Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Siku and Matchbox Karmann Ghia comparison

Matchbox Lesney Edition Type 14 Karmann Ghia (left) Siku Type 54 Karmann Ghia (right)

When you amass large quantities of tiny cars, you invariably compare them. This study is especially focussed when you can compare the same car made by two different diecast manufacturers. (I also looked at this in an earlier post on Matchbox and Hot Wheels VW Type 181's). Recently I was going through the Siku range at 'Grandmas Attic' in Gungahlin, and came away with a Siku 1:64 scale Karmann Ghia. Im not sure how long this car has been in Siku's range, but being a German company, I'd say many years. This year Matchbox issued a Karmann Ghia in its new 'Lesney Edition' range. This article is therefore a comparison of two cars, the same car, as made by two manufacturers in similar price brackets.

From Wikipedia comes the following:
"The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, internally designated the Type 14, was a 2+2 marketed from 1955 to 1974 by Volkswagen in coupe and convertible bodystyles — combining the chassis and mechanicals of the Type 1, evocative styling by the Italian carrozzeria Ghia, and hand-built bodywork by German coach-builder Karmann.
The combination proved instantly successful for VW; production doubled soon after its introduction, and the Type 14 became the most imported car in the U.S. 
Over 445,000 Karmann Ghias were produced in Germany over the car's production life. Karmann Brazil produced 41,600 cars locally for South America between 1962 and 1975."
Let us first look at the Matchbox Lesney Edition Karmann Ghia. These nicely packaged models retail for around 6 dollars - about three times that of a regular series Matchbox car. The paint is very good, and compared to the yellow paint on the Hot Wheels XB Falcon, much better. At around three times the cost of a Hot Wheels car, you would expect that. 
Although it is sold in a blister pack, it also comes with a 'Matchbox'
Very attractive angle. Nice detail.
Good interior detail, nice badge decal on rear deck.

The Siku diecast cars are more expensive than a lot of 1:64 cars, retailing at around the 7 dollar mark. They come in a blister pack. Paint is very good. The green suits a car of this era. 
Good stance on Siku version. 
Same angle as Matchbox. Wheels are good. Not as chromed as the Matchbox ones, but perhaps more accurate. 
Siku interior not as nice as Matchbox. 
Side by side. Both are very well made models.
Matchbox version is a little better, not so 'heavy' on the detail.
Siku looks better from the front. Headlights and air grilles better executed. 
Siku front windscreen is better, as is the folding roof. 
Siku interior is a little heavier than Matchbox. 

Both these models are very well made and very accurate. Although the Siku has a little heavier detail, it is still a nice car. I am happy to have both these cars in my collection. If I had the inclination, I could swap the Matchbox baseplate, bumpers and interior into the Siku, but I dont know if it would be a profitable exercise. I will leave them the way they are. 

To the rating:
Matchbox Lesney Edition Karmann Ghia Type 14

Quality  8
Design    7
Colours   7
X-factor  7

Rating: 29/40

Siku Karmann Ghia Type 14

Quality  7
Design    7
Colours   7
X-factor  7

Rating: 28/40

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hot Wheels XB Falcon Coupe - review

After some months of waiting, the Hot Wheels XB Falcon Coupe is now on the shelves. It is an attractive model, not without flaws, but a nice car to have in your collection.
Lack of detail is obvious, grille is inaccurate and so are rear lights. Note some paint issues on the spoiler. This is common across several examples I have. 
The stance is good, and the lines are right. 
You have to ask yourself why Hot Wheels choose to highlight the fuel cap and side indicator, yet skimp on the rear lights and an accurate grille. A few dots of paint and I would be happ(ier) Mr Hot Wheels. 
Base is lightly detailed. 
Hot Wheels XB Falcon Coupe with a Biante Minicars BA XR8 Falcon
Hot Wheels XB Falcon, Matchbox EF Falcon, Matchbox AU Falcon

Im extremely happy that Hot Wheels have finally made the XB Coupe, it fits nicely in their Muscle range, and fortunately, apart from the wheels they haven't gone too far overboard into caricature. Once they solve the paint quality and tampo register issues it will be an exquisite car. Now its in the lineup, we can expect to see it produced in many different liveries into the future. Im guessing a Cobra version cant be far off.

To the rating:
Hot Wheels XB Falcon Coupe

Quality  5
Design    7
Colours   7
X-factor  7

Rating: 26/40

Siku - review and Canberra availability

Some 1:64 and related small scale diecast vehicles transcend their toy status and become models. Other brands make models that can be used as toys. Siku, a German company, are one of the latter. In the small scale world price often reflects quality, so when you hold a $1.25 Maisto in your hand and a $7 Siku in the other, you can see the extra quality clearly in paint, detail and interior details, clear glass, stickers etc.
That main focus of Siku stocked In Australia is construction vehicles, and farm equipment. I would guess that being a premium product, Siku find it hard to compete with Matchbox/Hot Wheels in the 1:64 arena, whereas the collector of construction and farming vehicles may be more prepared to seek out and acquire finely entailed 1:64 vhicles in their preferred theme.

Fortunately a recent Siku catalogue is available online here. You can see all the cars we cant get.

Siku pretty much own the 1:55 scale diecast line, but this blog review is of their 1:64 scale cars. The next two photos show some Siku from around 2000 with Siku from 2010.
Three Siku 1:64 diecast circa 2000
Three Siku 1:64 diecast circa 2009

The biggest visible change is in the wheels and tyres, which seem more accurate now, and lack SIKU printed on the tyres. Detail is high with clear headlights, detailed grills and interiors, quality paint. Similar to Biante Minicars,  Siku have wheels with soft rubber tyres. Siku's although diecast, have plastic bases however the detail on the Siku base is superior to Hot Wheels, and features info on the 1:1 car such as max speed, length, weight etc. 
Many Siku feature tow hooks, often on sports cars, which seems odd. It does fit in with the Siku ethic, as a furtive glance in the Siku catalogue shows many trailers and attachments denied to Australian collectors. 
They are generally very nicely detailed and modelled cars. They feel nice in the hand, with a certain weight lacking from some eastern manufacturers cars. I also like the consistent SIKU numberplates. 
Siku blisterpack

The focus on European cars is obvious, and the range is vast, with different liveries for different European markets. Assembling a complete collection would be difficult.

They are a little hard to get hold of in Australia, not being stocked in supermarkets like Mattel's Matchbox and Hot Wheels brands, but I have been looking around Canberra for a stockist. I have found two. One is Toyworld In Fyshwick, the other - with a better range- is Grandmas Attic in Gungahlin.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Where Hot Wheels cars are designed

Most people have a workplace. Some work in the fields, reaping sheaves of wheat, others toil away in front of computer monitors at their places of enslavement. Then we have the Mattel employees, whose workspace has recently been the subject of an article in 'Interior Design' magazine.

Cattle pens with no views. MORE HOT WHEELS SCHNELL SCHNELL!

Built in a former aircraft factory, the Mattel design center in El Segundo California, feature the latest faddish office furniture and design elements. Personally, I like a view of the outside world. 
Great vinyl mural on the wall, Looks like a Crown Vic and a Mustang. A pedal car is also on display, or is it a form of transport for employees... Im not sure what the big pipes in the ceiling area are, could be aircon or perhaps Mattel have a ducted message system where you place letters and small items in canisters which are sucked into the system and moved throughout the building.  
Nice Camaro. very understated. 
600 Hot Wheels on display. The online article I linked to says they are Matchbox cars. Since both Matchbox and Hot Wheels are owned by Mattel, its hard to say. Nice display cabinet though
This is best photo which shows the cars on display.

All these photos are the property of Interior Design and are used here until they email me and ask me to remove them. It is kind of creepy that there are no people in the photos. In the article it says that there is 56 square feet per employee in their cubicles. Maybe they have all revolted and resigned en masse. Maybe there are no employees. Perhaps Skynet computers design Barbie Dolls and Hot Wheels cars ? 

In the HQ of CDG we have beanbags. I'll email the Interior Design people and ask if they want to feature me.