O F F - T H E - S H E L F

The following editorial reflects the personal thoughts of Doug Breithaupt relating to our common hobby of miniature cars. It is intended to generate discussion relating to 'Tales of Toy Cars'. Your letters are welcome and may be submitted via e-mail.

Being First

It's always great to be first. In the diecast toy car business, being the first to produce a new car model can lead to additional sales and that's nice too. Whenever a new sports, GT or luxury car is introduced in 1:1 scale, I enjoy watching to see which toy car manufacturer is first to bring a 1:64 scale version to the marketplace.

On rare occasions, the toy car has actually preceded the real car's introduction. The most famous case in point is Mattel's original 1968 Corvette Hot Wheel. The Hot Wheel appeared on store shelves before the new Corvette hit the streets. That certainly helped sell the toy Corvette and was a likely contributor to the early success of Hot Wheels.

Since toy car makers usually plan their new models as much as two years in advance, they often have to wait until new cars are out to add these models to their production que. This results in the new toy car following the real car by at least a year or more. A variety of exciting new cars are currently in the works and I wonder who will be first to offer the miniature version. Here is a quick review.

Mercedes-Benz - The new SL is out and will certainly be popular. Almost every toy car maker does a new SL model. Look for Siku, Majorette or Hot Wheels to be quick on this one although Welly, Hongwell or Maisto could try to beat the competition.

BMW - The new 7 Series sedan is full of amazing technology and new BMW styling ideas. Someone will do it but it is unlikely to be as popular as the Z8 or Z3 models. Siku is again the best bet but I bet a few others do it as well.

Porsche - The new Carrera supercar will be a very popular toy car as well. The show car was displayed last year to great success and now that production is confirmed, watch for someone to move quickly with the toy version. My money would be on one of the Asian manufacturers like Motor Max or Welly to be one of the first although Majorette was the first with the Boxter so that's possible too.

VW - The popularity of the old VW van should guaranty that the new retro-version is done quite soon. Do you recall who was first with the new Beetle? Both Maisto and Kinsmart were very quick to get the production model out but Matchbox was first by doing the Concept 1 show car. Maisto is the first to do the new Jetta. VW also has new Bugatti and Bentley models due out but these may be deemed too 'niche market' for toy car producers. I hope not.

Audi - With the TT done by many companies now, don't look for any new Audi models soon. The exception would be Audi's world-beating prototype race cars. Those must be on someone's list.

Opel - The Calibra European Touring Car was done recently by Matchbox and Real Toy. The new Opel Speedster should be done by Siku at least.

Volvo and Saab - Hongwell has done a fine job with the new Volvo coupe, convertible and wagon models. No one else has bothered. The same goes for the Saab 9-5.

Renault/Peugeot/Citroen - Majorette, Guisval and Siku seem to be the only ones doing any French cars and that is unlikely to change. The Citroen Xsera rally car is available from Guisval but where is the Peugeot WRC 2000 winning car?

Seat - Only Guisval bothers with Seat models.

Skoda - One Skoda every 30 years or so is about the norm. Matchbox did the last one.

Jaguar - The new 'X' type is likely to be done by someone and the XK180 show car has been done by Welly so far. The 'S' type has been produced by Welly, Real Toy, Siku and Majorette.

Lotus - Hot Wheels seems to be keeping Lotus models on the toy shelves. A new Lotus Esprit form HW is 2002 is already in production.

Rolls Royce - It has been a long time since a new Rolls was offered in miniature. Now under the BMW umbrella, perhaps Siku will offer one.

Bentley - Other than the Le Mans racer, not b----y likely.

Mini - Majorette is the first to offer the new Mini but they won't be the last.

M.G. - Matchbox did the MGF several years back and no one else bothered. Any new M.G. models will be lucky to be done by anyone.

Ford Great Britain - The previous-generation Escort pro-rally car is available from Guisval and Hot Wheels. Look for Siku or Majorette to do more British Fords.

Ferrari - Hot Wheels seem to be serious about their exclusive with Ferrari and that is a major loss for collectors. No automaker should limit the diecast marketplace in this way, especially for cars as popular as Ferrari.

Lamborghini - The Murcilago will be done by as many as did the Diablo.

Maserati - The new Maser coupe and convertible should be done by someone, please!

Alfa Romeo - Welly and Yat Ming are the only ones to offer the current Spider. The Welly version does not seem to be offered in the U.S.

Fiat - Majorette does the Fiat Coupe

Lancia - A new rally car might tempt toy car makers back.

Chrysler/Dodge - The new Viper has been done by both Matchbox and Hot Wheels, in the same colors even! Others will follow. The PT/GT/Panel Cruiser models are easy to find. Hot Wheels did the new Charger and Power Wagon, now slated for production. Now that the Chrysler Crossfire is confirmed for production, it should be an easy choice, with Maisto most likely to be first.

General Motors - Maisto has done 12 of the 2000-2001 GM concept cars and now the production models will follow. Matchbox has several of these same show cars slated for 2002. The Cadillac Evoq is a good bet for several manufacturers and Maisto already has a 1:36 scale version. Hot Wheels has the Cadillac Le Mans racer. Anything new from Buick or Oldsmobile beyond the Maisto models is a long shot. With the Firebird on the way out, it will be harder to find toy Pontiacs. No one has done the Aztec, surprised? Chevrolet models will also suffer without the Camaro. Some 50th anniversary Corvettes are sure to appear. The new Monte Carlo is available from Johnny Lightning and Maisto. The current Impala is offered in police trim from Matchbox. The Chevrolet SSR concept truck is now going into production so Maisto's version is well-timed.

Ford - Real Toy now offers the new Crown Victoria in street form while several police versions are available. Matchbox has done the Focus in street form and Hot Wheels has done a slammed racing version. Only Matchbox has done the new T-Bird so far. More variations on the current Mustang are certain to appear. Hot Wheels has the new Mercury Cougar on their list for 2002. The last new Lincoln was the Continental Mk. VII from Maisto, and the Mk. VIII is too ugly to get toy makers interested. Several Lincoln show cars have better prospects. Recent Ford show cars are also likely.

Honda - The new Civic has been done by Hot Wheels and the NSX, Accord and Integra can still be found. Tomica will continue to do most new models but Revell seems to have taken a special interest in Honda as well.

Nissan - With a new Z Car ready, Tomica has the show version available. Hot Wheels will also offer this model in 2002. Tomica offers the basic Nissan sedans and Hot Wheels does the Xterra SUV. The new Skyline V35 should appear soon.

Toyota - Celica and Supra models are always popular and Motor Max, Hot Wheels and Tomica were first with the latest models. The new MR2 is yet to be done but should appear soon. Land Cruiser models are also popular and Real Toy has a nice one.

Lexus - The new Lexus Roadster is already available from Tomica. Several others may appear.

Subaru - Tomica is the primary source for Subaru models to date but the new WRX is changing that. Look for more WRX models form several sources.

Mazda - The new Miata is available from Motor Max and current RX-7 can still be found from a variety of sources.

Holden - The Commodore competition touring car has been done by Matchbox and Hot Wheels.

Ford Australia - Matchbox has done the Ford Falcon competition touring car and now they've tarted it up as a taxi!.

Let me know if you want to add to the list or offer corrections doug@breithaupts.com.