On May 3rd, 2022, the Lamley Group turns 10. Well, to be clear, the Lamley Group in this configuration turns 10. The term “Lamley” – a mashup of my last name, Lambert, and David Tilley’s last name – was formed several years before, essentially as a mild joke.
(Alright, because many of you have asked, a small tangent to explain how Lamley got its name:
Years and years ago, Matchbox Guru David Tilley, who lives in the UK, and I would chat on AOL Instant Messenger in the late evening my time – he worked nights in the the UK – and realized we shared a specific passion for current Mattel-era Matchbox. We were essentially to new Matchbox what other experts were to Matchbox Regular Wheels and Hot Wheels Redlines. As a joke, we merged our names and each included “Founder of the Lamley Group” in our signature bios on the MCCH, the main Matchbox forum at the time. We never did a thing with it, except keep it there to see if anyone would ask.
Fast forward a few years later, and after the MCCH collapsed, I was looking for a place to post my diecast photos, and some friends – including Doug at a growing diecast blog called Thunted – suggested a start a blog. I went on blogspot and set up a blog for free, and when I was prompted to give it a name, I just put in, as a filler until I could come up with an actual name, “Lamley Group”, based on that dumb joke I did with Tilley a few years earlier.
That’s it. That is how Lamley got its name. The blog was named in less than a second, and as it took off it became clear that I was too far along to change it. How unimpressive and nerdy is that story?)
Anyway, the blog was formed on a whim on May 3rd, 2012. Here is the first post. I included DT’s name thinking he might join in, which he finally did several years later, writing the Matchbox Monday posts. I started writing a feature every day, eventually started the social media accounts, and a few years later moved to YouTube. Here is the first actual feature, if you ever want to ask a fun trivia question, “What was the very first model Lamley featured?”
It has truly been a wild ride, especially for a nerd who just enjoyed taking photos of Matchbox cars for a catalog on a Matchbox Forum. I would have never expected things to go where they did. But I still love doing it. Lamley has certainly evolved, but at its core it’s about enjoying the hobby. And as long as I enjoy the hobby, I’ll do this Lamley thing.
So to celebrate 10 years, I thought it could be cool to feature the 10 Most Significant models of the “Lamley Era”. One model a day over the next 10 days, leading up to May 3rd. These aren’t my favorite models, although you will see I am a huge fan of each, nor would I say these are the “best” models of the last 10 years. These are the most significant to what is the Lamley Group. You will see what I mean as I write about each.
And this will be dropped daily here on the Lamley Blog. I don’t write nearly as much as I used to, but to celebrate Lamley’s origins, I am going to drop each model here instead of featuring them on YouTube.
And we start with the Candy Striper. The mother*#%*ing Candy Striper.
Who doesn’t love the Candy Striper? Well, maybe a lot of you. The ’55 Bel Air Gasser has become a Hot Wheels icon over the last decade, and easily one of the most sought-after castings for collectors. And the Candy Striper is king. I don’t even have to mention it’s actual name, or that it is a Gasser, or even an RLC. I say “Candy Striper” and you know what model I am referring to. The pink RLC Bel Air that has gone from a $15 model offered on a fledgling Hot Wheels club website to a $2000 collector aftermarket juggernaut.
It is easily one of the most significant Hot Wheels models of the last 10 years, if not the most significant. It definitely helped show the potential of the RLC, and probably helped get the RLC on the right track over the subsequent years. That is reason enough to include it in this list.
But this is specific to Lamley, and it SURELY holds a significant spot. Here is the original Lamley feature. Give it a quick read:
Can you say “Lamley Hype”??? It’s in full form there in that brief post. I cut my teeth as the hype machine with models like that. “Lamley Hype” was a term I was surely afraid of when I first saw it used, but I’ve learned to love it, and I’ve fully owned it. And the funny part is a model like the Candy Striper really doesn’t need me to say it’s cool in order to sell. But if I make you want a model that you didn’t want before, mainly because I like it, well, that’s kind of cool.
That is one of the reasons I chose the Gasser for this list. It solidified “Lamley Hype”, and that hype hasn’t stopped. I probably had little if anything to do with the Candy Striper surpassing $2000 in value, but drawing attention and excitement towards a model, new or old, is something I love to do.
The Gasser is also significant to me as it was at the center of the first time I was the target of some good ol’ online hate. And dealing with that is part of the experience too. It is for anyone, unfortunately. The story:
Mattel sent me a handful of upcoming RLC models to showcase – more on that in a bit – including the upcoming Candy Striper. It was obvious looking at that model that it was going to be a huge hit. I couldn’t wait to feature it. I was so excited in fact, that I decided to take all the pics right away. (I wasn’t making videos at the time.) So I photographed it in the package, then opened in and photographed it loose. I then put it in my wall display.
The problem was Mattel didn’t have a sales date when I did that. I saved the pics, and waited for a date so I could put up a post. It took a lot longer than I thought. So much so that I kind of forgot it was in my display. I then took a photo for instagram of a different model in the display, completely unaware when I posted that a sliver of the Candy Striper was visible, a model that was unreleased and no one knew I had.
That might not seen like a big deal now, as models are shown by me and others well before their sales date. But back then, if a model wasn’t released, especially in the RLC, then no one had it. Folks quickly noticed, and asked about it. And I handled it in about the stupidest way you can online. I removed the post. That got others wondering what was going on, that I was hiding some shenanigans, and when I finally responded in a different post, with a joke like “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I didn’t see it”, my wink and facetiousness didn’t come across to a public wondering how the hell the Lamley guy had the Gasser not yet released. I got hammered. And I deserved it.
Well, I deserved the criticism at least. I didn’t deserve some of the abuse. I am used to it now, and understand how uncontrollable that kind of abuse is online, and have become an expert in not letting it bother me. But when it happened for the first time, it was an eye-opening experience. I quickly told Mattel about my mistake, they thought it was hilarious, and that was that. The mistake wasn’t showing the model, the mistake was trying to cover it up. I have since learned to own my mistakes, and ignore the rest. It’s part of the game, and the Candy Striper debacle, which really wasn’t a debacle at all, was a good experience for me.
I still make a lot of mistakes, some more serious than others, and I actually learn a lot from some of the criticism I get. I try not to react too quickly to harsh comments, and I do understand that there will always be haters. It is totally true that if I don’t have haters then I’m not doing my job.
I don’t write about this much, because I don’t think it is worth discussing too much, but it is definitely a part of the Lamley experience for me. I’ve grown. That’s kind of cool.
Which leads to the last reason this model is significant. It’s one of the first times I worked directly with the Hot Wheels team, and Mattel, and that relationship has been incredibly important to what I do. My relationship with the marketing and design teams at Mattel has been eye-opening. Seeing how things come together behind the scenes. Experiencing what is working and what isn’t. Feeling the frustration that the Team feels with certain things, many of which align with collector’s frustration. And yes, seeing things that are coming, and burying my excitement until the news finally breaks.
In 2015 I got an email from the marketing manager at the time, Robert Knox, who mentioned he liked my photos and coverage, and asked if I’d like to showcase some upcoming RLC models. RLC wasn’t something I paid too much attention to, but I thought that sounded fun. He sent me a handful of models, including the Candy Striper, and the relationship began. Sure, there is what many of you call the “free shit”, but honestly I’ve enjoyed the insights and the opportunity to share their work the most. I am happy to get the models really so I can show them to you.
I’ve said I will continue to do Lamley as long as I enjoy the hobby. It isn’t just about the cars, it is most definitely about the relationships, the knowledge, the growth. I’ll hit on all that as I list the other nine models. But the Candy Striper and all it represents to me is a nice starting point.