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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Welly 1:24 2014 Mercedes-Benz SL500




Normally i'm not a big fan of vehicles that come from Mercedes-Benz.  Don't get me wrong that i'm not saying that I don't enjoy a few of them every now and then but to me personally I never liked luxury cars, especially in silver, and that's what a lot of vehicles from M-B are.  Then again, if its sporty and in red with AMG touches then i'm hooked, and that was the case with the SLS-AMG.  However, Welly's execution of the modern-day gullwing was less-than-stellar.  The surprise result:  The execution of this SL500.



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Mercedes Iconic Roadster

Nothing says M-B roadsters like the SL family.  First born as a gullwing coupe and roadster back in the 1950's: both based on racing heritage and both extremely rare and valuable today.  The SL shifted course to a smaller and more visible roadster and coupe to be status symbols throughout the 1960's and 1970's.  By the 1980's the SL was starting to become dated, just how?: The size of the SL in the 1980's was close to an Alfa Romeo Spider, just a smidge larger than a Mazda Miata!  In 1989 a long-overdue redesign took place to finally give the SL its proper size and luxury for the price.  In 2002 a redesign smooth out the lines and for the first time eliminated the coupe as the new folding hardtop, a cue taken from the SLK roadster, made that decision in one car.  Since then the SL has not parted much from the 2002 redesign aside from some engine changes, styling changes, and more AMG models.




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The 2014 SL takes styling cues from the SLS-AMG inside-and-out.  The front has headlights that are larger, rounder, and with the rounded grille in upright fashion a more aggressive look.  The lower bumper has LED foglights, the hood and front fenders have vents to extract heat from the hood (i'll explain why in a little bit) with silver strips, the exterior mirrors have stripped signal lights, while the rear has rounded taillights with a cool neon pipe pattern, signal lights, and the reverse lamp moved to the bumper.  It takes a while to get used to the styling, but after a while it looks pretty smooth even if the upright front-end seems out-of-place.  The interior has the SLS's horizontal layout with flat-bottom 3-spoke steering wheel, round silver air vents, round gauges in a silver pod, screen nicely located in the center of the dashboard, and supportive seats with lumbar, massage, cornering support, and airscarf system to blow hot air on your neck when the top is down on a cool day.  The newest feature to the folding hardtop is the panoramic roof that gives added interior light even when the top is up and can automatically block out the sun, if needed.  M-B has given up on the 2+2 culture of the SL and eliminated the rear seat; it is now a shelf to place small items instead.



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The chassis has a multilink suspension setup with air springs that adjust ride damping and control body motions, especially in emergency maneuvers.  The tires are larger at the rear, while the low profile tires join the 5-spoke wheels and slotted rotors.  The biggest engine change is the new 4.7L twin-turbocharged DOHC V8 that has the dual turbos inside the V of the engine, whereas the intake is where the exhaust headers usually are (and hence the hood and fender vents).  This motor produces 429 hp and 516 Ib-ft. of torque, plenty of power for a vehicle weighing in at 1,845 kilograms, through the rear wheels by a 7-speed automatic with manumatic feature.  Even if its a large GT roadster, it is still a pretty fast one as well, one of the hallmarks of the current SL's recently, along with it's six-figure pricetag.

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Sharp Welly version, with a little more enhancement

That red, with the sharply-detailed 5-spoke wheels and slotted brake rotors that spin around a stationary brake caliper with Mercedes-Benz on the calipers just screams AMG model even if it isn't.  Now for a name nomeclature: How come this is badged as an SL500 instead of an SL550 in other countries?  Well as it turns out only a few countries (like the United States) have the new name while the rest prefer to use the older SL500.  Why, I dunno but either way the numbers don't match the engine size, so just call it the SL. The front has the large grille with silver three-point star flanked by headlights that have lots of detail in a 3D setup, and it looks amazing!  The lower grill has an AMG look with large scoops, horizontal chrome strip with LED foglights.  The hood and fender scoops also have silver trim parts as well, along with the exterior mirrors with signal lights, and to the rear with the taillights that have the detailed neon light pipes, the SL500 plate, and the chrome exhaust tips smoothly integrated into the rear bumper.  Note the reverse lamp as I added that feature with a silver sharpie; speaking of which the base has added details mostly to the exhaust system and rear suspension as the front of the vehicle has the typical undercarriage aero covers.  The top, like so many SL diecast models recently, does not fold into the trunk and you have to choose between a closed top or open top look, but not both.  For the first time I don't have to choose as the hardtop comes with the cool panoramic sunroof so you can have the best of both worlds!


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The interior, once again, needed improvements as it just looks like mostly a coal black interior with a few small details.  I remedy that with a silver sharpie to add the silver dash, console, and door accents, and then the twist: instead of using the red paint as used in the 1:24 2005 Mustang GT from Welly I used Candy Apple Red to give it a burgundy finish to the interior.  Not only is it classy and high-end but also prevents the red color from blinding you in the mostly open-air profile of the SL (top up or down).  I must say I like how the color really cam out for this interior, as it joins the bolstered seats with air scarf system, the console with the navigation screen control and shift knob, the flat dashboard with central controls, round air vents, and a nicely integrated screen in the center.  The gauges are a silver pod with 270 degrees of freedom for the tach and speedometer to spin around, all sit behind the 3-spoke wheel with lots of color accents.  Also the pedals got a dose of silver accents, while the rear shelf gains its own silver bar, and lets not forget the rearview mirror bundled with quite a few detailed controls in it.  Finally, engine bays are not really a bright point in today's modern cars as the mechanicals, some mostly sloppy work, are covered in vast plastic engine covers, so on this M-B that would be the cast it seems.  However, thanks to the central turbo location that isn't the case as the engine cover leaves room for the silver intake to intercooler path to brighten up the black engine bay, the intake to the turbo's to show off, and even the drive belt is visible though the upper pulley is not vertically flat like it should be.  I was impressed on how this engine bay really turned out!



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Never before have i've been smitten by a Mercedes-Benz, but this SL500 from Welly has got to be the most sporty, good-looking, fun-to-drive, and sharply detailed M-B that i've ever encountered by far!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Welly 1:24 2005 Ford Mustang GT and Maisto 1:24 2006 Ford Mustang GT




One of my most favorite modern Ford Mustang's is the 2005-2009 body style, yet as much as I like this generation I can never seem to find one with the proper details and dimensions of the actual car.  Well I finally found one from Welly, of course, but it needed some added flare, so once again the project of enhancing a 2005 Ford Mustang GT in 1:24 scale was underway.


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Long-overdue makeover

By 2004 the Mustang has finally risen itself far past the dead after a near-miss being a front-drive sports car, which eventually became the Ford Probe in 1989 and it disappeared after 1997.  Still, it was old, the V6 mustangs looked like cheap plastic toys where the V8 GT models had some polish, the platform was old as well still dating back to the Fox body shared with the long-deceased Ford Fairmont.  It was time for a change, so the 2005 Ford Mustang finally did so starting with a new platform, the DEW 98, shared with the Jaguar S-type, Lincoln LS, and 2002 Ford Thunderbird (all long gone by now as well).  The new platform stretched the length and wheelbase for a more neutral look than the very long hood and very short deck of the Fox-body Mustangs; this also relocated the fuel tank from the rear bumper to a more safe area under the rear seat, just ahead of the rear axle.  The suspension still uses the front Strut and rear live axle, but the latter has more linkage to control axle movement and wheel hop.  The powertrains carry-over, but both have reworked intake manifold and engine bay layout to the point that it's hard to decipher between the V6 and V8 models unless you look at the engine block.  The GT has the 4.6L SOHC V8 that produces 300 hp. and 325 Ib-ft. of torque through a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic.





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The exterior was more retro and inspired by the 1965-1969 Mustang's.  The front has round headlights behind covers joined by a large honeycomb grill with the prancing pony in between the foglights mounted in the grill.  The wheelweels have rounded flares that give some character to the otherwise flat sides, and that fake side scoop has finally been eliminated to just a crease (but it would return later on a few special models).  The rear has smaller tri-taillights on a flat panel that includes a faux gas cap that also hides the key hole for the trunk, trunk lid spoiler on GT models, and the dual exhaust cutting out of the rear bumper.  The fastback roofline returns over the hardtop-over-convertible of the previous-generation.  The styling was first previewed by the 2003 Mustang GT coupe in silver and roadster in red concept cars.  The interior still has the twin-cockpit layout, but is more square surfaces than rounded that recall the first Mustang models.  Up the trim levels and packages will gain you silver accents across the dashboard, and also a red interior package that features red leather seats, red door panel inserts, and red floor mats.  The 3-spoke classic steering wheel is ahead of retro gauge cluster that can change colors thanks to LED that offer plenty of colors to choose from.  The interior, compared to the Fox-body, was more roomier and larger, but still suffers from the cost-cutting areas of plastic that Ford was still prone to at the time of introduction; today's 2015 Mustang has a much better interior quality and feel than the 2005.





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Maisto's so-so attempt on a Mustang GT

Back in 2006 the Maisto 1:24 2006 Mustang GT was not a bad car: It looked good and had some nice touches, but when you compare it to other manufacturers, especially Welly, the results are dissatisfying.  The front has the grill details with the prancing pony, foglights, and lower bumper, but the headlights seem flat (a common detailing problem with a few diecast manufacturers and this body-style Mustang) and the lower bumper slots don't show enough 'deep' detailing.  Note that this is a 2006 Mustang which features the new ground effects and the 5-spoke 18 inch wheels; as you can see having individual wheels is nice but they tend to sag at an angle on this casting.  The sides have a pretty decent profile, while at the rear the taillights are, again, flat, and the gascap is not a separate piece as in the Welly.  Thankfully the rear spoiler is.  The chassis shows off excellent drivetrain and suspension components, with the added detailing of the rear axle links that are missing on the Welly version.  The exhaust, unfortunately, are not chrome so they don't stand out as much as the Welly does.





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The engine bay looked good back then with crafty detailing of the yellow labels on the engine compartment, but lets be honest it's just a plastic pan not a 3-D view!  The interior at least shows off a dashboard with silver accents and a nicely-detailed shifter with silver accents and if you look closely you can make out the gear pattern on the shifter.  Then things get flabby with the thin seats, pedals that are a part of the interior pan and not the dashboard, and fuzzy detailing on the controls.  Again, it wasn't a bad choice at first, especially with more colors offered, but as you'll see the Welly version is more superior.





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A fabulous Welly Mustang with some added details and changes

Sporting the Torch Red paint, this GT really stand out.  The front has the lower bumper slots that are open in the two central units, the signal lights are separate lenses, the headlights have the perfect shape and pitch in their housing, and the grill has the foglights and more realistic prancing pony despite the grill being upright.  The hood has more curves and little black dots for the windshield washer nozzles and antenna, while the sides show off a little more flair in the body sculpting occupied with the 5-spoke mag wheels that look really cool and stand up straight thanks to the solid pin axles, though it was a little bit early for separate brake rotors and calipers to be floating behind the wheels (and this car needs them evidentialy).  The roof has the detailed rail tracks in black, and yes the rear spoiler is a separate piece with side marker lights and the trunk-mounted third brake light also separate lenses.  The rear has a separate chrome gas cap that looks better than the Maisto, as does the taillights with more visual pop than the Maisto, the rear plate is a separate piece, and check out those chrome exhausts!





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Open the hood to a relieving sight: an engine that is 3-D and not a plastic pan!  The silver block is visible from behind the maze of hoses and intake manifold, though it lacks the drive belt but then again its hard to see it with all of the resovoir's and hoses in the way!  In addition Welly also added detailing to the strut towers and battery cables, and even the cutout for the front hood latch.  The base underneath lacks the rear axle links but makes up for it with chrome rear exhaust and muffler and front suspension and anti-sway bar links.  I added more detailing to the suspension, drivetrain, and exhaust with a silver sharpie to add more visual appeal.




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So far, looks good.  Now to the interior where things get a bit unsettled:  It's nothing but a dark coal bin with, what the heck, an automatic transmission on a GT!  This is where the major work needs to be done.  The plan:  Add the deluxe interior package (with the silver dash accents) and the red interior package to the seats, door panels, and floor mats, and finally remove the shifter for the 5-speed manual shifter, add a clutch pedal (and detail the pedals), and round off the transmission pan on the base.  The donor for the shifter?  A second Maisto 1:24 2006 Ford Mustang GT that I had laying around, while the clutch pedal came off of a former AMT plastic model kit's accelerator pedal, trimmed to size.  The dashboard was simple and has the same detailing with a silver sharpie that I conducted on the Welly 2007 Shelby GT500, though it was a tight fit to reach some crevices.  The door panels were equally tricky as well, especially around the arm rests.  The rest of the red interior was painted with red paint instead of a sharpie.  End result:  Man does it pop out now!!!  To add to that, the door panels have nice detailing (note the exterior mirror knob on the driver's door), the detailed gauges, the detailed 3-spoke wheel, the thick seats, and even the controls for the radio and HVAC.  The shifter sits a bit high, but at least it still fits like a glove!

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So while the Welly version has double the appeal and level of detailing over the Maisto 1:24 equivalent, the interior was a let down.  However, if you have creative talent and artistic abilities you can turn that right around to finally conceive the Torch Red, 5-speed Manual GT with two-tone interior that you always imagine.  This is a car i'll cherish for years to come!

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