3/31/03 - Unproduced Star Cars NOW WITH PICS!
In response to my e-mail, Robert, at sent me some pics of 5 of the unproduced Matchbox Star Cars. 

From top left:

1) American Graffiti Thunderbird - This would be the car that Suzanne Somers drove in the film, though I don't recall it being a convertible.  If it was, it was never shown with the top down.
2) Brady Bunch '55 Chevy Convertible - This car was eventually released through Avon, with Pinky's Thunderbird from Happy Days, Magnum P.I. Helicopter, and K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider.
3) Charlie's Angels Van - This one looks similar to the old ERTL Van, which was based on a custom van that toured the car shows, except the ERTL van was pink..  I'm not sure if it ever appeared on the TV series.
4) C.Hi.P.s Motorcycle - Though it's not entirely accurate, it's not too bad.  I wonder how the scale held up with the other cars.
5) Welcome Back Kotter School Bus - This one is the coolest of the bunch, maybe the entire line.  I don't recall a school bus ever being seen on the show, but this probably would've wound up in my personal collection.

Unfortunately, Robert said he didn't have a pic of the vehicle from Emergency!, so  we'll have to use our imagination.  Thanks again to Robert!  Be sure to visit his website using the above link.

3/31/03 - The Fast & The Furious Series 4
The 4th series of ERTL's The Fast & The Furious line is now showing up on eBay.  I only recently found SERIES 3 at retail.  Series 4 includes the following cars:

  • 1993 MAZDA RX-7

3/31/03 - Hot Wheels Batmobile
This was found at

100% Hot Wheels Batmobile Single (Hobby Exclusive)  $9.95 & $4.95 shipping
DUE JUL. 2003
Preorder now for guaranteed delivery.

I'll post pics as soon as I find them.

3/30/03 - Johnny Lightning's Al Pletcher Moves on to Bigger Things
March 28 was Al Pletcher's last day on the job at Johnny Lightning.  He was kind enough to respond to a few questions via e-mail:

Joe:  Al, what was your job responsibility at Johnny Lightning?
Al:  Since Feb,1998 I have developed and researched vehicles for the JL line. Actual title is Automotive Research Specialist.

Joe:  Did you work on any of JL's TV or movie properties?
Al:  I worked on the Black Beauty, Supercar, Mod Squad Woody, Munsters Coach, Drag U La, James Bond, American Graffitti, VIP,Buffy cars, and some others and redos of the Monkeemobile, and BTF Delorean. Favorite is the Munsters Coach.

Joe:  Describe your new business.
Al:  I build performance cars for resale. Basically I re-engineer the car by upgrading the engine, suspension, brakes, driveline, and interior.

Joe:  Is there anything you'd like to say to the fans of your work at JL?
Al:  I have enjoyed meeting people that have attended Lightning Fest and people I have met in stores buying JL product. Also I appreciate all comments that were posted about JL cars I worked on or about myself from fellow BB members. Hope to get some of them to start collecting 1:1 cars now.

Later, Hot Rod AL

Thanks Al.  Good luck to you in your future endeavors.

3/30/03 - Unproduced Matchbox Star Cars
Browsing online, I stumbled onto some interesting information at
Matchbox produced some of the most inaccurate movie and TV-related vehicles as part of its Star Cars line.  Many of them appear on my Top Ten Worst list.  Three regular series were released, in addition to a few special releases.  One can't help but be curious about the vehicles that appear on this list of unproduced Star Cars:

SC 19 - CHARLIE’S ANGELS - CHEVY VAN - Orange with ‘Charlies Angels’

SC 20 - C.Hi.P.s - MOTORCYCLE - Black and Silver



SC 23 - AMERICAN GRAFFITI - ‘57 FORD THUNDERBIRD - White ‘American Graffiti’

SC 24 - EMERGENCY - RESCUE TRUCK - Unknown (presumably red)

3/29/03 - ERTL Racing Champions Unveils 1:64 Tomb Raider Vehicle
Tomb Raider has been one of the few new properties included on a list of upcoming vehicles offered by ERTL RC.  The 1:64 vehicle has been unveiled on the ERTL RC website:

The site also reveals that a 1:18 scale 1971 Cuda from the movie Phantasm will be released in April.

3/27/03 - New Products Shipping in June through Diamond Distributors
I picked up the most recent issue of Previews - Diamond Distributors' catalogue.  Scheduled to ship in June is Johnny Lightning's Hollywood on Wheels Series 4 Die-Cast cars.  The assortment is scheduled to include:

- Happy Days:  Fonz's Bike (grey)
- Happy Days:  Ralph's Hot Rod (yellow/flames)
- Charlie's Angels:  Jill Monroe's Mustang II Cobra
- Rat Race:  '73 Eldorado (blue)
- Hogan's Heroes:  Kubelwagen (OD Green)
- Tommy Boy:  '67 Plymouth (blue)
- Get Smart:  Sunbeam (red)
- Brady Bunch:  Plymouth Barracuda Convertible (blue)
- Italian Job (2003):  Mini-Cooper Trio (1 each red, white and blue)


For those of you who may have missed out on the first wave of Johnny Lighting's Batman Die-Cast Kits, they are being offered again.  So expect more on the shelves of hobby shops and comic book stores in June.

3/22/03 - Batman Series 2 Canceled?
Saw this posted at Hobbytalk by Dave Metzner:

"The second release of the 1:64 scale Batman Die cast Model Kits have been cancelled for now.
Because sales of the first release have been disapointing, we have decided to forgo investing in tooling for another release of similar kits at this time."

This is ridiculous.  I haven't seen series one at retail anywhere.  The only time I've seen them for sale is at the Autorama.  I've ordered a case through my local comic book store and they haven't arrived yet.  If you read the other posts at Hobbytalk, NO ONE has been able to find these at retail.  I can't believe Playing Mantis is canceling series 2.

3/19/03 - ERTL Racing Champs Updates Website
ERTL RC recently updated their website, and I have to say it's a bit disappointing.  Take a look for yourself:

2003 Releases
Release Status
Hardcastle & McCormick Manta March
Fast Times at Ridgemont High 1970 Camaro March
Munsters Munsters Koach March
Bullitt 1968 Mustang March
Dukes of Hazzard General Lee March
Tomb Raider Tomb Raider March

Every single one of these, with the exception of the Tomb Raider vehicle, are re-releases.  I know in my area, some of these cars are still hanging on the pegs from previous assortments.

3/17/03 - Exclusive Interview with Jeff Koch of Johnny Lightning
Jeff Koch was kind enough to respond to a list of questions I submitted regarding TV and movie licenses.  He also officially confirmed the Hollywood on Wheels lineup for 2003.  Click here to read the interview.

3/14/03 - Harry Potter added to Gallery
Flipping through the latest issue of Lee's Toy Review magazine, I saw they had put together a complete guide to Harry Potter toys.  Among those listed was Harry Potter Spider Swarm, a race track made by Hot Wheels.  It includes the Weasley Flying Car, apparently in 1:64 scale.  Click here to see the pics.

3/8/03 - Best Movie Car Chases?
Premiere Magazine asked The Fast & The Furious director Rob Cohen what he thought was the perfect car chase movie.  His answer:

1981's The Road Warrior

Premiere also asked Dario Franchitti, professional race car driver and husband to Ashley Judd, to pick the greatest chase movies of all time.  Click on the thumbnail below to see his top ten:

This has inspired me to come up with my OWN top ten. (See left column.)

3/8/03 - Johnny Lightning News
I saw this posted on by Johnny Lightning rep Jeff Koch:

"To celebrate the Die Another Day DVD release, individually boxed Johnny Lightning James Bond vehicles (in a special blue Bond box) will be available at Radio Grille, the Wal-Mart restaurant units, starting in May. Six different models: Vanquish, Hornet, Sunbeam Tiger, bronze Lotus, Toyota 2000GT, and one more I can't remember right now but it was an early JB release car. These will all come with hard wheels, not the Real Wheels available in single blister (if you could find single blister) except the Vanquish, which will have the approved 12-spoke wheel design in Real Wheels form. Rumor has it that a Johnny Lightning TV commercial may even appear on the DVD, though that is COMPLETELY uncomfirmed.

There is also a chase car, a single low-quantity model, in the Bond deal. And I'm not telling you what it is. Go buy a corn dog and sort that one out yourself."

3/1/03 - Batman Products from Hot Wheels?
When Mattel took over the Batman license, I wondered if there would be any Batman-themed Hot Wheels.  I saw this posted at today:

"Batman™ Three-Car Pack with Collector Book: The Hot Wheels® brand has always been the place to look for the hottest entertainment licenses in the die-cast world, and this year will be bigger and better than ever. In 2003, the Caped Crusader himself, Batman™, makes an appearance on Hot Wheels® 1:64 scale die-cast vehicles. Three exclusive cars come packed together, featuring the new look of Batman™ and other favorite characters from the DC Comics franchise. The cars come with a collector’s guide so kids can keep track of all their Hot Wheels® vehicles. (Not for use with some Hot Wheels® sets.) A.R.P.: $4.99 Age: 3 Available: August"

I don't know if this means Batman's image will appear on existing castings, or if these will be new castings.  I'll post pics as soon as I can find them.