January 29, 2014
Obtainable Unobtainium: Scale-sized Editions. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Brendan McAleer
I wonder if anyone remembers the old “Justification for Higher Education” poster from the 1980s? What a lovely piece of laminated optimism, suggesting that if you worked hard and applied yourself, you could soon have the five-car garage of your dreams. Sadly, one day the youngsters who once proudly blu-tack’d this shining ideal on their wall would wake up to realize that – after four years of undergraduate degree, two years of post-grad, and two more years of co-op – higher education was simply the bare minimum required to keep your head above water in the new economy.
A garage full of dream cars? No, you’d be lucky to have a reasonable lease payment on something mid-level, just in order to keep the mortgage payments at bay. Happily however, I have a solution.
There were three cars in my personal late-’80s dream garage: the ultra-capable Porsche 959, the turbo-nutty Ferrari F40, and (because my Dad had a 535i) the first-generation BMW M5. Thanks to hard work and eBay, I now own all three. Sadly, I don’t actually fit in any of them.
However, the dream team costs me nothing in the way of maintenance, and because these particular models aren’t all that common, don’t depreciate either. Full-size, they’d represent nearly one and a half million dollars tied up in fussy sheetmetal. In 1/18 scale, it’s less than the bi-weekly payment on a Mitsubishi Mirage.
As such, I thought this particular instalment of Obtainable Unobtainium might run through a brief look at the scale-model diecast world. As usual, hopefully we spark off a lively discussion in the comments section.
Kyosho Ferrari F40
For me, the Ferrari F40 is the car. There is simply no other machine that’s quite as exciting and thrilling, and when I finally saw one recently at the LeMay automotive museum in Olympia, Washington, I basically sprinted over to it. Everything about it is fascinating: the bare-bones construction, the fearsome handling, the light-switch turbocharged power band.
And, last time I checked, they were going for three-quarters of a million dollars. I wonder if I could live in the thing – it doesn’t even have carpet.
The Kyosho is probably my nicest model, highly detailed (the seats even slide back and forth), and I got it for around $200 or so. Kyosho is a Japanese company perhaps best known for scale-model R/C cars, but they also have been building a line of 1/18th scale diecast models since 1992. Currently, they make the official BMW models that you can buy at dealerships.
When shopping for this particular car, I also looked at a Hot Wheels version, and one from an Italian company called Bburago. The Kyosho was far and away the superior product – and also twice the price of the Hot Wheels. If it wasn’t the flagship of my small desk-collection, one of the cheaper versions might have done just as well.
AutoArt Porsche 959
The rest of my 1/18th scale cars are all AutoArt, and I was very happy to have a choice of colours for this 959. I grew up playing a video game called Test Drive II: the Duel, which was coded in my hometown of Vancouver BC, and featured a red F40 battling a silver 959 out on the heavily pixelated streets. These days, they glower at each other on a shelf above my desk.
The 959′s interior and trunk are quite plainly modelled, but the engine is extremely well put together. AutoArt is based out of car-crazy Hong Kong, and they have a huge range of models on offer, and are usually quick to put out modern variants like the GT-R and Gallardo that keep the two 1980s supercars company.
While Kyosho has a few specialist machines, and can be a great source for JDM cars like a 300ZX Turbo, AutoArt builds almost fifty different marques, and will sell you everything from a highly detailed Mad Max replica to a Crown Vic cruiser in the RCMP’s livery. They also do a few 1/64th scale models and the larger 1/12th scale, but the 1/18th size models remain the most popular. They sell for $100-150 (or more, depending on rarity) and if kept boxed, usually retain their value.