Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mattel Pixar Cars die-casts - a hit with kids and collectors alike

Six years after the release of the movie, Pixar Cars 1:55-scale die-casts are still hot.  It’s a product line that refuses to die, and the folks at Disney know how to keep it going.  With a second feature film last year, the popular Mater’s Tall Tales shorts, and several new books and special events, they just keep coming up with reasons to introduce new die-cast models.

But the phenomenon seems to be more than just kid’s stuff.  Serious adult collectors are getting in on this too.  When we were in Los Angeles earlier this year, the Petersen Museum had a huge display devoted to these little toy vehicles.  And I noticed that there was a new book about them for sale at the local Barnes and Noble just in time for Christmas—with its own “exclusive” Lightning McQueen die-cast.

I can certainly see how this happened, though.  If you like cars in general, it’s hard not to be impressed with the whole Cars movie concept.  I mean, I really think it is amazing that people were able to create this whole, realistic looking world, complete with characters that never existed.  And it isn’t just the obvious characters like Lightning McQueen and Mater.  Even the cars that scarcely appear in the background are detailed, flushed-out characters.  Just think about what they did here.  Incredible.

Ever since the movie came out, Santa has been buying these cars for my eight-year-old son BHo as he sees them in the stores, then a big bunch of them show up each year on Christmas morning.  Yes, I agree that the collection has gotten a bit ridiculous.  But I have to give the kid some credit.  He has played with them relentlessly.  And yet, they are all still in good shape.  We don’t keep the packages because they were meant for him to play with, so some of the “value” will be gone, but I still think he’ll appreciate having them as much when he gets older as he does right now.

And this is just a drop in the bucket as far as how many have actually been sold.  Since 2006, Mattel has produced more than 200-million of these little cars around the world.  There are better than 500 different car designs.  Sometimes it amazes me that they’ll come up with a whole new casting to change a character’s mouth or eyeballs, but they do it.  The attention to detail is staggering.

Naturally, as the toy line began to appeal to collectors, they were broken down in different series’, storylines, and packaging.  I’m not even going to begin to break all of them down here, but the original Mainline series begat multi-pack sets, play sets, and store exclusives.  They have even had collector’s events at certain department stores where people jumped in to pick up once-in-a-lifetime special editions.

I tend to think about these little cars around Christmastime for some reason.  Maybe because a bunch of new models show up right about now.  But at any rate, it prompted me to write this story.  But I didn’t do this one on my own.  BHo helped me take the pictures, even coming up with the order and grouping the cars would be shot.  Well, almost.  I can’t actually show him the competed slideshow, because I got a sneak preview of some of the cars Santa will be bringing this year, and am including a few pictures of those scattered throughout the slideshow too.

Anyway, as you’re looking through the slideshow below, just think about how much effort went into making all of these different designs.  Even when it seems like there are lots of the same character, there is something different about all of them.  I just think that kind of stuff is cool.  And if you don’t like BHo’s and my slideshow below, a nicer version can be found at this link.


  1. I love the hard hitting industry smashing journalism on this blog.

  2. I'm sure you do. My motto is, "Solving the world's problems one toy car story at a time."

  3. Those diecasts are very nice. I thought we had alot of them, but there are lots there I've never seen before.