Category Archives: Chevrolet

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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Johnny Lightning “Magma” 1968 Camaro

by Frank Koh

1/43 Scale Johnny Lightning from the Playing Mantis Days

In the late nineties Johnny Lightning came out with a somewhat limited edition line of 1/43 scale cars called “Magmas”. There was even a mail-in offer of a special red Magma 1968 Camaro. That exclusive model could be purchased only if the mail-in offer was availed of. Needless to state, not many red “Magmas” Camaros were made; hence, they can be considered the “chase cars” from the good old days. Such was the ingenuity and innovation of the Johnny Lightning team when the company was owned by Playing Mantis.

Believe it or not, this Johnny Lightning “Magmas” 1968 Camaro is close to two decades old. I have owned this exclusive available-thru-mail-in-offer-only red Camaro for many years, acquiring it by way of the secondary market. It represents one of the better marketing strategies of Johnny Lightning when it was owned by Playing Mantis: Authorize a limited run of a popular model in an “exclusive” color, then sell it thru the company’s mail order channels. [Regular 1968 “Magmas” Camaros were were teal blue and green variants sold thru regular retail outlets.] Consequently, for all intents and purposes, the red “Magmas” Camaro was one of the first “chase cars”.  Brilliant.


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The Corvette That Smells Good

by Frank Koh

I snagged this Avon Corvette fragrance decanter at my favorite source for vintage collectibles and LP records earlier this year. Truth be told, the Avon catalogs from the good old days really had some neat and desirable stuff!

Around 1968, Avon Products, Inc. introduced a line of car-themed aftershave decanters, one of which was this 1965 Corvette. The popular Avon scents such as Spicy, Wind Country, Deep Woods, etc. found their way into car-shaped bottles that most likely encouraged the gearheads of the day to collect as many glass vehicles as they could. Don’t you wish that today’s Avon Ladies would offer neat items such as these from the Avon catalog?

This Corvette’s a little smaller than 1/34 scale and not the most accurate rendering of the vehicle, but what it may lack in scale fidelity and realism, it more than makes up for in old school charm.

Take note of the box art. The image looks like a cross between a second generation 1965 Corvette and a third generation 1968 Corvette, and it actually looks pretty good. Considering that the line of car-themed Avon aftershave bottles was released around 1968, the illustrator probably confused the all-new body of the ’68 with the oh-so-different previous generation ’65 Corvette. It’s this kind of trivia that makes collecting old stuff so much fun.

The rear portion is green-tinted clear plastic, and serves as screw-on the bottle cap for this really neat and collectible Avon fragrance decanter.

Only knowledgeable Corvette mavens would notice the error on the front label of the box. The ’63-’67 second generation Corvette was a “Sting Ray” (two words) and the ’68-’82 third generation Corvette was a “Stingray” (one word), though for model year 1968 the car was only identified as a “Corvette”. But I’m just nit-picking because I’m sleepy.

Late sixties tech lingo. Whoever composed this interesting write-up forgot that for model year 1965, a 396 cubic-inch big block V8 became available as an option on the Corvette for the very first time. Apparently the new-for-’65 styling cues and the disc brakes would have been more significant to users of Avon products.


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Brooklin January 2018

By Maz Woolley

All photographs supplied by Brooklin

Brooklin has recently released a number of  new and re-coloured models. Here are their studio photographs of the latest releases. All these models are now available from Brooklin suppliers even if Brooklin’s web site does not show them as available. Those interested in buying them should bear in mind that Brooklin dealers are now often offering significant discounts which did not happen previously. It is noticeable that there are no new Lansdowne models at the moment as Brooklin continues to develop it’s new sales strategy.

BML22 – 1939 Nash Ambassador

BML23 1948 Ford V8 Station Wagon. [Colour change]

 

BML24 – 1934 Ford Five Window Coupe –

Stated as Cordoba Grey but beige/brown colour

BRK221 – 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air 4 Door Hardtop

The four door hardtop has not often been modelled and this model has been favourably received for the significantly improved levels of detail.

 

BRK223 – 1965 Chevrolet Impala Convertible Coupe

Another well received model. This model is neatly detailed.

 

CSV26 – 1937 Superior-Pontiac Provident Ambulance

IPV446 1939 Railton Cobham Saloon (Flying Squad)

Six cars were assembled during the war for the use of the Metropolitan Police.


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Two Favorites in One

By Frank Koh

Playlist for Tonight:
1. Sergio Mendes' Favorite Things, Atlantic Records, 1968.
2. T.N. Nomura Tin Battery-Operated "Bump 'n Go" 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS, Japan, 1968

For me, this 1968 Sergio Mendes solo album (sans Brazil 66) on the Atlantic Records label (not one of the more well-known A&M releases) is truly The Carefree Sixties on Vinyl. The upbeat title cut “My Favorite Things” and the sultry interpretation of “I Say a Little Prayer” are the best of the early works of Mr. Mendes. Arranged and conducted by Dave Grusin, I might add.

The T.N. Nomura bump-‘n-go tin Camaro is not only exceptionally realistic and well-scaled (close to 1/18) for a sixties tin toy, it is feature-packed as well. It’s got lights that actually work, and though the headlight doors don’t open like on the real car, they are actually “see-thru”, and that’s genuinely sixties-cool. It also has a horn that makes squeaking sounds like those silly toddlers’ shoes that annoy everyone within twenty feet of those little brats that love to wear them.

Why did I create this playlist?

I practically “grew up on a diet of Bossa Nova” and other wonderful types of music, and Sergio Mendes has always been a personal favorite. I have also loved first generation Camaros since they debuted during the 1967 model year. In fact, I have owned two of them.  So the year 1968 ties it all together!

Here’s my latest project car, a full scale 1968 RS/SS tribute car, which coincidentally, we shot in its original Butternut Yellow color.


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Oxford Diecast 1:87 Scale Yank Tanks

By Maz Woolley

All photographs taken by, and copyright of the Author.

Regular readers may remember my criticisms of the last release of 1:87 scale American subjects by Oxford Diecast. It wasn’t that they were bad models it was just that some details were not finished correctly and the models could have been much better. If you wish to refresh your memory of the shortcomings click here.

This time round I am happy to say that the latest release of new castings are impressive and very good value for money here in the UK. There are a few minor details that could be better but overall these are as close to excellent as I would expect for the price point. All the models in this release are licensed by General Motors.

87CI61001 Chevrolet Impala 1961 Convertible.

The third generation of the Chevrolet Impala was considerably less flamboyant than the previous generations. US cars were going through a period of transformation as the fins retreated and squarer body styling gradually asserted itself.

The 1961 Impala was based upon the GM B platform and could be bought with a 3.8 Litre Straight six or a range of V8s from 4.6 Litres to 6.7 Litres.

The Oxford model is excellent with really fine printing of badging and number plates. The wheels capture the real ones excellently with the correct narrower whitewalls and the elaborate wheel covers. Inside the chromed dashboard has been moulded and picked out.

The rear lights have been cast in well and are neatly picked out. In the photographs you can see that even the button to open the boot has been printed on.

All these models have the chassis moulded in some detail for their size.

The windscreen is a single part plastic moulding and it may be possible that Oxford intend to model the very rare two door saloon or a coupe as it would just need a different plastic top and interior tub.

87CSD61001 Cadillac Sedan DeVille 1961

This is based on the second generation of the DeVilleCadillac restyled and re-engineered the model for 1961. Gone was the wrap around windscreen and the fins were had shrunk. Even the suspension was no longer by air. All Cadillac DeVille’s had lots of accessories fitted as standard with power brakes, steering, automatic transmission all coming with every car.

The roof of this car is again moulded in plastic allowing for much thinner chrome printing than is usually seen on small Oxford Models.  And of course it allows for flush windows which look the part. Again fine badges and chrome tampo printing is visible especially when magnified. The small chrome strip with a slight rise to the front on each front wing is modelled and printed. The grille is black washed as was the Chevrolet’s which certainly highlights the fine mouldings.

Wheels are neatly represented with a correct thin white wall and the elaborate wheel covers too. The rear of the vehicle is nicely modelled though the centre section is a bit less crisp than it could be and the printed chrome may extend too high as well. The fins lack the chrome on their end section and on one side mine has a minor casting fault on the inner part of the fin. Not perfect but at this scale it is not immediately obvious either.

87PB59001 Pontiac Bonneville  Coupe 1959

This was third generation of the Bonneville which was Pontiac‘s costliest and most luxurious model throughout the 1960s. The distinctive front end was based on a 1930s design feature and stayed in use throughout the 1960s.

The Bonneville differed from the models lower down in the range like the Catalina and Star Chief counterparts. It had luxurious interior trim with upgraded cloth and vinyl, as well as walnut veneer trim on instrument and door panels.   Hydra-Matic gearboxes were standard on the 1961 car but power steering and brakes, and air conditioning were all additional cost options. The Bonneville also had more powerful standard V8 engines than other full-sized Pontiacs including the 6.4 litre and 6.6 litre V8s with four-barrel carburetors.

The Oxford model is lovely. The plastic roof with its excellent tampo printing gives he huge windows a really excellent finish.  Looking in detail a lot of tiny badging can be seen on the rear wing and at the rear of the front wing. Chrome side features are delicately printed too especially notable are the four chrome features on the rear wing. The front wing top chrome with its spear like front edge is also well modelled.

At the rear the delicate modelling of the rear lights and panel are a tribute to the modeller who made the master. And impressively even the boot release button has been printed on the rear panel.

At the front the Pontiac “nose” is beautifully modelled though it would have been nice if Oxford had managed to model the grille or even just print it on. But again this is not a major issue.

As the roof is plastic it is possible that we will see this car as a convertible at a later date .

87OR50001 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 Coupe 1950

The Rocket 88 was featured in a record by Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner in 1951 which was one of the first Rock and Roll records. The Oldsmobile 88 was one of the cars that set the style in the early 1950s and was noted for its track performances making it a fashionable car for a type of motorist who would not have bought Oldsmobiles before. Indeed some suggest that with a small and relatively light body and big powerful V8 it was the first “muscle car“. The 1950 model featured a single piece screen for the first time and a Hydra-Matic automatic came as standard unless it was deleted when ordering. The 88 famously won the 1950 Carrera Panamerica.

The Oxford model is all metal. The glass fitting was so flush I couldn’t believe that the roof was not plastic and I took the model apart to check. The car is fitted with plastic windows that push into the window openings to flush fit, a technique I wish they would introduce for all their new 1:76 models.  The front grille again gets a black wash

The tampo printing is excellent with tiny badging and lettering evident when looking at enlarged pictures.  It is a shame that the moulded in bonnet mascot has not been printed too. The wheels and tyres are good with the wider early 50s style white walls and neat chromed wheels finishers and hub caps.

At the rear the Oldsmobile badge and lettering, Rocket 88 symbol , and printed chrome are all well done with simple but effective painted on rear lights. The painted cream roof seems to have rather thick paint which fills the fine shut lines round the upper parts of the doors though later colours for the model may not have the same issue.


So Oxford continues to delight me with some releases and frustrate me with others. These four new 1:87 scale models may have some flaws but they are well made and finished like the recent 1:76 scale Rolls Royces and I am sure that they will be popular items.


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Chevy II 1962

By John Quilter

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

I recently learned that a partworks series from Argentina includes some interesting cars that are the same as some sold in the USA in the era. That is true of their Chevrolet 400 4 Puertas [Four Door] (1962) which is a exact duplicate of the car sold in the USA as a Chevy II. This was Chevrolet’s late answer to the very successful Ford Falcon. The partworks model is diecast and is very well done with proper chrome pieces, small standard hubcaps, blackwall tires, black interior and some chassis detail. These Chevy II cars were launched for the 1962 model year and came from the start with a four door sedan, two door sedan, pillarless hardtop, convertible and four door station wagon.

They were produced in the USA through 1965 with only minor trim and grill variations. The concept of this very conventional car was the answer to the Falcon which well outsold the radically designed rear engine Corvair which was Chevrolet’s initial “compact” offering for the 1960 model year.

Interestingly, the Corvair continued in parallel to the Chevy II although it was positioned as a more sporting member of the line up after the Chevy II took up the mainstream compact market niche. The Chevy II was launched with both a 153 cubic inch four cylinder engine or a 194 cubic inch inline six. In later years the engine choices expanded to include a 230 CID six, and in 1964, to the ubiquitous 283 V8 and by 1965 even a 327 CID version. Transmissions were generally the column shifted three speed manual or the two speed Powerglide automatic.

This model from Argentina is made by Premium Collectibles Trading, a huge Macau based Chinese production operation and the umbrella group of many brands of models such as Premium X, Ixo, Ixt. They are also sub-contracted to produce models for: DeAgostiniAtlas Editions, Altaya, HachetteWhite Box and others. They produce models in resin as well as diecast. Maybe since this one is in diecast it will have a longer production life and appear in other PCT or third party ranges over time. In fact, there are a number of items in these country specific partworks ranges, such as the Mexican range  which I believe would have an appeal in other countries. Otherwise it’s up to the buyer to find sources on auction sites who are making these available to the diehard international collector like the writer. Sometimes, with this hobby it’s all about the discovery and the chase.

The only improvement I would make to this item is a black wash to the grill.


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News from the Continent August/September 2017 – Busch

By Hans-Georg Schmitt

All photographs by, and copyright of, the Manufacturer.

The releases from Busch, and allied brands, expected by the end of September are shown below. All models are moulded for Germany to 1:87 scale.

Mercedes-Benz 170V

The pleasing shaped 170V was first presented to the public in February 1936 during the 26th International Automobile and Motorcycle Exhibition (IAMA) in Berlin.

41448 Mercedes-Benz 170V Cabrio limousine – two-tone green/cream
41450 Mercedes-Benz 170V Cabrio limousine – two-tone red/cream

 

Cadillac 66 Saloon

42958 Cadillac 66 Saloon “Metallica” – silver
42960 Cadillac 66 saloon “Metallica” – blue metallic

 

Toyota Land Cruiser Crawler

43038 Toyota Land Cruiser crawler vehicle

This special power train has been in use for 15 years and has even passed strict military tests.

Mercedes-Benz 300 Landaulet

44807 Mercedes-Benz 300 State Landaulet

Only three of this type of body were built. This was in the early 1950s and they users were the German Federal Public for state occasions, the Pope for his tours, and an Arab State.

Chevrolet Bel Air

More variations upon the old Revell-Monogram 1957 Chevy moulding bought by Busch.

45045 Chevrolet Bel Air Saloon 1957 “Metallica” – grey metallic
Chevrolet Bel Air Saloon 1957 “Metallica” – red metallic

 

Cadillac Eldorado

Another long running moulding in the Busch range. Here with custom wheels and a metallic paint job.

45118 Cadillac Eldorado Cabriolet, open, “Metallica” – brown metallic
45119 Cadillac Eldorado Cabrioet, open, “Metallica” – green metallic
45121 Cadillac Eldorado Cabriolet, open, “Metallica” – silver

 

Ford Probe

The Ford Probe 24V was made from Summer 1988 to Autumn 1997 in Flat Rock, Michigan, USA. It was imported into Europe too though it was never a strong seller.

47413 Ford Probe 24V “Metallica” silver
47414 Ford Probe 24V “Metallica” red
47420 Ford Probe 24V “Sport” blue

 

Mercedes-Benz M-Class

In the livery of the German motor rescue outfit.

 

48546 Mercedes-Benz M-Class facelift “ADAC”

Land Rover Defender

50361 Land Rover Defender “Carabinieri”

Caribinieri are a special Police Force unit in Italy.

 

50363 Land Rover defender “DLRG” with surfboard

This vehicle is equipped for rescue activities. The Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft e.V. (DLRG)  is the German Life Saving Group and is the biggest such organisation in the world.

Smart Fortwo

50712 Smart Fortwo Coupe 2014 “German Police”

Mercedes-Benz V and G Class

Many public services represented here. From the Fire Brigade to the Emergency Doctor Service and the Technical Assistance Service.

51169 Mercedes-Benz V-Class “Fire Brigade of Karlstein
51411 Mercedes-Benz G-Class 1990 Emergency Doctor
51460 Mercedes-Benz G-Class 2008 THW

EsPeWe IFA W50

95231 IFA W50LA TLF16 GMK “Fire brigade of Ellrich

The TLF16 appliance went into production in 1985 based upon the 4×4 chassis of the IFA W50.


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Ace Model Cars (Australia) An update

By Graeme Ogg

Back in 2014 I posted a piece about Ace Model Cars, from whom I had just bought a nice resin model of a 1959 Ford Fairlane 500.

They were promising one or two other things in the pipeline but then I heard no more. So I got in touch with them recently and thought you might like an update on some of their current or forthcoming items. (Photos reproduced with their permission – some images may be changed on the website to show final production versions).

Needless to say, I am not acting as any kind of agent or touting for business on their behalf, but I know some of you are interested in Australian models (including Aussie versions of U.S. cars), and it isn’t a site you might come across in casual browsing.

There was a promise of an estate (wagon) version of the ’59 Ford, but apparently the man behind Ace Models, Tony Hanna, wasn’t happy with how it came out so it is still a work in progress, although now that Motorhead Models have done one in their Genuine Ford Parts” series, that could affect sales of the Ace version if/when it appears.

Also promised was a ’59 Dodge Custom Royal 4 door sedan. The first attempt at that didn’t satisfy him either so it has been re-worked and production is not too far away now.

No mention of the fate of the proposed 1960 Dodge Phoenix, but the nice (though imperfect) Neo model may have discouraged that idea.

An interesting Australian model that is almost ready for sale, needing just a few minor corrections, is the 1975 Ford Landau, a fastback coupé based on the Ford XA Falcon but with the front end from the Ford Fairlane LTD (which was a stretched Falcon). It will be offered in Port Wine (dark maroon), Grecian Gold, Ivy Green and Metallic Blue.

Also available is a ’62 Falcon XL in red, white over red, white over green, plain white and black.

Another U.S./Australian model now available is a 1966 Chevy Nova, with street versions in silver or red and three racing versions. I’m not enough of a Chevy man to know how it compares with the U.S. version but I believe that, like the Falcons, the Australian cars were imported CKD and re-trimmed to Australian specification,

A more typically Australian item is a Ford BA 1 ton flatbed pickup in metallic purple, metallic blue, orange or metallic green.

And a British/Australian mongrel currently on offer is an Austin A40 Hi-Lite ute in beige or light green. To the best of my knowledge Austin never offered this pickup on home territory, but the Ozzies love making ute versions of everything, Seems to be cultural thing.

All these models are resin, and prices are comparable with Trax so I guess that by the time you add shipping from the other side of the world, you would have to have a fairly specific interest in these niche models before parting with your money. But it’s nice to see things a little bit out of the mainstream.

If you want to take a look at these and other models on offer from Ace, the website is http://acemodelcars.com/index.php?route=common/home


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Neo’s Yank Tanks – a personal overview

By Graeme Ogg

Having apparently noted my occasional musings elsewhere about the merits (and otherwise) of Neo’s output of American cars, the Editor asked if I would care to post something here. Well, I don’t have any particularly original insights or behind-the-scenes revelations, but for anyone who hasn’t been following Neo’s offerings in great detail, here are a few personal thoughts about the good, bad and occasionally ugly aspects of some of the models I’ve acquired (with lots of helpful pictures for the hard of hearing).

After spending quite a few years trying to maintain a fairly representative 1:43 picture of the progress of car styling around the world, it finally dawned on me not so long ago that keeping up with it all was a hopeless and never-ending task, so I decided to gradually limit myself to filling long-standing gaps in my existing collection, of which Americana is a major element. That would ease the strain on the pocket.

Unfortunately, just around that time Neo started blitzing us with a series of Yank Tanks (as we disrespectful Brits call them) under the American Excellence label, which eventually just became the name of Model Car World’s U.S. sales outlet. So I wasn’t going to get off so lightly after all.

One of the first to reach me was this 1959 Dodge, a fine piece of baroque art, and for those of us who cut our teeth on Dinky Toys (my gums are still bleeding), the level of trim detail is pretty amazing. We used to have blobs of silver paint for headlights and smaller red blobs for tail-lights, and now we get full-colour photo-etched badging you need a magnifying glass to read. Well, that’s progress for you.

If a black and yellow rocketship is a bit too dazzling for your taste, they also did a nice, restrained police version, which against a suitable background could easily be passed off as the real thing.

I couldn’t wait for the next offering, a ’57 Imperial Southampton, and it turned out to be a real stunner. Also produced in black, ivory over powder blue and more recently as a Ghia Crown limo.

 

Yet another piece of wonderfully in-your-face aggressive styling was the 1960 Chrysler 300F, again well-executed, finely detailed and dramatic.

Hmm, getting tired of fins and chrome? Well, how about something more restrained, the Lincoln Continental-inspired ’64 Imperial.

Or even nicer, the ’69 Buick Riviera. I’d have preferred the original 1966/67 version, before they started fiddling with the clean styling, but it is still a handsome model.

Not all offerings were quite as subtle, but this 1972 Pontiac Grand Prix Hurst SSJ looks suitably striking and typical of its times.

Of course, if you produce models to this standard, you are going to attract the attention of seriously knowledgeable (and picky) collectors, ready to jump on any detail faults. Get a badge half a millimetre out of place and you are careless, guilty of poor research and treating collectors with contempt. So when Neo produced this 1958 Chevrolet Impala, there were loud protests that it might look handsome enough, but Impalas didn’t come with 2-tone paint.

Ah, so it must be a lesser Bel Air? No, the Bel Air had a different rear roof pillar treatment, and 4 tail lamps instead of 6. So the cognoscenti wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole. Me? I just thought it was a pretty nice ’58 Chevy. However, I wouldn’t let Neo off so easily with their ’61 Dodge, which was handsome in many ways but had a seriously sagging roofline (I bought one anyway, but that roof does annoy me).

Grumpy old man? No, I just treat each arrival on its merits, and this ’58 Rambler certainly has many. The real thing may have been a strapped-for-cash re-skin of an ageing platform, but Neo’s cool, clean rendering deserves a place in any Old Yank collection.

Another fine item delivered by my overworked postman was a 1959 Pontiac Bonneville. I always remember this car being advertised in dazzling white or yellow, so the gunmetal seemed a little drab at first, but it’s very subtle and the finish and detail are pretty much flawless. It’s another model you could easily pass off in a photo as a 1:1.

So then they heard my complaint and did a convertible in a more suitable yellow, but spoiled it with an ugly black windscreen surround. I suspect it’s because they had to glue the screen to the slim pillars and wanted to hide the glue. Personally I think the odd trace of clear adhesive would have been much less obtrusive. But if you can divert your eyes from that detail, the rest of it is a thing of beauty inside and out.

Oddly enough, they can do convertible screens with that black border when they want to, as shown on their ’57 Ford Fairlane, but this unsightly feature re-appears on several other convertibles.

Having done a ’59 Pontiac, they turned their attention to the ’59 Oldsmobile, which was essentially the same body. So how did they manage to make it look like the Sydney Harbour Bridge? It makes the old Franklin Mint ’58 Edsel (the famous “Pink Banana”) look pretty good by comparison.

Mine was so bad I e-mailed them in the hope they would be doing a product recall, but received a terse little reply saying that “Due to the fact that this model was made by hand and not machined, it may result in small inaccuracies.” So that’s OK.  It is a lovingly flawed artisanal product and I should display it with pride. (It’s in a box under the bed in the spare room).

More recently they had a touch of the same problem with the ’57 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser. Not nearly as bad, and it’s harder to see quite where it goes wrong, but it certainly isn’t entirely straight.

One of the latest arrivals is a 1961 Dodge Dart. A slightly odd bit of styling, and an interesting choice. So interesting, in fact, that Neo apparently went to the trouble of scouring the entire planet to find the only car in existence (presumably a restored specimen) with a non-standard side spear, and promptly modelled it as a BoS in 1:18 scale in the identical metallic grey colour, followed by a maroon Neo version in 1:43. Overall it’s actually quite a nice model, but why ….?

They redeemed themselves with this 1960 Buick Flxible ambulance, which looks accurate in every respect and with plenty of the kind of detail we oldies could once have hardly dreamed possible.

But all that fine detail comes at a cost, not just in the price but in terms of fragility. I’ve photographed some of these models on their plinth because removing the model then trying to re‑mount it on those spring-loaded screws is almost guaranteed to detach a photo-etch strip, wing mirror, badge, aerial or whatever. Even without touching them, P/E parts applied to curves can spring free over time, and even careless dusting can detach a part. There’s obviously a very delicate balance between unsightly excess adhesive and parts coming loose because of too little glue. It also looks as if the P/E parts come pre-backed with “instant grab” adhesive, and if the final assembly operative (political correctness forbids I should say “the little Chinese lady”) doesn’t get a part perfectly lined up first time, any attempt at adjustment can lead to buckled or semi-detached trim strips.  If as a buyer you’re nervous about getting to work with the white glue, cotton buds and masking tape, you may have to put up with a few loose dangly bits on the model shelf.

Maybe this partly explains why Neo seem to be moving away from using so many vulnerable P/E parts where a less vulnerable form of trim will suffice – which brings me to the fact that there is a strange state of flux developing between Neo and their BoS “budget brand”. BoS recently brought out a ’61 Lincoln Continental where the trim detail wasn’t that far off what you’d expect from Neo. Then we get a convertible version, obviously based on the same mould, and pretty much the same trim level, but badged as a Neo. Lovely colour, which may be enough to tempt some people – but at twice the price? Hmm.

And then they do it again. BoS issues a decent enough Chrysler Valiant with mainly painted brightwork but P/E side window frames. Then out comes a Neo version, in a stunningly bland colour and with the P/E frames apparently replaced by silver paint – which is arguably tidier, but once again, twice the price for a near-identical model from the same outfit?

What sort of marketing strategy is that? Maybe they are testing the waters in terms of pricing and trim levels (while collectors can only watch in confusion) and we may end up with Neo and BoS being “averaged out”, which might mean leaving the high-end detail market to deadly rivals Matrix/GLM.

We shall see. Meanwhile, with just a few specimens from my own Neo collection I hope I’ve shown you – if you didn’t know it already – that despite some flaws and detail blunders, Neo at their best have given us some stunning 1:43 models which can take pride of place on any display shelf.

Just don’t take them to bed and hug them at night, because they’ll break.


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