by Frank Koh
1/43 Scale Johnny Lightning from the Playing Mantis Days
In the late nineties Johnny Lightning came out with a somewhat limited edition line of 1/43 scale cars called “Magmas”. There was even a mail-in offer of a special red Magma 1968 Camaro. That exclusive model could be purchased only if the mail-in offer was availed of. Needless to state, not many red “Magmas” Camaros were made; hence, they can be considered the “chase cars” from the good old days. Such was the ingenuity and innovation of the Johnny Lightning team when the company was owned by Playing Mantis.
Believe it or not, this Johnny Lightning “Magmas” 1968 Camaro is close to two decades old. I have owned this exclusive available-thru-mail-in-offer-only red Camaro for many years, acquiring it by way of the secondary market. It represents one of the better marketing strategies of Johnny Lightning when it was owned by Playing Mantis: Authorize a limited run of a popular model in an “exclusive” color, then sell it thru the company’s mail order channels. [Regular 1968 “Magmas” Camaros were were teal blue and green variants sold thru regular retail outlets.] Consequently, for all intents and purposes, the red “Magmas” Camaro was one of the first “chase cars”. Brilliant.
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