Sun Star’s brilliantly executed Nash provides a glimpse back to a time when the American automotive landscape boasted a vibrant panoply of marques.
AutoArt 1954 BMW 502 Luxus: AA70594
AutoArt’s connection to BMW in scale, unrivalled for its consistent high quality, is again on display in this exquisite rendering of the “Baroque Angel.”
Exoto Ferrari Tipo 156: EX97203
Far and away the finest model built this, or any, year but it's cost ($500!!!) and limited appeal (a vintage open wheel racing car is not a must have for most collectors) make it both an obvious and hard to select choice. I understand the sentiment of some, myself included on bad days, not to select Exoto because of their business practices but this is best model – not man of the year or even manufacturer of the year.
AUTOart 1967 Porsche 911: AA77918
Dare I even suggest this car? A wonderful model of a truly iconic car and selling at a good price.
Kyosho Datsun 240Z: KY08218A
If I have to pick, it’s going to be between the Tipo 156 and the Kyosho 240 Z.
For me, the choice of "Model of the Year" starts with a short list of about a dozen. It entails both Franklin Mint and Danbury Mint replicas in the so-called precision 1:24th scale. TFM's innovative fiberglass technology used for their latest Corvette images ranks very high on my list. But edged out slightly by two new toolings, I came down to a choice of two diecast releases. The diminutive Kookie's Kar from the late fifties TV show, "77 Sunset Strip" and the all new 1954 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible. In Apollo Gold with a fabric-covered black top, this '09 issue is simply exquisite and my choice for Model of the Year.
Danbury Mint Kookie's Kar: DM1572
DM has been the master in creating hot rod and custom treasures for us collectors. I’m a big fan of their fantasy issues but maybe even a bigger fan of their genuine historically famous recreations. Thanks to them, nostalgia is alive and well and preserves our cherished automotive dreams and remembrances.
Danbury Mint 1954 Cadillac: DM1583
This elegant Eldorado model comes with the usual fascinating features and functionality. But now they have also come up with polarized sun visors and a working fuel filler door, ah, taillight! Yeah, the driver’s side taillight lifts up to allow fill-ups, just like the real car.
EMC: 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe (1:43)
The amazing artisans at EMC in the Ukraine have done it again. Their model of the 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe leads the way as the outstanding 1:43 scale model for 2009. They have captured all the detail of this big, elegant Cadillac in its final year before being further downsized. The fit and finish of this red beauty borders on perfection. Every detail of the car has been replicated outside and inside this model. The dimensions are spot on to the original. All 1:43 collectors eagerly await the next model from EMC.
The following models were on my short list. I own them all but the Bugatti.
Exoto Ferrari 156 Sharknose
If you’ve seen the Exoto 156 Sharknose, you know it pushes the industry standard for quality into the stratosphere. It goes places no manufacturer has ever gone with a 1:18 scale production piece. But with a $500 plus price tag!
Bauer Bugatti Type 41 Royale: BAU-3293J4 – SOLD OUT
A behemoth and a magnificent piece! With over 1300 parts, this is one of the biggest and most elaborate 1:18 models made. Are there issues? You bet – but for sheer audacity you can’t beat it.
Perhaps an unintentional "Swan Song", Carousel 1’s beautiful yellow racer was probably their finest work. Any Roger Penske car is an almost guaranteed winner because the real car always ran at the front of the pack and was turned-out beautifully. Carousel 1, you will be missed.
CMC's model of this Le Mans Winner is a masterpiece and follows on the accomplishment of their SWB Lusso. CMC puts in detail most of us will never see. Get this: it has a full-length skid plate/belly pan that covers the full underside of the car. It covers the brake lines, emergency brake cables, drive train and all else. That’s obsession we collectors revel in.
The Datsun 240Z made it into every list for "Best Car of the Year, Decade and Century". The most well-known racing effort was Pete Brock's BRE Racing #46. Kyosho broke-out a ten-year-old tool and built a thrilling little car that holds a big space in the hearts of a lot of Americans.
My ultimate choice…
AUTOart Porsche 911: AA77913
AutoArt's little early street 911 is a jewel! And it is just the right car for our troubled times! As the first 911, it is understated with the steel wheels and dish hubcaps. Over the years, AutoArt has given us gobs of 911 and 911 derivatives, but this is the pure essence of the original car and is a delight to behold. It is hard to imagine this car executed any more nicely. It just looks right and they have shown they know what to do and, as importantly, what not to do. The result is a beautiful piece that holds its ground against competitors far more expensive.
A huge, highly detailed model with a myriad of working features of an iconic low cost people mover with commercial hauling options in itself, this variant became the quintessential "Flower Power" microvan of the 60s. This 1963 model was owned by the leader of the psychedelic band "Light", hand painted by mystic guru Dr Bob Hieronimus and featured in the classic AP photo taken at Woodstock making this model the ultimate nostalgia trip of a generation.
AutoArt 1:18 Chrysler Charger E49: AA71504
A beautifully rendered replica of a true home grown Australian muscle car. It's an unusual subject given a surprising amount of quality content by AUTOart.
CMC 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa: CMC071
There are few cars that conjure up images of the quintessential sports car, and even fewer, the quintessential Ferrari. The much anticipated 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa completes a long held desire for a precision crafted 1:18 scale replica of this iconic Ferrari. CMC captured the sensual curves and ferocious powerhouse of this early supercar using genuine materials like steel, copper, and real leather. Their attention to materials and craftsmanship continues to impress me.
The Sharknose is perhaps one of the most recognizable Ferrari race cars of all time and CMC captured every minute element. The Exoto model of this same car will be hard for anyone to match technologically in 1:18 scale, if even attempted. My decision to select CMC's version lies in the $200 price difference. Like pound for pound who is the best fighter.
So many models come out in December, it’s always tough do a year end wrap before Christmas. I guess that’s why they give the Oscars out in March – just so there is time to digest things. For example, the GMP Ferrari 312 PB (GMP1804104) and Kyosho 240Z SCCA Champion (KYO8218A) models probably deserve more than a mention – but neither can get my vote as I haven’t seen anything other than pictures. The Koenigsegg CCX (AA79002), which I do have, needs some time to settle in my mind but I can tell you my initial impression is…wow!
Three Lamborghinis Please:
I cannot stop taking photos of AUTOart’s Lamborghini Reventon (AA74591). I’ve always had a thing for Batmobile-looking cars and the aura of intimidation that surrounds this model is visceral. On the other end of the spectrum, the Lamborghini Espada (AUTOart) and the Lamborghini Uracco (Kyosho) are both brilliantly executed in several colors.
Well Crafted and Affordable:
AUTOart’s rendering of the classic Porsche 911 (AA77912 and AA77918) is the model of the year if one focuses on the intersection of quality and affordability. Also, Kudos to Jim Thoren and the crew at Supercars for their marvelous multi-car tribute to Plymouth’s Roaring 65’s – hopefully we’ll get funny car versions up the road. An ovation is due Sun Star for the sustained excellence reflected in their American subjects featured in the Platinum series of models – each a little more exquisite and well executed than the last. Ditto for True Scale Miniatures 1980 Porsche 935 K3 “Apple” (TSM09181) and 1980 Porsche 935 K3 "Jagermeister" (TSM09182) C1 revivals.
The model that wins my heart is the CMC 250 TR (CMC071) with its classic, voluptuous swoops and curves. Brilliantly crafted it crosses that line where an image is no longer a model but an artful replica. Yet ultimately, without race livery, this model falls short of capturing the prize.
The model that wins my mind also wins my vote for model of the year: the irresistible miracle and achievement that is the Exoto Ferrari Tipo 156 “Sharknose” (EX97203). There is not a manufactured diecast that I would consider in the same class and given that it displays the livery of the late Phil Hill – that also separates it from the brilliant yet generic 250TR.
Is modeling at this level of detail and price point sustainable? My job and mission here is to recognize excellence. Say what you want about the vineyard, this model is the finest vintage of 2009.
CONCLUSION: Diecast Zone 2009 Model of the Year
Based on our Editor’s comments, two models seem to dominate. So we’ve split our final selection into two categories: Precision (Models retailing below $150) and Replica (Models retailing over $150).
Kicked off with a classic version in maroon (AA77912) but with several versions now available this model has star value and endless appeal. Like clothes by Ralph Lauren, it is not the most expensive thing you will find on the shelf nor is it cutting edge; its appeal lies in it being timeless, classic and well crafted.
We were extremely lucky to get two outstanding models of the Ferrari “Sharknose” this year. As a collector, you lose nothing from an image standpoint by going with the CMC version of this model (CMC068). The Exoto, however, sets a new bar in modeling excellence. There is a reason Exoto did a video of their version of the model and CMC did not: the functional operating components are incredibly well engineered. Exoto’s nonpareil execution deserves our top award.
- EMC: 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe