It’s been difficult to find Johnny Lightning products in Wichita the past few years. Sadly, the only diecast collectible shop in town closed down recently. I did manage to find this nice Impala at a Wal*Mart yesterday.
The Hot Bird – a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am with a T-top – was introduced into the Hot Wheels line-up in 1978. I found this black version at a garage sale yesterday. Oddly, it was the only Hot Wheel I could see at the entire sale. And even better, it was in the free box! As I always say, never pass up a free Hot Bird.
It’s great to have a large family looking out for cars for you. My oldest brother found this next Hot Bird for me. The blue version from 1980 is quite a bit more valuable than the black one above.
Last weekend I scored a nice bunch of Hot Wheels from a thrift store. My wife and son alerted me to a full 48-Car Carry Case (actually it was over-stuffed with more than 60 cars). I couldn’t talk the man into separately selling me the only two cars in the case that I really wanted, so I opted to invest in the whole lot.
The Larry Wood designed Bubble Gunner was released in 1979. Aside from the slightly dislocated chrome plastic engine and some play wear, this magenta version is in fairly decent shape.
Though I already have one of these, the Street Rodder from 1977 is a classic casting which is worth owning in pairs.
In addition to the large case of cars, I also picked up a 7-dollar bag of cars that held an assortment of blackwalls. Stagefright, from 1978 is a stagecoach-inspired hot rod that looks to me like it’s missing an engine. However, if you look closely, you can see a small 8-cylinder engine tucked inside the passenger compartment.
Baja Breaker is a Ford 4×4 van that first appeared in 1978. This metallic orange version with the plastic opening hood (in this case, permanently opened) came out in 1983
Based on the 1979-81 Toyota Truck series RN30 with a Chinook rear, the Minitrek from 1981 may be one of the ugliest Hot Wheels castings ever, reflecting the questionable automotive design trends of its time. (I’d love to hear comments on this topic!) Though you can’t tell anymore on this white version from 1983, the tampo on the sides reads “Good Time Camper”. This black-based version is worth considerably less than the rare brown-based variation.
There is a famous story about the Ramblin’ Wrecker from 1975: Designer Larry Wood put his home phone number on the sides and as a result received phone calls from kids across the county after it was released. Though it’s difficult to tell because of the wear, this appears to be one of the later versions where the phone number was removed. This one is also missing its tow hook.
In 1975, Larry Wood also designed the Large Charge, which was later released in 1985 as Silver Bullet, and then in the 90s as Aeroflash. The Silver Bullet here has the very 80s-looking Ultra Hot wheels and red, purple and yellow tampo.
And finally from my 7-dollar bag (which also contained a number of Chinese cars and two diecast Thomas the Train engines) here are two castings originally from the late 80s, the Nissan Hardbody and the oddly-named (Suzuki) Street Roader.