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Monday, May 9, 2016

Spring Time!: Hot Wheels Grass Chomper and Ertl Cub Cadet Series 3000 Lawn Mower

It's that time to get out the mower, gas it up, and cut that grass that's starting the grow after hibernating over the winter.  Hot Wheels has finally released their replica of a riding lawnmower years after their first one done for Binford tools in the TV series "Home Improvement."  While you can find a miniature John Deere riding lawnmower from Ertl, one of the first that i've encountered was back in 1999 when this Cub Cadet riding lawnmower appeared.

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Hot Wheels Grass Chomper

There are some demerits to this casting, but at least Hot Wheels has got a functioning riding lawn mower in their lineup.  The mower gets a Hot Wheels raked rear stance with all four wheels riding on chunky off-road tires to gain better traction.  The fuel tank is relocated to the front of the mower with a front bumper to protect it, The headlights and grille wrap around the engine cover which exposes the air-cooled fan and flanked by dual exhaust tips that come out of a semi truck.  The driver sits in a supportive seat with 5-point harness, a half-cut steering wheel, pedals on each side, and the mower deck just below that houses the two blades visible from beneath.  The rear has a mounting bracket for the grass clipping bag, and the only metal part of this casting is the steering wheel and the supporting mount as the rest it is plastic.  Plastic!?!?!  Well, this is not a collector's piece as it's more for the kids and is related to Let's Go and Fig Rig: you can attach Mega Blocks or Lego character's to the seats, grip the steering wheel and front bumper, and for more effects add a quarter in the slot behind the rear seat to make the mower pop a wheelie (and hence the amount of plastic).  It's great for the kids, but for the collector adult there's a better option.

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Ertl Cub Cadet Series 3000 Lawn Mower

International Harvester wanted a share of the Riding Lawn Mower market dominated by John Deere, so they set sights in the 1960's to create a new brand called Cub Cadet.  The Cub Cadets are smaller tractor mowers that shares some parts with the larger IH tractors.  The power is motivated by a four-stroke two-cylinder motor that produces 18 hp with a Brigss-Straton or Kohler motor and propelled by a hydrostatic automatic transmission, one of the first lawn mowers to get this feature.  In 1981 MTD purchased Cub Cadet, and today Cub Cadet joins John Deere for the most durable riding lawn mowers out there.

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This Ertl mower has to be about 1:18 scale, though in car terms it's close to 1:30 size-wise.  The construction is all-metal and how Ertl does it is interesting: instead of riveting the base to the body, the mower is constructed in half and riveted together by the sides.  Yes, this is all-metal except for a few plastic part, with steerable steering wheel and front wheels on a metal steering wheel and shaft.  The front has the typical engine cover with headlights, Cub Cadet badging, and white to go along with the yellow below.  The wheels are white with rubber tires, smaller ones at the front, larger ones with hubcap covers at the rear.  The rear has faux taillights and a trailer hitch on the metal frame.  If there's one downside to this model it's the sticker lights that tend to come off too easily (note the scotch tape used to keep the stickers on the mower).

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Behind the beefy 4-spoke steering wheel is the set of gauges to monitor fuel, volt, and other vital signs, while a key slot is visible to start the motor.  On the sides of the column you'll find the pedal on the left to activate the clutch to move the mower, the brake pedal, and a parking brake pedal to lock the mower in position.  Next to the feet pads are the typical warning labels when it comes to operating this mower, while the rider sits on a black seat with Cub Cadet in the back, with a handle on the left for power momentum (forward, reverse, and neutral), while a cup holder sits to the right.  Now for the plastic accessory packages that come with the mower.  The most important is the mower deck with the side clipping exit and four faux wheels.  Interesting to note is the two height adjustments done by moving the front of the deck along the two tabs on the frame.  The other two are accessories that goes on the bulky yellow thing at the front which supports the snow or dirt scraper, or the snow blower complete with rotating horizontal corkscrew and rotating blower exhaust director on top.  In all it's a pretty cool set that was limited and is not hard-to-find (have not seen another one like it).

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As for the Hot Wheels version and the way it's set up: it is based on the actual lawn mower races across the world where the deck is removed and the engine amp'd up to provide a racing mower of sorts.  Then again Hot Wheels always wants to be the coolest so you can't have a mower without making it cool.  I'll stick to my Cub Cadet for the time being.

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