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