Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hot Wheels vs. Ertl/RC2/Johnny Lightning/Auto World

For the last few years I've found myself checking the Hot Wheels pegs at Wal-Mart and Target around this time of year.  First it was looking for the '66 Batmobile, then the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters, followed by the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and last year was B.A.'s van from A-Team.  I didn't find a single one at the store. 

This is a Dukes of Hazzard blog, but I do love other movie and television cars, just not as much as the General.  And at a price range of 88 cents to $1.22, you can't help but pick these cars up.  I have just never had the opportunity to buy them at that price.  Scalpers always seem to beat me to the retail stores and I am forced to find these cars other places.

This year sees the addition of the the biggest rival to the General Lee to the Hot Wheels line.  KITT is officially a Hot Wheel.  And I, again, can't find it.  Most of the cars pictured above came from dealers at the Steel City Con.  I bought Ecto-1 at Yesterday's Fun in Bethany Beach, DE.  I'm sure I'll have to go a similar route to get KITT.

I have them all displayed with several Hazzard County cars and a few other cars like the Charger from the Fast and the Furious, the Lynyrd Skynyrd General Lee wannabe, a Dale Sr. car, and the original Ertl KITT. 
Hot Wheels has picked up the license to quite a few classic movie and television cars lately. It only seems logical that they would go after the most iconic of them all, the General Lee. But I, as a collector, am very happy that Ertl/RC2 has held on to the Dukes for all these years. Besides a British only Corgi release, Ertl/RC2/Johnny Lightning/Auto World (which is all owned by the same company) has been the sole creator of Dukes of Hazzard diecasts. They started in 1981 and have put out many different ones since. 

The latest full line of 1/64 scale Dukes has more cars than ever before.  Johnny Lightning treated collectors to cars like Hughie's Beetle convertible, Lucifer, and even the race car Bo drove in NASCAR.  

Ertl and Johnny Lightning have held the license in the past to several of the cars that Hot Wheels is currently releasing.  They had Knight Rider and A-Team when the shows were originally on TV and had Back to the Future in the '90s.  Ertl also released a 1/18 KITT under the Joyride line in 2004.  I would be very disappointed if Hot Wheels ever took over the Dukes license from Ertl/RC2.

The Johnny Lightning DeLorean is on the left and the newer Hot Wheels is on the right.  The JL has so much more detail.  The tires are rubber and the interior is very intricate.  The newer Hot Wheels release seems to be going back in time.

In contrast, the newest Johnny Lighting General Lee is so much more detailed than previous releases. The newer one is on the right.  It has a roll cage and a push bar, more correct decals, the list goes on and on.  Now price plays a big part in this.  The Hot Wheels retail for around a dollar and the JLs are about 5.  But like I said before, I have never found a movie or TV Hot Wheel in stores at that price.  I have had to pay as much as seven dollars for one.  So to me, the JLs are a better value.

Ertl/RC2/JL has also been manufacturing larger scale Dukes diecast since the beginning.  They produced a 1/25 scale in 1981.  It is still being released today with several improvements.  They have also made quality 1/18 scales since 2000.  They have made many different versions of the General and even produced Rosco's Patrol car and 00 Mustang.  I love the variety Ertl offers the Dukes of Hazzard community.

Hot Wheels is offering a 1/18 Scale KITT.  It comes out later this year.  I looks to be much nicer than the 2004 Joyride version.  It will be released in the same line as Hot Wheel's 1/18 A-Team van and Batmobile.  KITT looks great and the new scanner light looks spot on.  But the biggest flaw with it, as well as the A-Team van and Batmobile, is the price.  They retail for around $160.  Who is the target audience for these cars?  The standard Ertl/JL 1/18 General goes for around $40.  The super rare 1/25 scale Lightning Strike version only goes for around $100.  I can't figure out why Hot Wheels is charging so much. 

The brand new Auto World 1/18 General Lee (my review here) is incredibly detailed.  It has everything down to cloth seat belts.  It retails for around $65.  It is as detailed or more so than the new 1/18 KITT will be.  The old Joyride KITT cost the same as the old 1/18 General, around $40.  It had a working scanner light too.  The mechanics behind the new scanner light in the Hot Wheels KITT might add a little to the price tag, but the A-Team van has no electronics and cost the same.  It confuses me.  I would buy the new KITT, but $160 would buy a lot more Dukes stuff.

I'm not really sure who reads this blog.  I think Jeff checks in once in a while.  I know Gregg, who worked on the new Auto World General Lee, read the blog at least one time.  I know Sam likes it.  I am hoping someone who works at Ertl/RC2 or the mysterious person at Warner Bros. that controls Dukes merchandise (the best job ever) reads this somehow and sees that at least one Dukes fanatic is extremely happy with the job they are doing.  I love the current state of Dukes of Hazzard diecasts.  I hope it stays the way it is.  I don't want Hot Wheels to have anything to do with the Dukes.  Sorry Mattel. 

Diamond Select on the other hand?  Please make Dukes of Hazzard products!!!!!!!  This awesome 3 3/4 inch figure set is coming out in January and is only $60.  I just pre-ordered it.  I would love to see a Bo and Luke figure set like this.


  1. Oh man I could comment on this one all day! I have found all of the Hotwheels TV/movie models at the stores and I am really glad they released them. I have the Ecto from Johnny Lightning and the Fuji Film giveaway version, but both are really oddly shaped compared to the HW version. I have too many tv/movie 1:64th cars to list lol! I do have a nice write up on the differences in the 1981 Ertl lees over on CGLFC. Here is a link to some custom 66 batmobiles I did and the lee write up.

  2. Have you seen the San Diego Comic-con versions? They have the Batmobile, BTTF Delorean, Ecto and this year, KITT!!!! They are only available at that show and only sell a few thousand at $35ish dollars a piece. I have the Ecto and BTTF versions and they are waaaay better than the .99 cent versions. The Delorean comes in a faux, yellow radiation box like the one used in the movie, and the Ecto comes in a box that looks like the movie's ghost trap. I'm not sure how the KITT will come though!

  3. Oh I know them. Jeff and I are going to sdcc this year. I'll be trying to get KITT for sure.

  4. Comic-Con, you say? Well well.

  5. hi Larry its shawn from Australia, i recieved my 1/18 General Lee Johnny Lightning with white tyres last week. very nice model. i have not seen very many on e bay. i think they are much harder to find then the white Generals. there are to many white Generals on e bay for them to be rare. they can not be a chase car, e bay is flooded with them. just an opinion.

    1. Hi Shawn, I'll share my take on that in a new blog post soon.

  6. Where can you find a Generl Lee car around Hazleton, IA,

    1. Are you looking for a diecast or an actual car? Diecasts are hard to find in retail stores. Best place to go is online.