A few years ago, a new opportunist appeared on the scene. He had this great plan; to knock-off the Brightvision RLBB, sell it as a kit, and get this, POSITION IT IN THE MARKET PLACE AS AN ACTUAL BRIGHTVISION RLBB. So he bought a few Brightvision kits, sent them to China to be copied, cranked out countless inferior parts and pushed them into the marketplace at prices that were a fraction of what the Brightvision stuff sold for when they were in business. His strategy was to convince people that he purchased all these parts from the former owner of Brightvision at a Hot Wheels Convention. That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it. I have never asked the former owner of Brightvision if the encounter ever took place because what the guy is selling is not BV, and it’s easy to tell.
We now know he unleashed approximately 10,000 of these inferior products. They were everywhere. Some were assembled by customizers, some were sold as kits, some were painted and some were not. Many were chromed. Everywhere you turned, people on eBay were dumping these things. New collectors saw an economical way to get a representation of the fabled RLBB. It would not have been a big deal, except for the fact that they were mis-represented to collectors as actual Brightvision parts and buses.
So now I am here to ring the bell, and tell everyone that what this guy has dumped into the market is a cheap, inferior impostor. I would have nothing to say about it if he would have called it the Sloppy Asian Loader (S.A.L. for short), but he didn’t. Instead, he chose to tell everyone it was the product from a defunct company, namely Brightvision. It was a smart move because Brightvision had outstanding products that collectors appreciated, and if Mattel didn’t like all these junk parts being dumped into the hobby, they could go after the defunct Brightvision. It was an interesting business strategy, but very simple to refute legally.
So some of you are probably thinking about your RLBB. Is it really a Brightvision? How can I tell? Only one out of 13 reproduction rearloaders out there is a BV. This information will assist you in detecting a BV when it is presented to you. There is a very simple way to tell if you have a real Brightvision RLBB. Check what you have for the characteristics noted below. By the way, if you had two of them side by side, you would not need me to tell you which is which. The execution of the S.A.L. RLBB was poor, and the difference is beyond obvious.
Windshield glass – The Brightvision RLBB has a windshield with a hint of blue tint. The S.A.L. RLBB has a windshield that is slightly opaque and is clear. No hint of blue at all. Here’s a picture of a Brightvision windshield side by side with a S.A.L. windshield. Notice the BV windshield has a slight tint of blue to it. It was done this way because all known original Mattel RLBB prototypes had windshields that are slightly tinted blue, just like a standard issue UScasting. Clear windshield glass on 1968 US Hot Wheels is not really clear, and if it is made clear, it looks very unoriginal. Now, you may wonder why the windshield of a HK casting prototype would have glass with US tint instead of the darker blue HK tint. The answer is that all HK casting cars had the tooling built in the US, then shipped overseas for production. That’s how it was done in those days because tool making was too crude in Asia at the time. So all prototypes of the RLBB were cast, painted and built in the US. That is also why all the known RLBBs are in US colors, because they were painted in the US! You learn something every day…
The body of a Brightvision RLBB has clearly defined details. Air intake vents, side markers and door lines are all washed out on the S.A.L. RLBB. You will also see file marks on the S.A.L. body. Here’s a BV example so you have a reference point. Notice the clarity of the air intake vents near the rear of the body and the circular side-marker reflectors behind each wheel well. Also notice the consistancy in the zinc platting. You won’t see this kind of clarity and attention to detail on a S.A.L. body.
Body posts on the Brightvision RLBB are 50% smaller in diameter than the S.A.L. RLBB. The Brightvision posts are solid, the S.A.L. RLBB posts are drilled out with a hole in the center to facilitate the insertion of glued-in fake rivets.
The Brightvision body was zinc platted like an original HW, the S.A.L. body is either raw zinc (which is very dark grey in color), or poorly chrome platted. Brightvision bodies were never chrome platted.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the body posts for reference. Look long enough, and you will see all kinds of things that are different. Notice the file marks in the wheel wells of the S.A.L. body. It is primitive by comparison to a BV casting.
The base is really different too. Here are a few obvious things you can check:
If your S.A.L. RLBB is assembled, it has fake rivets glued into the holes in the posts. They are flat and over-sized. The Brightvision RLBB is riveted together like an original HW.
If your S.A.L. RLBB is still in kit form, there’s a simple test. If the base says “Mattel Hot Wheels” on it, it’s a S.A.L. RLBB. Brightvision did sell kits, but all Brightvision kits have “blank-bases”. The only thing written on the base of a Brightvision kit base is “HONG KONG, US & FOREIGN PAT. PEND.” And while you are studying what’s written on the S.A.L. RLBB base with a magnifying glass, take note that he spelled “FOREIGN” with a “D” instead of an “O”. What does “FDREIGN” mean? And instead of “MATTEL INC” it says “MATTEL ING”. Now it’s getting funny! Below is a standard BV blank base and a standard S.A.L. base.
The Brightvision base has the two large faint “D” shapes on the base (There is a large faint “D” shape surrounding each set of axle holes – these “D” shapes have the flat part of the “D” bordering the center portion of the blank base). Look closely at the picture above and you will see them, The originals have a full circle instead of a “D” shape. If you have the word Mattel on the base and the “D” shapes are missing, you have an S.A.L. RLBB. Also, look closely into the suspension holes on the S.A.L. base pictured above. Notice that the casting around the suspension nubs is not exactly clean. Another tell-tale sign.
Now let’s focus on the underside of the engine, which is cast into the base. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a BV and an S.A.L. The BV one is the shiny one on the right. If you look closely at the BV example, you can count the 8 bolt heads that hold the oil pan on. The other does not have that detail at all. Look how big the post hole is on the S.A.L. base. It’s that big so it can receive the oversized post of the body. Now look at the transmission case on the BV base. Notice that there is a clear oval shaped depression in the center. On the other, there is a circular protrusion! There is a big difference between sunken in and sticking out! If there is one quick detail to look at to tell them apart, this is it. If the transmission case has a bump instead of a depression, it’s an S.A.L. They obviously did not spend much time on these details. If you happen to have a Side Loader at home, pull it out and compare it. You will find that it is almost identical to the BV base in the motor area.
If that’s not enough, here’s a picture of a BV text base side by side with the S.A.L. text base. Can you see the faint “D” shapes around the axle holes on the BV? Look at your side-loader base and see if you can detect the circular shape around the axle holes. Part of the circle is actually on the extended weight that drops out of the base!
I could go on for pages with differences, but I will stop here. My goal is to educate everyone out there so they are no longer taken advantage of, and to protect the Brightvision name.