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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Matchbox and Hot Wheels Tesla Model S

One of the biggest successful vehicles of recent is the Tesla Model S.  For years electric cars tried to overtake the gas-counterparts with their futuristic, fuel-saving driving experience but failed due to range anxiety and long recharging times.  The Model S defies those odds with a practical car that looks good, has loads of power, and resolves range anxiety with a combination of different battery sizes to choose from and Tesla's Supercharger fast charging station networks.  Even the typical maintenance and buying experience is vastly different than a typical car.  It didn't take long for Mattel to get on the action, yet no one would expect two different versions from Hot Wheels and Matchbox to come out at the same time.

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Elon Musk created Tesla in 2008 with the Roadster, a Lotus Elise-based chassis with unique styling and only a battery pack and an electric motor mounted at the rear.  At nearly $100,000 and not very practical it was only a fun toy for the rich.  The Model S resolved that with a price range that hovered below or above the six-figure mark with a variety of motors and battery sizes.  In the beginning it used two rear-mounted 416 hp. electric motor, with the new P85D using on in the front as well.  No transmission and power ready at 0 RPM, it can launch to 0-60 in 4 seconds.  Oh, and if the motor fails it can be easily replaced by a remote technician on-site.  The batteries consists 40-90 kWh lithium-ion packs located flat on the floor, with charging conducted by two hidden outlets on each side corner of the taillights.  The suspension has air springs to adjust the ride from firm to smooth depending on road conditions.  The benefits of a smaller motor and batteries on the floor allows for a roomy hatchback cargo area and an additional trunk at the front.

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Matchbox does it best in this gorgeous metallic red example wearing the correct multi-spoke wheels.  The front has the detailed projector headlights with LED eyelids, signal lights and foglights next to the lower grille, and a blacked-out center grille with Tesla logo.  The car becomes very smooth across the sides with smooth door handles, exterior mirrors, and a large sunroof spanning the roof of the vehicle.  The rear has detailed LED taillights, silver bar with Tesla letters, and a black tab for the base support in the plate area.  I fear this car will become rather boring after a while due to its smooth sides and blank base underneath, but as long as Matchbox keeps it looking just like this in future variations I see no problem.

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Believe it or not both cars share the same interior, and why not?  Both offer the correct details like seating for seven, note the rearward-facing jump seats with seat belts.  The dashboard has a 3-spoke steering wheel that sits ahead of the digital gauge cluster and to the right of the driver a large touchscreen to control all vehicle functions in the cabin, including radio and air.  Once again, just like the interior, it looks bland without any character details.  For a more artistic approach the Fisker Karma is a better bed; still this Matchbox is one excellent casting!  On the other side is the Hot Wheels version: this one goes for a sportier look with a revised front bumper that features L-shaped LED's and that ubiquous upchin spoiler.  The grille and light details look great despite being a bit sloppy.  The rear doors have cooling ducts for the rear brakes and flared rear fenders that create a separation line at the rear.  The rear end has similar details as the Matchbox, though with shorter taillights and a pop-up rear spoiler.  The wheels are blacked-out with red stripe.  It looks rather incomplete compared to the fine Matchbox version, not to mention the confusion of this with the Porsche Panamerica casting as well.

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Still I understand the separation between the two companies, but still why would Hot Wheels create a Tesla Model S when Matchbox makes a fantastic version that no one else can top?

Update 12/19/17:  Matchbox released the Tesla Model S in pearl white for 2017, and at first I though I would not like it.  However, in person the Tesla looks splendid in white.  Hot Wheels also has released the Tesla Mode S in white, but it is not as beautifully crafted as the Matchbox version:

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