2017 MAD Magazine ’64 Chevy Nova Delivery

Like many of you, I imagine, MAD Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman was one of the iconic figures from my childhood. Although, as familiar as I am with his goofy grin, I was not – until now – aware of his origins.

An advertisement for a stage play, The New Boy, which debuted on Broadway in 1894, features a character with the same, unmistakable features; the bad haircut, big ears, gap-toothed grin and crooked eyes. The New Boy even had a similar catch phrase, “What’s the good of anything? – Nothing!” In fact, the character was adopted by political cartoonists and product advertisements, appearing over the years in everything from a 1930 postcard for James Evans Auto Parts (with the slogan “Me Worry?”) to political ads opposing FDR’s reelection in 1940.

The character began appearing in MAD Magazine in 1954, eventually with the phrase “What? Me Worry?” When Al Feldstein became the editor in 1956, he commissioned Norman Mingo to create an illustration which established the look that has been used ever since. Early on, the character had various names such as Melvin Coznowski or Mel Haney. The magazine’s editors were fans of the Henry Morgan radio show, which featured an innocuous character named Newman (a reference to the film score composer of the ’40s and ’50s, Alfred Newman.) Eventually, the character became Alfred E. Neuman, with his signature catch phrase, “What – Me Worry?”

This MAD ’64 Nova Wagon came to me from my friend, Brad, in a trade for some additions to his collection of Jeeps and 4x4s. It completes my collection of the 2017 Pop Culture MAD series, which also includes the delightful Don Martin vehicles and the spectacular Spy vs. Spy vans.

DWH24 | 2017 Pop Culture MAD Magazine | ’64 Chevy Nova Delivery | yellow and white with Alfred E. Neuman trim | RRLW5

You can follow a link trail of my other ’64 Nova Deliveries by starting here.

And just for fun, here’s an assortment of my vintage MAD digest covers showing Alfred E. Neuman doing his thing.

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1998 Hot Wheels 30th Anniversary Mutt Mobile and Side Kick

I recently added two more models to my collection of Hot Wheels 30th Anniversary reproductions from 1998. This cool series replicates one casting and the original packaging from each of the first 30 years of Hot Wheels. With these two, I now have 11 of the 30 different castings.

This 1971 Mutt Mobile came to me from my friend, Chris, who moved to St. Louis awhile back and keeps an eye out for fun finds for me. As you can see from the photos, in 1998 they had some trouble trying to replicate Spectraflame paint, as many of these models have some serious paint flecking even while they’re still in the package.

Mutt Mobile was originally designed by Larry Wood and the 1971 first release has an opening rear door with two plastic dogs inside. In 1973, the casting was re-released as Odd Job in enamel and flourescent colors (minus the dogs). Mutt Mobile was retooled in 1994 for the Vintage II Series, was gold-plated for FAO Schwartz in 1995, and appeared in the Target Retro Wheels set in 1996. It made its most recent appearance in 2002 in the HWC.com Series 1.

Hot Wheels | 18860 | 1998 30th Anniversary | Mutt Mobile (1971) | blue | redlines

I found this 1972 Side Kick at the Flying Moose. Side Kick is another Larry Wood design, this one featuring a right-side driver’s door that slides out when the rear exhaust pipes are pulled out. The original Side Kick was produced in Spectaflame aqua and light green, and wasn’t seen again until this 30th anniversary issue. Since then, it has seen about 8 variations up until 2011.

For some reason, the metallic purple paint on this one is holding up pretty well, though the unpainted metal base and engine are a little oxidized.

Hot Wheels | 18861 | 1998 30th Anniversary | Side Kick (1972) | purple | redlines

1979 Hot Wheels S.W.A.T. Van and other Estate Sale Finds

I’m a big fan of the Hot Wheels Scene Machines, so when I found this S.W.A.T. Van at an estate sale recently, I took it home with me even though I already have one. And since it was half-price day, I took home a few other interesting models as well. The 1979 S.W.A.T. Van is based on the Letter Getter from 1977, but like all Scene Machines, it has a lens embedded in the back so you can peer inside to see what’s happening in the interior.

Hot Wheels | 1979 | 2854 | S.W.A.T. Van (Scene Machines) | dark enamel blue with white & orange trim | HK | bs

This Scene Machine has a lot of dust inside, so the image isn’t particularly clear, but I’m including a photo here of the scene inside of my other S.W.A.T. Van.

Continuing my recent trend of finding open-wheel race cars, I nabbed this 1993 version of  Thunderstreak. It’s from the short-lived Hot Wheels Pro Circuit series, a collection of cars that came with special wheels and a collector card in an oversized blister pack. I might have to attempt some repairs to the bent front wing and axles, but the Al Unser Jr. Valvoline livery takes me back to my days of watching Indy car races at Phoenix International Raceway in the late 1980s.

Hot Wheels | 1993 | 2690 | Pro Circuit Series | Indy (Thunderstreak) | blue, white and red with Valvoline Al Unser Jr trim | China | PC6 chrome

This last Hot Wheels model is the second well-worn 1968 Custom Fleetside I’ve added to my collection. Both are missing the plastic bed cover, but this one is even more beat-up and is also missing a rear wheel. Still, who can resist one of the original 16 – especially the Fleetside, which was the first casting designed by Harry Bradley, who based the model on his own daily driver?

Hot Wheels | 1968 | 6213 | Custom Fleetside | Spectraflame purple, missing box cover, missing wheel | HK | rl

Yet another open-wheel racer, this one a Matchbox Formula 1 Racer. First released in 1984, this popular model has been issued in about 35 different variations

Matchbox | 1984 | #16 F1 Racer | dark blue with white and red Bosch STP 20, red driver, chrome lettering on wheels | Macau

The lady who was taking money at the sale must have been a Benz fan, as she had this Matchbox Mercedes Benz 300E on her table and told me it was the “best one” of the bunch. The casting debuted in 1987 and features opening front doors.

Matchbox | 1987 | #58 | Mercedes Benz 300E | metallic light blue, dark blue interior, opening doors | 8-dot rims | made in Macau

 

2017 Hot Wheels Spy vs. Spy ’66 Dodge A100

MAD’s Spy vs. Spy, which first appeared in 1961, is one of my favorite things ever. The premise of the comic strip by Antonio Prohias is genius. In a sort of James Bond meets Heckle and Jeckle, two rival agents – one dressed in black, the other in white, but otherwise identical – take turns trying to eliminate each other. The futility of this ongoing battle only heightens the comedy, as, with each new episode, they come up with more inventive and varied ways to try to cause the others’ demise. All of this is masterfully rendered in only black and white and with no dialogue.

I’ve been eagerly hoping to find these ever since I saw them in the Sneak Peeks last year as a sub-series of MAD magazine models in the 2017 Hot Wheels Pop Culture line. Initially, I found only the Don Martin cars, which are great in their own way. But while I was looking through the mainlines the other day at Target, my son – who is a second-generation Spy vs. Spy fan – spotted these hanging nearby.

I love the simplicity of the packaging and the decorations on these models. I don’t mind so much that they cheated and used some red highlights, since it ties in nicely with the MAD logo and the redlines on the tires. The ’66 Dodge A100, with it’s fairly extreme square features, seems an appropriate Cold War era vehicle for this particular mission.

Hot Wheels DWH40 | 2017 Pop Culture MAD #2/5 | ’66 Dodge A100 | micron black with Spy vs Spy trim | RLDDRR

Hot Wheels DWH37 | 2017 Pop Culture MAD #3/5 | ’66 Dodge A100 | pearl white with Spy vs Spy trim | RLDDRR

Antonio Prohias was born in Cuba in 1921. He was an experienced, prolific and award-winning cartoonist by the time he arrived in New York in 1960 – forced to flee his homeland after angering Fidel Castro with his anti-Communist drawings. When he took his portfolio to the MAD offices, he was immediately hired and his black and white Spies became an integral part of the magazine. Of his wordless style, Prohias has said (as quoted in Spy vs. Spy: the Complete Casebook), “As far as I’m concerned, drawing is a language in itself. I feel words are superfluous. In fact, even in Cuba I used Spanish as little as possible. All the power was in the drawings.”

My library of vintage Spy vs. Spy books.

As a youngster who loved to draw, I paid close attention to what Prohias was doing. He brought life to a spare palette with textures; endless varieties of brick and stone, clouds and smoke, tree bark and woodgrain. His skillful use of the brush tied together the page while adding and drama and tension. Prohias’ compositions defied two dimensions and his smart construction of the panels told the story fluidly.

My all-time favorite spread.

2017 Hot Wheels Pop Culture MAD Don Martin Models

I’ve been holding off showing these, hoping I might still find the rest of the Hot Wheels MAD series. In fact, I really wanted the Alfred E. Neuman ’64 Nova panel and the Spy vs. Spy ’66 Dodge vans. But, considering how scarce these have been on the pegs and how much I loved Don Martin when I was a kid, I’m glad I landed these two.

MAD was scarce in our house. The irreverent and sometimes racy satirical compilation was frowned upon by my fairly straight-laced parents. But they couldn’t shield me forever from my older brothers’ library, and I quickly became a fan of the magazine, which was founded by Harvey Kurtzman in 1952.

Don Martin was one of the artists brought to the magazine by Al Feldstein when he took over the editorial reigns in 1956. Martin’s immediately recognizable style and beautifully designed cartoons were often the highlight of the magazine, and he continued working for MAD up until 1988. Martin was famous for his particular brand of bizarre slapstick humor, punctuated by unique sound effects, which feature prominently in the decoration of both the cars and the packages of these Hot Wheels.

DWH25-4B10 | 2017 Pop Culture MAD #4/5 | ’55 Chevy Panel | pale green with Don Martin SPLITCH trim | RLRR5SP

DWH36-4B10 | 2017 Pop Culture MAD #5/5 | Haulin’ Gas | sky blue with Don Martin SHTOINK | RR10SP

The ’55 Chevy Panel – with its broad billboard surfaces – is a staple in the Pop Culture series, having made previous appearances decorated with 3 Musketeers (2015 M&M Mars) and Ghost Rider (2016 Marvel) branding. Haulin’ Gas is another Pop Culture regular, and I happen to have the Green Giant version from the 2013 General Mills series.

2009 HWC Neo-Classics Olds 442 Security Car

The Hot Wheels Olds 442 Police Cruiser from my childhood was a favorite. Despite lots of playtime, it survived in reasonably good shape. It’s always fun to find variations of the cars I had when I was a kid (you can see some other Olds 442s here). So, a few months back, when I saw that the Hot Wheels Collectors website was offering the 2009 Neo-Classics Olds 442 Security Car at half price, I ordered one.

This recent version has had its light bar retooled, but the 442 is pretty striking in this Spectraflame red and chrome combo. And though a security car seems a step down from the Police Cruiser of my youth, you have to admit working security for Mattel would be a pretty cool job!

P2139 | 2009 HWC Series 8 Neo-Classics | Olds 442 Security Car | 3882/10,000 | Spectraflame red and chrome with white, red and black Mattel Security trim | Neo-Classic RL

I also have HWC variations of my childhood Super Van, Heavy Chevy and Ford J-Car.

M2 Machines Auto-Drivers and Detroit Muscle 1967 Chevy Nova SS

I remember being impressed when, about a year ago, I first saw a preview on Facebook of this M2 Machines Special Edition Auto-Drivers release of the 1967 Chevrolet Nova SS. And I was not disappointed when I eventually found one in the store last fall. The “frozen black pearl” paint is really striking against the black interior, black wheels with redlines, and blacked-out grill and bumpers. Unfortunately, my photos don’t do it justice.

img_9203 img_92102016 Auto-Drivers R35 Special Edition | 1967 Chevrolet Nova SS 15-28 | frozen black pearl | 1:64

I also found the Detroit-Muscle R34 ’67 Nova in “emerald turquoise”, which also sports redlines.

img_9207img_92062016 Detroit Muscle R34 | 1967 Chevrolet Nova SS | emerald turquoise with black top | 1:64

I have many M2 Machines 1967 Novas. My favorites include the Target Exclusive version and the 60 Years of Turbo Fire release.