James Bond & Johnny Lightning
Johnny Lightning and White Lightning were trademarks for the American based Playing Mantis , but nowadays they are a part of RC2, known for Racing Champions. The brand already existed in the sixties, but the success was poor. In 1970 and 1971 they start producing and selling model race cars and the selling figures went straight up. They sold their models as "The fastest toy cars in the world". In 1971 the company director was accused for fraud, but later the accusation was cancelled. At that moment the company was already bankrupt. In 1994 the brand name was bought and again they started producing model cars. Today the models are most wanted, especially in the United States where they have lots of collector clubs. Johnny Lightning produces highly detailed model cars on a scale of 1:64, some are TV and film related such as, “Herbie”, “Ghostbusters”, “James Bond”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. In 1998 they start working together with EON, the producer of the James Bond franchise and with Inkworks, an American based manufacturer of trading cards. Together they produced a whole series of James Bond model cars from "Dr. No" until "Die Another Day". The first ten models saw the living daylights in 1998. Each model was accompanied by a trading card with a scene related to the model car. The cards came in landscape model. For each car they produced five different cards, so for the collector there were fifty cards to collect. The ten model cars were reproduced by Corgi, including the cards were the brand name "Johnny Lightning" was replaced with "Corgi". For the rest the cards were identical.
This first series of "Cars & Cards" was related to the following James Bond movies: "Dr. No”, “Goldfinger”, “Thunderball”, “You Only Live Twice”, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, “Diamonds Are Forever”, “The Spy Who Loved Me”, “For Your Eyes Only”, The Living Daylights” and “GoldenEye”. The cards are numbered from #1 to #50, on each card reverse there is a checklist.
The same year a model race car was issued, the relation to James Bond was the following:The car body was black, except for the hood showing a picture of Sean Connery and on the doorside of the car the name "Goldfinger" was printed in gold paint. Inside the packaging there was a trading card.
Two years later they released a new series with only six model cars, the trading card returned and there were also five cards to collect for each car. So there are thirty cards to collect. This time the cards were printed in portrait format. The numbering followed the previous released cards and started from #51 until #80. One mistake slept into card #68 showing a scéne from the movie "For Your Eyes Only", that should be a scéne from "A View To A Kill”.
The sceond series of "Cars & Cards" was related to the following James Bond movies: "Dr. No”, “Goldfinger”, “Thunderball”, “A View To A Kill”, “GoldenEye” and “The World Is Not Enough”. Tthe cards are numbered from #51 to #80, on each card reverse there is a checklist.
The following year in 2001 a third series was released with again six model cars. Inside each packaging there was a trading card. This time the card showed the official movie poster. Lucky for the collector that they only produced one card for each car.
Also that year a miniature diorama was released, the diorama was related to the third James Bond movie "Goldfinger". Inside the packaging there were two model cars and three figurines: James Bond, Oddjob en Tilly Masterson.
In 2002 James Bond celebrated his 40th anniversary, for that special event they released two dioramas.The first one showing a scéne from "Live And Let Die". It's the boat scéne where the speed boat crashes into Sheriff J.W. Peppers police car. Inside the packaging you can find a speedboat, a model car and two figurines. The second second set has two cars an three figurines; "Q" and two times "James Bond".
With two miniature dioramas it wasn't finished for 2002, short after the diorama release a new series of twenty-four model cars and three ravishing four car gift sets came on the market. Each model was accompanied by a trading card showing the poster of the related movie. Some movies got rewarded with two model cars, the poster stayed the same for each model. The card size is 5,4 cm x 8,2 cm compared to a normal trading card that measures 6,4 cm x 8,9 cm. The card reverse is white without any further discription.
The Aston Martin Vanquish was also available as a vanish car as seen in the movie "Die Another Day", made in clear acryl and very rare as there are only twelve cars made. See pictures here below.
On eBay I discovered that there is a white Willy Jeep from "Licence To Kill", even the tyres and the spare tyre have white markings.
The four car giftsets were given names such as “Heroic Horsepower”, “Ravishing Tops” and “Villainous Vehicles”. Each car was already available in the twenty-four cars series.
Somewhat later in 2003, Johnny Lightning re-released a series of seven James Bond model cars. The only difference was the blue packaging and a certificate card. The packaging was blue with white lettering, the box showed the James Bond Gun Logo and some artwork in the style of "The World Is Not Enough" poster art. This seven car set was produced for Wallmart as a promotion for the DVD release of "Die Another Day". Here below all cars, a hanger and a counter display.
The world wide internet gave us the opportunity to buy a limited edition of chrome Aston Martin DB5 .The model was simply packed in a white box . The James Bond Gun Logo was printed on the opening lid. The release was limited to only 500 model cars.
In 2020 Johnny Lightning returned with new James Bond diecasts divided in different series. These new series also contain diecast from other movies and games. The Silver Screen Machines are replicas of the hottests cars to ever be featured in cinema or television. The iconic cars driven by James Bond are no exception. Sleek lines, thinderous horsepower, epic chases, and inovative gadgets are staples for 007. The most famous car of them all is the Aston Martin DB5. Its beautiful, sleek styling is timeless. James Bond and Aston Martin have gone hand-in-hand for decades-powerful, sophisticated, and handsome. The 1957 Chevy Bel Air had short, but exciting screen time in Dr. No. James Bond is picked up from the airport and driven by an undercover agent from SPECTRE, next the SPECTRE agent is killed by James Bond. Each model has a background diorama. The Silver Screen Machines Release 3 also holds two James Bond cars, the Lotus Esprit S1 as seen in "The Spy Who Loved Me" and the Aston Martin V8 from the movies "The Living Daylights" and "No Time To Die".
Each diecast model is mounted on a tin display holding the movie poster or a picture from the movie on a slightly curved background.
The Aston Martin V8 as seen in "No Time To Die" also has a variation with white tyres. The so called White Johnny Lightning, see picture below.
The Pop Culture Release 2 contains three James Bond models, the Toyota 2000 GT as seen in "You Only Live Twice", the Mustang Mach II driven on two wheels in "Diamonds Are Forever" and the Lotus Esprit S1 road version as seen in "The Spy Who Loved Me". The cars popped up on eBay at the end of 2020.
The Lotus Esprit as seen in "The Spy Who Loved Me " has also variation with white tyres. The so called White Johnny Lightning, see picture below.
Early January 2021, JL issued a new duo diecast car pack, containing two cars, the DB5 as seen in" GoldenEye" and the AMC Hornet as seen in "The Man With The Golden Gun".As you can see here below there are two versions of this set, normal version on the left and on the right, white cars with golden wheels. This duo pack is part of the Pop Culture Release 3.
Johnny Lightning makes it a game search to find their white models, these models are only for 2% produced. There fore these white models are very scarce and demanding high prices.
Of course they couldn't resist recreating the Aston Martin DB5 from "No Time To Die" in their Pop Culture series as a diecast model. The submachine guns are not visible, but the damaged side is. There is also a white version of the damaged DB5. See both versions here below.
2022 Equals 60 Years of James Bond. Here below some new released models: The Sunbeam Tiger as seen in "Dr. No" (1962) , the Mustang Mach I as seen in "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971), this time mounted 45 degrees sideways running on two wheels just as in the movie and the Aston Martin Vanquish as seen in "Die Another Day" (2002) mounted on an ice landscape, the DB5 as seen in "GoldenEye", the Lotus with ski's on the roof, the Ford Rancho as seen in "From Russia With Love" and the Toyota 2000 from "Yoy Only Live Twice".