AU­TO­MO­BILIA Col­lectible Mod­els / Life­style / Book and DVD Re­views – Edited by James Black RON’S MODEL SPOT

New Zealand Classic Car - - AUTOMOBILIA - By Ron Ford

Imust ad­mit I am bi­ased to­wards 1:43 scale for model cars, mainly be­cause of my child­hood in­ter­est in Mi­cro Mod­els and Dinky Toys, most of which were to about 1:43 scale. Of course, there are other scales avail­able — from 1:12 down to 1:148 — but 1:43 seems to me to be the per­fect bal­ance of de­tail and size, al­though 1:64 comes a close se­cond. Be­sides, most col­lectible mod­els are to 1:43, even though a few cur­rent man­u­fac­tur­ers con­sider the scale ‘dead.’ Part­works (mag­a­zines with a model at­tached) are pop­u­lar, es­pe­cially on the Con­ti­nent, mainly France. In New Zealand we do get a trickle of what is avail­able, usu­ally years af­ter the se­ries has fin­ished. The cur­rent Taxis of the World ap­pears to have been started over­seas be­fore 2004. For­tu­nately for the col­lec­tor, the in­ter­net pro­vides a rich source of ex­otic ex-part­work mod­els. Some re­cent ‘finds’ in­clude a 1953 Hotchkiss cabri­o­let and a Fa­cel Vega Ex­cel­lence of 1960, both to 1:43 scale. The Hotchkiss is a well-made model, but not too elab­o­rately de­tailed. The grille, bumpers, bon­net mas­cot, door mir­rors, and wind­screen wipers are sep­a­rate plated parts, with the re­main­der — such as the body trims and wind­screen frame — tam­poprinted sil­ver. In­te­rior de­tail is rea­son­able. There are di­als printed on the wood-coloured dash­board, and the steer­ing wheel has sil­vered spokes. Strangely, the steer­ing wheel is on the right. There is vir­tu­ally no de­tail on the base, but it does have a sep­a­rate rear muf­fler, with the tailpipe ex­it­ing un­der the back bumper. The wheels are re­al­is­tic, with rubber tyres and plated hub­caps. The Hotchkiss is painted ma­roon with a deep green in­te­rior. The Fa­cel Vega is a sim­i­lar con­struc­tion to the Hotchkiss. The lines of this French ex­otic are well cap­tured, with a strong Amer­i­can in­flu­ence with the de­sign. Plated parts have been used for the bumpers, grilles, light bezels, wind­screen wipers, and rear-mounted ra­dio aerial. The headlights have clear lenses, and the rear lights are fit­ted with translu­cent red lenses. The in­te­rior is well de­tailed, and can be ad­mired through the huge clear win­dows. Only to­ken un­der­side de­tail­ing is fea­tured. The wheels are re­al­is­tic, with white­wall tyres. The model is painted rich blue with a red ‘leather’ in­te­rior. Th­ese mod­els were landed here for about $30 each. Solido Toys of France is one of the longestestab­lished com­pa­nies in the field of die-cast model cars. They used to be read­ily avail­able here, but have faded from the scene. An in­ter­est­ing model I ac­quired (over the in­ter­net) is of a 1:43 Ford (Vedette) Abeille of 1954. The model is very sim­i­lar in con­struc­tion to the Hotchkiss and Fa­cel Vega above. The bee­tle-back body shape is well cap­tured. Plated and sil­vered parts rep­re­sent the bright­work on the model. The cu­ri­ous point on this model is the blanked-out rear quar­ter win­dows; on closer in­spec­tion, the rear is fit­ted with a hatch­back, so it can be as­sumed it rep­re­sents a rep’s car. A quick in­ter­net search con­firms that Solido has got the model right. About the only down­side to the look of the model are the rather crudely rep­re­sented wind­screen wipers. This Solido Abeille is painted mid-blue with a grey in­te­rior. Ama­ seems to have it in stock at ei­ther US$58 plus US$5 ship­ping, or US$10 plus US$12 ship­ping. I landed my ver­sion for around NZ$25.

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