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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Its Electric! Maisto 1:43 Chevy Bolt and Ford Th!nk




I remember it years ago that when it comes to diecast always go for the coolest cars: sports cars, race cars, exotics, trucks, monster trucks, construction machines, etc.  The last thing that someone would do is plain-jane commuter cars like a Toyota Camry or an electric car.  However, that's fast changing especially the latter as more and more companies start to rely less on oil with fuel-efficient hybrids and EV cars.  See Hot Wheels with a Tesla, a licensed model, was unusual back in 2008 but now its commonplace.  The latest is from Maisto with the award-winning 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, yet this is not the first time Maisto has done an electric vehicle in the 1:43 Power Racer line.  The first one would be called the Ford Think (or Th!nk).



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The Ford Think

Ever since the oil embargo in the 1970's and the increase of developing nations getting behind the wheel for the first time some car companies wondered how long will our dependence on oil last?  For the past few decades automakers have tested and most of the time missed on electric vehicle development, but as the century changed the idea was starting to catch on with better technology and lower costs thanks to the sales of hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius.  There were some straggler start-ups that come and go and one of them is the Think.  The Th!nk Mobility was created by Ford in the late 1990's as a urban-friendly plan for vehicles that use electricity as their main power source.  From golf carts to small cars the Think like had it planned out.  Thanks to Ford some parts were shared to cut costs, but in the case of the City all was unique to the Think line.  It was essentially a two-seater that was the size of a Smart FourTwo.   The motor is a 46 hp. three-phase electric motor at the front with 1-speed transmission and fuel by 24 kWh battery pack between the seats.  The brand was spun off by Ford in the early 2000's, then picked up again by a Finland company to start up production in 2008, but then financial problems stopped production and the last car was built in 2012.







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It's an odd but unique choice for Maisto, and one with a few interesting quirks.  One of them is the metal body with a grainy texture like it was make out of plastic (This is on the blue sections of the car).  Up front the grille is replaced with a TH!NK stamp in the middle, flanked by silver headlights where the round lenses are chrome stickers that can reflect light back with a flashlight.  The roof is a smooth silver surface that separates the flat sides of the car with 5-spoke wheels from a Ford Focus.  The rear has round taillights with triangular signal lights integrated within the reverse lamps, a Maisto plate at the bottom, and a large glass hatch area.  The interior has a dashboard setup that is very '90's subcompact with three-spoke steering wheel, gauge pod that is barely visible, and central radio and HVAC controls.  If it wasn't for the cool body texture or its orphan status in real life this would be a casting that would hide in the past unnoticed.









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2017 Chevy Bolt

Now for something more modern and practical, the Bolt.  Remember when GM released the Volt concept in 2007?  Well between a fall of bankruptcy, restructuring GM got a lot of media attention in a negative way so there was lots of focus on the Volt's development to make sure it comes out right with no problems.  Trying to keep it a secret was impossible.  The Bolt, on the other hand, was a surprise concept that showed up in a well-mannered GM (financially) in 2015 and now is in production two years later (compared to five for the Volt).  It's a win-win and even beat the Tesla Model 3 to production early!  Unlike the Volt the Bolt is designed from the ground-up as an electric car that does not sacrifice interior packaging, and making the interior like a compact hatchback or small SUV also helps as well.  Styling is unique and does not try to copy a Prius like any other hybrid has done so far.  Powering the Bolt is a 200 hp. permanent magnet electric motor and 1-speed automatic to the front wheels.  The 60 kWh lithium ion batteries sit in the middle of the vehicle flat to the floor, yet distance is just about the same as an equivalent 4-cylinder gas-powered vehicle of the same bodystyle.







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The orange paint is an eye-catcher on this Maisto casting even though it lacks additional details and, surprisingly, opening doors.  The front has detailed headlights where I added the U-shaped running lights and orange side marker and lower signal lights in the bumper.  The faux grille is done in silver with a nice pattern along with the gold bowtie logo.  From the sides it looks like any compact 5-door hatchback with the same pinched roofline that was started with the current Nissan Murano.  Black and silver trim details are nicely done and I added the silver door handle trim to finish it off.  Just below the Bolt badge on the left side is the door to access the charging plug.  In back the rear hatch has an Audi-SUV-like opening that contains the large and stylish taillights.  The bowtie and lower bumper lights lack detail so I added them on as well as the silver on the roof rails.  The 5-spoke wheels are correct but look plain against the all-silver backdrop; I corrected this by adding black sharpie details where the black acccents are on the real car's wheels.  Now look at ths casting and see how impressive it is!






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Inside the interior has a 3-spoke Chevy wheel and not the cheesy generic wheel that Maisto has used on other Power Racer's for years.  With the lack of opening doors the inner door panels can now be a part of the interior trim.  The dashboard layout is clean and looks just like a Chevy with a digital gauge cluster, MyLink touch screen in the center, and silver trim accents that I added to the dashboard, door panels, and steering wheel.  The center console has the small shifter joystick found in a few other electric cars out there and clears up the space between the front seats.  The seats look impressive and after adding the silver for the two-tone interior look of the actual car looks even more impressive, and as a surprise despite the pullback motor the rear seat still looks habitable.






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Talk about a year's difference in styling, technology, and space that makes the Bolt the most advance electric car you can live with and the Th!nk like last year's golf cart.

Kinsmart Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale




I profiled the Bburago version of the Maserati GranTurismo last year and I was impressed by the level of details on this 1:43 Bburago casting.  Well not long after that report I found out Kinsmart had released their version and it was more spicier than the Bburago version: it was a MC Stradale.  So with the Bburago pushed aside its time to see what's different between the B' and the Kinsmart versions.






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In 2011 the GranTurismo received a mid-cycle makeover with revised front and rear styling and upgraded engine and transmissions.  In this mix Maserati decided to bring out the MC Stradale, a two-seater that was designed with more power and for the track while still bestowing its grand touring nature.  There's more and larger vents on the hood, carbon fiber accents, rear seat delete, suspension and brake upgrades, and an engine with reduce friction thanks to a diamond-like coating to the friction points derived from F1 racing.  The engine is still the same 4.7L DOHC V8 that now produces 444 horsepower through a new 6-speed automated manual transmission shared with the Ferrari 599 GTO.  This enhanced look and power gave the stylish GranTurismo a new lease on life as the competition starts to heat up.






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Sitting in this gorgeous maroon with the blacked-out accents this Kinsmart GranTruismo looks much more meaner than the sedate Bburago version.  The front has a large center grille with bowed in vertical bars and chrome Maserati trident badge.  It is wrapped around a lower grille smile that also feeds the brake cooling ducts.  Headlight beam layout is redesigned with a blacked-out housing and LED running lights, while the hood gains three scoops: one in the front and two in the back.  The sides continue the three port holes on the front fenders with lower fender vents, carbon fiber mirrors (a separate piece from the metal body), and those cool blacked-out double 5-spoke wheels.  The rear uses the same taillight design with LED brake lights as the Bburago, but adds more character with a carbon fiber rear spoiler and dual chrome exhaust in the lower bumper diffuser.  As with current Kinsmart products the base shows incorrect details and bothers no mention, while the pullback motor is naturally at the rear wheels.






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The doors open up to an interior that has more detail if a bit dark.  The front seats are supportive and have a nice ribbed texture; good thing the rear seat's missing since the pullback motor will take its space anyways.  The 3-spoke steering wheel has the correct controls, tach and speedo sit to the sides of the center information center, center stack with analog clock, navigation/radio system, and HVAC controls, detailed pedals, and note the lack of a shifter thanks to a new transmission design that only has buttons and paddle shifters to use.  The Bburago version is spared here because that one is based on the 2008 release and this one is the post-facelift MC Stradale version, and while both are nicely done I prefer the spiced-up look of the Kinsmart.



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