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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tomica Time!: 2009 Toyota Prius, Nissan Juke, and 2004 Honda CR-V



Here's a company that I review less often here, at least for now.  This is a big diecast manufacturer for the far east and has been running good since the 1970's.  Today, you can get the cars from Tomica from online or occasionally from a retail store.  Tomica's entry into the US back in 2011 did not go so well, so the line was cancelled after one year.  Some of the cars look homely and not for the US roads, but others are beautifully done and, if you can spare the extra money look into the Tomica Vintage series.  I'm interested in a few Tomica's that i'll get later on in the future, but for now here's three in my collection, two recently added.



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Nissan Juke

One of the craziest designs that surprisingly was very popular is the Nissan Juke, a small SUV based on the same platform as the unsuccessful Nissan Cube in the US.  The styling evokes the rally-car look with headlights that look like large round foglights inside the front grille (they are part of the windows on this Tomica casting).  The upper lights on the hood are the signal lights, while the lower bumper has several oval vents with foglights at the ends.  This Tomica casting looks great in metallic red with the correct details and fender curves, though the latter seems less tame than the actual car, and so does the small 5-spoke Tomica wheels that love to make noise for some reason.  Also Tomica offers a working suspension that is firmer on the Juke and gives the Juke confident handling.  The rear has the L-shaped taillights, Juke badge, and exhaust tip.  You'll note the rear window is part of the metal body and usually signals the opening feature that every Tomica casting has...well not this one: the rear hatch does not open!





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Inside the interior has the usual JDM right-hand drive layour with the 3-spoke steering wheel behind dual-pod gauge cluster.  The center stack features radio and HVAC controls, leading down to the motorcycle gas tank-inspired center console, where the shifter is, that is painted to match the exterior color or some other color.  The rear seats are rather cramped from the Juke's small size and low roofline, while the cargo area is really weak for an SUV.  The base is now plastic and still features the front strut and rear twist beam suspension, with the exhaust leading from the 1.6L DOHC turbocharged I-4 that produces 190 hp. and 204 Ib-ft. of torque through a CVT transmission.  The Tomica Juke casting does not really feel exciting on the track but at least is better controlled than the other two here.




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2004 Honda CR-V

The story behind this one was that this was my first Tomica casting and I got it right after my mother bought her first Honda, a red 2004 CR-V just like the one shown here.  The CR-V was in its second-generation at the time and was more refined yet still rugged like the first-generation.  The front has chrome headlight covers, silver Honda grille, and lower black-painted bumper.  The sides offer a traditional wagon-like roofline with the black trim continuing on the lower rocker panels, and the old Tomica 4-spoke wheels look spot-on to the actual stock rims on the non-AWD CR-V's.  The rear has the detailed D-pillar taillights with spare tire cover with HONDA logo and right-side opening rear hatch.





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The base is still metal with front strut and rear independent suspension and all-wheel drive system connecting to the 2.4L DOHC I-4 that produces 160 hp. and 162 Ib-ft. of torque through a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual (the latter very rare on this truck and was the last-generation offered with such).  The doors open to an interior with the correct front and rear seats, the 4-spoke steering wheel, but no dashboard (a typical early Tomica trait).  From what I remembered the interior was not comfy with hard surfaces and front speakers in the doors that can carve a honeycomb pattern on your knee if you rest your knee up against it.  The third-generation is much better than the second-generation, though Tomica made the 4th generation 2011 CR-V.





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2010 Toyota Prius

Ok, now why did I get this car?  Well, I like the Prius's advance technology and just adds another car to my collection.  Tomica is the unique one to make the third-generation Toyota Prius, and better like it while you can when you see the fourth-generation 2016 model!  Granted it's a plain boring car in white, but at least Tomica spruced it up with racing graphics adoring its own name.  The front has the horizontal headlights with blue Toyota logo and lower grille with signal and foglights to the sides.  The sides have blacked-out window trim and the 5-spoke wheels that look appropriate on this model.  The car is large too, bigger than the two SUV's above!  The rear has the silver taillights, black-painted rear window, and Prius and Hybrid badge on the gate.




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Unlike the Juke the Prius has an opening rear hatch to a large cargo area, but the backrest of the rear seat is rather low and not properly scaled to the size of the car.  The interior has the same smooth dash layout with central digital gauges.  The radio and HVAC controls flow along an angled console with storage underneath down to the shifter for the transmission.  The 4-spoke steering wheel is on the right-side and there's ample space for five people.  The base underneath is plastic, has a working suspension, and a light outline of the drivetrain components.  The engine is the 1.8L Atkinson cycle I-4 that produces 85 hp. through a parallel two-electric motors (one on the engine to charge batteries or to assist driving, and the other to run on EV alone) for a total of 134 horsepower through a CVT via planetary gears between the two motors.  It is not fast, but it is fuel-efficient.  Handing on this casting is another thing with soft suspension tuning and lots of body roll this is not a happy car on the track!




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It's a nice start, but I wonder what else could Tomica have that would really bring some excitement to this brand?  Because these three are nice but not the best.

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