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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hot Wheels Gas Monkey Garage 1968 Corvette and Matchbox Toyota Prius Taxi




Now this is an odd couple to review in one post, but the truth is both castings are mildly new as they have previous examples even though one is an all-new tooling.  The 1969 Corvette has always been one of the impressive Corvette castings since its introduction in 2006, but now it gets a major makeover thanks to the folks at Gas Monkey Garage.  On the other hand is a casting that is vastly different than the Corvette and has been modified to make it have some more use in the Matchbox line, the Toyota Prius.







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Gas Monkey Garage 1968 Corvette "Midas Monkey"

The story starts in 2015 when Mattel got in touch with Richard Rawlings of Gas Monkey Garage.  Already having fame from the TV series that follows his works at his shop called "Fast and Loud" Mattel figured that his creations would fit the Hot Wheels line, so what they had in plan was creating a life-size Hot Wheels car that in turn would be recreated as a smaller 1:64 scale toy.  The first release was the "Midas Monkey", a 1968 Corvette that is modified with inspiration from the Hot Wheels brand.  The stock 1968 Corvette had the original 427, but that engine was gutted for a supercharged 454 CID V8 with a blower that pokes out of the hood and exhaust that exits out through the front fenders.  The engine should well make over 800 horsepower and be loud as well.  It turns the large and wide 20 inch wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission.  Despite the modifications the original Corvette body was still intact with L88 flared rear fenders used and painted in flake fade gold paint from House of Color.  The car was sold at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in 2016 for $132,000 dollars.






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Pretty soon the Hot Wheels version would appear and for 2017 it's a hot item; I have yet to see one in stores so I had to get this one from Ebay once prices subsided.  The casting looks sharp and enough to differ itself from the 1969 Corvette as it's more tooned than the perfectly stock 1969.  The gold paint job is amazing and looks great on this car.  The front has the chrome bumper and lower grilles with side signal lights and hidden headlights, while the lower part of the bumper is part of the gold plastic base.  The stock hood remains but is cut out to allow the blower to stand out and the side exhaust coming out of the front fenders is a nice touch.  A lot of collectors are disappointed on the wheel choice as its missing the redline tires, so most of them would swamp out the wheels for proper real riders mag wheels with the redline on rubber tires.  At the rear it's pure stock Corvette with the vents behind the rear wheels, the gas filler cap, the quad taillights, and the Gas Monkey Garage plate below the Midas Monkey logo on the valence panel.  The interior is stock Corvette with seating for two, the angled dashboard with auxiliary gauges in the center, and no trunk.  The base shows off the spare tire in the rear; like the 1969 Corvette it has the same base details, interior details, and chrome bumpers sandwiched between the plastic base and metal body.  More of these partner duo's are on their way with a custom Ford Econoline pickup due by 2018.




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Matchbox Toyota Prius Taxi

I profiled the two hybrid cars from Matchbox a few years ago with the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight.  Both were nicely done hybrid cars with lots of details, both benefitted from smaller rims in later variations, and both were short-lived with the new-found way of Matchbox in 2012 calling for wilder graphics and more fun cars leaving the hybrids to bite the dust early  (ironically, the Fisker Karma hybrid would live on for a few more variations even though the real car has not seen the road yet due to financial troubles within the company.  The car will return later this year under new ownership).  For the Insight it was plausible as the real car has not caught on with the buying public, but for the Prius it was an insult for the most popular hybrid car sold in the world.  Plus these hybrid cars are now starting to see service in the commercial sector with one of them being taxi's.  Well Matchbox has learned that lesson and gave a new lease on the Prius's life last year with a Taxi model.







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The original coin in the taxi saga was, just before the casting vanished after 2011, a large sign that faces the sides of the car (used on the Ford Crown Victoria Taxi of 2008) to attach to the roof of the Prius and give more use out of it.  Thanks to cost reasons that idea was scrapped (and while i'm at it the large Crown Vic taxi sign was replaced with a smaller one that is part of the window tooling).  This new one uses a more proper and smaller Taxi sign on the roof, which is part of the windows and says barely anything on the sign (that's a major setback).  The 2017 yellow taxi color is more proper than the odd green color and the dark-tint 6-spoke wheels really set the taxi mood of this casting.  Elsewhere it's pretty much the same Prius casting since 2009.







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The front has signal lights stacked on the headlights with a lower bumper that has integrated foglights (I added lighting details myself on this example here).  The sides have Metro City Taxi logo's and decals with a proper taxi format, while the rear has stacked and clear taillights (brake lights are LED's hidden along the black rear window strip) with a slight rear spoiler over the hatch.  The interior is still right-hand drive with a flat and smooth dashboard layout that has the digital gauges in the center of the dashboard.  The central controls, 4-spoke steering wheel, center console, seats, and even the gear in the cargo area are all still there.  The base shows off the hybrid powertrain that consists of a 1.3L I-4 and a dual-electric motor to the front wheels.  It's not a fast car, nor a great handler, but it does the taxi job just well.  With the Crown Vic now out of production and more and more taxi services moving towards more fuel-efficient choices cars like the Prius are the perfect choice for taxi duty.


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