It has been through the
efforts of redline collectors that a Spetraflame pallet
has been pieced together. By word of mouth and
documentation of massive collections, color pallets such
Spectraflame Rainbow, by Russell Bailinson
and others have been a source of reference for new and
seasoned collectors alike.
The purpose of the Redline
Guide.com is to pull all this information into one
comprehensive site where the shared information can be
expanded upon and updated as new information
surfaces. Thanks to sites like Redlines
Online were such information can be discussed and shared by fellow collectors.
Spectraflame redlines were originally listed
in the 1968 catalog as being available in two colors
each. When sales exploded, that quickly
changed. All of the cars in 1968 have been found
in at least nine colors, and for some models, as many as
16 different colors are known to exist. But
exactly how many different colors were used between 1968
and 1972 is still unknown.
the first engineering pilot samples arrived from the
factory, there was one color pallet from the
beginning. Mattel never officially released this color pallet to the general public, but
the closest thing to an
official release can be found in the 1969 Collector's Catalog.
This color listing shows 12 different colors
being used, but as time would tell, it is far from accurate.
have been found in a number of different colors
and shade variations that were not listed in the 1969
Along with the original color
pallet, Mattel had several experimental colors that were
used in the early years of production. Mattel's
color pallet changed several times during
production. By 1970, new colors were being
introduced and existing colors were reformulated or
phased out all together. By the end of 1972, there
were at least 16 distinct colors found, but to date, as
many as 24 distinct colors have been documented. Of the 24 found, this does not even include shade
Shade variations are colors
resulting from production issues and have become a very
important part of Spectraflame redline collecting.
As factories ran out of paint, different paint vendors
would be used resulting in different formulations for a
specific color. Shades, tones and thickness of the
paint would change as vendors were changed. Sometimes it changed very little, sometimes it changed a
lot. See the example:
Spoilers King 'Kuda
#7 has bushing
wheels which is an earlier axel used by Mattel. #2 has
capped wheels which came later in production.
Two King 'Kudas. One is
an early release as indicated by the bushing axels that
were used; the other a later release as it has a later
axel type. Both are blue, but each has an obvious
shade distinction. Most likely different vendors
were used to furnish the paint. The two cars above
clearly demonstrate that. Obviously, one vendor's
blue did not match a later vendor' blue and this would
apply to the whole color pallet throughout the five years
of production. Another possibility could be
the formulation was changed. Still in either case,
a shade variation resulted.
Below is a link
to the main
colors found on redines from 1968-1972 as derived by
collectors. Under each main color are the
variations of that color. Note that the color
used on Hong Kong cars varies from the paint used on
U.S. cars. So when comparing shade
variations one cannot compare U.S. to Hong Kong cars and
vise versa. I will add pictures for each shade
variation as I am able.
Formulation and vendor changes
were not the only cause for variations, but Mattel's own
quality control issues played a factor in shade
Normal production would start
with the lightest color and then transition to the
darker colors as production moved through the color
pallet. But due to time constraints as to the
production run of a casting, plants were forced to move
on to the next color without properly cleaning the paint
lines. By failing to completely remove the excess
paint from a previous run, transition colors resulted,
creating unique shades of the various colors from the
Aside from the painting
process, the preparation of the casting itself plays a
huge role in shade variations.
Spectraflame paint is a
transparent paint. Since it is transparent, the
base that it is being applied to must be consistent and
pure. If the Zamac that was used was not properly
polished or was impure, the tone and shade of the
Spectraflame is greatly affected.
This is why sometimes cars
have an "over-chrome" appearance. Those
cars just happen to have a better plating, or a better
batch of metal or had fewer imperfections.
most collectors fail to realize is that the appearance
of the paint results from what is underneath. Take
toning as an example. Toning is not a flaw in the paint, but a flaw within the
metal or tarnish on the metal's surface. Paint does not tone, the metal casting
tones. Since the Spectraflame is transparent, such
flaws cannot be hidden. So, the condition of the
Zamac can influence a color significantly resulting in a
new shade or color all together. See below. This is probably
one of the reasons Mattel switched to strictly enamel
paints after 1972.
Both VWs are
gold. The darker one has a completely toned
casting making it a completely different variation.