Posts from ‘Models and Toys’
Just like sports broadcasts and Donald Trump’s hair, consumer-product packaging is one of those things that changes so gradually that most consumers are scarcely aware of the subtle shifts. Even iconic brands are regularly tweaked, updated, or outright redesigned to look fresh and new in consumers’ eyes. As the years roll by, those original products gradually make the transition from “outdated” to “historical artifact.” If you’ve ever seen the “throwback” cans of Pepsi or Mountain Dew, or the retro boxes of cereal that are issued from time to time, you know what we’re talking about.
I grew up in the 1970s, so my earliest memories of “cool” cars are clouded by the realities of the day. Yes, I fondly recall the Road Runners, AMXs, and Z/28s of my youth. But remember, these were the 1977 versions of those legendary nameplates that were largely reduced to wearing tape stripes and white-letter tires.
I have a confession to make: I never really outgrew Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy cars. My interest has ebbed and flowed over the years, but it has never gone away completely . . . and these days, I seem to be in “flow” mode. Part of the reason is that Mattel has been pushing a lot of ’80s-nostalgia hot buttons recently in the Hot Wheels line. They’ve released a steady flow of ’80s TV and movie cars over the past couple years, such as the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 ’59 Cadillac ambulance, the Back to the Future DeLorean, KITT from Knight Rider, and the A-Team van. (In my experience, all of these “Hollywood” vehicles are frustratingly hard to find in stores; collectors snap them up almost as soon as they’re put out.) And, Mattel has reintroduced the Hot Wheels “Hot Ones” line as a separate nostalgia series. Oh, boy. You know you’re getting older when the throwback reissue series is comprised of many of the same cars you had as a kid.
Having worked as a design sculptor in the styling departments of three American automakers, Ron Konopka values the skill and workmanship that go into creating the models that historically have been used to establish the looks of cars. That’s what motivated him to obtain and restore a deteriorating ¼-scale plaster model of the 1956 Nash Rambler—a rare artifact of the long-defunct American Motors Corporation.
Last year, Chevrolet and Mattel teamed up for a wild-green Camaro Hot Wheels concept car. The idea was to take a full-size Camaro and make it look like one of Mattel’s Hot Wheels toy cars. You know, the little cars you can buy on a blister card at the local MegaLoMart.
In celebration of 50 years of James Bond films. (Dr. No was released on October 5, 1962.)
For about as long as I can remember, plastic model-car kits have been part of my life. Some of my earliest memories of my mom involve the two of us working on a model kit at the kitchen table. I still have a 1/43-scale 1969 AMX she helped me build around 1974.
There is a subgroup of model cars known as promotional, or promo, models. As the name implies, promos are typically meant to be promotional items for a particular product, usually a car or truck. Rather than kits that need to be put together, these models almost always come fully assembled. Since the first models of this type were released in the late 1940s, they have usually been in 1/25 scale and made of plastic. Promotional models also have been made for tractors, construction equipment, and other subjects, but one of the most unusual has to be the 1/25-scale version of a food company’s giant hot dog-shaped vehicle.