Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Matchbox 1:64 and Welly 1:43 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6

It was big news a few years ago when Jada Toys arrived with the insane six-wheeled G-series SUV by Mercedes, and I got that chance to review it and it was amazing.  Since then other diecast manufacturers have joined in on this big Benz beast, and one of them just at the right time when the license agreement came back: Matchbox.

Matchbox version

Introduced at the Toy Fair last year the G63 AMG 6x6 was the headliner after the news of Mercedes-Benz license finally appearing after nearly a decade of no-go's from Diamler, all for a little silver sticker that Mattel refused to apply on all of their packages.  Now with the company back there are plenty of new and previous castings appearing in Hot Wheels and Matchbox lines.  This G63 was appropriate for the Matchbox line.  The idea for the 6x6 monster came from surplus equipment in the Mercedes truck line, specifically the Unimog and their floating live axles (the axles are stationary to the frame while U-shafts drop down and connect to the wheels for improved ground clearance).  What Diamler did was create one wild and unstoppable off-road machine out of the already-capable G-series wagon, and starting with the hot G63 AMG version was even better.  The look was G-series with the larger lower bumper scoops of the AMG model, then the rear SUV was cut off to add a pickup bed to conceal the flared fenders for all-six wheels, beadlock wheels mind you.  The interior still has the five-passenger layout of the standard G-series.  The engine is the 5.5L DOHC twin-turbo V8 motor that produces 536 horsepower and 561 Ib-ft of torque through a seven-speed automatic and to either two or three axles for four- or six-wheel power, and each differential locks as well.  It's a wild beast that is limited (only 100 made) and is not offered in the U.S.

Starting off with the tan color with the blacked-out 6-spoke wheels this Matchbox version is off to a good start.  The front has detailed round projector headlights, center grille with three-pointed star, and large lower bumper scoops.  On the sides the flared fenders and running boards are separate from the metal body and add some aggressiveness to the casting even if it is a bit narrow.  The side trim is detailed and is accented by V8 turbo badges and the Matchbox logo.  Outback the roll hoops surround the bed area that is filled with a full-size spare tire based on the same Matchbox 6-spoke wheel design.  The rear has detailed clear taillights and AMG 6x6 badges.  Now not all of the vehicle has detail as shown here so I added the detailing myself and it even looks more impressive.  The signature dual exhausts on the sides are on the base and detailed here really stand out more.  Now for the bummer: there's no interior in this casting because of the extra wheel used up the four-part assembly rule at Mattel; the good news is that the Matchbox team knows and there is a version with an interior for a future version (the Toy Fair version is the only one that has an interior so far).

Welly version

After the Jada version others have made their mark with AutoArt making the higher-end 1:18 version, while Welly goes for 1:24 and 1:43 scale models.  I decided to get the blue version in 1:43 to see how they did.  The version that I got (along with a few others in one package) lack the pullback motor that is common on other 1:43 scale models and at least keeps the details clean here.  The blue is striking and the blacked-out beadlock wheels look accurate with slightly narrower tires (I had to add the silver with red ring center caps) and flared fenders with detailed carbon fiber design.  The front has round headlights with LED ring design and LED running strips just below.  The center grille has chrome trim with the three-pointed star, upper signal lights on the front fenders, and lower grille scoops with silver added to the lower skid plate.  The roof has LED clearance lights on a shade spoiler (?), while the sides have the V8 badge, black trim accents, and chrome running boards.  The rear rollbars are chrome as well and the cargo area is wide open (no full-size spare here).  The tailgate has detailed badges and rectangular taillights.

Without the pullback motor the base is packed with more details, yet with the protective skid plates there is little to see aside from the rear driveshafts and side exhaust system.  The interior is very impressive and properly done; one of the nitpicks on the Jada Toys 1:24 version is that the rear seat is the same bench as the standard G-series SUV.  The Welly version has the bolstered seats front and rear that are very supportive and the rear seats get their own center console just like the real truck.  The seats also have a diamond pattern to the inserts.  The dashboard has the flat-faced G-series look with 4-spoke steering wheel, center stack with floating screen and plenty of buttons for radio, HVAC, and differential lockers.  The switches for the air suspension and tires are located on the upper center console just behind the rearview mirror.  The center console has the infortainment controller knob and the shifter for the transmission.  For those who think the 1:24 is too large and the 1:64 by Matchbox lacks complete detail and an interior then this Welly 1:43 version is your best bet to experience the six-wheeled Benz.

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