By Maz Woolley
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
Racing Champions Mint is a brand licensed by Round 2 from Tomy who acquired the brand when it bought Ertl. Round 2 are now re-using old moulds from Racing Champions and Ertl to create a Racing Champions Mint line. So the brand is now produced by the same company that makes AutoWorld and Johnny Lightning being run by the same people who originally ran Playing Mantis and revived the Johnny Lightning name originally devised by Topper.
Products under this brand sit between the AutoWorld 1:64 models aimed at discerning collectors of 1:64 and Johnny Lightning which is the fun, play brand. They are all ‘3.25 inch models’ with some scaling out at 1:64 but others varying from the quite markedly. Looking on the web site it looks like releases have slowed in 2018 with the first release being based on racing cars which again seem to vary in scale considerably.
Here we look at some of the cars released in 2017.
The photograph above shows the scale variation with the 1967 Plymouth smaller than a 1960 Corvair. Whilst nice models in many respects Racing Champion Mint certainly has a ‘fit the box’ approach.
1967 Plymouth Fury New York City Police 2017 Release 1 Version A
The model shown above is an attractive 1967 Plymouth Fury in the ‘America’s Finest‘ sub-range. The livery used is for New York City Police. Pictures usually show the dark green area extending all along the side but I am sure this variation has been researched by Round 2 as they also sell a variation with full length green paint. The Fury badge has even been printed on the wings which is a nice touch.
Under the bonnet is a simple engine and as can be seen above the bonnet is a good fit and the front lights though painted on work well with the nicely moulded grille.
Police markings are neatly printed and the rear lights, bumper and panel are neat mouldings. The somewhat heavy and square late 1960s shape has been well captured. Sadly the green painted areas were not masked well and there is a lot of feathering around the edges and they do not align completely with the door shut lines as they should.
The wheels have the correct small hub cap fitted to police cars and a representation of the all steel wheels though the plastic used makes the wheels look much too shiny.
1958 Ford Edsel Release 2 2017 Version B
Bigger in every dimension than the Fury this Edsel has no model stated though when you blow up the photographs the script on the front wing might read Pacer which was one of the smaller Edsels based upon the Ford chassis.
Sadly the bonnet is ill fitting and sits above an Edsel horseshoe grille that is fitted at crazy angle. which makes the front look even more like it has been damaged parking.
The two tone paint, chrome printing and badging are nicely done. With finely printed Edsel lettering on rear wings. To the rear the bumper is ok, if a little plastic in appearance and the rear lights are printed on with fine surrounds.
The side view shows that the shape is neatly captured and the hard top nicely modelled. The top is in plastic presumably so the lower casting can also be used to make a convertible.
A colourful engine sits under the bonnet but as usual with models this size lacking in detail.
1960 Chevy Corvair Release 2 2017 Version B
GMs attempt to get back sales from the imports from the likes of Volkswagen. A rear wheel drive car which was released after cost cutting measures had left it with a poor suspension solution leaving it suffering from tail heavy handling problems which lead to Ralph Nader’s ‘Unsafe at any speed’ statement. Though GM quite quickly resolved the issues the car was never the success they hoped for.
This model is consistent in size with the Edsel but rather larger than the Fury which in real like was nearly 10 inches wider.
As the photograph shows the front lights are fitted crookedly bu here they can be twisted into a better alignment.
This is a model of the two door coupe which leaves a rather odd long rear deck, used for the hood on the convertible which looks more balanced. The model is nicely painted though the casting seems rather bland to me failing to capture some of the sharp lines the designers used to add variety to the cars surface.
Rear lights are just paint on moulded casting extensions and the printing is not aligned well.
The wheels are not really typical of the models I can see online but may be OK as many cars seem to be fitted with custom fake wires.
At the rear we see the low mounted suggestion of an engine under to rear cover.
The revival of Racing Champions makes available again some classic fit the box castings and few accurate 1:64 castings from Ertl days. Build and finish quality is only ‘so so’ even though these models attract a premium price in the US. I am not sure whether Round 2 will invest a lot of effort into this range as it already has Johnny Lightning addressing the lower part of the premium market and Autoworld addressing the top-end of the US 1:64 premium market.
For all their faults this series of models will please many who will otherwise have to seek out theses castings on the secondary market.
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