Mac Ragan in his workroom.

Why the Hall of Fame is Important for Your Collection

Mac RaganA Guest Blog Post from Mac Ragan, designer, author, collector and Model Car Hall of Fame Selection Committee member. 

 

 

As model car enthusiasts, we’re all part of a vast, informal, international collecting society. For that reason, most of you probably don’t know who I am. I’m proud to claim that I’ve been a designer and brand manager for Johnny Lightning diecast cars, the social media director for Round 2 (Johnny Lightning, Racing Champions, and Auto World), a casting designer for GreenLight Collectibles, and the author and photographer of several books about 1:64th-scale toy cars.

John O’Neil, Community Director of the Model Car Hall of Fame (MCHOF), invited me to tell you why I stay involved with the organization. I was thrilled by this invitation because the importance of such a group can’t be understated. While I was happy and honored to be selected as an inductee in 2010, I could have taken my award and never talked to this group again.

One of Mac Ragan's Display Cabinets
Mac Ragan salvaged this old trophy case to display cars with special meaning to him, including many he helped create. (Exceptions are the large toys and Sunstar Galaxie on the bottom shelf.)

But two things encourage me to embrace a more active role. First, it’s important to recognize the influential people and noteworthy model cars from our hobby. That legitimizes and rewards the major contributors. And second, it’s critical to document the importance of this worldwide fascination with the miniature automobile, something that no other group does on such a grand scale. As we reach the 100-year mark for the production of toy cars, this 20th-century phenomenon is now entrenched in our history. The MCHOF is the ideal place to chronicle and celebrate that fact.

On May 10th of this year, the New York Times reported that [real] car museums are in trouble. Some have already closed due to low attendance. “Expect to see more museums close [in 2018] and more collections head to auction,” says Kurt Ernst, editor of Hemmings Daily. What does this say about the future of TOY car museums, whose numbers are tiny to begin with?

Like many of you, I’ve spent a lifetime collecting and living the toy- and model-car life. I started with Matchbox vehicles, graduated to plastic model kits and slot cars, and ended up with a career in the industry. I’ve curated my collection (which also includes printed matter, displays, and other ephemera) for decades. And I prefer to think that my hard work will be preserved, rather than tossed in the metaphorical junkyard when I’m not around to take care of it. I imagine that many of you may also wonder what will happen to your collection after you’re gone.

Examples of Mac Ragan's work
Shown above are two examples of Mac Ragan’s work. They are: 1) a GreenLight 1965 Ford Galaxie Convertible, for which he designed the casting, and 2) a Johnny Lightning 1972 Plymouth Satellite, a model wearing a deco-scheme he created for a “Road Trip” box set.

The MCHOF offers the opportunity for our scale-vehicle passion to live on for generations. It documents the models, brands, and personalities that make the entire pastime possible. I’ve often thought that many people outside of this hobby don’t take it seriously. My guess is that a number of you have felt that too. Over time, my hope is that the Hall of Fame will change this attitude.

Whether you collect one-dollar Hot Wheels cars or thousand-dollar Automodello models, we’re all collecting miniature versions of real cars (with a bit of fantasy thrown in by the Hot Wheels team). These models are a faithful record of the automotive industry, the toy business, and popular culture trends. The MCHOF celebrates and preserves that invaluable information. Just as a price guide (book) legitimizes a toy car as a bona fide collectible and cements its place in history, so too does the Hall of Fame confer importance on the people, toys, and models we love.

Mac Ragan at his workbench.
Mac Ragan sits at his workbench, the place where he removes most of his cars from the package. He holds a Johnny Lightning “Big Bad Green” AMX, a car he helped create. In the wall-case you’ll find Johnny Lightning artwork and a double exposure photograph created in the early 1970s by his mother, the artist Betty Sapp Ragan.

This year I’ll proudly nominate a few important figures in the model car world that have, until now, gone unrecognized. Throughout the history of our hobby, there were individuals behind every car or truck or model car package you held in your hand. It’s time we get to know a few more of them.

Head to modelcarhall.com/nominate/ and show us who YOU want to recognize! – John O’Neil, MCHOF Community Director

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