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Friday, October 31, 2014

Maisto 1:43 Dodge Ram SRT-10




Now to something cool and valuable.  This was released, quietly, in 2004 and since then has been an attractive piece on Ebay whenever it appears.  The red one is less-likely since it was visible for a few years until disappearing again.  The black one appeared briefly and was so hard-to-find that it was a casting drawing in the most attention.  I was lucky enough to find these two and they're cool!




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Viper in a Ram

Viper V-10 in a Ram truck is nothing new:  The original 8.3L V-10 in the 1994 Ram was the same block used in the Viper, but with a cast-iron block.  The idea of a Viper-motor in a Ram appeared in the 1994 Ram VTS Concept, also complete with a smooth look in GTS blue with white stripes and GTS 5-spoke wheels.  This one never made production, but the next-generation one did as the SRT-10 version.  The look started with a lower front-bumper with larger cooling ducts and a new hood scoop with Viper badges on the sides.  The side profile is clean except for SRT-10 badges and double 5-spoke wheels, while the rear has dual chrome exhaust and a rear spoiler over the bed that is detachable if the cargo area needs additional clearance.  The brakes are larger, and the 8.3L V-10 fits nicely in the engine bay with the Viper's red valve covers and silver dual intake runners.  It makes 510 hp. and 535 Ib-ft. through a 6-speed manual to the rear wheels  The ride height is lowered with stiffer springs and a rear anti-roll bar.



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Inside is a familiar interior with clean-cut dash and new 4-spoke steering wheel.  The bigger changes are the seats with bolsters similar to the Viper SRT-10 and a Hurst shifter in the center console for the six-speed.  The Ram SRT-10 holds the fastest truck in the world title with Guinness book of world records.  The SRT-10 Ram lasted for three years with a Quad Cab released in 2005 with a 5-speed automatic, and in 2006 the front-end was restyled to match the rest of the 2006 Ram line.  Also, an appearance package was offered for Hemi models feature the same hood scoop, ground effects, and 5-spoke wheels of the SRT-10 Ram.




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First on the block

I managed to catch this one, quietly, at a Wal-Mart one day and I was glad I did.  This black version was not easy-to-find and was the only SRT-10 Ram at the time.  The black paint with silver SRT-10 badges and exhaust tips at the rear are excellent, as does the taillights and Dodge plate at the rear.  At the front features detailed lighting with clear headlight covers that seem a bit bulky as the only awkward downside of the otherwise sharp and aggressive front-end.  The double 5-spoke wheels are excellent, and despite the motor eating away bed space (and ground clearance) the rear spoiler is still visible. The interior is properly done, and a vast improvement over the 2002 Quad Cab!  Everything down to the shifter and seats of the SRT-10.  The red version appeared a short while later; the one shown here was brutally beaten with the base almost warped and the box slightly-damaged, but the truck was fixable and was still in good shape.  The red also shows off more of the grille and scoop details at the front.  Other versions included a Tonka police truck in 2009 and a monster truck version, but again these variations are not easy-to-find.




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Many other companies have also done the SRT-10 Ram, some with better results, but for the all-original version at a reasonable cost (compared to a 1:43 scale version from another company that I know of), this Maisto Power Racer is the way to go!




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Jada Toys 1:32 2014 Ram 1500 Quad Cab and the Maisto 1:43 2002 Dodge Ram Quad Cab




It's quite nice to find out about the new products in advance over the Internet, but sometimes it's a curse when you have to wait a long time before you ever get to see one in person.  The Internet can have a habit of ruining the mysterious fun of finding out what comes next when you walk into a store.  Thankfully a few companies still do this, and the latest is Jada Toys who released something I did see online first (the Silverado), but not the one you see here.



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Muscular looks save Chrysler's last stand

When the Ram debut in 2009 with sporty and aggressive sheetmetal reminiscent of the original 1994 Ram, some wonder if the truck will make it through the Chrysler bankruptcy happening at the same time of the truck's release.  It did, and boy did it advance over the years.  Many trucks have gone upscale with their boxy look and advance features, but only the Ram keeps the sporty and smooth look across all trim levels, and now has not only the much-needed features in 2013, but also some things that other truck makers have not even though of yet (or toyed around with the public.)



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2013 saw a revised front-end with square corners on the grille, new lower bumper with vertical foglights, LED taillights, and on higher-end models new projector-beam headlights with LED signal/running lights.  New 6-spoke wheels also arrive, as does the shift of new 3-part headlights (the ones used previously on the higher-end models) to all models.  The interior got a revised dash with larger touch-screen in the center and revised gauges.  The basic shape and interior are mostly unchanged.  So is the 5.7L HEMI V8 producing 395 hp. and 407 Ib-ft. torque through a six-speed automatic and two-speed transfer case on 4x4 models.  The suspension features the unique coil-spring rear axle, but the newest feature on higher-end models is the air springs to allow for adjustable ride height for fuel economy to off-road capability.  The newest engine is the base 3.6L DOHC Pentastar V6 and eight speed automatic; the same transmission finally arrives in the 5.7 for 2014, as does a 3.0L EcoDiesel V6.  The front grille has shudders behind the grille but ahead of the radiator to adjust for better aerodynamics and cooling.  Even more unique is the RamBox side storage areas on the sides of the bed fenders.




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In 2002, the Ram moved up to the next scale with smoother and rounder styling, bigger dimensions, and larger cabs with a new Quad Cab.  The grille is larger, rounder, the headlights also larger and rounder, and new 20-inch 5-spoke wheels.  The interior is more refined with a cleaner dash and spacious interior.  Powertrains are new with SOHC 3.7 V6 and 4.7L V8, though the V8 is the old 5.9; in 2003 the 5.7L HEMI V8 arrived with more power and cylinder deactivation.  It produces 345 hp and 375 Ib-ft. through a 5-speed automatic.  With several variations, including the SRT-10 (more on that in the next article), Heavy-Duty models, and a revised front-end and interior in 2006, with new afterburner taillights in 2007.



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Boxy, but correct

From the outside, the Jada Toys 1:32 2014 Ram 1500 is rather boxy (especially at the rear), but the details are correct.  Also it lacks exterior mirrors, and my tester had an odd circular stamp on the driver's door.  The metallic blue is cool and proper to the actual color, the front has chrome grille with Ram logo and honeycomb look, chrome bumper, and headlights with the details of the LED's and projectors of the higher-end lights.  The side features the Ram and Hemi logo's, 6-spoke wheels, and flared fenders.  The roof seems a bit odd at the rear, and the bed fenders are rather narrow for the RamBoxes (the first diecast version of this truck with this feature).  The rear has detailed taillights, badging, and chrome bumper with dual exhaust in the bumper.  The pull-back motor does hinder the bed space, but it is still accessible.  The doors open to the interior with the correct dash details, steering wheel, seats, and door panels.  Note the console that features the deep well of the 2014 model signaling the shifter, instead of being on the console, is now on the dash to the right of the steering wheel (which means it has the 8-speed automatic).




The base is nothing to brag about, and the ground-clearance is jokeable for a 4x4 truck with running boards, but I was surprised in a few approach and departure angles tests the Ram passed them without snagging its undercarriage.  I'll look into the Ram more later on when Jada released the 1:24 scale version of the truck in a few months.

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First for the model, though quickly downsized

The first replica of the 2002 Ram that I found was the Maisto 1:43 Power Racer.  Unlike the Jada, it's smaller and the motor is larger, so the rear bed has a tonneau cover to go with the silver running boards (and obstructs the ground clearance below).  The wheels are the correct 20 inch 5-spoke wheels, but the tire sidewall are rather large.  The details are nice with the chrome grille and round headlights, detailed taillights and logo's, and slick black paint.  Then there's the matter of the interior: it's clearly a copy of the 2000 Chevy Silverado Extended Cab that Maisto also has in the Power Racer line.  Talk about a lazy job!  Even scary was the pre-production casting that Maisto showed of the 1:24 model to be released later in 2002: you can see hints of Silverado parts on a newly-tooled Ram body.  Thankfully the end result of the 1:24 turned out better with the proper interior and base details of the actual truck.

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So, not the best, but definitely better than the Maisto Power Racer version of the 2002 model.  In fact, if you want more detail, just head for the 1:24 version just like the Maisto version.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The 1969-1971 Dodge Charger/Plymouth Superbird family by Hot Wheels and RC2



Recently Hot Wheels released the new 1969 Dodge Charger 500, another version of the vastly-growing Charger family ten years in the making.  It was only two decades ago that one Charger was all that you can get, but now there's a plenty to choose from now.  Here's the group from Hot Wheels from 1969 to 1971, including the 1970 Superbird from Plymouth, and one 1971 from RC2.




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1969: Coke bottle styling and dog-leg taillights

The Charger, in 1966, was originally planned to be the production version of the 1963 Chrysler Turbine car for the general public, but when the turbine project failed the motor was replaced with a Hemi and the Charger fastback was born.  In 1968 a more formal 2-door coupe was introduced and became an icon and status symbol for Dodge.  In Hollywood with Bullitt, The Dukes of Hazzard, Dirty Larry, Crazy Marry, The Fast and the Furious, and more.  The styling featured  squared-look with coke-bottle shaped rear fenders.  The front has the hidden headlights behind a two-piece split grille, hood scoops, and a typical rear trunk and roof design of the late 1960's.  In 1969 the quad round taillights was replaced by the dog-leg taillights.  The interior featured a simplistic form with a flat, horizontal layout for the gauges and radio controls.  The engine of the day was the 426 HEMI V8 producing 426 hp. through a 4-speed automatic.



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This Hot Wheels casting was introduced in the vast jungle of 100 new castings in 2004, with the proper details of the body and front and rear-end details as part of the base.  The interior has detailed seats, but the dash is lacking in details.  The coolest feature is the opening hood that shows off the engine as part of the interior piece (not the usual metal body of past opening hood Hot Wheels vehicles).  Black with silver flames and red rear stripe was the norm, with a all-metal ZAMAC version more valuable.  Future variations include the white with blue stripes and green version, but as you can see in the green version the body tooling was beginning to suffer with rounded corners, sagging grilles, and some slight misfits between the body and base.  In 2009's Mopar Mania 5-pack the Charger was also green, but now features a closed-up hood.  The best version?:  The 2005 Muscle Mania in blue and K-mart-only purple.  Look at the fantastic and clean details and logo's, not to mention the several variations offered, including one with Faster than Ever wheels for the 2006 year.


 
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In 1969 another problem arised:  Dodge losing to Ford in the NASCAR oval tracks.  Apparently the sleeker Torino Talladega's were taking most of the wins, so Dodge went back to the wind tunnel to find out what's wrong with the Charger's new shape.  Turns out the rear window and front grille was the culprits in the slowdown, so Dodge smooth-out the rear window flush and added a Dodge Coronet grille with exposed headlights at the front.  The Charger 500 was born; this Hot Wheels casting is new for 2015 with an awesome blue paint, silver stripe with 500 at the rear, and a 50 years HEMI on the doors that many collectors want off.  The base is the same as the 1969 Charger, but is new to feature the new grille.  Notice that the body has more metal on the front fenders to curb the rounding off issues of the other 1969 Charger casting.  The interior is the same and likely has the same engine details as the 1969 Charger (and 1969 Charger Daytona from 2013), but the only way you'll find out is if you drill out the rivets and pop the base off of the body since there's no opening hood on the Charger 500.  As much as Dodge figured out the issue, it still wasn't enough, so extreme measures had to be taken.




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Hitting the climax of NASCAR rules

Enter the 1969 Charger Daytona, a typical Charger with front fiberglass nose with pop-up headlights, front fender vents, and a large rear wing at the rear.  This shape gave the Charger much improved aerodynamics to help the Charger finally overtake Ford for most wins, and get NASCAR's attention to change the rules after 1970.  The engine and interior carry-over from the regular Charger.  The first Hot Wheels version was the 1996 version with the correct ride stance and details, but the car was narrow and the gold wheels really don't fit well on this casting.  The red with gold wheels and DAYTONA on rear fenders was the first, with the blue one released in 1998.  This casting was final runned in 2003 just as a new Charger Daytona arrived larger, cartooned, and with no interior.  Hot Wheels finally brought the Charger Daytona back to normal form in 2013 with the car based on the one used in Fast and Furious 6 movie with dark red paint, dark chrome base, exposed headlights, and side exhaust, while still sharing the same base and interior tooling as the 1969 Charger.




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In 1970 it was Plymouth's turn to take the fiberglass nose and rear wing onto the Roadrunner body to create the Superbird.  The front nose featured turn signal lights moved from the inner grille to just below the headlights and taillights from the 1970 Roadrunner.  The interior and engines also carry-over from the Roadrunner and Charger.  Still took home the most titles, but the victory was short when NASCAR implemented new rules to make sure competition has equal fair-share when it comes to engine displacement and aerodynamics with no fancy tricks anymore.  Hot Wheels released the Superbird in 2006 to those saddened by the lost of the 1996 Daytona casting.  Aside from a slightly high ground clearance, it looks perfect and big with black eyebrows at the front, Superbird at the rear fenders, and the black vinyl top.  Comes in green with Faster Than Ever wheels (or 5-spoke), K-mart-only yellow with 10-spoke wheels, metallic orange with PR-5 wheels, or blue with 5-spoke wheels.  2006 models are the best versions in my opinion.  Then there's the most-popular variation in the 2008 Classics line in blue with the racing decals, metal base, and 5-sp. with Goodyear lettering.  There's a few reasons why this is popular:  This is as close as you can get to Richard Petty's #43 Superbird race car and also for the similar Petty car featured in the Disney 'Cars' movie.  I found this one at a Target one day trying to escape the blistercard!



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1970: Faster and Furious

1970 offered fewer changes, but there was some noticeable ones: front grille is now one-piece and the side vents are now more noticeable with the R/T badge now housed here as the stripes at the rear are less common now.  For this Hot Wheels casting version introduced in 2011 all you can think of is the movie 'The Fast and the Furious'.  Supercharger poking out of the hood, raked rear end, but even more better is the smoother front grille surround and proper rear detailing.  It looks a bit cartoonish, yet still preserves the stock lines of the 1970 Charger.  The base is also color-coded to match the body.  The interior and base feature much more detail than what the 1969 Charger offers.  2011 saw purple with black stripes on hood and back-end, or orange with white stripes (not shown).  2012 saw the introduction of SubLime Green with new black deco on the sides, and 2013 saw a cleaner-look in black with only a R/T logo for the Fast and Furious movie.  It's a great casting and I can't wait to see more in the future!



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1971: the start of plush Musclecars

By the beginning of the 1970's musclecars were starting to move away from the crude, Spartan look to a more plush look with more amenities and more with automatic transmissions.  It's no surprise to see the Charger follow suit in 1971.  The front has the split grille returned, but now with exposed headlights, the hood featured the so-called Air Grabber that pops up under full-throttle to feed in forced air to the engine, new door vents, an almost hatchback-like C-pillar flowing to the rear bumper with integrated taillights.  The interior was more driver-oriented with bucket seats, radio, A/C, power windows and locks, and comprehensive gauges.  The 426 HEMI was offered for one last year, but more common is the 440 Magnum V8 rated at 375 hp. though a 3-speed Torquefile automatic.




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The Hot Wheels casting was introduced in 2010 with a nice clean look in orange paint with black side stripe and hood stripe with R/T inset.  The front and rear bumpers are part of the chrome interior, and the base and interior feature nice details, especially the ribbed door panels.  The pink version came out in 2011 line.  Now I wasn't a big fan of this casting so there's a few other variations out there as well.



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Finally is the RC2 version from 2003, from the 1974 'Gone in 60 Seconds film'.  Check out the details from the grille details with separate headlight lenses, lower bumper, hood vent, window and wheelwell trim, rearview mirror, and detailed taillights.  The base is more exploded with colors that feature orange oil pan, silver exhaust, gas tank, and transmission on a 3D base effect.  The interior featured a comprehensive dash detailing, seat, door panel, and even a separate shifter.  The trunk opens to reveal a silver luggage, while the hood features a vastly-detailed engine with orange block, chrome valve covers, and air cleaner with label detailing.  This was part of Ertl's former shot of producing highly-detailed 1:64 cars for the collectors in the late 1990's, though the high price limited the life of the series with only a few castings.  This was one of the few from that departed series that merged with Racing Champions into the new RC2 fold in 2003 to produce second chances like this one.



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Man, that's a lot of Charger's made in a decade!  Who knows what else could be around the corner for Hot Wheels and the Dodge Charger.













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