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Community Highlights: John Righter’s Restoration Videos

Whatever your thoughts on restoring vs. originality when it comes to Hot Wheels Redlines, you’ve got to respect someone who puts a ton of time and care into bringing Redlines back to their original glory. In this case, if you’re opposed to restorations, at least your only watching!

On Community Supporter John Righter’s Youtube channel WheelsNThangs, you can follow along as he restores and customizes everything from an original Heavy Chevy to vintage Lesney Matchbox cars. As you watch John narrate while painstakingly stripping, sanding, painting and reassembling each car, sink into your chair and appreciate the Bob Ross of Hot Wheels.


Johnny Lightning Gets to Take a 50th Anniversary Victory Lap

johnny ;lightning 50Hot Wheels took the lion’s share of diecast journalism attention in 2018 with their elaborate, year-long 50th Anniversary celebration. With that in the rear view mirror, Johnny Lightning turns the big 5-0 in 2019, with some special retro packaging and old castings in the works. Several people involved in the brand are also celebrated as Inductees of the Model Car Hall of Fame.

Of course, it hasn’t been a continuous half century. The original Topper cars were made only until 1971 when the company went bankrupt for missing the mark on other toys. It’s a shame they went out of business, because JL was giving Hot Wheels a run for the money at the time. For a sense of how heated the race was between Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning during the Topper years, check out this article from Sports Illustrated from 1970. The brands were not only banging fenders at 1/64 scale, they were duking it out on real tracks. While Hot Wheels was all-in with their Snake and Mongoose drag racing efforts, JL was busy sponsoring -and winning – in Indy Cars. The peak for Topper was Al Unser winning the Indy 500 in a blue car covered in those familiar lightning bolts.

tom lowe

In 1995, Tom Lowe (MCHOF ’10), who enjoyed those original cars as a kid, secured the license to the name and the designs and started reproducing them. Collectors of a certain age were thrilled to see the original designs, but that wasn’t all he had in mind. That lasted a good decade until 2013.  Lowe has also worked tor AMT, Auto World, Hawk, Lindberg, MPC and Polar Lights. As the CEO of Round2, he was able to secure the brand again and begin producing new Johnny Lightning models in 2016.


Mac Ragan (MCHOF ’10) helped steer Johnny Lightning from 2003-2007, with a hand in designing hundreds of vehicles during his tenure. He left for Greenlight Collectibles, but eventually found his way home again. As Social Media Director for their various brands, he was instrumental in the latest comeback for Johnny Lightning.

judson bryanSeveral designers who have contributed to the Johnny Lightning garage are also inductees in the MCHOF.

Judson Bryan (MCHOF ’15), right, is another diecast designer who has done some of his best work with Johnny Lightning. Bryan has worked with several other  large diecast brands, including Muscle Machines, Jada Toys, and Johnny Lightning.

Tony Karamitsos

Tony Karamitsos (MCHOF ’17), left, currently serves as Brand Manager and senior designer for Round2.  Tony is known for his attention to detail having designed hundreds of highly detailed die-cast replicas for numerous scales for Johnny Lightning, Auto World, Racing Champions, American Muscle, Legends of the Quarter Mile, Silver Screen Machines, slot car replicas, resin models & model kits throughout the years which are all currently owned by Round2.

tom daniel

Then of course, there’s Tom Daniel (MCHOF ’18) He’s best known for his crazy, far-out model kits, often a take on a familiar theme such as circus wagons, paddy wagons, beer wagons (he really likes wagons!) Several of his cars have been licensed for smaller scales by Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning. JL’s models included the “Plastic Fantastic” series, which came with miniatures of the model kit boxes. His custom 1960 Chevy Panel Wagon has also been produced in 1/18 scale by Johnny Lightning.

auto world ford galaxie

The MCHOF has even recognized one of the descendants of the Johnny Lightning brand as model of the eyar. The Auto World ’64 Galaxie (MCHOF ’18) won that honor for 1/64 scale cars.

Even though the timeline has some gaps, Johnny Lightning has been an important part of the diecast world for the better part of the 50 years since their debut. Here’s hoping they celebrate in style as the year rolls on!

Sam Bass, Renowned NASCAR Illustrator, Dies at 57

sam bass nascarNASCAR artist and 2012 Model Car Hall of Fame Inductee Sam Bass passed away on February 16. If his name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, his artwork certainly should. As NASCAR’s “First Officially Licensed Artist,” he created dozens, if not hundreds of works of stock car related art for posters, t-shirts, and other merchandising.

That distinction of being “licensed” by the racing organization meant he could render the cars with correct sponsor logos, adding a realism to his work to which others did not have had access. And his work was for sale at tracks around the country every week.

He also helped design the graphics on the real cars for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and other drivers. The Rainbow Warrior scheme for Jeff Gordon’s DuPont Chevy was probably his most famous design. When you consider how many of his designs have been translated to diecast models, it’s easy to see why he was one of the early inductees into the Model Car Hall of Fame in the “Automotive Legends” category.

bobby allison sam bass
One of Bass’ earliest car designs was Bobby Allison’s Miller High Life Buick.

Among this work, he was best known for his montage-style tributes to the drivers and their cars that graced race day programs and other publications. His first big break was illustrating the cover for the Charlotte Motor Speedway World 600 in 1985, which led to him doing just about every other cover for Charlotte races since.

Bass developed a close association with NASCAR family and culture. During the pre-race broadcast of the Daytona 500 on February 17 of this year, the crew at Fox paid him tribute. Many drivers Tweeted condolences as well. NASCAR officials issued a tribute as well, saying, “Though he may have never turned a lap or a wrench, few captured the essence of our sport through his work more than Sam Bass. He was a consistent presence in the NASCAR garage, and his ever-present smile and endearing personality welcomed all. Though we have lost a member of the NASCAR family, his legend will continue in his art – all of which illustrated the greatness of our sport and the talent of a true friend.”

jeff gordon sam bass
Bass helped design Jeff Gordon’s iconic “Rainbow Warrior” livery.

Model Car Hall of Fame 2019 Nominations

Nominate Now!

A flying start

We’re back, better (and earlier) than ever. 2018 brought us new categories like Slot Cars and Farm Models plus new scales and new Inductees. From the Automodello ‘65 Riviera, to our Model Car Dealer of the year, Replicarz, to our new Automotive Legend Ken Block, our Inductees have never reached as many corners of the automotive world. We’re starting 2019 with 2 more new categories, a new timeline and a new format. 


Nominations are kicking off right now, running from February until August. You can nominate all year long and invite anyone else to nominate, too. Whatever scale, car or brand you’re into could have a place in the Model Car Hall of Fame.

New Categories

You probably watch a lot of great stuff on social media, video sites like Youtube or, on TV. From restorations videos to unboxing to the latest Model Car news, we think it’s time to celebrate the most creative, in depth and biggest-impact model car video creators with a new category: Content Creator. We’re also excited to announce the addition of Construction Models. With unique models and scales like 1:50, construction toys are a really cool corner of the diecast world and we’re excited to see your favorites.

Where to nominate

Like last year, we have a page for each type of nomination: Cars, brands and people. When you submit a nomination, just click on the correct form to submit another. We have new fields to make sure your nomination has enough information, including a URL field and a picture uploader so you can show off the customs, models or people you’re nominating.

New additions

Our Selection Committee has grown by 2 new members: Marshall Buck, creator, owner and leader of CMA models and Bruce Meyer, automotive collector and former Chairman of the Petersen Museum. Our Selection Committee now stands at 22 members, providing expertise on our nominees that extends through every part of the automotive world.

Help us help the hobby

The more of you that nominate, the better the awards will be for all of us in the collector community. Take a bigger role in the Hall and help us spread the world! Becoming a community supporter is easy, just post about nominations, voting and awards and we’ll link to your site from ours!

Immersed: Marshall Buck Joins the Selection Committee

Marshall Buck, The newest member of the Model Car Hall of Fame Selection Committee, possess experience in every corner of the model car hobby, from building and collecting to business and entrepreneurship.

Marshall Buck
Marshall with some of his creations.

Beginning with diecast from big European names, Marshall quickly added kits and slot cars to his growing scale vehicle interest, and with some encouragement from family members, landed a freelance gig with Aurora Toy Corporation while still a teenager.

Marshall maintained his model passion outside of school, buying, trading, building and selling while working in different day jobs. Soon, one of Marshall’s customers lit the spark that would begin his career in model cars, urging him to consider doing the work full-time.

That’s exactly what Marshall did, starting his own, larger volume producer: Creative Miniature Associates, or CMA.  Later, he also began writing a featured model column for Vintage Motorsport Magazine, beginning a ten year stint with the publication, all the while growing CMA and handling requests for custom models.

Throughout the ensuing years, Marshall has honed CMA into a renowned model builder, producing hand-built models in a variety of scales (many uncommon) like 1:20, 1:14, 1:43, plus 1:12 limited edition hand built models and kits. These limited editions stand among the best known CMA creations, often based on famous race cars and signed by famous race drivers.

Through CMA, Marshall has worked with some storied names over the years, building models for manufacturers like Toyota, Ferrari, Aston Martin and many more. With so much experience, Marshall continues to be in high demand, contributing to dozens of automotive publications over the years. His passion for cars shows no signs of waning, and we hope he’ll continue to make great connections and help make 2019 a great year for the Hall.



Selection Committee – Bruce Meyer and his Dream Material

In the digital age, it seems we’ve entered another golden era for cars. It’s easier than ever for your average guy to find and appreciate the aesthetic appeal of a whole range of cars from all around the world, not just what’s at their local used car lot or cruise night. A big reason for this renaissance: some decidedly un-average car guys, who’ve opened up their collections and knowledge to be appreciated by the latest generations of enthusiast. Bruce Meyer is one of these enthusiasts and we’re happy to have his talent on the Selection Committee.

Bruce’s contributions to automotive culture build a long list. Of course, there’s his personal collection, a physical manifestation of the years Bruce has spent racing and touring around the world in events like the Mille Miglia and Goodwood. The 4 1/2 Litre Bentley, the Bonneville Belly Tanker, the 356 outlaw with the 912 motor; most of Bruce’s cars have participated or continue to participate in motorsport. Many now reside in Bruce’s Beverly Hills Garage, a tasteful, moderately sized space which also houses Bruce’s collection of model cars, automotive literature and memorabilia. Far from some cloistered, vacuum sealed museum, Bruce has allowed many guests, including automotive media guys like Adam Corolla, to film the space for years.

His collection has made such an impression that it inspired a few model cars, such as the Hot Wheels Pop’s Garage, Designer Dreamz and the Bruce Meyer’s Gallery sets.

Then there’s the other collections Bruce has started or championed, including the world-renowned Petersen Museum, the Nethercutt Collection, the Mullin Automotive Museum and the LeMay Museum.

Bruce has won numerous awards for his work, among them an induction to the Model Car Hall of Fame. We’re sure he’ll continue to make a lasting impression on the automotive scene, and we’re happy to have his input in the Model Car Hall of Fame. Check out the video below for a closer look at Bruce’s collection.