The Year in Review
Although Mattel's Cars 2 line officially launched
in May of 2011, the toys continued to appear in the toy aisles throughout
2012. Unlike the toys from the FIRST movie, the same main characters
from Cars 2 were found still hanging on the pegs as 2012 got
underway. And things didn't change much as the year marched on.
Every time I visited the toy aisles looking for something new, the same core
characters clogged the pegs. Every once in a while, I would spot a new
character, like Pope Pinion, pictured above with the Popemobile, but usually
it was a Deluxe character, or part of an expensive boxed set. Sadly,
as 2012 progressed, I began to totally lose interest in this line.
Occasionally, I picked up something new to photograph for this website, but
I really miss the thrill of the hunt that came with collecting the wide
variety of characters from the original Cars movie. Mattel did
attempt to re-release some of the original characters as part of a classic
line, but I can't help but feel the Cars toy line is coming to the
end of the road.
In January, while out looking for Mattel's DC Nostalgia
cars, I instead found these. Mattel released a series called DC
Universe. The first wave included Superman, Joker and Green Lantern.
What's interesting about these particular cars is that they are unique
castings that incorporate elements of the character in their design.
Later came Wonder Woman, and, of course, Batman characters.
Speaking of Batman...
What a year for the Caped Crusader. Mattel released
SO much Batman product in 2012 it was difficult to keep up! In
February, Mattel released a Dark Knight 5-pack. Most of the
vehicles were re-releases, but there was one particular car that stood out.
Bone Shaker's grill was re-tooled to resemble a smiling Joker face (above,
left.) What a great idea from the folks at Mattel! Next,
Batman was included in the hard-to-find DC Nostalgia line, and a Batman
4-pack was offered as a Walmart exclusive. The package looked great,
but using a pick-up truck to represent Batman left me scratching my head
(second from left.) Then in May, Mattel decided to work Batman into
it's Matchbox line. A blue & red Batmobile based on the Batman
Power Attack line of toys was found in stores in the spring, with a gray
variation found in November. In June, Batman fans were whipped into a
frenzy when collectors found an entire line of Batman Hot Wheels at Walmart
stores! There were 8 in all, and although the castings were all
re-releases, it was the card art that made this line special. The line
proved popular and they vanished from stores fairly quickly. Also in
June, Batman joined his superhero counterparts as part of the DC Universe
line with a new, unique Batmobile casting. Batman was also found
riding a motorcycle as part of the Hot Wheels Speed Cycles line.
But wait, there's more!
After a year-long absence, Mattel's 1:50 scale line of
Bat Vehicles returned to the toy aisles. I was absolutely ecstatic
when I found the Batcopter featured in the 1966 Batman movie! I
never thought I'd see the Batcopter in toy form, but Mattel really came
through on this one! It's one of my favorite pieces of the year
(above, left.) The Penguin's Duck was found in the same wave. In
July, a 1940's Batmobile was released in 1:50 scale, followed by two more
new vehicles in the fall: a 1980's Batmobile, and....
The Dark Knight Rises was released on July 20th to
mostly positive reviews and is the second highest grossing movie of 2012
(Second to The Avengers.) In the movie, Lucius Fox (Morgan
Freeman) introduces Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) to a new vehicle, The Bat,
a heavily armed, agile, hover jet. The Bat was released several times
throughout the year, in various scales. Released just weeks before the
movie's premiere was the version that was included in the Hot Wheels 2012
New Models line. In September, Mattel included The Bat in its 1:50
scale line of Bat Vehicles. Falling somewhere in the middle in scale
was a version released in November as part of the Matchbox Sky Busters line.
And, although it's not die-cast metal, Hallmark released a limited-edition
ornament in October.
Other Bat Vehicles released in 2012 include, from left,
the Batman Live! Batmobile in September and the Bat-Pod in November.
In late 2012, a set of Batmobiles were found at Shell gas stations in
Brazil. And the 1966 Batmobile was re-released as part of the Hot
Wheels Imagination line and the highly-detailed Retro Entertainment line
(I'll talk more about THAT later.)
1:18 Scale Cars
2012 was a good year for those of us who collect 1:18
scale Hollywood cars. Mattel released The A-Team van in 1:18
scale for the first time EVER, in both Elite and regular versions (above,
left.) They also released an Elite version of Ecto-1 that many say is
a vast improvement over RC2's version. Photos of a K.I.T.T. prototype
showed up online, but the car hasn't hit stores quite yet.
Unfortunately, the Elite versions of these cars are a little pricey,
retailing for $100. AutoWorld bought up RC2's tools and re-released
many of their Hollywood cars in 1:18 scale. In February, changes were
made to the Monkeemobile so that it more closely resembled the #2 car, which
resides here in Michigan.
Speaking of The Monkeemobile...
In February, I FINALLY got to meet the legendary Dean
Jeffries, the builder of the Monkeemobile and The Black Beauty, among other
cars. He made a rare appearance at the Detroit Autorama (above, left.)
The owner of the #2 Monkeemobile, Mel, traveled to California in February to
meet Davy Jones (above, center.) Sadly, and shockingly, Davy Jones
passed away just a week or so later. In August, I got to sit in the #2
Monkeemobile for the first time while visiting the Woodward Dream Cruise.
In April, I FINALLY found the Hot Wheels version of
Knight Rider's K.I.T.T. at Toys R Us. In all my years of
collecting, this has been one of the most difficult-to-find Hot Wheels ever!
Also in April, GreenLight's third series of Hollywood
cars arrived in stores. Six cars made up this particular release, and
although most were re-releases, they were still pretty cool, especially the
single-carded versions of the cars from the movie Bullitt. An
awesome diorama from The Blues Brothers was found in June, and
then Series 4 hit stores in September, which included eagerly anticipated
cars from the movie Joe Dirt (above, right.)
In June, Mattel released a few new characters as part of its
Toy Story line. With the addition of the two you see above,
plus a second version of Woody, the line grew to 17 total releases.
2012 Comic Con was held in July in San Diego, CA.
Among the exclusives offered at the Con were two beautiful offerings from
Mattel. Pictured above, left, is a 1:64 scale K.I.T.T. from Knight
Rider, mounted on an electronic base that emits phrases and sound
effects from the TV series. Pictured above, right, is the debut of
Mattel's Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo! These are two
FANTASTIC pieces and I'm so grateful to Nate Truman in CA who sent them to
me in August.
The main line version of The Mystery Machine began to hit
stores soon after Comic Con, but was very difficult to find. I didn't
find my first one until NOVEMBER, when I discovered some hiding in a dump
bin at K-Mart!
August, the Mars Rover Curiosity touched down on the surface of Mars.
On September 15, a die-cast version was found in cases during K-Mart's Hot
Wheels Collectors Day. It was also later found at Walmart and proved
quite popular with collectors.
In September, Mattel sort of rattled collectors when it
was announced that 2012's Halloween Hot Wheels would be a Kroger exclusive,
and NOT a Walmart exclusive as in previous years. To add to the
frenzy, it was discovered that two of the cars included in the 5-car set
were unique repaints of Ecto-1 and the '66 Batmobile (above, right.)
Kroger stores put the cars out in early September and they were quickly
snatched up by collectors. Although I managed to assemble several
complete sets, many collectors never even saw them in stores.
If you're a fan of Back to the Future, then you
had a few new pieces to add to your collection. In October, I found
the DeLorean Time Machine as part of the Hot Wheels Light Speeders line
(above, left.) In December, two versions of the DeLorean arrived in
mailboxes to those who ordered them through the Hot Wheels Red Line Club.
The first was the Time Machine featuring Mr. Fusion (above, center.) A
standard version of the DeLorean arrived just before Christmas, and featured
a chrome finish and opening gull wing doors!
the end of the year, Fred Flintstone's Flintmobile joined the Mystery
Machine and the '66 Batmobile as part of the Hot Wheels Imagination line.
It's a brand new casting, and considerably different than the version that
Mattel released in 1994.
And finally, the BIGGEST story of 2012...
Way back in July, Mattel made the MONUMENTAL announcement
that it would launch the Retro Entertainment line, consisting entirely of
1:64 scale cars from film and television! If that alone wasn't great
enough news, they added that the cars would be highly-detailed and sport
rubber tires! No less than seven different series are planned
for this line, and will give us many cars that have never been offered in
die-cast form before! Available from online vendors (and, oddly, Pep
Boys stores) in December was the first wave of the Retro series, including
K.I.T.T., Ecto-1, The '66 Batmobile and The Mystery Machine (above, from
left to right.) Photos of The A-Team Van, The Muppets
Electric Mayhem Bus, and the Ford Coupe from American Graffiti have
all surfaced online and should be hitting stores in 2013. For those of
us who collect Hollywood cars, this could go down in history as the greatest
line of die-cast cars since Johnny Lightning's Hollywood on Wheels series,
and could EASILY surpass it as the greatest line of all-time!!!
We should have a lot of fun hunting down these cars in
2013 and I'll do my best to keep you up to date on this website and its
Facebook counterpart! Happy New Year everyone!