by Rainer Sliwinski

Every one of us collecting die cast car models has his own personal reason to do so. Some may just remember a childhood's hobby and decide to carry on its heritage. Some may have just started collecting those little handsome metal things because of once they had them and wish to recall these times. Others may be tempted by the wide range and variety of die casts ever produced. Thanks to worldwide accessibility through the internet, today's die cast market has become a global challenge for serious collectors. There might many more reasons perhaps excuses because collecting is in our genes.

How does it feel holding a car in your hands? You may think it's even better to have only one of those posh vehicles in your garage. But try it and you'll feel weight and shape; let it run on your personal race track at home and drive your dream car without watching the fuel gauge; display it wherever you wish to show people that you have a not only a brave workhorse round the corner but an entire fleet!

This contribution to "Tales of Toy Cars" webzine is meant to bring forward collector's aspects and suggestions to the awareness of manufacturers. Let them know what professional collectors are seeking. Furthermore it shall provide information on current developments in the global die cast market.

I'm living in Germany, the country where automotive development has originally evolved more than a hundred years ago. Don't worry; I'm not going to bother you with the full story.

As for the prevailing circumstances German die cast brands of the small scale are in danger to become very scarce considering the range of new releases. Siku, Schuco and others just came up with a few new castings. Most of them are already done many times by other manufacturers.

Siku only considers Mercedes-Benz worthy for release: the 2002 E 500 and SL 55 AMG. Although they are nicely cast, they could still be improved concerning the latest technological achievements in paint schemes. Again; why do they still stick to the 'half-way' 1/55 scale? Praise: new, more realistic, matching hub caps, rims, real rubber tires as well as realistic translucent head and tail lights throughout. Well done!

Super Series new releases for 2003:

#1055 Mercedes-Benz SL 55 AMG Convertible (2002 model); dream car
#1332 Mercedes-Benz E 500 (2002 model); status car
#1426 Mercedes-Benz C 230 Coupe Sport "Medical Car"

(For stylish doctors, who rather prefer to ride a Coupe than an ugly but sufficient emergency box van.)

#1427 Mercedes-Benz 600 SEL "Security Service" with roof signal lamp, antenna and decal; earlier released in metallic star silver

(The current German chancellor won't like this car to be in his fleet, because he prefers Audi/ VW.)

#2711 Tow Truck

Editor's note: This is the last Siku Mercedes-Benz I found, guess I better start looking for the new models.

(Trucking Unlimited, probably an American State-Of-The-Art Truck for truck lovers)

Schuco decides to continue with castings in scale 1/87 (HO Edition 1:87) and scale 1/72 (Junior Line). They are unbeatable in detailing (better than Siku) and worth collecting. To be pointed out: color schemes, black window framing; comparable to Johnny Lightning brands.

Junior Line #331 new releases for 2003 in scale 1/72 (Hongwell castings):
#6243 BMW Z8 Roadster
#6213 BMW 3-Series Convertible
#6228 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Convertible
#6224 Mercedes-Benz 560SL Softtop
#6225 Mercedes-Benz 560SL Coupe Hardtop
#6220 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Convertible
#6226 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
#6227 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe Hartop
#6229/ 6230/ 6231 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Rally #18/ #16/ #20
#6218/ 6219 Austin Mini "Rally Monte Carlo"/ "Checker Flag Roof"
#6232/ 6233 Porsche 550 Spyder #130/ "Fletcher Aviation" #55
#6237/ 6238/ 6239 VW Beetle/ "Polizei"/ "Feuerwehr"
#6217 VW Beetle Softtop
#6215 VW Bus T1 Box Van
#6241 VW Bus T1 Samba
#6242 VW Bus T1 Pick-up

HO Edition #21 Cars, new releases for 2003 in scale 1/87:

#684 VW Bus T1 Samba
#681 Mercedes-Benz E-class (2002 model)
#682 Mercedes-Benz CLK (2002 model)
#683 Mercedes-Benz C-class Coupe Sport
#680 New Mini Cooper "Polizei"
#688 BMW 3-Series Convertible
#689 BMW 7-Series (2002 model)

For those who may wish to include SUT's:

#685 Unimog U 300

There are also new "Motorsport" releases in the #21 edition, consisting of popular European stock racers such as Audi TT, VW Passat, Opel Astra, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar; just calling a few. They are available in different outfits with authentic decals of the relevant sponsors.

Schuco will surely benefit from selling to scale model railroad lovers since this scale is exactly matching to HO.

Other brands are available in Germany, but one has to try hard to get them. I remember Matchbox as the leading manufacturer during the time when I was a young boy. Since the label has been merged with (or better captured by) Mattel, the product range of their ever famous 1-75 series has changed considerably towards toy style cars. Other models are remaining too long in the series and therefore being outdated by their real originals already. Some makes which have traditionally shaped the image of Matchbox brands are entirely not found. Still there are some nice findings such as the Cadillac Escalade, Opel Speedster/ Frogster, Pontiac Vibe and the Jeep Willys Concept.

There are some of the Matchbox trade mark designs of various cars and SUV's which are worth collecting. But a question arises: Are these trade mark castings giving a glimpse of the die cast cars of tomorrow? Or do they intend preparing the battle field for the newly emerging automotive brands "Made in China" in our homes? No fear, I'm neither rejecting new ideas without proof nor want to snub any nationals. I would appreciate to see new prototype cars and design studies from outside U.S. or Europe. It would be very fascinating to have an insight of those developments wherever they may come from. Collectors will truly benefit from this enriched die cast market and it will help to make such products well known worldwide. We all know that the majority of die casts are already being produced in other countries than the western hemisphere. Southern China probably has the highest die cast alloy concentration on our globe and remember: competition in emerging markets are much tougher than in established ones.