When is a Solido not a Solido?

By Robin Godwin

I recall reading an interview in one of the UK print model magazines about the re-launch of the Solido brand by OTTO of France. There was an air of excitement and enthusiasm. As soon as I learned that one of the new Solidos was to be a Volkswagen Beetle 1302 LS from 1972, I also caught the wave of excitement.

Photo #1 Whitebox, left, with visible passenger side mirror. Solido, right.
Photo #1 WhiteBox, left, with visible passenger side mirror. Solido, right.

Well folks, I’m here to tell you that, now that I have the Solido VW in hand, it is sourced from IXO/PCT (Premium & Collectibles Trading Company) and/or one of their numerous partworks, and is in no way an original casting from Solido. One of the great things about Beetles from the model manufacturing perspective is that, externally, they changed little over the years. One can sell a 1972 1302 LS Beetle or a 1983 Beetle both cast from the same mould, without egregious errors, and only minor tampo printing alterations to reflect differences. Accordingly, my point of comparison here is the WhiteBox 1983 Beetle, which is the same casting as the “new” 1972 Solido.  Whitebox is a house brand of www.ModelCarWorld.com and this range consists of IXO/PCT/partworks reissues. In fact, the WhiteBox VW has IXO cast into the plastic base. At least Solido had the producers grind that off the mould and replace it with their own name and logo in white tampo. The only other difference is that Solido only has a driver’s side mirror, whereas WhiteBox also includes a passenger side mirror.

Photo #2 Whitebox top, with IXO logo visible. Solido tampo on bottom.
Photo #2 Whitebox top, with IXO logo visible. Solido tampo on bottom.

So I’m hugely disappointed, having anticipated a new die cast from Solido, only to have purchased an old mould that has been issued who knows how many times before. Perhaps, as I alluded to earlier in discussion about the external shape, none of the earlier issues were actually 1972 VW 1302 LS models, but if so, it is only tampo printing that has given us this unique version. This discovery must cast doubt on all the other “new” Solido models.

In the same interview, the new brand owners were also excited about reintroducing the old Solido military range in “1:43” scale (they were 1:50). Don’t get me wrong, I love the old Solido tanks with working metal tracks – they were largely responsible for me becoming an adult collector. But there are still lots of originals for sale on eBay, mostly at prices similar to what I paid 20 to 30 years ago. I’m sceptical that these reissues with “improved details” will entice many buyers unless the prices are very competitive. Even though 1:50 is a great scale for military vehicles, the market may be saturated by the many superb 1:72 and 1:43 scale military partworks which can now be had for $10 to $20 US. I wish them luck, but I hope that we get some fresh models, reasonably priced.

Back to VWs and next time I will talk about the recent/current 1:43 Greenlight 1967 VW “Gremlins” Beetle issue. It looks suspiciously like a partwork as well, but, because of a stripped Phillips screw, I can’t get my model off the plastic plinth without damage. Greenlight has used both High Speed and Yatming castings before, so it would be no surprise if this VW was sourced from another manufacturer, but I hope to be able to prove it.


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