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I'm always interested in the orgins of the diecast I collect.
I can say I know quite a bit about all the off brands brands I collect as I have posted here in the past (with Swifty); (where the companies started, why they go out of business, who they merge with or become).
But I know very little of RC2.
When did they start?
Were they always called Racing Champions? (is Road Champs a relation)? If so, then where did Road Champs start?
If Sears, then can Playart be a cousin?
Give me the whole story. Is there a family tree (it would be quite interesing with all the characters like Ertl, Road Champs, Yatming (if there is a Yatming connection)?
I first saw Racing Champions in Ben Franklin's in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey in 1989. There were six NASCAR stock cars (and at the beginning they also had Indy cars and dragsters) The Sears Wishbook had a set of twelve stock cars for Christmas 1990. 1989 appears to be the first year of any racing diecast from this company- whether they existed before this point, and what they made if they did, I do not know.
Road Champs was originally based out of north New Jersey. I think they're headquarted in California now. If there's a relationship between the companies (past or present) I am unaware of it. Seems unlikely considering that Racing Champions is based out of Illinois.
They bought ERTL a few years back, right after ERTL had introduced a new line of 1/64 cars with opening hoods and trunks. They stopped this series and badge engineered these cars into Racing Champions models. These cars are sometimes rereleased in the K-Mart Route 66 collection, though new castings don't appear to be forthcoming. And of course they bought Playing Mantis this year.
So you don't think it a odd coincidence Road Champs - Racing Champions?
I believe there was a "Racing Champs" brand was there not? This is not an arguement, I am just curious and trying to dig out all the history. Thanks for sharing what you do know.
Road Champs made some interesting cars (very similar to some Yatming models; Pontiac Fiero, Chrysler Lebaron). With early wheels very similar to black wall Hot Wheels then later wheels that looked like Yatming wheels. The name also was the brand name that Sears sold their brand (Playarts) under. The fact that the names are so close (and that Road Champs is no longer around I believe) leads me to believe one might have merged into the other. I could be wrong.
Road CHamps is seperate and a conglomerate (sp?) of numerous brands that they have bought up over the years. I think Road Champs is one of their original lines but it has lost excitement as of late as they obtained ownership of Cabbage Patch and others......
i cant remember what year but they had a line of 1/64th with more detail than jl's at the time.they had a division emblem made of metal in the blister with the car.trans ams,camaros,firebirds i think even a pacer with the coresponding emblem.i think i also have a jcpenny limited edition 10 pak or something.these were the first i remember seeing from this company.
The investment group that owned RC2 (Willis, Stein of Chicago) also owned Petersen Publishing from Sept 96 to sometime in 99. Bought it for 350 million, give or take, sold to emap of England for $1.5 billion. Emap proceeded to lose its shorts in a billion-dollar bath as they sold out to Primedia in Sept 01 for just $500 million. Anyway, this is why the first Racing Chumps/HOT ROD cars were done: same owners, brand synergy etc.
Swifty, I'm pretty sure that they already owned Ertl by the time the multipiece musclecars came out.
If you want to count Ertl diecast, from the early 80s stuff to the Pups of the 60s, there is further to go back.
Road Champs is now owned by Jakks Pacific. TOtally different.
Racing Champions / Ertl changed their name when the purchased Learning Curve with The Thomas and Friends wooden railway. So, yes, the 2 "could" mean second generation of the company. From what I remember, back in 1996 - 1997 then Racing Champions did a series called Mint Edition when they did the Firebird, Camaro, and a decent Viper GTS. I didn't know that they were owned by Peterson... Hmmm... This explains the Hot Rod series and the Motor Trend Mint series. Anyways, when they bought Ertl from the family they did away with the Mint series and focused on NASCAR. (Now the Ertl family has Highway 61 Collectibles.)
I believe ERTL started in the early 70's . I remember at the time ,all they made were 1/25 scale kits of trucks . Mostly Internationals . I built their IH Scout kit way back then... In the 80's or 90's they were bought out by AMT . Racing Champions then bought that out in the 90's .
I liked the Racing Champions Mint Edition series - made from 1996 - 1999 . 250 numbered cars in all . A friend has all of them . The sub series such as the JC Penny sets & Sears sets are from their Christmas catalogs & are harder to find . My friend is still trying to get all of the Penny's 1998 cars - which was a 12 car set . Previous to the Mint Editions , Racing Champions only made Nascar & other Racing stuff only - as far as I know . Ertl also made a 1/64 American Muscle line of cars around 1999 - 2000 . But was cancelled before all cars listed as coming out were made . They were much more detailed than Racing Champions cars . Since RC aquired ERTL , many of the 1/64 cars from both companies are being used in KMarts RT 66 series cars .
Road Champs is not related to these at all , doing mainly 1/43 scale stuff .
Road Legends is part of YatMing , which also used the name Road Tough , & also uses the name Signature Series for their 1/18 cars . Road Legends also made some 1/43 cars .
Like many other business's today , getting bought out by the competition is a way of life . RC / Ertl also bought out Anson 1/18 cars last year .
If you check rc/ertl.com it shows many of the lines that they have .