If you or your children really enjoyed Pixar's latest animated feature film Cars, then you've probably looked for toys of the Cars. You'll also notice that some characters are hard to find in the shops, due to a limited supply. This guide aims to guide you through the main toys available, the sort of prices you can expect, and an explaination of some of the variants.
Mattel has worked with Pixar to create a range of 1:55 scale Cars, each depicting one of the many characters from the film. These have become a delight to both children and collectors. At the time of this guide (November 2006), Mattel have many other characters planned for release. This guide aims to give you a reasonable expectation for prices, so you don't end up paying many times what you'd have to pay in the shops.
The Main Range
As of November 2006, the following characters are available in single pack form, for a recommended retail price of £2.99 (US $3.99):
- Lightning McQueen - The main character of the film, a hotshot rookie race car
- Mater - A Rusty Tow Truck, who becomes Lightning's best friend
- Doc Hudson - Radiator Springs' resident Doctor and Judge
- Sally Carerra - A sassy young Porsche who fell in love with Route 66
- Chick Hicks - One of Lightning's racing rivals. Arrogant and cocky, he is embittered that he has never won a championship
- Strip "The King" Weathers - Chick's polar opposite, he is level headed, talented and has won the championship several times
- Sheriff - A police car who's the law enforcement of Radiator Springs
- Sarge - A World War II Veteran Jeep who sells Government Surplus
- Fillmore - A Pacifist VW Camper Van who makes Organic Fuel
- Lizzie - An old Ford Model T who runs Radiator Springs' souvenir shop
- Ramone - Owner of the Body Art shop in Radiator Springs. Every time you see him he has a new paint job. This is his green paint job.
- "Dinoco" McQueen - Lightning McQueen in a blue paint job, from a fantasy Lightning has about replacing The King
- Nitroade - A black race car, seen in the background of Lightning's big race
- Leakless - A yellow race car, seen in the background of Lightning's big race
- DJ - A heavily customised blue car with a powerful stereo system, who gets up to no good
- Wingo - A heavily customised green and purple car with lots of spoilers, who gets up to no good
The "Movie Moments" are a series of packs containing two or three of the characters. In the shops, these cost £5.99 (US $7.99)
- Red & Stanley - Red is Radiator Springs' fire engine. A gentle giant, he says very little, and can be seen watering the flowers about the town. Stanley is actually a statue, dedicated to Radiator Springs' founder.
- Ramone & Flo - Flo is Ramone's wife of many years. A sassy show car, she runs the Gas Station of Radiator Springs. In this pack, Ramone is in his Purple paint job.
- Boost & Snot Rod - Along with DJ and Wingo, these two cars make up a gang that play pranks on other unsuspecting cars.
- Luigi, Guido & Tractor - Luigi the Fiat 500 and Guido the Forklift run Radiator Springs' Casa Della Tires. The Tractor is one of many who graze like cows in a nearby field.
Playsets and Variants
Mack - Mack is a large truck who is one of Lightning's only friends before he arrives in Radiator Springs. He is not actually diecast, but a plastic version, and comes with a trailer that opens up into a house for Lightning, where he can exercise, shower, get something to eat, play games or dance. He usually costs around £12.99 (US $24.99).
There are two other cars that are included as part of other playsets.
- "Muddy" McQueen - Lightning McQueen in his normal paint job, which has been dirtied by the dust of the desert. Comes as part of the "Mountain Challenge" playset, costing around £30.
- "Bowlin'" Mater - Mater painted blue, but still lacking his hood. Used in conjunction with "Mater's Bowling Alley", a ten pin bowling playset for the cars.
Coming Soon - Supercharged
In the U.S., a new line of Cars has just been released called the "Supercharged" line. Rather than the picture of the desert road used on the packaging of the earlier release, it now uses a picture of Radiator Springs at nighttime, with all its neon lights shining. All previous single packs and movie moments have been re-released in this packaging, but are the same models. This line will be eventually released in UK shops no later than February 2007.
There are two packs of four previously-available cars, currently retailing for $15.99:
- Cruising Couples - Lightning McQueen, Sally, Flo and "Purple" Ramone
- Shopkeepers - Mater, Fillmore, Sarge and "Green" Ramone
In addition, there are new singles, though some were previously available from playsets. They currently retail for $3.99
Cruisin' McQueen - Lightning McQueen in a custom paint job from Ramone's.
Fabulous Hudson Hornet - Doc Hudson in his old racing colours
"Yellow" Ramone - Ramone in his yellow paint job
Brand New Mater - Mater before he became rusty
"Radiator Springs" McQueen - Lightning's paint job at the end of the film, a blend of his earlier custom job and his racing paint job
"Purple" Ramone - previously only available in a Movie Moment with Flo
Boost - previously only available in a Movie Moment with Snot Rod
Dirt Track McQueen - Same as "Muddy" McQueen, previously only available with Mountain Challenge Playset
Hamm the Piggy Truck - A character from Toy Car Story, a parody of Pixar's first film Toy Story.
There are also three new movie moments being released, retailing for $7.99
Crusin' McQueen and Sally
Sarge and Fillmore
Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody - More characters from Toy Car Story.
Also being released is another Mack, but instead of Lightning's trailer, he has a grey transport trailer which can hold five or six of the cars. This version comes with Sally and Doc Hudson.
When looking for a particular character that you can't find in the shops, it's important to be careful not to bid too high. I have heard stories of people paying £10 or more for a character, only to discover their local toy shop had the character available for £2.99. Allowing £2 or £3 for shipping from within the UK, you shouldn't have to pay more than £5 or £6 for a character, although this price can increase with characters like Lizzie or Chick Hicks, who are noticibly fewer in number.
If you are desparate for the newest characters from the Supercharged line, be careful. One recent auction with Cruisin' McQueen, Brand New Mater and Hamm finished with the seller pocketing more than $250, over 20 times the cars' value. I implore you to wait a few weeks before looking for them on eBay, as they have only been released in a few shops and demand outstrips supply by very wide margins.
Some sellers list the Bowlin' Mater separate from his playset and call him "Blue Mater" or "Young Mater", as people are looking for the version of Mater before he rusted. Whil Bowlin' Mater is similar to Brand New Mater, there are a number of differences, highlighted in the pictures below.
With Bowlin' Mater, his eyes are blue, his hood is still missing, his crane and rear view mirrors are painted black and he has "MATER Bowling" written on his sides. With Brand New Mater, his eyes are hazel-green, just like the rusty version, he has his hood, his crane and rear view mirrors are painted grey and he has "Tow Mater - Towing and Salvage - Radiator Springs" written on his side.
Other confusion has arisen with a set of "twin packs" of characters. These are a UK Disney Store exclusive of 1:64 scale cars, smaller and less detailed than Mattel's 1:55 range. The twin packs currently available are Lightning/King, Doc/Fillmore, Sally/Mater, Sheriff/Sarge and Flo/"Purple" Ramone. The advantage of these, however, is that they should be compatible with the Hotwheels series of toys, while the 1:55 range is too large. A Mack, smaller than the one with Lightning's house, is available with a red trailer designed to contain up to five cars of the 1:64 range. The 1:55 range doesn't fit in it.
I hope you have found this guide informative. Hopefully, you will be able to have a better idea of how much you're willing to pay for a character and will be able to do what you're supposed to do on eBay - grab a bargain!
If you have any questions about a product, you can contact me by asking me a question.