(written from a Production point of view)
Racing Champions (aka Racing Champions/ERTL, RCERTL, or RC2 Corporation as it is currently called) has been the parent company of AMT, Ertl, and Playing Mantis, the original owner of the Johnny Lightning, Polar Lights and Memory Lane brands. The original company was best known for producing scaled die-cast car models, and it continues to do so to this day.
Racing Champions was founded in 1989 and has pursued a vigorous acquisition strategy in the subsequent fifteen years, going public with stock issues in 1997. The company's name was changed to "Racing Champions/Ertl" in 1999 when it bought AMT/Ertl (in the process splitting up the company in its original components) and which falsely hinted at an equivalent merger.
By 2003, the boundless expansion of the company had resulted in a cumbersome collection of companies with subsidiaries with widely varying product lines and a re-organization of the company was initiated. Renamed RC2 Corporation from 2004 onward, the focus of the company was to be its original product lines of die cast toys and models, and after it bought "Learning Curve International, Inc." (2003) and "The First Years Inc." (2004) toys and learning material for the very young. Ertl was dropped from the company name and relegated to a subsidiary brand only. Product lines that did not fit the new company profile were liquidated or sold, which included model kits as carried by AMT and Polar Lights.
Star Trek associations
Star Trek Champions
Prior to the acquisition of other Star Trek merchandise license holding entities, Racing Champions created a set of five collectible pewter Star Trek figures and starships called Star Trek Champions.
Each model was purported to be part of a limited edition of 9,998 pieces, came complete with Certificate of Authenticity (which optimistically listed it as part of "Series One"), and included a stand. An image of a relevant scene from a Star Trek film was used as a packaging backdrop and a quote was included on the base under the figure.
|Star Trek Champions|
|Spock||1998||In Kolinahr robes from Star Trek: The Motion Picture|
|James T. Kirk||In Rear Admiral's uniform from Star Trek: The Motion Picture|
|Khan Noonien Singh||From Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan|
|USS Enterprise-A||This figure was supposed to be the refit USS Enterprise from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as the figure's base states, but the figure itself has the "NCC-1701-A" registry on the saucer.|
|Kruge's Klingon Bird-of-Prey||From Star Trek III: The Search for Spock|
Note: Image 6 is a typical back of the figure package
Star Trek model kits
Through the acquisition of AMT/Ertl in 1999 and Playing Mantis, or rather its subsidiary Polar Lights in 2004, RC2 obtained the licenses for producing the Star Trek model kits. However, due to its reformulated profile, the company showed very little interest to exploit or develop the product line. A half-hearted attempt to revive the line occurred when re-releases were announced, of which only four were marketed in 2005 under its original brand "AMT/Ertl", though the company by that time was already split up in its two original components. Those four kits were the only releases of the AMT brand that were marketed in eight years. Polar Lights did not release any kits and was even eliminated as brand in 2006. Yet, both were revived by Round 2 LLC as that company bought both product lines in 2007.
Legends of Star Trek series
- For release details see Legends of Star Trek.
Johnny Lightning, like Polar Lights originally a subsidiary of Playing Mantis, and traditionally a producer of die-cast car models, fitted the redefined profile of RC2 and was kept as a separate brand within the company. Despite the reluctance shown with the model kits to delve deeper into the Star Trek franchise, Johnny Lighting started in 2004 with a die-cast plastic toy line centered around Star Trek star ships and expanded upon the line, called Legends of Star Trek, up until 2008.