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.

The 1970 Chevelle in Small-Scale - Who's the best?
by Doug Breithaupt

Tiger Wheels

Hot Wheels

Johnny Lightning

Racing Champions (Street Wheels)

The recent addition of a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454 from Tiger Wheels (see feature), made a comparison with the other producers of 1:64 scale '70 Chevelle models a must. The other three '70 Chevelle models come from Hot Wheels, Johnny Lightning and Racing Champion's Street Wheels line. Racing Champions also did a Mint Edition version of the '70 Chevelle which is easily superior in quality but at a premium price. I decided the RC Street Wheels casting was a more appropriate comparison in price and value to the other models.

To begin the comparison it is best to identify the key factors. These are price, paint and tampos, casting, wheels, interior and base. Each model will receive a score of 1-5 in each category with 5 being the highest. The results are close and all four cars offer interesting features. Here is my opinion.

Tiger Wheels - ($2-4) - 3 points
Hot Wheels - ($1) - 5 points
Johnny Lightning - ($3) - 3 points
RC Street Wheels - ($.50) - 5 points

Clearly, the RC Street Wheels model is priced for maximum value while the Hot Wheels model is also quite reasonable for the level of quality. The Tiger Wheels model is expected to be in the same range as the Johnny Lightning model and neither has the level of detail to be valued any higher.

Tiger Wheels - 4 points
Hot Wheels - 3 points
Johnny Lightning - 4 points
RC Street Wheels - 3 points

All four models have decent paint on the examples shown here. The RC Street Wheels model has headlights and tail-lights detailed but bumpers are painted body color. The racing stripes do not extend to the trunk. The Hot Wheels model has a metallic blue finish with white stripes and no other detail. The Tiger Wheels model has complete detailed lights and correct badging, however the rear bumper is painted body color. The Johnny Lightning model has head and tail-lights detailed but no other tampo detail except the black racing stripes.

Tiger Wheels - 4 points
Hot Wheels - 4 points
Johnny Lightning - 4 points
RC Street Wheels - 3 points

All four castings offer surprising detail but the Hot Wheels model is the only one to offer metal bumpers front and rear. The RC Street Wheels model appears too flat in the nose. The black plastic grill and tail insets for the Johnny Lightning detract from the look of the model but it is the only model to offer an opening hood and side mirrors.

Tiger Wheels - 3 points
Hot Wheels - 3 points
Johnny Lightning - 4 points
RC Street Wheels - 3 points

The Johnny Lightning wheels are the most detailed while the other three offer reasonable versions of hot rod racing mags. None feature correct wheels for the car.

Tiger Wheels - 5 points
Hot Wheels - 2 points
Johnny Lightning - 3 points
RC Street Wheels - 4 points

The Tiger Wheels interior is excellent with a realistic dash board and steering wheel. The stick shift is also provided. Johnny Lightning offers a slab for a dash board while RC Street Wheels make an attempt at detail. Hot Wheels only provides a solid steering wheel in a crude interior with visible gaps at the windows.

Tiger Wheels - 4 points
Hot Wheels - 5 points
Johnny Lightning - 2 points
RC Street Wheels - 2 points

Hot Wheels has the best base with considerable detail in a metal casting. Tiger Wheels also offers a metal base of slightly less detail. RC Street Wheels has a modest detailed base but in plastic. Johnny Lightning has minimal detail in a metal base.

Tiger Wheels - 23 points
Hot Wheels - 22 points
Johnny Lightning - 20 points
RC Street Wheels - 20 points

I am sure that a more recent casting from Johnny Lightning would have done much better and it is a surprise that the Street Wheels model offers so much value for the price. The Hot Wheels and Tiger Wheels models may have to head out to the orange track to settle who is really the best of the '70 Chevelle models. If you have any thoughts on this comparison, let me know at doug@breithaupts.com.