Thursday, February 25, 2016

So what is this HobbyDB site that keeps popping up everywhere?

A few months ago, Hot Wheels geeks like me were a little shocked when one of our favorite websites, South Texas Diecast, seemed to vanish.  South Texas had always been my go-to Hot Wheels database.  It was thorough and very easy to navigate.  No matter what the model, it could be found on South Texas.

But now it seemed to be gone.  Or as it said on the site, it had moved, to a place called HobbyDB.  You may not know it now, but that is a very good thing.  It is a logical home for South Texas, and it is now part of an ongoing effort to document as many toy cars as have ever been made.  That seems like a far-fetched idea, but if anyone is going to do it...

It seems that a hobby like ours should be loaded with good databases.  And there are definitely some. But keeping them up-to-date is a near impossible task.  I know, as I kept a Matchbox database for awhile before I started Lamley, and keeping up-to-date with new releases while trying to fill thousands of gaps in previous lines proved too difficult.  Since then I have bookmarked numerous databases, some which still exist now, others that have gone to great big internet heaven in the sky.

That era might finally be over.  There are some tech-savvy folks that are taking on the task of compiling all, through efforts of their own and with help of collectors like you and me.  Gemr is one, and we will profile them soon, HobbyDB is another.

I first learned about HobbyDB last summer at the Matchbox Gathering, when I met founder and CEO Christian Braun.  Christian showed me the site, and surprised me a bit when he said his goal was document every diecast release.  Since I have learned more, and followed the site for awhile, and I have seen that if anyone can do it, Christian can.

Christian is working to compile all the databases already created, and then fill in all the rest of the gaps.  Don't ask me how, as I am not that tech-savvy, but he and his staff are progressing every day.

The HobbyDB team consists of a full-time team and several advisors (including me, as I joined to help give guidance on Mattel-era Matchbox).  But its most important team is the growing group of collectors who contribute their knowledge, photos, and information.  It is the information from collectors all over the world that will help compile all this database.  Just imagine going to one site, typing in "Alfa Romeo", and seeing all the diecast Alfa Romeos ever made.  Cool, eh?

HobbyDB asked us if we would help get the word out, and invite all of you collectors to join.  Here, in their own words, is how you can take advantage of the site:

How can someone get started? 
The best way to get started on hobbyDB is to come to our site, enter whatever you’re interested in in the search box and hit go! The site now has almost 65,000 model vehicles listed and everything is interlinked. As well as having listings for individual models, we also have pages on things like brands and series where you can see everything that’s related to your favorite models.
You don’t need to be a member to search and browse to your heart’s content, but if you want to take advantage of our powerful collection management tools, then quickly sign up for a free account and you can start documenting and showcasing your collection, or keeping track of a wish list, within seconds. 
Find out more at
What do you need from collectors?
Join the hobbyDB Curation Nation!
hobbyDB is a database that is powered by collectors. One of the best ways you can get involved with the hobbyDB project is by becoming a Curator. Curators are members with special privileges who contribute to the project by keeping information clean, accurate, and up to date on their favorite page/casting of collectibles. Becoming a Curator is easy, all you have to is come up with your favorite subject and ask us! We will place a special badge on your profile page and your picture will be featured on the page(s) you Curate, so everybody knows you’re in charge. A single subject can have multiple Curators, so team up with your buddies on a busy page to form a misinformation fighting task force. If you’re feeling zealous you can Curate as many pages as you want!

What is its value to collectors?
hobbyDB gives collectors a place to quickly and easily research, catalog, showcase, buy, or sell their collectibles. For those looking to research or browse, hobbyDB will eventually offer a seemingly limitless library of collectibles along with detailed data points to provide as much accurate information on every item as possible. The hobbyDB project is designed to be as seamless as possible when it comes to uploading items to your collection, while also providing the luxury of viewing all of your collectibles in a single, organized location. Believe it or not, hobbyDB is also powered by collectors: encouraging you, a member of the hobbyDB project, to upload your own photos, record data about your collectibles, and even contribute to the catalog by uploading your collectibles that aren’t already in the system. Finally, hobbyDB even supplies a marketplace for collectors whether they choose to add to their collection, make some extra money off of their unused collectibles, or both! By connecting hobbyists from all kinds of collecting backgrounds, hobbyDB is building a hub for collectors to share their passion with the world.

Cool, eh?  I am always looking for a good place to both search for diecast, as well as catalog what I have.  HobbyDB seems to share that goal.  You can just bookmark the site as a reference, or get a little deeper by signing up as a Curator.

If anything, go to the top of the page, type in a favorite car, and see how deep you can go.  The site is ALWAYS evolving.  For example, customizer Chris Stangler just added an archive of all his customs.

I love this project, and think this will be a very valuable resource.  Hopefully we can all participate...


  1. Ugh, this site ruined ST diecast for me. It's so mich harder and clunkier to navigate. Info was lost in the switch. Almost as bad as the HWC site revamp, sorry to say

  2. I have to agree it's alot harder to navaigate.Like the old saying goes,If it's not broke why fix it. Go back to the way it was b4.

  3. My biggest thing is I hope there's a way to keep people from going nuts and adding every little minute thing to the database, or just straight up wrong information.

    The way STDC had things listed made it easier to use, and was easy to transfer lists to an Excel (or equivalent) spreadsheet for your own use. I know I did that.

    I do like the site, but some uniformity with it would be good. Having thousands of people taking thousands of different kinds of photos is not necessarily a good thing.

  4. As long as they keep human interaction at a minimum. Face it, everybody knows something about what they collect. Half of it is wrong. And that is how the fight started.

  5. Thanks for the write-up, John.

    SeattleO, there was no data lost in the migration; it might have not been there when you looked but it is there now.

    Heath, let me know what you like to have improved. See also here the list of features and improvements coming

    Doomus, great point and also our biggest worry. We now have 145 curators that have their own forum on which is where we discuss how to document and catch wrong information. We are also working on what we call subvariations where we can show say a snowflake cars and a normal blue card for folks that want to see that level of detail but not to users that do not. Lastly, we are designing a buddy system that will help new users with their first steps on the sites documenting new catalog entries. How about becoming part of the team and helping us making the database better.

    Anybody with a question on hobbyDB can get in touch with the team via the little speech bubble on the bottom right of each page on our site.

    1. Need to put it back to the old way was a whole lot easier to read and view.Need to put the ones for sale in a forum of its own.This new way is so confusing. Go back to the way it was before.Much easier.

    2. Hi Heath,

      The new site is different and needs to get used to, please try it again. Re items for sale, I do not understand the concern. hobbyDB can be used to research, to document what you own or want to own and to sell and buy - the only difference that a Hot Wheels model has that is also for sale is the red stripe in the top right. If you are not in buying mood just ignore it.


    3. Yes I can ignore it,but it needs allot of improvement to match up to the way it was before.I liked the way the old way they had the cars listed and in order of the years.I like how it had the description of the car and then the image icon.I no I'm beating a dead horse in the head here.Just don't understand the whole reason for changing something that worked great for some many years then go in a change it all and make it totally over the top. What's wrong with easy and efficient. I used the site for years as a helpful tool, now I don't hardly look at it. Sorry for the rant.Just wish it was back to the good old way.

    4. I understand that once you are used to a tool it is painful to adjust to working a different way. In the end this is a personal judgement; you do not like it; Rob from STDB and we like it more the way it is now and in particular that we can constantly improve it. The old site consisted of a few thousand individual HTML pages and was extremely difficult to maintain. Just witness how we already have a few more thousand more Hot Wheels listings, here one of the many new pages that did not exist in the past: or

  6. Hi LedZeppelin67, I missed your reply while I was writing mine. I think more like 2% is wrong, and most people know what they know and what they think they know and act accordingly. We follow a lot of what Wikipedia has done right and think corrected where they have problems (i.e. we are pushing hard for curators for each Hot Wheels casting and each Hot Wheels related subject). We had no fights yet, just discussions and we moved them to the curator forum off the catalog itself.

  7. I was sick when STDC went away like I lost a friend. I could go there and narrow down what I had in my hand pretty quickly. I'm not blessed with a photographic memory so I do have to look up the same car many times. What use to take seconds now takes minutes.
    I realize STDC's site may have been out of date with it's value listings but at least it gave me a ballpark. Now to get some idea on value I searching many sites. What once was pure joy has turned into drudgery. The folks at Hobby DB have reached out to me and they say valuation is one of their goals. If that happens some of the joy will be back for me.

  8. Hi Unknown, I hope this makes you feel better:

    Priceguide information for carded and loose will come back in March. Here is why we changed the way prices get recorded:

    There was only one person that managed pricing for around 25,000 catalog entries and while that person works harder than anybody I know it became almost impossible to keep up. We now have 31,000 Hot Wheels listings and more get added every day. As a first step prices will now get maintained by the curators of each casting or series; that way the work gets split and goes to the folks who (hopefully) know most about the item in question. This is one of the many reasons why we ask more collectors to get involved as curators.

  9. I joined the site pretty early on after being sent there from STDC. I began logging in cars in my collection and about every third or so car were not on the site. Yes I typed the title and brand in many different ways and the car was not available. I got so frustrated I haven't been back in months.I don't like that it relies on anyone to update databases and model variations. Leaves the door open for so many errors and false information. I really do miss STDC! There is no option to sort your collection or know how many cars exactly one might have. All your cars are thrown into one big pile with no organization. I appreciate what you guys are trying to do but for now it's really not working.

  10. Hi Hulk,

    We have added Alternative Names to model cars and also what we call Equivalent Search Terms (i.e. if you look for Chevy you also find Chevrolet and vice versa) and work on some other tools such as the new Hot Wheels Guidelines.

    All that being said we need human interaction, that is why we worked hard on building what we think of as our curator infrastructure, a forum where curators can discuss and decide on standards; then documenting these standards (like the already mentioned Hot Wheels Guidelines) and the tools to merge duplicates, create variations etc. For more see here and also the forum on the same sub-site that is open for all to see. We now have 145 curators and are trying to double that every 4-6 months.

    Think of hobbyDB as having the same issues that Wikipedia had when it started. We are building it as a self-policing and self-organizing site. Let me know if you are interested in helping the project by curating one or more castings and joining other HW collectors to do this job.

    Just one comment on websites, I have seen way too many excellent data sources such as STDC disappearing as nobody can go on forever. In fact Rob has done an excellent job for more than 15 years and even he could not do all he wanted to do (we already have at least 5,000 more entries than his site had).


  11. HobbyDB sucks. It is hard to navigate and it seems like all they care about is getting you to buy something. I miss South Texas diecast.

    1. I don't mind criticism, I relish suggestions, what I cannot stand is this mindless "it sucks" - it is just less than helpful. Rob worked 15 years on STDC, and he and I and some other work crazy hours on hobbyDB. We have a vision and if you do not like it just create your own site.

      And then this total rubbish about only caring to get you to buy something, what is that about? You can research more than 160,000 catalog entries, you can manage your own collection, you can create your own wishlist or show your collection with others, all without spending one cent. Yes, you can buy something and fees earned from that keep the site going, what's the problem with that? And one that note, H45600, tell me, did you ever donate to STDC?

  12. I admit it's a bit harder to navigate when you used to the old STDC.. but hey.. at least we got a database we can rely or look.

    My suggestion for the page would be:
    1. differentiate between official production car and the custom made by custom artist.
    2. tidy up the database from duplicate entries.
    3. simplify the edit fuction..

    Anyway, keep up the good work. Cheers! thank you for providing us with the database

    1. Hi Reimon,

      Thanks for the suggestions, we are working on all three of these:

      1. Here are our Custom Guidelines and you can see that Customs are on the bottom of the page

      2. We are tidying up and could use help with this (we had 15,000 entries before merging the 25,000 from STDC in), we would love to have you come on board as curator for your favorite casting.

      3. Please PM me with your ideas on the edit function, love to hear what you have in mind.

      We are also working on a simplification of the views, as I cannot add images here you can see a mock-up here (it is in my first forum post on that thread).


  13. I'll have to join in and contribute to some of my unique casting finds, some of which I have show on my Two Lane Desktop blog.

    The site does seem disorganized and there is a chance wrong information can be present, so I suggest a few tweaks:

    1. There are too many of the same Hot Wheels castings listed. Why not group all the castings into one category, and then when you click on that link to the casting all of the variations show up (just like how STDC site used to do).

    2. Keep an eye on the database and make sure the information is correct and clear out any information; Problem is with some oddball castings from unknown manufacturers that can be hard to figure out what is real and what is not.

    I'll suggest more recommendations as I navigate the site more when I get spare time from work, school, and blogging.


    1. Hi Joe,

      Thanks for the comments. I was also pleased to find your blog and loved the article on the Turbine Car (am now on the outlook for one).

      Re your comments:

      1. We are going to group what we call Subvariations together (see the 8th posthere for an image on how that will look like). Not sure if we can do what you suggest as that would stop me from doing specific searches such as finding only 2007 Real Riders that are based on Dodge models ( In fact that is the power of hobbyDB, you can search for all Hot Wheels models related to Matt Kenseth ( or literally any other combination to find the models you are looking for.

      2. I agree with this and we are working very hard to contain bad data. We do this by better tools, better explanations but most importantly by bringing more folks on board to help with curation. More on that here (also watch the video).

      I look forward to hear more about your comments.


  14. Quite honestly--it sucks. It's bloated, unintuitive, and far from succinct in providing the best HW information. At least we have the Internet Archive to at least view old versions of STDC.

    Seriously, this was not a great move for what was a sound database to navigate. Hopefully someone in he future will resurrect the same layout STDC employed. I don't ever see myself using the db.

    1. It's hard to comment on such unspecific criticism, for example what do you mean by bloated (the definition would be excessive in size or amount)?

      You many not have understood that hobbyDB is attempting to document much more than the old version of STDC (more types of Hot Wheels related items, card variations, customs, errors and more). I would agree that we still have work (see here for a list and you have the choice of helping in this effort or staying away (or in fact you could build a database yourself).

      You could also say thanks to the man who worked 15 years without being paid to help Hot Wheels collectors worldwide - I find a lot of STDC users extremely ungrateful.

    2. You come across thin skinned. Quite simply, I never wanted anything more than what STDC offered in terms of hot wheels cataloging. It was simple and void of adds, etc.

      I have given my thanks directly for what we had with STDC--via the HWC forum. As someone who has run major facets of major websites in the past, the last thing we ever did was lash out at our users.

    3. Hi AfghanTwilight, everybody I showed the database so far with 2mor 3 exceptions (and that includes a number of critics of the move such as yourself) liked the new database or liked where we are going. I would be more than happy to give you a tour of the site, hear what you find bloated and then see if we can change your mind. If interested just ping me via the hobbyDB site.

      My comment re the ungratefulness of a lot of former STDC users stand, please regard it not as directed at you.

  15. Find an update on this discussion here