A close-up look at Playart packaging and a representative model provides further information on these interesting diecast cars. On the first page of this Playart story, a sample of the early Playart blister card was shown. Here are three more examples of Playart packaging. The 'Fast Wheel' box is clearly marked as a Playart package and contains a Mustang and a model list on the reverse. The 'Road Mates' blister is a Sears package for the late 1970's Pontiac Firebird and does not say Playart on the package. The 'Peelers' blister is from Woolworths and and notes that it contains the Cadillac Eldorado (1968), but again does not say Playart on the packaging. Playarts were also packaged for other retailers like McCrory's. This re-packaging of Playart cars for various retailers was a distinctive marketing feature. While it has also been used by other diecast manufacturers, the complete lack of the Playart name of the 'Peelers' and 'Road Mates' blisters may confuse some collectors. It does not appear that the bases of the cars were ever altered and all bear the Playart name. The numbering of Playart cars is also confusing. four digit numbers beginning '71' (or '78' for military issues) were used and then later, four digit numbers beginning '10' appeared, which also match numbers used by Yatming.
1998 marks the fourth year that Hot Wheels have offered a 'Race Team Series'. These series have offered a variety of Hot Wheels vehicles all presented in the racing blue and 'fireball' logo so well known to children and collectors alike. No other diecast manufacturer has ever produced so many 'self-promoting' models. To be fair, Mattel also springs for the real thing with sponsorship of Kyle Petty's 'Hot Wheels' stock car for the NASCAR racing series.
The charm of this series is in the wide variety of racing machines and the unique display offered by the complete collection. All of the 21 models shown here been bought for $1.00 US or less so the collection has not required any major financial outlays. Even the VW Bus, now selling for more that the retail cost of all the combined cars, was found 'on-the-rack' for $.78. A specially boxed racing series of four cars is offered for the price of about $10 per car but I find paying $9 each for paint alone, a bit excessive.
When the name of Ertl comes up today, most collectors can be expected to focus on their fine 1:18 scale diecast cars. The popularity of the large-scale diecast from Ertl have eclipsed the many small-scale vehicles that were produced in the 1970's and '80's. This is a shame as the small Ertl diecast are every bit as deserving as their big brothers.
You may remember the 'Dukes of Hazzard' cars offered by Ertl in 1981. A re-issue of three of these cars was done by Ertl in 1997, in conjunction with revived 'Dukes of Hazzard' productions. The original castings were very popular and command a premium price amoung collectors. The 1997 re-issues look the same but two of the cars are actually new castings. Only the 1970 Cadillac is identical to the original casting. Ertl did many other TV and Movie cars, as shown below.
Ertl's 1:64 scale cars often represent unique models in this scale. Cars like the Ferrari Dino 246GT and Jaguar XJ6 S2 are wonderfull designs that deserve to be represented in this scale. No one but Ertl has done a 1980 Pontiac Sedan or Maserati Quattroporte. I have encouraged Ertl representatives to re-issue more of these miniatures and they are considering it.
After publishing the initial Hot Wheels Race Team article, several collectors began asking why I left out some of the variations on this theme? Just for them, here are the variations in my collection. I am sure that some are still missing.
The three '92 Camaro models pictured here represent color variations on the same car. The first is the Jack Baldwin GT Camaro in correct racing colors. This was offered as a regular issue Hot Wheel. The second is the same car with a chromed blue finish. It was also regular issue but does not have Jack Baldwin's name on the roof. The third is the McDonalds version with basic wheels and graphics. The fourth Camaro is also a Jack Baldwin GT Camaro that came in special packaging. it represents the earlier generation Camaro.
Here is the answer to a question no-one has ever asked. How many small-scale diecast cars have been produced with flat black hoods? From my collection, only five could be found. Primarily found on U.S. muscle cars, flat black hoods must have served some purpose or did they just look mean. Surprise, two of these cars are British/European muscle.