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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS 2 Diecast: Erik Laneley – Backwards Error Design Driving

Thanks to “NiftyNigel, ToyFountain, BMW, & John H.” for all the updated info, it’s now all compiled into one post. For a CAR with no lines, he certainly created a brouhaha. If you like a geeky blow by blow of diecast casting gone wrong, this is the underbelly!

Others of you may wonder how is it possible to write a thousand word based on a ™ stamp … to that I say, you should be glad I actually edited it down to 1,500 words … including 1,700 if you count the other post.  🙂

Let’s start from the start. There are three WGP races in CARS 2: Tokyo, Italy & London. There are quick glimpses of the starter/flag man but it’s mostly electronic red-yellow-green starting signals so he doesn’t get much action until the finish where he gets to wave the checkered flag but he’s mostly off in the corner and of course, the big action is the finish across the line so while he registers but no one is really watching just him.

He gets more prominence at the first race, Tokyo – naturally as we are checking out all CARS to see what’s new to make a mental note of what to add to our collection. 🙂 We can tell he’s a small hatchback at the Tokyo race and I doubt most people could tell until the DVD release that he was different in each race – a Fiat 500 in the Italy race and a Mini Cooper in the London race as he was a smaller vehicle, painted white and in the corner of the screen with no specific shot of just him.

So, where exactly did this process go off the rails and into the ravine? It’s hard to say exactly but here’s my theory.

The basic process is once a CAR character is decided upon, Pixar supplies image assets for Mattel to sculpt a prototype – then it’s approved by Disney/Pixar, they make a mold, they create a first shot, it gets approved and the production begins. There are also approvals by legal, production and the child safety side along the way (adding warnings, etc …).

So, how exactly does a CAR everyone presumes is a Honda but really suppose to be a Fiat? Here’s my theory on the timeline – normally, Pixar sends along images when requested by Mattel. Perhaps the same designer was working on Nick Cartone and thought, I can knock both these out?

(“Toyfountain” notes the earliest Erik Laneley releases in the EU does NOT have a Fiat™ mark).

nick & Erick

And perhaps this designer did not bother asking for an official image from Pixar or got one and ignored it-confusing it with Nick Cartone’s image rendering?

Film Screen

How do you confuse a Honda hatchback with a Fiat 500? Well, if you consider that this person/designer/maroon also thinks a typical Honda hatchback is the same size as a Range Rover (Miles Axelrod) … that’s where you go off the rails.

Yes, it is hard to believe but this may be from the same designer who thinks a classic Jaguar XE is the same width as a Monte Carlo or that a 1967 Ford Mustang is the same length as a Monte Carlo or that a Yugo (Victor Hugo) is about the size of a VW MicroBus (Fillmore)? How does this happen? Clearly a designer that does not know much about real automobiles or cares … and of course, this is compounded by the rest of the people along the way who also do not notice an obviously incorrect “obscure” vehicle like a 1967 Ford Mustang is ineptly sculpted – they certainly will not notice a giantism Honda hatchback.

In a way, you could see it happening down the line for non-auto fans – if you are told you are looking at Erik Laneley, race starter, you have a vague idea from the Tokyo race what he should look like – you sign off on it. Especially since a first shot has no tampo decals.

Also keep in mind, as they were beginning to think about giving the final approval to begin production, the US market was in turmoil (late winter/early spring), and a series of cases were canceled so we don’t know for an real certainty if Erik Laneley was supposed to arrive in summer of 2012.

So, the earliest production date seems to be 1592 or June 7, 2012. That may have been pushed back – but the push-back may have added to the confusion in the process of Erik Laneley’s being a Fiat Honda.

Eric Pixar
But let’s go back to the Fiat™ issue. So, while the first production diecasts may not have had the Fiat™ stamp – they were added. Why? most likely because as card design was winding its way through the approval process – with a mockup of the card front and back, “Legal,” must have noted that they needed to add the Fiat™ stamp  as this was the image the card designer was working off of. Not only is the Fiat logo visible, I’m sure included with the image were Fiat’s legal requirements of producing diecasts for this line.

So, the factory corrected the error by adding Fiat™ to the chassis/base. BTW, Frank Clutchenson has the Fiat™ as well being a correct size and the size Erik Laneley should’ve been. (totally forgot they released a Fiat 500 already though not as early as Erik Laneley production – thanks, John H!).

Frank & Erik

So, clearly, Pixar sent them an image they consider was Erik Laneley and it was the flag man from the Italy scene. Perhaps Pixar thought if Mattel is going to put it on the Porto Corsa background, they wanted the Italian race flag man.* Perhaps Pixar was confused also but in any case, if Pixar sends out labeled artwork imagery, that’s the official stamp of approval.

* Yes, his name should more fitting of a London race flag man but that’s another 1,000 word discussion.

So, they begin production around June, 2012 without the Fiat™ – somewhere along the line, LEGAL told them to add it.

frank under

Then at some other point, someone actually put the two disconnects together – SHOCKING! Why do we have a Fiat™ on a Honda (as the front & back Honda logos show) … the most embarrassing scenario would be they sent some along to Fiat – who in Italian might’ve say, “S******* … **************! ******! ****!”


So the nose to the grind (stone), literally as some people have their CARS with the Fiat™ shaved off the bottom … some with the Honda logo decal removed from the front but still some remain – as my Themes 2013 Card had the Fiat™ mark as well as the two logos.

And of course, updated the card for the EU market (initial release on the right) – the US card has always had the Honda character (left).


So, how many errors can we count along the way?

Pixar says Erik Laneley is a Fiat 500? All flag men Erik Laneley? Not very Italian name though I guess you could argue that Erik Lanely travels from race to race changing his body shell.

Mattel ignores the official Pixar sanctioned image and makes Erik a more proto-typical hatchback.

Mattel makes a ginormous version of what should be a small Fiat 500 sized hatchback into something the same height and width of a full sized Range Rover SUV.

Pixar signs off on the hand made prototype.

Disney signs off on the hand made prototype.

Mattel signs off on the hand made prototype.

Pixar signs off on the first shot.

Disney signs off on the first shot.

Mattel signs off on the first shot.

Pixar signs off on the card design even though there is a Fiat-Honda disconnect.

Disney signs off on the card design even though there is a Fiat-Honda disconnect.

Mattel signs off on the card design even though there is a Fiat-Honda disconnect.

The factory tries to scrub out evidence of a Fiat or Honda designation but finally just throws up their arms and some lunch – and continues to crank out a Honda logo-ed diecast with a Fiat™ chassis stamp … as “BMW” has gathered and created a DB, it looks like the newest and last batch now have come full circle – no Fiat stamp. Now officially back to a giant Honda.

I think that covers it. er, how many wrongs make you that much further from right?


The wheels on the Honda bus go round and round.

Cartone Under

Frank Clutchenson, a Fiat 500 with the correct Fiat trademark stamp. Nick Cartone, a Honda with no Honda trademark (maybe disavowed by Honda? 🙂  ) but with the Honda logos decals.nick under

Original post HERE.

So, what’s next?

Well, since the Fiat 500 is completed (as Frank and as Luigi’s & Guido’s dance partners coming soon), maybe we will get an Italian Fiat 500 Erik Laneley?

And just for completeness sake, “John H.” notes, “Most Hondas are front wheel drive and the Erik chassis photo shows a rear wheel drive car.”

And “Tom C,” notes …“Civics aren’t 4WD, as this model appear to be (note the solid front and rear axles and driveshaft going from the transmission to the rear axle). This I thought was very unusual when I first looked at Laneley when we opened him last fall.”

So, now the FAIL is complete. At least the wheels are round. 🙂


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