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Article: Respect the Classics: A Look at Radiator Springs

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    Respect the Classics: A Look at Radiator Springs

    8 Comments by cac1959 Published on 08-13-2011 10:40 PM

    (Photo used by permission of GotFrank)

    Welcome to Radiator Springs... Gateway to Ornamental Valley...

    The main location for Cars... a sleepy little town that time forgot once the interstate opened... Where residents watched the traffic light flash for something to do... until awakened from the silence by the hotshot Piston Cup racer, Lightning McQueen as he got lost on his way to California to compete in a winner-take-all race with The King and Chick Hicks to determine who would be the winner of the Piston Cup.

    And so it begins...

    Toys R Us exclusives:

    Many of us who collect Cars pay tribute to Radiator Springs with playsets, buildings, or our imaginations... There were 4 playsets in the 1:55 scale that were Toys R Us exclusives... they open up for display or play purposes... Many of them also feature lights (batteries not included).

    Flo's V8 Cafe

    The Radiator Springs gas station... Cars would go down to Flo's to fill up and to chit chat... the Mater and the Ghostlight short started at Flo's V8 Cafe... Sheriff would take Lightning McQueen to Flo's to allow him to get enough gas to pull Bessie when he was fixing the road.

    Lizzie's Radiator Springs Curio Shop -

    Bumper stickers and other Radiator Springs keepsakes were available at the Curio Shop. It made no sense that Mater was on the front of the box, as Lizzie is the owner of the Curio Shop... but not everything Mattel did (or does) with Cars makes sense... it was at the Curio Shop where Lightning McQueen got the bumper stickers that turned him into Stickers McQueen... the Cars that did not accompany McQueen to the race in California watched the race on TV at the Curio Shop.

    Side view:

    Other side view:

    Ramone's House of Body Art

    (Thanks to pirelliboy for the photos of the box)

    This is where Ramone painted himself and other Cars... Lightning McQueen was turned into Radiator Springs McQueen through one of Ramone's fabulous paint jobs.

    Luigi's Casa Della Tires

    Need tires? Need tyres? This is where Cars went to get new tires... Luigi knew exactly what tires Cars needed... Lightning McQueen looked good in whitewalls... and as we learned at the race in California, Guido had no equal when it came to performing a pit stop and changing tires... At the end of Cars, Michael Schumaker and other Ferrari came into the store and both Luigi and Guido fainted... Guido and Luigi were among the first to fix up their store - that is the scene that featured the hard to find Chase Cars of Guido with paint rollers and Luigi with paint bucket. The playset featured a leaning tower of tires... and when playing with the set the tires do fall down.

    I saw these playsets at several TRU stores and they always seemed to be pretty popular... They were originally priced at $19.99 to $24.99 and then went up to $24.99 and $29.99... I bought myself one set and bought most of another set for a friend in the UK... Many of us hoped that more of these would be released, but sadly, they never did.

    The TRU exclusives are occasionally available on eBay - they are rare and not cheap.

    Disney Store exclusives

    The Disney Store exclusive playsets were on a scale for the smaller (or mini) Cars... 2 of the playsets that I have are:

    Radiator Springs Courthouse

    The courthouse came with a miniature Remote Controlled Radiator Springs McQueen... it looks nice but is definitely small when compared to the Toys R Us playsets... Here are some pictures:

    Tow Mater Junkyard
    The Tow Mater Junkyard came with a miniature Remote Controlled Mater... Mater's color is different than that found in the Mattel diecasts...

    Here are the 2 Disney Store playsets side by side:

    GeoTrax sets

    Made by Fisher-Price, the GeoTrax buildings go with the GeoTrax sets... you can mix Cars, Cars2, and regular GeoTrax sets together... The Cars are much larger than the 1:55 scale diecasts... These are geared more to pre-school age children - however, my grandchildren (ages 9 and 6) enjoy building things and we still play with these on occasion.

    Fillmore's Tent:

    Sheriff's Lookout Mountain and Ramone's Body Art

    Assembled playset - includes Flo's V8 Cafe (taken before I got the Fillmore's tent)

    Custom buildings

    Several people have created custom Radiator Springs buildings... they shared their plans, their details of their work, with other collectors... I have been fortunate to acquire several buildings that were built by GotFrank from designs by XQZME... they look great.

    Sarge's Surplus Hut

    Sarge's Surplus Hut was the first custom building that GotFrank built for me... I traded him some Cars that he needed and he built Sarge's for me... it looks great... my grandchildren understand that as it's custom made that they are not allowed to play with it.

    Fillmore's Tent

    Fillmore's Tent was the second custom building that GotFrank built for me... it was a great surprise gift as I was recovering from elbow surgery... It's very nice looking - I think it looks much nicer than the GeoTrax version... Fillmore keeps his Organic fuel at his tent...

    Fillmore's looks great next to Sarge's Surplus Hut.

    Radiator Springs Courthouse

    The Radiator Springs Courthouse is the most recent custom building that I received from GotFrank - once again I sent Josh some Cars that he needed.

    Using a design from XQZME, GotFrank built this for me... here it is with the Disney Store exclusive for comparision.

    Others have created other buildings and have them on display, including Doc's Musuem, the Cozy Cone Motel, and more...

    GotFrank (Josh) has one of the best I've seen... I hope one day to have a table top large enough to display my Radiator Springs playsets... Here are some photos of GotFrank's Radiator Springs (photos used by permission of GotFrank):

    Table top:

    Flo's V8 Cafe and Doc's:

    Abandoned building:

    Cozy Cone:

    To see more photos of GotFrank's Radiator Springs set up and collection, see the thread at: we're hoping he'll display photos of his collection on as well.

    In conclusion

    Once again, Mattel left some money on the table by not producing more of these playsets... I'm glad that fans of Cars put in all the work to design these buildings and shared them with others... Many thanks to GotFrank for permission to use some of his photos and for building some custom buildings for me... and for sharing your designs with MrBrownstone who has been busy building Radiator Springs buildings as well.

    And as those of you that have seen the movie countless times or played the first Cars video game (I have it for the PS2 and the Xbox360), there's a lot more of Radiator Springs and the surrounding area out there... my grandchildren and I enjoy the first Cars video game more than any of the rest of them - you can drive out of town and all around... It's definitely a good fun-filled time.

    One of these days I hope to have a 4 x 8 table top so I can set up Radiator Springs for display and play.
    Last edited by GotFrank; 10-16-2012 at 11:00 PM.

    I am cac1959... I am a Cars-a-holic... and a proud supporter of Nathan's Playroom

  2. Total Comments 8


  3. #2
    Cars-a-holic! bobbyjack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Martinsburg, WV
    So far we have been able to get Flo's V8 Cafe, which I found in a TRU last winter, and a Ramone's House of Body Art, which I aquired in a trade. Just traded for a Luigi's Casa Della Tires too. Haven't opened Ramone's yet because I am saving it for a Birthday or Christmas present for my son. Now to try get Lizzie's Curio Shop somehow before Christmas!

  4. #3
    I never get tired of looking at GotFrank's model RS.

    Great to see more on the "factory made" playsets cac1959 - I've only ever seen Ramone's on sale over here (I think they were released before I started collecting)

  5. #4
    Administrator and PCD Super Guesser cac1959's Avatar
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    May 2011
    Richmond, Indiana
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    Yes, I enjoy looking at GotFrank's Radiator Springs... I wish they'd have released more of the "factory made" playsets... The Cars2 Radiator Springs 2 level playset is horribly overpriced at $52.99 (Kmart) and quality appears to be lacking.

    I haven't seen the 4 TRU playsets in stores for 2 years.

    I am cac1959... I am a Cars-a-holic... and a proud supporter of Nathan's Playroom

  6. #5
    Cars Addict
    Join Date
    May 2011
    West Midlands, UK
    Nice article Sir!

  7. #6
    GF's RS diorama is what I saw on Google Images that led me to CTT, then to Take5, and ultimately here. Thanks for being so amazingly talented and one of the best Cars-ers out there!

  8. #7
    Super Moderator GotFrank's Avatar
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    May 2011
    Quad Cities, IL USA
    Thanks for the love fellas! Good read Chris.

  9. #8
    Cars-a-holic! bobbyjack's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
    Martinsburg, WV
    We got Luigi's Casa Della Tites in the mail from Conrad on Friday and my kids love it. My 3 year old enjoys stacking the tires and using the elevator ramp to send McQueen over the wall and off the coffee table and onto the floor. My 1 year old likes to watch her brother stack the tires and as soon as he turns his back, knock the tires over.

  10. #9
    WGP Racer CarsDiecast08's Avatar
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    Aug 2013
    Mooresville, North Carolina
    I know this post is wayyy old but I still enjoyed looking at it I'm actually at this moment have my own radiator springs set up too, I plan to get it done soon. But I love seeing the creativity thrive from what Mattel lacked to make.
    "I'm a paderbuilt for dags sake!"

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