Toy Trader
Die Cast Insider - October 1998
© 1998 Paul M. Provencher
Lexmark Fat Fendered '40 - Click here to Enlarge
Behind the Scenes

When I think of the various die cast toys that I buy, I am usually focused on the cost, relative rarity, and where to get them. Also, I look for subjects that parallel my interests. Naturally I care how they look too. But I don't very often give much thought to how a particular vehicle comes into being. I know that there are people involved. But it is pretty rare to actually know who they are. While I did have an opportunity to meet some of the designers from Mattel when I attended the Hot Wheels convention, I was in a long line of people and did not have a chance to kick back and really talk. So I was pleased to have an opportunity to spend a couple hours talking to one designer that is responsible for some of my favorite Hot Wheels Special Editions.

I got an e-mail message from Bob Whaley complimenting me on the web site that I host. He asked about Toy Trader magazine, so I gave him a call. Little did I know that Bob is responsible for the J.C. Whitney vehicles that have become such hot collectibles. I would soon learn that Bob has also done some excellent subjects for other groups. I guess you could say I gave away my enthusiasm by telling him that of all the "premium" subjects I have seen, the J.C. Whitney ( ) series are my favorite. The choice of vehicles and design details combine to make vehicles that have been so popular that they sell out before most people know that they exist. A quick look at the online auction site, ebay ( ), shows how much some of these vehicles are valued by collectors. One aspect of Bob's work that consistently differentiates his Limiteds from the pack is the presentation. Each box or blister is unique. The graphics are designed with the collector in mind. It is always nice to get a new car in a package that is different from the rest and displays nicely. For my taste, Bob chooses the best cars. They are realistic cars that lend themselves well to detailing. Since Bob is also a Hot Wheels collector, he knows what people like and seems very willing to make sure that they get it. Here then is a description of many of the car variations that Bob has designed and some inside info about them.

Lexmark Fat Fendered '40

Lexmark Hot Wheels Fat Fendered '40Lexmark Hot Wheels Fat Fendered '40
Lexmark Hot Wheels Fat Fendered '40Lexmark Hot Wheels Fat Fendered '40

The Fat Fendered '40 is superb. Bob had the car painted with red enamel. The wheels are white-hubbed Good Year Real Riders. The car is decorated with the Lexmark logo and a stripe graphic that fades from white to black on both sides and the hood. The back deck of the car carries the Optra logo, promoting the line of printers by the same name. The interior is white; the windows clear with the Optra logo on the rear side windows. As with other FF40's, the base is metal. Bob also had the head and taillights painted. This attention to detail makes the car so much more realistic than those where the lights are just painted the body color. Trivia buffs will also want to take note that the gold Hot Wheels 30th Anniversary logo is on the trunk. The packaging is very clever. It is made to resemble a Lexmark printer! Inside the box is a pale impression of the Hot Wheels logo. The box itself has all the significant features of a real Optra printer, complete with buttons, indicator lights and vents. The top flap of the box is made to look like the paper output tray with a sheet of paper in it that predictably bears the full-color Hot Wheels logo.

Lexmark 3-Window '34

Lexmark Hot Wheels 3-Window '34Lexmark Hot Wheels 3-Window '34
Lexmark Hot Wheels 3-Window '34Lexmark Hot Wheels 3-Window '34

One of my all-time favorites, the 3-Window '34 is another winner, in or out of the box. In the regular Hot Wheels line, many different versions of the 3-Window-34 are popular with collectors. The most popular are the Real Rider versions, especially the black with flames and white-hubbed Good Year Real Riders. There were also versions that had a "Hi-Raker" rear suspension that could be jacked up. This is another casting that I have tried to acquire in as many variations as possible. I guess when I think of the classic Hot Rod, this is one of the cars that comes to mind. I expect that Bob knows how popular this car is. His version is also black with white-hubbed Good Year Real Riders. It is decorated with the Lexmark logo and a graphic strip that fades from white to red, on both sides and the hood. The rear of the car is marked with the words "Print Lexmark". The roof has a red "canvas" panel. It also boasts a window box that is designed to look like a printer. It is a different type of printer from the Optra. But it has the same basic features as the package for the Fat Fendered '40.

Lexmark International, Inc., ( ). is a global developer, manufacturer and supplier of printing solutions and products, including laser, inkjet and dot matrix printers and associated consumable supplies for the office and home markets. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lexmark International Group, Inc. (NYSE: LXK). Lexmark, which had sales of $2.5 billion in 1997, has executive offices and a manufacturing center in Lexington, Ky.; other manufacturing centers are in Boulder, Colo.; Juarez, Mexico; Rosyth, Scotland; Orléans, France and Sydney, Australia. Earlier this year, Bob was commissioned to provide premiums to Lexmark. He chose to develop Hot Wheels Special Editions using the Fat Fendered '40 and 3-Window '34. These cars were given away at Trade Show booths, and will be hard to find since they are not being distributed through regular outlets.

J.C. Whitney Fat Fendered '40

J.C. Whitney Hot Wheels Fat Fendered '40J.C. Whitney Hot Wheels Fat Fendered '40

The Fat Fendered '40 is a nice replica of the 1940 Ford Deluxe Tudor. This casting has become one of the most popular Hot Wheels subjects. It was first released in 1982 and has been redone in several different decorations. In both antique car and Hot Rodding circles, this car is one of the most sought-after. It is metallic blue. The Warshawsky/J.C. Whitney name is incorporated into red and yellow flame graphics on the sides and roof. It has transparent blue windows, a red interior, and a metal base. The wheels are the 5-spoke type found on many "regular" Hot Wheels. The car is packaged inside a window box that is blue with red and yellow flames. According to the box, there were only 7,000 made. It continues to be available from various sources although J.C. Whitney sold out shortly after this piece was released. Originally, it was available from them through a catalog that was sent to customers in the Chicago area. This accounts for why so many people were not aware that it was being sold until long after they were gone.

J.C. Whitney '56 Flashsider

J.C. Whitney Hot Wheels '56 FlashsiderJ.C. Whitney Hot Wheels '56 Flashsider

This truck was available from J.C. Whitney for free with any purchase or by itself for ten dollars plus shipping. Another popular casting, this one has been used for other Limited Editions, as well as in the regular Hot Wheels line. It has been one of my favorites since it came out in 1991. And when I discovered that it was free with a purchase, I made several minor purchases from J.C. Whitney in one evening. The next day I got a call from their credit card fraud investigation unit asking me if I had made the purchases and why I had done so in the manner that I had. I assured them that indeed I had made the purchases and had done so that way because I was "getting things for several different people and wanted to keep the charges separate." Well I could almost hear the raised eyebrows over the long distance connection. But my orders went through just fine. It would be the last time that a Hot Wheels was available for free with no limit on the purchase that was required, but not the end of Hot Wheels from J. C. Whitney. It features a white enamel paint job. The decoration is the red and blue J.C. Whitney logo. The windows are light blue chrome. The base is made of chrome-plated plastic. The wheels are chrome 5-spokes. The packaging is interesting because it features a see-through card that allows viewing of both sides of the truck without removing it from the package.

J.C. Whitney '55 Chevy

J.C. Whitney Hot Wheels '55 ChevyJ.C. Whitney Hot Wheels '55 Chevy
J.C. Whitney Hot Wheels '55 ChevyJ.C. Whitney Hot Wheels '55 Chevy

As I have said before, there is no shortage of die cast '55 Chevys. Almost every die cast manufacturer has this car represented. Mattel first produced this casting in 1978. As with most of their vehicles, they have made good use of the tools and produced many variations. This car can be found in the regular and Limited Edition lines. Of all the variations available, these two from J.C. Whitney are arguably the best. There are several features that distinguish them from the rest. First and foremost is the use of chrome-hubbed Real Rider tires, made of rubber and embossed with "Good Year" in white. Historically, these wheels have been linked with some of the most popular versions of Hot Wheels. They add to the realism even if the cars are not fast on the racetrack. Other details include painted head and taillights, correct side trim tampos, and two tone paint schemes. The later even part at the correct place on the body. Bob Whaley owns a '55 Chevy and was very interested in "doing it right". I would say that they are a success on that count. There are two versions, one in yellow and white; the other in blue and white. The yellow one has a black window treatment; the blue has chromed windows. Both cars come in window boxes that are amber fading to white with tire tracks running diagonally across them.

J.C. Whitney VW Bus

J.C. Whitney Hot Wheels VW BusJ.C. Whitney Hot Wheels VW Bus

If there were a single casting that has caused more scurrying around by collectors, it would have to be the VW Bus. Introduced to the Hot Wheels line in 1996 as part of the First Editions series, it immediately became the most sought-after casting being made. People have gone to great lengths and considerable expense to find one. I personally took a trip to Toronto Canada to visit one of my collector friends. Although the trip was largely motivated by a desire to take some time off from work, the fact that my friend had a couple VW Buses there waiting for me was no small motivation. My wife was very frustrated when, upon our arrival, and with greetings dispensed, I asked about the "Buses". The next day, my friend and I went on the road looking for more. After visiting every known outlet of Hot Wheels in the greater Toronto area, we decided to abandon the search and head home. But along the way we passed another store that promised some hope. The stop paid off and we left with six VW Buses, much to the chagrin of the person who got to the store right after we did. I should quickly add that we split them between us. I traded two of mine for other cars that I was having trouble getting, and kept one to open. All that aside, I was pleased to learn that J.C. Whitney would continue their Hot Wheels offerings with this car. I was not disappointed when it showed up in the mailbox. It has a black nose and fades to white at the back. The body is highlighted with a red nose that turns into a stripe that runs lengthwise from front to rear. Again, the J.C. Whitney/Warshawsky logo is printed on the side and on the rear spoiler. The head, tail and parking lights are painted; the VW emblem is highlighted in white. The interior is red. The bottom edge and spoiler of the car are painted silver. Like the other versions of this casting, the front wheels are chrome five spoke. The rear wheels are large slicks formerly used on some of the dragsters in the Hot Wheels line. The body flips up like a funny car. The windows are clear and the base is made of metal. It has been said that this is one of the heaviest Hot Wheels ever made. I get the impression that this car will be used over and over again to advertise products and services. The sides are large and flat, lending to many uses where clear printing is needed.

J.C. Whitney Scorchin' Scooter

J.C. Whitney Hot Wheels Scorchin' ScooterJ.C. Whitney Hot Wheels Scorchin' Scooter

Maybe I should have thought twice before giving the VW Bus credit for being the hottest with collectors. Surely the Scorchin' Scooter has achieved equal status. It was introduced as part of the 1997 First Editions series. It is the first motorcycle produced by Mattel for some time. Previously, two moto-cross bikes were done but quickly discontinued. The Scorchin' Scooter is a stylized depiction of a custom motorcycle. It has black fenders and gas tank with a red outline surrounding a silver inset. The engine is reasonably detailed and made of metal. The handlebars and front suspension is made of gray plastic. The front wheel is unique to this casting. The rear wheel is identical to the rear wheels on the back of the VW Bus. One would not expect this bike to be large enough to be used for advertising but indeed, the J.C. Whitney logo fits nicely on the gas tank. The seat is painted dark gray and the gas caps are silver. The taillight is painted red and outlined in silver. The Hot Wheels logo is printed on the front fender. The numberplate reads "TMBW1", probably an acronym that stands for "TradeMark Bob Whaley 1". Just a hunch. It comes in a window box decorated with a desert scene and the J.C. Whitney logo.

J.C. Whitney VW Bug

J.C. Whitney Hot Wheels VW BugJ.C. Whitney Hot Wheels VW Bug

I don't recall if I ever mentioned that one of the themes that I collect is Volkswagen Beetles. Because of that, I have a large collection of Bugs from many different companies that have accumulated over the years. Basically, if it is a Bug, I buy it. Some that I have found are really pretty bad. Others are incredibly lifelike. The Hot Wheels VW Bug casting falls somewhere in between. It certainly is one of the best proportioned, but it is not very detailed. Notwithstanding, I have tried to get every variation of this casting that I can lay my hands on. Over the years I have gotten most, if not all of them. Unfortunately, the decoration in the regular line have gotten more and more toy-like. So along comes Bob Whaley and J.C. Whitney to the rescue. Here we have the "Son of SEMA" Bug. When I talked to Bob he told me that he was inspired to produce a version of the Bug that took after the hard-to-find promotional that was given away at the Vegas show. Collectors of Hot Wheels and VW Bugs in general will recall that the SEMA Bug was black with gray hubbed Real Riders. Bob gave this one a similarly simple design - red with chrome hubbed Real Riders, and silver trim details. Even the small VW crest found on the cowl area is there, along with the horn grills above the front fenders and painted taillights. The windows are clear and the interior black. The numberplate is yellow and has "RW 1" on it. Bob tells me that he could not resist putting his initials on there. The base is metal. Overall, I like this version better than the SEMA bug because it has detailing and, being a lighter color, is more pleasant to look at. Thankfully, it does not have any advertising copy on the sides. The packaging is clever too. In addition to the Hot Wheels and J.C. Whitney logos it has a picture of a suburban house with a white picket fence, blue sky with white puffy clouds. I almost wonder if it might not be a picture of Bob's house?

J.C. Whitney Baja Bug

J.C. Whitney Hot Wheels Baja BugJ.C. Whitney Hot Wheels Baja Bug

Continuing with the VW Bug theme, J. C. Whitney did an excellent rendition of the Baja Bug. It is basically the same as the Real Rider version that was done in the regular Hot Wheels line several years back. Once again, Bob took the time to have the headlights and taillights painted. He chose white hubbed Real Riders, knobby on the back and smooth on the front. It is painted a pale yellow and has the J.C. Whitney logo on the sides and Hot Wheels logo on the front. The interior is blue and there are no windows. The base is metal. The package is a regular-sized blister but has a scene showing a desert somewhere in the southwestern U.S. The choice of colors and the packaging combine to make this a beautiful item to display in the package.


Roll PatrolHot Rod Custom Van

Here is some information about the J.C. Whitney and Lexmark Special Editions.


Catalog Number Promotes Description Value
baggie J.C. Whitney '32 Ford Delivery 50
15022 J.C. Whitney Fat Fendered '40 60
15025 J.C. Whitney '56 Flashider 31
15922 J.C. Whitney '55 Chevy (yellow/white) 30
16812 J.C. Whitney '55 Chevy (blue/white) 30
16956 J.C. Whitney VW Bus 80
18590 J.C. Whitney Scorchin' Scooter 40
18669 J.C. Whitney VW Bug 20
18672 J.C. Whitney Ford F150 25
18671 J.C. Whitney Hot Rod CustomVan 30
18673 J.C. Whitney Roll Patrol 20
18670 J.C. Whitney Baja Bug 30
  J.C. Whitney '40 Ford Pick Up 25
20813 Lexmark Fat Fendered '40 30
20814 Lexmark 3-Window '34 30
22078 Lexmark Passion 30
21337 Chicagoland Toys for Tots Scorchin' Scooter 30
  Lexmark 3-Window '34 40
  Lexmark Mustang 40
  J.C. Whitney '40 Woodie 25
  Toy Shop '32 Ford 25
  Toy Cars & Vehicles '65 Mustang Convertible 25
  Toy Cars & Vehicles '70 Plymouth Barracuda 25
23529 J.C. Whitney Scorchin' Scooter 25
23537 Lexmark Chevelle SS 25
23538 Lexmark AMX 25
24877 Toys For Tots Scorchin Scooter 25

Protective Packaging

ProTech Soft Shell for Racing Champions

One of the problems that plagues collectors that care about the condition of the packages is how easy it is to get creases, scratches, dust and dirt permanently gracing them. It is hard enough to find good mint packages at stores. The next hurdle is getting out of the store with them intact. Now I have made fun of keeping cars in the packages, and I open most of my purchases, albeit quite carefully. But I have irritated and confounded more than one store clerk at checkout time by insisting that I be allowed to stack my packages into the plastic bag while they ring them up. My wife has applied for the next open spot at the asylum, but I do it anyway. But once I get home it is not over. Now I need to catalog the cars and find a way to store or display them without causing further damage.

There are, fortunately, a number of products that are available to solve my problem (no I will not be cured of this die cast disease, but at least my display problems are now in control). One that I really like is a clear plastic shell that fits perfectly over the front of the blister pack and has a snap-on cover for the back. In addition, there is a nice cutout at the top that makes it possible to hand the whole thing by a push pin or other such device. These have been available for Hot Wheels for some time but were too small to fit my Racing Champions blisters. But I just found some nice ones from Dave at Name of the Game/ProTech in Walnut California that are perfect for the job. They are a great improvement over the early ones I got for my Hot Wheels. The plastic is thicker and the back cover snaps more positively in place. They also have a little protrusion on the bottom so the whole thing can be stood up. They are stackable so they would work for storage too. I do not think they are watertight so I still plan to take precautions against moisture, mold and mildew. But these are great for the compulsive caretaker of die cast in packages and are worth a look-see! Mine were supplied by David at Name of the Game/Protech in Walnut California.

Paul M. Provencher

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