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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Auto World - Dramatic Decrease in Quality for "Deluxe" ($2.99) cars. Run - Don't Walk - Away from these cars... Put that blisterpack BACK ON THE PEGS!

Earlier this summer I purchased my first "Auto World" model.  Auto World seems to be another contender in the Johnny Lightning/Green Light camp, making yet even more high quality (heavy die-cast body and base, rubber tires, opening hood, etc.) models of 1960s and 1970s American iron. 

On one hand, I'm always encouraged by new castings and more competition.  On the other hand, don't we all have enough of these muscle car castings already...?  Can't we get a model of a car that hasn't already been modeled 100 times?

But out of the cars on the pegs, one particular model did appeal to me - 1 1976 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.   A model that WASN'T modeled before.  A model of a car that I didn't have in my 6000+ model collection. 

Plus, the primary advertising element of Auto World was that it was "True Scale".  If there is anything that I hate, it is a huge car modeled far too small, or a small car modeled much too large.  So I'm a big fan of the idea of "true scale".  And indeed, true to actual scale, this Caddy is BIG.  (It was actually the only car in Auto World series 1 in a separate "Land Yacht" line - a very appropriate name!).  (Interestingly, on the bottom of the car it is labeled as a '67 rather than a '76...). 

Once I got it home and opened it up, I felt OK with the purchase.  There were some pluses and minuses of it - the unique model, the true scale and the quality feel of it being offset by a hood that didn't open very well (and I would have preferred opening doors vs. the opening hood), a boring color, etc.   Overall, I was OK with the model, but it didn't knock my socks off. 

Fast forward a few months to this morning, when I found the series 2 models of Auto World on the pegs.  What I didn't realize was that I was looking at the "deluxe" vs. "premium" line.  The price was lower - $2.99 vs. $4.99 - but the models looked similar.   They were the usual line of American iron, but at least there were again slightly unique versions.  The one that stuck out most was the mid 80s' Fox body Mustang SVO (Special Vehicle Operations), a 4 cylinder turbo-charged Mustang that was supposed to be a more refined (European?) option to the V8 Mustang that offered similar performance.  I was a kid back in '84 when the SVO came out - I was hooked by the different front headlights (made even better in '86 when they went aero) and 2 level rear wing.  Back then I lusted after the SVO - I wanted it badly! 

I have 1 or 2 SVOs in my collection already - I think I've got one from Hot Wheels - but I'm not crazy about any of them.  So this beautiful candy-apple red Auto World SVO went into my cart, along with a late '60s Chevy El Camino, a Buick GS, and a left-over series 1 Dart (unknowingly - from the "premium" line).   I questioned whether I should by the last 3, given my earlier complaint about how muscle cars are endlessly modeled.  But at least all 3 are from comparatively less modeled models (i.e. not '67 Camaros....), so I bought them, brought them home, and eagerly ripped into the packaging of the SVO...


These "deluxe" $2.99 cars have a very cheap plastic base, and even cheaper feeling plastic wheels.  These aren't the higher quality plastic bases and wheels you get in a $.99 Matchbox - these are the cheapy plastic base and wheels you get in a no-name multi-pack of unidentifiable cars at a dollar store. 

What a disappointment! 

They look nice - but don't feel nice AT ALL.

Amazed, I compared the packaging of the $2.99 cars vs. the $4.99 cars.  The packaging looked almost identical - with no mention of the "deluxe" vs. "premium" branding that is on the auto world website.  For the more expensive car, they bragged about the metal base and the rubber wheels.  For the $2.99 car, they go silent on the base (only saying "die-case body") and brag about the "silky smooth" rolling wheels (which is an outright lie...  With no spring suspension - the SVO rolls worse than a regular wheels Matchbox - any one who thinks its "silky smooth" has never touched silk.  There is NOTHING silky about it).

So dear readers, please steer clear of these awful Auto World disappointments.  Even at $2.99, they aren't worth it.   I will be returning my un-opened GS and El Camino to WalMart.  Perhaps I will even return my SVO, claiming that I'm unhappy with the quality.  Maybe at least that way WalMart can let Auto World know that consumers are unhappy...

And for you executives in charge of these "deluxe" cars - well - your cars suck....  They are NOT deluxe.  And I hope that you never claim to be car buffs - because you don't deserve to wear that label...   

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tomicas - China Trip #5

I've written a lot about my China/Beijing trip...  I really hoped that I'd find some cool diecast cars - and that was certainly the case.  I hoped specifically that I'd find a lot of Tomica - and that was less so the case... 

In the end, after visiting endless street markets, walking through many department stores, and even visiting the "toy market" flea market, I only found Tomicas sold in one store. 

The display was not as deep as I'd hoped for - with maybe 25 models - a bunch of which I already had - and none of the special edition models I was hoping for.  So in the end, figuring that it was my only choice to buy some of these, I bought almost every model that I didn't have. 

This meant that I didn't discriminate much in the models bought - and so bought a bunch of models that I wasn't terribly crazy about.  In the photos, I ranked them by how much I liked them, with the least liked models in the back right, and the most liked in the front left. 

The WRX STi and Lexus IS F are relegated to the back based mostly on their scale.  They are in 1:67 scale - and look small.  I have other Tomica WRXs that I like a lot more (particularly the first gen. blue one) - but not this one... 

The Renault Megane just looks blah - it reminds me of the boring Tomica RX8 model.

The 2 Lamborghinis are both very nice models - its interesting but I haven't hit a Tomica Lamborghini that I haven't liked. 

The Toyota Wish is another in a long line of very successful minivan's/station wagons - so hard to find from ANY other toy manufacturer - but a mainstay of Tomica's line.  The Z06 is nice and has opening doors.  The Z4 has a very cool removable roof.

Overall, not the best set of Tomicas I've ever gotten - but any set of Tomicas are worth having!

Check out my previous post (and upcoming next post) for more details on sets of Tomicas! 

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I love Tomicas... 

They make nice models - and they do models of cars that are infrequently modeled by other toy makers.  They also update their models when the automakers bring out a new generation of the car. 

The combination makes for a toy maker that is an invaluable part of any diecast collector's collection. 

They aren't perfect - the quality has decreased in the last 5-10 years - and they no longer do many opening doors (it used to be that practically every Tomica had an opening part).   But I still get more excited about Tomicas than about any other toy line. 

The problem is how hard they are to find in the US.  For a while I had a local Japanese toy store that stocked Tomicas and sold them to me at 2 for $5 - a great price and a fun destination.  But he closed down. 

Then I bought them through some dedicated internet sites - toyeast and others - that allowed me to buy many models and pay 1 shipping rate.  But again, they seem to have stopped stocking these cars. 

This time I found a vendor on Amazon, and yesterday I got my package of 10 cars. 

I love them! 

I've pictured the cars in order of how much I like them - going from least favorite in the top right to favorite in the front row. 

I love that Tomica makes ordinary sedans.  And while this time my least favorite is the pink Toyota Crown Athlete, I have other Toyota Crowns that are among my favorite Tomica models.  But this one is an ugly salmon pink, and it looks much too narrow and a bit small.  Just an uninspiring model - particularly when I love so many of the other Crowns. 

While the Crown is the easy choice for my least favorite of this purchase - the other cars are all much closer in preference.  This set included 3 (three!) Lotus', including 2 different castings of an Exige...  The Scion FR-S (Toyota 86) is a great casting, as are the 2 mini SUVs of the Subaru Forester and the Toyota X-Trail (both with opening hatches). 

The Mercedes SLS AMG deserves mention for its opening gullwing doors.  The Porsche 997 911 is OK - but somehow left me a little bit let-down...

Overall - a great purchase!