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Hot Wheels Illustrator Otto Kuhni Has Died, But His Art Lives On

Earlier this year the world of diecast has lost a legend in Otto Kuhni. If you don’t know his name, you surely know his work. Otto was a freelance graphic designer in California in the 1960s when he got the call from Mattel… They needed an illustrator with a passion for cars, for their new brand of diecast vehicles, and well, the rest was history.

Otto was the man behind many of the bright orange hued illustrations that were emblazoned on Hot Wheels items… advertisements, carrying cases, lunch boxes, and of course the packaging itself.

It takes a talented, passionate artist to create something so simultaneously realistic yet fantastical. Otto’s illustrations blended enough correct details of the model cars with the slightly exaggerated and distorted fantasy of speed and motion it could attain as it zipped down orange track through kids’ imaginations.

He continued working with Hot Wheels into the mid-1990s, especially when retro-inspired art was required. After that still occasionally did some art for them when only his hand would suffice. For these wildly memorable images, he was inducted into the Diecast Hall of Fame in 2012.

Perhaps his most famous illustration was the blue car on the original Hot Wheels blister card. It looked sleek, muscular, and sort of familiar. A little bit of Mustang, some Charger here and there, maybe some Riviera… It was every car and no particular car all at once. He blended elements of the styling from Ford, MOPAR and GM so seamlessly, you swore it was real.

However, Otto didn’t base the illustration on any one real car, nor was it based on a model. Despite being emblazoned on the cards of millions of Redlines, there was never a diecast version of the car… until 2008, that is. In honor of Hot Wheels’ 40th Anniversary, the Custom Otto, as it was called, finally came to life in 1/64 scale. It has since been released in premium level versions, such as Redline Club cars, but also one very rare variant… this one was encrusted with Swarovski diamonds, rubies and even black diamonds on the wheels. It celebrated the 4 billionth Hot Wheels car ever made, a fitting debut for a design that had been there all along. There was only one of this version of the Custom Otto, by the way.

There was only one Otto Kuhni, too.

Let the Diecast Hall of Fame voting begin!

diecast hall of fame votingLadies and Gentlemen, start your engines! We’ve made it to the final round of the 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame selection process! Let the voting  begin!

Over the last few weeks, our Selection Committee has been hard at work narrowing down the final five nominees for each induction category. We had an extremely competitive 2017 class, with more than 200 fantastic nominations from around the world. And with that, we are super excited to announce the top five selections per category!

With your help, one winner from each category will be inducted into the Diecast Hall of Fame in November. The final winners will be selected based on a combination of committee and public votes. The winners will be announced at the official event in November

Please note:  For each category, you can only vote once. Once you submit your votes and email address, you’ll receive an email link you have to click on to confirm your vote. If you would like to vote for all three categories, you will have to submit your information three times.


Collectors –

Automotive Legends 

  • Tim Allen
  • Ray Evernham
  • Ralph Gilles
  • Rick Hendrick
  • Danica Patrick

Diecast Customizers 

  • Joe “LoRide57” Alvarado
  • Bannarit
  • Steve Hamm
  • Brian Moffitt
  • Karli “Kraut Custom” Sanger

Diecast Designers 

  • Sei Cho
  • Kevin Geraldez
  • Tony Karamitsos
  • Brad Trimmer
  • Brendon Vetuskey

Diecast Entrepreneurs

  • Lyndon Davies
  • Paul Lang
  • Jennifer & Mark Millhollin
  • Steve Reddell
  • Jimmy Ye

Diecast Historians

  • Bill Bennett
  • Jack Clark
  • Robert Fellows
  • Theodore (Ted) Gray
  • Paolo Rampini

Collector of the Year Award 

  • Paul David
  • James Elliott
  • Gabriel Gomez
  • Woody Itson
  • Timothy Jack

The Selection Committee has further decided to give collector Tiny Wozniak an honorary R.A.O.K. award for his contributions to the diecast community.


Brands –

Diecast Dealer of the Year

  • Brian & Anna’s Collectibles
  • CK-Modelcars
  • Diecast Models Wholesale
  • Global Diecast Direct
  • Tacot

Supplier Brand of the Year 

  • Edelbrock
  • Falken Tires
  • GReddy
  • Gulf
  • NAPA

New Model Maker of the Year

  • AutoCult
  • Johnny Lightning
  • Laudoracing Models
  • Matrix Scale Models
  • Milena Rose

Automotive Brand of the Year

  • Bentley Motors
  • BMW
  • Dodge
  • Fast and the Furious Franchise
  • Ferrari


Models –

Small Scale (up to 1/64 Scale)

  • Greenlight Ford F-350 Ramp Truck
  • Hot Wheels Fiat 500 Modificado
  • Hot Wheels Mainline Porsche 356 Outlaw
  • Matchbox Nissan Skyline 2000 GTX
  • Schuco VW T3 Westfalia Joker

1/43 Scale

  • AutoCult Gatso 4000 Aero Coupe
  • Matrix Models Chrysler Turbine
  • Minichamps 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Street Version
  • Schuco VW Beetle “Lil Bugger” Camper Van
  • TrueScale Miniatures 2017 Ford GT

1/24th Scale

  • Automodello 1937 Delage D8-120 S Pourtout Aero Coupe
  • Bburago 2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • Greenlight 1967 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport from Supernatural
  • Maisto Ford F-150 Raptor Off-Road Kings
  • Welly Mini Cooper S Paceman

Large Scale (1/18th Scale and Larger)

  • Auto World 2017 Ford Mustang GT
  • Autoart Mercedes-AMG GTS
  • Autocult Brandpowder 911 DS
  • Bburago Bugatti Chiron
  • Ottomobile Saviem SB2 Assistance Course Alpine


RIP Tiny Wozniak, 2017 Nominee & a Real Mensch

Tiny left us on the day nominations closed and immediately a number of Inductees and Nominees suggested an Obituary for Tiny. Anita and other members of Chickluu’s Fabulous Redlines wrote it and we gladly publish it  This post has comments enabled to allow you to share your moments with Tiny.

Tiny was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. From early on everyone knew he was super smart. He was in many contests in school and excelled at anything he touched. He was a smart young man, and especially excelled in math. Back in the 80s he was once on a TV show back for his school. Everyone growing up admired Tiny. They knew that whatever the question he would know the answer and yes, he was going places in life.

He was an entrepreneur even at a young age. He first started off with stickers and would collect any type of sticker and made albums of them. He then started collecting Garbage Pail Kid cards and baseball cards. We ate a lot of bubble gum getting those cards! He once found $100 bill in the ice and decided to collect every flavor of Now & Laters he could find. Back in the Run DMC era he was obsessed with Adidas track suits and made sure he had every color. He also collected the MLB plastic hats when he was younger and had every single one in his collection. He had every console when we were younger for video games and just was obsessed with collecting things. If there was something to collect, he had to have it! All of it! When he was in his 30s he got into collecting baseball cards again. There was a map of the 50 U.S. states you could collect from the baseball cards (Alan & Ginter) and he found every single state. He was the first one to do it and sold it for top dollar.

He didn’t start collecting Hot Wheels really until his late 30s. He started off just collecting Treasure Hunts and then got into Redlines and it all took off from there. When he did something, he did it big. He always wanted the biggest and best and didn’t stop until he achieved his goal.

Tiny was heavily invested into Heavyweights and he was a Heavyweight collecting them!

He owned his own business with other partners, and was very successful. With no kids he was able to be what he always was in life – a kid at heart. His collection continued to grow. His family was in awe over how much he knew about Hot Wheels and he collected cars from all over the world. He went to many conventions and met a lot of friends. He started with Facebook and it took off even more. He always had a want for unique things. It was his passion to find the rarest, or most expensive. It was what kept him busy and his drive in life-passion. He was very passionate and proud and so was his family. They would brag to people that no one ever would see a collection like his. He would always say it was his legacy. He was always thinking what was next, what he could do. It saddens us to think what really could have came of his extensive collection if he was still here.

A few years ago he started collecting Funko Pops. The same with any collection he had it was extensive. He grew it quick and large. He wanted the best of the best and worked to achieve that. His nephew thought he actually owned a Funko Pop store and would let him shop!  

But what made him so incredibly special was that he was not only passionate about his collections but also about people. He helped anyone that needed it. The expression that he would give you his shirt off his back is an understatement. Family or collector friends, everybody could count on him. After his passing there were so many stories of strangers that told stories. He would freely give to other collectors if he felt that they could not afford something but had wanted it badly. 

Tiny loved life, he loved his family and friends and he loved his collections. Some may not believe that that is something to be proud of, but we know better! Tiny will be greatly missed – but his passion and love for this hobby will live on in other people’s collections now.  In other homes and in our hearts.

US Editor for Model Auto Review to join Selection Committee

Karl is the US Editor for Model Auto Review (a DHOF Community Supporter), a frequent contributor on many diecast forums and also a Curator and Champion on hobbyDB.  Over the years, Karl has written articles on European diecast such as Märklin, Tekno, and Vilmer for Model Auto Review and Model Collector (also a DHOF Community Supporter). He has been collecting models in 1/43 scale since he was a boy and now concentrates on Alfa Romeo models and some obsolete European brands. Karl commented “I am excited that the Hall has become much more international and is now truly representing all scales”.

Welcome Diecast Designer and Brand Manager Mac Ragan to the Selection Committee!

We want to say a big welcome to Mac Ragan, our newest addition to the Diecast Hall of Fame Selection Committee. Ragan designed Playing Mantis Johnny Lightning models for four years, was a brand manager at RC2 and Greenlight Toys and then moved to Round2 where he was responsible for Auto World, Johnny Lightning and Racing Champions.  He is also an esteemed book author who specializes in writing 1/64 Scale focused books such as Tomart’s Price Guide to Johnny Lightning Vehicles and Matchbox Cars: The First 50 Years. Ragan was inducted into the Diecast Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010. Welcome Mac!

2017 Nominees are on the starting blocks

We want to give a huge thank you to everyone who made a nomination this year! We received more than 250 nominations from more than five different countries (this included some that are already inducted). Although the winners will not be announced until the event in November, we wanted to share the awesome list of nominees that our selection committee will be reviewing over the next few months. Congratulations to all the Diecast Hall of Fame nominees!


The Selection Committee met for the first time yesterday and made the decision to split the Customizer and Designer categories into two separate categories, as you will notice in the list below.

To learn more about each nominee, you can click on their link and visit their hobbyDB page. We are still doing research on some nominees – if you see information that is missing on any of the pages, please add it or let us know!


Lifetime Awards –

   Automotive Legends  

Diecast Customizer

Diecast Designer  

Diecast Entrepreneurs  

Diecast Historians


Yearly Awards

The Collector of the Year award was added this year as a yearly award and is meant to pay tribute to the folks who embody the spirit of the hobby; a dedicated collector who gives back to the community, helps strengthen and grow the hobby and is an all-round diecast star.

   Collector of the Year Nominees  

  • Mark Barber
  • Jim Bur
  • Martin Cels (Australia)
  • Paul David
  • Jason Del Bel
  • James Elliott
  • Brian Fenech
  • Gabriel Gomez
  • Susan Harwick
  • Woody Itson
  • Timothy Jack
  • Chad Kirby
  • Christopher Kratochvil
  • Leo Machlowski
  • Shawn McClintic
  • Dean Moser
  • Jacob Reefe
  • Michael Sheedy (New Zealand)
  • Michael Stemmler
  • Willie Washington
  • Tiny Wozniak
  • Floyd Wright
  • Michael Zoback


There will be only one induction for each category.  Please note that the voting for the people, brands and model categories will begin later this month or early June. The selection committee will provide a list of at least five nominees per category, and then you’ll be able to vote on your favorites! More updates to follow!