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Diecast Zone Reviewers: Car of the Year 2010

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1:18 Nomination & Winners

BILL BENNETT

Expensive:

Exoto Alfa-Romeo Alfetta GPC 97240

Quite clearly the finest model cost-is-no-object to be introduced this year, the second release into the Exoto “XS” series after the Ferrari 156 Sharknose, the Alfetta is a beautiful and historically significant model. Breaking all Exoto traditions, the first car out of the chute is the winner of the Spanish Grand Prix driven by J.M. Fangio.

AutoArt Nissan R390

Exquisitely rendered model of this Le Mans podium-finishing contestant. Although not a Le Mans winner, the R390 has restored faith in AutoArt’s ability and commitment to top-quality replicas in line with their Signature line Le Mans-winning Mazda 787B. The R390 is a real tour d’ force..

GMP 1965 & 1967 Corvette Sting Ray

GMP has brought us three new Corvette Sting Rays that represent the C2’s early years but not the iconic first year with its split-window coupe. These cars are built at the highest level of quality and detail heretofore reserved for their Ferraris. Any one of these cars is worth having however I prefer the 1965 Sting Rays that are equipped with the 327" small-block “Fuelie” engine.

Medium Priced:

Supercar Collectibles / Highway 61 Altered Wheelbase Plymouths

The Altered Wheelbase Plymouths and Dodges came from the pivotal era in drag racing when Ford and Chrysler were pulling out all the stops to best each other at the drag strips all over the US. Impassioned collectors have been begging Supercar Collectibles to produce these cars for years and they have taken their customers’ wishes to heart and invested in the tooling. This was one leap of faith which, I’m sure, will be rewarded with sold-out production runs. And the cars are quite nicely rendered by Highway 61….. quite possibly the nicest work done by this company.

Bargain:

Sun Star 1956 Mercury Montclair

Sun Star has recently “gotten legs” and has confidently moved into building some really first-rate cars. The Mercury Montclair in both the hardtop and convertible iterations is a real treat for anyone who is a fan of mass and chrome in an American automobile. These cars come highly recommended.

Sun Star 1959 Mercury Parklane

Like the 1956 Mercury Montclair, the 1959 Parklane is a faithfully-executed rendition of this “Luxo-Barge”. For those of us that remember and admired these beauties, they represented the optimism and enthusiasm that was such a part of post-WWII America. If a parent, relative or neighbor had one of these, I bet you have fond memories and these two Mercurys are a way to recapture a sense of that feeling.

Bennett 1:18 nomination:

The Supercar Collectibles series of Altered Wheelbase Plymouths

There is no higher compliment to a customer than when a manufacturer listens to their customers and demonstrates willingness to make significant investment based on what the customer asks for. And Supercar Collectibles has done just that! Their series of AWB Plymouths has been executed at their highest level of quality and are true treasures. I hope they will continue this series into more injected cars and into the Dodges that Chrysler also produced. Thank you to Jim Thoren, Scott Dahlberg and Steve Meyers at SSC for listening and acting.

BRYAN MIRANDA

Exoto Alfa Romeo Alfetta

Exoto’s latest XS release, the Alfa Romeo 159 Alfetta far exceeds any model ever released before in terms of build quality, detail, price, and working features of a 1/18 scale model.

AutoArt Mclaren F1 Road Car

Finished in glossy magnesium silver, AutoArt’s McLaren F1 Short Tail Road Car represents a new level of detail and price for AutoArt’s 1/18 scale releases. I for one am happy that AutoArt has decided to produce models of this level of detail, and it seems that their models improve year over year. Their attention to detail and quality craftsmanship make their models an excellent value.

Miranda 1:18 nomination:

CMC Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe

I base my top pick not only on detail, quality, and features, but also on its importance to me as a collector and the automobiles I have always admired. My pick for model of the year is hands down the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut coupe by CMC. Like the Testa Rossa released last year, this iconic sports car was long overdue at this level of detail and quality, and I’m happy that CMC was the company to bring it to us. No detail was missed, and the use of organic materials we are accustomed to seeing on their models was immediately evident in the red leather interior and intricately built wire wheels.

RICH SUFFICOOL

CMC 1931 Mercedes-Benz SSKL Mille Miglia *15th Anniversary Edition*

In their 15th anniversary limited edition, CMC’s 1931 Mercedes-Benz SSKL Mille Miglia is one of those models you can look at forever under a microscope and always seem to find some new detail you hadn’t noticed before. As a modeler, I have to marvel at the design and execution of museum quality models like this as well as the use of so many different materials to provide the content and scale fidelity. Zinc alloy, brass, copper, aluminum, tin plate, stainless, rubber, leather, and the like are all part of the ingredients used to create this replica. This anniversary edition is an LE of 2000 and comes with a presentation case consisting of a hardwood base with mirror panel, two plaques and a dust cover of high quality Plexiglas.

FRANK LEMIRE

1:18 Street Machines

AutoArt 1963 Corvette

An excellent model at a very good price of arguably the most significant Corvette. The first year of the C2 “Stingray” body style really set the tone for all of the Corvettes that have followed. Great fit and finish, nice detailing and perfect stance make this car in either the roadster or the ‘split window’ coupe a must have for any American car collection.

GMP 1965 Corvette

Simply put the GMP 1965 Sting Rays are the finest models you can buy in 1:18 scale. Top shelf quality and detail all the way around. If you have the extra dollars it is well worth making the investment.

AutoArt 1970 Alfa Romeo Montreal

I just love this little car that started out as a show car and ended up as one of the most pleasing body designs that Alfa Romeo ever produced. Nice detailing both inside and out make this one a very attractive display piece.

CMC 1955 Mercedes Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe

This race car in street clothing is just flat out cool and with the detail that CMC puts into all of their cars it makes for a truly amazing model of a really special car.

1:18 Racing Machines

Exoto 1951 Alfa Romeo Alfetta 159

Looks like Exoto has done it again! A model that is as good, if not even better, than their Ferrari Tipo 156/120 of last year. Just an amazing amount of detail on one of the classic 1950’s Grand Prix cars. An amazing tour de force that is unfortunately dampened by a price that will sadly keep it out of a number of collections.

AutoArt 1970 Porsche 908/2 #48 McQueen/Revson Sebring

This long awaited car finally arrived and was a pleasant ‘upgrade’ from the rather uninspired 908/3 models that proceeded it. Excellent fit and finish and nice attention to detail make this car a real winner in my book. Others may prefer the models with other liveries that have followed but this car is my top choice because it has by far the most interesting history.

Exoto 1961 Ferrari Tipo 156/65 ‘long nose’

A reworking of their groundbreaking Tipo 156/120 models of last year, the new car with a different engine, nose and windscreen is as good as it gets in 1:18 scale.

GMP 1967 Ferrari 330 P4/412P coupes

These cars are follow-ons to their great 330 P4 spyder models with GMP doing a fantastic job at making all the changes required to make each car unique. That ‘extra mile’ of making the required detail changes rather than just slapping on a different livery and calling it ‘good enough’ is a dream come true for all race car collectors.

True Scale Miniatures 1976 Tyrrell P34

Yes, this model has been done before but this latest offering by TSM is an excellent value for the dollar and a godsend to those faced with trying to find and buy the earlier Exoto offering on the secondary market. The level of detail, fit, finish and care in making this model have really made TSM a brand to watch in 2011.

Hot Wheels Elite 1970 Ferrari 512 S

A Hot Wheels car on my list? You bet! Mattel has finally come around to making new molds and upping their quality level to the point that they are becoming real value leaders, particularly with their latest Ferrari offerings. Good fit and finish, better wheels and tires and the inclusion of photo-etched pieces will be making these cars welcome additions to a lot of collections.

Lemire 1:18 Street Machine Nomination:

AutoArt 1963 Corvette

Yes I know the GMP is the better detailed but 1963 is THE iconic year and for my money if you are going to own one C2 Corvette it should be the one that started it all.

Lemire 1:18 Racing Machine Nomination:

AutoArt 1970 Porsche 908/2 #48 McQueen/Revson Sebring

In an upset I have to go with the AutoArt Porsche 908/2 with the McQueen/Revson car coming out just on top of a field filled with cars that are more detailed – and a lot more costly. It just noses out the GMP and Exoto Ferraris because they are follow-on cars and the amazing Alfa because it is beyond the financial reach of so many collectors.

RUSTY HURLEY

1:18 Street Machines

CMC 1955 Mercedes Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe

To call this a “street car” is a bit disingenuous, it was in fact a GP championship car with street skin. The model is amazing and shows the continued progression of CMC as a leading modeler in the world.

AutoArt Datsun Fairlady 2000

You didn’t expect that selection, did you? AutoArt has made it a mission to find sixties and seventies Japanese classics and give them loving tributes. You can tell that this model was a labor of love for the people working on it, with full openings and fantastic touches like logo floor mats.

Sun Star 1959 Oldsmobile

Solid, gorgeous, well-scaled and as substantial as a brick. The photo etched front grill logo is worth the price of admission by itself. If the car itself were more remarkable, this piece might actually be in the running for model of the year.

Norev Citroen GT

Yes, that’s right, Norev. This remarkable model is of an almost alien looking one-off concept dreamed up for the Gran Turismo 5 video game. Top Gear (the magazine) parked it in front of Harrods along with a Veyron and a Lambo Gallardo. No other car came close to stealing the looks this video game icon did.

AutoArt Koenigsegg CCX

While I hate to do two exotics in this category, the final place came down to this or AutoArt’s McLaren F1 Short Tail Road Car. The Koenigsegg model received kind of a short shrift last year as it came out in December 2009 but for North America, for all practical purposes in terms of when they got in to collectors hands, this is a 2010 model.

1/18 Racing Machines

Exoto 1951 Alfa Romeo Alfetta 159

You’ve heard the old line from cop/cowboy/sport shows “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight”. There are some out there who think because this model has detail and price at extreme levels, it must somehow be penalized when comparing it to models of “better value.” Hogwash. Achievement deserves to be recognized; this model, of this car, in the #22 livery, is just glorious in every way. If others aren’t answering the bell on this level I’m not going to fault Exoto for it.

GMP Ferrari 412 N.A.R.T.

What GMP has done for Ferrari models is imbue them with a level of execution, a passion for excellence and a spirit of the prancing horse that only the guys from Winder, Georgia could manage. The number of major and subtle changes that had to be done to make this model correct is staggering, yet they managed them all with grace and style.

AutoArt Nissan R390 GT1

If this creation by the late Tom Walkinshaw were more important to racing history, it might have been my model of the year because the craft on display surpasses standards AutoArt set years ago with their Mazda 787B. Still, it has amazing shelf presence and is a fabulous buy.

Exoto 1961 Ferrari Tipo 156/65 ‘long nose’

Like the GMP, it’s not a mere encore of a popular model but a complete re-working of it. While this version doesn’t have the provenance of last year’s, I like it even better because of the partially exposed engine.

TrueScale Miniatures Gulf Pit Crew

I thought about picking TSM’s Tyrell P34 here and also Kyosho’s Lamborghini Uracco Rally version but honestly I’ve only seen both in photos. But even then, I think these high quality pit crew figurines would still win out and it is my belief we need to see more like them and hopefully TSM and other makers will oblige. With models themselves becoming more and more expensive and display space becoming more of a premium, complementary pieces need to be part of a trend to helping animate a collection. The fact that TSM has also done some well detailed dioramics in 1/43 gets a vote too.

DIECAST ZONE 1:18 MODEL OF THE YEAR:

Last year this was divided in to two categories Replica and Precision in recognition that the Exoto Ferrari 156 Sharknose was clearly better than anything else out there, it wasn’t really a fair fight. Well, this year Exoto once more has a car no one can touch in terms of beauty, price and execution, yet CMC’s Mercedes 300 SLR Mercedes Uhlenhaut Coupe is according to our reviewers a revelation of detail for a street car. So, we break down this year’s winners as follows:

Replica Models of the Year

Precision Models of the Year

1:43 WINNERS

DICK BROWNE

Brooklin Models Ltd. has built hand-built white metal models since 1974. The models are made in their plant in Bath, England. Each year they introduce about 40 different models in all their lines. In 1948 Willys-Overland, in good financial shape after their production of the wartime Jeep for the government and their first civilian car, the Jeep Station Wagon, branched out into something sporty, the 1948 Jeepster and this year Brooklin has produced a lovely model of this fun car.

A new model producer in 2010 is Automodello. In their first year out they have produced a Griffith 200, a Bricklin, and now a 1966 Fitch Phoenix. John Fitch was a decorated World War II pilot who, after the war, drove for Mercedes-Benz and Cunningham but was better known for his efforts with modified Corvairs. His dream was to produce a sports car on a Corvair chassis in a quantity of 500. New federal laws and GM’s decision to end Corvair production made Fitch’s dream impractical and only one was built. Automodello has reminded us of this beautiful car with this strikingly accurate model limited to 192 units.

When the English producer of Western white metal models decided to retire, a popular Chicago model dealer, Buz Kirkel, stepped into the gap, upgraded the models and began having them produced for him as WMCE. Most of the WMCE models he has issued have been more detailed versions of the previously issued ones. On a few occasions he has come up with a new casting. The latest one is the often overlooked 1964 Plymouth Barracuda. The Barracuda was overshadowed by Ford’s Mustang that appeared two weeks later in April of 1964. The model is beautifully done and shows off that gigantic rear window.

Ilario Chiera began producing model cars in France in 1984 at the age of 19. He was little know in America until the last few years when his outstanding models began to be sold here and the line was taken on by our own Legacy Motors. He had several outstanding releases in 2010 but my favorite is from his Chromes series, a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 with a custom body. The bodybuilder was Saoutchik, founded by a Ukrainian immigrant to France in 1906 and remaining in business until 1955. Before World War II many American luxury cars were fitted with custom bodies but this was one of the very few done after the war. This very accurate and beautiful model exemplifies the end of an era.

Eastern Models Collections (EMC) is a Ukrainian firm that continues to amaze the hobby with outstandingly accurate models. Their Cadillac Eldorado was the 2009 1:43rd Car of Year winner. For 2010 their model of a 1937 Horch 853 gets our nomination. The subject car was the 2009 Best of Show winner at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The model contains 250 separate parts and is flawlessly painted and incomparably detailed. Production was limited to only 110 open versions and 90 with the top up

DIECAST ZONE 1:43 MODEL OF THE YEAR:

  • EMC Horch 853

1:24 WINNERS

TONY PERRONE

Twenty Ten was a year almost dominated by ‘repaints’ and ‘reissues’. Now don’t mistake a good thing by placing a negative connotation on that term. A little tweak here and there, a rectifying feature or a better choice in color can sell an awful lot of product.

Franklin Mint

We’ve seen some nice repaints from the Danbury Mint and Franklin Mint. FM’s revision of their fiberglass Corvette line has worked well and ultimately granted us the 1963 Corvette – Harley Earl as this year’s Limited Edition Club Car number ten. (LECC X)

Danbury Mint

Danbury made an instant hit in transforming the 1948 Roadmaster Coupe with the enduring look of Honolulu Blue as a solid color with grey interior. They did the same with their beautiful Sumac Red refinish on the 1948 Chrysler New Yorker.

But the collective heart of the 1:24th buyer was completely captured by Danbury’s all new tooling; the 1956 Buick Roadmaster Riviera four door.

DIECAST ZONE 1:24 MODEL OF THE YEAR: