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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lamley Showcase: Johnny Lightning Collector Club...

Johnny Lighting Collector Club
Isn't it nice to have Johnny Lightning back around?

There are probably a fair amount of collectors who don't remember Johnny Lightning back in its Praying Mantis days, and didn't know it ever vanished.  But if you are a fan of Greenlight, M2, or Auto World, you need to know about Johnny Lightning.

JL did a lot of things, from the crazy Zingers to movie cars, but how I remember them is the brand that did higher quality, realistic looking, mostly American cars.  Very much in the style we see from other higher-end brands now.  There were a lot of JL collectors back then, but over time the brand struggled and eventually folded.  I was never a heavy collector of JL - I was exclusively focused on the Mattel brands at the time - but it was odd to not see them on the pegs.

Well, Johnny Lightning is back, having been revived by Round 2, the maker of both Auto World and Racing Champions.  We have seen JL on the pegs in both Walmart and Target, and collectors are returning to the old days of flipping through the pegs looking for White Lightnings.

I have professed my love for Auto World here on the blog several times, and will continue to showcase AW releases.  In talking to Mac and the gang over at Round 2, however, we got on the subject of Johnny Lightning, and I thought it was very cool that JL had started a Collector Club.

A photo posted by Johnny Lightning (@johnnylightningdiecast) on


While I am not a JL collector - but I do pick up the occasional model - I love the idea of the Collector Club, and Round 2 was kind enough to send a kit over to preview for Lamley Readers.

     

I love that it is a kit - very old school - and I love that a lot of thought and care has gone into making it special.  Being a Club Member should be more than just having a special username and password on a website, and that is one of the reasons being a member of this club is so cool.  The kit is beautiful, and the inclusion of a classic Praying Mantis Era JL is a nice touch (White Lightning Chase for Gold members).

Of course having that special access is part of being a club member too, and there are a ton of benefits outside of what is in the kit, including a conference call with Round 2's owner for Gold Members.  But one of the best benefits is a flat shipping rate on all orders at the Round 2 store over $50 for Gold Members.  That doesn't seem too exciting, but if you are a fan of any Round 2 brand, like I am for Auto World, it means a ton.  Getting all of these cars in stores can be hard, so this allows you to buy everything there and get it shipped for cheap.

It is a great club to be a part of, and I am excited to be a member.  And with some of the things JL has coming, I can see many more models joining the collection:







You can find all the information on the Johnny Lightning Collector Club Website.



The Club exclusive 1969 Royal Bobcat GTO:






5 comments:

  1. I remember when the Playing Mantis cars were first released in the '90s. The proportions were pretty terrible, but it was exciting all the same. They went on to release hundreds of unique castings, covering an amazing amount of topics - British, Indy, Muscle, Customs, and so on.
    And, now they are back.
    I'm not so sure I understand why either.
    The new JL is a return to castings from their past, with a better level of detail. Sadly, those fat steam-roller tires persist.
    More confusing is the lack of brand differentiation between Autoworld, JL and Racing Champions.
    Shouldn't Racing Champions cover race cars, and Johnny Lightning co hot rods and customs, leaving stock automobiles to Autoworld? That would make sense, but we get three brands doing pretty much the same thing - American classic cars.

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  2. You make a great point in your last paragraph. I always felt that Racing Champions should be positioned as the bargain brand, as many of their basic models offered during its first incarnation were of decent quality-in fact, slightly better than Maisto's Fresh Metal series and slightly cheaper. JL should be the middle-tier brand, and Auto World as the flagship premium brand.

    JL is back because Tom Lowe always perferred this brand, and never really gave up on it after he sold it to Racing Champions. When tomy decided to kill the brand, Lowe saw the chance to buy it back. My belief is that he didn't want RC, but Tomy lumped it in with the JL deal.

    As for RC focusing on race cars, that is going to be a tough sell. RC first started with racing cars, mostly Nascar, and expanded from there. When the F1, Indy and off-road categories began drying up, RC shifted its focus to Nascar, and soon became the largest Nascar licensee, while fending off Hot Wheels and Winners Circle. When Nascar decided to grant its license deal to only one brand, RC's glory days were over. Buying Ertl and JL did little to cover their bottom line.

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  3. The new JL and RC are nicer than before and there are the excellent Ertl castings sans opening trunks and hoods but overall it is a bunch of stuff I have plenty of. The real dealer breaker though is that the RC and JL cost more than the vastly superior AW cars.
    I joined the Collectors Club. The GTO is nicely done and the presentation is far and above anything I had seen before. So far the Club doesn't have the same coolness as before though I am hoping to see changes in the future

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  4. The main deterrent of JL and RC for me is the cost. $6 is pretty steep. At that price, I'd expect more opening parts, more exciting castings, etc etc.

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  5. I was generally unimpressed by the new JL models until I saw the white Surf Rods 1958 Corvette. I love this model and the moment I saw it I knew it was a must buy even at the higher cost. It is one of my favorite models and now I'm interested in seeing what other cool models they release.

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