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Friday, January 31, 2014

Greenlight 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang



While Greenlight tends to make a few mistakes, there's a few 1:64 castings that I think are the best in the industry.  One being the 2008-current Dodge Challenger, the other is the 2010 Shelby GT500 Mustang.



New-Age Shelby GT500 Mustang, take two

After a successful return of the Shelby namesake to the Ford motor company on the Mustang in 2007, the GT500 Mustang carries over onto the new 2010 Mustang body style.  The biggest change is more differentiation from the regular Mustang's; an issue that the 2007-2009 Shelby GT500 faced despite the dual stripes, snake badges, and dome hood.  The mesh grille and snake logo carry over, but the snake shifts to the right-side to allow room for the cold air intake snorkel on the left.  Hood now has larger vents, dual 5-spoke wheels are concave and give the Shelby an aggressive look.  The rear gets a flat Gurney-style spoiler and revised lower bumper with dual exhaust.  Other Mustang changes include new projector-beam headlights (first on V6 and Shelby models, offered on all Mustangs starting in 2013) and a revised rear bumper with larger taillights featuring sequential turn indicators. 



Inside the interior looks mostly unchanged, but there was a few revisions.  First the center air vents are now rectangular to allow the navigation system to fit, the center console was redesigned to allow for better shifting without hitting your elbow on console surfaces, multi-color gauge cluster configuration, and improved interior materials.  The engine still remains the Supercharged 5.4, now all-aluminum, V8 producing 550 hp. and 510 ft-Ib. torque through a six-speed manual to the rear wheels.  Also improvements were made to the front strut, multi-link live axle rear suspension setup. Further improvements in the coming years to the suspension and engine perfected the Shelby GT500's track performance equivalent to today's modern sports cars, preparing the next version in 2015-2016 with the new independent rear suspension.



Just look and drool!

In Dark Blue with white stripes and dark gray 5-spoke wheels, this Shelby looks stealthy and mean!  The front is nicely done, especially the projector-beam headlights and the snake in the front grille.  The big, fat (sorry!) rear end is my least favorite part of the 2010-2014 Mustang, and it kills the otherwise great looks of this 2010 Shelby GT500.  Anyways the taillight and SHELBY lettering is nicely done.  The metal base features the correct drivetrain layout, and I like the added touch of the cross-hatch heat shields.  The engine is a beaut: Big block, separate supercharger, all in 3D effect, and it looks great!  The interior is nicely done and is spot-on accurate to the real Mustang interior,



I really don't have anything else much to say.  Just look at it and be amazed by the details!





Greenlight 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT-8



Earlier this year I profiled the newly-released 2013 Chrysler 300C in brown from the Greenlight Motor World series.  The verdict was a nicely-done casting with classic American luxury combined with the classic American V8 power of the Hemi.  So far this casting has been popular, if not a hot seller so far.  Now can this other tool do the same?  The SRT-8 in Cherry Red Crystal Pearlcoat.



A wild child in tamer clothes

The 300 SRT-8 arrived in 2006 as the muscle car sleeping in an exterior outfit that looks just like the regular 300C.  The only modifications is a mesh grille, revised front bumper, a little more bolstering in the front seats, SRT-8 badges, and of course the larger Hemi motor under the hood along with firmer suspension tunings.  For 2013 the same still carries over to the new body style; as mentioned before the new 300 body style is smoother, cleaner, and more richer than the previous generation.  The biggest improvement is the interior with softer materials, blue-lit gauges, and plenty of features to keep up with the luxury car class even though nothing is a class-breakthrough!  The SRT-8 contains the new 6.4L, 392 CID V8 that debuted in the 2011 Challenger SRT-8, producing 470 hp. to the rear wheels through a 5-speed automatic.  It's fast, but also sedate!



Not much of a difference on a smaller scale

The result of the Greenlight SRT-8:  Nice, but not as much improved over the 300C, especially justifying the two-dollar higher price over the Motor World version.  The changes include the blacked-out grille, restyled lower intakes, lack of chrome trim, SRT-8 badges, larger blacked-out multi-spoke wheels, and the first release with a metal base.  Still features the same base design, body dimensions, and interior of the 300C.  If this was in the Motor World it would be worth while, but in the premium GL Muscle series, being the only one without an opening hood, doesn't seem worth it.  I would've loved to see an opening hood to see the exposed intake of the 392 (something you can't get with the smaller 5.7 Hemi).



Still no can beat the fact that Greenlight is not only the sole producer of the 2011-current 300 body style in 1:64, but also the first to do the 300 SRT-8 model!

Hot Wheels and Johnny Lighting 1971 Ford Maverick Grabber



When it comes to crediting the platform that gave birth to the original Mustang, look no further than the Falcon, Ford's first compact car introduced in 1960.  Since the Mustang's introduction the Falcon has not fared well in the light of it's younger, sportier cousin.  To make matter worse new U.S. Federal Regulations on the horizon meant the Falcon was not going to survive for long in the U.S. so Ford looked for a new replacement for the compact car segment, and what they came up with is the Maverick.



Longhorns and limited styles

The Maverick arrived in 1971 as the replacement for the Falcon as the new competitor to the compact and import car segment.  Unlike the Falcon, the Maverick only came as a two-door fastback with lots of Mustang styling influences.  Sadly, most of those styling elements would also be used in the unloved Pinto and Mustang II.  The Maverick was also affordable thanks to bare-bones interior with crank windows, no stereo on some models, front bench seat only, and body panel construction designed for simpler, cost-effective tooling.  Maverick came with I-6 or V8 powertrains with mostly automatics, though a few had the four-speed manual.  A sedan arrived in 1970, along with a Mercury Comet, to boost sales, along with some distinctive paint names like Anti-Establish Mint, Hula Blue, and Champagne Gold just to name a few.  The more sportier variant of the Maverick arrived with the Grabber, which featured hood scoops, rear spoiler, and special graphics.  While most Grabber's had the 250 CID !-6, others had the 302 V8.  Sadly the Maverick never enjoyed the success that the Falcon previously enjoyed, which would end up being replaced later in the '70's with the Fox-body Fairmount.



Hot Wheels version, one with a peculiar error

The first Maverick for Hot Wheels was the Mighty Maverick Redline, with the standard-looking '71 Grabber appearing in 2010.  The only color in my collection, out of the yellow and blue offered, is this gold version, and if you're wondering why I didn't get the first release in yellow, see the Johnny Lightning version below.  The detailing is standard-fare: Cool, but not really that exciting.  It's unique, but doesn't impress emotions as much as a Mustang does.  Remember, this is based on a basic econobox car in the first place!  The interior is basic, but well-done.  So far, the 2010 versions are the best, though the Dark Green 2013 3-pack and 5-pack exclusive is a surprise.  Though it's not a factory color, it looks sleek on this car.  If you'll notice my example has a slight error:  During assembly the base had some obstruction near the rear axle during fastening, causing the base to stick out a little bit and the rear axle to have a slight rake (more like the Hot Wheels Custom V8 Vega rake) yet it still retains the original ride height.  Not only does it look cool, but it adds a little bit of attitude to this casting.



Johnny Lightning's better example

Now a few year's before the Hot Wheels version was released, I found the Johnny Lightning version in the bright yellow complete with the hood scoop, rear spoiler, and graphics.  However, the JL version features more in details like front grille and rear valence panel detailing, slim 5-spoke wheels with rubber tires, metal base, interior with a bit more detailing, and a hood that opens up to show the I-6 motor.  While the motor is cool, how come the base shows two exhaust pipes typical of a 'V' engine instead of the single pipe?  Also the ride height is a bit high and the wheels tend to contract a little bit into the wheel wells.   Probably not as cool as the Hot Wheels version, the Johnny Lighting version offers more detailing and a more original approach to the real Grabber's.



No doubt the Maverick Grabber is a cool addition to any Ford collection, even though it's basic econocar roots places it a shade below the Mustang in terms of performance and iconic-ness.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hot Wheels 2007 Mustang and 1970 Camaro

Here's a quick look at these 2014 recolors that really stand out in their latest colors, the (custom) 2007 Ford Mustang and 1970 Camaro (formerly Camaro Road Racer).



The 2007 Mustang was first released in the 2008 Modern Classics line in chrome.  It was larger than the 2005 casting and even with a custom look, still had a clean stock look to it!  Highlights include a billet grille with foglights in the lower grille, side exhaust concealed behind the bodywork, closed-off quarter windows, Saleen-style rear spoiler and lower diffuser.  The interior is pretty much stock Mustang.  It was released in the regular line in 2013 in Green and I was lucky enough to find a Super Treasure Hunt later on in a darker metallic green with hood graphics and 5-spoke mags with rubber tires.  Once again the 2007 Mustang is a Super TH for 2014, though I haven't found one yet.  Still the metallic red regular version is delicious, the graphics simple, and the tan interior along with the red is something you'd expect to find in a luxury car!



Meanwhile the 1970 Camaro gets a retool for 2014.  Originally called the Camaro Road Racer introduced in 2011, the revisions include a metal grille from the former separate clear unit (good since I've seen some tooling defects in the past on a few around the grille), a shorter front spoiler, and the roll cage is removed, but the one-seat race car interior remains, as does the side exhaust and roof window anchor's.  The green looks great on this casting, and here's the reason why I love this casting: Look at the detailing on the body.  It's accurate, the headlight and taillights are 3-D realistic, and it just looks downright cool!  Heck, you can't even tell if this is a stock Z-28 or a race car!

Two examples of why it was worth picking up these from the store!

Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Johnny Lightning 1968-1969 Mercury Cougar's



If there is one vehicle in small scale that I am really getting tired of seeing it's the Mercury Cougar First Generation models.  It's not to say the Cougar is a bad car, it's very cool, but Hot Wheels and Matchbox have done such a nice job with their first versions out of the gate others who try to follow end up making a few mistakes on them.  Here's a few good examples of the best, with an original Topper Johnny Lightning, and the new Hot Wheels 1968 Mercury Cougar race car.



Cougar: The Kitty's Pony Car

The Mercury division finally got a Mustang of their own, in the form of the Cougar.  Based on the hot-selling Mustang, the Cougar offered the same amount of performance found in the Mustang, but with more creature comforts not found on the Mustang.  The razor-like front grille with hidden headlights and matching taillights with Thunderbird-style sequential turn indicators made the Cougar look very aggressive-looking!  The interior looks similar to the Mustang, but uses more wood and less chrome accents compared to the Ford version.  Engines started out with the 290 CID V8 and ended with the 390 CID V8 with four-speed manual or Merc-O-Matic automatic with T-style shift handle.  It's also interesting to note the Cougar has a more noticeable long front/short rear overhangs compared to the Mustang.  Later versions included restyled grille's and the introduction of the Eliminator package, which offered a body kit and several V8's to choose from, including the 428 Cobra Jet and Boss 302, and a few with Boss 429!  In 1971 the Cougar adopted the larger body from the newly-style 1971 Mustang, a precursor to the third-generation that would be based on the Thunderbird.  Final Cougar generation in 1999 morphed in a front-wheel drive coupe based on the discontinued Ford Probe.



The Hot Wheels Cougar's

The first Hot Wheels version was the Custom Cougar and Nitty Gritty Kitty (not shown) in the early Redline era of Hot Wheels.  The first of the stock 1968 Cougar arrived in 2002 and this one was nicely done, slim body, and details inside and out are pretty accurate, along with the addition of a vinyl top and sunroof.  It's interesting to know that the first version in dark green with no decals whatsoever actually was retained for a few variations later on, including this orange version from 2006.  This Cougar has seen some action for HotWheelsCollectors.Com in 2002 including an apology car (in green with HWC.com logo on sides) for those expecting an order that year which never arrived on the behalf of Mattel's fault; that same variation would appear later in yellow in the 2003 line for regular release.  Some other variations on this model include a metal base and an opening hood.



The newest for 2014 is the racing Cougar which features a lower appearance, front and rear spoiler's, flared fenders,  side exhaust, and an interior with racing seats and a roll cage.  It is a tribute to the Trans-Am versions of the late 1960's and looks unique, yet the rear end seems pinched width-wise.



The older Johnny Lightning Eliminator

It's probably not worth mentioning the Hot Wheels 1969 Eliminator because it sits like a lowrider!  Instead take a look at my first Cougar, this 1969 Eliminator based on the Topper slot car before being modified as a Johnny Lightning in 1995 (hence the slot hook on the base after the front wheels).  It looks neat in the green color and the wheels, though not factory correct, look nice as well.  The hood opens up as well.  As usual with these older JL castings they are too tall and proportionally incorrect, but when you look at it from a vantage point in 1995 only Johnny Lightning offered classic muscle cars in 1:64 scale for a reasonable price, so you had to deal with it for a few years until Johnny Lightning came out with newer tools that didn't look like the car was on stilts!



Matchbox 1968 Cougar in three ways!

Matchbox revived the Cougar in 2004 for the first release of  the new Superfast line.  The green color is reminiscent of the original Superfast Cougar back in the late 1960's, right down to the exposed headlights (the only version of the new casting to have this feature).  The classic wheels look right at home on this casting, and just like the Hot Wheels 2002 casting features an abundant of details everywhere in a slim beltline, only on a larger scale than the Hot Wheels version.  In a few releases later the Superfast Cougar reappears in yellow with the (ick!) modern superfast 5-spoke wheels and again with a unique feature: a hood scoop separate from the body.  Sadly both features were not carried over in the regular-line versions, but just like the Hot Wheels version it was clean with no decals except for front grill and rear lighting detailing.  Both the red and blue (shown) was released in the regular line in 2008.



As much as I dislike seeing another Cougar replica, the first generation Cougar is still a sleek car.  Just please don't replicate this model so often everytime!

Hot Wheels 1955 Chevy Bel-Air and Nomad



Hot Wheels has made plenty of Bel-Air's and Nomad's over years, too many countless variations and versions to posts!  The Nomad was one of the original Redline Hot Wheels, called Classic Nomad, and retooled in 1994 to continue it's duties in the Hot Wheels line.  The 1955 Bel-Air arrived in the Hot Wheels Classics line in 2006 to replace the '55 Chevy, introduced in 1983, that lacked an interior and had some awkward spots.  Out of these two models, it's these recolors that make them really stand out and deserve their own blog on this site!



The All-American, Original Chevy!

To answer the long-overdue response to Ford's Flathead V8 and the new Chrysler HEMI V8 engine's, Chevrolet devised a group of designers and engineer's to create a V8-powered mid-size Chevy to be affordable to anyone and offer a diverse array of models from two-door and four-door sedan's, two-door convertible, four-door wagon, and two-door Nomad wagon.  The V8 was identical spec-wise to the Cadillac V8's, but the Small Block 250 CID V8, ranging from 162-180 hp, would be unique on it's own and easy to maintain.  When the 1955 Chevy line arrived, it was harked for it's classic styling with Ferrari-style grille, smooth lines, beautiful two-tone colors, and of course the power of the new Small Block V8, all at an affordable price range!



The Bel-air was the upper-line models (along with the 2-door Nomad wagon) over the lower-end 150 and 210 models.  These models are prized by many and also are great for hot rodder's, just look at the Bel-Air and Nomad's shown here and the new Hot Wheels '55 Bel-Air Gasser.  In later generations the Bel-Air would adapt more Cadillac-influenced styling and tailfins, but in my opinion the 1955 is the best Bel-Air generation out of the so-called Tri-Five Chevy's!



Hot Wheels 1955 Bel-Air variations

The 2006 Classics debut in Orange/Cream two-tone with metal base, though it could've benefitted from front and rear lighting details.  2010 resolved that, with the first release in red with front and rear lighting, front and rear trunk badges, side chrome trim, and custom scallops on the sides to add even more character to the body.  Now we're talking!  Note the BFGoodrich on the tires, which was a Wal-Mart exclusive on the early versions.  The blue version was the second recolor and only found at Toys-R-Us in the summer of 2010; if you didn't find one don't worry the same exact color and scheme, minus the front and rear light details, was released again in the 100 years of Chevrolet 5-pack in 2011.  The final recolor of the year was orange, though mine's suffered from off-set taillight decals.



Which brings me to the yellow version: released in 2013 to only three or nine-packs, it is a variation to the 100 years of Chevrolet 5-pack blue version, which means it does without the front and rear lighting and the scallops are shaped differently, but overall still retains the stock look of the 2010 versions!



Take Two:  '55 Nomad's!

Surprisingly, right after the introduction of the Bel-Air's in 2010, the '55 Nomad followed the same suit decal-wise:  The metallic red features side trim details with Bel-Air on the rear fenders, rear taillights, and my favorite detail the chrome strips on the rear tailgate!  The blue one followed shortly after.  The original Redline Nomad featured GTO-style quad lights and an opening hood.  Shortly after the revival in 1994, it was retooled with the proper single-headlight, larger grille, closed hood, larger sunroof, yet retained the factory-correct rear-end, side exhaust, and the interior which is strangely a three-seater (one bench seat).  It also interesting to know that so far the Nomad still retains the metal base, while most other Hot Wheels castings have recently reverted to plastic base for cost reasons.



Now you can see why these variations are a part of my collection: They're so cool and mostly stock!!!

Hot Wheels Honda S2000



When it comes to Asian tuner cars, you either love them or hate them, and even those who like Asian cars may prefer the stock appearance from the Fast and Furious look of tuner cars.  Lately Hot Wheels has been getting the message and has released several Asian cars, most vintage models, that retain the stock look even with custom modifications to the body and wheels.  The Honda S2000 border lines on both fences.



The hi-revving 2-door roadster

The S200 began life as the 1995 SSM concept car, which showcased Honda's pursuit of their own 2-door roadster to go after the likes of Miata, Z3, SLK, and Boxster, while showcasing their latest racing technology into a street car, especially the DOHC VTEC I-4 driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual.  After a few years of Honda and Acura fighting for rights to sell the car under their umbrella, Honda got the nod and the S2000 arrived at dealers in 1999.

The S2000 looks just like the SSM concept except the headlights are mounted higher on the bumper, along the front fenders, instead of down low with the grille.  The S2000 also gets some styling clues from the original Honda roadster, the S600.  The interior is very sparce except for the driver who is surrounded by ventilation controls (right-side), red starter button (left-side), and a digital analog tachometer and digital speedometer (the radio is in the center of the dash, hiding behind a secret panel cover).  Oh, and don't forget about the silver shift knob for the slick-shifting six-speed manual with the precise feel of each gear you select (nothing else comes close to it!).  The 2.0L I-4 features DOHC and Honda's famous VTEC variable valve timing, producing 237 hp. and 153 ft-Ib. torque with a 9,000 RPM redline!  The refresh in 2004 included new headlight and tri-taillights, 10-sp wheels, a few body modifications, and engine tweaks to get more torque out of the motor even though the 9,000 RPM redline is reduced.



I used to briefly drive a few of these cars and I must say they're fun, handle great, and the shifter is pure mechanical, no sloppiness or electronics!  However, the downside of a high-revving engine is the lack of torque at bottom-end that makes the car feel not that strong (in contrast to a V8 Mustang).  Also having been at a Honda dealer for a few years I've seen quite a few times where several S2000's will be towed in because the convertible top is so thin that it can be easily cut with a switchblade to gain access to the seats, shift knob, console; the most common parts stolen out of the S2000's.  If you have a S2000's in the open and you don't mind closing in the top for long periods, I highly advise the optional hardtop from the Honda accessories.



Hot Wheels Family of S2000's

In 2011, Ryu Asada (hence the name on the windshield header) designed a S2000 with a tuner look, yet ironically retains the stock look of the car, even down to the headlight and taillight decals and the Honda H badges!  Based on the 2004-2009 version, it features a hardtop with integrated scoop (that contours with the shape of the trunk), huge rear wing, lower ground effects, flared fenders for the wider tires, and a scoop for the cold-air intake and vents in the hood.  Inside the interior is stock except for the driver getting the 5-point harness buckle (the passenger makes do with the stock 3-point belt).  The base even shows the factory drivetrain settings, combined with large dual exhaust over the stock factory units.  To put it in terms, the Hot Wheels S2000 to a stock S2000 is like the Porsche 911 GT3 to the Porsche 911 Carrera!

 
First release in 2011 is the yellow with blacked-out wheels, which is a little too-much color for my taste.  Better colors arrived later including the silver with gold wheels and then the red with chrome wheels.  All have front and rear lighting, silver H logo's, and R. Asada on the window headers.



2012 introduced it's first Super Treasure Hunt in metallic blue, or preferably called as my favorite color Laguna Blue Metallic.  However the Treasure Hunt, with rubber tires, was very limited, so I had to forgo with the regular in a powder blue color :(  Both have AEM on the sides, rear taillights, and only on earlier Wal-Mart versions the Hot Wheels windshield banner.  A burgundy version was released later with the return to the 5-spoke wheels seen in 2011.



In 2013 the blue, thankfully returned, arrived with Evasive logos on the sides, yellow 10-sp wheels (close to the actual car), and all of this was based on the actual car built by Evasive!  A red version arrived later with off-set white front and yellow rear wheels.  As much as I like the S2000, it was time for me to tame the amount of recolors I get, so the red one was not part of my group.  For 2014, only in three or nine packs you can find the orange S2000 with either white 5-sp or 10-sp wheels.  The headlight and taillight decals return, and the orange looks sharp.

Despite the tuner look, the Hot Wheels Honda S2000 is not really that all bad, and one i'll enjoy collecting for years to come!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Maisto 1:18 1996 Corvette Coupe



Now to the other side of Maisto's 1:18 scale C4 Corvette casting: In 1996 the Convertible and Grand Sport joined the party with the ZR-1, and then along came the 1996 Coupe in Flame Red.



Top/Topless Red-Head!

The C4 got restyled front and rear bumpers for 1991, giving the Corvette a more rounder look.  The dashboard changes from the Gameboy ergonomic mess of the old to a simpler, cleaner, rounded look in 1991.  The color palette also got some hotter colors like yellow and this red I like to call Flame Red (though it was really Torch Red).  It looks HOT in person!!!  The biggest change is the introduction of the 5.7L LT4 V8 in 1996 for manual transmission cars.  The LT4 had changes to engine parts, including a new larger intake.  Output is 330 hp. and 340 Ib-ft. torque through a six-speed manual.  This engine also appeared on the Grand Sport models as well.  However, with a new Corvette on the horizon with new LS engine, the LT4 was short-lived to 1996 manual trans. only Corvette's and special edition Camaro and Firebird models (like SLP).  1996 also seen a collector's edition in silver and a last C4 in white with red hood stripes above front wheels and white wheels.  Maisto made both of them in 1:18 scale, joining the 1995 Pace Car convertible and 40th Anniversary coupe.



How Hot???

Yes, it's so bright the red caused the pictures to appear brighter than they should!  The special feature of the early version's of the coupe (which also includes green) is the silver 5-sp. wheels that just go really well with the red color (later versions, including green, used the turbine wheels from the ZR-1).  The fabulous coupe body is unchanged from the ZR-1 save no badges, although the plastic front bumper has a hard time blending into the bright red paint.  The base is also unchanged from the ZR-1, but under the hood the engine gets a new black cover with silver accents that, sadly, cover the engine block details.  The interior gets the first two-tone for the C4 Corvette: Tan with black.  This color combination, again, goes great with the bright red and 5-sp. wheels.  Everything else inside is the same from the ZR-1. 





Finally the biggest draw is the targa tops.  The coupe comes with two: Clear plastic and Red plastic to match the color (Green with green color).  The tops can be used with any Maisto 1:18 C4 Corvette coupe casting (trust me, I've used it on the ZR-1 many times).  The tops have four tabs that clip on the front windshield and targa bar, giving much more support for the front windshield and adding a more streamlined effect to the styling.  Even cooler is the fact that the tops can rest in the cargo area on top of the wheel wells just like the actual car, though the tops have a habit of jumping off one well if the car is moved the slightest.



Verdict

The blue ZR-1 is my favorite, but when this 1996 coupe arrived, the competition got tougher.  The color is hot and the moveable targa tops are cool.  Too bad the C6 and C7 Corvette's don't have these cool removable targa tops!  When it comes to defining the coolness of the Corvette, especially the C4 generation, look no further than this fiery-red coupe!