Category Archives: Greenlight

Two 1950’s Cadillacs in Photos

By  Mike DeTorrice

1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60

This is the 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60 sedan, as done by Greenlight, in the 1/43 “Elvis” series of vehicles.  All snaps are taken in the suburbs of Chicago.

It’s really well done and certainly is a bargain at generally less than US$20.

This is the blue version, and a pink one is available as well.

1957 Cadillac Eldorado

This is a beautiful 1/43 Solido ’57 Cadillac that I got a great deal on at the Countryside show.  The snaps of the ’57 start in the suburbs of Chicago again, but after a long road trip, we ended up in San Diego!

These were made in both Seville and Biarritz forms.


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Readers Letter – Greenlight Window fixings

Greenlight Window Fixings

What is your verdict on the way Greenlight has attempted to engineer flush side windows on the 1939 Chevrolet vans?

I don’t care for the engineering solution. Flush glazing yes, but not at the cost of overall appearance. Thinner wall castings getting windows closer to where they should be like Matchbox did some 55 years ago is still better in my mind!

Robin Godwin
Canada
via eMail

Editor: I didn’t mention this in the article on these models, to be found here, as I only looked closely at it when Robin drew it to my attention. But he is right the fixing is extremely clumsy and when the model is in a light colour it is also very obvious as shown in photographs below where arrows point to new fixings intruding visually. The flush fittings being increasingly used by PCT/Sonic and Oxford with the side glazing being fitted into side from inside with all frames printed on is vastly superior. Or as Robin says if the casting is fine enough then the gap is scarcely noticeable anyway. I hope GL find a better solution for future castings. What do you think?


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Greenlight 1939 Chevrolet Panel Van

By Maz Woolley

Text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author. 

Greenlight have released the Chevrolet Panel van from 1939 in 1:24 and 1:64 scale across a number of their ranges all with attractive liveries. Like Models of Yesteryear there is no discernible differences between them other than their liveries. In 1:24 there are some opening parts but there are none in 1:64 scale which improves accuracy even if it reduces play value. The models are diecast in China for the USA.

In 1:64 scale there are liveries for Goodyear Tyres and Shell Petrol in series four of  “Running on Empty“.  In the “Blue Collar Collection” series three they sell Chevrolet Parts and Krispy Kreme liveried vehicles, there is a picture on the web of a Krispy Kreme van looking very like a 1939 Chevy but in a different livery to the one used by Greenlight. Like all Greenlight 1:64 scale models these are more expensive than Mattel Hot Wheels but cheaper than Auto World or M2.

The 1939 Chevrolet Panel Van was a functional vehicle with a car like look and was replaced in 1941 by a van with a waterfall front end only seen on vans. This van, new for 1939, was sold under the strap lines “The Nation’s Largest Builder of Trucks” and  “Quality Makes Volume – Volume Makes Price”.

Chevrolet Parts Model 1:64 Blue Collar Series release 3

The van has a good shape and captures most of the features of the original quite well though the way the lights are inset in silver blocks to the side of the radiator is an inelegant solution. The Tampo printing of the areas of blue is not as thick as it might be and there are small gaps in the paint here and there betraying the fact that these are made to a strict budget. On the plus side the livery is nicely printed and seems to match printed material of the time.

The light lenses being picked out in white is a nice touch and the grille is good enough though some black wash would be nice. Number plates are printed. The windshield is a bit of a let down. All the glazing is flush but the printed chrome surround at the base of the window is much too high and large.

The wheels and tyres are well modelled though the tyres seem slightly too wide and square shouldered for the period.

To the rear the curved panels are very evident and the rear light, number plate and livery is all well done. The rear door handle is picked out, though the photograph doesn’t show it. Sadly the paint splits at all the panel lines on the vehicle, again showing that these are painted quickly and with minimal materials in the factory to meet the selling price.

Goodyear Model 1:64 Running on Empty Series release 4

Great colours reflect the corporate colours of the period. Sadly the blue overspray does not wrap round wheel arches underneath and there are a few dots of yellow where the blue paint has not covered the yellow.

The blue wheels are neatly painted and show off the contrast with the hub cap well though they are a bit shiny for a working van.

From the front all my comments about the Chevrolet liveried van apply but here the front bumper, which is straight and level on the parts model shown above, is bent like a banana which shows that QC is not very strict.

The front windscreen differs as well. Here there is no chrome print at the base and the window looks all the better for it. Sometimes less is best.

Finally to the rear the finish is as good as the Parts van and the yellow has split less round panel lines too. One other difference between the vans is the silver coach line which is nicely printed along the side of the Goodyear liveried van.

I am sure that we will see many more of these vans in different liveries. Some like the Texaco one that I am sure will come, they already do it in 1:24, I will welcome. Whilst others will inevitably be printed in pretty but inaccurate liveries which I will not .


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Ford Transit Connect Conversion

By John Quilter

Photographs are by, and copyright of, the Author except for one clearly marked publicity Photograph from Greenlight.

In the last few years Ford has completely revamped its commercial vehicle range moving away from the long running Econoline  in the USA and adopting the international design vans and mini buses,  a more European type range of commercial vehicles.  These compete with the Mercedes Benz Metris, and Dodge Ram Promaster City, Chevrolet City Express offerings as well as some from Nissan such as the NV200.    There are two basic Ford models  but lots of variations.  The smaller of the two current offerings is a Transit Connect and the larger,  just known as a Transit.    In the USA the Connect is actually the second generation of this vehicle, the first being smaller still and imported from Ford’s Turkey operation.    The second generation was launched in 2012 and sold in the US from 2014.   It is produced in both Turkey and Valencia Spain.   It comes in two lengths,  174 inches or 190 inches.    The passenger version is known as the Titanium edition with side windows and additions rows of seats,  two behind the driving compartment on the shorter version.

 

Greenlight Collectibles, who do a number of 1:43 scale replicas of modern vehicles, produce a white Transit Connect van with a black interior.  These are quite accurate diecast models probably used by Ford as promos since they replicate current production Ford products.   The Connect measure 4.37 inches which is virtually dead on accurate 1:43 scale for the longer version.  Greenlights are good value for money so for an inveterate modifier such as myself, they make great donor models to create something a bit different and not currently in an model range.  Therefore I set about making one of the cargo versions into a passenger van known as the Titanium edition which features  more features and fancier interiors.

To do this required disassembly, quite easy with two Philips screws holding the plastic base plate in place.  Grinding off the spun pegs  releases the fascia unit and this gives access to the front side windows which also need to be removed and set aside for protection.   Then comes the harder work.   After covering most of the model with masking tape for protection, drill a number of small holes in the inset areas of the side panels.   A Google search for photos of the real vehicle, often internet advertising websites, will give good views of the shape of the windows and in many cases the design of the rear rows of seats plus representative colours.    Many of the Titanium editions will be in various colours but in order to preserve the logos and badging and black mouldings I chose to keep my model in the very typical commercial vehicle white.    To open up the windows it will be necessary to drill multiple holes in the body sides.  Be advised this Mazak material is hard stuff, use sharp bits.   Then much filing with various square, triangular, and round files will open up the window areas to the proper shapes.  Once the windows are to the correct shape I cut out of clear 1/16th inch thick clear plastic windows to fit the apertures.   The modern vehicle practice these days is to have a wide black boarder around windows so some flat back paint surround is painted in as well.

For additional rows of seats I scratch made reasonable facsimiles from pieces of styrene plastic shaped and glued together then painted grey and black and fitted to the base plate.   The  on line images I found showed seats in duotone grey and black so these additional details were added to the stock Greenlight front ”captain’s chair”  seats.


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A look at some US 1:64 models

By Maz Woolley

Photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

My collection of US 1:64 scale models has grown recently. As these are generally not imported into the UK I have to rely on my collecting buddy to obtain them for me in the US and Canada. All the models shown are from “premium” 1:64 makers and cost considerably more than models from Mattel and Matchbox. In return there is much more detail and some excellent subjects.

All the models shown have been diecast to 1:64 scale in China for the USA.

Greenlight 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood 60

I am told that this model is becoming scarce, particularly in black. It is based upon a car seen briefly in The Godfather a gangster film from 1972.  It is made to 1:64 scale and was sold in a blister pack with a Godfather film theme.

The rear number plate shows the same number as the car in the film, but the front number plate is much too small to match the car in the film whatever is printed.

It was only looking at an advert online for this model that made me realise that the bonnet actually opens. The fit of the bonnet is so fine that one really has to congratulate Greenlight.

The printed chrome is neatly done as is the bonnet mounted emblem and Cadillac scripts.

Looked at from the side one of the models shortcomings becomes apparent. The very slim door posts should all be chromed. The wheels are good with wheel centres correctly printed in red with the Cadillac emblem included.

The base is in unpainted metal and includes quite a bit of engine and powertrain details as well as the ladder chassis.

The front also shows a few issues with the “dagmars” being too large and the black tips not extending back far enough. The Cadillac crest is also printed off centre as shown by its position to the side of the bonnet ornament.

However, this is a budget model and is generally very good so is a nice item to add to my collection. Greenlight also make this model to 1:43 scale.


 

Greenlight Volkswagen Typ2 Camper

Greenlight have produced several different camper configurations on the VW T2 US Bus. Here it is in “Campground Host” trim with the folding high roof and raised luggage area but with no camping fittings inside just seating for about 10 people.

It is another model in their Club V-DUB range which has no opening parts. It is thought that Greenlight uses a different maker for this range of VW models, probably one making VW models for the European market.

The roof is nicely constructed but the windows in the folding part of the roof are just printed on., though quite effective.

Elsewhere the printed grilles, window slats and lighting are very well done. The wheels are particularly nice with the domed hub caps and VW logo impressed in the middle.

Number plates have not been printed on which is a shame as it makes the rear look a little unfinished. But the US regulation lights on the vehicle sides front and rear are printed on.

The logo for the probably fictitious “River Valley Gorge, Camping and Entertainment” is neatly printed.

The only slight let down is the VW emblem on the front which is just printed and lacks the depth it should have.


 

1958 GMC Suburban Carrier 4×4

Here we go to M2 Machines Auto-Trucks range. This model is from Release 36. It is of the upmarket 4×4 version of this truck whereas previous appearances in Series 21 were of the plainer Fleet and Small Window versions.

The rear bed is a separate part allowing different types of rear section to be fitted. In series 21 the bodies were step sides and not  the panelled in version used with this model.

The printed GMC badgework on the bonnet is excellent as is the badging on the side of the wings. The grille and lights are impressive especially as the sidelights are actually a separately made and inserted plastic lens. The wheels are neatly painted with chrome centres and large as would be the case for a 4×4.

M2 models generally have many opening parts and here the bonnet and doors all open. The panel gaps are a bit large but better than many 1:64 models.

From the side view we can see the 4×4’s higher ride height.

As can be seen the rear lights are transluscent red and solid white paint on plastic chromed units. These are effective at this scale.  The complicated rear bumpers have been nicely made and the number plate shows the model year.


M2 1959 VW Double Cab Truck USA Model – Camper.

This special model is not part of a normal Auto-thentics VW release. Using the VW T1 double cab seen in release VW004 it has a camper body mounted on the rear of the chassis and a deluxe two-tone paintwork.

The Camper rear is fitted out inside in brown plastic with tables and cupboards visible. The front bumper has the higher export bumpers needed to comply with US bumper height rules. Unfortunately the front bumper droops a little as can be seen above.

Whilst the rear is a custom build it has incorporated the standard VW engine access panel. The lights are a simple printed circle. The whole rear section has been made in plastic whilst the double cab is in metal.

The rear window has “Industrial Speed Shop” printed on to replicate the type of sticker that might have been fitted to the original vehicle.

The large camper body must have been quite a weight to haul for a Type 1 Transporter which only had a 1200cc engine at this point. Indeed in 1959 the engine was uprated with more power but was so troublesome 1959 Volkswagen T1s in the US were recalled and fitted with modified engines.


 

M2 1959 VW Double Cab Truck USA Model

Making use of the same casting this model is a Walmart special and is a limited edition of over 7,000 models. It has been kept simple and built down to a price as Walmart insist on being able to sell the models for low prices.

The blue colour is that associated with Volkswagen and is neatly painted.

The double cab and pick up bed are separate parts but in this case they are both diecast. Although the drop down panels of the pickup bed are all plastic.

Unlike the Greenlight the M2 Volkswagens have the VW badge moulded into the cab and then overprinted in white. This gives a very realistic finish. The white bumpers are US edition and have rubber strips printed on.

The rear is simple but the drop down panels have been finelly modelled and moulded in plastic. The lights are neat red on silver prints. Looking in the pickup bed one can see that it was designed to be fitted with something and the holes have not even been blanked off – another sign that Walmart model is built down to a price. I expect that this casting will appear with a towing boom, or items fitted into the rear at some point.


These models are just a small cross section of the up-market 1:64 models sold in the US and many more can be seen on the websites of M2 and Greenlight.


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Greenlight – Hitched Homes

By Maz Woolley

The photographs included are by, and copyright of, the Author. Advertising Illustration is copyright of Greenlight.

Over the years many collectors have asked manufacturers to make Caravans (Trailers) to go with their cars and trucks. A few manufacturers have done so with variable results.  In one case a smaller maker of 1:43 models put a lot of effort into making some classic Caravans only to see cheap models of exactly the same subjects flooding out of China in various scales and even being adopted into some German diecast ranges. The suspicion was that the UK made models had been copied and that is unfair on the original maker. At one point a series of resin Caravans was proposed to cover popular UK brands such as Sprite but this did not “take-off”.

The success of the Caravans already issued in the Greenlight Hitch and Tow series like the Shasta Airflyte and Airstream Bambi no doubt encouraged them to make a new series of Caravans without any towing vehicle called Hitched Homes. Greenlight make Caravans in 1:24 but make more in 1:64 scale. Sadly there appears to be no prospect that they will be made in 1:43 scale too. In this article we look at the three caravans on the top row in the Hitched Homes publicity illustration above. All of which are new castings not seen in the Hitch and Tow range so far.

1958 Catolac DeVille Travel Trailer

British Caravaners in the 1950s would have been shocked by the bright colours of this caravan.  UK Caravans were generally painted in subdued colour schemes and awning would have been of green or brown canvas and not like an awning at an Ice Cream parlour.

DeVille trailers were manufactured by Catolac Corporation of California. and they made trailers from 1927 to 1970. The company slogan was “It’s not how many you make, But how well you make them” – That’s the Catolac way”.

 

The model reproduced by Greenlight is was a compact trailer, for the US, with all the usual features though it had no toilet fitted. The woodwork in the interior was of very good quality, birch panelling  whilst the outside was  made from 1 inch thick Mesa Deluxe sheets.

Whilst the windows are all painted on and whilst there is no interior the caravan does have an awning that clips into the main body and a blind for the front window to protect it when travelling and from the sun.  The usual screw is supplied to fit to the front of the trailer to allow it to stand or to be lifted for towing. These are now supplied as a separate part to fit yourself and great care needs to be taken when opening pack as they are  prone to dropping out.


1959 Siesta Travel Trailer

 

No awning supplied with this one and it looks a little plainer with only the red detailing and the fact it has a large fridge in it making it look different to European caravans of a similar age. No fold down flap to cover the front window on this one.

 

Sadly I cannot find any history of the makers of this caravan but from the number of pictures of renovations it must have been a popular one in its day.

1964 Winnebago 216 Travel Trailer

The name Winnebago to the British mind is synonymous with the huge RV vehicles the size of a British Luxury Coach but the company was only formed in 1959 and the first self powered RV was not launched until 1966.

Winnebago is the name of a native American tribe, and Forest City where Winnebago started is in Winnebago County, Iowa. John K Hanson a local funeral home manager liked camping and managed to convince Californian supplier Modernistic Industries, to open a manufacturing facility near the banks of the Winnebago River.  Unfortunately things didn’t prosper and in 1959 when Modernistic’s prospects were slim a group of local businessmen, led by Hanson, bought out the operation. He changed the company name to Winnebago Industries in 1960 and established the manufacture of dedicated components right down to furniture designed and built especially for the trailers. One Winnebago innovation was the “Thermo-Panel,” with insulating foam between an aluminum exterior sheet and inner paneling. It kept weight down and made the vehicle more like a home away from home.

The Greenlight model has the “W” logo nicely printed to the side, rear and front. Again the windows are printed black and there is no interior. The movable blind at the front was apparently an extra cost optional extra.


The remaining caravans in this release include a current Winnebago trailer which is new casting and one that will appeal to collectors of more modern US vehicles. The Shasta Airflyte that has already been seen in several colours in the Hitch and Tow series and the Airstream Bambi has also been seen in that series several times previously. Though the Bambi in the series does come with a new awning not seen before.

Greenlight are to be congratulated on these models which though basic in some ways do look good when hitched to a period US car.


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Hitch and Tow Series 8 Pop-Up Trailer

By Maz Woolley

 

The Greenlight 1:64 scale Hitch and Tow series made in China for the US is well established with Series Ten being launched this month. Most series have few new trailers now with the same trailer appearing in new colours and with a different tow car. Here we look at the pop-up camping trailer first seen in series eight with a Ford F-150 pickup towing it. This trailer appears again in series 10 pulled by a 1970 Ford F-100 pickup as the tow car.

The camper can be displayed in open form as seen at the top of this posting or closed as shown immediately above. Please note that it normally has a white gas cylinder mounted on the body just above the tow bar however this has broken off mine.

Inside the camper is a simplified interior which is superfluous as it cannot be seen when the camper is displayed either open or closed.

As the photograph above shows the folding fabric has been well modelled on the tent section. This section is made out of plastic and locates with a lugs into the base and the metal cover/roof locates into the top of the plastic section with the small lugs it also uses to locate into the metal base section when shown closed.

The Ford F-150 is well modelled with the complicated front lights neatly inserted as separate items. The interior with its second row of seats has been modelled in some detail though it has no printed details. The tyres even have the Goodyear details printed on them and the Ford logo is printed on the grille centre. The F-150 is a best selling vehicle in the US despite a combined cycle fuel usage of 18-20 miles to a US Gallon.

Given that it is being used to go camping a cover or top fitted on the truck bed to cover the luggage and camping gear might have been nice but one can hardly complain about its absence given Greenlight’s pricing of this range.

The US 1:64 scale marketplace seems to be thriving with new series planned for the near future.  Some early castings of M2s forthcoming Datsun range have been shown, the 240Z and Bluebird, and they look very good as shown with no opening doors. I am sure that a lot of collectors are looking forward to the models.


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Greenlight Indy Racers and Roadsters

by Karl Schnelle

 

Back in June, I wrote about looking for diecast cars at the Indianapolis 500 open wheeled race.  The race was on May 29, 2016, and was the 100TH RUNNING!  I found some modern Indy style race cars there,  in 1/64 and 1/18 which are popular scales in the US.  That was about all I saw, and I did not buy any.  Then, my Mother, being the ultimate model car collector,  gave me a 1/24 scale Indy Roadster for my birthday.  I did not see this car anywhere for sale at the track in May.    She found it in a magazine ad!

The gold race car is in the style of the late 1930’s and 40’s with a long hood for the engine.   Embossed printing on the hood says 100th Running Indianapolis 500″ in red; on the rails underneath it says “INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY”.  The packaging was definitely for the 2016 race, and the car was made by Enlighten in China,  a large well-known, local company that makes all sorts of model cars.

Because of the retro style of the Roadster, with was unlike any Greenlight I had ever seen, I searched around online and found out that they had also made a similar one ten years before!  For the 90TH RUNNING of the Indy 500, Greenlight made a silver one and called it an Indy Racer on the box.   Not sure why they changed names.  So I was on the search for its twin and found it that same day ending at an online auction site.  The owner turned out to be from Indianapolis and had bought it at the race in May 2006 at one of the track gift shops.  What a small world!  So I had to have it and won it easily.

The box was more generic with no mention of the 90th running or the 2016 race itself.  The copyright on the bottom was 2006 so that was a give-away.   However, the same printing is on the car except that 90th was in place of 100th, still in red. The seat is the same red color, as the newer 100th version!

Here are both out of the box:

Once they were out of the box, other differences became apparent, not just the color and the printing.   The silver one is marked stainless on the box and is much heavier than the newer gold model. The bases are different as well, even they they are the exact same dimensions.

The silver is one-piece with a seam inside running down the middle.   It’s nice to see the date of the 2006 race engraved on the bottom. From my untrained eyes, it looks to be cast, polished stainless steel.  The lighter-weight gold one has a separate baseplate attached with six recessed screws.  Is this diecast made from the typical zinc alloy, like zamak (mazac)?

I assume the cost of a new mold for the gold one was feasible versus the cost of stainless steel, or the 2006 mold was lost?

In any case, 2006 is NOT the beginning of the story.  The box for the silver one talks about the original 1946 version that Tony Hulman (the owner of the track) and Wilbur Shaw (driver and President of the track) gave to drivers and sponsors.

The steel car was typical of the race cars of the late 30’s and into the 40’s.  In fact, ni500cc.com shows many older versions:

  1. Original which looks like the silver Greenlight with a small hole in the baseplate near the front and no writing on the hood (cowl), but the same writing on the rails
  2.  Same but with Wilbur Shaw’s signature embossed on the cowl
  3.  With Clabber Girl Spl embossed on the cowl
  4.  With Clabber Girl Spl sticker on the cowl
  5.  Red with and with out Shaw’s signature
  6.  Yellow with and with out Shaw’s signature
  7.  White with and with out Shaw’s signature
  8.  1947 Nash Pace Car or the 1948 Chevrolet Pace Car with company details embossed on to of the hood
  9.  A plastic version was reported to be made

I have the two new reproductions now, so perhaps I need to start prowling around the antique markets in Indy and online places to dig up nine more! The hunt is on!


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Who’s Who in 1:64 Scale Volkswagen Beetles

By Robin Godwin

For pictures of these models please see the captioned photographs after the text.

I can understand the frustration of collectors when they see another new issue of a VW Beetle. Personally, I get very tired of seeing every possible iteration of Ferrari or racing Porsche, since I generally don’t collect those models. The Beetle has to rank up there in popularity with manufacturers and collectors alike. They will always sell. There has been lots of activity recently in the 1:64 scale world for VWs here in North America, but recently a couple of European manufacturers have jumped into the fray, and Kyosho of Japan adds a few new issues now and then. Perhaps the biggest difference between the US companies (M2, Greenlight, the reborn Johnny Lightning, and Hot Wheels) and those based in Europe and Japan is that the American companies are given to producing what editor Maz refers to as “artificial rarities” – deliberate, low-volume, special issues with some sort of difference(s) from the basic issue, not just a standard recolour. That is true, and some are low volume specials, but others are “event” specials like the auto show SEMA (Special Equipment Market Association https://www.semashow.com/the-sema-show ) or international market versions. The net effect is the same – hard to find and usually more expensive to purchase. I’ll touch on this phenomenon a bit, but leave the details for another article.

That said, Kyosho, Minialuxe (OK, so that one is 1:66), Schuco, M2, Greenlight, the “new” Johnny Lightning (OK, so these ones are slightly bigger than 1:64), and Hot Wheels (scale not usually a concern with the basic line, but around 1:64) are the current players that I’ll discuss. I have just discovered that the “new” Solido company, launched under the Otto umbrella will issue a 1:64 scale series which includes a Beetle 1303 sedan. Unfortunately, it is the Kyosho Beetle. I don’t know the business arrangement that has brought this to pass – whether the models are purchased directly from Kyosho or from the Chinese manufacturers, but it may be a slightly less expensive method of acquiring the Kyosho Beetle, which are generally only available from Asian dealers online. I’m reasonably confident that the base will read Solido rather than Kyosho, as Solido has done on other contracted models. I’ll update readers once I have one.

Other manufacturers are doing VWs as well. Norev is doing a “3 inch” model, usually described as 1:55ish, Maisto still does oval window Beetles, both for themselves and others (I’ve seen Burago VWs by Maisto) but these are a bit cartoonish “chopped” versions and also around 1:55 scale, maybe even a tad bigger, and there are others doing 1:72nd and 1:76th Beetles, but I’ll leave all those for another day.

Let’s start with the most prolific producers, Greenlight and M2. These two seem to be going head-to-head in the VW world. Greenlight (GL) started in 2010 with a VW30 Prototype and followed in 2011 with the “Classic VW” issue (big window), both of which were originally sourced from Chinese manufacturer High Speed. The VW30 has been phased out, but the Classic soldiers on. I’m not sure if these are still cast by High Speed, or if Greenlight now owns the mould, but this particular model has been issued by several other companies, including High Speed itself. Early issues had both Greenlight and High Speed cast into the plastic base, but more recent issues have just Greenlight. In 2015, GL issued a split window VW which they are selling as anything from a 1938 VW (they weren’t called Volkswagens back then, but were known as KdF) all the way up to a 1953 Beetle (later in 1953 the rear window was changed to oval). At this scale, minor detail differences, inaccuracies, or omissions are not such a big deal. There is lots of tampo printing for trim detail, but GL makes no effort to show the quarter light/vent window on either model. The GL split window has an opening bonnet and boot, with basic engine detail. Panel fit is actually pretty good, but one wonders if GL is only doing this because M2 Auto-thentics did opening panels first. GL special issues are called “Green Machines” (GM) and can feature a metallic green body colour or even a raw body casting (unpainted), or green wheels or even green tires or combinations thereof. GMs are usually 2% of regular production, and occasionally have low double digit production runs, so can be exceedingly rare. GL has also done VWs for California Toys of Brazil, to date only the big window “Classic”. Seven issues currently exist, four of which are police issues. Three of these have police roof lights, a first for GL. These issues are very difficult to find outside of Brazil. The Classic features painted headlights and taillights, with a plastic “riveted” base. The split window has clear plastic headlights, painted taillights and a metal base fixed by a single phillips screw (so I would never buy a “unique interior colour” online). The regular issues are sold on blister cards, but many of the variations of both Greenlight VWs are only sold in themed sets of up to five vehicles of which up to three could be Beetles. Some online dealers will split the sets and sell models as loose singles, but sometimes the models offered as singles appear to be quality control rejects. Look carefully at the photos before you buy. All you need to know about GL beetles (or any 1:64 GL casting) can be found at http://za3collectibles.com/index.htm about the best online collector resource I have seen.

M2 issued it’s first VWs in an Autothentics VW sub series in 2013, which included an oval window (so, good for 1953 to 1957 issues) and a big window version, good up until about 1967, after which the headlight housings became noticeably more vertical. Both castings feature opening bonnets and boots with engine detail. The oval uses a paint strip on the side windows to represent the quarter window, and it is badly placed, making the window too big. The big window model has cast quarter windows, a much better effort. I previously reviewed the first issues in a MAR online article, so won’t repeat the details or criticisms but, as forecast in the original article, M2 has played with the dies a bit so now we have sunroof (open and closed with canvas roof ripples cast in) versions, along with bumper variations to reflect different national vehicle standards. M2 also does special issues and “chase” issues (usually just gold wheels and gold tampo trim) and usually indicates the production numbers. Some of the special issues also have chase vehicles, for instance, the SEMA special for 2014 featured 492 regular issues, but there were another 108 chase issues as well, done in a different body colour. Wal Mart seems to be a driving factor, since they have had several Wal Mart exclusives, with accompanying chase vehicles (up to 1600 chase vehicles issued). There is a Wal Mart Mexico series as well, covering more than just VWs. These are unique colours, with Spanish packaging, and “MEX 01” (or whatever issue number it is) printed on the plastic plinth. Be careful if buying online, since many of the regular US issues/colours are also available in Mexico, with Spanish packaging, but without “MEX xx”. Except for the language, those ones are the same as you can find anywhere in the US. M2 also did a few VWs for a Puerto Rican toy store with 492 regulars and 108 chase Beetles. These are hard to find. Similarly, they did a special for a Canadian toy store with 492 regular issues, 108 chase models and 24 “Super Chase” models (and we’re talking really silly eBay prices for this one).

A couple of points to note if one is planning on buying any GL or M2 online. Both feature rubber tires on plastic rims. The regular issues are, of course, toys, generally sold for less than $6 US, so perhaps some quality control issues can be excused. Any GL or M2 that features white wall tires should be examined very closely in the photos. In both cases, the white is printed on the rubber tires. M2 tends to have less than perfect white coverage and also frequent off centre printing of the VW logo on the wheels. GL tends to have the whole white wall slightly off centre or oval in shape, but wheel logos are cast in. Both manufacturers frequently fail to get the tire properly seated on the plastic rim before putting the vehicles in the sealed blister packs (or boxes). Lots of folks like to keep their blister packs as originally issued (unopened), so an improperly fitted tire can be exasperating.

Johnny Lightning (JL) was reborn late last year and one of their first reissues was the 1975 Super Beetle Convertible. All of the original Playing Mantis issues but one had the top down, but the reissue is top up. This is clearly a toy, slightly bigger than 1:64, and appears to be unchanged from the original. It features slightly-too-wide rubber tires (mostly a good thing, as JL has done lots of plastic tires in the past) on incorrect generic wheels, or we could be nice and call them custom toy wheels. The first issue comes with an “A” series in red, and a “B” series in yellow, along with a White Lightning (WL) version. WLs represent 1 to 5% of regular production, but I have never seen a reference to real production volumes, so cannot even estimate the number of WLs. With painted headlights and taillights, there is nothing really special about the details, but the tampo highlights are well done. The base is cast in metal and riveted in place. These are respectable toys and retail for less than $6 in the US, but online sellers seem to want to try to get more than that. In its previous incarnation, JL also produced a 1964 – 1966 Beetle, and a 1951 split window Beetle but there is no indication yet if these dies will be resurrected. An outstanding JL reference website is Wyatt’s http://www.jlcollector.net/index2.html

As we all know, Hot Wheels (HW) is all over the die cast map these days, still going strong with the regular HW basic line that set the die cast toy world on its head in the late 60s. There have been multiple VW Beetle castings, mostly customs of some sort. The current 1:64ish Beetle is an oval window with fairly accurate body casting save for the excessively big real wheel arches, which enable the fitment of Hot Wheels usually huge wheels. Occasionally, HW will issue a model with “Real Riders” (RR) which translates into rubber tires. The photo shows a recent “Herbie” release with RRs that are too wide but otherwise realistically sized (which really highlights the oversize rear wheel arches). The Herbie markings are quite accurate, but of course the Love Bug was a square window VW and not an oval, so zero points for accuracy here. Basic HWs are still sold for $1.00, except when it is a special or a RR like the Love Bug, shown, then it is three or four times the price. It’s a bit of a shame that Hot Wheels does not revive their Chinese made 100% Hot Wheels Beetle casting from 2001, a square window model with excellent lines and an opening boot with a chrome engine. The wheels were always rubber, and accurately sized, at least in diameter, as were the rear wheel arches. It was always a custom of some sort, with a single exhaust (a separate plastic engine/exhaust piece on the base) and minus both bumpers. Adding bumpers and stock exhaust would have produced the most accurate Hot Wheels small scale Beetle, but unfortunately it appears this casting has been retired. They are worth tracking down on eBay.

The Minialuxe brand (France) was revived recently with lots of 1:43 vehicles, all in metal, and to a level of finish consistent with ’60s diecasts or the current Atlas Dinky Toys reissues. This is kind of a nostalgic range even though the original Minialuxe products were 1:43 plastic. Just within the past year, Minialuxe released a “Miniabox” line of 1:66 vehicles, again all metal, and included a square window Beetle. This is a very nice simple casting (except for the missing quarter light window) with windows and a well done interior (LHD). The headlights are Swarovski crystals. Wheels are spun aluminum and tires are very accurate thin 60s style. These come in four different colours, with unique “colour-matched” boxes. I would love to have all four versions, but they cost 20 Euros each, plus shipping from Minialuxe, who still seem to prefer direct marketing, although they do sell direct at some large French toy shows. Minialuxe have issued a couple of Beetles with roof lights in their 1:43 series (Polizei and Swiss PTT), so I would anticipate similar issues in the smaller range sometime in the future. The question remains – why 1:66?

An odd turn of events in light of the above, is Schuco issuing a line of vehicles called Edition 1:64, when they used to have an excellent 1:66 scale range many years ago (60s and 70s). I thought initially the Beetle 1500, issued in 2014, might be sourced from High Speed (Schuco did issue some High Speed 1:64 in their earlier Junior range, I have the E-Type Jag from 2005) similar to early Greenlight models, but they are unique castings that include the quarter lights. Base is metal with cast in bumpers and is fastened to the body with two small phillips screws. Headlights are clear plastic with tampo silver rims, and the taillights are separate red plastic bits – nice detail in this scale. No body panels open. The wheels are done the same as M2 and some Greenlight models. The rim is chromed then the outer portion of it is sprayed body colour to give the effect of a chrome hubcap on a body-coloured wheel. It is not always successful, with some off-centre painting and poor colour matching. To date, there have been five versions, including a “Herbie”, a Polizei with roof light and a Nurnberg 2016 Toy Fair model in red with white show graphics. The addition of the Polizei roof light is the only casting change to date. These are all regular edition models, except for the show special, and I have no idea how many of these were made. It appears that Schuco does not engage in “artificial rarities” as discussed above, nor are they issuing sets of models in unique colours (yet). These are priced at about Euro 11 in Germany, so a bit more expensive than M2 or Greenlight models, but perhaps Schuco does not have a Wal Mart or equivalent pressing for a lower price point.

Finally, Kyosho of Japan markets a huge range of 1:64 vehicles which seem to be only reliably available in Asia. The first VWs appeared in 2008 in a Minicar Collection Gashapon series (Gashapon = generic box, so that you don’t know which model you are getting until you open the box). There were two models, a 1303 Super Beetle sedan and the other a Super Beetle cabrio. It should be noted that the second issue of VW Minicar Collection (issued in 2015 and still current), has deleted the cabrio, and the Solido lineup as mentioned above does not feature the cabrio either. http://www.kyosho.com/jpn/products/diecast/brmc/volkswagen2/index.html My earlier comments about inaccuracies/omissions in this scale can be cast aside here. These are exceptional little models immediately noticeable in the wheel detail and the flush glazing with fine tampo window trim. Headlights are separate clear lenses inset into chrome trim bezels. Taillights are separate solid red plastic pieces. Unfortunately, there is no top orange (turn indicators) or bottom clear (backup lights) incorporated, but it is 1:64 scale after all. Tampo printing of rear engine vents is superb. The riveted base is plastic. There is one criticism, but it is only that the yellow paint has a hard time covering some of the cast ridges – other darker coloured versions do not have this problem. Although now obsolete, the cabrio is worth searching out on eBay, but also comes with a criticism. The windshield/frame is a separate mask-painted plastic piece, with a slight shade difference to the body paint. Still, these 1:64 models could embarrass some 1:43 scale manufacturers. Hopefully the Solido issue of these models will feature some new colours over time, but the first issue illustrated in their 2016 catalogue is the same colour as the recent Kyosho issue – how disappointing.

#1#1 An early “Classic Beetle” (large window) on bottom, with both High Speed and Greenlight cast logos. Top is a later version missing High Speed logo. It is from a GL Hollywood Film Reels set from the movie “Bullitt”, hence the Warner Bros. tampo


#2
#2 The Bullitt VW alongside a Greenlight split window from their “Pennzoil” five-car set. The split window was bought as a singleton from an online dealer, but it looks more like a quality control reject – bad wheel paint


#3
#3 14 diorama sets (bottom right is a “Camping” diorama with one VW Beetle), 68 vehicles, of which only 29 are Beetles


#4
#4 A typical Greenlight diorama set (Malibu Surf Shop). None of these models are sold as singletons


#5#5 A Greenlight “Green Machine” (from “North Shore Surf Shack” diorama – only 28 of these GMs made!!) flanked by oval window (left) and large window (right) M2 castings


#6#6 A Mexico only issue. Note MEX 03 issue number. This means colour is unique to Mexican market. Others may be sold in Mexico, with Spanish language packaging, but without a Mexico issue number – these are the same as available in the US (from internet)


#7#7 Rear view of same cars


#8#8 A Wal Mart special issue. This is a “Chase” version with gold rims and trim. 1600 issue size is a lot for a chase model, but there are over 4000 Wal Mart stores in the US alone


#9#9 The relaunched Johnny Lightning Super Beetle Convertible with collector card, also available in yellow with white convertible top (up, as well) and a White Lightning version. The WL version is based on the red car, since it has a black top and interior, and pearl silvery/white body and white tires


#10#10 Essentially the same came vehicle – Kyosho foreground is very accurate but you can see the colour difference between plastic and metal painted parts. The Kyosho highlights the toylike quality of the JL. Kyosho convertible is no longer available, but can be found on eBay


#11#11 A very recent Hot Wheels oval window issue with “Real Riders”. Rubber tires are nice, but highlight the enormous wheel arches. Very much a toy, but still a decent VW model


#12#12 A 100% Hot Wheels custom VW from an earlier era (right), and now obsolete, but it’s much more accurate casting than the current stuff. Left is the Kyosho, the current gold standard for 1:64 Beetles, although not everybody likes the “Super Beetle” with it’s curved windscreen


#13#13 Miniabox by Minialuxe. Note black box illustration for black model.


#14#14 Left to right: M2, Schuco, Kyosho, Miniabox. 1:66 size of Miniabox may not be evident with perhaps a bit of lens distortion near the edges. Kyosho puts other in the shade


#15#15 Rear view, same order


#16#16 An original 1:66 Schuco model from another era sitting on the 1:64 Toy Fair issue. The new Schuco is quite a nice casting. The old one was also nice but spoiled by opening “half” doors


#17#17 The early Kyosho issue came in three colours, the others being red and cream. beautiful details and execution, but paint a bit thin on edges


#18#18 The recent full VW release from Kyosho and still current. The blue Beetle version will also appear as a Solido model, as will most of this VW issue


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Greenlight Gremlins

By Robin Godwin

A while back I discussed the re-launch of Solido, with one of their first cars being a 1:43 Volkswagen Beetle. Regrettably, it was produced by PCT (Premium Collectibles & Trading, parent of Ixo and the source of models for numerous partworks) and was not an original Solido casting in any way. At the end of that article, I said that I thought the new Greenlight (GL) 1:43 “Gremlins” Beetle also looked like a partwork. Proof arrived in the mail today with a DeAgostini partwork model for Brazil. The series is called “Veiculos de Servico do Brasil,” no translation required. You can see from the pictures that there have been some minor modifications to change it from the 1967 Beetle used in the 1984 Gremlins movie, into a 1977 VW Fusco as used by the telephone service in Brazil (this info is printed on an included card). There are different tampo printed vents, wheels, mirror arrangement, and of course, the addition of a roof rack, but it is the same casting, with the same base. PCT is tampoed on the base of the Brazil issue, along with Volkswagen Fusco, so a slide was inserted into the die to accommodate this. Hard to see in the pictures, but the licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Entertainment appears in black tampo on the black plastic base of the Gremlins model, along with Greenlight in white.

Perhaps this goes some way to explain why GL chose to use an existing mould from PCT rather than create their own – money saved by not having to produce your own dies can be put towards the cost of licensing and, apparently, turn a profit at a price point of around $15 US. The GL lineup (1:64/1:43/1:24 and 1:18) is getting crowded with licensed vehicles from various films and TV series, which presumably all require fees of some sort, so models produced by someone else at a contract price may be a very smart business solution. But from this collector’s point of view, it is a real disappointment, in that it is a casting that has been used many times before. GL issued a military Willys Jeep recently in 1:43 which I found tempting, but I’m pretty sure it is from PCT as well. Since I already have the Ixo version, I won’t bother.

There is a large and growing group of “ex-partwork” companies that issue castings already used in partworks as their own lines – Whitebox, Edicola, and now Greenlight and Solido among others, although these latter two may have some originals in their lineup, particularly the current GL 1:64 scale issues (but, GL started with High Speed castings). It will be increasingly difficult for regular die cast manufacturers, i.e., those who make their own dies, to compete with the many old partworks floating around at what appear to be bargain prices. The number of partworks series is increasing all the time, so it could be that, even though Norev, Corgi and Oxford Diecast have supported that market, PCT is the future of die cast models, or at least the main player (perhaps excluding Mattel). If you doubt that statement, then have a look at the sheer volume of models in various partworks coming from PCT at their website http://premium-collectibles.com/partworks.html Tough to compete, given that virtually all these partworks have a second life in derivative ranges.

Editor’s note. Things have also happened the other way with Corgi supplying moulds for re-use by Atlas, Corgi and Solido providing castings for a partwork series, and of course Norev models are used for partworks and Atlas series as well. Robin’s point is taken that anyone funding a die for their sole use may struggle to compete when PCT, Universal Hobbies, Hongwell, High Speed  or Hongwell make a casting of the same model and make it available at  a contract rate to a number of others.

IMG_1548

Gremlins VW in orange, front; Vieculos de Servico partwork Telephone Service vehicle, rear

 

IMG_1549

Effective tampo printing can significantly change vehicle appearance

 

IMG_1545

Base differences. An insert to the die was used to cast specific vehicle data

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