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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The hisfory of the Nissan GT-R by Hot Wheels



It's hard to believe that only one Skyline GT-R existed for almost a decade before a flood of more arrived.  Even though Hot Wheels has a way to go before completing all generations of the GT-R, they have so far had a good head start.


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The First Skyline

In 1969 the first GT-R was based on a four-door Nissan Skyline, released only in Japan.  In 1972 a two-door coupe finally was offered.  This GT-R had an aggressive front-end with quad headlights and signal lights below, with a large grille featuring the GT-R badge in the middle.  The back of the car was contemporary with rectangular taillights and square C-pillars.  "Hakosuka" was the code name for this car.  The powertrain is a 2.0L I-6 producing 160 hp. and 131 Ib-ft. torque through a five-speed manual to the rear wheels.  The interior featured a typical GT sports car layout with comprehensive gauges and central controls placed logically in the center.  The GT-R was a beast on the race track, earning the nickname "Godzilla".


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This Hot Wheels version is decked out for racing, including full-covered headlights, open grille with external oil cooler, and lower chin spoiler.  The sides have flared fenders and passenger-side exhaust exit, while the rear has a decklid spoiler.  The interior is decked out for racing with rear roll bar (deleted in 2014) and only one seat for the driver.  The 2014 version looks the best in all-black with gold wheels, and this Then goes great with the R34 GTR Now version, including the ZAMAC version only at Wal-Mart.  A third version was also offered in the 2013 Boulevard Series in gray with black hood, roof, and rear trunk.  It seems that It looks best without the racing graphics!  In my opinion I would prefer to see a stock version over the racing version.


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For a limited time only!

At the Tokyo motor show in 1972 the next-generation GT-R was shown in green with gold racing trim and gold wheels.  After that special model the GT-R was in production for six months until the oil crisis of 1973 put a dead halt on production, and the GT-R line for a decade and a half.  Called "Kenmeri" after, oddly, the "Ken and Mary" advertisements for this car.  This was the first time it was offered in a fastback profile that really enhanced the look of the GT-R.  The front quad headlights and grille have a passing resembalance to the 1970 Dodge Challenger.  But out back the fast-sweeping C-pillar is Skyline-unique and the GTR eliminates the rear fender skirt for a proper look.  The rear has the iconic quad taillights and GTR badge and a decklid spoiler.  Inside the dash is now more driver-oriented with additional auxiliary gauges located in the center.  The engine is the same 2.0L I-6 and 5-speed manual as the previous generation, but with more power and four-wheel disc brakes.



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The white GTR appeared after the racing version of the prior GTR in 2011.  It looks amazing with the gold wheels (with flared fenders) and detailed rear panel.  The grille and rear valence panel is part of the interior tool.  In 2013 the Flying Customs version shows off a more racing-oriented version in blue with Nissan logos, metal base, and an interior with only a driver's seat and a roll cage.  In 2014 the stock interior returns, as does the gold wheels, on a green car similar to the 1972 Tokyo motor show car except the color is lighter and the gold trim and logo's are vastly different.


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GT-R comes back

1989 saw the first GT-R return since 1972, now with all-wheel drive and a turbocharged I-6.  The R32 featured a twin-turbocharged 2.6L I-6 producing 313 hp. through a 5-speed manual, and now to all four wheels by the ATTESA ET-S.  This new version lived up to the Godzilla hype even more so than the previous versions.  The R32 features the stock Skyline look with wedge-shaped headlights, larger lower grille, fender bulges similar to the 1992 BMW M3, and the rear continues the quad taillight setup with a rising rear spoiler.  The interior is similar to other Nissan coupes at the time with white gauges and a center stack with barely-visible radio controls and sporty front bucket seats.


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This Hot Wheels version was the very first GT-R for the company, decked out as a tuner with ground effects, flared fenders, tall rear wing, hood vents, and the passenger-side headlight (in JDM driver position) is blank.  The interior features a roll cage and one driver's seat.  The base features correct drivetrain details, but I never understood the two flaps near the center of the vehicle?  There has been several variations, all with racing graphics, but the 2007 and 2008 versions are the cleanest.  This beige version is the 2008 version featuring nothing but a gloss black hood, silver headlights, and the first time the rear taillights and badging is detailed.  Also looks sick in blacked-out 5-spoke wheels!


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R34: the final Skyline frontier

Skipping the fourth generation to go into the fifth and final generation based on the Skyline platform as it moves to a more premium line, which includes a US introduction in 2002 as the G35.  The styling is more expressive, but still retains to the R32.  The headlights are larger, the grilles are larger, the hood has vents, the rear taillights are larger and off-set, and the exhaust are now dual-tipped.  Other changes include shorter front and rear overhangs, red valve cover, and an LCD screen to show additional vehicle performance features (a precursor to the next GT-R).  Just like the last two generations, it still uses the same 2.6L twin-turbo I-6, 5-speed manual, and AWD system with a few enhancements.


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This version was the second GT-R introduced in 2010, featuring more ground effects and hood vents similar to the NISMO version.  The interior has the same four-seat arrangement with the front seats being more supportive and offering 5-point harness.  I didn't get the silver and blue 2010 version mainly because it was very close to the Motormax version that I already had.  Eventually I gave up and got the 2013 versions shown here.  Oddly the first 2014 has the same color as the 2013 version in black.  One that was popular is the 2Fast 2 Furious version in the Wal-Mart only line, and a ZAMAC Wal-Mart special that was also close to the movie car as well.


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GT-R: Now making big waves

After the production ended in 2002, a show car was revealed in Tokyo motor show revealing an even wilder version meant to go after other supercars on its own platform.  In 2008 the GT-R arrived at Nissan dealers, including the U.S. ones.  The sharp chisled lines include sweptback headlights and a one-piece center grille with smooth sides (no foglights).  The hood features two scoops, the sides are smooth, the windshield wraps around like an eyeguard on a helmet.  The rear has a laid-back look with quad LED taillights that are integrated into the body, smoothly-integrated spoiler, and large quad exhaust tips.  The interior continues the similar tradition, with larger center gauges, three-spoke wheel, and a center screen featuring additional controls for the engine.  The front seats again are supportive, while the rear seats are barely useable now.  The biggest change is under the hood where a 3.8L twin-turbocharged V6, similar to the 3.5 and 3.7 V6 architecture in the Nissan Z, hand-built to produce 485 hp. and 434 Ib-ft. torque through a six-speed sequential manual transaxle in the rear (no regular manual offered), through the same ATTESA ET-S AWD system.  So far this car has shattered records left and right, rightfully earning the "Godzilla" name once again.


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This Hot Wheels casting was a late comer to 2009 even as it was the first car of the New Model line.  It was worth the wait in the smooth white with dark gray 10-spoke wheels, or red with chrome wheels.  The headlights are part of the windows, the body lines are perfectly designed, and the taillight details are awesome.  It looks fast standing still as it does moving!  After a blacked-out treatment the GT-R has been MIA for a few years now.  Guess it's time to bring it back!

M2 1:24 1959 GMC 150 4x4 Pickup



One of the most anticipated castings  to debut this year for me in 1:24 is the M2 1958-1959 Chevy and GMC pickups in the same various cab, engine, bed, and ride height formats just like the 1:64 version.  So let's see how much of a good job they've done.


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The birth of GM 4x4 pickups

The 1958 GM trucks followed the full-sized GM cars by adopting the new quad headlight arrangement with new grille's, but still retaining the same fender and hood shape, along with everything else past the hood.  The rear now gets dual taillights on stepside models.  In 1959 the 4x4 was now offered as a factory option for the first time.  You have a choice of a 3.9L I-6, or two V8 motors through a three or four-speed manual or Hydramatic automatic.  Two-wheel drive or a NAPCO Power-Pak four-wheel drive system.  1958 featured custom fleetside bed on the Cameo (Chevrolet) or Suburban Carryall (GMC) trim levels, but in 1959 the package was dropped for a more flexible standard Fleetside bed for all trim levels.  Prior to 1958 the Chevy and GMC had different front ends, with the GMC encorporating Cadillac-style bullet bumpers and the GMC using Pontiac V8's.  Now both trucks share almost the identical front-ends and the same V8 motor's.



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The Big and Brawny M2 1959 4x4

First off, it looks amazing in red with the tall ride height and plenty of metal to make it feel heavy, plus this is the first 1:24 truck casting for M2.  The GMC looks even better than the fashionable 1958 Chevy Cameo in blue!  The front has the chrome trim surrounding the quad headlights, GMC trim on the hood, silver bumper with integrated turn signals, chrome bumper, and "150" in the middle of the grille despite the "100" designation on the base.  And trust me that's not the only fault in this casting!





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The sides have the V8 logo, chrome mirrors, antenna, door handles; white roof and window trim, nicely-done stepside with left-side spare tire hangout (though it could use some more paint in the small crevice above the rear fenders and below the bed edges).  Out back is the tailgate with white GMC letters, dual taillights, and chrome bumper with 1959 plate.  The tailgate is nifty: You raise it up slightly to drop the gate, then as you close it in just push in all the way.  A small latch at the bottom of the main latch allows for a locking ability to prevent the gate from coming open.  The bed is nicely detailed with the wood planks and silver trim.  The red steel wheel with chrome hubcap is correct, but the bowties on the wheels are incorrect (it's a GMC, come on!).  The steering is available, but barely moves, though I do give credit for the front pumpkin (differential) on a live axle with I-beam steering knuckles for the proper look.  Underneath the base starts off with the body-on-frame profile with the detailed black frame, live front and rear axles supported by leaf springs, exhaust system, transfer case, and engine and transmission details.  However, why is the passenger-side exhaust header missing?



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Opening the hood shows the V8 motor in orange block with black air cleaner, hoses, radiator with silver cap, alternator, fan, belts, and battery box on the firewall. Simple, yet effective even if I want to see an engine label.  The smooth-opening doors open to a red and white two-tone interior, white bench, red and white door panels with door latch and window crank chrome handles.  The dashboard has a white top with a red lower portion with comprehensive gauges in silver (no dial details), stereo controls in the center, four-wheel-drive shift lever function sticker, and glovebox, but where is the transfer case shifter?  No where to be found!  Only the floor shifter for the four-speed manual is there.  The steering column is red, metal, and has the correct dash mounting point, but again unless this was a Chevy or Suburban Carryall, incorrect with the bowtie in the center!  Come on M2 Machines, if you're going to design a highly-detailed classic, at least make sure it is accurate!



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...what about the blue 1957 Chevy?

The Chevy is from another manufacturer (not sure who), which I got at a Cracker Barrel a decade and a half ago.  Since then it sits on display right next to the desktop computer.  It's seen better days with loads of dust, fading chrome, one end of the tailgate supported by a bent paperclip, and the steering column has come off twice (at least it glued back on).  Even so, it still looks good and holds up well, though detailing is not as sharp as the M2.  This should give you an idea of how big the 4x4 is over the two-wheel drive version.  Oh, and at one point I had enough of the cheap chrome wheels and replaced them with 5-spoke wheels, extra's from an AMT/Ertl 1996 Chevy S10 model kit.  I must say it looks good with them on!




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...now for the 1:64 version from last year.

Now compare the 1:24 to the 1:64 that M2 released last year.  This was the first time the GMC got the 4x4 unit and stepside bed first offered on the 1959 Chevy Apache.  Joining it on that release is the green 1958 GMC Fleet Option Truck.  This version features two headlights, mesh grille, round turn signals, green steel wheels with white hubcaps, along with white front and rear bumpers and grille.  The interior lacks a stereo and features a Chevy steering column.  The only engine is the I-6 and three-speed manual.  Since they were worn down by fleet customers, finding a perfectly-mint Fleet truck is hard to come by.




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Overall I give the 1:24 a 4 out of 5 mostly for some incorrect details (too many bowties still visible), missing transfer case shifter, and missing passenger-side exhaust manifold.  I can sees a customizer finding a way to fix those problems (and I may need to install the missing transfer case), because otherwise this is one fantastic casting in 4x4 trim!











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