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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: “Red Ransburg” Brainstorm 50 Lightning McQueen

Without going over everything written in 2008, I’ll just update some of the aspects of the Red Ransburg/Brainstorm 50 Saga.

Keep in mind that what was known in 2008 might be different now 8 years later – I did not go back and make any changes to that post.

As noted in the auction recap of a few days ago, Mattel held a brainstorm meeting with Disney and Pixar in 2007 to discuss CARS 2008 and beyond. Mattel created a gift bag for everyone with a diecast and a bowling shirt. There are were about 50 gift bags handed out – hence the name “Brainstorm 50.”

This is the CAR that Martin Arriola, the head & team leader designer for the CARS line 2007-2010 received in his gift bag. He had just started on the line and did not work on designing the elements of the gift bag diecast.

ransburg diecast


Unlike the main Lightning McQueen, the big difference are that the tampo decals are simply red & white – and of course, the CARS TEAM ’09 on the back spoiler.

From the time of the meeting in Spring 2007, these were popular counterfeits – selling for up to $250 so of course, there were stories created about them – one explaining that there was a “team meeting/brainstorm” meeting in Asia – hence, the reason for so many extras available (there was no meeting in Asia as everyone involved in design and decision making were/are in SouthernCal).

Since there was no way to verify any of the stories at the time in 2007, we didn’t understand the extent of the reach into the factory these counterfeiters had. Up until that point in toy history, counterfeiters were usually pretty obvious …


These might be made from clay?

Or a few that didn’t meet production quality standards – factory rejects that were free for employees to take but here was a new class of professional counterfeits – from the same factory that was producing them – these backdoor guys had access to diecasts, paint stations, assembly and tampo decal printing. I called them, “Factory Unauthorized.”

But one thing they could never get right was that the original Brainstorm 50 was Spectraflame and not Ransburg so the Red was more Orange Red.

And of course in October 2007, Mattel created a real Red Ransburg run of ONE for the TRU Dream Halloween Box set.


I have NEVER seen this diecast in person nor touched it. I am ONLY going by this PR photo that was sent out. While the Rust-eze hood logo looks the same as the Brainstorm, the front headlight tampo decal is all red and the 95 side decal looks like it’s a solid red backing. There is no spoiler decal. So, presuming this color photo is accurate and the tampo decals are accurate, this is supposed to be THE Ransburg, red – one of a kind as it’s part of the Dream Halloween box set. Pretty easy to verify. 🙂

Both these were available as “legit” extras throughout 2007.

Anyway, after we got to know Martin, in 2008 (about a year after the Brainstorm), I finally got around to asking him about the “Red Ransburg’s” available everywhere (as both were called since the counterfeiters only had access to the Ransburg metallic process).

He sent along THIS photo below as the “Brainstorm 50” and explaining why it was more orange. I did not pay it much attention but “BMW” did spot that the CARS TEAM ’09 tampo decal is smaller than the one Martin is selling … Martin’s explanation is “he does not know why they are different.” When I asked him to photograph a Brainstorm 50 in 2008, he apparently found one at Mattel and took some photos and returned the diecast below to where ever it was. It may have been a Brainstorm 50 approval prototype or perhaps they did one run with smaller typeface and one with a larger one (maybe they added more people to the meeting) … it is unknown. This one below is/was most likely destroyed – as they do periodic cleaning and purging of prototype or “junk” hanging around the office.

Martin’s Brainstorm 50 (first photo in this post) on the other hand, was taken home by him after the meeting and put away in his closet.


So, there you go.

So, while the smaller typeface version of the CARS TEAM ’09 Brainstorm might be legit, ask to see the bowling shirt or ask them what hotel they went to for the brainstorm meeting. 🙂

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