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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Greenlight 1:43 2004 Pontiac Aztek "Breaking Bad"




Greenlight has been getting quite a bit of licensing to make various TV and film vehicles, and one of the few TV starts that started the increase in Greenlight's Hollywood profile is the AMC TV series "Breaking Bad."  I've profiled the 1986 Fleetwood Bounder, and a few other vehicles have come from the series as well.  One vehicle that gained popularity from the TV series is an unlikely one: a Pontiac Aztek, the one that Walter White drives, uses as a battering ram, and goes through several damages during the seasons.




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The Aztek started out life as a General Motors concept car in 1999.  The idea was for Pontiac to cash in on the SUV craze since they were very popular in the 1990's and Pontiac does not have one (Unless you count the Trans Sport Montana, later Montana, minivan).  Speaking of minivans the Aztek was based on the Pontiac Montana minivan platform that was introduced in 1997 and offered all-wheel drive in 1998.  Using the short-wheelbase platform with all-wheel drive was the starting point for a versatile and practical SUV.  The interior was designed with a rugged look that included washable seats and floor, a center console that doubles as a portable cooler, a flashlight that is also the rear dome light, rear stereo system, air compressor, and a tailgate that has a fastback-like lift up glass and a lower tailgate with recessed seats and cupholders for tailgate parties.  Even the design of the rear hatch allowed for a tent to attach to the rear of the vehicle.  Styling was edgy, yet unique when the concept debuted, but by the time it went into production bean counters altered the styling with more black plastic trim and a less-aggressive front-end.  The result was one awkward SUV that never caught on with the public and was voted the most ugliest car ever!  After a restyle in 2002 that involved less black plastic exterior trim and new wheels failed to kickstart sales as the Aztek was discontinued in 2005.  Since then fanclubs and even the TV show "Breaking Bad" has peaked interest into the once ill-advised SUV.




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The engine uses the same 3.4L pushrod V6 as the GM minivans that produced an estimated 200 horsepower through a 4-speed automatic and optional Versatrack all-wheel drive system, the latter incorporating an independent rear suspension.  In 2002 Buick also got their first SUV with the Rendezvous, the Aztek platform mate with much better styling that flowed along the Buick line and fueled the SUV emergence for Buick while Pontiac fizzled away in 2009.  Until now the only GM minivan-based SUV replica in diecast was the Maisto 1:24 Buick Rendezvous.  Now thanks to the Breaking Bad show the Aztek arrives as a 1:43 scale model from greenlight in its signature beige color.  I was critical of the shape of the body being too boxy, but as you get to know the SUV more it starts to work with the model.  The front has large silver headlights with orange high-beams/running lights (they are really not orange in color) with signal lights mounted on top of the front fenders.  The V-shaped Pontiac grille is also followed by two hood slats just above, while the lower gray bumper has round foglights and a ribbed pattern.  A nice touch is the windshield that has blue tape around the edges to represent the replacement windshield that has encountered a few mishaps during the series run.




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With the side trim lowered the sides look clean, if a bit plain with the arch shape of the roofline, roof rails on top, and a sunroof that is painted on the metal roof.  The mirrors have the correct shape and the 3-spoke snowflake wheels with rubber tires have the proper look of the steel wheel covers on the actual vehicle; on the left rear is the missing cap wheel that has the proper black steel wheel look to it.  At the rear the glass hatch leads to the rear spoiler, upper-mounted taillights, and lower gray bumper with ribbed pattern.  A nod to the series also includes the New Mexico plate and some green and white patch on the left-side of the gate.  The base underneath lacks any detailing as it's just a flat plastic pan, while the interior has proper detailing of the actual vehicle.  The front has bucket seats with the cooler center console, console shifter, and a rear bench seat.  The door panels are detailed with the correct controls and round trim layout, while the dashboard has the 4-spoke steering wheel, detailed gauges, round A/C vents, and center stereo and HVAC controls.  Having been in a similar GM minivan the plastic trim is very plasticky, big, round, and prone to coming off easily.




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While not many's cup-of-tea as a diecast model, or a SUV, it's finally nice to see a replica of the world's ugliest SUV, all thanks to Mr. Heisenberg.




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