As usual with these series features I have been writing, I like to start with a bit of a back story. For this one, I wanted to find out about the origin of the series. The Black Bandit series has been a staple in the Greenlight Series lineup for a long time. After all, this is series 22. But the weird thing is, during my many times perusing eBay I remember seeing Johnny Lightning releases with the Black Bandit logo and the signature “murdered out” look. So what is the deal with that?
Information about the origin of the Black Bandit releases is not obtainable by a simple Google search so I had to consult an expert. The expert I consulted is Mac Ragan. Mac worked at Johnny Lightning (Playing Mantis and RC2/Learning Curve), Greenlight, and Round2. Also, he has written books on diecast and is active on Instagram and Facebook. He often posts diecast cars along with some historical information, so I searched his Facebook for a Black Bandit post and found what I was looking for. Mac was kind enough to allow me to quote him here.
It all started back in 2003 at Playing Mantis. After that, RC2 continued to produce Black Bandit models under the Johnny Lightning name during the mid-2000s.
GreenLight owner Kevin Davey created the Black Bandit look before GreenLight existed. That’s why he had to use another company’s castings. But as soon as GreenLight had enough models of its own, they no longer needed Johnny Lightning.
I asked Mac if Kevin worked for Johnny Lightning at the time and he said no. In fact, the Johnny Lightning Black Bandit cars were limited single car promo releases. The rest is history and here we are now all the way up to the 22nd Black Bandit series of six cars.
There really is not a ton to say about this release itself. It is exactly what is to be expected of a Black Bandit release. One thing that is notable about it is all of the toolings that are used in this release are recently new. All of them have made their debut within the last couple of months.
The Chevy Caprice has enjoyed a bunch of releases already. It looks pretty good blacked out. It has matte black “Black Bandit Police” graphics on the sides that are kind of hard to see in photos. This car is an obvious choice to join the fleet of police vehicles that Greenlight produces. However, there is a civilian version that just came out (Vintage Ad Cars Series 2) and that is the one I am excited for. I’ll likely be showing that one off in a future feature.
The Jeep Wrangler looks excellent in all black. If I was to own one in real life I would not mind it looking like this. Jeeps wear the blacked out look well. It gives them a meaner and more aggressive look. So far this casting has been used a few times and this is my favorite. Note however it looks almost identical to the one that was released in Anniversary Collection Series 9. So, if you want one of these in black you have two options and the only real difference from what I can tell is the wheels.
Ok so here we have the Datsun 510 4-door sedan. Greenlight has been making the 2-door for a while now and recently we got the 4-door version. Previously the 2-door version was released as a Black Bandit as well (series 19). Not my favorite in the series but this tooling looks pretty good in black.
This one is my favorite in the series. I really like the way this VW Golf looks dressed in black. The model looks great overall but I think it is the wheels that really make this release look great. The silver lip on the black wheels really set it off. I am a fan of this newer casting as it is and this release might be my favorite so far.
The Ranchero I could do with or without if I am honest. Really that is because I am not much of a fan of the look of the real car (something about the front end bugs me). Like almost any car it looks pretty good in black. But, there are some more colorful releases of this casting that have come out that I would much rather have.
Lastly, we have this really nice looking 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility. This from what I know is the debut release of this casting. The tooling looks great. Surely we are going to see it a ton in upcoming Hot Pursuit releases. I hope Greenlight releases a civilian version of the tooling or at least an unmarked police version without the light bar.
And that is it. This installment of the long-running series is pretty strong overall.
I like that they tend to put new toolings in the Black Bandit series shortly after their initial release or sometimes as their initial release. And of course, being that it is series 22 there are a ton of models out there for you to collect. If you include the previous Johnny Lightning releases and the single car releases from Greenlight there are even more for you to add to the Black Bandit collection.
If you would like to see some older (and some hard to find) Black Bandit releases from GreenLight I recently featured some on a “10 Car Tuesday” episode on my YouTube channel.