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I am not a pro but here is a try.
Ertl started with the "wedge box" where the front was angled, then the green marble-look box, then the black and gold box and then several variations of that black box.
There has been Regular Editions "RE" and Limited Editions "LE". The LE typicaly had more detail, but not always. Ertl made LE cars that were "commisioned" by third parties (paid up-front to have them made). Nutmeg, Diamond Collectibles, Supercar Collectibles, Exoticar, Evergreen are just a few that have done this. Some of these third parties have licenses to do certain cars like SC has with Yenko.
Ertl has also made "event" cars like the Mopar national, Buick Nationals, etc..where a show or event commissions the car.
They have also made cars for stores like the TRU cars where there was just a gold seal on the box and the Kmart Route 66 cars that came in different looking boxes and you got an extra like a key chain or gold coin. These are LE in a sense that they were only sold at that store, but they were a long production run 1/10,000+.
RE were supposed to be for general retail release and the LE were supposed to got to Hobby Shop stores, but Ertl considers TRU a Hobby shop and some LE were sometimes found at Target.

As far as detail, the bottom would be like this:
REs
LEs
Commissioned LE's
Mint (they were LEs that came in a Lane style box and were better detailed)
P-100 ( cars that are in a higher level like AUTOart or Lane, but because of the higher production run so they are cheaper then AAs and Lane)
The newly relaased Authentics line.

Mudding the water are the more recently relased "brand" releases that are nothing but repaints of older (and at once pricey) releases like Koni, Creager, K&N filters...releases.

Another tread of Ertls are the Entertainment and "BodyShop" kit that are also bringing down the price of some original releases.

Ertl also has made their own LE without being commisioned like the "Fastest 10" line.

Also there are the "chase cars" to look for. These are the ones that have a special finish like chrome, black chrome or gold and are randomly inserted in the 6-pack shipping cartons and sometimes go for high dollars like the Superbird.

That's it for tonight. I am sure I forgot several thing so please add to it.

Al
 

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Couple of thing that I forgot to mention is that a couple of companies got started in the 1/18 muscle market by commisioning Ertl cars: Lane and GMP (Peachstate).
They are basid repaint, but at one time commanded higher dollars due to the low productions.

The other is that some ertl models sold through TV shopping channels like QVC.

The point about the quality of older Ertls has to be considered with a grain of salt. It was impressive for the time of how dead-on some of the details were and all for around $20. They built the market to make it possible for the $120 Lanes that we have today. I am not being an Ertl appoligist (as they have made some terrible blunders like the Dodge Demon front end), but they sure have come a long way in American Muscle in the last 13 years. A mayority of these models will never be reproduced by any other diecast company so it will be all we have.

I see sort of like the Mustang is to me. The early models are neat to have and own, but they can't beat any of the speed, safety and comfort that the modern ones have, but without the older one we would not have the new ones.
 

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Great job Jeff! :nicejob :nicejob :nicejob
I would had wrote alot more last night but it had been a long day on the road. Jim at SC does great job securing the rights to do the right car that up until now, no one else can do or has done. They have done several Mopar B-body top-up convertibles.

One of the thing that I would suggest to do would be to go to www.scale18.com and search the huge list. Do a search by keywords like "Ertl" and "Supercars" or "Campbell" or Evergreen". You would get an idea of when the particular ertl was made and most important, how many were maid.

I see diecast companies as more of a licensing company like and SC as a sub-licensing company. Ertl may have bought the rights to do the likelyhood of a '69 Camaro from GM in 1/18, but SC has it to the rights to use the Yenko name in 1/18. Without each other contributing, the car could not be made.
 
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