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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Maisto 1:18 2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys and Jada Toys 1:24 2007 Jeep Wrangler X





One of the most popular diecast models to date is the Jeep Wrangler.  For a while the only diecast manufacturer of the new Jeep was Jada Toys who offered 1:24 and 1:64 scale versions of the Jeep.  Then Jada stopped production and did a restructuring only to return the castings back in 2014 along with a new 1:32 scale model.  After having the Jada 1:24 for years it was time for a change all thanks to the new Maisto 1:18 scale model with more details and more features.









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The new Wrangler launched in 2007 after a preview of its looks by the 2006 Gladiator concept (a review to come later this year from another diecast manufacturer).  The new Wrangler still looks like a Jeep with an opening top, removable doors, fold-down windshield, spare tire at the back, and round headlights next to the seven-slot grille.   The differences included signal lights now mounted below the headlights, foglights now centered inside the front bumper, door panels that now have roll-down window option, and a revised interior to be more user-friendly.  The platform is new where the gas tank is now mounted below the rear seat for better crash protection after numerous lawsuits about exploding gas tanks from accidents in any Jeep SUV with a rear-mounted tank.  The long-serving I-6 was replaced with the 3.8L pushrod V6 that produces 202 horsepower through a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.  The hard top had the option of a Sunrider that was a hard top which offered removable panels up front without completely removing the hard top all together.  The biggest news was the longer wheelbase to add the new Unlimited, now a 4-door Wrangler that greatly boosted Wrangler sales.  Rubicon, Sahara, and live front and rear axles with coil springs still remain.  After the Fiat takeover of Chrysler in 2011 the new merger wanted to improve on the shoddy quality of former Diamler's powertrains and interiors; the Wrangler got the much-needed update in 2012.  The V6 is now the 3.6L DOHC Pentastar with an alternator mounted to the back of the engine.  It produces 285 horsepower with a new 5-speed automatic offered.  The interior gets better fabric and softer touch panels.  Did I mention the plethora of specialty models???  Well for times sake we'll focus on the 2014 Willys edition, a tribute to the 1941 original with blacked-out front grille, bumpers, wheels, and Willys badges to a Rubicon 2-door model.  While it may have bare necessities, it still has most creature comforts like a radio and HVAC controls.









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For a while the Jada Toys casting was the largest scale model of the new Jeep.  Based on the low-end X package in all black it glistens with chrome multi-spoke wheels to add character to the all-black look.  The flat-faced grille has round headlights, signal lights below, 7-slot grille, and a lower plastic bumper with integrated foglights.  On the sides the fender flares are part of the metal body, there is running boards below, X-badge and white bolts for the windshield, and detailed hooks on the hood.  The rear has square taillights with no reverse lamp details, a small rear bumper, and a large spare tire.  The door frames are the full-units which utilize the roll-down window feature.  The top is open and nicely folded along the back tailgate (which does not open).  However, the rollbar at the B-pillar end sinks too far down so I remedied it by taking the truck apart, taking the rollbar off the interior piece, and adding a few metal washers until the rollbars finally match the height of the windshield for a proper look.










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The hood opens to reveal the mostly all-black and engine pan of the 3.8 V6 motor, but it does have the detailed intake, valve covers, oil cap, battery, brake master cylinder, and fuse box.  The base underneath shows off the proper drivetrain layout with a chrome rear muffler and rear axles that lack the pumpkin details.  Open the doors to the all-black interior to a flat-faced dashboard with 4-spoke banjo steering wheel, detailed gauges, and a center stack with radio and HVAC controls.  The 6-speed manual shifter is a bit small, but otherwise both shifters are nicely done.  The seats are good if they lack support and there's enough room in the rear.  At the time this was a simply-done Jeep that was the only large-scale, or heck the only modern Jeep Wrangler in the crowd, but as times change more and more Jeep Wranglers start to appear.









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Maisto is a bit late to the party, like the last Jeep Wrangler they did, yet still come out with some impressive features.  Only available in 1:18 scale is the 3-door Willys (the 5-door Unlimited is now in the 1:24 scale line) in either open top or closed top look.  My copper orange tester is the open top look with the optional half-doors that like the previous-generation Wrangler are just doors but lack any roll-down windows.  The front has a gloss black grille with round headlights, clear signal lights, gloss center bumper with integrated foglights, and hooks on the bumper.  The hood has detailed hooks, WILLYS along the sides, and hoot latches that are functional and must be removed to open the hood.  The sides show black-painted fender flares that are part of the metal body, Trail Ready badges, detailed door handles, large exterior mirrors, and latches; black external gas cap; and a small radio antenna.  The rear has large taillights with reverse lamps, large spare tire attached to an opening rear gate with accurate hinges, and a classy 4-Wheel Drive badge to the right of the spare tire.









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The wheels look like classy 5-spoke black steelies but in fact they are actually aluminum rims in real life.  Thanks to the Rubicon package the Willys gets chunkier tires, taller ground clearance, and front and rear differential lockers with a disconnect front anti-sway bar.  What's more interesting is the detailed brake calipers and rotors behind the wheels, though those scored rotors appear once again.  The base shows off the detailed front and rear live axles with the working coil springs right over the stock units, and they give off lots of flexibility to the wheels when off-roading.  The drivetrain and chrome exhaust are nicely done, but without a few problem areas:  One, the gas tank is still behind the rear axle and blocks the muffler.  Totally innacurate.  The second part is the exhaust section not leading to the left-bank headers, though this is mostly due to the front driveshaft getting in the way.  Move the hood latches off and open the hood to see most of the Pentastar V6 motor, but since its a tight fit in the real vehicle with an engine cover this is as good as you can get.  You can see the detailed engine cover with 3.6 badging, the coolant hose, the air box, and the fluid resovoirs and that's about it.










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Inside the interior is a vast improvement though the windshield lacks the nifty black edge surround with the Jeep grille outline just behind the rearview mirror.  The dashboard has a gridded pattern for the soft-touch look with a small 3-spoke steering wheel and detailed gauges that are a bit small to read.  Radio controls are the Chrysler UConnect touch screen with HVAC controls below and even details to the labels on the small buttons below.  Note the lack of any window switches between the air vents.  The shifters have the proper look for the 6-speed manual and 2-speed transfer case (I added details to the handles).  The seats are more supportive this time and space for front and rear is still about the same.  There's enough room for a few bags of groceries behind the rear seats.  Look below the rollbar and you can see the middle bar with integrated speakers and dome light.  If there was a major quibble here it's the lack of a clutch pedal:  The brake pedal is way to far to the left and adding one would be difficult as the brake pedal does not leave much room for a third pedal.










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Despite a few shortcomings on the base and the pedals inside this is one fantastic Jeep casting, and the fact that Maisto separated itself from the pack (including special-edition heavy Greenlight models) with a classic Willys package made all the difference.  A suitable replacement for my Jada 1:24 Wrangler.






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