- Written by webmin
Tomy, makers of Tomica-brand diecast cars and playsets, announced last week that they will buy RC2 Corp., maker of Johnny Lightning-brand die-cast cars, outright, in a deal valued at $640 million. Tomy is increasing its foreign penetration, in part because toys are no longer a growth area in its home market of Japan, and in part because of favorable exchange rates.
And so, what does this mean for us, as collectors? In the short-term, our guess is that it doesn’t mean much. RC2 is a maker of a wide variety of children’s products, everything from baby bathtubs to huge quantities of Thomas the Tank Engine to Ertl-branded John Deere farm toys and playsets. (In fact, between Tomica’s city playsets and Ertl’s country flavor, there’s opportunity for a greatly expanded play world there.)
Die-cast is a very, very small part of RC2′s overall portfolio. It seems unlikely that the two die-cast tooling banks would merge, and, contrary to what some have speculated when the deal was announced, we’re not expecting an Isuzu Elf Hi-Roof hot-dog van painted black with flames anytime soon. (Though it would be cool.) Whether this would do anything to solve JL’s seemingly perpetual distribution issues, or bring Tomy’s Tomica line into the die-cast aisle, we can only hope.
Reaction to the big news also says something about the die-cast market. In 2004, when it was announced that Johnny Lightning was going to be sold to Racing Champions, there was a lot of collector chatter on message boards, pro and con – everything from “hurrah” to “the end is nigh.” Reaction on the handful of message boards we scan for information revealed little passionate reaction. Is this the state of the hobby, where if it’s not a Hot Wheels it doesn’t matter, or are we just looking at the wrong message boards?