Volume VI, Number 12

Real Toy by a Nose
by Doug Breithaupt

Who makes the best toy cars for a buck or less? It has been asked before but it's time to reconsider. For many years, Hot Wheels and Matchbox have dominated this market. Do they still deserve this level of respect?

One way to judge these basic-line toy cars is to look at the nose. Who has the best detail? Who makes the best use of tampos. Are the tampos where they should be? Is the casting crisp and clean or does it have the melted plastic look?

To be fair in comparison, I simply picked examples of seven manufacturers that were sitting on my desk at the time and present them in alpha order. Here are the nominees:

Hot Wheels - Bugatti Veyron

The placement of the tampos and paint colors are so bad on this model that I thought it must be a mistake. When I checked the same model at the stores, they were just as bad. Look how the black overlaps the red and the silver lights have over-spray onto the red as well. Is this simply a problem with quality control? The chrome grill is nice and the casting is one of the best HW models of 2003.

Maisto - Street Ka

Look how the silver paint on the lights is where it should be. The black grill and painted badge are nice too. The Street Ka is one of the best Maisto models and it even has an interior. It's quite possible that no other examples of this car will be done so Maisto deserves credit for something special.
Matchbox - Mini Cooper S

This example of the Mini Cooper follows just about everyone else and the question is why did they bother? The silver grill and lights are fine but there is no detail in the casting to highlight. The silver grill looks like lips. The plastic base and tinted windows just look cheap. Even Hot Wheels did a better New Mini.

Majorette - Nissan Micra

It's clear that Majorette put all their effort into the headlights. These lights do look good but how about a little effort for the grill or front plate? The Micra is another model that few will do and the casting is fine. Perhaps the success of Norev will motivate Majorette to add more detail.

Racing Champions - Dodge Viper GTSR

This casting is from the budget-level Street Wheels series. It has generic racing graphics in the style of the Vipers that won their class at Le Mans in the late 1990's. The graphics are sharp and well-placed. The yellow lights look right for Le Mans or Daytona. There is a slight problem with paint bleed.

Real Toy - BMW M3

Look closely at the level of detail offered on this $.79 Canadian-bought model. The grill is amazing with hair-line bars in silver. The BMW Rondel is the correct size and colors! The plate not only reads BMW M1 but the script is correct for this model. The headlights and fog lights are detailed and the front air dam is even detailed. If Real Toy can do this why can't others?

Welly - Peugeot 206 Sedan

The lights and grill badge really add to the look. The off-set air vents are better than they look here. The dark smudge next to the vents is where the black became mixed with the green paint. Is this a common problem? Some detail on the plate and air dam would be nice. A good casting and a rare 4-door model make a combination that is hard to beat.

Decide for yourself. I already did as the title of this story makes clear. Real Toy wins by more than a nose. It is simply at a quality level beyond any of the competition. Welly, Maisto and Racing Champions get honorable mention and Majorette, Matchbox and Hot Wheels are trailing the field.
This is not a matter of cost. Once any pad-printed tampos are applied, the cost is the same. With just black and silver, a lot can be done. Add white, yellow or red and amazing detail can be offered for a budget price.