Hot Wheels Illustrator Otto Kuhni Has Died, But His Art Lives On

Earlier this year the world of diecast has lost a legend in Otto Kuhni. If you don’t know his name, you surely know his work. Otto was a freelance graphic designer in California in the 1960s when he got the call from Mattel… They needed an illustrator with a passion for cars, for their new brand of diecast vehicles, and well, the rest was history.

Otto was the man behind many of the bright orange hued illustrations that were emblazoned on Hot Wheels items… advertisements, carrying cases, lunch boxes, and of course the packaging itself.

It takes a talented, passionate artist to create something so simultaneously realistic yet fantastical. Otto’s illustrations blended enough correct details of the model cars with the slightly exaggerated and distorted fantasy of speed and motion it could attain as it zipped down orange track through kids’ imaginations.

He continued working with Hot Wheels into the mid-1990s, especially when retro-inspired art was required. After that still occasionally did some art for them when only his hand would suffice. For these wildly memorable images, he was inducted into the Diecast Hall of Fame in 2012.

Perhaps his most famous illustration was the blue car on the original Hot Wheels blister card. It looked sleek, muscular, and sort of familiar. A little bit of Mustang, some Charger here and there, maybe some Riviera… It was every car and no particular car all at once. He blended elements of the styling from Ford, MOPAR and GM so seamlessly, you swore it was real.

However, Otto didn’t base the illustration on any one real car, nor was it based on a model. Despite being emblazoned on the cards of millions of Redlines, there was never a diecast version of the car… until 2008, that is. In honor of Hot Wheels’ 40th Anniversary, the Custom Otto, as it was called, finally came to life in 1/64 scale. It has since been released in premium level versions, such as Redline Club cars, but also one very rare variant… this one was encrusted with Swarovski diamonds, rubies and even black diamonds on the wheels. It celebrated the 4 billionth Hot Wheels car ever made, a fitting debut for a design that had been there all along. There was only one of this version of the Custom Otto, by the way.

There was only one Otto Kuhni, too.

Let the Diecast Hall of Fame voting begin!

diecast hall of fame votingLadies and Gentlemen, start your engines! We’ve made it to the final round of the 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame selection process! Let the voting  begin!

Over the last few weeks, our Selection Committee has been hard at work narrowing down the final five nominees for each induction category. We had an extremely competitive 2017 class, with more than 200 fantastic nominations from around the world. And with that, we are super excited to announce the top five selections per category!

With your help, one winner from each category will be inducted into the Diecast Hall of Fame in November. The final winners will be selected based on a combination of committee and public votes. The winners will be announced at the official event in November

Please note:  For each category, you can only vote once. Once you submit your votes and email address, you’ll receive an email link you have to click on to confirm your vote. If you would like to vote for all three categories, you will have to submit your information three times.

 

Collectors – click here to vote

Automotive Legends 

  • Tim Allen
  • Ray Evernham
  • Ralph Gilles
  • Rick Hendrick
  • Danica Patrick

Diecast Customizers 

  • Joe “LoRide57” Alvarado
  • Bannarit
  • Steve Hamm
  • Brian Moffitt
  • Karli “Kraut Custom” Sanger

Diecast Designers 

  • Sei Cho
  • Kevin Geraldez
  • Tony Karamitsos
  • Brad Trimmer
  • Brendon Vetuskey

Diecast Entrepreneurs

  • Lyndon Davies
  • Paul Lang
  • Jennifer & Mark Millhollin
  • Steve Reddell
  • Jimmy Ye

Diecast Historians

  • Bill Bennett
  • Jack Clark
  • Robert Fellows
  • Theodore (Ted) Gray
  • Paolo Rampini

Collector of the Year Award 

  • Paul David
  • James Elliott
  • Gabriel Gomez
  • Woody Itson
  • Timothy Jack

The Selection Committee has further decided to give collector Tiny Wozniak an honorary R.A.O.K. award for his contributions to the diecast community.

 

Brands – click here to Vote

Diecast Dealer of the Year

  • Brian & Anna’s Collectibles
  • CK-Modelcars
  • Diecast Models Wholesale
  • Global Diecast Direct
  • Tacot

Supplier Brand of the Year 

  • Edelbrock
  • Falken Tires
  • GReddy
  • Gulf
  • NAPA

New Model Maker of the Year

  • AutoCult
  • Johnny Lightning
  • Laudoracing Models
  • Matrix Scale Models
  • Milena Rose

Automotive Brand of the Year

  • Bentley Motors
  • BMW
  • Dodge
  • Fast and the Furious Franchise
  • Ferrari

 

Models – click here to Vote

Small Scale (up to 1/64 Scale)

  • Greenlight Ford F-350 Ramp Truck
  • Hot Wheels Fiat 500 Modificado
  • Hot Wheels Mainline Porsche 356 Outlaw
  • Matchbox Nissan Skyline 2000 GTX
  • Schuco VW T3 Westfalia Joker

1/43 Scale

  • AutoCult Gatso 4000 Aero Coupe
  • Matrix Models Chrysler Turbine
  • Minichamps 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Street Version
  • Schuco VW Beetle “Lil Bugger” Camper Van
  • TrueScale Miniatures 2017 Ford GT

1/24th Scale

  • Automodello 1937 Delage D8-120 S Pourtout Aero Coupe
  • Bburago 2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • Greenlight 1967 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport from Supernatural
  • Maisto Ford F-150 Raptor Off-Road Kings
  • Welly Mini Cooper S Paceman

Large Scale (1/18th Scale and Larger)

  • Auto World 2017 Ford Mustang GT
  • Autoart Mercedes-AMG GTS
  • Autocult Brandpowder 911 DS
  • Bburago Bugatti Chiron
  • Ottomobile Saviem SB2 Assistance Course Alpine

 

RIP Tiny Wozniak, 2017 Nominee & a Real Mensch

Tiny left us on the day nominations closed and immediately a number of Inductees and Nominees suggested an Obituary for Tiny. Anita and other members of Chickluu’s Fabulous Redlines wrote it and we gladly publish it  This post has comments enabled to allow you to share your moments with Tiny.

Tiny was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. From early on everyone knew he was super smart. He was in many contests in school and excelled at anything he touched. He was a smart young man, and especially excelled in math. Back in the 80s he was once on a TV show back for his school. Everyone growing up admired Tiny. They knew that whatever the question he would know the answer and yes, he was going places in life.

He was an entrepreneur even at a young age. He first started off with stickers and would collect any type of sticker and made albums of them. He then started collecting Garbage Pail Kid cards and baseball cards. We ate a lot of bubble gum getting those cards! He once found $100 bill in the ice and decided to collect every flavor of Now & Laters he could find. Back in the Run DMC era he was obsessed with Adidas track suits and made sure he had every color. He also collected the MLB plastic hats when he was younger and had every single one in his collection. He had every console when we were younger for video games and just was obsessed with collecting things. If there was something to collect, he had to have it! All of it! When he was in his 30s he got into collecting baseball cards again. There was a map of the 50 U.S. states you could collect from the baseball cards (Alan & Ginter) and he found every single state. He was the first one to do it and sold it for top dollar.

He didn’t start collecting Hot Wheels really until his late 30s. He started off just collecting Treasure Hunts and then got into Redlines and it all took off from there. When he did something, he did it big. He always wanted the biggest and best and didn’t stop until he achieved his goal.

Tiny was heavily invested into Heavyweights and he was a Heavyweight collecting them!

He owned his own business with other partners, and was very successful. With no kids he was able to be what he always was in life – a kid at heart. His collection continued to grow. His family was in awe over how much he knew about Hot Wheels and he collected cars from all over the world. He went to many conventions and met a lot of friends. He started with Facebook and it took off even more. He always had a want for unique things. It was his passion to find the rarest, or most expensive. It was what kept him busy and his drive in life-passion. He was very passionate and proud and so was his family. They would brag to people that no one ever would see a collection like his. He would always say it was his legacy. He was always thinking what was next, what he could do. It saddens us to think what really could have came of his extensive collection if he was still here.

A few years ago he started collecting Funko Pops. The same with any collection he had it was extensive. He grew it quick and large. He wanted the best of the best and worked to achieve that. His nephew thought he actually owned a Funko Pop store and would let him shop!  

But what made him so incredibly special was that he was not only passionate about his collections but also about people. He helped anyone that needed it. The expression that he would give you his shirt off his back is an understatement. Family or collector friends, everybody could count on him. After his passing there were so many stories of strangers that told stories. He would freely give to other collectors if he felt that they could not afford something but had wanted it badly. 

Tiny loved life, he loved his family and friends and he loved his collections. Some may not believe that that is something to be proud of, but we know better! Tiny will be greatly missed – but his passion and love for this hobby will live on in other people’s collections now.  In other homes and in our hearts.

US Editor for Model Auto Review to join Selection Committee

Karl is the US Editor for Model Auto Review (a DHOF Community Supporter), a frequent contributor on many diecast forums and also a Curator and Champion on hobbyDB.  Over the years, Karl has written articles on European diecast such as Märklin, Tekno, and Vilmer for Model Auto Review and Model Collector (also a DHOF Community Supporter). He has been collecting models in 1/43 scale since he was a boy and now concentrates on Alfa Romeo models and some obsolete European brands. Karl commented “I am excited that the Hall has become much more international and is now truly representing all scales”.

Welcome Diecast Designer and Brand Manager Mac Ragan to the Selection Committee!

We want to say a big welcome to Mac Ragan, our newest addition to the Diecast Hall of Fame Selection Committee. Ragan designed Playing Mantis Johnny Lightning models for four years, was a brand manager at RC2 and Greenlight Toys and then moved to Round2 where he was responsible for Auto World, Johnny Lightning and Racing Champions.  He is also an esteemed book author who specializes in writing 1/64 Scale focused books such as Tomart’s Price Guide to Johnny Lightning Vehicles and Matchbox Cars: The First 50 Years. Ragan was inducted into the Diecast Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010. Welcome Mac!

2017 Nominees are on the starting blocks

We want to give a huge thank you to everyone who made a nomination this year! We received more than 250 nominations from more than five different countries (this included some that are already inducted). Although the winners will not be announced until the event in November, we wanted to share the awesome list of nominees that our selection committee will be reviewing over the next few months. Congratulations to all the Diecast Hall of Fame nominees!

 

The Selection Committee met for the first time yesterday and made the decision to split the Customizer and Designer categories into two separate categories, as you will notice in the list below.

To learn more about each nominee, you can click on their link and visit their hobbyDB page. We are still doing research on some nominees – if you see information that is missing on any of the pages, please add it or let us know!

 

Lifetime Awards –

   Automotive Legends  


Diecast Customizer


Diecast Designer  


Diecast Entrepreneurs  


Diecast Historians

 

Yearly Awards

The Collector of the Year award was added this year as a yearly award and is meant to pay tribute to the folks who embody the spirit of the hobby; a dedicated collector who gives back to the community, helps strengthen and grow the hobby and is an all-round diecast star.

   Collector of the Year Nominees  

  • Mark Barber
  • Jim Bur
  • Martin Cels (Australia)
  • Paul David
  • Jason Del Bel
  • James Elliott
  • Brian Fenech
  • Gabriel Gomez
  • Susan Harwick
  • Woody Itson
  • Timothy Jack
  • Chad Kirby
  • Christopher Kratochvil
  • Leo Machlowski
  • Shawn McClintic
  • Dean Moser
  • Jacob Reefe
  • Michael Sheedy (New Zealand)
  • Michael Stemmler
  • Willie Washington
  • Tiny Wozniak
  • Floyd Wright
  • Michael Zoback

 

There will be only one induction for each category.  Please note that the voting for the people, brands and model categories will begin later this month or early June. The selection committee will provide a list of at least five nominees per category, and then you’ll be able to vote on your favorites! More updates to follow!

Last Call for Nominations for the 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame!

Don’t miss out on your chance to nominate you favorite diecast legends, models, and brands for the 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame! Nominations will close at 11:59PM Mountain Time tonight!

As a reminder, you can nominate anyone who you think should be recognized for their outstanding contributions to our community. We’re looking for nominations for the following categories –

People –

  • Automotive Legend – Those within the industry who have set the bar so high and achieved such success and accolades as to be considered premier automotive legends through design or deed
  • Collector of the Year – Those who embody the spirit of the hobby; a dedicated collector who gives back to the community, helps strengthen and grow the hobby and is an all-round diecast star.
  • Customizer or Designer – Those who have taken the art of diecast collecting to a new level in their design efforts
  • Diecast Entrepreneur – Those who have made a successful living while improving the Industry for the collector
  • Diecast Historian – Those who have continued to share their knowledge of the hobby and industry whether in print or on the web digitally with audio, video or static representation

Models issued in the last 12 months –

  • Small Scale (up to 1/64 Scale)
  • 1/43 Scale
  • 1/24th Scale
  • Large Scale (1/18th Scale and Larger)

Brands –

  • Novice Model Brand of the Year
  • Automotive Brand of the Year
  • Diecast Dealer of the Year

You may be wondering what happens after the nominations close – 

On Monday, May 22, the Selection Committee will review all submissions. The “People” category winners will be decided by the committee and will be announced at the event in November. Past inductees proposed this method as they felt it would level the playing field.

The Committee will pre-select the top five nominations per brand and model category. You’ll then be able to vote on your favorite brands and models later on this Spring!

To read more about the Selection Committee, click here.

Don’t forget that all net proceeds from the Diecast Hall of Fame will be going to a charity that is near and dear to our hearts called There With Care, so be sure to get your tickets today! Read the full announcement here.

 

Diecast Hall of Fame to Donate all Net Proceeds to Children’s Charity

Here at the Diecast Hall of Fame, we know it’s the community which makes this hobby special. The amazing contributions of past and future inductees and the community as a whole are what continue to propel the diecast industry forward and make a positive difference in the world.

When hobbyDB and  a coalition of diecast collectors and enthusiasts started to manage the Diecast Hall of Fame, we were thrilled to be able to honor the people and model vehicles which make collecting such a special hobby. But we were also excited by the opportunity to give back and make a positive impact and – since we all fell in love with collecting when we were in single digits – we thought the best way to do that would be by finding a children’s charity to donate to!

As such, we have decided to donate all of the net proceeds from this year’s Diecast Hall of Fame event in November to There With Care.

Like hobbyDB, There With Care is Boulder based and an organization which is near and dear to our hearts. Its mission is to provide a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to children and families during the critical phase of a medical crisis. They serve families referred by medical agencies, by building a network of services and people who ease the burden of life’s day-to-day obligations with compassion and care.

 

 

Executive Director of There With Care Paula DuPre’ Pesmen was very excited to partner with the Diecast Hall of Fame – “There With Care is honored and grateful to be the recipient of the Diecast Hall of Fame event in Las Vegas on November 2, 2017.  There With Care provides day-to-day support to children and families facing critical illness and the team behind the Diecast Hall of Fame understands the needs of the families we serve. Through their generous support and partnership in care, we will be able to ease the stresses for families when they need it most and give them more time to be with their children during a fragile time in their lives.”

The meaningful support There With Care provides is unique to each family and includes transportation services, meal and grocery services, home maintenance and more.

Diecast Hall of Fame Chairman, Christian Braun stated “it’s absolutely fantastic that we found a way to make a local impact in the lives of children. As a father myself, I understand the importance of having extra support when help is needed. We are very proud to support There With Care and hope our donation can help their team continue to make a wonderful difference in the lives of the families that they care for.”

You can find out more about There With Care by visiting their website – therewithcare.org/

Join us in supporting this awesome cause by purchasing your Diecast Hall of Fame Ticket here.

As a reminder, the event is taking place on Thursday, November 2nd in Las Vegas to celebrate the 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame Inductees. Each ticket will include one M2 Machines Factory Issued Promotional event car. You’ll also enjoy delicious hors d’oeuvres and a complimentary drink ticket (21 and over only). Limited Space Available – Buy your tickets today and give back to the community!

Announcing the Collector of the Year Award!

There are only two weeks left to nominate your favorite automotive legends, brands, and models for the Diecast Hall of Fame Class of 2017! If you haven’t done so yet, you can nominate here.

We also have some exciting news to share – thanks to your awesome feedback, we’ve added one more award for this year’s Diecast Hall of Fame. The new “Collector of the Year” award will go to a collector who embodies the spirit of the hobby; a dedicated collector who gives back to the community, helps strengthen and grow the hobby and is an all-round diecast star.

 

 

Nominate Your Favorite Diecast Legends for the 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame!

We’re excited to announce that the Diecast Hall of Fame celebration will take place during SEMA on November 2nd in Las Vegas at the House of Blues inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Join us for a nightcap at 9:00pm to toast the new inductees. You can buy your tickets here.

Of course that means that nomination season is starting NOW!

We’re switching things up a bit at the Diecast Hall of Fame! To begin the selection process, we’re asking you to nominate your favorite diecast legends. Anyone who you think should be recognized for their outstanding contributions to our community. We’re looking for nominations for the following categories –

People –

  • Automotive Legend – Those within the industry who have set the bar so high and achieved such success and accolades as to be considered premier automotive legends through design or deed
  • Customizer or Designer – Those who have taken the art of diecast collecting to a new level in their design efforts
  • Diecast Historian – Those who have continued to share their knowledge of the hobby and industry whether in print or on the web digitally with audio, video or static representation
  • Diecast Entrepreneur – Those who have made a successful living while improving the Industry for the collector

Models issued in the last 12 months –

  • Small Scale (up to 1/64 Scale)
  • 1/43 Scale
  • 1/24th Scale
  • Large Scale (1/18th Scale and Larger)

Brands –

  • Novice Model Brand of the Year
  • Automotive Brand of the Year
  • Diecast Dealer of the Year

Feel free to make multiple nominations, but please only submit one vote per person, model, or brand.

Once May rolls around, we’ll close the nomination process, so our newly appointed Selection Committee can review all submissions. The selection committee consists of some of the most experienced automotive minds in the industry. Andreas Berse has been the Chief Editor for Modellfahrzeug, the largest German publication on model cars of all scales for the last 22 years. Matt Boyd is the Co-Founder and Editor of DieCast X Magazine. Matthias Braun is the General Secretary of the AvD, most traditional automobile club in Germany. Carson Lev was a designer for Mattel and past Director of Hot Wheels Licensing. Chis Walker is a high-end customizer and was inducted into the Diecast Hall of Fame in 2009. And Mike Zarnock has written a number of books on Hot Wheels.

The Committee will select the top five nominations per category, and then, the voting will begin! You’ll be able to vote on your favorite people, brands and models later on this Spring!

To read more about the Selection Committee, click here.

You’ll have until the end of May to vote for your favorites in the 2017 class of Diecast Hall of Fame Inductees. The winners will not be revealed until the night of the event, so be sure to get your tickets here!

Don’t forget that you can check out all the past inductees detailed profiles in the Diecast Hall of Fame Official Archive.