Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Upcoming Event: Matchbox Collectors Gathering of Friends

You probably know by now that we love blogging about Matchbox cars here at The Western Diecast Review. It is a little more difficult to find communities around Matchbox collecting than it is to find communities based on Hot Wheels collecting. Hot Wheels have a cult-like following and the annual Collector's Nationals and Collector's Convention are both extremely well attended.

Later this month, Matchbox fans have a chance to experience a convention of their own with the upcoming Matchbox Collectors Gathering of Friends on July 17-19 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Unfortunately no one here at TWDR will be able to attend. But for those interested, you can find all of the info at the following links:

Mattel representatives will be in attendance, but perhaps the most exciting opportunity of the weekend is the chance to get your hands on some one-of-a-kind Matchbox pre-production models that will be auctioned off. What a great opportunity to get a once-in-a-lifetime piece and support a great cause! 

In honor of the upcoming event, here is one of our favorite Matchbox models, the Seagrave Fire Engine, in full detail!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Better than a Super? Hot Wheels 2008 Lancer Evolution

Yes, there is a super-ized version of this casting, but we wanted to bring you some close ups of the mainline version. This may be one of those rare instances where the basic model Hot Wheels turns out looking better than the super treasure hunt. Several on social media have asserted the exact same opinion and we agree. The wheels look better than the dorky, blue 6-spokes on the super treasure hunt and the lack of hood tampos give it a cleaner look. Plus the black is more black, whereas on the super it is almost a midnight blue. So without further adieu, enjoy the mainline. Heck, you'll find it more easily anyways and avoid paying outrageous 'super prices' on eBay.

2008 Lancer Evolution

Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Mainline Perfection: 2015 Hot Wheels Datsun 240Z

Every once in awhile Hot Wheels comes up with a mainline release that makes us feel like we really got more than our dollar's worth from. Such is the case with this year's mainline Datsun 240Z in white. With an increasingly plasticized mainline and more and more fantasy releases coming out every year, many collectors feel entirely alienated from the mainline. Without the Treasure Hunt program it's doubtful collectors would pay more than a passing attention to the mainline. Nonetheless, Mattel still throws us a bone with models like this once in awhile, and that's why we keep digging through dump bins for realistic releases when we could probably be using our time a little more productively.

Why do we love this 240z so much? First off, it sits off the ground nicely with a proper stance, the wheels don't rub and ours rolled straight as an arrow. That doesn't matter too much if you display your cars, but there's something about a die cast piece that rolls smooth and straight that adds to its mystique. Next, this model has clear windows all around. In an era where the most realistic windows are usually at least a smoky, tinted color, the pure, clear windows all around are refreshing. The paint job is what really does it for us on this model. We love the clean, white and minimalistic releases Hot Wheels has put out lately, like the Fiat 500 and the Lamborghini Urus among many. This Z gets the same treatment but with added details that are accurate and flashy without being gaudy. The blue and red scheme is sharp and looks neat with a lighter blue than is traditionally used. The numbers and racing logos look authentic.

On top of the great deco and stance, the casting itself has a bundle of cool touches like hood air intakes, indents for headlights, taillights, license plates and door lines. The casting also has molded-in radiator and grille detailing. Finally, the wheels on this are spot on. We really enjoy OH5/FTE style wheels and these ones in grey are a bold choice. You'd expect Hot Wheels to go with the standard chrome/silver color here or maybe do a black rim, but the grey is a unique and perfect way to go. It contrasts wonderfully with the pastel-ish blue and red racing stripes. 

Of all the 240z models Hot Wheels has released, and there are a few, (http://texashwcollectors.org/hwguide/datsun240z.html) this might just be our favorite. And no, we haven't forgotten about the recent BRE release from HWC/RLC. Hopefully you enjoy these photos as much as we do. Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

JDM Fans: The Hot Wheels '90 Acura NSX has Arrived

Maybe the most anticipated of the 2015 basic models, at least among JDM fans, is the '90 Acura NSX, so naturally we had to get our hands on one. The NSX, perhaps Japan's most legendary super car, has never had a Hot Wheels version until now. Do we like it? Here at TWDR, we haven't fully bought into the JDM craze sweeping the die cast world. Sure there are some incredible models that are favorites around here, like the '90 Honda Civic EF and the Datsun 620 pickup, but just because something is 'JDM' doesn't mean we have to have it.

Anyways, let's talk about the NSX. When we picked this up at our local Wal-Mart, nothing about it was overly impressive. Once you open it up, there are subtle touches, like the Acura hood logo and indented headlight lines. It rolls nicely and the stance is low and mean. Do we like it? Yes. Do we love it and does it live up to the hype? No. Collectors are fickle, and some of us love a model that others hate, so we are not saying it's a bad model. But it is lacking. Firstly, the PR5 wheels look plain goofy. A traditional 5 spoke or the OH5s would have given it a more realistic look. PR5's were fun on realistic Hot Wheels a decade ago, but Mattel's wheel choices have come a long way since then. But it's not just wheel choice. It's the fact that the wheels are just plain too big for the casting. Hot Wheels has a tendency to use wheels that aren't to scale, but on a model designed for realism, come on guys. Our other beef is the plastic roof. Sure it was the easy option given how prominent the windows are on the real car, but easy is not always best. On top of it the whole package just seems kind of bland.

Let us know if you feel the same, or think we're just plain crazy in the comments below.

'90 Acura NSX

Stay Tuned!

Monday, 22 June 2015

A Pair of Minis in British Racing Green

Having lamented the loss of the metal base and opening features on the Hot Wheels Morris Mini last week, we decided to dig up some of our favorite die cast Mini Coopers. Today we feature two of them: the Hot Wheels Morris Mini, an old school, hard topped, all metal release, and the Matchbox Mini Cooper Convertible, a modern, plastic-based convertible. Both releases feature an iconic, British Racing Green paint scheme. Of course we prefer the all metal, original Hot Wheels. But the new-school Matchbox is accurate, realistic and is a great model for collectors who favor realistic releases. Enjoy the photos.

Hot Wheels Morris Mini

Matchbox Mini Cooper S Convertible

Stay Tuned!

Friday, 19 June 2015

A Matchbox Grail? The Elusive Green Dodge Challenger

4 weeks ago, a widely-read Die Cast blog posted some shots of the impossible-to-find Matchbox Dodge Challenger SRT8 in lime green. Reportedly, the green Matchbox Challenger showed up in only one, single darn 10-Pack, never making it to the mainline, 5 packs or anywhere else. On top of that, the 10-pack containing the green machine only showed up in Canada. Getting our hands on 1 sounded like an uphill battle.

With some effort put in over the past month, we at TWDR managed to find 2 of them over the past month, and we decided to showcase one here for you.

We absolutely love this casting from Matchbox. Its proportions are a little more accurate than Hot Wheels' rendition of the modern Challenger and the stance is far more realistic on the Matchbox, sans that oh-so-typical Hot Wheels 'California-rake', where the rear wheel size causes the back end to sit much higher off the ground than does the front end. Another feature we love about this model is those 5-spoke, satin silver rims from Matchbox. They are our favorite plastic rims period, second only to the original Hot Wheels Redlines. The lime green paint job is more satin and flat than it is metallic and it looks just plain beautiful on this model. Additionally, the model is free of gaudy tampos, racing stripes, flames or any other visual silliness that could potentially detract from the model.

So by now you're probably wondering where to get one, but you might not have much luck trying to find one. But there's good news! In 2013 Matchbox put out a purple edition of the Challenger SRT8 that looks nearly as sharp and can be had on eBay for pennies on the dollar.

Now you know we love this model, but is it truly a 'holy' grail as some have called it? We won't say no. In our minds, anything that is elusive, valuable, limited or just too darn hard to find can be considered a grail by the collector. It is up to the individual collector to decide what a grail is for him or herself! This model is not a personal grail of ours, but it certainly has that 'grail status.' It is far, far rarer than any Hot Wheels Super Treasure hunt or Greenlight Green Machine. With Supers and Green Machines, demand and competition drive up the price, causing some to mistake them for 'true' grails.

The green Matchbox Challenger SRT8 joins the likes of Hot Wheels employee cars, toy fair releases, and other rare variations as an elusive and unique piece on which some will certainly proclaim grail status.

What is your 'grail'? Let us know in the comments below. Enjoy.

Matchbox Dodge Challenger

The 10 Pack it was Exclusive to:

Common in Purple

Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Metal Base/Metal Body Hot Wheels a thing of the Past?

Collectors have complained for years at the diminishing number of basic Hot Wheels models Mattel offers with both a metal body and metal base. In the 80's and 90's it was rare to find a Hot Wheels car, even at a 1$ price point that didn't have a metal base and a metal body. Throughout the 2000s, Mattel released new models with either a plastic base or plastic body in order to shed costs. This was all well and fine because us collectors had those metal/metal models from the 90s that were still being re-colored throughout the 2000s. But with each passing year Mattel seems to re-tool longtime collector favorites, making metal-on-metal models nearly non-existent throughout the mainline.

A quick scan of Hot Wheels 250 basic, 1$ releases from 2014 and we noted only 5 castings had both metal bases and metal bodies. The '71 Mustang Funny Car, the Meyers Manx, Volkswagen Beetle (Herbie), Custom Volkswagen Beetle (Mooneyes) and the Morris Mini, which we review here today. A grand total of 5 models had both metal base and metal body out of the 250 basic cars Hot Wheels released last year. That amounts to a mere 2% of the mainline. 2 of the 5 models had opening features, the Funny Car and the Mini.

Out of only 5 metal/metal models used last year, yet another, the Morris Mini has been retooled with a plastic base for 2015. It has also lost its opening feature, or pop-off body.

Here at TWDR, we are more bothered by the lack of traditional metal base than the loss of the pop off features. Trying to pop the top on our 2014 Mini was a nightmare. We chipped a couple finger nails, damaged a ball point pen and bent the axles on the Mini. The loss of the pop off feature doesn't bother us.

What we will miss, however is the metal base. Sure Mattel has to cut costs, but maintaining a few solid metal base/metal body castings throughout the mainline would go miles in maintaining collectors' interest in basic 1$ Hot Wheels. It is a sad day for us as die cast collectors to see the Morris Mini lose its metal base after so many iterations with it. It just looks wrong somehow to have a plastic base on the Mini despite the fact that almost every other 1$ car does nowadays.

Morris Mini: 2014 vs. 2015

Stay Tuned!