It's a small world...Part 3
Thanks for returning to part three of our die-cast blogs. In part one of the series, we talked a little about ERTL, Johnny Lightning, Hot Wheels, Maisto, MiniChamps, MiniGT, and Racing Champions. Previously on part two, we covered Action Racing Collectables, AutoArt, Bburago, Corgi Toys, JadaToys, Majorette, and Matchbox. As for this time around, we'll go over a bit of Autoworld, GreenLight Collectables, Ignition, Kyosho, M2 Machines, Micro Machines, Tarmac Works, and Tomy/Tomica. In the last and final part, we'll go over and cover some diorama's and customized cars by fans of the hobby.
Founded in 2005, AutoWorld has some some of the most detailed and proportionate 1:61 scale die casts in the market. AutoWorld concentrates on vehicles that you can find on showroom floors or the lots on the dealerships, but are made to accuracy. Autoworld, instead of making simple generic wheels, actually replicate what you would find on the actual vehicles. From Muscle to Imports, cars to trucks, classic to modern city cars, AutoWorld has a huge library of cars and trucks for anyone and everyone. AutoWorld also makes accessories for you 1:64 scale die-cast with figurines and diorama backdrops. Autoworld also creates some of the most detailed cars from films and television and is one of few to make Speed Racer models. With licensed sponsors like ADVAN or Gulf, you can also find other limited cars like cars from the George Barris collection, Hemmings, Tanks, and a series of just, trailers. Autoworld 1:64 die-casts are relatively priced well also sitting in the middle range of $5-$10 each. The castings are limited and so are the colors as they vary from series to series, still though, it is nice to find so detailed cars that can be used for display, or play.
AutoWorld Military, Muscle trucks, Muscle Wagons, Vintage Racing, Vintage Muscle, Mijo Exclusive, Modern Muscle, America's Finest, Car and Driver, Muscle Magazine, George Barris Collection, Freedom Brigade
Kyosho came into the world in 1970 with RC (radio-control) cars, but it wasn't until 1992 when they started making die-cast. Premium1:18 scale die-cast cars to rival those of MiniChamps and AutoArt. Kyosho was even able to obtain the status of being the official BMW to exclusively make and sell models for licensed BMW dealerships. Not forgetting their roots, their main market is still the RC class with various scale offerings, but through die-casts, they were able to obtain more licensing for it. The vehicles themselves are detailed with opening doors and detailed interiors and compartments for their 1:18 scaled models, their 1:43 and 1:64 casts were made with detail of views into the look and feel of the car, but does skip corners around the wheels on certain models. Unlike AutoArt where they made more European cars with a few select vehicles from Japan, Kyosho being in Tokyo, made more Japanese vehicles with a few select European models.
Mini-Z, RC Cars, RC Boats, BMW Collection, Mini BMW Collection
A major player in today's die-cast world is GreenLight Collectables that came about in 2002. Mainly only making Indycar replicas, it was sold in 2013 where co-owner Russell Hughes wanted to shift the company and obtain licenses for movie and television shows to produce the associated cars for them. And it was a success. They make some famous film cars like Steve McQueen's Bullit, Eleanor from both Gone in 60 Seconds films, to smaller uncharacteristic cars like the the Pontiac LeMans, and Ace Ventura's Chevy Monte Carlo. From television, you could find the Gibbs' Dodge Challenger from NCIS and the Chevy Nomad from Home Improvement. All part of the Hollywood Series, you'd be surprised what you can find from the from most of the popular television shows. They still make standard replicas of vehicles and market those similarly to AutoWorld with trucks with trailers with Hitch & Tow, and offer diorama garages with their Mechanics Corner line. All of the cars, from their 1:64 to their 1:18 scale, come with soft rubber tires and opening hoods and doors (doors on 1:18 scale), but it's their attention to detail that makes these a wonderful collectors piece.
GreenLigh Collectibles Line:
Mechanics Corner, Hollywood, Mecum Auctions, Running on Empty, Graveyard Cars, Hot Pursuit, Motorworld, Country Roads, USPS, NYPD, Elvis, Tokyo Torque, SD Trucks, Hitch & Tow, King of Crunch, Holiday Collection, Hobby Shop, Hitched Homes, Heritage, HD Trucks, Estate Wagon, GL Muscle, IndyCar, Club VDub, Down on the Farm, Black Bandit, Barrett Jackson, All-Terrain, Artisan Collection, GMP, Precision Collection, Highway 61, Formula E
Some of the most fun cars, come in the smallest packages. Micro Machines came about in the 1980's with their tiny original scaled models. Considered as N Scale, the cars were elaborately detailed and some were even made with opening hoods, trunks, and doors with simple, but fully molded interiors. In the 1990's, Micro Machines introduced much larger vehicles and Toolbox kits that could transform into "giant" play sets for your Micro Machines. It was a great idea as it wasn't just easily collapsible to clean and store, but one of the best things was that they were transportable and easy to carry over to a friends house to play or display, especially since you could connect them all to create one massive micro city. Micro Machines even became the largest selling toy line for cars for a while, topping those of Matchbox, Johnny Lightning, and even Hot Wheels. Some of the most popular Micro Machines came in their entertainment section with Monster Trucks like Grave Digger, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Power Rangers, and Indian Jones, unfortunately bought by Hasbro in 1998, Hasbro pretty much shelved the line and Micro Machines slowly disappeared from store shelves. Hasbro in late 2019 made the announcement of the return of Micro Machines to shelves and pegs for 2020 and has since been on the shelves with a few select cars. Currently, none of them are licensed manufacturers with in house designs being produced, but only time will tell what their success will be like, especially without one of the greatest marketing faces in history, or voice for that matter, the fast talking John "Motormouth" Moschitta Jr. who appeared in over 100 commercials for the brand.
Micro Machines Lines:
Super 20 Collection, Super Van City, Famous Flyers, Military, Science Fiction, Stock Cars, Micro Machines Lights, Presidential Line, Decades
Another upcoming die-cast brand is Tarmac Works. Tarmac Works does an amazing job in creating replicas of cars from the racing world, one-offs, and of limited manufacturer cars. Also a large catalogue of collaborators ranging from automotive brands like RWB, and Greddy, clothing lines like Fingercroxx and Illest, race teams of Audi Team DreamDrive, eRacing Leagues, and charities to tag along with their die-casts. A newer company into the realm of die-cast cars, they struck it big with their RWB Porsche line up and limited edition casts of cars. These cars come with more delicate parts so I recommended more of a display only mentality for these as parts can break easily pending on the car. for a 1:64 scaled car, the decals and liveries are easily recognizable and easy to read. Wheels and tires are place accurately with stance and/or staggered fitments while the interiors are detailed very well with accurate colors and roll cages. Tarmac Works is another one of my personal favorites to collect and are perfect for anyone who wants to build diorama's or such.
Tarmac Works Lines:
RWB, Audi Team, WRC, Diorama, Tire sets
M2 Machines, or M2M, is another brand that carries detailed cars, but I also recommend for display only, much like the aforementioned Tarmac Works above. Actually, many of there cars are already packaged in some sort of display type. Usually, the cars and trucks are always screwed down into a display base of some sort with a name plate and description of the car. Pending on the line you purchase, some cars come with a plastic casing over the car and base, whether it be squared or round. Some come with a 4 post lift for display, and some come in standard blister packs. The auto haulers all come as cab and trailer, but also include an exclusive matching car. Build kits allow the consumer to decide to build a showroom version, or an aftermarket version of a single car consisting of a second set of wheels, tires, and miscellaneous body parts to choose from. Exclusives is where M2M does well with creating each variation in a limited number of production and in offering selective cars only found in Targets and Walmarts. Coca-cola also has given a small licensing to M2M in being the only official die-cast company to product Coke inspired vehicles from around the world.While nothing really modern is made of sold by M2M, there cars are made for a modern collector.
Auto-Japan, Auto-Drag, Chevy 100, Auto-Haulers, Auto-Kits, Mopar 75th, Moonpie, Ground Pounders, Shelby, Wild-Cards, Volkswagen, Auto-Thentics, Detroit Muscle, Detroit Cruisers, Chip Foose, Stretch Rods, Auto-Dreams, Hemi 50th, Auto Trucks
Takara-Tomica from Japan is a die-cast that creates simplistic castings and don't use a lot of parts. For the most part, outside of their premium line, they use the same wheels pretty much for every vehicle. The feel isn't too much different from Maisto or Majorette, but the premium line does change up the cars more with a little bit more detail. For example, they have a variety of wheels and use rubber tires instead of plastic. The lights and decals are also carefully done up better than a slab of silver, or red paint. Regardless, each vehicle from Tomica is limited and usually doesn't run further than 1 or 2 production years and is retired. Making them a collectable more often than not. Tomy also has a very large library of play sets and tracks to go along with the cars. The market they hold outside of the United States is very big and is a favorite from Japan. Slowly, you can find them in the US sitting on pegs and shelves, but you won't find any of the premium lines without hitting a specialty store, or getting on-line.
Takara-Tomy Wave, Tomica Premium, Tomica Disney, Tomica Initial-D, Tomy Dreams, Tomy Hello Kitty, Tomica World Build, Cool Drive, Lights & Sounds, Tomica Pixar
The last brand we will cover here, is probably the most expensive ones you could find on the market today, Ignition Models (IG-Models). They are probably one of the most highly detailed and formed cars on the market. Mainly supplying JDM available cars, IG-Models die-cast cars are hand made and physically scan the actual cars to ensure each curvature and corner is 100% accurate towards replicating the real car. From the wheels and body panels, to the roof lining, vents, and even the window seal linings. IG-Models also 100% accurate replicated motors to go along with certain die-casts, and most recently, even replicated historic Japanese drivers and tuners like RWB's Nakai-san and the Drift King himself, Keiichi Tsuchiya. Some of these cars are scanned and built after actual race cars, like the RE-Amemiya's 2002 time attack Mazda FC3S (seen on Youtube) and Star Road founder, Shoji Inoue's personal S30 Nissan Fairlady Z. If you have the money to throw away, IG-Models is is certainly one hot die-cast you could spend it on. I've personally never owned one, but would love to be able to one day. I like these so much, I added a second row of photos for this.
Now that we've covered a few of the hard hitters in the world of die-cast, what do you think would be your favorite brand? Is there a specific car you'd like to see made? What currently is your favorite casting that you own? All this, and there's always going to be more and more to collect or purchase.
To some, these are merely toys, to some, these are works of art, and to some others, it's a mean to keep the enthusiasm of vehicles moving on. It allowed us to dream as kids within our imagination of owning the perfect car, or garage. As adults, it feeds into a hobby that will never end.
As for the Fourth and final part, we'll look into another dimension of die-cast vehicles, the world of customization.
Photos are brought to you by Google Images, Ignition Models, Tarmac Works, Yahoo Search.