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First Peek with Joe Kelly Edition Date

A Visit With Yat Ming

1959 Buick Electra 225 convertible 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser
Joe Kelly
Joe Kelly

WE KELLYS are known for our napping prowess; be it on a plane, a train, or a tether-drawn ten-dog sled, my clan drops a nod within minutes of being seated. We are, to put it kindly, a relaxed bunch.

That was not the case earlier this week as I rode the Long Island Rail Road on my way to Yat Ming’s Manhattan showroom. I’d been invited to see the first shots of some upcoming releases, and sleep – genetically ingrained or not – wasn’t even an option.

I was greeted by the ever-courteous John Adams, majordomo in the product development arena, and Ms. Vanessa Lam, who, together with her siblings and family, own and run Yat Ming. I was also greeted by a gaggle of new diecast that will most certainly make a lot of us as happy as kids.

Yat Ming is trying, and trying hard, to touch base with the hobby. Yes, they’ve made a mountain of money making mass-marketed toy cars. Did I say a mountain? More like an entire range; a vista; a great, horizon stretching pile of dough. Their first release, a 1957 Corvette that hit the shelves in 1992, has sold damn nigh 1.3 million copies on its own, and it’s still going strong. Their work force in provincial China, if so guided, could probably take New Hampshire without spilling their tea.

Nowadays, however, the Yat Ming crew only wants to grab a little respect. And they’re willing to make a few changes – expensive, potentially bottom-line bending ones, if need be – to get it. With this in mind, I was shown what will most probably be looked back on someday as the "transitional" models. The 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser ragtop, 1959 Buick Electra 225 convertible, 1964 Mercury Marauder, 1970 Dodge Coronet R/T, and 1971 Buick Riviera boat tail show the company’s new direction, even within their own ranks. And an early Jag "E" V12 and Pontiac Fiero GT carry the same vibe.

I’ve been granted a private audience with these samples for closer review – and better photographs – hopefully within the week. But here are some quick first impressions (and a few shots I took of the models in situ) in the meantime.

Click thumbnails to see larger images


  1959 Buick Electra 225 convertible

Big, heavy – so much so that YM worries about the costs of shipping. The dark silver (Ned Anello says Silver Birch, and I believe him) was a favorite over the lavender, despite the gorgeous color. It just reads better. Needs a relief-painted grille to get those dozens of chromed squares to "float", but the casting and chrome are right on; those fins look great, especially with the red plastic taillights at the business end. Profile, shape, stance, very, very good. Neat tires and wheels, dig the chromed and hollow-tipped exhaust. Needs a few textural tweaks interior wise, but still very much a winner.

Click thumbnails to see larger images



  1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser

Ragtop? Why? Cool enough, maybe a pacer someday, but where’s the Gorp? Nonetheless, body casting is awesome, supposedly took major ball-busting to get these to come out of the molds as sweet as they do. Love the chrome and fitment of the trim all over this big bus. Like the other cars, needs a wash of black to get that grille popping. Dig the painted motor and "connie" kit, want better textures in the interior, want a hardtop, want these cars, and I want them right now. Sorry, Paul. I owe you a buck.

Click thumbnails to see larger images



  1964 Mercury Marauder

Whoa. Is this a Yattie? Sure it isn’t a hobby-edition Ertl or SunStar? Nice! Amazing likeness, headlights and grille sing (yes… they need a wash of relief paint in there), so does the trim that’s laid into the car’s fender tops and the cool tampos all over. Awesome motor, painted and nicely detailed, and I love the white/turquoise scheme. Correct, skinny tires, sweet resonators peeking out from beneath her skirts…unseats the ’58 Edsel droptop as my all-time favorite Yat Ming.

In General…

It was great night, and John and Vanessa wrote down a lot of suggestions, and thanked those of us who have taken the time to fill them in on what we’re thinking. We talked about painted trim, flocked floors, the death of the dog-leg door hinge, and a slew of other little things that can make some models really pop and others drop like stones.

Most of all, we talked about cars, and the cars we love. Adams lights up, and he’s all about doing things right. Vanessa, who has sworn that American automobiles are her leading product focus from this moment on, is the dollars and sense person who reigns in the enthusiasm – however gently – with simple math. It’s do-able, or it’s not.

There were more cars that night (our space here is limited – we’ll cover them next time), some good, some a little off the mark to me. But, one thing we agreed on – February is just around the corner, and the hobby is waiting.

We’ll see, won’t we?

Happy Collecting.

Next week:


More of Yat Ming’s new scale rides – and maybe a little more.


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