2017-12-29

What's On The Wall: December 2017

And since "what's on the wall" is the ultimate expression of worthiness, here's what's on that wall today, 29 December 2017.

As a reminder, The Wall is made up of four 24-slot Plano Stow-and-Go containers, for a total of 96 slots. You'd think with nearly 100 slots available it would be easy to make decisions about what would go and what would stay, but it isn't -- sometimes it can be agonizing as to what to pull out when something else interesting comes along.

For the most part -- and to limit the spread of Ferrari cars -- I've limited each quadrant to a particular type of car, mostly by region of manufacture. So there's Europe, Japan, America, and... other. Other stuff is race cars and fantasy/movie cars.

So first, here's Europe:


The Ferraris are -- painfully -- limited to eight cars. Three BMWs, including the Zamac CSL and the Matchbox 1M. Six Porsches, the gold one is the Matchbox 911 GT3-2007. Then an almost random assortment of stuff, including Luigi in his Ferrari get-up, that Mini I liked, and the Volvo wagon from last year. Of this, probably the F355 Challenge, the VW, and the McLaren are the lowest hanging fruit for replacement.

Next is Japan:


...and yes, all four 510 Wagon variants. I have the Odyssey and that RX-3 I love. I've limited myself to two STi cars and two three four Skylines. Plus the R-35 GT-R from this year which might technically also be a Skyline? I am to be admired for my restraint, to be sure. Below that there's more low-hanging fruit -- the '95 RX-7 is an easy swap-out, as is the Zamac Acura and S2000. Of the trucks, I'd say the blue Brat will be the next to go. So this quadrant ends up being more dynamic than Europe.

Onwards to American manufacturers:


...and the first two rows are all European Fords, but Ford is American in my book, so here they are. And the Minecart is from Microsoft, and Microsoft is in Seattle Washington, so... yeah, it's thin, but it lets me sleep at night. I can't justify the Porsche Panamera here, but here it is anyway. Rules were made to be broken!

Finally, here's "other":


Two open wheel cars, two 24 Ours, two Batmobiles, two BTTF Time Machines, two Fandangos... two by two they go. Then there's the Race Day 962. Also present are a few Matchboxes -- the Quick Sander I liked, as well as two Best Of Matchbox cars in the M5 Police and the Mack CF Pumper. The trucks with the art on the side have been remarkable in their staying power on the wall, as have the two Spoiler Sport cars, something I wouldn't have predicted when they first went up. Two odd-ball items are Flynn's Light Cycle and the Screamin' Hauler, the latter being a car that one of my sons swiped from me years ago and then gifted back to me, so it gets a place of honor.

So that's what is on the wall today as the current definition of "worthy". Tune in next year to see what's gone and what it was replaced by. Have a Happy New Year!

2017-12-28

The Worthy of 2017: Non-Mainlines

Today we're going to look at the non-Mainline cars that I purchased this year and ascribe worthiness to some of them. Because non-Mainline cars are generally more expensive, I am less likely to buy one unless I think that it has some intrinsic worthiness. So while this list is a little shorter than the Mainline list from yesterday, it represents a much greater percentage of the list of actual purchases which you can figure out from the CollectHW list on right there.

To repeat what I said yesterday:

How do we know if a car is "worthy"? A car is worthy if it is displayed up on the wall over my desk for a long period of time. The more worthy it is, the longer it gets displayed. I'd say that around 50% of what I open is worthy of being displayed for at least a brief while. I have 96 slots in the display over my desk, so there's lots of room for variety. However most of what get displayed gets stored when the next round of fresh subject matter gets photographed for the blog. Since I've been collecting for more than 15 years I have a lot of cars to choose from for display. Many are fine cars; only a few remain worthy.

What makes a car "worthy"? I have no idea. There are no criteria for being included on or excluded from the lists; I look at the cars, I hold the cars, I open the packaging and roll them around on my desk. I even have a two foot segment of track on my desk to see how well they do with that.

There's nothing that says I won't find some 2017 car in three weeks that'd be an addition to this list. However, in three weeks I may feel differently so some -- or all! -- of the list members might be different.

To slightly paraphrase what I said in last year's post:
Note that this is not a prestigious award of any sort, just what I think when I look at the list and handle the cars. And as such, the rankings and comments for each are 110% arbitrary and may totally contradict what I said when I initially posted the casting. These are just my opinions, but since I'm mildly drunk right now I will fight you over them.
So let's get to it! Here are the cars in no particular order:

Worthy Non-Mainlines of 2017
  • '81 Camaro (Camaro Fifty): a fitting tribute to the Camaro Z28 Casting (which is better in every way than this car, however don't let that detract from this car's presence on the list).
  • '68 Mercury Cougar (Car Culture -- Redliners): The only Redliner that interested me from this set, the combination of low and wide works well here.
  • Porsche 962 (Car Culture -- Race Day): The best Porsche racing casting Mattel has done so far. The top looks a little empty of details, so there's room for improvement, but still a top car of the year.
  • Subaru WRX STI (F&F): Another excellent deco on an excellent casting. Not sure about the tie-in to the movie here, but it sure works for me.
  • Escort Rally (Snow Stormers 5-Pack): The Escort Rally gets an excellent refresh (presumably to live within Mattel's limits for parts in a model) and it works better than the original. The color is a weird matte as well, and it just adds to the car's attractiveness.
  • '73 BMW 3.0 CSL Race Car (Zamac): The only Zamac car I've loved -- or even really liked -- so far. The chrome base/bumper offset's the zamac flaws perfectly and the choice of chrome-ringed wheel complements the rest of the model. This one was a real surprise to me.
  • '70 Ford Escort RS1600 (10-Pack): I said last year that the red mainline would be tough to top, but this yellow model manages to do that. Wire wheels add to the retro classic look of the car too.
  • Porsche 911 GT2 (10-Pack): How have I never seen this casting before? I thought is was another GT3 of some kind while looking at it in the 10-pack, but once I got it out I noticed the difference. The rear spoiler really sets of this casting better than the more wild ones on the GT3 models, and the casting has made my list of Cars That I Want To Collect, Even Older Ones At Ridiculous Cost.
  • BMW M4 (Forza Motorsport): The M4 is a great casting that hasn't quite put it all together yet. Slightly dull colors or poor wheel choices have let down the released models so far. This is the best of the ones I've collected, although I'm still waiting on a bright red with nice wheels or something.
So looking at that list I see a lot of caveats up there. These are the best of the year, but most are not the Best Of Their Casting. Don't let that distract you from the fact that these are, in fact, great cars.

My Winner'73 BMW 3.0 CSL Race Car (Zamac)

If I could make it a three-way-tie between the Zamac, the Escort RS1600, and the Escort Rally I might have done that. The RS1600 bright yellow, wheels, and deco are perfect, as is the Escort Rally's refreshed look. However the sheer unexpectedness of my liking the Zamac car ends up being the tipping point that gives that car the win for this year.

2017-12-27

The Worthy of 2017: Mainliner

So let's try to make this an annual thing, ok? It's fun to look at lists and argue about what is better than what else on a particular list. So I've gone through the list of cars I got from the 2017 model year and listed out the best of the "Mainlines" and the best of the non-Mainlines.

How do we know if a car is "worthy"? A car is worthy if it is displayed up on the wall over my desk for a long period of time. The more worthy it is, the longer it gets displayed. I'd say that around 50% of what I open is worthy of being displayed for at least a brief while. I have 96 slots in the display over my desk, so there's lots of room for variety. However most of what get displayed gets stored when the next round of fresh subject matter gets photographed for the blog. Since I've been collecting for more than 15 years I have a lot of cars to choose from for display. Many are fine cars; only a few remain worthy.

What makes a car "worthy"? I have no idea. There are no criteria for being included on or excluded from the lists; I look at the cars, I hold the cars, I open the packaging and roll them around on my desk. I even have a two foot segment of track on my desk to see how well they do with that.

There's nothing that says I won't find some 2017 car in three weeks that'd be an addition to these lists. However, in three weeks I may feel differently so some -- or all! -- of the list members might be different.

Like I said in last year's post:
Note that this is not a prestigious award of any sort, just what I think when I look at the list and handle the cars. And as such, the rankings and comments for each are 110% arbitrary and may totally contradict what I said when I initially posted the casting. Maybe I didn't like the car when it first came through my hands! These are my opinions, and since I'm mildly drunk right now I will fight you over them.
So let's get to it! Here are the cars in no particular order:

Worthy Mainlines of 2017

  • Tesla Model X: The white one was nice, but the red one is fantastic. Honestly this one was a surprise to me, but I liked the white one I got first so much that I had to have the red one when it dropped. Stunningly (to me, anyways) I even like the sawblade wheels. The white one didn't last in the display, but the red one is still up there.
  • 24 Ours: We got three variations this year: a mainline, a Treasure Hunt, and a Mystery Models. The Treasure Hunt and the Mystery Models release both still reside on the wall; my guess is that the Mystery Models car will have the most staying power of the three.
  • Fandango: Another two-for: a Mainline and a Treasure Hunt, both of which are still up on the wall. This is a re-casting and we should see a bunch more in the future as the nice flat space makes an excellent canvas for crazy art.
  • Datsun 620: Two colors this year, white and black. The white one has the usual splotchy tampos, and the whole thing looks much better executed in black. This one stuck around on the wall for quite a while but has been dropped; right now the "elite" 620 is the Car Culture Trucks version.
  • Ice Charger: Another Fast&Furious Movie fantasy car. If you need to race around on an ice field and lure heat seaking missiles into the side of a submarine tower, this is your car. Even the ridiculous low profile isn't a detriment. And it rolls really well!
  • '71 Datsun Bluebird 510 Wagon: It's a Bluebird wagon, so it's instantly on the list. Right now all four of the variants I have are up on the wall, and since two of them are red ones, I doubt this blue one is going anywhere soon.
  • Mazda Repu: Another total surprise to me, I guess I really like these mini trucks. The blue-rimmed wheels are a masterful touch.
  • '90 Honda Civic EF: Then And Now really knocked it out of the park this year. Both the Civics look really good, even if they needed to be something other than white.
  • Mazda RX7: Another fantastic rendering of a fantastic casting. The deep blue and simple deco pattern makes it a winner in any year. 
  • Custom Datsun 240Z:  Definitely better than last year's Fairlady Z, this captures the spirit of the early Datsun Z cars better than anything else so far. 

Winner: Mazda Repu

I'll be honest, this isn't an easy decision. The RX7 is fantastic, and the Bluebird 510 is also fantastic. I just can't exclude the Tesla Model X. But the Repu gets it for being unexpected and excellently executed.

2017-12-23

Casting Call: 24 Ours

Here's the 24 Ours cars I can put my hands to -- I'm 95% sure there's another one floating around but I can't find it.


Happy Holidays.

2017-12-21

Chirping Lamley: 2017 Best New Licensed Model

So Lamley is doing their annual awards for the 2017 Hot Wheels series. I thought it might be fun to play along for those awards that I had more than a passing exposure to.

Today it is Best Licensed New Model:
Real cars.  [...] I also eliminated movie cars.  That means the two Fast & Furious Chargers are out.  (If they were not modified as “character cars” for the movie they would be in.)
Fair enough. The nominees please (my comments next to each one):
  • 2015 Ford Mustang GT Convertible: pass -- although I did end up with one from a 10-Pack this year.
  • Fairlady 2000: nice but perhaps a little too plain if you follow me. The pseudo-puke-green and mental-institution-beige are not flattering colors.
  • Volkswagen K√§fer Racer: The liveries offered this year just don't do it for me so I passed on buying these cars. Although I'll spoil 2018 a bit and tell you I have the first 2018 of this casting in the hopper for next year, so the casting isn't a write-off.
  • Custom Datsun 240Z: Very nice and captures the spirit of the source car much better than the other two castings. However whenever I look at it I think this is nice but shame about the other two cracks at it... 
  • Tesla Model X: the dark horse for me, especially the red one. I don't know why but I really like this car. I even like the "blade" wheels on it. Still have it up on display on the wall.
  • ’68 Corvette – Gas Monkey Garage: not my thing, sorry.
  • Corvette C7 Z06: yeah, no thanks, pass
  • Porsche 934.5: now on paper this should be my thing -- awesome Porche, simple livery, clean and complete execution. I dunno -- the execution of this one is just... off somehow. The casting has potential for the future (see also: the 2018 Super that I'll never get my hands on) but the 2017 execution.... swing and a... well not a miss, but let's say a solid double.
  • 2016 Ford GT Race: flatter and longer than the non-Race version, which I didn't like because it was too flat and long.
  • Volkswagen T2 Pickup: nice casting, shame about the deco. The use of chrome ringed rims on both of these cars worked really well.
  • 2017 Camaro ZL1: nope sorry.
  • ’15 Mercedes-AMG GT: too balloony if you follow me -- too rounded, cartoony, strange proportions -- it just doesn't look like a real car.
  • ’17 Nissan GT-R (R35): Another nice casting let down by details. I have two orange ones and both have blotchy paint -- with different blotches on each -- while the grey one screams wouldn't I look much better in orange to me.
  • Mazda REPU: Definitely a highlight of the year. Nice detail, good execution, and above all -- character.
  • ’17 Pagani Huayra Roadster: Ehhh... didn't buy. No reason not to -- but also nothing that demanded my attention either.
  • ’16 Honda Civic Type R: Missing a bit of details in the execution and the white finish doesn't really hide those flaws. But the worst thing about it is that I look at it and think man that older civic that was paired with this one looked fantastic. Top half of the year, definitely.
  • Custom ’67 Pontiac Firebird: again, not my thing, although I did buy one. Nice paint on it.
  • ’95 Mazda RX-7: Very nice. However it has the same characteristic that the Civic Type R did: it makes me think of the more classic RX-7 it was paired with. However, the execution of that RX-7, and the fact that the classic RX-7 was also available as a K-Mart exclusive in a fantastic looking red... well, the effect is more of a 'halo' effect than a detriment. 
So, after all that, my Top 3 for the year are:
  1. Mazda REPU (and this is the one I voted for)
  2. Tesla Model X
  3. '95 Mazda RX-7



2014


24 Ours
2014 Mainline #164


2017-12-18

2011

Cramped for time this week so we're going to do something a little different.

24 Ours
2011 Mainline #010


2017-12-15

Red Rocket

There's another red one of these coming this year, and I found this in the bin of carded cars I have in the closet, so I figured it was worth getting it out to look at.


I still think that the canopy needs detail -- grey or silver piping on the pillars perhaps -- in any case, some way of breaking it up from the partially see-through blob that it is now. But details wise this car is fantastic, better than the black one from this year definitely. The wheels I would maybe swap, but they are better than average, so we'll keep them for now.

'90 Acura NSX
2014 Mainline #218







2017-12-14

Missing Mini

Found this mini while digging around in the bin of carded cars I have. Too late for the extraveganza, but worth looking at.


Once I got this car out of the package I understood what people were talking about when they said the casting started to lose its tolerance -- the top flops around quite a bit on the base.

Morris Mini
2014 Mainline #194


Interestingly there's no roll cage on the base for this one. The body is nicely finished, though.





2017-12-13

Found It

Found the other Ice Cream Truck that I was thinking of -- although this one is called the "Tropicool". Whatever. 

Tropicool
2001 Mainline #136




2017-12-12

Yellow Racer

Here's the yellow version of the Renault Sport R.S. 01. The grey one was ok, but the yellow colored one is nicer. Honestly the red one is still my favorite, but this one is pretty good.


Renault Sport R.S. 01
2016 Mainline #079





2017-12-11

Well Damn

So I'm a sucker for rally cars with lots of lights on the front of them, so I look at the card art for this Rally Cat thing and think yeah, why not, I'm getting three others, right? 


And then I open it, and I'm disappointed, it looks like some kind of custom dirt track racer or something, right? Ugh.

Rally Cat (error)
2017 Mainline #305
But then I look closer -- and it occurs to me that the reason why it looks wrong is because it is wrong -- it is missing a yellow plastic insert piece.


This is the second or third error I've ever picked up off the pegs, and it is probably the first one I did totally by accident. It might have even been worth something if I'd kept it unopened, but no, I open them all, so here we are.




2017-12-08

Even More Zamac

Lotta Zamac this year, eh? I think there's even one more after this one, but it isn't a hit. This one is okay, I like the green trimmed wheels a lot, and it does work with the zamac-with-green-highlights of the main body.


Custom '01 Acura Integra GSR
2017 Zamac #005