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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Greenlight 1967 Ford Bronco

I can remember back in the early part of last decade: Not a whole lot of bronco's and when Hot Wheels Final Run'd the Ford Bronco from the 1980's (which was revived in 2013), there was a lot of hollerin' for someone to make a Bronco.  Come 2005 and Hot Wheels makes the Bronco concept...as a Blings!?!?!?!  Well shortly after that manufacturers listened and next thing you know various replica's of the 1966-77 Bronco's started to show up.  Now late to the party Greenlight produces their first Bronco and, come to think of it, 4x4-style truck.

Ford goes after Jeep, International Scout

The Jeep CJ post Word War II was gaining popularity for it's function and maneuverability not found in any other car or truck.  This led to the increase of 4x4 systems in pickups and eventually Jeep competitors.  The International Scout was the first, then in 1966 the Ford Bronco.  What's interesting about the Bronco is that, aside from the engine and axles, this was a completely new vehicle from the ground up.  The square sheet metal was designed for a purpose: to ease manufacturing costs.  Even the doors are identical save for the bracket and handle locations.  The front and rear axles come from the Ford F-series 4x4 trucks, and the Bronco rode on a ladder frame just like the trucks.  Engines started with the 2.8 I-6, but when International and later Chevy K5 Blazer started to offer V8 motors, Ford then offered 289 Windsor V8.  Choices for transmissions were 3-speed column-shift manual, 4-speed floor-shift manual, or an automatic.  With different open and closed top, pickup, roadster, and door-less versions, the Bronco started to gain a reputation with enthusiast that was quite similar to the Jeep's at the time.

Greenlight's buckin' horse

Now Greenlight offer's the classic Bronco in the Hollywood series for the movie "Zoolander", a movie I thought I never saw then later realized yes I did and, well, let's not get into it.  Even so, there was a Bronco in the film that I did not recall, but Greenlight did.

Painted in silver, this casting looks really good.  The front has blacked-out grille with white headlights.  The center grille where the FORD letters should be are blank, but graphic stamps should easily fixed that on later versions.  The tubular front bumper features dual driving lights.  The rear features detailed taillights, New York plate on the left and FORD letters on the right.  The sides feature open pass-thru doors, side marker lights and the Bronco logo.  The raised suspension is not to high and proportionally correct in terms of wheels/wheelwells (unlike the Johnny Lightning International Scout).  The axles and springs in the back are nicely done as well, so is the track arms, driveshaft, and the new wheels and tires that look perfect for this truck.  Note the base is even detailed and looks like it can accept normal ride-height version for future variations.

The interior feature a four-seat arrangement with rollbar in the back and a windshield in the front that I thought would fold down like a Jeep.  It doesn't, bummer.  The dash features three-spoke wheel, center gauges, and the transfer case shifter in the middle (note: if this was a floor-shifter manual transmission there would be two shifters).  The hood opens to reveal the Windsor V8 in blue with an interesting off-center air cleaner:  not sure why since usually motors at that period have the air cleaner right above the carburetor.   One thing I also noticed was mounting holes at the back of the vehicle for future hardtop variations.  Also look for a BAJA racer with center roof top and driving lights and a spare tire in the back.

Overall this Bronco is once nice casting, with the Hot Wheels '67 version being my next favorite.  Can't wait to see what else Greenlight has in store for this casting, but please no more Zoolander!

Matchbox BMW 1M

If you see the letter's "M" on any BMW you probably know that's the sportiest offering in the BMW model line.  Since the 1980's BMW's M division has been cranking out these special versions of almost each BMW model for those who crave performance.  My personal favorite M cars come from the late 1990's with legends like Z3 M, Z8, M3, M5; flashy colors with raw performance to the rear tires.  But times change and so with that the latest M cars are heavy, wearing colors that go unnoticed, and the move to highly-advanced twin-clutch transmissions means the classic three-pedal, row your own manual is almost close to extinction.  Despite the fear, BMW M division wants you to know that they are still building cars for performance junkies, and this 1M is proof of that.

The 1M coupe is based on a regular 1-series coupe.  The line started in 2004 as a modern-day successor to the 2002, the car that made BMW famous for "the ultimate driving machine" before the 3-series carried the torch.  The car never got off on the right track with awkward styling and performance well short of the 3-series.  As the new 2-series plans to fix that, the M division wanted to give the 1-Series one more shot before replacement before retirement.

1M not M1

Because the M1 name was used on the mid-engine BMW sports car in the 1980's, BMW had to label this as the 1M.  First thing you'll noticed is the bright orange paint that really stands out.  Then it's the exaggerated fenders and front and rear bumpers to give this little BMW more aggression.  Larger front intake, large quad exhaust out back, smoothly-integrated rear spoiler round out the added exterior hype.  Inside the interior stays the same except for bolstered front seats and M logos around the interior.  The engine even stays the same over the stock 1-series: Twin-turbo DOHC I-6 producing 340 hp., 369 Ft-Ib. torque in a car weighing 3,296 Ib's.  The only transmission is the six-speed manual, oh and it's only rear-wheel drive.  The suspension is tuned more for track duty with stiffer spring and shocks.  Originally planning to sell 2,700 cars in 2011, BMW actually sold 6,309 cars worldwide.

Splendid Matchbox!

Now Matchbox has not been making good progress in the sense of making nicely-done diecast cars for collectors compare to a few years ago, catering more toward the kids, this BMW 1M brings back those good memories with surprisingly sharp details all-around.  The front has detailed headlights, kidney grille, and exaggerated bumper and wheel flares.  The 10-sp. wheels look right at home on this car, the rear end has taillights with the LED L-running lamps, license plate, 1M badge, and the BMW logo you can barely read (meanwhile the logo is missing from the front).  The interior is nicely done and accurate except the steering wheel and shifter are molded into the dashboard: a sign of the times of cost-cutting.  The base shows nothing much but a large area in the center for the vehicle information. 

This car is hard-to-find at the moment; I luckily found one with a slightly damaged bubble at Target last month.  This car is so beautifully done collectors are snatching it up left and right.  This car is so nicely done I called it the best Matchbox of 2013, and it is by far one of my favorite BMW models from the Mattel brand!

Matchbox Dodge Challenger SRT-8 and Maisto 1:64 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302

If you haven't noticed lately there's been a resurgence of pony cars in America, and these are just a few examples:


Plum Crazy Challenger

Talk about a mess: This was originally slated to be released at the end of 2012, but was pushed back in 2013.  Even more, the original color in that appeared in the nine-packs was a light green color.  The revised version for 2013 is now purple.  Oh, and it is still part of the 2012 line.  This is the Matchbox Dodge Challenger SRT-8.

Show in 2006 as a concept, the SRT-8 arrived in 2008 as a sole offering before offering more trim levels in 2009.  The classic 1970 styling is nicely executed here, though the new Challenger seems bloated and large in today's standards.  Based on the Charger/300 platform, the Challenger is revised for two-door duty, but sadly shared the same dull-plastic interior of the first-generation Charger/300 platform.  Since then the Challenger has much improved changes like a new, smaller steering wheel and a more powerful Hemi for SRT: 392, 6.4L Hemi V8 producing 470 hp., driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic.  Like the Camaro, the Challenger shared the benefit of the Charger/300 platform's multi-link rear suspension, also a descendant of the late 1990's Mercedes E-class.

Matchbox did an excellent job on perfecting the actual shape of the real Challenger, and outlined in Plum Crazy (currently offered on the 2013 Challenger) makes it look even more aggressive.  The 5-spoke wheels look great, though I prefer the spokes to be chrome instead of black on this version.  The interior is pretty much accurate, but the white may be too much for this color!  A few downsides:  Matchbox prefers to use tampo's for front and rear lights, and that's great except you see no tooling details whatsoever to the front and rear ends, especially the front where there's no tooling for the grille or lights.  Then there's the interior where the tooling, still stuck on the 2008 model, shows the gate for the 5-speed automatic.  It's not the best new Challenger casting, but it's not a bad one either.

New Boss, take two

After releasing the 2012 Boss Mustang in 1:24 scale last year, Maisto came back to make the 1:64 version, this time using the 2013 version, the final year for the Boss in this Mustang generation.

Returning the Boss in 2012 not only revived the classic nameplate, but the performance with it.  Modifications to the stock GT suspension and chassis, along with added aerodynamics and the 5.0L 444 hp. V8 to the rear wheels by a six-speed manual, producing one of the best handling Mustang's by far.  For 2012 the Laguna Seca version added an even lower front spoiler, rear seat delete, and logos of the racetrack on the back faux gas cap.  However, the abruptly loud colors (especially the red accents on the Laguna Seca) and graphics look out-of-place for a car that shares the Boss name.

Thankfully in 2013 Ford listened and improved the Boss on the revised 2013 Mustang.  Decals that hark back to the original Boss, colors including yellow, blue, and green join the list; new Shelby-styled hood and headlights; and the spoilers were slightly toned-down over the 2012 while still keeping the same performance features from the 2012 version.  In my opinion the 2013 is the Boss I prefer over the 2012.

The Maisto casting is nicely done with the correct details and stripe of the 2013, but the color and the lower front bumper color is still in 2012!  The wheels are not the best, but look close to the real thing.  As usual with 1:64 Maisto's no interior as well, though at least the base is fully detailed (note the exhaust bypass just ahead of the rear wheels).  The best part of this model?  The rear-end details with the Ford plate, blacked-out panel, and taillights with a 3D-like feel to them!

Certainly there are much better options for these two, but for a buck each this is the best you can get for the price.

Hot Wheels 1963 Aston Martin DB5 and Matchbox Mini Cooper S Convertible

Nothing says Great British like British Racing Green and here's a few examples of this:

Bond, Aston Bond

After the first Aston Martin in the Hot Wheels line, the V8 Vantage in 2005, several Aston Martin's have surfaced and it was only a matter of time before the classic DB5 arrives.

Well, for 2014 it's here!

To start off the appearance in a smooth green (absolutely no metalflakes at all!) looks delicious, the details of the front and rear lights, plate, winged logo's, and GB decal are fantastic although Mattel should do a better job of lining them up properly.  The gray grille looks nice and the lace wheels look good on this casting (more proper skinny real rider tires will make an appearance in the Retro Entertainment line later this year for the "Goldfinger" film.), yet something doesn't seem right about this casting:  To me it looks like it was designed from a wooden block because not all of the curves flow gracefully like the real car and the ground clearance is a bit too high.  Still it's a small defect to an otherwise fantastic casting.

The real DB5 is a classic, dubbed "the most famous car in the world."  Powered by a 4.0L, all-aluminum Dual Over Head Cam (DOHC) I-6 producing 282 hp, driving the rear wheels through a 5-speed manual, and reaching a top speed of 145 mph.  It's fast, classy, and a movie star.  While not the first car for James Bond, the DB5 that first appeared in "Goldfinger" was the first to supply nifty gadgets used to defeat the enemy.  The DB5 was so iconic that it was reused again in "Thunderball", "Goldeneye", and recently "Skyfall."  The interior featured a typical sporty look while tying in some typical features of classic British vehicles like a large clock in the center of the dash and the three-spoke wooden steering wheel.

The sporty Mini droptop

When Matchbox released their version of the new Mini Cooper in 2003, the Cooper S, it was a pleasure for Mini fans and a disappointment:  thanks to the kid-oriented Hero City image of Matchbox at the time, the Mini had some poorly-done details that looked unfinished inside of the casting.  In 2011 Matchbox fixed the issue with the latest generation of Mini Cooper S, though this time it was a convertible.

The second generation of the new Mini featured revised details, like the combining of the turn signal/headlights and reverse/taillights from their former separate posts in the previous generation.  The interior featured a revised central speedometer, now larger to accommodate the optional navigation system.  The biggest change was the engines where the new 1.6L I-4 motor is now turbocharged from the previous supercharged.  The output is 175 hp. through the front wheels by either a six speed manual or automatic, producing an estimated 6.7 0-60 mph run.  Macpherson strut front and multi-link rear, along with a short wheelbase and wheels pushed out to the edges of the body, gives the Mini Cooper it's go-kart-like fun experience on the track.

The new Matchbox S convertible looks much better than the 2003 coupe.  The British Racing Green is very natural on this car, and I might say looks more masculine!  The headlights and racing stripes carry over, but the lack of rear-end details is a disappointment.  The first use of the 5-sp wheels look much better and natural over the 10-sp wheels, though it really didn't matter.  The interior shows the proper layout of the dashboard and it's big, center speedometer.  As a nifty trick to hide the rear rivet mounting post, the rear seats are covered up with a wind deflector (an actual accessory you can get at any Mini dealership).

I must say these two Brit's look extremely good in their natural green color!

Hot Wheels Mazda RX7 and Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

Now for two completely different cars from Hot Wheels:

Rotary wonder

Mazda is well-known for making the rotary engine finally feasible for mass production in an automobile.  There were a few previous examples before the RX7, but the classic wedge-shape of this two-seater is the most memorable of them all.  From 1979 to 1985, the RX7 featured an almost triangular-shape that gave the car a more expensive look, but at a price equivalent to a midsize car at the time.

The motor was a 1,146 CC Twin-rotary Wankel motor that was small enough to sit behind the front-axle for better weight distribution, with a four-speed manual sending power to the rear wheels.  Turbo and 5-speed was offered later in this generation.  The interior featured a sporty look with the front air vents giving an aviation-like theme to the cockpit.  International markets had the option of two extra seats in the rear, but let's be honest who would fit back there?

Hot Wheels did a stunning job on their first RX7, released in 2012.  The metallic red, already a fantastic color on several 2014 Hot Wheels, looks fabulous here with only a nice side stripe that jumps half-way over the front fender.  It's really clean.  The classic wedge-shape can be seen here, exaggerated by lower ground-effects and flared fenders giving the RX7 a much more meaner look to
it.  Specific to JDM (Japanese Domestic Market), the steering wheel is placed on the right-side.

The element of lightness

As the new Gallardo replacement is unveiled, called Hurrican, one show car previewed not only some styling elements of the upcoming Hurrican but also the next stage of super-light exotics, the Sesto Elemento.

Based on the Gallardo, sharing the same 5.2, 570hp V10, 6=speed twin-clutch transmission, and AWD system, the Sesto Elemento (Italian for "Sixth Element") uses carbon fiber at every square inch of the car except the engine.  Currently carbon fiber is limited to certain sections of higher-priced vehicles, but Lamborghini uses show cars like this one to show that it is possible to mass-produce an all-carbon fiber car at a reasonable cost, to the benefit of more power and better miles per gallon,  At 2,200 Ib. curb weight, the Sesto Elemento weighs the same as a Honda Fit!

Aside from the wrong color (the correct Gray/Red will be offered later in 2014 over the current White/Green), the Sesto Elemento looks stylish.  The flat white paint adds to the effect of lightness, the green wheels look nice on this model, and the level of details are cool like the green coves at the front hood, the holes in the rear hatch instead of a glass panel (still prefer to see the engine, though), the exhaust poking out behind the rear spoiler stands, and the bare-naked rear end where the engine is visible and the transmission tail-end pokes out at the center of the bumper.  Inside, due to the lightness and the use of carbon fiber, there really is not much comfort:  No leather, navigation system, not even a dashboard!

While a full carbon fiber exotic is still a few years off, this show car proves that it is possible to add more power to a car without increasing the engine displacement.  I can imagine this Lamborghini will be a fun one on the racetrack!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hot Wheels 1961 Impala and 1970 Chevelle SS Wagon Hurst

For the first blog, let's take a look at these two fine Chevy's in the Hot Wheels line:

On the left is the 1961 Impala from the new Cool Classics Series.  This series takes mostly classic vehicles, covers them in a paint effect called SpectraFrost, adds new shoes (wheels), and transforms the base from plastic into metal.  Most of the vehicles in this line are a pass for me, but there were a few exceptions.  The '61 Impala being one of them.

Bubble-Top Fantasy

After a few years of evil-looking rear-ends, the Impala started the 1960's with happier spirits, rear-end wise, and started to take an even more art form.  The bubble top that was available for '61 and '62 represented a classic design element for these cars.  While not as strong as a sturdy post-pillar roof, the design was smooth and light, to the benefit of drag racers.  I actually preferred the 1962 body style over the '61, but thanks to Hot Wheels it's starting to grow on me. 

Introduced in 2012, this version is the third after the blue and red of 2012.  The Pro-rod stance gives the Impala one sleek, mean look and the pinstripe/scallops flow with the body instead of offending it.  My favorite part of this casting is the tri-taillights in the rear: Nice and big, and you can feel them with the tip of your finger.  Underneath shows the x-brace chassis, which is where the outer frame rails start inward inside of each wheel to cross at the center of the vehicle.  The frame was light and stiff, but wasn't strong enough to survive a side-impact crash.  The interior shows some, if not all, of the classic design of the real '61's cabin.

Under the hood is another legend, the 409 V8.  This V8, with it's unique W-shaped valve covers, produced 360 hp. and delivered this power to the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual on-the-floor.  One thing's for sure these Impala's were fast on the 1/4 mile dragstrip, but tricky to handle when pushed on a road course, though the ProRod stance of this casting should definitely help on that.  The only downside of this casting is the lack of the upper brows on the front end where the signal lights are located.


Big-Block Hurst Wagon

To the right is the 1970 Chevelle SS Wagon, this year done in the fabulous Hurst deco.  White, gold stripes, H-logo, gold wheels, and gold interior really set off this casting.  After countless variations starting in 2009, this one has to be the best by far!

The 1970 Chevelle family in Hot Wheels is a large one, with Coupe, Convertible, Track Racer Coupe, El Camino, and the Wagon.  The wagon uses a lower stance with a wide rear end sharing some parts with the El Camino.  It looks big, but aggressive.  The interior looks pretty roomy, but I would like to see a better-formatted dash mold.  Cool feature is the cargo area where you can see various loose parts from a supercharged V8 motor.

Underneath the hood is the famous LS6 454 Big Block V8 producing 440 hp. and 595 ft-Ib torque through a 4-speed Rockcrusher manual.  Yea, that's fast, yet the heavier wagon body would make it the slowest out of the group of '70 Chevelle's.  Still it's one grocery-getter I wouldn't mind owning.


Oh, and as for the Chevelle's deco, it is based on the real GM wagon, but the wagon is not a Chevy, but a 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser.

The Main Image of Two Lane Blacktop Blog

If you haven't already noticed, every time you visit this page you will see the title and the main image.  The image is just what I imagined when I first thought of this blog. 

The name started as my mind was coming up with the movie name "Two Lane Blacktop."  Then I started to think more, and next thing you know I had the name for this blog:  Two Lane, but Desktop instead of Blacktop since most of the pictures that I take of these miniature cars are usually on some desktop surface.  The main image I saw was two 1:64 scale cars on a two-lane blacktop road: one going toward the image, the other away from the image.  Then I noticed my black bookshelf with the orange-colored wall as the backdrop (no, this had nothing to do with Clemson, I wanted the room color to match the metallic orange color that I've seen on a few vehicles).  All I needed was white lines (stripes of paper) and two vehicles, of course realistic.

Out of the many vehicles in my collection that I could've selected, I chose two Matchbox cars that are a personal favorite of mine's.  The red car on the left is the Alfa Romeo Giuletta Sprint GTA released in 2007 by Matchbox.  The one on the right is the newly-released BMW 1M Coupe by Matchbox.  Both are sharply-done vehicles with all-around details and narily a wacky, out-of-place graphic anywhere on these cars!  Both seem to have the same traits: two-box-shaped, four-seat 2-door coupe based on it's ordinary cousin, spiced up for track duty, only separated by 45 years.  However, the direct competitor for the Alfa in its time would be the BMW 2002.  I will have more to come about the Alfa and BMW later on.

Welcome to Two Lane Desktop!

Hi, and welcome to Two Lane Desktop, the site where you'll see pictures and information from my personal collection of diecast model cars.  All brands are mentioned here, including Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Maisto, AutoWorld, Johnny Lightning, Jada Toys, Greenlight, M2 Machines, Welly, Motormax, and a few others on occasion.  My name is Joe and I've been collecting diecast since I was a toddler, but gained focus on the hobby in 1998 when it seems everyone was getting on the diecast collecting hobby, collectors and manufacturers alike.  The hobby's been through tough times recently with retail sales and stiffer copyrights from auto manufacturers meaning more generic, kids-oriented vehicles or fewer new casting tools.  Still, there's a charm about diecast collecting that I like:  The more realistic a casting is to the real vehicle, the more I like it!

Now I've done articles about diecast on websites before, but this is my first blog, and first time my shared experiences can be expanded globally thanks to social media.  What you will expect to see in this blog is pictures of various diecast vehicles from various manufacturers, scales ranging from 1:18 to 1:64 scale.  I will show multiple views, but i'm not a fan of multiple pictures of each view so don't expect a whole lot, just enough to show each angle of the vehicle.  Also with the help of auto magazines, the web (especially Wikipedia), and my personal experience I will provide some interesting insights on the real vehicle, and how the diecast replica compares to it's larger 1:1 companion.  I will not only feature the latest diecast models to date, but some past models as well.

Now, and I will say this truthfully, i'm not a daily blogger!  It would be nice, but like the rest of you i'm a real human with real life responsibilities including personal, work, bills, and school where i'm pursuing Computer Technology and Graphic Design degree's.  So with that said, I may not have new posts in a week, or month, depending on how busy my schedule is, but I will take the time to try to update this blog constantly with new pictures and intel.

So with that out of the way, I welcome you to the first blog on the new Two Lane Desktop!

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