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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hot Wheels Chevy Nomad throwdown: Newer premium car takes on the classic "Custom Nomad" (AKA "Alive 55") redline...

I always think its odd when toymakers bring out a new casting of a car that they've already done before... 

Matchbox is the unfortunate king of this - a few years ago they brought out new castings of the Lamborghini Miura, Lotus Europa (why couldn't they have at least changed it up and done an Elite?), E-type, VW Transporter (bus), etc.  While some collectors were happy with the new castings, they just looked tacky and plasticky to me.  I wondered why anyone would buy them - especially the more expensive premium paint versions - when fair condition original superfast transitional versions of them were available on EBay for just a few bucks...  And in my opinion, the original superfast transitional versions were hundreds of times nicer - even if the one you got on EBay was a little banged up.  The old ones were all metal, with nice detail, and a soft soft soft suspension, vs. the new plastic cars with virtually no suspension at all. 

But I've gotten off topic...  This post is about Hot Wheels, and they are also guilty of bringing out new castings of previously modeled cars.  In this case, its a newer casting of the 1955 Chevrolet Nomad, a casting which was one of the original (and highly valuable) redlines. 

However, Hot Wheels redeems itself relative to Matchbox in that the new casting is actually a nice casting, with premium paint, rubber wheels and (gasp - can it be?!?) a metal baseplate...  Seems like its time for a comparison - of new vs. old Hot Wheels Nomads! 

Size:  The new car looks bigger than the old car.  However when you actually measure them, the new car is just a touch longer - maybe by the width of a fingernail.  That size helps in this comparison, in that a '55 Chevy was a BIG car, and the Redlines nomad always seemed a little underscale....   Advantage:  New!

Wheels/Tires:  The new premium car has beautiful huge (too huge?) 5 spoke hollow alloys with rubber tires.  The Redlines have traditional redline wheels and plastic redline tires.  Sorry guys, but this one is no contest.  The new car's wheels would beat 99.99% of diecast competitors - resulting in an easy win.  The only downside is that the wheels actually appear too large in back...  Still, the Advantage goes to...  New!

Paint:  The new car has beautiful period correct 2 tone paint with lots of paint detail and trim.  I love spectraflame paint - but my example is 45 years old and only in fair condition.  Interestingly, Hot Wheels did add red stoplights to the redlines...  Still, its hard to win against perfect paint - Advantage:  New!

Body Casting/trim:  The new casting has a ton of detail, with correct side countours, curved rear quarter windows, a beautiful grill, etc.  However the old one has a nicely louvered hood and a sunroof in its own right, and very reasonable levels of detail.  The old looks nice, until you compare it to the new one, when it looks toylike and slab sided...  The new one has all of the weighting / heft you expect from an old car, but with all of the new detail you expect from a new premium casting.  Advantage:  New!

Base Casting:  Unusually for a modern car, the new casting has a metal base.  Typical for a modern car, the new casting has a lot of detail on the base.  But the old casting also has the (period-typical) metal base.  I never realized it - but the base differs between the Nomad and Alive-55 - with the older Nomad having a lot more detail on its base.  This category's comparison was the closest I've had - and I'm declaring the advantage to:  Old!

Suspension/Rolling ability:  When Hot Wheels burst in on Matchbox' scene, their primary weapon was its suspension - allowing it to roll much faster than regular wheels Matchbox.  So this category goes to...  ...Old!

Engine:  Both castings have opening hoods - but the older Redlines' open wider, allowing better visibility and access...   Advantage...  Old!

Interior:  The new car's interior just has more detail than the Redline's...  Advantage...   New!

Mistakes:  The new car has a paint flaw, with paint on the passenger side rear window...  Advantage...  Old!

Overall desirability:  I really wanted the old car to win...  ...but the new car is just a great model.  The new car wins on the overall desirability scale - and so also wins the overall contest. 

Was it a fair contest - to compare a new premium model to a 45 year old example from a time when the idea of a "premium" model didn't even exist...?  Of course not.  That being said, this new casting is such a nice premium model (vs. a typical one which is just glossy paint on an average casting) that it deserves to be taken seriously. 

On the other hand, I'm a sucker for old things.  As I said at the beginning, I'd choose Matchbox transitional superfasts over any of the new plastic cars.  I'll completely understand (and even partially agree with) anyone who chooses to pay more for a poorer old redline.  In a perfect world, you'll get both!

The great news is the winner car is a bargain compared to the redline - with brand new perfect cars selling for $5 or less vs. insane amounts of money for perfect redlines. 

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