Rebel Rods History



The Ancestry

The Rebel Rods series came to be from the ashes of the Street Freaks series.

The “spoiler” type open engine, gumball side numbered cars have always been a favorite of diecast collectors. After the Street Freaks series died out there was a gap for a while where there wasn’t any “spoiler” type cars being made.

Playing Mantis (PM) then delivered more numbered cars in the exclusive Kay Bee Toy Store 5 packs, which were afterthoughts from the Street Freak Series. Then the Rebel Rods bomb exploded in the fall of 2001.

Rebel Rods series 1 came out and flew off the shelves like hot cakes. Cool new cars with gumball numbers, a decal sheet and 2 tire combinations. So if you were a racer or had the preference of the rubber (Real Riders) series tires, you could be satisfied. The Rebel Rods series ended after 4 releases in June of 2002.

A Few Things to Note

1. The numbers on the sides of the cars originally started out in the Kay Bee 5-packs where numbers 1 thru 9 were available.

2. Only one numbered car to date, the #3 car (a pink 70 Dodge Challenger T/A), does not have a diecast blown engine.

3. Tom Lowe (former owner of Playing Mantis) did the development work on the engines and the #5 engine was too big, so he let the factory cut off the passenger side valve cover.

4. Not all numbered cars are available in one Kay Bee 5-pack, you’ll have to buy several. They come with an assortment of other cars.

5. Not every engine fits every car, so some cars wouldn’t get some engines.

6. If you were to ignore the #5 listed point above, and counted the total possibilites of each release, with each car having different engines and wheels, these would be the totals:

 Rebel Rods release 1 – 47 total different combinations. The Silverado had 7 engines which hampers the total for this release  Rebel Rods release 2 – 68 total different combinations. Rebel Rods release 3 – 68 total different combinations. Rebel Rods release 4 – 68 total different combinations. 7. Rebel Rods started on #11 and ended at #19,  they went back and to fill the much anticipated #10.

8. Playing Mantis did not number or name these engines the way they are listed on this site. It was a collaboration of fine folks from an internet bulletin boards and referenced throughout the years. 

9. New card art was implemented for the 4th release showing a ’69 Super Bee. Previous releases showed the ’69 Nova (Boss-a-Nova). See the card art pics below.

10. According to PM, release 4 was considered a flop. Retailers didn’t want them so the remainder of release 4 was sent back to the factory to be re-packed. The re-issue of Rebel Rods release 4 is now called Spoilers under the Street Freaks program.

11. Rebel Rods release 4 is now showing up at Cracker Barrel stores and has been re-packaged in a window box form. These are not labeled as Rebel Rods (or anything else) but simply as “The Collectors Choice”. (added 8/7/2004)

Card Art for Release 1,2 3


Card Art for Release 4


Did Spoilers make a comeback? That depends on your perspective. So let’s put the question to you – do ALL Spoilers need exposed engines, meatball numbers, stripes and big tires? Or will three out of four of these identifiers suffice? How about two out of four? Well, thats the latest and greatest controversy now that these cars have changed hands and changed identities more than once. Marketing strategies combined with different designers and new ideas contribute in changing consumer direction. And our little Spoilers change right along with the current times. So, whether you’re a purist who needs the total package, or a new collector who wants to blaze a new trail, the old Spoilers and the new Spoilers will define who you are and in what direction your collection continues to grow. And thats all that really matters.

Street Freaks 17 – ’67 Camaro Released in 2005 by RC2

Art work by Mike G.

Leave a Reply