Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trax TR10C - Ford Falcon XC Hardtop Bathurst Edition

I think it is no secret among my friends that the XABC Falcon Hardtop is my favourite car, and as such, I have attempted to acquire as many diecast examples as possible. I would like nothing more than to have a 1:1 scale Black XA GT version to gaze at. Not even drive, just admire as art. One of my favourite versions is an older Trax, TR10C - the XC Falcon Hardtop Bathurst Edition, in black and gold.
This particular diecast car was a surprise when it appeared, but why did it appear ? The answer is in money. What could Trax do with the XC Cobra casting after doing a run of road Cobras, and a run of Moffat Cobras ? This was the answer. It is simply the Trax XC Falcon Cobra with a different paint job, or in scale model parlance - a recolour. 
In my opinion it looks better than the Cobra. I dont know why, as I really like the Cobra paint scheme - striking blue stripes, with a tiny contrasting stripe highlighting the change between blue and white, stark white body, muscular mag wheels. The shape of the car adding an extra element that is undeniable. An artists canvas that needs no paint to draw an admiring eye.
The model itself is nicely delivered, with very good quality paint, accurate representation, and good detail for the era in which it was made. Trax sometimes has problems in the grille area, but not in this model. The XC grille, strongly influenced by the Ford Granada, added a modern touch to the last of the XABC line. Trax capture it well. The headlights also look accurate, which is sometimes difficult n 1:43, even on recent releases. Interior detail is not high, but  in the price bracket, not unusual. 
Not  detailed, but enough to satisfy when you briefly flip it over.
Packaging is the older Trax style, which I prefer to the modern style. Sadly Trax has recently returned to wire ties on their Opal range, but thats a subject for another post. Now to the all important rating:

Trax TR10C Ford Falcon XC Hardtop Bathurst Edition
Quality  7
Design    7
Colours   9
X-factor  9

Rating: 32/40

Monday, March 8, 2010

Classic Carlectable 1:43 AU Falcon V8 Supercar- Dick Johnsons last race

Every racing driver knows that one day they will stop racing. Some bow out gracefully. This is how Dick Johnson retired, racing in a car with his son at the Queensland 500 in 2000. Although he had officially retired at the end of 1999...
Classic Carlectables captured this car and the 'Johnson Johnson' on the window in 1:43 scale in their V8 Supercar series of cars in 2001. It has sat proudly in my collection, and I'm not a big V8 Supercar fan (Give me a Group C 'Big Banger' any day!).  
At this stage of his career, Dick Johnson Racing had gone through ups and downs, but was strong, with his son racing and being successful. Group C had given way to V8 Supercars. Dick raced in the V8 Supercar season in 1999, then retired. His son Steven continued racing in his number 17. 
Father and son are quite different racers, but there were some consistencies - the map of Queensland on the roof, the famous number 17 on the doors, and a competitive Ford racing car.  

Now we come to the model of the car. Classic Carlectables did a very good job on this diecast version, which was based on their standard V8 Supercar Falcon moulding for that season. The livery is special, and accurately captured. Although oddly, TAA is on the roof, which had been superseded by Australian Airlines.
The baseplate is not accurately detailed, but the model does sit well, with  a good racing stance. The spoilers are accurate to this car, and although there is no interior detail, it is a nicely presented car. From Classics infamous 'brick' range, the model features dark glass and no  interior. This enabled this range to be offered at a lower price point than other V8 supercar models. When new the car retailed for $33, and they can be found on ebay at around that price, or lower. 
Packaging is colourful, and nicely displays the car. This model is not as famous as the Tru Blu XD, but as his final car, it is a must have and deserves a place in a Dick Johnson collection. Now to the all important rating. 

Classic Carlectables - Dick Johnson V8 Supercar Ford Falcon - Qld 500 2000
Quality  7
Design    7
Colours   7
X-factor  7

Rating: 28/40

You can read more about Dick Johnson at Wikipedia.

Biante 1:43 - Dick Johnson Tru Blu XD Falcon 1980 Bathurst

In 1980 Dick Johnson went to Bathurst in a roaring snorting 351 cubic inch powered XD Falcon Sedan, sporting his famous number 17, and a map of Queensland on the roof,  to have a crack at the greatest trophy in Australian motor sport. Biante have reproduced this famously unsuccessful car with great success in 1:43.
Sadly for Dick Johnson in the 1980 race, someone rolled a rock onto the track, which he hit, destroying this car, the famous Tru Blu XD Falcon, and his chance of winning. 
From this disaster, something very special happened. He generated enormous good will and importantly - cash. Ford announced they would match dollar for dollar any donation. He raised 70 thousand dollars, and attracted new sponsors and official Ford factory support. This placed Johnson in the big time, up there with Brock and Moffat. It made his career. 
The diecast scale model is very nice. Biante have reproduced the famous DJR Ford Falcon XD Tru Blu in 1:43 in their Motor Racing Legends series. It is an outstanding model, with excellent detail and accurate racing livery. The interior is detailed with racing seats, roll cage and even the harness. 
The base plate is highly detailed, with the advanced XD leaf spring suspension, the racing drop tank and enormous fire snorting side exhaust. The tyres and wheels are reproduced in fine detail. 
How do you display this car, it has so many excellent angles. The roof features the famous map of Queensland that was on all Dick Johnson racing cars, with the famous number 17. 

The packaging is plain, but the car is not. This model is essential in any collection of Australian Motor Sport cars, not because of its lack of success, but because of the future it created.

Biante - Dick Johnson Racing XD Ford Falcon - 1980 Bathurst
Quality  9
Design    9
Colours   6
X-factor  9

Rating: 33/40

You can read more about Dick Johnson at Wikipedia.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Canberra Model Vehicle Collectors Club

I never used to be a joiner of anything. I flew solo, the Lone Wolf. Then I joined the Leyland P76 collectors world and realised that in those groups lay many years of latent knowledge, just waiting for someone to ask the right questions. At my first P76 meeting I had 10 years of electrical gremlins diagnosed and resolved in the first hour. Recently, I began researching Dinkum and Leyland 1:43 Leyland P76's for an article to go in the P76 National Magazine. Steve Maher a P76 fan and member of the Sydney Model Auto Club provided some great advice and contacts. When I finished, I mused if there was a Canberra equivalent. I googled. Yes, but the contact details were out of date and my quest went cold. I emailed Steve who managed to find a contact in Canberra. Peter Clayden. I called Peter and it turns out we have met and chatted at several car shows, as he is a major morris minor collector. I was invited to the next meeting.
The member displays

I arrived a little earlier than the 7.30PM time, and ran into 'Louis' who was setting up his display. I introduced myself and we chatted while other members arrived. Each monthly meeting has a theme, and this month it was 'articulated vehicles'. Members set their display up, and then vote on the displays, with a winner emerging. I did not know this, and bought some Lledo land speed record cars and Matchbox Superking K7 Race car transporters.
Peters wife writing model details down for judging purposes. 
Louis writing down model details as well.
Articulated vehicles!
My display having its details recorded. The $20 note is annual dues. 
I guess technically that centre steer vehicles are articulated.
Corgi car transporters, with a Matchbox Superking hiding up the back.
My display. Next month I will do better (and use my camera instead of my phone for photos). 

As well as looking at diecast models, the club lets you peruse recent diecast magazines and there is often a talk. This month a well respected Canberra academic, and diecast collector,  gave a talk on 'Vehicles in Afghanistan' as he had been there recently on a visit. Let me say that you know Canberra is a small town when you get a briefing on Afghanistan from a respected public figure, and meet him at a model car club! It was a fascinating talk, illustrated using Powerpoint on a drop down screen with over a hundred photos, and I could have asked dozens of non-vehicle related question but kept quiet (time and place thing).

The Canberra Model Vehicle Collectors Club meets at Eastlake Football Club at 7.30 PM on the first Monday of the month.

I am the Stig. I drive Dune Buggies

I am the Stig. I drive Dune Buggies.

Trax 8021 - Ford RS Sierra - Dick Johnson

When CAMS decided to do away with the exciting Group C formula, they went for the international Group A formula, intending to internationalise and expand the Australian racing scene. It didnt really work. No local cars were really up to scratch when Group A was first introduced, and it took several seasons for the Group A Holden Commodores to become competitive.

The Ford Falcon simply had no chance. From driving one of the most exciting Group C cars ever fielded, to non-competitive overnight. It was hard for the Ford drivers. Dick Johnson, at that time one of Fords most iconic drivers, switched to the Ford Mustang, running a 5.0 litre V8, but it struggled to be competitive.  In 1987 and 1988, he switched to the turbocharged Ford RS Sierra.  Some drivers switched to other manufacturers such as BMW. In the Sierra, Johnson won the 1988 ATCC with six race victories.

Trax dont bring out many contemporary race cars any more. That market is now dominated by Biante and Classic Carlectables. But they did bring out this car back in the day with the famous no 17 on the side, in 1:43 scale. Unusually for Trax, this was not designed in Australia and manufactured in China. This model was manufactured in Portugal by a company called Trufoe.  Trax confirm this is the only model that they have had designed by an outside company. Made in several different racing liveries, the model is not commonly seen and was not as I understand enormously popular. Dinkum also produced a version of this car in 1:43. Biante have a version of this car in 1:18 which is very nice.
The RS Sierra model is fairly average, even for the time. It is not overly detailed with simple mouldings representing taillights and grilles, instead of separate pieces. The interior is not detailed at all. This car is really just a simple repaint of a road car, rather than a model of a racing car. 
A common problem with this model is the lower rear spoiler. It has come adrift on many, and this is often not mentioned in Ebay listings. Make sure you ask, or look closely at the photos if you intend to buy one.

The 1:43 spoiler is not accurate either, with the black rubber edge of the upper spoiler missing. The clear headlights on this model are also inaccurate, with the real car having red covers with Shell emblems on them, over the headlights.
Packaging is very basic, certainly nothing like the quality seen in recent years, at this stage they were still packaged like expensive toys. Often the clear plastic is damaged and torn. I think it is simply deteriorating with time, rather than a sign of neglect though. That is plastic foam on the inside, holding the car in place. This seems to be holding up well.
The baseplate is very basic, and the wheels and tyres are more toy like than most Trax models. The real car had Simmons wheels, the Trax wheels do not resemble the Simmons remotely. Paint is uniformly good, better than some early Trax, although this leads to my main concern. My biggest issue with this model is the deterioration on the racing livery paint. You can see on the 'S' and 'h' on the bonnet, and also on the '17' that the white paint is discoloured. This is also due to age and not mis-handling or neglect. I've looked at several, and it is a common problem. Additionally, the racing livery is more representative than accurate, with a lot of the sponsors missing, such as Shell emblems, Palmer Tubetek, Australian Airlines etc.

Now we come to the rating. This is mainly in my collection due to it being a Trax and a Dick Johnson car. I think cars designed by Trax are generally better presented, and this car is more a toy than a model.

Trax 8021 - Dick Johnson Ford Sierra Cosworth
Quality  6
Design    7
Colours   5
X-factor  3

Rating: 21/40