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First Peek with Rusty Hurley Edition Date


Exterior Elements Interior Elements
Rusty Hurley
Rusty Hurley

For years, the 1:18 license for Ferrari has been the province of Hot Wheels who paid a kings ransom for the privilege.

That would have been okay with the hobby had Hot Wheels chosen to manufacture something other than inexpensive images often faithful to the spirit of the car, but with shortcuts and compromises in quality expected for a $20 model. Kyosho gave us a glimpse of the possible with a few sub-licensed images and late last year CMC delivered a Ferrari 250 SWB Berlinetta that is one of the more amazing diecast models ever produced - but at a price tag 10 times that of a typical Hot Wheels model.

In all this, the market hungry for quality, mid-price range Ferrari models seemed to be forgotten, ignored and unloved. Enter the Hot Wheels Ferrari Elite series.

An Elite HW model is a more detailed image than the standard HW line. It appears initially that they will be built up from the original tool. The series is priced comparably and has similar execution standards to the more inexpensive models AUTO art and Kyosho models – extraordinary considering the expense of licensing.

So let’s compare an original HW Ferrari to the first model available in the Elite line (and one of my favorite Ferrari images) the legendary F40. The pictures accompanying the article require some explanation: where there are two consecutive images of the same part of the model, the first is of the Elite version, the second from the standard version.


Click thumbnails to see larger images





  Exterior Elements

Paint is well applied and a micro-shade deeper red than the original HW F40 which has an orange caste to it. The most striking feature you’re likely to notice on the new Elite model is the black painted detailing on the trim, side windows, headlamps and fluid fills. Rear side vents are blacked out are the side rear vents –it’s a shame these could not be open but that’s a compromise made when using the same tool. The black detailing, long a cheap mod executed by hobbyists, dramatically improves the models appearance.

Another major change is the wheel/tire combination. Hot Wheels has long been chided for the shiny plastic tires and overly bright wheels used on their Ferraris. They were apparently listening as the Elite version has appropriately dull, rubberized tires and alloy-looking wheels. The wheels do betray some mold marks but not nearly to the same degree as the original. Brake detail is also improved though hard to see through the five point wheel.

Front and rear lights are similar on both models, though the Elite has detailed front side parking lamps. Badges and insignia are is more detailed on the Elite, notice especially the difference between the (fragile) Ferrari logo on the rear spoiler and the less garish prancing horse badge on the sides front bonnet. The F40 logo is more visible on the sides rear spoiler. The mesh screens on the front and rear bonnet – a pretty cool feature on a $20 Hot Wheels model - has been upgraded from a black chicken wire look to a more refined weave. Screens have also been added to side and rear air intakes which were just crudely left open on the original models. The cars glass elements, such as the rear hatch, windshield and front headlamp lenses are vastly improved and no longer look like they came from a Monogram model kit. Even a detail like the windshield wiper is better engineered: instead of plastic glob that sits about 2cm above the windshield, it is articulated and lays flush.


Click thumbnails to see larger images





  Interior Elements

There are three main interior spaces, the front bonnet, the cockpit and the rear bonnet/engine. In terms of the bonnets Hot Wheels includes some plastic spacers with their packaging to protect the shutline areas. This can be helpful, particularly for the rear bonnet which will flop in unpredicatable directions if you turn the car to far to one side.

The front bonnet lifts and holds on it’s own. Again the area is remarkably changed. Many elements done on the standard version with just red and black plastic have now been detailed with specific, individual colors. The front fan system is now a dual system as it should have been all along. While some elements are more refined (compare the thinner plastic brake blower lines to the thick originals) others are halfway changed. For example, the belt that holds the spare is still plastic and inexplicably hanging in the air, the good news being it's now painted to detail out the individaul elements of metal and leather. But don’t fret too much on that, give the model a deeper look and additional details like the bonnet tethers and the better detailed suspension (black metal coils as opposed to red plastic).

The cockpit, like the front bonnet area, is far better executed than the original. Gone is the red hard plastic seating with plastic belts, replaced by flocked seats with photo etched harness buckles. Also gone are the overly chromed shifters and pedals replaced by more alloy looking elements. The dash is also not hard shiny plastic, but a nicely dulled rendering with gauges that are less cartoonish.

There is no radio in the car and reason for that is what’s under the rear bonnet. This massive Ferrari V-8 power plant is the only song you need. The engine is pretty much the same molding as the original, however much attention has been paid to painting the engine detail. No wiring is present though it is highlighted with paint. The exhaust is also noteworthy, more of a thin faux alloy similar to what we saw in the cockpit, a welcome change from too-thick chrome though mine did have a bit of excess flash. Compared to the improvements in the other parts of the model the engine compartment is a bit underwhelming but not unexpected given the price range. And it is a world better than their previous effort. Little things, like having the bonnet prop fit in the compartment better are a welcome change.


Click thumbnails to see larger images





  So, is it worth it?

It’s hard not to like what Hot Wheels has accomplished here. They have established with this Elite line a process familiar to the followers of MIC or Supercars: take a basically good tool and make the detailing far more accurate and realistic. The limitations inherent in the mold are still there such as stance (a smidge high) and engine detail, but there has been far greater attention to improve those elements that were sub-par such as tire/wheels, trim, badges, screens, front bonnet and cockpit interiors.

In my mind the improvements outweigh the shortcomings and by a long shot. HW started out with a pretty good platform for the F40 and their execution here leaves you looking forward to Elite versions of their better molds – especially the 288 GTO. It will also be interesting to see what happens with some of their more lacking images such as the Daytona – will they take this opportunity to re-shape them? Time will tell, but for now I’m telling you this is a good mid priced model and I can't wait to see the rest of the series as it releases in 2006. Bravo!

Legacy Motors carries the Hot Wheels Elite Ferrari F40 red and Ferrari F40 yellow. Click to see the entire line up of Hot Wheels Elite Ferrari models that Legacy is stocking as they become available throughout 2006.

Are you from a diecast company and would like your models featured in First Peek?

Write me directly at rusty.hurley@gmail.com.

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