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Celebrating Larger-than-life 2009 Inductee Roy Nakamura

Guest Post from Andy Goodman
Andy organizes car and collector events, collects Hot Wheels, Funko, Jada, M2 and more, works for M2 Machines and has consulted many other toy companies.  He is also one of our Inductees (Model Historian in 2014) and has organized a number of the Annual Ceremonies for the Hall.  Here he is paying tribute to Roy Nakamura, our 2009 Intriguing Collector Inductee.

“You live life once so enjoy it” Those were some meaningful words spoken to me as a young adult, by a gentleman whom I admired for many years.   His name Roy Nakamura – the man who took me from an average collector to a hunter, seeking the rarest and most unique diecast pieces from sources all over the world.

 

Some of Roy’s Scale Models

 

But he also loved 1:1 Scale cars… and check out the number plates!)

Roy was an avid fan of many brands, but his ultimate rush when collecting was being able to add first shots, pre-productions, paint samples and other unique pieces to his collection.  He found it fulfilling to have something original in his hands.  He would share his latest acquisitions with many of us back in the good old days on forums such as HobbyTalk and JoesDIecastShack (Ed. Note – both are Community Supporters of the Hall and are still alive and vibrant). Roy would find special pieces from all around the world, purchase multiples if possible, and would then share them with his collecting friends.  I will never forget the first time he reached out to me asking for my address, a week later a box shows up with a half dozen various Jada Street Lows that were never released to the public. From time to time for more than a decade we would swap stories, trade cars and surprise each other with cool finds and oddities when possible.

Roy signing the 2009 Class Declaration (the first image on the top of this blog post shows him on the same day with George Barris, another 2009 Inductee)

It is surreal that Roy left us nearly 5 years ago.  Roy and countless others have made marks on the industry that have impacted collectors, manufacturers and even the direction the hobby has gone.  It is for this reason that Central Pennsylvania’s Collector Con has created the Legacy Award.  An annual award that will pay homage to a fallen collector so that we can keep their legacy alive for generations to come.  Please help us thank Roy Nakamura for all that he did for our hobby of collecting.

You will find information on the dinner on the website for the Central Pennsylvania’s Collector-Con 

If you have a nice image of Roy please add it to a comment below, as this is in effect Roy’s long overdue Obituary on the Hall’s site.


Jim Bur joins the Selection Committee

Think about what brings you to the hobby. Maybe you saw a particular model that you loved, maybe you collect models close to the car you own or used to own. What if your job, your hobby, and even your daily driver became a cohesive, extensive catalogue of your favorite brand? Our newest selection committee member, Jim Bur, can answer that question.

Jim Bur Collection
The Collection from egarage.com

Throughout a number of different roles in the Brand Management and Licensing industry, Jim Bur has worked closely with Chrysler and FCA on marketing, advertising and communications. For Jim, his relationship to this family of brands, suppliers and enthusiasts more widely known as Mopar extends far beyond the office. Both his garage and his house stand as a testament to a life long dedication to all things Mopar.

Jim Bur Collection
egarage.com

Jim’s model collection numbers somewhere north of 10,000, starting with an AMT Viper and ballooning to include everything from classic Mopar muscle like ‘Cudas, Chargers, and Daytonas to Jeep’s, AMC’s and others. Bur’s collection spans all types of brands, especially those of M2.

Clearly, Jim is a true hobbyist. We’re excited to welcome Jim’s extensive knowledge and love for cars onto our Selection Committee.

 


John Leslie Ragsdale, Inductee of the Class of 2014, has passed away

John Ragsdale, 63, passed away in Ennis, Texas on Thursday, March 28, 2019. John ran the DFW Toy and Diecast Fair for the last 15 years along with his brother George. in 2013, he was honored by the North Texas Diecast Collectors Club for “Outstanding Performance”.  John was Inducted into the then Diecast Hall of Fame for the Random Act of Kindness Award. Our best wishes go to his family, friends and fellow collectors.


Jean Birsens: Matchbox Collector for over 40 years

Like many of us, Jean Birsens played with Matchbox cars and Siku cars on the carpet in his living room, a carpet which was a Highway, a City and many other interesting places. Unlike most though, Jean’s make believe world blossomed into a real-life museum today.

Jean (right) with our European Correspondent Patrick Wehr

Starting with hand-me-downs, Jean now owns his own Matchbox Museum with more than 11000 models, including Early Lesney, Regular Wheels, Models of Yesteryear, Major Packs, King-Size, Accessory Packs and other Matchbox related items. Rarities include pre-series cars, unique models, playsets, pre-production models, resins, color variations, horse carousels, Matchbox games and more. You can even find MBX for children from 0-5 years, original displays, model kits and so many others. Incredibly, about 95% of his MBX collection is in mint condition with only original boxes, including unopened reseller boxes.

His wife Meg has also collected since 1995. Meg’s preference are so-called “Figural Biscuit Tins” of the brands Huntley & Palmers, Peak Frean, William Crawford, Olibet and coffee cans of Santos, Jacobs, Stollwerck and Banania and even vintage Barbie dolls. Her collection of pretty tin cans now amounts to almost 2000 pieces from the years 1886-1950.

So let’s enter this incredible Museum and enjoy all the awesome cars, sets and other things which we will find on our tour.

 

Matchbox City Set with original reseller carton
Matchbox City Set with original reseller carton
Zoom Around View-Master in original box
Zoom Around View-Master in original box

Matchbox Motorway Accessories in different colors
Matchbox Motorway Accessories in different colors
Heavy Truck 38C Honda Cycle & Trailer
Heavy Truck 38C Honda Cycle & Trailer
MG 1100 Formula Racing Cars
MG 1100 Formula Racing Cars
Superfast Land Rover
Superfast Land Rover
Lotus Europa Superfast
Lotus Europa Superfast
70b Ford D-Series Truck
70b Ford D-Series Truck
13D Dodge Wrecker
13D Dodge Wrecker

Super Kings
Super Kings

 

The Museum does not yet have its own website but you can find contact details here.


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

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!