B.A. Baracus' Ride Is Here

The A-Team Van is a miniature of the 1983 GMC Vandura driven and owned by the character B.A. Baracus in The A-Team television series and the 2010 film of the same name. A staple of Tuesday night television when I was growing up, this van represented the good guys transportation. Today we're featuring the 2013 Retro Entertainment A-Team Van. This premium model has gorgeous red rims and Real Rider tires, nice detailing in the brush bar up front, and evidence of a whole lot of care and attention. The only real detraction is the ridiculous Fox copyright stamp on the rear left flank.

I'm horribly repetitious here, but I love the paint details, especially on the side lights and the headlights behind the bush bar. This is a fantastic model.


Batmobile Extraveganza

So in celebration of the mega movie event, let's have a look at a couple of Mattel's movie car offerings. I have for you today the mainline car, as well as a more premium playset that includes an "action" figure.

Let's start from first principles: the design of this car is ridiculous, and not in a good way. Most Batmobiles have more than a little balls-out carzy to them -- Batman always seems to have a need for everyone around him to know exactly how bonkers he is. But this car... it's just too flat. It's like someone told the designer "make the flattest car you can", and then after design approval the vertical dimension was shrunk by 20%. Batman has to be lying on his back in this car, not exactly good for the posture. And those windows out the front would make seeing out the side of the car practically impossible.

I'm not impressed at all by the mainline car. Black on black usually works, but here it doesn't even look like a cliche -- it just looks bad.

The premium set comes with a forgettable action figure

Quick, can you tell which of the cars below is the "premium" car?

It's actually the one on the left in all these pictures. The premium car is the same mold, the same wheels. The upper body paint is slightly darker and glossier, and there's better relief of the molding's details, probably due to more careful paint application.

But frankly it's only "better". When you compare the $7 Premium with the $1.50 Mainline, you have to conclude that it is the action figure -- and associated packaging requirements -- which boosts the price up. Aside from slightly more care in paint selection and application, the premium is the same car as the mainline.

Frankly it is a struggle to find something nice to say about this casting, so why don't we have a look at something better executed: the 2016 Batman series Batman Begins Batmobile.

Here you see the premium car compared to the Camouflage Tumbler from the 2014 Mainline series. And immediately there are some things to note:

Firstly, the 2014 car is well executed for a $1.50 diecast. There's no doubt what it is supposed to be. And secondly, the 2016 Premium car is an entirely different molding.

The main differences are the detail over the rear wings and the nose. You could argue that the 2014 car is more faithful to the movie car's design, but the premium car is nicely executed too.

The premium car gets chrome detail on the rear that the Mainline does not. Here the Premium is the nicer car.

And the premium gets nice wheels, even though the details in the rear fender are better executed in the Mainline.

But even the Tumbler isn't enough of a palette cleanser. Let's conclude today with a look at probably my favorite move Batman car, the one from Tim Burton's original films.

This one is a 2015 Color Shifters car. The red flames come out when the car is warmed, or cooled, I forget which. But I love the detail on this car, it looks every bit what a Batmobile should look like.

(21 photos today. Don't say I never do nothin' for you. And I still have three or four more Batmobile castings to go through, but I think that's more than enough for one day.)



On Display: In Summary

So, I think we've touched on everything here already:

This is my desk at home, and these are the cars I care enough about to keep permanently within arm's reach.

Happy Easter!


Ferrari 575 GTC

The final pieces from the desktop display areas are three of my four Ferrari 575 GTC cars. I like these cars because I remember the 550 and 575 cars racing in Le Mans against the Aston Martins. They always seemed to lose to the Astons, but I liked the Ferraris anyways.

It appears to me that most of the 575GTC castings have been premium offerings. These three, plus the one I have that is still in its Ferrari 5-Pack case, represent the bulk of the more "commonly" available cars. The first one is a 2010 Speed Machines premium car -- Real Riders, nice paint and tampos.

This next one is the First Editions car from 2005. It was also available as a rarer variation with the 10-spoke chrome wheels.

Finally we have the 2006 Mainline car.

Of the rest of these castings, there are three Ferrari Racer cars and one 5-Pack car that I don't have. The Ferrari Racer cars appear to be exceptionally rare, and exceptionally expensive when they do show up -- doing some eBay surfing yielded some cars from overseas that would end up costing me on the order of $70 each -- even after combining shipping -- to have delivered to me. Now while they are not going to get any less rare, and thus less expensive, that's still a lot of money to spend on one car. So I keep passing. Maybe when I'm old and grey I'll regret passing on them when they were "only" $70, but today I don't think I can justify it.


Non-HotWheels Displayed Favorites

So just to finish up the stuff on my desk display area I though I would bang in a quick post. Since these are too cool not to share, right? Right.

First, Luigi from Cars. Considering all the Ferrari cars I have, plus my following of the F1 team, this was inevitable. He's quite happy where he is, what with all the Ferrari cars around him.

I also have a small collection of TRON items. These three were all released during the brief TRON:Legacy merchandising rush. I am especially fond of the Recognizer. I keep thinking I should try to get a Kevin Flynn identity disk, but I can never find one that's affordable when I think of it

The last items on the display area are Ferraris, so we'll cover them Friday.


Classic Wagon

'71 Bluebird 510 Wagon
Mainline 2014-206 

'71 Datsun 510 Wagon 2016 Japan Historics #1
This is the casting that blew up last year becoming hugely popular. I can see why, the red is attractive and well done. Nice wheels, bright tampos, unusual details like the mirrors.

The premium model is even better, real riders and a metal base. Plus those red rings on black wheels that I like so much.

What this model does have is a weird inconsistency in naming convention. The premium is a '71 Datson 510 Wagon; the red one is a '71 Bluebird 510 Wagon; and the wiki page mashes the two names together as a '71 Datsun Bluebird 510 Wagon. So who knows what it is "really" called.


Ferrari F430 Cornucopia

Ferrari F430 Challenge
Mainline 2010-154

Ferrari F430 Spider
Mainline 2011-190

Ferrari 430 Scuderia
Mainline 2010-127

The Ferrari 430 is a casting that Mattel has provided in three forms for us. It is interesting to compare the three castings together to see what elements are emphasized on one car that are not emphasized on the others. I've kept both a Spider and a Challenge at the office to play with, since they both roll pretty well and have a nice look to them.

This article actually provided a real surprise for me. I've had the Scuderia sitting in a blister pack since 2012 or so when I bought it from an online vendor as part of a model year catchup bulk buy, but never opened it until I went to take the pictures for this posting. And for whatever reason, the Scuderia hits all the notes I like in a solid way -- nice proportions, decent attention to detail, nice highlights like the Pinafaria tampo on the side, and the black wheels with red rim rings. And it feels good in the hands, too. This car went from not being considered at all special to gaining a place on my limited over-desk space.