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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Tins Toys 1998 Lexus GS300, Kinsmart 2001 Lexus IS300, and Welly 2009 Lexus RX400h




In 1989 Toyota set the luxury car market on fire with the new Lexus brand aimed at challenging the best from Germany while at the same time teaching them a lesson on how to build high-quality, reliable vehicles.  The success has worked and along with Infiniti and Acura these brands are up there with the best from Germany, and now Hyundai wants to get in on the action with the Genesis brand.  Here's a look at a few pullback vehicles that helped define the brand from the sporty GS300 to the youth-oriented IS300, and down to the sales leader the RX400h.








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Tins Toys 1998 Lexus GS300

The GS sedan was Lexus's assault on the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class.  While the first-generation established the position the second-generation went for a more sporty and wild look previewed by the HPS concept sedan in 1997.  The new GS has split headlights and taillights with a more smoother and fluid look.  The interior has a more sportier look with 3-spoke steering wheel and tri-pod gauges.  The engines are the same as the Supra, Crown, and LS with the 300 using a 3.0L DOHC I-6 producing 225 horsepower or the GS400 4.0L V8 producing 300 horsepower through a 4-speed automatic transmission.  The handling was geared for a more sportier feel to go after the BMW, and it works with various praises and awards for the car.  Like the late 1990's 5-series by BMW this generation of GS series would be the pinnacle for car enthusiasts who sorely miss this particular generation compared to later generations.









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Another fantastic car by Tins Toys that no one else has made in stock format.  I like it so much that I got both the red and black versions.  Once again the 5-spoke wheels make an appearance here, but at least they fit well with the car.  The front has the quad headlights with high beams in the inner ones and round signal lights in the low beam lamps.  The grille is large and round with the Lexus badge while the lower bumper has a lower scoop and foglights.  The chrome trim wraps around the entire width of the car.  The sides show a more traditional sedan look with a nice touch: note the way the side windows curve into the C-pillar.  Out back is the taillights with signal and reverse lamps and brighter brake lights for the trunk mounted units.  GS badging and dual exhausts finish up the sporty, if sedate look.  Adding silver trim and additional lighting really helps these two castings out.  The same cannot be said about the all-black interior as at the time chrome trim accents were not in fashion yet.    The dashboard has a clean and simple layout with center stack controls, three-spoke steering wheel, podded gauges, detailed inner door panels, and even the wrinkles on the leather seats are detailed and shine through the sunroof.  The only miss is the lack of a shifter on the console.  Simple and efficient is what this GS casting is all about and Tins Toys has a unique niche that no one has yet to reach.








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Kinsmart 2001 Lexus IS300

Born from the Altezza sedan the IS300 was designed to go after the BMW 3-series and attract young buyers to the Lexus brand.  With its wild colors, styling, and bodystyles (remember the IS Sport Cross wagon?) the IS had a good start then started to wind down and lack a bit of sport to go against the 3-series.  For young enthusiats it was an even hotter version of the GS using the same 3.0L DOHC I-6 producing 220 horsepower in a lighter body that offers a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission.  Signature styling touches of this first-generation IS include a sport chrono watch-like gauge cluster and clear taillights that started the trend toward clear taillights.







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Kinsmart has released this vehicle in a few colors and very plentiful so I decided to see what it looks like in this bright yellow color.  The look brings new life into the Lexus brand at the time with a sporty and sharper look no doubt taken from the second-generation GS.  The front has large and sharp quad headlights with outer signal lights that fland the grille with the Lexus logo, while the lower bumper has integrated foglights.  On the sides the typical sedan profile is joined by more sharp corners and 5-spoke wheels that look good here despite the deep-treaded tires.  At the rear is a trunklid spoiler, those famed clear taillights, inner brake lights on the trunklid (like the GS), and Lexus badging with IS300 plate.  The interior, on the other hand, could use some help as the dashboard lacks any color and detailing for the center controls.  On the other hand the 3-spoke steering wheel is there as is the sticker for the fancy watch gauges where the speedometer houses three auxiliary gauges inside of it.  The shifter on the floor signals that this is the 5-speed manual version.  Adding some black trim detailing helps break out the all-gray interior and cover up the yellow door panels, but otherwise it seems flat compared to the exciting exterior.  Still it's a nice casting for a very sporty car of the Lexus line.









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Welly 2009 Lexus RX400h

In 1997 Lexus released another concept that previewed the future of the brand.  That vehicle was called the SLV and it was a revelation with space ship styling and a platform where this midsize SUV shared with the Toyota Camry/Lexus ES and would eventually span a Toyota version called the Highlander.  For the third-generation Lexus played it safe with a look that does not veer far from the second-generation save for a more pointed snout.  As if the RX hasn't created enough with its new crossover category and competitors aiming to topple it Lexus also added a hybrid model called the RX400h.  Unlike the Prius the RX and similar Highlander Hybrid use the 3.5L DOHC V6 producing 245 horsepower through two electric motors: one attached to the engine and one by itself to aid in charging, power boost, or pure electric form.  The third electric motor is at the rear wheels to give the hybrid all-wheel drive traction.  Even as hybrid SUV's come and go both the Toyota and Lexus SUV systems are still top sellers in the segment.








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Welly chose a rather odd model to do for their pullback line, yet it is a nice model once you get to know it more.   The light blue tester does fall short in complete trim and lighting detail in which I gadly fixed to give the RX400h the right look.  The front has headlights that are LED-equipped and flow into the chrome waterfall grille with the Lexus logo.  There is also another scoop located below the grille and with the rounded front bumper are chrome-plated foglights.  The sides have a typical SUV profile with a fast-sloping D-pillar and a large sunroof that covers both rows inside.  Those 5-spoke wheels are skinny and look plain, yet are essential for the hybrid's excellent mileage.  At the rear are horizontal taillights were I added the silver to the outer housing, Lexus badging, and reflector lamps in the bumper.  The base shows off not a whole lot except for the exhaust system, battery and fuel tank locations, and a cord where I highlighted in orange to represent the electric motor's power source.  The interior has seating for five despite the luggage in the back seat to hide the pullback motor.  The dashboard has an angled look with a large center screen that flows down into the radio and HVAC controls and the shifter that seems rather large here.  behind the 3-spoke steering wheel is a gauge cluster that lacks detail because it's a vacuum-operated system that only comes on when the key is turned.  So while not one of Welly's best castings it's a novelty to have a hybrid SUV in the lineup that no one else has done yet (well, at least not for this generation).







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