Meet the Nominees for Diecast Customizer of the Year

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 Customizer category, listed in alphabetical order.

Joe “LoRide57” Alvarado

Joe Alvorado Diecast Hall of FameJoe is a self-taught artist who started out with his airbrush skill and has since branched into heavily modifying diecast vehicles. Over the past year, he did about 50 original creations as well as 100 custom decorated cars to distribute at the Hot Wheels Nationals.

If that sounds like a lot, it isn’t according to him. “2017 has been a little slow for me,” he says. “I have a few new ones on the bench I need to finish soon. But work and family come first and then customs have to wait.”

The “57” in his name comes from his favorite car, the  1957 Chevy Bel Air tw0-door post model. “Take the Original Project X car, add some HOK Tru Blue and flames… I fell in love with that ’57 trim when I was a kid, and my mom would take me to the State Fair grounds for the car shows. It was cheep and she was a single mom of two boys. I’ll never forget it.”

Joe began dabbling in custom models about 10 years ago and is willing to experiment with anything that inspires him.  “Never stop learning and try anything,” he said. About 90 percent of his work is Hot Wheels. He has also been working with old Matchbox and new Jada models. “I’ve made the leap into 1/24 and 1/18 in the last few years. But my passion if the 1/64 Hot Wheels.”

joe alvorado custom

Steve Hamm

Steve HammSteve diecast best known custom creations are a bit different from how we see most diecast customs. He creates exact scale models to match his customers’ vehicles, as well as creating new and unique customs. Hamm uses castings and will add details such as hood scoops or spoilers, or chopping them to add or take away items, such as fenders or bumpers.

As for diecast brand or scale, Steve will work with anything. “I use all scales, but it depends on the vehicle I may need to replicate. Not all vehicles are made in each scale.” His reputation got a boost in 2013 when after winning several amateur customizing contests, he had to move up the the professional classes.

Hamm and his wife Christine are also among the founders of the Rhode Island Hot Wheels Club. The pair have worked as staff members at the Summer Smash conventions. He estimates he created about 100 models last year as SRH Designs.

steve hamm custom

Brian Moffitt

Brian MoffittBrian has been stretchiing the limits of diecast customization quite literally.  Moffitt’s pieces will almost always feature at least one modification to the body, such as adding an extra axle, an extended cab, and removable pieces. In fact, some of his models are stretched to doulbe, even triple their original length. Add a matching trailer, in some cases, and his models reach epic proportions.

Some of them get stretched sideways too, such as adding dually wheels to a model in the process of creating a tow truck from a standar pickup. In most cases, enough of the vehicle remains intact so collectors can appreciate what castings he started from. He works mostly in 1/64, mostly Hot Wheels.

Brian is also a contributor to the Hot World Customs blog.

brian moffitt custom

Bannarit R.

Bannarit R Diecast Hall of FameBannarit is as much a scratchbuilder as he is a customizer. He creates extremely high-detail one-off handmade model vehicles in large scales, mostly around 1/18. He is also an accomplished painter of automotive and other subjects.

His models include everything from a recreation of a rusted barn find Bugatti to exotic concept or prototype designs to modern Pikes Peak Hill climb cars.

His models can take several months from start to finish, so he creates only 4 or 5 per year, all by special commission. The detail on the cars is astonishing, including delicate framework and interior details that can be viewed via removable panels. Since each one is a single one-off model, t’s hard to pick out his favorite creation. “It’s difficult for me to say which one since I made them all by myself and I love them!”

Although his models mostly evoke cars of decades ago. his dream car is a very modern one. “My real life favorite dream car?…guess what? It’s Bugatti Chiron!” Not only are those absurdly expensive, they aren’t even available yet. “That’s why it’s can only be a dream!”

bannarit r custom

Karli “Kraut Custom” Sanger

Karli SangerKarli Sanger is a well known German diecast customizer. Living on the east side of the Berlin wall, diecast cars were hard to come by when he was a child, which is partly why he has such a passion about them to this day.

His collection of Hot Wheels vehicles numbers in the thousands, but he is a “completist” for only a few castings. He was struck by the design of the Hot Wheels Dairy Delivery, and began collecting every version he could find. Then he started buying custom versions of it. And eventually, he decided to start making his own.

Karli’s work often features science fiction themed customizations, including Freddy Krueger, zombies, and, most commonly, Boba Fett. He is even known in the community as KMS KrautCustom-KarliFett, which refers to the Star Wars character. He was recognized as the “VIP Customizer” at the 2017 Hot Wheels convention held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was featured in Chris Walkers’ book The Ultimate Guide to the Hot Wheels Drag Bus.

kraut custom boba fett

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.