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

Johnny Lightning forum

"Ask questions, share stories or subscribe to our newsletter." - John, Fabtintoys

: (first name only)*
(will not be displayed/shared)*

Comments (10)
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 offcial dealer, maybe here?
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
If you're interested in new Johnny Lightning stock, visit their website at:
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?