning.  Click HERE for the story and photos.



8/20/08 - Collectors' Collections

I've added another amazing collection to the Collectors' Collections Gallery.  Eduardo from Costa Rica collects a wide variety of TV and movie die-cast, but sent me pics of his World of Cars display, made up of Mattel's playsets alongside some well-done customs.  It's a very creative and impressive way to display one's Cars collection.  Head on over to the gallery to see the photos and all other submissions to-date. 





8/19/08 - Speed Racer HO Scale

Today I found four of the five cars that make up Hot Wheels' 1:87 scale (HO Scale) Speed Racer set.  Pictured above, from left, are the Mach 5, Mach 6, Racer X and GRX in die-cast metal.  I didn't see the "Race Wrecked Mach 5."  These things are tiny, but impressively detailed.  They've been added to the Speed Racer Movie gallery.




8/18/08 - Chasing Cars

I popped into Wal*Mart during lunchtime and saw a bunch of empty boxes in the toy section that told me they were restocking.  I walked down the die-cast aisle and scored Kathy Copter, Petrol Pulaski and (ugh) Tar McQueen, which may rank among the lamest repaints since Bug Mouth McQueen.  However, I didn't find the CHASE Lightning McQueen.  You read that correctly.  Apparently, Mattel decided that finding new Cars wasn't frustrating enough.  They decided to release Cars that are even MORE difficult to find than regular new releases.  So far, Lightning McQueen with bumper stickers has been released as a chase car (below.)  It'll soon be followed by a newly-rescaled Fred with stickers.  Personally, I think it's an awful idea.  I've never liked the idea of chase cars, White Lightnings, Treasure Hunts, or whatever you want to call them.  It brings out the greedy side of people.  Store stockers keep them from even getting onto the pegs, forcing collectors to pay inflated prices.  I feel chase cars do NOT benefit the collector in any way.  But that's just my opinion.





8/17/08 - Life is but a dream ...

This past weekend was arguably the biggest weekend of the year in the Metro Detroit area.  The 14th annual Woodward Dream Cruise took place, with an estimated 1.4 million attendees and 30,000 to 40,000 classic cars making an appearance.  The cruise begins at 8 Mile Rd. and runs 16 miles into the City of Pontiac.  I spent some time at the intersection of Nine Mile Rd. & Woodward in Ferndale.  I shot some video and hope to post it in the next day or two.  Mike Serrico, who heads up a group of Hollywood car replica owners from the Metro Detroit area, sent me some pics from the event.  It looks like Mel turned some heads with his original Monkeemobile!





8/17/08 - Rarest of the Rare?

Dave Nicholson brought to my attention an incredibly rare version of the General Lee in 1:18 scale.  Here's what Dave had to say:


"The model is based on the RC2 Authentics mold and was commissioned by Supercar Collectibles, who also did the 750-piece limited edition of the Black General Lee with graphics. Only 150 were made without graphics, and Supercars is already sold out. The original price was $99.95, but I've watched several sell for around $200 on eBay. Four of them sold last week for $199.95 each and a couple others have gone over $200."


Click HERE to see a current auction on eBay that features the car in Dukes of Hazzard packaging.




8/15/08 - The ELITE Batmobile is here!

I had to go to the UPS office at lunchtime to pick up a package, and I couldn't wait to get home from work to share pics with you.  Coming from my sponsor Movie Car Mania, the Elite version of Mattel's 1966 Batmobile has arrived!  At first glance, the car is breathtaking, with so much more detail than the standard version.  I hesitated to remove it from the box, but I felt it was my duty:



I tried to get the hood and trunk open, but I couldn't do it and feared I might damage the car trying.  So I went online and looked at the VIDEO posted on YouTube by  Apparently, you have to remove the car from its base and remove some restraints that protect the hood and trunk from flopping open during shipping.  I just couldn't bring myself to do that just yet.  For now, I'm keeping this one on its base.  If you'd like to see a more thorough examination of the car, check out the video I mentioned above.  Unfortunately, it's a pretty harsh criticism of the car.  Among the many complaints is that the car is based on the version that exists today, with all of George Barris' modifications, rather than the car as it appeared on the '66 TV series. 


Personally, I think it's spectacular and it's the jewel of my 1:18 scale collection. 


8/17 UPDATE:  Click HERE to see detailed pics of the Elite Batmobile with its hood and trunk open.




8/15/08 - Mach Go! Go! Go!

Arriving in the mail today from Hong Kong is a new addition to my Speed Racer collection.  Tomica's die-cast 1:64 scale Mach 5 is well done, even though the wheels are sadly generic.  I can't complain too much, though, considering I got it on eBay for a buck plus shipping. 




8/15/08 - '67 Plymouth Belvedere GTX

"Melted chocolate inside the dash, that really ups the resale value."  Thanks to a tip from a fellow collector, I've finally added another "Holy Grail" to my collection.  Pictured above, left, is Johnny Lightning's '67 Plymouth Belvedere GTX.  Pictured above, right, is a still from the 1995 movie Tommy Boy.  Notice any similarities?  Black top.  Similar paint job.  And even the wheels are very close.  Johnny Lightning's version was only available in a fairly pricey Mopar or No Car 10-car boxed set.  Luckily, I was able to bid on and win the car LOOSE from an eBay seller.  In 2003 Johnny Lightning had planned on including the car in a Hollywood on Wheels series.  For whatever reason, the car was dropped, but two years later, it sort of snuck into the boxed set.  Yeah, I know, I know, Reel Rides produced the car in 2007, but the scale is SO far off it doesn't display well with my other 1:64 scale cars.  Johnny Lightning's version will do nicely.  Now if I can find a really small deer to display alongside.





8/14/08 - Heroes of Horsepower!

As I write this, it's late Wednesday night (or early Thursday morning) and I just got home from the 20th Annual Induction Ceremony of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.  Held at the Fillmore in Detroit, it was a great night as I got to meet many racing celebrities and witness the following people get inducted into the Hall of Fame:


- NASCAR Driver Buddy Baker

- Funny Car Racer John Force

- Motorcycle Racer/NASCAR Driver and Indy 500 Racer Paul Goldsmith

- Pilot and record-breaking driver Betty Skelton

- IRL Driver & CART Champ Michael Andretti


AMA Superbike Champion and World Road Racing Champion Wayne Rainey, as well as Sports Car Driver Richie Ginther were inducted as well.  Rainey was unable to attend and Ginther passed away in 1989.  Click on the MSHF logo above to learn more about the museum and the inductees. 


The highlight of the evening for me was meeting Mario Andretti, who presented his son Michael for induction.  Of course, I had to take the opportunity to ask him to sign a little item for me:





8/11/08 - Star Car Sighting

With the Woodward Dream Cruise quickly approaching (August 16) there are car shows GALORE here in the Metro Detroit area.  I braved a gloomy, drizzly Sunday to attend the Rock N Rods show in Rochester and caught a glimpse of Bumblebee from the Transformers movie. I'm told this car was actually used in the film.  I decided to start a thread in the Hollywood Die-Cast forum to post a pic of YOUR star car encounter.  Did you see a famous car at a show?  Passed one on the street?  Saw it parked somewhere?  Snap a pic and post it in the forums.




8/10/08 - Attack Mode KITT

I just found out that NBC unveiled "Attack Mode KITT" at Comic Con.  The official website describes the car as ... "this Mustang on steroids designed for NBC's new Knight Rider boasts Lamborghini doors, a top speed of 377 mph and, most importantly turbo-boost."


The new series is set to premiere Wednesday, September 24 at 8pm EST.  Click HERE for more pics and info.



8/9/08 - "Star Wars, nothin' but Star Wars."

There is a TON of new Star Wars toys in stores due to the release of the new Clone Wars line.  Hanging on the pegs among the new figures and vehicles (how about that HUGE Millennium Falcon?) is the latest wave of Titanium vehicles.  I spotted some interesting ones, but haven't picked any up yet.  The green XP-34 Landspeeder (left) stands out, as does the Bespin Cloud Car.  Also, for those of you who couldn't find the Battlestar Galactica Classic Cylon Raider in stores, it's shipping in this wave.  I've seen multiples hanging on the pegs.  For all the pics and info you can handle, visit the ultimate authority on the subject:






8/7/08 - Finally!  The RD-10 Batmobile is MINE!

Okay, here's the story.  Let's go all the way back to January 2007.  While looking for die-cast cars at Toys R Us, I found Mattel's Batman Transporter and bought it.  I noticed on the back of the package a picture of an unusual Batmobile (right.)  Doing some digging, I discovered it was a repaint of a car from the Acceleracers line known as RD-10.  I thought it looked pretty cool and waited for it to hit stores.  But time passed and I didn't see it.  Then in March of '07, I spotted a few auctions for loose RD-10 Batmobiles that originated out of Malaysia (left.)  I assumed they were test shots, but every time I bid, I got outbid.  Eventually, I stopped seeing them on eBay.  Time passed and I grew frustrated.  Then, fairly recently, I spotted something in stores called Batcave Training Run, and pictured on the box was the elusive RD-10 Batmobile!  But included with the playset was the strange "Gatman" Batmobile.  That's right.  If you look closely, the tampo reads "GATMAN."   I thought, "Somebody REALLY screwed up."  I had almost given up hope of finding the RD-10 Batmobile, wondering if it would ever get released. 


THEN ... while browsing I saw a picture of the RD-10 Batmobile!  The description said it was from something called Batman Hero Launchers!  I went to eBay, did a search, and found one seller offering these Batman Hero Launchers.  It was difficult to tell from the photo in the auction, so I contacted him and asked if it actually included the RD-10 Batmobile I had been looking for.  He said it did, so I did a "Buy It Now."  And, well, it arrived in the mail today and I finally, FINALLY can add the RD-10 Batmobile to my collection.  WHEW!  It's a great-looking car and a terrific addition to the wide variety of 1:64 Hot Wheels Batmobiles.  Pics have been added to the Hot Wheels Batmobiles Gallery.





8/7/08 - More Speed Racer

I popped into a Target store during lunch and found the latest release of 1:55 scale die-cast cars from Jada's Speed Racer line.  Included in this wave are (from above, left) F1 Mach 5, F1 Shooting Star, GRX and Black Tiger. 




8/2/08 - Cars, Cars and more CARS!

I just stumbled across a thread from the Cars the Toys Forum showing a BUNCH of photos from San Diego Comic Con.  The photos reveal what we Cars collectors have in store for us over the next few months.  Looking at all the pics, I got that antsy, squirmy feeling knowing I'll be hunting for these things.  The above photo is just a small taste.  Elvis RV?  Pizza Planet Truck?  BRING 'EM ON!  Click HERE to start your journey.




8/1/08 - Batgirl's Bike has Arrived!

A big thanks goes out to Dan Canonizado of San Diego who was kind enough to pick up an extra Comic Con exclusive Batman 3-pack for me.  It arrived in the mail today. This has got to rank among the coolest die-cast sets I've ever seen.  Of course the highlight of this set is Batgirl's Batcycle, something I never thought I'd see in die-cast form.  Even though I already have the Batmobile and Batcycle, I love how all three vehicles display in the package.  Thanks again Dan!