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The next edition of Mattel's "Cars" collectables cruise into a store near you

The next edition of Mattel's "Cars" collectables cruise into a store near you

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If a company is lucky, they score a hit every now and then with one of their products. And if they are really lucky, that product ties in with an even bigger success from another company's product.

So it is this summer with Mattel and their line of die-cast cars from the movie of the same name. Based on the characters found along the way to and from Radiator Springs, these toys have quickly become a favorite of fans, collectors and kids alike.

The curious thing, however, is that once again it appears that either the manufacturer


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or the retailers simply under-estimated the appeal of these products. You have to wonder what market focus groups they missed out showing these products to, as it seems they just won't stay in stock anywhere.Talk about a retailer's dream, if only they could have been ready for the demand…

Since those first trips to the stores in late May and early June, I continue to be amazed every time I visit the bigger stores such as Walmart, ToysRUs and Target, in search of more cars. It seems that all I manage to find is empty racks where once products hung for sale. And perhaps the most amazing thing is that every time new product goes up on those racks, it manages to go home with shoppers.

You might remember how I shared my own tale of acquiring a good collection of them a while back. Since then, there has been a great sharing of information among other collectors using the Jim Hill Media site as a springboard for information about these products. Over 450 comments at last count and still going! And it even led to the establishment of an EZBoard discussion group and a Yahoo Discussion group where even more information is available to folks.

During my visit to Disneyland for the Pirates premiere event in June, I did my own checking around the resort for Cars merchandise. Two things were conspicuously absent. The first was cloisonné pins with the Cars characters, and the second was these Mattel die-cast cars. It seemed that they had just sold so well that none were to be found.

"Cars" pins, including a logo pin, Lightning McQueen,
Mater, Doc, Sally and Ramone
Photo by Roger Colton

As far as pins? I did eventually manage to find a few of the open stock of characters from the film; but not a complete set of those released (or shown above) by any means. And the die-cast Cars? Would you believe only one place in all of the Disneyland resort had any of them in stock? Perhaps fitting with California being the home of the car culture, I found them in a small quantity at California Adventure's Enginears Toy Shop. And small was definitely the word. Maybe less than ten individual packs all total, of which I purchased three.

Perhaps a more curious note was the price. Even Disney Shopping has joined the retailers in selling these products. Sarge, one of the harder characters to find in stores in some markets, has been for sale here off and on over the last few weeks. Interesting to note, both online and at Enginears Toys, these were marked at $5.95 each – with the suggested retail price being $4.99 each.

A check of eBay has interesting moments in store for collectors as well. One seller even has gone so far as to offer unopened cases of product and has no shortage of bidders wanting to take advantage of that opportunity.

And it's not just the Cars! The accessories don't stay on the shelves either. The playsets seem to disappear almost as fast.

So? Where does the product line stand now? Well, thanks to the folks from the EzBoard group, here is a list of what has been released so far, along with a sneak peek at some of the 2007 line coming along in September.

According to a public relations contact for Mattel, this image appears to be from a sell sheet for some of those 2007 products:

Copyright Mattel

A glimpse of the future? New "Cars" include the Radiator Springs retro Lightning McQueen, the all blue "young" Mater, The Fabulous Hudson Hornet racer,the Michael Schumacher Ferrari, a yellow Ramone and the Hamm Truck.

However, official photos of the 2007 product line have yet to be released, so who knows what more may be in store?

That's not to say that we don't have some new products to tide us over until September. A quartet of new Cars was released in mid June and were quickly snatched up by the public. They included:

Nitroade and Leakless, two of the Piston Cup racers
Photo by Roger Colton

A metal flake green Ramone
Photo by Roger Colton

The fantasy blue, Dinoco Lightning McQueen
Can a Dinoco Chick Hicks be far behind?
Photo by Roger Colton

It's interesting to note that these are all repaints of previously released cars. Nitroade is a repaint of Lightning McQueen and Leakless is a repaint of Chick Hicks. And note that three of the upcoming cars are repaints as well. Not that this is a bad thing, as it may open the door for other cars (such as the Apple car #84) to join the product line soon. I hope to be able to share more of what we can expect from Mattel in the coming weeks.

One thing is for certain. As popular as these "Cars" have proven for retailers and fans of all ages, we certainly have not see the last of this product line. Come the holiday shopping season, they could be another big hit, if only retailers can keep them in stock. And it wouldn't hurt if the public stops by the Mattel Consumer Relations website and keeps asking for more "Cars", too … Demand drives supply, or so we're told.

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  • Yep Roger, the best I can say is that it feels that Mattel pulled a 'Buzz Lightyear' on fans.  Who knows?  Maybe someday in the near future there'll be a 'Cars' aisle- 'And this is the PIXAR Cars Aisle.  Back in 2006, short-sighted retailers did not order enough product to meet demand.'

    Actually, for the Apple Car, they'd have to create a new race-car body style.  The Apple Car's body is more inline with the current NASCAR body-style (I believe the Mood Springs car that goes flying past screen during the crash was the same body-style).

    Personally, I've been amazed how much 'Cars' has been selling.  You go to the Discount and Toy Stores and you see row upon row of shelf-clogging 'Dead Man's Chest' and 'Superman Returns' toys.

    Not only is Cars the #2 film of the year, but it's probably the most popular toyline out there.  Where's Disney's PR dept. to crow about this stuff when you need them?
  • I can't believe the number of cars in the product line!  I'm so happy Disney is selling so many!  That Hamm car is the cutest thing I've seen!!!  I hope they'll have the other Pixar cars...!  Thanks for the article, pictures, and link!!!
  • i wonder if they are making new cars to anticipate a sequel?

    one thing that i haven't found are regular "cars" plushes...they have the ones that when you hit they talk, but not ones (that i've found) that are just plush.

    good article, roger.  i prefer reading about disney related topics rather than non-disney.
  • Awesome: Hudson Hornet Doc was top of my wish list! One thing though, and it's hard to tell from the photo, but the Radiator Springs repaint of Lightning better include the all-important white-walls!

    Now, if the next line-up includes Rusty, Dusty, Tex, Fred and Mrs. The King, I'll be a very happy fan!

    By the way, the excellent Cars video game (the real game, not the Radiator Springs Adventures kids software) includes characters Pixar created, then cut from the film, including Mater's demolition-derby relatives and a monster truck named Count Spatula. It'd be fun to see these included in the die-cast line.

    If you do play the game, which acts as a sequel, stick through the closing credits for a hidden ending. It's unbelievably perfect.
  • These are awesome.  I still need to get me a nitroade and a DJ to complete my set and my dads set.

    Already got myself a couple extra model T lizzie and the luigi, guido sets that i will probably have to trade eventually.
  • Micky, Would you be willing to trade a lizzie for a nitroade.  I have an extra Nitroade and need a lizzie for my son's collection.  
  • Great article, Roger. This site and EZ has helped me and others tremendously.

    And peoplemover, the physical Disney Store has some plushes that don't make noise. They have three sizes ... the largest I have seen is Lightning, which retails for around 99. The medium sized sells for around $16.99. Don't remember the cost of the smaller ones.
  • Great article again, Roger...I'm one of the folks that migrated over to the EZBoard site, so thanks for mentioning our little niche in cyberspace!

    A couple of nitpicks, though: Nitroade does have a similar body style as Lightning McQueen, but I don't think Nitro is a "repaint" of the same die-cast. There's enough differences that I believe Mattel made a separate cast for him.

    And as for Chick Hicks and Leakless: Even though they're about as close in style as two of the cars could be, there are still a few differences in the fronts of the cars, mainly the bumpers. But it does look like they used the main body of Chick and created Leakless.
  • Hey Rodger,
    Go back to that other article about the cars diecast figurines and see how many comments there are.  I still post comments on that page.

    Great article Rodger!!!

  • Keep up the good work, Roger.  :)

    Cars FOREVER!   ;)
  • Roger:

    I enjoyed the article, too. And thanks for the mention of the Cars The Toys board and link to my Drive-In reference page there. As "amoore" has mentioned, Leakless and Nitroade are not repaints. Their sculpts--while perhaps similar in style to Chick and Lightning--are original. The eyes, face/bumper, length and width and several other small details differ.
  • Well, I am pleased to see these new additions.  Bummed, tho, cause we'll never see them in stores.  I have NEVER been more disappointed in a movie toy release than CARS.  They're great..........................................if you can find them.  I have wasted so much effort, and it shouldn't be that hard to spend money.
  • peoplemover:  To add a bit more information to Allie's post, the Disney Store has plush versions of Lightning, Mater, Doc Hudson, Sally, Luigi, and (at least in the beanbag toys) Guido, if memory serves.

    It's been darn near impossible to find the die-cast toys in the Metro Detroit area; two of the three I own actually came from a business trip my dad took to Chicago (though I did find the Dinoco McQueen in a Toys R Us here).  It's not the end of the world - not for a kid in college, at any rate - but it'd be nice if I could find that Luigi/Guido/Tractor three-pack without resorting to eBay...
  • I dont care how well it was written - youre not sucking me into collecting these things, like you did with pins. Good thing I can't find them anywhere - guess that's cause the movie was such a disappointment.  ;)
  • The fact of the matter is that toy distribution in the US has gotten harder in the past couple years. I didn't start collecting Mattel figures until about 4 years ago, and every year it's harder and more dependant on ebay... and Europe. Their top licensees like YGO, Cars, Harry Potter... even their own MOTU line.
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