The 2018 Awards Season: Nominations Start Now!

Yes, it’s time! Nominations have begun and we have a ton of exciting news to share about this year’s Model Car Hall of Fame awards. As in the 1:1 car world, this year’s edition has grown quite a bit, which means there’s even more to celebrate. If you’ve followed along so far, you know we’ve added a lot more categories this year, but that’s not all that’s new. We’ve also got a new format, a new schedule and a community now numbering more than 4.3 million to share it with, so read on and check out all the awesome additions we’ve made this year!

New and updated categories to celebrate:

  • More model car scales, including: 1/8th – 1/12 scale, 1/18, 1/24 – 1/25, 1/43 – 1/55, 1/64 and 1/87 and Smaller
  • Slot cars with four scales: 1/24, 1/32, 1/43 and HO scale
  • Slot Car Racer of the Year
  • Model Trucks
  • Model Kits
  • Model Farm Equipment
  • Model Builder of the Year
  • Novice Model Brand of the Year

And our continuing categories:

Brands

  • Automotive Brand of the Year
  • Model Car Dealer of the Year
  • Model Brand of the Year
  • Supplier Brand of the Year

Individuals

  • Automotive Legend
  • Automotive Artist
  • Model Car Historian
  • Model Car Entrepreneur
  • Model Car Designer
  • Model Car Customizer
  • Collector of the Year


Nominate in 4 simple steps

Our nomination form has been simplified to one page, simply select the categories of your nominee and the correct form will load, then enter the information and submit!

Here are the steps: 

  1. Go to the Nominations page: https://www.modelcarhall.com/nominate/
  2. Click the drop-down menu under “Submit a Nomination”
  3. Choose the category you’re nominating for
  4. Fill out the information after the form loads, and submit!

If you have any trouble submitting a nomination, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Also, feel free to share the link with anyone you know!


Our Selection Committee is more robust than ever before

 

Why so many? With such a diverse set of categories, we want a Selection Committee comprised of folks from across all the different niches that model cars have to offer. We’re working to bring onboard at least 3 selection committee members with particular expertise in every area of the hobby. With our current Selection Committee, we’re well on our way.

Our newest members

  • Scott Bader, runs Electric Dreams, founder of Los Angeles Slot Car Museum
  • Dean Milano, 12 years at Revell, avid model kit builder and collector, runs toys-n-cars.com
  • Philippe de Lespinay, slot car builder, designer and racer, also races 1:1 cars and motorcycles
  • Fireball Tim Lawrence, runs Fireball Malibu Vlog, prolific automotive designer for film and TV
  • Nigel Matthews, classic car technician, concours judge, automotive writer, Global director of Client Services with Hagerty
  • Alan Smith, runs Slot Car Illustrated, scaleracing.com and 132Slotcar.us
  • Bruno Boracco, collaborates with of Passion43, Modelcollector, Modelliauto, La Manovella and editor-in-chief of the magazine piccolegrandiruote.com


Exciting changes to our format:

This year, rather than a single, one evening event, which many for various reasons could not come to, we’re devoting an entire week to awards with virtual ceremonies. We want to bring even more attention to our categories to better highlight each award, plus allow a much wider audience to participate. From November 6th to the 9th, we’ll be using each day to celebrate winners and inductees from each of our major categories, holding the ceremonies online. We’ll be using Facebook live, our new Youtube channel and social media to showcase our inductees online, both live and with a recorded segment for each. This way, you’ll get a more in depth look at each winner than ever before.

The timeline:

Here’s our 4 days of awards ceremonies:

  • Day 1, Nov 6th: Brand of the Year, including Automotive Brand, Model Brand, Novice Model Brand, Model Car Dealer and Supplier Brand of the year
  • Day 2, Nov 7th: Model of the Year, including all scales, Trucks, Farm Equipment and Slot Cars
  • Day 3, Nov 8th: Annual Awards, including Collector of the Year, Racer of the Year, Model Builder of the Year and Model Car Customizer
  • Day 4, Nov 9th: Lifetime Awards, including Automotive Legends, Model Car Historian, Model Car Designer and Model Car Entrepreneur

 

Roomier than ever before

Of course, we owe all of this to our community. I want to thank our newest Supporters and Affiliates who spread the word and directly support the Hall, and of course thank you all for being involved! If you want to be an even bigger part of the biggest community in model cars, reach out to us here. We’re super excited to see all the amazing models, people and brands that you all have to show us. This promises to be the biggest year for the hall yet. Enjoy the ride!

Our First Book! Hot Wheels Casting and Price Guide

The Model Car Hall of Fame has grown a ton in the last year, now reaching more than 4 million collectors through its Community Supporter program. As the Hall is growing, we’re always looking for ways to promote the hobby and introduce you all to great stuff from our partners. The newest result of our quest comes in the form of the Hall’s first book! It was written by Jim Garbaczewski, a class of 2016 Inductee and published in partnership with Hot Wheels Newsletter and hobbyDB.  Thanks also to William Taylor from Coterie Press who did a fantastic job in getting the book printed and supplied to us!  The Hot Wheels Casting and Price Guide is now available on the Hall’s own Marketplace (which is also new!).

With 228 pages and 3,300 color photos, this guide is a great way to catalogue your collection, bolster your knowledge about Hot Wheels from 2008-2017 or scope out some amazing cars you may not have known about. Beyond the amount of detail or the simple fact of having a sweet looking, hefty guide on your coffee table, the coolest thing about this casting guide is that it was made at all!

Books like these are getting harder and harder to find. Many publishers have stopped producing model car guides, and while there are some great online resources that are filling in the gaps, if you’re anything like me I’m sure you agree that the feeling of a nice book in your hands is hard to replicate. See for yourself in the video below!

As you can see, a big reason why we published this recent casting book, and why we’re working to publish more books, is that fewer and fewer publishers do. The model car hobby is going as strong as it ever has, amazing models are still being produced, and you all deserve a proper guide to learn as much about them as you can. We have 2 more books in the pipeline and are looking for more ideas!


In that same spirit, we’re also making a special offer on the Hot Wheels Casting and Price Guide. If you enter the code “modelcarhall” during checkout, you’ll get 10% off. If you have a club contact us, we can create a special club code to help your members get an even better deal!

We can’t wait to send even more cool stuff your way. Stay tuned for some big announcements (sign up below), and don’t forget to support the Hall so we can keep celebrating our favorite hobby.

Building dreams: Designer Raffi Minasian joins the Selection Committee

Cars weave a common thread through Raffi Minasians life, from his childhood right up to today, where he works as chief designer for Automodello. His latest venture will be as part of our Selection Committee, using his lifelong design experience to pick the best in models. From childhood hobby to designer and consultant in both the 1:1 and model car world, Raffi’s life has always involved cars and his fingerprints can be seen across the industry.

Raffi’s story starts like many in the hobby. As a kid in the sixties and seventies he was fascinated by model cars. As he puts it, that small box revealed a whole world. For him, a model car was much more than the sum of its parts. While the instructions were a guideline, with a little ingenuity it was possible to customize or combine models into something totally unique. Soon, beyond building what was offered, Raffi was in the beginning stages of taking on the role of designer himself.

After sending a drawing into Monogram with a suggestion for a new model, Raffi received a response urging him to visit the Art Center College of Design and he did just that. After graduating with a degree in transportation design, Raffi went straight to work designing. Some of his early work went into 1:1 cars, but eventually he found himself getting paid for just the type of thing he had been doing on smaller scale much earlier: working with models.

Working on the Delahaye Type 165

At this point though, he was doing much more than assembling kits. Raffi designed the specifications, patterns and bodywork for cars like the Testors Porsche 930 and F40, as well as muscle cars with Micro Machines.

One of Raffi’s biggest roles was at the Franklin Mint, where he eventually became Director.  As director, Raffi was able to pioneer innovative new directions for model cars including ClearCast, a design where half the bodywork of a model car was left clear and unpainted, as well as cars sold with patina or “Barn-find” finishes.

One of Raffi’s hand-made models for Franklin Mint
One of Franklin Mint’s ClearCast models

From 1999 on, Raffi worked with a wide array of model manufacturers, including Matchbox, Motor City Originals and Automodello. Raffi describes one of the defining aspects of designing model cars as one of careful consideration for the collector. As he describes it, as a model car designer, you’re building someone’s dream, something that must live up to it.

A Lotus 49 that took 2 years to develop

Needless to say, with such a deep connection to models and cars over the course of his life, Raffi has collected a few himself. One of Raffi’s unique collections involves concept models used for design, including 5th scale fiberglass models, resin masters and other special items. His 1:1 car garage contains two vintage Lancias along with a sports car he designed himself.

Raffi’s Garage

With such experience, Raffi is the perfect member to help judge this years wider array of models, and we’re extremely pleased to have him on board.

Automotive Renaissance Man Philippe de Lespinay joins the Selection Committee

Model cars are a unique hobby. The number of different ways to express these cars in model form often goes way beyond variations of the real thing. This can lead collectors down some very unique paths. The Journey of Philippe de Lespinay, our newest Selection Committee member, certainly represents an example. Throughout his career in the automotive and model car world Philippe has moved between continents as well as from diecast, to slot cars, to real race teams and back again.

As an 18-year-old in France collecting Dinky Toys and other 1/43 diecast, Philippe was hired by Heller as a designer. Despite lacking any design experience at first, his creations eventually won widespread praise, attracting the notice of another big player in the model kit world: Revell.

The early days of Philippes career

After meeting executives from Revell at a trade show, Philippe was offered a job in the States and decided to make the move.  Rather than heading straight to LA, Philippe wound up first in Bangor, Maine, where he saved up to hitchhike the remainder of the journey.

By the time he reached the West Coast, Revell was in trouble and his job offer had evaporated, but the sixties was a heady time for models, particularly slot cars. Within a day, Philippe had found another job, this time with a consulting company, Innova Inc., designing a set of HO scale slot cars for Matchbox.

It was here that a long relationship with slot cars began. Beyond just designing, his bright idea for magnets to improve rear-wheel traction was purchased by Matchbox. Although the initial explosion in popularity that slot cars enjoyed was waning, Philippe continued to design and to race semi-professionally, winning the ’72 USRA Championship.

The ’72 Western States Championship winner

In the wake of slot cars’ decline, Innova went bankrupt and Philippe moved on to Cox Hobbies, where he was finally able to see his magnet traction design used in production.

A Cox Hobbies SuperScale car, with a traction magnet

Philippe’s life remains firmly in a slot car orbit. The TSR slot car company, which he started on a bet, continues to serve the true enthusiast with cars built right here in the states, many based on designs he worked with decades earlier. His collection of 1/24 and 1/32 scale slot cars, some of which are the very same cars he raced back in the seventies, now resides at the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum, for which he works as a consultant. He has written a book on vintage slot cars and is now working on another which he hopes will be the go-to for racing enthusiasts.

Showing off some models at the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum

Although slot cars became one of the most steadfast of Philippe’s automotive passions, it certainly didn’t remain the only one. From ‘71 through ‘98 he worked with Dan Gurney to design race cars, one of which he currently owns and races himself. His current diecast collection of about 1000 cars contains prewar Tootsietoys, French lead-cast toys from the thirties, Dinkies, rare tinplate cars and more. 

A sampling of Philippe’s Tootsietoys

Philippe still hasn’t finished traversing the Automotive world. He also plans to write a book on prewar Tootsietoys and an illustrated tale on the rise of rear-engined cars in F1. Clearly, Philippe knows what he’s about when it comes to cars. We plan to make use of every bit of that knowledge here at the Hall.

Dean Milano, Model Kit Master, joins the Selection Committee

As we welcome the addition of model kits to our categories, we also welcome a Selection Committee member who stands as one of the world authorities on the subject: Dean Milano, a former employee at Revell-Monogram as well as a lifelong collector and kit builder.

Dean fell in love with cars early on, as a front seat passenger in his family’s ‘48 Plymouth. From there, he moved on to model cars after convincing his parents to buy the Jewel Tea Company delivery truck sticking out of a delivery man’s basket. From ‘59 on, Dean was beginning to build 1/25th scale cars and various others. In 1965, he won the second place in a contest at a local hobby shop for his Custom ‘56 Ford, the first of several such wins.

A young Dean after his podium finish.

For years afterwards, models took a backseat while Dean channeled his passion into music, leading to a long and successful career with bands like the New Seekers, although a love for models remained.  Later, In the early 90’s, he began working at what was then Revell-Monogram, where he spent the next 12 years. During those years, Dean’s influence could be felt throughout the Revell range and he naturally amassed a keen knowledge of all things model kits.  

Dean at the Des Plaines, IL office of Revell-Monogram

Beginning in customer service, he eventually moved into Product Development, writing all sorts of copy that anyone who has ever built a Revell kit has probably seen, including instructions, advertising and kit descriptions. He also built many models, designed a few kits, such as the Highway Scenes and Blacktop Warrior series, and worked to sort out which new ideas might make it into production.

 

A few of Dean’s models, making onto the front page.

Dean’s love of model kits did not stop at Revell’s door, of course. His own collection now stands at around 2,500 models, a mixture of finished kits, as-yet-to-be-built kits, diecast, resin and plastic cars, as well as pretty much every other form of transportation and even H.O. scale buildings. 

In recognition of his immense model kit knowledge, Dean has been recognized in publications such as Scale Auto Enthusiast and books like Arthur Ward’s Classic Kits, among many other articles. His very own toy museum, open from 2001 to 2004, saw more than 4 thousand visitors. 

With such a vast knowledge of the subject, Dean naturally caught our eye as a candidate for the selection committee. He’s the perfect guy to find the best model kits among a huge array of options. We look forward to putting his various talents to use. Model Car Hall band anyone?

The Selection Committee Heats Up: Introducing Fireball Tim Lawrence

We’re excited to announce the newest member of our Selection Committee, Fireball Tim Lawrence. Fireball is a unique talent in the automotive world, and not just for his name. Many people find their niche in one section of car culture or another, but Fireball has made an impact in all of them.

Earlier in his design career, Fireball submitted a few sketches for an as yet unnamed Batman movie with Tim Burton. After his ideas ultimately shaped the film’s Batmobile, Fireball went on to a 25-year career designing cars for hundreds of films, such as Jurassic Park, the Avengers, Gone in 60 Seconds and many, many more. A lot of these cars eventually made it into diecast.

The Batman Returns Batmobile

With so many big-name designs credited to his memorable name, Fireball soon became recognized as a figurehead in the automotive world. This led to television roles hosting shows like “World’s Most Expensive Rides” on Discovery Channel, as well as shows on Speed Channel and TLC.

Fireball in the “Monster Garage” days

As media began to shift online, Fireball used his blog, Fireball Malibu Vlog, as a launchpad to build his successful Youtube channel of the same name. The show now boasts over 760 videos with 30 million viewers across different platforms.

Before, during and after becoming such a big name in the 1:1 car world, Fireball always had a love of models. Since he was a kid, Fireball has collected Corgis, Dinkies, Hot Wheels and Matchbox, with a special emphasis on film cars. That basic theme has remained unchanged as the collection has grown. Fireball doesn’t just collect, he’s helped design models, including a special run of Johnny Lightning cars bearing his name. 

The collection

Johnny Lightning even run a popular Fireball Tim Series with many more models planned before the brand was sold to Tomy.

That’s already enough to hold a vaunted position in the car world, but Fireball’s most memorable trait is the absolute commitment to spreading positivity through car culture. For Fireball, collecting is a way to stay in the moment, and allow everyone in the community to be more creative and do more with what they love. The newest outlet for this commitment from Fireball is a series of books and coloring books, some of which are automotive themed, whose proceeds help support Hope For Paws Charity Dog Rescue. 

This prodigious passion and knowledge will be a huge asset to the Model Car Hall, and we look forward to making a even bigger, more positive impact with Fireball on board.

A Bigger Mission, a new name – Slot Cars, Model Kits and Scott Bader joining the Selection Committee

At the Hall of Fame, we’re revving higher and higher, and it’s time to upshift. We’ve been steadily adding scales, classes and dozens of new inductees, becoming one of the biggest communities of model car enthusiasts in the world. To best reflect this new status, we’re excited to announce our transition from the Diecast Hall of Fame into the Model Car Hall of Fame, now also covering Model Kits and Slot Cars.

We’re introducing a new logo this year that eagle-eyed followers may have noticed shows a particular brand of car. In fact, it’s last years inductee for Automotive Brand of the Year, BMW, but not just any BMW, the beautiful 507. Rather than have a generic silhouette, we decided to showcase the previous year’s winner because we celebrate striking, standout models in 1:1 or other scale. To show anything less in our own logo would be letting you all down.

As we have more and more brilliant models to pour over during nominations, we need keen collectors from across the industry to join our Selection Committee and help us pick the very best. This year, one of our new categories is slot cars. Who, we thought, would be a better judge than Scott Bader?

Scott not only collects the vehicles but also trade packs, prototypes and everything widely slot car related

Scott, while an enthusiast of many types of models and full size cars, has become something of a patron saint of the slot car hobby. Starting in childhood, Scott has maintained his love for slot cars to today. He has started the Los Angeles Slot Car Museum, a new home for his vast collection of everything slot car related and one of the few establishments of its kind in the world and is also at the helm of Electric Dreams, which he turned it into one of the go-to site for the slot car enthusiast, giving the community also another news source and forum to share their passion. 

Some of his 1,000s of models ready to race

The LASCM houses thousands of slot cars, including nearly all the different types of kits produced during slot cars’ first heyday, professional racing hand-built cars, motors and other parts. Beyond slot cars, Scott also has a very significant collection of rare model kits (the Museum could also be called the Los Angeles Slot Car and Model Kit Museum, but maybe that would be too long). Through these enterprises, Scott helps countless folks relive great memories and continue the hobby. Both  the LASCM and Electric Dreams continue to bring updates, memories and the cars themselves to thousands of grateful hobbyists. We have no doubt that Scott will be a great member of our Selection Committee, and continue to be a standout in the model car world. 

With these new additions, we’re excited to have our biggest year yet. Stay tuned for nominations and event information by subscribing to our email newsletter at the bottom of the page!

Hot Wheels loops

Hall Of Flames: Hot Wheels In The Model Car Hall of Fame

The Model Car Hall of Fame is dedicated to the people and products that make diecast vehicle collecting so special, but no brand has a bigger representation in the MCHOF than Hot Wheels. Someday, when an actual museum is built, there should probably be a strip of orange track that leads to a dedicated Hot Wheels room.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Hot Wheels completely turned an industry upside down and altered the meaning of what a toy car could be. Playing with miniature cars changed from slowly scooting them around by hand to letting them rip down the track at scale speeds that real cars could only dream of. Hot Wheels’ designs were wilder and more colorful than anything seen before. And they ushered in the idea of “collecting” like no one else (It even says “Matching Collector’s Button” right there on the original packages).

hot wheels snake mongoose
Every kid wanted to be either Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen or Don “The Snake” Prudhomme.

Since 2011, the MCHOF awards have added more categories and honors for specific scales, opening up more space to recognize other diecast brands. In the early days, proceedings were dominated by 1/64 cars, and Hot Wheels garnered several accolades for Casting of the Year.

Early awards were like a traditional Hall of Fame, recognizing older models such as the 1940 Woodie (whatever name you choose to call it), the Custom Corvette, and the Custom Camaro. Later classics were honored as well, including the Volkswagen Drag Bus. Last year the award has changed to honor a new casting from the current year and Hot Wheels promptly won the 1/64 Scale category with the Fiat 500D Modificado, which, honestly, would have fit in perfectly as an original Redline. The same could be said for the ’55 Chevy Panel, the 2105 winner.

Hot Wheels Redline
Larry Wood, Otto Kuhni, and Ira Gilford were among those who contributed to the early success of Hot Wheels.

The people behind those designs are well represented in the MCHOF, too. Anyone who has spent any time in the hobby knows the names of Ira Gilford, Howard Rees, Bob Rosas and Larry Wood. All four were vital to the original look and feel of the early Redlines. Hot Wheels simply would not exist without their wild imaginations.

Otto Kuhni is in the Hall, as well. He is only credited with one actual car design, the Custom Otto, but he’s as responsible for the early images of the brand as anyone else. Kuhni was the artist who illustrated the early blister cards, advertisements, carrying cases, and lunchboxes that fueled the imagination of kids around the world. The Custom Otto, by the way, is the blue coupe shown on the very first Redline cards… it wasn’t based on any particular car or any Hot Wheels car, but was eventually commemorated in diecast form in his honor.

jimmy Boxman Chavez
Many diecast customizers, such as Jimmy “Boxman” Chavez, have worked for Hot Wheels over the years.

Several other inductees have worked at Mattel in other capacities.  Amy Boylan was the Marketing Director for the entire brand, which is a pretty huge task. Chris Parker kept Hot Wheels collectors informed (and entertained). Many of our inducted diecast customizers such as Dave Chang, Jimmy “Boxman” Chavez and Luis Tanahara worked for Hot Wheels at some point. Tom McEwen had maybe the wildest job of all, driving the Mongoose funny car that inspired dragstrip rivalries in basements and rec rooms everywhere.

Hot Wheels didn’t end with the Redline era, of course. More recent contributors are in the Hall as well. Michael Heralda, Mark Jones, Carson Lev, Phil Riehlman, Eric Tscherne, Steve Vandervate, and MiQ Willmott all played a huge a part in moving the brand forward and upward and through all kinds of loop-de-loops, over the last couple of decades, taking advantage of new casting technology and improved graphics possibilities.

Bruce Pascal office
Bruce Pascal is one of many authors who knows a thing or two about Hot Wheels.

It’s not just employees of Mattel who are honored in the MCHOF. A side industry of books, websites, conventions and diecast sales has sprouted over the years, many of them solely based on Hot Wheels. Model Car Historians are honored by the Hall each year for their contributions to the hobby. Jim Garbaczewski, Rob Graves, Bob Parker, Bruce Pascal, Chris Walker, Joe Wiggins, and Mike Zarnock (whose Altered Dragster even got its own 1/64 version) have all authored histories, price guides, or directories of Hot Wheels cars.

Hot Wheels books
Here are just a few of the Hot Wheels publications from MCHOF inductees!

There are several websites allowing collectors, to research, deal or just connect with one another. Paul Biddle, Charles Kitson, Michael Otte, Anita Smith are all pioneers of the online Hot Wheels world.

And speaking of connecting, Mike Strauss was one of the founders of the National Hot Wheels Collectors Conventions. Think about how many people have met at these events to share their hobby. Speaking of whom, let’s not forget that the Hall recognizes customizers and collectors as well.  Folks like Sherry Abbey, Joe Alvarado, Kevan Bence, Chojiro, Rick Early, Jay Holt, Dino Laspada, Kazy, Lee Pearlman, Vince Mosley, Bryan Pope, Paul Spradlin and Chris and Marcia Walker based their work extensively or even exclusively on Hot Wheel castings creating beautiful diecast art.  And many of our Collectors of the Year or R.A.O.K award winners are Hot Wheels collectors – as none of all of this would matter if not for the folks who hunt the pegs and dig through bins to collect them all!

Hot Wheels 50th
Hot Wheels’ 50th Anniversary is an occasion to look back fondly at the brand’s history.

As Hot Wheels celebrates its 50th anniversary, their freewheeling cars show no signs of slowing down. It’s a certainty that the Model Car Hall of Fame will continue to recognize how cool Hot Wheels can be.

 

You will be able to find profiles with more information on each of the individuals or models
mentioned here on the Hall’s Official Archive page on hobbyDB.

 

Albert “Kool51” Avila joins MCHOF Selection Committee

The 2017 Model Car Hall of Fame Awards are barely over, and we’re already looking towards 2018. Albert “Kool51” Avila has joined the MCHOF Selection Committee and will lend his expertise to the event.

Albert Avila
Avila is best known as a model car customizer, creating wild, often strange 3D modifications to his vehicles. A drooling Homer Simpson head on wheels might not make a lot of sense when you hear about it, but he makes it work. His work includes elaborate one of a kind hand painted designs as well. He often works under his online handle “Kool51Designs”. Aliva also creates custom action figures and vinyl art toys.
Albert Avila Drag Bus customs
He was awarded the Model Car Hall of Fame Diecast Designers Award when he was inducted into our 2014 class.
Albert Avila Homer Simpson