Johnny Lightningis a brand ofmodel carsoriginally produced byTopper Toys, similar to the hugely successfulMattelHot Wheelsdie cast racing cars. Their claim to fame at that time was that they were extremely fast compared to other brands of die-cast cars. 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. In 2003 Thomas Lowe secured the trademark rights to the Johnny Lightning name for his Playing Mantis company. Playing Mantis produced toy cars under the Johnny Lightning brand name from 1994 to June 2004. At that time Playing Mantis (including the Johnny Lightning brand) was bought by RC2 Corp. which in turn was bought by the Japanese toy company TOMY in 2011. TOMY discontinued the Johnny Lightning line of diecast cars in 2013. The brand continued to maintain a following by a loyal group of collectors. In early 2016Round 2 LLC, a toy company owned by Thomas Lowe (who also owned Playing Mantis), revived and reintroduced Johnny Lightning vehicles to the toy market for a second time.
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