Meet the 2017 Diecast Designer of the Year Nominees

As the Diecast Hall of Fame induction ceremony approaches, excitement is building among the diecast industry and collectors. We marvel at the models they created, but often have no idea of who the people are behind those wonderful creations. Over the next few weeks, we’re giving you a chance to meet some of the nominees.

And you can help decide who will be inducted… After you read about these talented individuals, head over to the Diecast Hall of Fame ballot and vote!

In this installment, meet the nominees in the Diecast Designer category, listed in alphabetical order.

Sei Cho

Sei Cho Diecast Hall of FameSei currently works for Jada Toys, designing about 50 or so models over the past year.

Those designs include everything from creating graphics for existing models as well as the 3D plans for new castings. If you saw their  Fast and Furious, Batmobiles or JDM Tuners series, he had a big hand in those. And he even stepped out of traditional car models with their Transformer series.

Prior to that, he worked for Hot Wheels. “One of my favorite is Hot Wheels Classic Customs 32 Ford,” he said. “It was my first model that I designed and 3D modeled in-house with software called Freeform.”

One of his design inspirations came from outside the automotive world when he worked for a couple of years in New York at a large design firm. “Watching World Trade Centers rebuild every day was really cool.”

Cho Chevy flatbed

cho datsun 240z

Kevin Geraldez

Kevin GeraldezKevin has worked for a couple of heavy hitters in the diecast world over the last 15 years. He was one of the driving forces at Jada, helping to pioneer the DUBCITY series of model vehicles. And more recently, he has been a photographer and video producer for Bburag and Maisto.

His interest in custom car culture dates back to the 1980s when he became proficient at airbrush art. Before working at toy companies, Kevin was designing shirts and logos for car shows and aftermarket automotive companies.

He joined Jada Toys in 2002 where he was the art director. In addition to DUBCITY, Kevin helped design and launch the Import Racers, Road Rats and other lines. Some of his graphics were so popular they were eventually used on 1/1 scale real cars as well. Kevin still designs but spends most of his time focused on photography and videos for Maisto Inc.’s Bburago and Bb Junior for marketing and tv usage.geraldez volkswagens geraldez street rods

Tony Karamitsos

Tony KaramitsosTony has worked with so many diecast brands in various scales over the years that it’s hard to keep track.

He began his diecast design careeer in 1999 at Playing Mantis. He was one of the four original  designers for the company, helping to propel the rebirth of the Johnny Lightning brand. He went on to work for RC2 when Playing Mantis was sold in 2004.

Tony is known for his attention to detail having designed thousands 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. In addition to traditional diecast, his designs also include slot car replicas, resin models & model kits throughout the years.

Tony rejoined his former boss when Tom Lowe founded Round2. He currently serves as Brand Manager and senior designer for Round2 as head of all of the die-cast and slot car brands.

Karamitsos snake funny car Karamitsos barracuda

Brad Trimmer

Brad TrimmerBrad’s passion for automotive design  began with big rigs as a child. As a teenager, he took up airbrushing and sign design, and then went on to work for ad agencies and automotive publications.

His first job in toy vehicles is a bit unusual, but immensely successful, as the Senior Designer for X-Cocnepts Tech Deck toy skateboard line.

Since then he has been one of the principal designers at Maisto/Bburago. Over the last 12 years,  has been instrumental in helping the company branch into custom culture and model trucks, as well as expanding their reach into smaller scales. As for his favorite designs, he says “Tough to say, either the 1/64 C.O.E. Studebaker flatbed for Elite Transport or the 1/55 1972 Datsun 510 for the Fifty 5’s line.”

Brad was one of the main designers responsible for all of Maisto Custom Shop, G-Ridez, Players and Pro Rods.

trimmer flatbed

trimmer side by side

Brendon Vetuskey

Brendon Vetuskey Diecast Hall of FameBrendon started with Hot Wheels in 2007 on the Track & Play Sets team, eventually becoming design manager for Hot Wheels Entertainment track/play sets including Monster Jam, and Marvel, among others. After nearly three years with track sets, Brendon returned to a pure design role so he could “focus more on designing toys rather than attend meetings.” He has worked on around 20 models for Hot Wheels this past year, some so new, they aren’t even in stores yet.

His diecast career goes back to 2000. Prior to Hot Wheels, he worked for Jakks Pacific on Road Champs diecast vehicles.

His biggest inspiration was Viktor Schreckengost an industrial designer and artist. “He worked on the 1950’s Murray pedal cars, tractors, and planes.  He also came up with the overhead cab configuration for White Motor Company back in 1933 or so. At age 91, drive to our school in his ’62 Lincoln without even needing glasses.”

Brendon’s favorite recent casting is the Hot Wheels /67 Custom Firebird. “It’s my newest one at the time of this writing, and it’s particularly special to me since it’s modeled after my own real life customized 1967 Firebird.”

vetuskey firebird

vetuskey 55 Chevy gasser

The 2017 Diecast Hall Of Fame induction ceremony will be held November 2, at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. For more details of to buy tickets, visit the DHOF event page.