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First Peek with Joe Kelly Edition Date

Lane Exact Detail 1965 Chevrolet Malibu SS convertible
Ricko BMW Dixi
Maisto 1963 Dodge 330 Super Stock


Lane Exact Detail 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS convertible Ricko BMW Dixi
Joe Kelly
Joe Kelly

Welcome to the second edition of First Peek for 2004. Here’s to wardrobe malfunctions, wherever they may occur.

Lane Exact Detail has supplied some of the 1:18 hobby’s finest muscle car replicas by adhering to basic precepts: give the customers what they want, and give it to them with quality. These tenets have served them well, and their latest release, a 1965 Chevy Malibu SS drop top based on their jaw-dropping Chevelle Z16, continues the trend of beautifully researched, impeccably built model cars aimed straight at the heart of the classic American muscle fan. We’ll spin the Evening Orchid version around this week.

Then, we’ll climb aboard Ricko’s surprisingly good (and incredibly small) BMW Dixi, and drop the hammer on a neat-looking Maisto Dodge 330 with a low-buck price tag.

Let’s line ‘em up, folks.

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  Lane Exact Detail 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS convertible

It can be said that beautiful cars in the right colors are the pheromone of the collecting hobby. Well turned lines covered in a come-hither hue carry sufficient signal strength to induce an immediate, uncontrollable compulsion to possess the pretty, shiny thing, logic be damned.

Thankfully, logic needn’t be overly engaged where the latest Lane release is concerned. Their killer Chevelle mold set has yielded a drop top, drop dead beauty of a Malibu SS in Evening Orchid, (also available in Mist Blue Metallic) in one of GM’s prettiest shades on one of the mid ‘sixties most stylistically-underrated cars. What I’m saying is that even if you aren’t a Chevelle fan, you’ll want this one on sight, and probably won’t even know why. Perhaps I can help you.

Lane makes a great model, and the casting of the Malibu’s body is precise and true. Shut lines, assembly, and finish on my sample were truly top flight, and a bit of post-partum buffing with a good scale model wax made the metallic elements in the soft purple color pop even more. This is about the time you stand back and really start to fall head over heels with the car – it’s just that good looking.

The car rolls on no-name bias plys with sweet SS-issue wheel covers, and the chrome trim – all separate pieces, molded, flashed, and assembled surgically into the car’s body – leaves no doubt that there’s a quality piece at hand. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s ridden the Lane train before; I can’t think of a single release from these guys that wasn’t everything I’d hoped it would be, and more. As if to drive that feeling home, a little finger fun with the included soft rubber boot, steel wire antenna (with spare), and snap-on, fabric-covered up top will show that they’re easily installed or removed. Overall, first impressions are of a C-note and change very well spent.

A lot of that has to do with the interior. Beneath a windshield with added bracing – a silver shelf that Lane has added to the frame top, for strength’s sake – Lane has embossed the plastic flooring of the model to simulate low-pile loop carpeting. The soft vinyl of the seat backs yield to pressure, and the front seat backs tilt. The sun visors pose, and the satin-toned binnacle mounted into the dash is completely believable, with gauges and a radio that have reflective clear lensing that add to the visual nicely. And, of course, there are fabric seat belts with tiny GM buckles. Of course. All that’s missing is the sound of music playing on the radio at dusk on a summer evening – and the sound of a small block burbling behind.

That symphony might just start playing, if you can find the keys. Under the hood is one of the finer model motors we’ve seen in a while – an L74-spec, 300-horsepower 327. Man, this is what it’s all about; the castings, paint, assembly, and the utter completeness of the wiring and plumbing make the engine one of the better things 1:18’s had to offer so far this year. I keep going back, and still find something new each time to wonder at. Details big and small are here to cluck your teeth over: the fender wells are a correct flat black. The callouts attached to the valve covers and the glass washer solution bottle are clear and legible. The generator is wired. This is great stuff.

Trunk wise, there’s a floor mat – supposedly the result of photocopying a real one and sampling the pattern – and a full spare. There’s painted-on weather stripping, and jacking instructions under the lid. The area is as sano as any other part of the car, even here where other models might have skipped on the sauce to save for the meat.

The chassis is equally well wrought, and the steel lines running all ‘round the full metal frame join with multiple finishes of black and silver to render the car’s foundation nicely. My favorite parts are the ones you have to look for, like the wired starter and the in/out of the lines running to the fuel pump.

You got me. I’m smitten with this release, and its companion in Mist Blue. Aside from those gorgeous colors, subtle touches keep catching my eye, and the depth of detail and attention to the little things makes this model worthy of the Exact Detail handle. The build quality, decoration, and overall appeal of the thing rate a ten out of ten – and that’s coming from a guy who isn’t even a Chevelle fan.

Okay… wasn’t a Chevelle fan. Call me a convert. That’s the power of a great model car. Very highly recommended.

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  Ricko BMW Dixi

Am I the only one who dances the happy dance when something this offbeat comes along? I sure hope not, or one of the better surprises in 1:18 will go unnoticed. I’m talking about this cute-as-hell BMW Dixi from Ricko.

This model brings meaning anew to the phrase "pleasant surprise". First off, the subject matter is cool. Dixis were licensed versions of the Austin Seven, built in Eisenach, Germany. Along came BMW (who had been busying themselves with airplane engines and motorcycles – and not in Bavaria, either. Go figure.) who took over the operation in 1928, carried the license over, and popped out more than 20,000 of the 15-horsepower sedans before making cars of their own design.

Pretty obscure subject for a model car, huh? Well, it gets better.

Better because this Dixi isn’t just some low-dollar model. It’s built really well, and the green over green finish on the pre-pro Ricko sent along is dead even and polished to a great shine. This little sucker is heavy – surprisingly so – and the shut lines of the pin-hinged doors and butterfly hood are straight and true. The spoked wheels with chromed dot centers are at once delicate and strong, and hold this mosquito of a car aloft on skinny tires. The chrome on the radiator shell and on the separate door handles and running boards looks like good quality stuff. There’s a spare mounted to the rear, and first impressions are that you’re holding a great model of a funky, shrunken Model A.

Opening the doors reveals a carpeted floor – and "mohair" seats. Here’s where the model really hits its stride, and pulls you in. Even the doors panels are covered in the stuff, and the molded in-map pockets and pull ropes on the portals are joined by wood tones on the sills and dashboard.

The gauges on that dash are readable, and the attention to detail here is great. There’s even a gasoline-fired heater on the floorboards, replete with bulb primer, and a plethora of spark handles, brake levers, and seemingly enough grabs and pulls to keep Oz himself occupied at the wheel. More mohair resides above. The headliner is a tight, ribbed casting that also serves to locate the rear view mirror, courtesy light, and wiper motor. At the foot of the wood toned and flocked side trim and windows, the equally hirsute back seat hides in the shadows.

Engine detail is transcendental – even though the motor itself is mounted to the metal frame in a quasi-clamshell arrangement, it’s wired and plumbed with soft vinyl hoses and cables, and set behind a brass toned radiator tank. This is marvelous stuff, and a real hoot, especially at the model’s sub-$40.00 asking price. Opening and shutting the hood is easy, once you’ve mastered sliding the middle panels behind the tiny black friction clips solidly attached to the lower sections on each side.

The frame is a clever black plastic casting that’s been mounted to the model’s turtle deck; it’ll never win any awards for detail, but it does represent the running gear in a forthright way. It also serves to locate the working bits of the model’s hidden coil suspension – yet another bonus that Ricko’s thrown into the mix.

I’ll tell you – the hobby, and my collection, has lots of room for quality models like this. The good news is that Ricko has a couple of classic Americans on deck for release next quarter. If they have anywhere near the charm and value of this whistling little Dixi, the planned ’63 Lincoln, ‘thirties-era Caddy V16 and Lincoln K – and even the modern-day Caddy CTS and Sixteen show car – have a home waiting. Meantime, if you like your oldies served with a twist, go grab this car. Now.

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  Maisto’s ’63 Dodge 330 Max Wedge

When Maisto’s Charles Hepperle and Highway 61’s Tom Haverland agreed two RCHTAs ago not to duplicate their efforts on concomitant releases of a 1964 Dodge 330, the hobby let out a sigh of relief. Both had shown photos and announced their intent at the show. When Maisto said they’d gladly tool a ’63 instead, the agreement was sealed with a handshake.

Highway 61’s excellent release has been out for a while, and now, for the Mopar man (or woman) who so desires it, we have the Maisto car to place on our shelves.

This is a good thing – or a bad one, depending on where you stand. On the good side, this is a very inexpensive toy model car. On the bad side… this is a very inexpensive toy model car.

And therein lies the bitch. Why such a cool subject, if the bottom line was the first consideration? These ain’t exactly the cars your average Joe or Jane will pick up as impulse buys at the local Wally World; Max Wedge-powered Super Stock Dodges are the types of cars usually pointed at real car folk. Read that: "people unafraid to spend a few bucks on a model of a car they love".

It’s a tough call, and one you’ll need to judge for yourselves. To be sure, someone has done some great work here. The body of the thing is really good – the shape and stance of the model are just about perfect, and the car looks absolutely mean on those painted red steelies and dog dish caps. The paint is great, and with the exception of a grille that’s a couple of ticks too shiny, the chrome is actually very good. So are the headlights – as on most of Maisto’s models, they’re amazing, and belong on a more expensive car. And so is the way it’s put together and finished off. Say what you will; for the bucks, this is certainly a clean machine.

All of the above serves to say that you’re looking for a ten-buck rocket to put on the shelf, bada bing. Read no further. But if it’s detail you’re after and want the warm fuzzy you get when a model goes the extra mile, fuhgeddaboudit. Not happening.

The interior – top to bottom – is cast in that waxy red plastic that’s usually reserved for water pistols and rip-cord helicopters. Which really hurts, because the molds look as if they’d have yielded some pretty amazing stuff, if only a better quality, more dense styrene was used. At the head of all of this is an instrument cluster that’s perfectly cast, deeply chromed, and just plain gorgeous – which cheeses me off even more. A couple shots of red or black paint will bring this area around. Ditto the trunk, which is cast of the same dreadful stuff.

But all the paint in the world won’t help the lumpen motor hiding under the killer scooped hood. Despite the attempts at wiring and plumbing, and a great set of valve cover callouts, the mass under those twin black disks posing as air cleaners is so badly misshapen and distorted, it resembles an orange sherbet on a hundred-degree day. And, as can be expected n a lowball roller like this, the body’s paint doesn’t make it all the way into the cracks and crannies under hood, or in the jambs or trunk.

Chassis detail, on a plastic casting, is okay, and the car has the usual chromed exhaust and bouncy-bouncy coil spring suspension. Oh, I don’t know, folks. Maisto has stepped up to the plate and made some really good models as of late. Their ’65 Corvette gave a lot of much more expensive models a run for their money. And the ’62 Chevy we saw last year is still a car I visit often on the shelf.

The announcement of a Nomad and ’53 Stude got a lot of hearts thumping, and despite their being repeatedly put off in favor of Maisto’s world-market strategy of tooling and selling Porsches and such, we’re hoping for the best.


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