Johnny Lightning cars

In 1969, Topper Toys of Elizabeth, New Jersey launched a line of high-speed die-cast cars to compete in the rapidly expanding market for three-inch toy cars introduced 15 years earlier by Matchbox. Speed was all-important, and owner Henry Orenstein had the design and production resources available to create 15 different cars, from concept to retailer, in less than a year. Topper was a powerhouse toy manufacturer, producing popular products like Suzy Homemaker appliances and the mod Dawn fashion doll.

Their most important technology was to mold in a small hook under the front axle so that they could be propelled by a lever-driven catapult, far faster than could be obtained by either gravity, or battery powered "supercharger" devices. Topper closed in 1971 and production of Johnny Lightning cars ceased for 23 years.

Johnny Lightning became a subsidiary of Playing Mantis (from 1994-2004) and is a company primarily known for their die-cast collectible cars. They have also produced several small plastic representations of Star Trek vessels, entitled "Legends of Star Trek", since 2004.

In January 2016, three years after its second disappearance from the market, the Johnny Lightning die-cast brand was relaunched once again by Thomas Lowe and his Round 2 toy company which also produces the Auto World and Racing Champions brands of die-cast cars.

Lines include: Zingers, Speed Racers, Monopoly Cars, Hot Wheels, Muscle Cars and more.


Updated: 10 April 2020

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Johnny Lightning value and price guide

What's your Johnny Lightning worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items.

Item Title Date Price
topper johnny lightning custom eldorado new on card Topper Johnny Lightning Custom Eldorado New On Card 10/2021 £1 111.93
the dukes of hazzard cast autographed die cast 1 18 The Dukes Of Hazzard Cast Autographed Die Cast 1 18 10/2021 £889.54
johnny lightning original 60 s dealer promotional Johnny Lightning Original 60 S Dealer Promotional 11/2021 £741.29
150 hot wheels mixed rr johnny lightning jada hw 150 Hot Wheels Mixed Rr Johnny Lightning Jada Hw 08/2021 £444.77
rare topper johnny lightning doge costom charger Rare Topper Johnny Lightning Doge Costom Charger 10/2021 £444.03
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices12/2021£-.--

Johnny Lightning forum

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Comments (20)
D - September 27, 2021
I purchased a Johnny Lightning 1965 Chevy2 Nova with manufacture date of 1988(if Im reading it correctly), Playing Mantis in a High Gloss Gold in color. I can not find any info on this car. Can anyone possibly tell me where I can find a price guide for these cars as I have a lot of 10 of them in different models?
Kay - August 21, 2021
My husband was a collector and I need information on values and possible sale of collection.
I can't help you with this I'm afraid... You could sell the collection as a lot on eBay or Facebook.
Ryan - July 23, 2021
Hi I have a few JL Marvel (cyclops and spiderman) Viper 1:64 ... nice to have? or valuable?
You could have a look here to see if you can find yours with some prices: JL Marvel Viper.
Mickey - June 26, 2021
Have the 5 Johnny Lightning Rock n Rollers. Usually produce 6 cars in a set. On the back it lists the 5 I have but additionally lists Mustang Sally. However, looking up Johnny Lightning cars can't find one. Did they list it and never actually produce it?
Mike - April 7, 2021
I have several frightning lightning that are in wrong packaging are they worth it
Casey - December 31, 2020
I was just going through my collection when I noticed a huge error. I have a Johnny Lightning Retro R5 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS. The package, the card and the bottom of the car all say 1970, but the car is clearly a 1971 Chevelle SS. Is this error worth anything? Thanks very much
I had this question before, and I'm afraid these 'errors' were quite common...
Bill - September 10, 2020
Looking to complete collection of 50th anniversary corvettes
Also have a look here: Johnny Lightning 50th anniversary.
David - July 17, 2020
also have speed racers car and racer x car
Vince - July 3, 2020
JL collector since the 80s
You must have a lot of them then :-)
Charles - July 1, 2020
I have a loose Johnny Lightning Monopoly Plymouth Satellite funny car with what I believe to be an error tampo. On the right rear flank where there is a Monopoly logo, above it is another partial one. I've never seen another one like this. It once was packaged, but I wanted it in my display case, so out it came. You could never really see the error while it was packaged because that side was against the card. Are error tampo cars worth anything or does it just depend on if someone is looking for such a thing? If you or anyone might have any idea what the odds are for something like this or even what it is possibly worth, please drop me a line. Thank you!
H - April 4, 2020
I would like to find out how I can get a price guide of Johnny lightning die cast cars. My dad was a heavy collecter I until he past away in 2010. I probably have hundreds if not thousands of unopened cars and would like to find a price guide for them
If you're in the US, take a look here on Amazon or in the UK: Amazon UK.
Mary - August 12, 2019
My husband has a Johnny lightning wagon red white and blue. Problem: on bottom it specifies 1997 praying mantis. I’m wondering if any value. Please help in any way possible. We have plenty Hot Wheels also. Thank you.
You probably mean 'Playing Mantis' ;-) They made Johnny Lightning cars and reproductions from 1994. For an idea of value have a look here: Playing Mantis 1994.
Damian - July 29, 2019
Hello, I’m going to join the club but wanted to know the best and safest place to buy older Johnny Lightning’s. Any information would be helpful. Thank you.
Well... I think of course eBay, see the ads here to the right :-) But there are also some groups with collectors, just search Johnny Lightning on Facebook and you'll find a few.
Dan - July 7, 2019
Hello, I have several Johnny Lightning cars....if I send you photos, could you give me an approximate value? thanks
Hi there, sorry I don't have time. Best is to search these pages for your models to see what they could fetch. Just type in your model in the search field and you might get some results and prices.
Phil - May 18, 2019
Hihow do I order a mitsubishi evolution 390- 02 in white, please give me how to order details
Hi, I am not an official dealer, maybe you can find this model here: Johnny Lightning Mitsubishi.
Timothy - March 18, 2019
I have a johnny lightning 2004 Cadillac Escalade limited edition from the johnny Lightning instant win sweepstakes 1 if 1804. is the any value?
Chris - February 19, 2019
Looking at the back of the Rock and Rollers series, it shows a Sam and Dave Mustang Sally car. Can anyone tell me why this appears not to have been released? Were any made at all?
Stan - June 7, 2018
i have several johnny lighting cars and would like to know where i can find out what they are worth thankyou
Willard - December 10, 2010
would like magazines and price list of ur stock and interested in milatary,trains toys please
Jimmy - August 15, 2010
I have purchased a Johnny Retro R5 #3 '70 Chevy Chevelle SS.The package is referencing it as a 1970 but the body style is of a 71 or 72, It has single head lights and 4 round taillamps a 1970 would have 4 headlamps and 2 rectangular tailamps. Is this a packaging error?