I found this beautiful Butternut Yellow version of the 2017 Johnny Lightning Muscle Cars USA 1968 Chevy Impala recently at Toys R Us. I already have the Grotto Blue variation. Of the two, I’m having a hard time deciding which I prefer. How about you? The other two color versions in this series that I have yet to find are Seafrost Green and Rally Red.
I’ve always enjoyed the Johnny Lightning Project In Progress series because they remind me of some of the cars from my childhood. My Dad usually bought his cars new (or at least in good shape), but my older brothers were a different story. It was fairly common to see cars with missing trim, primered fenders, and mismatched wheels and tires parked in our driveway or in the street next to our yard.
In fact, the 1969 Impala I drove in high school might have been a good parts car for this 2017 Project in Progress 1969 Impala Convertible.
These next two date back to the mid-2000s RC2 era of Johnny Lightning. As you can see, JL has kept the look of the packaging from that time period.
Back in about 1991, I painted the grill and insides of the wheels on my ’73 Nova black. I thought it looked pretty cool at first, but it didn’t take long for the black paint to start flaking off of the chrome wheels. Here’s a photo taken while the paint was still fresh (and yes, those are zebra-striped seat covers on the front buckets.)
The point is, I’ve been a fan of the blacked-out look for some time, so I was happy when I found this Johnny Lightning Blacked Out 1968 Nova from the 2017 Street Freaks R3. This Set A variation wears gloss black paint and black wheels with chrome rings. The Nova in Blacked Out Set B – which I’m still on the lookout for – is an even more attractive flat black with redline tires.
I think this is the first JL third generation Nova that I’ve found since the 40 Years 1970 Nova came out in 2009. This is also the first JL 1968 Nova in my collection, although the casting appears to be identical to the 1969 and 1970.
Sometimes patience pays off. Or, in this case, waiting so long to find something that you forget that it’s out there. I found the Ice Age version of the Johnny Lightning 2016 Zingers! 1963 Chevy Nova way back in November of 2016. Almost a year later, I was surprised to find this Orange Rush Nova at Toys R Us.
Back in July, I showed a ’68 Impala from the Johnny Lightning 2017 Musclecars U.S.A. series. Just a few days later, I found these 2016 Musclecars U.S.A. models at Walmart. I find it interesting that in 2016 the series included a collector’s card and came sealed in a plastic clamshell, while the 2017 series uses a simpler blister card. Could this be a cost-cutting measure? Is our favorite on-again, off-again brand struggling once again?
I have to say, I’m just speculating. During the RC2 era, packaging seemed to vary depending on the series. And personally, I prefer the simpler blister cards to these plastic encasements – even though, as a collector, I should probably prefer them for the protection they offer.
Another interesting note is that these two packages have a red sticker over the top of the blue bug that says “Exclusively at Walmart”. Apparently, whatever exclusive deal JL had with Walmart has expired.
Regardless of the packaging, I really like the cars inside them. The paint on this ’67 Chevy Nova SS is similar to the green gold metallic of the ’73 Nova that was my first car.
I love the wheels on this 1968 Chevy Impala.
The packaging for the 2017 Muscle Cars U.S.A. series from Johnny Lightning features vintage ad photos and color chips for the factory-matched paint. Cars in the series include two versions each of a 1970 Ford Torino GT, 1969 Dodge ChargerR/T, 1970 Chevy Camaro Z28, 1970 Olds Cutlass S W-31, 1969 AMC AMX and this sweet, Grotto blue 1968 Chevy Impala Convertible.
I added several Johnny Lightning Zingers to my collection during the RC2-era. But I never thought much about where Zingers originated until I came across this ad in a 1970s comic book.
According to a 2005 article in Hot Rod, Zingers originated in 1971 when MPC created a line of plastic model kits which featured vehicles with huge blown engines and enormously oversized rear wheels. The article suggests Muscle Machines diecast cars were inspired by Zingers, and that may be true. But by 2005, I suspect RC2 bought the rights to the Zingers name from MPC, since Johnny Lightning was already releasing Zingers in their Street Freaks line. (RC2 – now Round 2 -fully revived the MPC brand in 2008 and purchased MPC’s tooling in 2012.)
When I saw that Johnny Lightning was bringing back the Zingers last year, I spent months searching for the 1963 Nova. Finally, on a Thanksgiving trip to Shreveport, I found one in a Target store. It might have been left behind by other collectors because of the creased blister card, but that didn’t stop me from claiming it. In addition to my beautiful blue “Ice Age,” there is also an orange version called “Orange Rush”.
The 2006 1959 Chevy Impala is the only RC2-era Zingers that I have still on the blister card.
The next three Zingers I have – three generations of Nova body styles – were all freed from their original packaging.
And finally, this Johnny Lightning Collector Club Exclusive from 2006 isn’t in Zingers packaging, but it sure looks like a Zinger to me.