Musings on the Lil' Coffin

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While looking for wide whites, I came across my stash of these kits. 1 completed car, 1 kit opened, 2 unopened.

This has been one of my favorite show rods as long as I can remember, maybe due to whatever marketing machine was behind it. As far as I know its debut was the November '62 Rod and Custom, I still have one. A few years later it was done by Monogram in what I considered to be a more sophisticated kit than I usually built in the mid sixties. That kit is still available today. In 1968 it became a HotWheels and is still included in their line-up. In '68 and '69 it was Dexter's Demon, the bad guy's car on the HotWheels Saturday morning cartoon and the short-lived series of comic books. Add to that the numerous magazine articles over the years and I think I have a pretty strong case.

What do you think, THE most reproduced single car?

Edited by samdiego

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maybe; but i think the Duke's Charger still holds the record, if not KITT. the Coffin is a pretty cool kit, though, and remarkable for being very easy to build (a definite plus for younger kids trying out models) along with pretty decent detail for the period. i was always more interested in doing my own custom work, though, and didn't get into "ready made" show cars for a long time. i haven't seen a Coffin for a while, and will snap one up if i do.

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I think one of the most interesting things about the Lil Coffin ~~~ the 1:1 ~~~ is that it is one of the world's most revered and honored show cars of all time; it is one of the most recognized show cars of all time; and it is about the only show car of distinction that George Barris never claimed as his own creation!

Another of the interesting things about the Lil Coffin is the number of variations, redesigns, and rebuilds it has been through over the years. Here are many of them, although there were a couple of unfortunately less attractive rebuilds, and a substantial destruction by fire. Darryl Starbird has the Lil Coffin in his museum and has restored it to its most famous visage.

612px-Dave-stuckey-lil-coffin1.jpg

400px-Dave-stuckey-lil-coffin5.jpg

3402837312_93eb596893.jpg

3219361154_15bc46722f.jpg

3620519104_c06edf8687.jpg?v=0

Lil-coffin-90s.jpg

Long live the Lil Coffin, the show rod with nine (or more) lives!

:P

Edited by Danno

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The Duke's car was done a lot, but the Coffin had a ten year head start as a diecast and about 15 years in styrene. HotWheels didn't do a General Lee and I don't think ERTL could have matched Mattel's output. A good HW run could number well over 100,000 castings. I have no idea what a model company considers good numbers.

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I see what the O.P. is getting at. Not the most produced "model kit" but the most reproduced image of a specific vehicle in scale! If you are going to include diecast and toys and Hot Wheels/Johnny Lightning... then the field is way open.

That would take a lot of research to varify and cannot be based on just what you or I have on our shelves. I think the actual subject might be something more pedestrian. What it is... I don't know for sure.

However, that said I will mention that Johnny Lightning did produce a very popular 1/64th diecast of the General Lee which has been released a number of times!

(Regarding model car kit production numbers... back in the 60's a production run would have been about 40,000 up to 100,000 kits of a subject the first time out. A re-release might only be 10,000 depending on how well the first run sold. Today that number is quite a bit less as the market is a LOT smaller now.)

Edited by Jairus

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Racing Champions did the General Lee also, but I still would bet that the HWs eclipse RC and JL. I'll also bet that these numbers aren't available to schmucks like me

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I don't think there is any question on the DOH Charger beating any custom or any model at all! There were the 1/25 and 1/16th kits, diecasts on and on....etc. I believe that the original release of the 1/25th kit sold over a million kits. I don't think any model kit ever has beat that.

I like the L'il Coffin but I would think some of the Roth stuff sold better, perhaps even some of the Tom Daniels kits.

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I think the Red Baron could give the Dukes Charger a run.

Maybe.

Bob

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coffin039.jpg

Nov. 60? Thanks Mark, for pointing out that I've reached the point in life where I have to fact check memories. I've seen that cover before and had forgotten about it. DD, I have to agree, how did the new roof come out overstuffed?

A MILLION DoH Mopars? That's hard to believe even though I consider Andy one of the gurus. I still think the Coffin production is higher (not in plastic, though). I just don't think any other diecast companies have come close to HWs prod numbers

Note the early interior in this shot

Edited by samdiego

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Thinking back to Andy's post, I guess my theory would apply to nearly any car that has been done both in styrene and as a HotWheels, and that includes more than one Roth car and the Silhouette and the Deora, . . .

So, um, nevermind

But hey ain't that Lil' Coffin cool or what!

june63rc-1.jpg

This is the back of that same issue of R&C and shows why it's my favorite.

The colored Fink is actually on the clear sleeve that the mag is in.

Edited by samdiego

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I just read an interview with Tom Daniel at HotWheelscollectors.com He stated that the Red Baron was his best seller with 2 million units in a year and a half. That's a lot of model cars.

Edited by samdiego

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Tom Z. is the current production manager of Johnny Lightning. I sent him a note requesting the production numbers for the Dukes of Hazard model.

J.L. had two releases of this beautiful casting. Hopefully he will get back to me soon, but due to the holidays... it might not be until after New Years.

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Those photos are great! Someday I WILL build a few more versions of this famed showcar. I never did like the version where the roof looked as tho it were teetering in air so I built mr version of the L'iL Coffin. Little did I know that it does slightly resemble some of it earler incarnations.

Coff75.jpg

Coff76.jpg

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Tom Z., production manager at Johnny Lightning responded to me with the following post over at JLTalk.com.

Jairus, most of the General Lee releases were between 5K-10K pcs each unless otherwise noted on the packaging. We did do a few releases that were 20K+.

Tom Z

While he did not suggest that this was the most popular casting for JL, it is one that has had at least 3 - 4 releases during the last two decades. Coupled with the million model car kits of the General Lee, as posted by Modelmartin,.... one has to wonder.

Respectfully submitted.

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Lil-coffin-90s.jpg

Who ever thought that should have been done to the car needs to be

B) Edited by Joe Handley

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A run of 20,000 would be considered pretty limited by HWs standards. The Coffin is still being sold. I saw the latest version today in one of Hotwheels higher end lines at Walmart.

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While I can understand how you feel & agree with it a good bit, on the other hand I also consider that as many permutations as the Lil Coffin has gone through over the years, (most of them illustrated in this thread in fact), as well as the fact that it has for the most part been restored to it's most popular guise means that it's not such a bad thing.

Besides, that version looks far better than that "Monkey Ward" version we got in the 70's! :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

See?

monkey-ward.jpg

Lil-coffin-90s.jpg

If it weren't the Lil Coffin, a lot of the styling cues of the latter version look very sharp to my eyes. Eliminate the two part windshield. lower the overall ride height, especially in front, (the front fenders sit too high over the tires, with too much gap between them), & get rid of the angled cutaway under the running boards, (& thus also lowering the boards a bit too), & there's a good looking show rod there. That new front end & grille is very sharp looking, & the rims & big & little tires suit the look well.

B)

I'll take the Monkey Ward version, too much Billit on that last one, the brown leather looks awful, and the 33/34 like grill area to me is hideously wrong on anything (including the golf carts it reminds me of). Now had they gone back to the Deuce style grill, left the roof cantilevered, and stayed with the Torque Thrusts on taller and narrower tires, while pulling lowest portion of the front of the rear fenders in closer to the tub, that would have been an improvement.

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A run of 20,000 would be considered pretty limited by HWs standards. The Coffin is still being sold. I saw the latest version today in one of Hotwheels higher end lines at Walmart.

Right... but you have to add to that the million kit production of the Dukes of Hazzard MPC model kit, plus the tons of 1/18th Chinese knock off Dollar-Store junk General Lee's (Ertl) and I think the '69 Charger is way more popular and produced in much greater numbers than any other single vehicle.

B)

If it were up to a popularity vote among just modelers regarding only kits, I might side with the Lil' Coffin however.

Edited by Jairus

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I do wonder, however, about many kits out there that are the "tortoises" compared to the Dukes' Charger "hare". Kits like the AMT and Revell 57 Chevies and the Trophy Series 40 Ford coupe, etc. Those kits have been in nearly continuous release since the early 1960s. I lack any knowledge of production numbers and since the kits were produced under so many different owners of the model companies, I would think it is nearly impossible to know. Inquiring minds want to know! :)

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That could be a good one too Andrew!

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Just between us, I've never cared about the Dukes and wouldn't own a Charger, but that's another thread.

Obviously to make the top of this list it's going to have to be something that was both a HotWheels and Styrene. The Red Baron's styrene numbers seem good, It's had a shorter life than the LC. It hasn't been a HWs as often as the Coffin, but that doesn't translate specifically into production numbers. The Baron's history is a little out of order as it wasn't a real car until it established itself amongst the kid crowd. I guess it still qualifies as a single car.

Edited by samdiego

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I just ran a very un-scientific survey on Ebay and the results were interesting. Of the various showrods mentioned in this thread The Red Baron scored much higher than any other with almost 500 items in the Toys and Hobbies category. I would guess that it is slightly inflated because the kit was just re-released recently and a lot of new ones were listed. The Beatnik Bandit beat out the L'il Coffin handily - 175 to about 20.

The winner by a mile was the 57 Chevy with over 2500 listings! The 40 Ford was next with 2000. No differentiation between different products. AMT 40 Ford produced 40 listings! Lamborghini produced 3400, countach alone produced 560. If you type in Earnhardt you get 13,000 listings!!!

Of course, this is just items for sale now. No correlation between original sales and kits for sale now exists. There are 40 MPC Barris T-Buggies listed right now because no-one and I mean NO-ONE wants those piles of cr@p! I think that more AMT 40 Fords were sold then Barris T-Buggies. :angry:

It was amazing when I typed in Dukes Charger. We got 130 and it included belt buckles, collecter plates and cars from 1/144 to 1/18th. Corgi made one in 1/36, Danbury Mint and everyone imaginable made the durn things! I typred in Bond Aston and got 230 results! I think ultimately the James Bond Aston Martin might beat out the Dukes Charger!

Edited by Modelmartin

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One other caveat, the HWs Lil Coffin has had a few name changes through the years. The version at retail currently is the Double Demon. The only member of this group that's warming pegs at Target and Walmart right now.

Edited by samdiego

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I am surprised none of you mentioned the 'Ala Kart'. IIRC, it was the first model kit of a 1:1 showcar (I think Roth kits were a month later) and the first model kit to sell 1.000,000 kits! It has been reissued many times and even re-issued from a completely new mold.

Until Hot Wheels makes 1/24/25th kits, I don't count them in my model kit discussions, but that's just me. I do have a few Hot Wheels in my collection of stuff :rolleyes:

The L'il Coffin was not originally built by Darryl, it was built by Dave Stuckey. (Dave has his own website if you want to know more) There are magazines photos back to 1958 when it first surfaced. When Monogram bought the car, they asked Darryl to change it for them. By the end of the 60s, the L'il Coffin was no longer a popular car on the ISCA circuit. ISCA had a sponsorship agreement with Montgomery-Ward, the big department store, and they requested a show car be made to travel the circuit and advertise their store, thus came the 'Monkey Ward'. After that contract, it was changed too many times before finally finding it's way back to Darryl for a rebuild...phew... :)

According to a friend who works at Round2, production numbers may only be in the 10-20,000 range for a run. Take a look at the private runs done in the last decade, only 5,000.

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