by Doug Breithaupt
|Many consider the VW Bug to be one of the cutest cars. While that is a question
of taste, there can be no debate that the Bug's cabriolet version is even
cuter. The hard-top Beetle has been offered in dozens of castings be almost
every manufacturer. The drop-top version has received far less attention.
My collection has only seven VW Beetle Cabriolets although I am sure there
are a few more.
For years, Tomica's wonderful version of the classic VW convertible has been the benchmark by which all other versions were measured. Complete with wing-windows and visors, this little Tomica is a favorite. The separate color folded top is perhaps the best feature as it adds a great touch of realism. It is often priced at premium to other Tomica models due to it's popularity.
If you can't find the Tomica model, try one of Welly's older 'copy-castings'. This faithful copy has all the Tomica features with only the wheels, plastic base and same-color interior and folded top to distinguish it from the original.
Welly has grown up now and they have produced their own VW Beetle Cabrio casting. This is a completely new model and it is quite good. The chromed wheels are a special touch with just the right 'after-market' look seen on so many of these cars. The addition of their own separate color folding top and a 'pretty-in-pink' color make this a perfect California Valley Girl special.
One look at the Hongwell entry in the open bug sweepstakes is al that's needed. For small-scale detail, their is a new king in town. This is a diecast gem with amazing realism and style. While it is in 1:72 scale, the quality is much more in the tradition of 1:43 scale. Note the partially raised side windows and correct VW hub caps. The colors are perfect for a classic VW.
In contrast, it's the colors that drag the Siku entry down. The cheap plastic look of the interior detracts from an otherwise excellent model. All-diecast like the Tomica, the Siku is both sturdy and ready for serious play. Those bumpers are functional! The wheels are much better than Siku's older offerings and with a bit more detailing and correct colors, this could be a very nice piece.
Zlymex offered an open VW Bug called the 'Boom Bug' and it can still be found under the Motor Max name. While it is a bit crude it does represent the type of back-yard custom Bugs often seen on the streets. Big speakers where the back seat would be are clearly seen. The simply, frameless windshield and lack of bumpers could cause safety concerns in the real world.
The new Beetle has been offered in top-down form since it's introduction but only recently did VW bring the convertible to U.S. shores. They correctly decided to sell a coupe to everyone who could not resist the new Bug and when sales started to soften, bring in the cabrio and sell it all over again to many of the same people. The toy car market has also produced a wide variety of new Beetle coupes. Matchbox was the first to offer the open version in small-scale. This made particular sense for matchbox as their coupe model was actually the Concept 1 design that pre-dated the actual production car. The convertible is the production version and as such, a new casting. It is a decent little model but the interior is a bit to simplistic. This nice white version is far better than the later tampo-slathered models that followed.
More cabrio versions of the new Beetle can be expected, especially now that the real one easy to see on U.S. roads. As the new Welly casting shows, the old Beetle is still popular with toy car makers as well. Now all we need is one with a chip that allows it to play Beach Boys classics as it rolls along.
old Welly (Tomica copy)