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1:18 Scale - The Year in review - 2006


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Posted 15 November 2006 - 06:32 PM

"1:18th year in review 2006:

2006 so far has seen a large number of new releases (both totally new models and updates and new versions of existing models) and in general I feel has been a good year for 1:18th collectors. Prices have gone up overall, but by shopping around (mainly on eBay) I still find I can get the models I want for a great deal less than full retail in many cases.

The following listing of releases (company by company) is far from a complete, comprehensive list of all 1:18ths released this year, but (I hope) touches on all the more significant models released in 2006. I apologise in advance if I have skipped over any particular brand of model or an individual release, but due to time constraints in writing this review and of course an element of personal bias, I have not been able to write in detail about every single new model released this past year. Nonetheless, I hope I have presented a good snapshot of the past year in 1:18th models.

AUTOart
AUTOart (AUTOart) has so far has been very busy in 2006. Once the favourite brand of many 1:18th collectors, their halo has slipped somewhat with their continuing policy of releasing most of its race car models as “sealed models”, without engine detail or any opening doors, bonnets (hoods!) or bootlids (aka: trunklids!). Seemingly there are plenty of collectors who are quite happy to accept these compromised models, and I have to admit I have a few of them (bought at a cost considerably below the recommended retail price), but overall sealed models are not of much interest to me as a 1:18th collector (as the beauty of the larger models is often in their opening features, in my humble opinion!).

The sealed model range when it was first announced was meant to be available at a lower price than AUTOart’s with full openings, but this was not often the case. However, AUTOart seemingly have raised their overall prices by about 15% (as far as I can see in the European market), while leaving the sealed models at their original price point, so hence they do seem “cheaper” than the rest of the AUTOart range now!
Sealed models released by AUTOart in 2006 included a number of Japanese Touring Cars including several Toyota Supras, Honda NSX’s and further versions of the Nissan 350Z. A racing version of the new Chevrolet Corvette (the C6 version) and the Aston Martin DBR-9 were also introduced, also unfortunately as sealed models. This was particularly disappointing for collectors who enjoyed AUTOart’s line of racing C5 Corvettes which had fully opening features. A step backwards indeed for AUTOart.

The good news however is that AUTOart are still producing good quality 1:18ths (just not as consistently as they had been doing so up to around two years ago or so). Some of the better AUTOart releases in 2006 included the lovely looking Aston Martin V8 Vantage in silver and black, further releases of the new “retro” Mustang in convertible and Shelby forms and after a long wait (considering it was announced as “coming soon” by AUTOart many years ago) the Lotus Esprit V8. Another long anticipated model released by AUTOart at the start of 2006 was the 1991 Le Mans 24hr winning Mazda 787B, which made history by being the first and only car (to date) to win the marathon French race with a rotary engine, and also the first Japanese car to win. The 787B was the first release in AUTOart’s new “Signature” line of models which move towards Exoto and CMC in terms of detail and overall quality (but are not yet as good as those top end brands I believe) and as such is a superb model car. The only downside to this increased amount of detail is the considerably higher price AUTOart are asking for their new “Signature” models. The price of progress perhaps??? It’s a shame model cars are not like home electronics and PCs. Instead they are the polar opposite in that they more expensive as time goes on and often you get less for more as a result!
AUTOart have an arrangement with BMW to make model of classic and significant BMWs in 1:18th. Many are released initially as dealer-only models available from the parts department of most BMW dealers worldwide. 1:18th BMW models released in 2006 by AUTOart include the 1977 E21 323i (the first “3 series”), the tiny 600 “bubble car” and a good looking model of the 2002 Touring. AUTOart has also released the 1973 BMW 3.0 CSLs that competed in the Spa 24hr touring car race that same year. These look very similar to the 1975-76 CSLs released a number of years ago by Minichamps but are in fact quite different in that they do not have the wider fenders the later cars have. Also the AUTOart model is considerably more detailed than the older Minichamps (as would be expected from a far newer release) and as AUTOart themselves were quick to point out, has tampo printed markings on it, unlike the Minichamps CSLs which used decals that unfortunately proved fragile and prone to cracking with time.
AUTOart also do a nice job replicating classic Mercedes-Benz including towards the end of this year a lovely 280C/8 in both coupe and 4 door forms as well as the diesel powered 220D/8.
Other models released in 2006 by AUTOart included several Nissan Skyline R32’s in both race and road trim (which made for interesting comparisons with the similar Kyosho models of the same car), a Japanese police version of the Subaru Impreza, several versions of the new C6 Corvette, a lovely version of the original Lotus Elan, the new retro look Toyota FJ Land Cruiser, the new Lexus IS 350, a “Gran Turismo 4” version of the Ford GT, and a few more besides that do not come to mind just at the moment!


BBR
BBR introduced their first 1:18th model, of the Ferrari Enzo, in 2005. Priced at the top of the 1:18th market, the BBR Enzo was a fine model (although I think the profile of the tires looks too thick) but thanks to a high price lacked mass appeal. Their second 1:18th model (of the 1954 Le Mans winning Ferrari 375 Plus) was launched in 2006 and from the photographs and reviews I’ve seen is a superb model. Like other top models from CMC and Exoto, the BBR 375 Plus has realistic wire wheels, fine engine detail and so on. Certainly it is one of the nicest Le Mans winners released to date by any company but again it’s appeal will be limited thanks to a high asking price (approximately $280 in the US). A resin bodied (hence non-opening) 1:18th of the Maserati MC12 racing car is supposed to be released by BBR in 2006 but as of the start of November it has not yet gone on sale.


Bburago
Bburrago, one of the pioneers of diecast model cars unfortunately went out of business at the end of 2005, as it found it impossible to compete on price with other model makers thanks to the cost of making their models in Italy. Maisto have bought the rights to the Bburago brand and are planning to release several models under the resurrected brand. Most are older Maisto releases but there are a few new models planned including a Lamborghini Miura (which from the pictures I’ve seen is not a brilliant model in my humble opinion) and the newer “concept” Miura which might be more interesting to me!


Biante
Biante continue to specialise in models of Australian cars of all types. New releases for 2006 included several versions of the current model Australian Ford Falcon in both saloon and pickup or “ute” form. They also continued their line of V8 Supercars and also added a few superb classics to their range such as the 1966 Bathurst 500 winning Mini Cooper (based on an updated Kyosho mould) and a range of Holden FX’s from 1948, which are made for Biante by AUTOart.
Biante also released this announcement: "Biante will not be developing a VE Commodore or BF Falcon V8 Supercars for production for 2007 and onwards, Biante will be able to allocate more time and money to the ongoing development of classic Australian road and race cars", which is a disappointment to fans of the latest Australian touring cars, but good news to fans of Biantes classic models (one of which is me!). Classic Carlectables will still offer the latest V8 supercars, so they will still be available to collectors.
2006 was a sad year for Biante as one of it's founders, Trevor Young, died suddenly earlier this year. He is remembered by his wife Bev who co-founded the company with him and continues to head the company. Their first initials formed the basis of the name of the company, "B and T".

Carousel 1
For 2006 Carousel 1 released further Indy 500 cars including Dan Gurney’s 1966 Eagle and Johnny Rutherford’s 1976 Indy 500 winning McLaren M16E. Due before the end of 2006 from C1 is the 1968 Lotus 56 which raced at Indianapolis and was an unorthodox car in that it used a Pratt & Whitney gas turbine engine and was four wheel drive. It certainly promises to be one of the more unusual models to be released in 2006.


Classic Carlectables (CC)

Like Biante, Classic Carlectables is an Australian company that tends to specialise in both modern day and historic models of Australian road and race cars. As well as a range of last years (2005) V8 Supercars (the main touring car series in Australia), CC have released several versions of the latest Australian Ford saloons and pick up trucks and have also released an interesting model of a Holden based two seater sports and competition car known as the Elfin Streamliner. Due out before the end of the year are several street and racing versions of the Ford Falcon XY from the early 1970s, which will inevitably be compared to the Biante/UT models version of the same car which have been around for over 6 years now. Most of the Biante XY Falcons are hard to find and hence very collectible now, so I should think the CC versions of the same car will sell well to collectors keen to add more XY Falcons to their collections. I received and email from Classic Carlectables recently in which they told me their new version of this car promises to be their best model to date and naturally far better than the older Biante versions. As I have a few of the Biante XY Falcons I’m very keen to get hold of the new CC version in order to compare them side to side.


CMC
My current favourite 1:18th company at the moment, CMC continued to raise the bar for high end 1:18th models in 2006. As well as a yellow version of their fantastic Ferrari 250GT (first seen in red at the end of 2005), they released an outstanding model of the 1961 Tipo 61 Maserati “birdcage” as driven by Dan Gurney and Stirling Moss. Probably my favourite model of the year, it is full of fine parts and incredible detail and is I feel of museum quality. A twin rear wheel version of their fantastic Auto Union Type C (which was used in hillclimbing events) is planned for release before the end of 2006, and they also recently released an exceptional model of the 1931 Mercedes-Benz SSKL which won the Mille Miglia that same year. The only “fault” I personally find with the current CMC model line up is that they are very expensive! Hence I have to ration myself and buy them only occasionally!


ERTL
ERTL continues to be one of the larger producers of models in 1:18th scale. They recently acquired the license to make James Bond 007 models and have rapidly produced a line up of Bond related models some of which had not been made in 1:18th by previous Bond model makers such as AUTOart or the now defunct Beanstalk Group. For 2006 ERTL have released the new Aston Martin DBS and DB5 from the latest Bond movie “Casino Royale”.
The other big movie franchise ERTL are involved with is the “Fast and Furious” series of movies, and this year several models connected with “Fast and Furious 3, Tokyo Drift” have been released.
ERTL have released several updated models (from older ERTL moulds) under their “Elite” sub-brand, including an updated Ford Mustang Boss 429 from 1969 and a newer version of their 1970 Plymouth Cuda model.
By far the finest models made by ERTL continue to be their superb “Authentics” line. These in general are highly detailed models which are I feel easily as good as the best models made by rivals such as AUTOart, Kyosho, GMP and Lane. Authentics released in 2006 included a fastback version of the 1965 Ford Mustang (in several colours) and the 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS which again is a superb model for not too much money.
For motorcycle fans, ERTL seem to have released a ton of “Orange County Choppers” in 1:18th which are certainly very colourful!
Toys R Us attempted to sell large numbers of "exclusive" ERTL models in 2006 in the USA, a plan that resulted in large numbers of unsold ERTL "exclusive" models being sold of cheap in discount sellers such as BigLots.


Exoto
Despite (in my opinion!) being knocked off the “best models in 1:18th” perch by CMC, Exoto continue to make fantastic models of interesting cars. Over the years they have alienated many customers with moves such as seemingly endless price rises, re-releases (with minor differences) of their older most collectible cars (thereby reducing the value of the original releases, which angers some collectors), numerous models being announced as “coming soon” but not appearing for sale for years, and most of all, seemingly bizarre customer relations most notably senior members of the company regularly posting on a few well known model car forums and frankly belittling their customers at times!

In-between all the apparent madness, Exoto do seem to find the time to release a few models! One of the most interesting models they did (in my humble opinion) in 2006 was the 1988 Le Mans winning Jaguar XJR-9LM. The winning car was released with the correct “Silk Cut” cigarette sponsorship logos (which was a nice surprise as the previous Jaguars from the same year that Exoto put on sale had the censored versions of the correct logos, which from a historic accuracy point of view was disappointing). The XJR-9s are part of Exotos “Motorbox” line up which are cheaper than regular Exoto releases but still more expensive than even the Signature series AUTOart Mazda 787B (which is a superior model). Nonetheless, for collectors of Le Mans cars (such as myself!) it was a very significant model for 2006. Another Le Mans winner released this year by Exoto was the 1967 winning Ford GT40 MkIV. Exoto first put on sale models of the MkIV GT40 back in 2002, but held off releasing the ’67 Le Mans winner (the one most collectors would want and the most significant of all the MkIV GT40s) until they had milked the model for all it was worth! Another reason why Exoto are not the favourite maker among many collectors! Not only did they force GT40 collectors to wait almost 4 years to get the Le Mans winner, when it did appear it cost almost twice what the first GT40 MkIV models did four years ago! I happened to get my example for a great price (well under retail) from a German source online, and it is a fantastic model of a superb car, but I wish it was still possible to add new Exotos to my collection without having to feel like I’ve been taken for a ride!
In addition to the ’67 Le Mans winner, Exoto also released the 1966 Sebring 12 hours’ race winning GT40 roadster. This is a decidedly odd looking model, and some photos of the real thing suggest that Exoto got the shape of the windscreen wrong. Unfortunately the real thing (which was a one off) was destroyed by Ford (to avoid paying US customs charges on it) so it is not possible to directly compare the model to the 1:1. Either way, to my eyes the model and the real thing are the ugliest GT40s made to date, so I’m very much undecided about getting one!
Other releases in 2006 by Exoto included race liveried versions of their Chaparral 2Es and 2Fs, and some fine looking race versions of the Shelby Cobra 289s. Additional Exoto Motorbox releases included several great looking racing Chevrolet Corvettes (C2’s).


Franklin Mint (FM)
FM entered the crowded 1:18th marketplace in 2006 with a new model of the 1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. FM has a long history of producing models in 1:24th scale about which I know very little! Deciding to go with a model of the 1970 Camaro as their first 1:18th was seen by many as an odd choice as that particular car has already been made in pretty much every possible permutation by ERTL. The ERTL version is however in 2006 an old diecast, first having been released in 1999 (as far as I can determine). Hence FM had a great opportunity to make a great model of the ever popular Camaro but unfortunately they seem to have blown it! In fairness I haven’t seen the model in the metal (so to speak!) but most Camaro “experts” on the internet seem to agree that the shape of the FM Camaro is not quite right and that it looks somewhat “banana shaped” (meaning the sills do not look straight as they should be on the car). Additionally it is not a particularly cheap model (at $75 in the US market) and it has features such as “dog leg” door hinges which are not acceptable at this price point.
Hopefully any future releases in 1:18th by FM will be an improvement on this particularly flawed model.


GMP
GMPs main new release for 2006 was a superb new model of the 1970 Plymouth GTX and Road Runner. They also released further versions of their MkIII Mustangs and various “restomod” versions of existing models such as their 1970 GTO and Chevrolet Camaro, plus a model of the 2006 Pontiac GTO. The 1970 Plymouths (GMPs first Mopar releases I believe) are fantastic models of a classic musclecar and I would say I’ll very likely be adding several of them to my collection in the near future!


Highway ’61 (Highway 61)
Highway 61 had a busy year for new releases with a new convertible version of its Hudson Hornet, several more variants of its excellent Plymouth ‘Cuda and Dodge Challenger models and a brand new range of 1969 Chevrolet Camaros. The ’69 Camaro has been made in 1:18th by several other model makers in the past so it was hardly an original choice by Highway 61. However, if it had been a top notch model then I think they could have been forgiven for their decision to make another ’69 Camaro. Unfortunately I believe there are quite a few detailed inaccuracies on the model, especially under the hood, which has tarnished their reputation somewhat. They do look good however, and I have to admit if I find any at a good price I may well get one! Their new 1964 Buick Riviera’s are nicer models I believe and more accurate to boot. I believe they have been a big sales success for Highway 61, and deservedly so as from the pictures and reviews of it that I have seen it is apparently a very nice model indeed.


Jadi
Jadi have had a quiet year with only the new MkII BMW Mini announced as a planned release for 2006 (but which has not yet appeared as of November 2006).


Kyosho
Kyosho never tend to release several all new models in any one year and are even slower to release new versions of existing models at times. However, what they lack in quantity of new models they usually make up in quality. Kyosho make many cars on contract to a number of well known manufacturers hence the abundance of Kyosho Audi A3s, and A8s released in 2006. Both models are very nice indeed and are good examples of what Kyosho are capable of releasing. They also released two great examples of their BMW M5 model, the “Ring Taxi” which is used to give demonstration runs on the famous Nurburgring circuit in Germany, and the Moto GP safety car from the 2005 season.
Other “dealer” models released by Kyosho this year included the new Porsche Boxster S and the Mercedes-Benz CLS.
One of the most interesting models released by Kyosho this year (and already hard to find!) is the 1972 Nissan Skyline 2 door coupe in both red and white. This generation of Skyline was never officially raced, but it was still a fast car in its day. In Japan they were known as “Ken and Mary” Skylines thanks to a TV ad campaign for the car which featured a couple of the same name enjoying their new Skyline!
Another great all new release by Kyosho and again a huge seller is their 1978 Fiat Abarth 131 rally cars. These models really compliment the Lancia rally cars released by Kyosho in recent years and are a must have for any collector of rally cars.
One of the first 1:18th releases by Kyosho back in 1993 (I believe!) was a series of race versions of the Nissan Skyline R32. These were great models in their day but by today’s standards were crude, especially in areas such as brake and engine detail. Possibly in response to AUTOart releasing a new line of R32 Skylines, Kyosho finally decided to release their own street version of the R32. There is very little to choose between the Kyosho and the AUTOart Skyline R32, but many Skyline experts I’ve read comments from seem to agree that the Kyosho has a more accurate shape and is marginally the better model. I happen to have the AUTOart version but I may well get one of the Kyosho versions too so I can do my own direct comparison!


Lane/Exact Detail

Lane seem to have had a quiet 2006 with no all new 1:18ths that I know of. They have released several more versions of their ’67-’68 Shelby Mustangs which are good looking models, but not much else besides.


Maisto
Maisto had a relatively quiet 2006 as well, with relatively few all new models being released. Those that were included the new C6 generation Corvette coupe, the Porsche Cayman S, the Range Rover Sport and the roadster version of the Lamborghini Gallardo. They also introduced a modified range of VW Beetles with rear hinged or butterfly opening front doors and huge wheels (and which to my conservative eyes look terrible! Each to their own of course!).
A number of 1970 Chevrolet Nova SS's were also introduced by Maisto.

Mattel/Hotwheels
The big news from Mattel in 2006 was the introduction of their new “Elite” series of models, which differ from earlier Mattel 1:18th releases by having extra detail such as seatbelts done in fabric instead of plastic, photoetched metal parts instead of plastic, more realistic wheels and tires, carpeting and so on. All this improved detail came at a price however, and the Elite Mattel models are priced at the same level as a current AUTOart release. The new Shelby Mustang GT500 was released as an Elite model by Mattel, but otherwise all the new Elite range are Ferraris. One of the most annoying aspects of Mattel’s near monopoly over the right to make 1:18th Ferrari models was the fact that in general they were at best average models with poor detailing especially of the engines and interiors. However, the new Elite Ferrari models from what I have seen appear to be quite good and models a collector who wants a quality model of a Ferrari would indeed consider adding to his (or her but let’s be honest here, it’s mostly guys in this hobby!) collection. They are not as good as a similarly priced model from AUTOart (for example) as they are mostly still based on earlier less detailed Mattel Ferrari models, but overall a good job seems to have been carried out in updating them. I suppose being cynical you could argue they are trying to make silk purses out of sow’s ears, but on the whole the introduction of a more detailed line of Ferrari 1:18ths can only be a good thing for the hobby.
In addition to the Elite range, Mattel also produced some new “non-Elite” Ferrari models for collectors with more limited budgets, most notably the new Ferrari FXX. Unfortunately they do not seem to have put much effort at all into the “basic” model of the FXX and it shows. For a new 1:18th in 2006 it is indeed a crude piece indeed. Interestingly though they also introduced a “Super Elite” version of the FXX which is priced far above the regular Elite range. It came in a special box and was the only version available with the black wheels seen on some of the 1:1 FXX’s. From the reviews I read of the Super Elite version it does not seem to be all that much more detailed than the non-super Elite version which would make it seem like very poor value indeed as it is priced at the same level as models from Exoto and CMC.
Mattel have also released several models of Formula 1 cars from the 2005 season this year including last year’s cars from Ferrari, Williams and Renault.


Minichamps
Minichamps remain one of my own personal favourite 1:18th model companies due to the varied and interesting range of models they continue to produce in this scale. Everything from motorcycles to large trucks with plenty of other models in-between.
Some of their brand new models included a long awaited model of the beautiful Maserati Ghibli coupe in light blue (which apparently was originally meant to be released as part of Minichamps lower priced and hence lower detail range, the “Minichamps Car Collection”, but following a rethink was launched as a “regular” Minichamps, resulting in a delay in the model going on sale; not a problem in my book as it is a car that deserves a quality model made of it!).
A model of the 1991 Williams FW14 was also released including a superb piece with Nigel Mansell in the driver’s seat giving Ayrton Senna a lift back to the pits. This version, known as the “Senna Taxi”, looks amazing with Senna’s figure perched on the left hand side pod of the car using the engine air intake as a handhold. I personally remember the event it is modelled on well. Mansell was on his slowing down lap after winning the 1991 British GP when he stopped to give Senna (his arch rival at the time!) a lift back to the pits. Senna’s McLaren had run out of fuel on the last lap (although he still managed to be classified in 4th place). I can only imagine what the health and safety guys at the race must have thought seeing Senna perched on Mansell’s Williams as it made its way back to the pits!
Another important F1 car for Senna fans was the first car he drove in F1. His 1984 Toleman Hart was released by Minichamps as part of their Senna collection (which has its own distinct style of packaging) and makes for an interesting model. Many experts believe he would have won the 1984 Monaco GP from Alain Prost had the race not been stopped early due to the incredibly wet conditions on the day. As it was, he would have to wait until 1985 to win his first race, and by then he had moved onto Lotus.
Minichamps released a wide bodied version of their MkI Ford Escort a few years ago and in 2006 got around to releasing a version in rally trim. The resulting 1972 RAC Rally winner was worth the wait and is a great looking rally car model.
On my wishlist (top 5 that is!) for 2006 is Minichamps model of the 1971 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.8 AMG touring car. This huge racing car was one of the most dramatic looking Mercedes-Benz’s ever raced. Based on the superb 300SEL 6.3 (one of my favourite classic cars) the 6.8 litre racing version had a short lived career in European Touring Car racing (due to rule changes that went against it) but competed with a certain amount of success at events such as the Spa 24hr race in Belgium. I’m hopeful Minichamps having made the racing version will now go on to release a roadgoing version of the car but I might be waiting for some time. Despite having released a superb racing version of the BMW M1 back in 2001, Minichamps have still not modified the mould in order to make a roadgoing M1. So I might be out of luck with the big Mercedes!
Several new versions of existing models such as their racing Ford Capri RS3100s, BMW M1 racers and McLaren M23 F1 cars (in a super looking “Yardley” livery from 1973) were released in 2006, all of which have proved popular with collectors.
Minichamps like Revell and AUTOart have taken to releasing Police and Fire vehicle versions of their existing model range. Minchamps have released police versions of their BMW 2002 Touring, Morris Minor, Ford Capri and Opel Rekord this year, and also released a “Fire Chief” version of the Opel Rekord which looks well beside its police car counterpart.
New 1:18th tractors released in 2006 included a classic Deutz and Hanomag tractor as well as a number of farm trailers (intended to be towed by the tractors) to match.


Motormax
Motormax is a budget brand I'm not all that familar with as some of it's models look pretty crude to my eyes if I'm being honest. They do have an interesting range of cars in their range however and in 2006 introduced models of the Chrysler ME4 concept car, a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429, a 1955 Chrysler 300C (plus the modern 300C for good measure!), a Porsche Carrera GT, a Lamborghini Diablo GT and several US police cars.


Norev
Norev are a French company which until they branched into 1:18th scale models in 2005 (with great models of the Citroen DS and SM) had only made models in other scales such as 1:43. I’m personally delighted with their new range of offerings in 1:18th as they have introduced a series of interesting classic French cars many of which have not been released before in this scale or have been done badly in the past. New models for 2006 include a series of Citroen 2CV vans, the latest Citroen C6, a Citroen Mehari, Peugeot 504 coupes and cabriolets, Renault Florides, Caravelles and Dauphines and a number of Simcas. Norev also released two classic motorcycles, the 1959 Triumph Bonneville and the 1976 Yamaha XT500. Newer models included “tuner” versions of the Peugeot 206, Citroen Pleuriel and the new VW Golf GTi (which was also released as a non-tuner, “standard” model). Norev also do a slightly higher priced (and therefore costlier) range of models of several modern Audis and the latest Porsche 911 (997), including the latest 911 Turbo. A model of the new Porsche RS Spyder which competes in the LMP2 category in Le Mans series races was also introduced, but it is not one of their better efforts as it totally lacks engine detail (sadly becoming a common trait amongst manufacturers of 1:18th racing models).


Precision Miniatures (PM)
PM added a 1938 Cadillac hearse to its range of professional car models (ambulances and hearses) which in 1:18th is a large model indeed. I haven’t seen many details about the 1938 model to date but I assume like the previously released 1959 Cadillac professional cars by PM that it lacks engine detail but has great interior detail. Obviously I may be wrong about it but I’m certainly keen to find out more about it (as it is a great looking model). Collecting hearses is not to everyone’s taste of course, so in addition to their funeral cars, PM also make an interesting range of dragsters. New for 2006 is a super looking “funny car” dragster based on a pre-WWII Fiat Topolino (which I believe was the Italian name for Mickey Mouse). Definitely one I’m going to try and get in 2007!
A new range of 1950 Ford Custom saloons (or sedans!) was also launched by PM with a great looking LAPD “black and white” version and a yellow taxi to compliment it (as well as of course private car versions of the model).


Revell
Revell (the German branch of the company which I believe is now a separate entity from its American parent company) continue to make a varied range mostly consisting of classic European cars (with a few moderns thrown in for good measure). In 2006 they introduced models of the MGA, the W123 generation of Mercedes-Benz E-Class in 230E and 240D forms, a German Ford Taunus, a Triumph TR4 in street and rally versions, Volvo P121 Amazons (in street and police car versions) and a P1800 coupe (similar to the one driven by Roger Moore in the original Saint TV series), a Fiat 600D, its Spanish license built counterpart, the Seat 600D and the competition version, the Abarth 1000TC. A large Opel Kapitan from 1961 in street and police car versions was also brought out as were police and fire chief versions of their Mercedes-Benz 180.
Models of a low volume German specialist sports car the Wiesmann in roadster and coupe forms was also launched by Revell. These dramatic looking cars are built around BMW engines and have dramatic styling somewhat reminiscent of a classic Jaguar. Definitely one of the more interesting “modern” cars modelled in 1:18th this year.
A model of the VW Corrado is also due to be released by Revell before the end of 2006.


Ricko
Ricko released few all new models in 2006 but the ones it did produce were quite good. They introduced a nice Porsche 356B from 1960 and a German Ford Thunderbird look-a-like, the Auto Union 1000SP.


Schuco
Schuco until they released their diecast 1:18th of the 1950s Porsche Diesel Junior tractor only made tinplate models in 1:18th (or in similar scales). Since the Porsche tractor, they have continued to add more 1:18th diecast models of both tractors and now trucks. In 2006 they introduced a number of models of the original Mercedes-Benz Unimog multipurpose truck. They also put on sale a superb model of the Mercedes-Benz L322 truck in both commercial and fire engine forms, which is a large and highly impressive model in 1:18th scale. The fire engine version has a large extending ladder on its rear and I think has to be one of the most visually impressive models of the year.
New tractors introduced by Schuco this year include a Ferguson TE20 “little grey Fergie”, and other tractors by Lanz, Fendt and Deutz, some of which make for very distinctive looking models indeed.


Shelby Collectables (SC)
SC is a new player in the diecast market, and is possibly unique in being a model car company set up by a real car company with the intention of developing and marketing models of its 1:1 products. Most manufacturers tend to contract out the development and manufacture of their models, but not Shelby. One of the most requested models in 1:18th in recent years was the Shelby Mustang “Eleanor” from the remake of “Gone in 60 Seconds” and SC finally made a lot of collectors very happy by releasing one. From the photographs of it that I’ve seen it looks to be one of their better efforts. The same can’t be said of their other big release for 2006, the new Shelby Mustang GT500. Compared to the nicely done model of the same car by AUTOart, the SC version appears like it is ready to go off roading (so high up is it on it’s tires and suspension!) and the wheel rims and lights look crude and plasticky. Not a model I’m planning to get!


Signature
Signature continues to make fine looking models of pre-WWII cars and 2006 was no exception. A convertible version of their 1938 Mercedes-Benz 770K (as favoured by none other than Adolf Hitler) was put on sale and is an impressive looking model of an evil man’s car! The model comes with small red flags on its front wings, but on the real thing these small red flags also had a white circle on them containing the swastika symbol of Nazi Germany. Not a warm and cuddly sort of car then!
Additionally they released a model of the 1933 Pierce Arrow Silver Arrow and a 1938 Buick Century convertible.


Solido
Until just a few years ago, I generally considered Solidos to be total rubbish (if I’m being honest, and I am!). They were crudely detailed and were often not true 1:18th models, being scaled to whatever size fitted the standard Solido box at the time.
In the past few years, Solido ceased producing models in their native France and moved production to China like almost all of their competitors. Thanks to lower production costs, they now seem to be producing fine 1:18th models at a reasonable cost and are now one of my favourite budget brand of models.
Models released in 1:18th by Solido in 2006 include the original Renault 5, a Peugeot 205 GTi T16 Group B rally car, an Alpine Renault A110 from 1973, several variants of the Citroen Traction Avant, a Renault 12 Gordini in road and rally versions, and a Panhard PL17 coupe and convertible.


Spark
Spark, well known for 1:43rd models launched their first 1:18th model in 2006. A new range of diecast 1:18th Audi R8s was the basis of their first 1:18th range. The R8s released so far are the 2004 and 2005 Le Mans winning cars and a Playstation sponsored R8 from the 2005 Le Mans 24hrs. Externally they look good but unfortunately are sealed models. Hence no engine detail! Considering they are not that cheap and that Maisto were able to make a range of similar Audi R8s a few years back with a removable engine cover, and an engine (for a lot less money too!), they do not seem to represent good value to say the least! Hopefully future 1:18ths from Spark will have more detail for the asking price.


Sunstar
Sunstar make a wide variety of models in 1:18th (at a budget price too) including limousines, classic American cars, modern sportscars, 1:24th scale London buses and so on. New models for 2006 included a TVR Tuscan Mk 2, a 1963 Ford Falcon, a 1947 Bedford bus (in 1:24th), and several Ford Escort MkIIs (which in rally form have found a huge market amongst collectors in Dublin where I’m from as throughout the 70s and 80s the rally scene in Ireland was dominated for the most part by MkII Escorts).
They have also brought out a model of the 1968 Mercedes “/8” saloon, which is the same car modelled by AUTOart but at a higher price. The AUTOart version is apparently better, but the Sunstar version is a good model for its budget price and makes a good cheaper option to the more costly AUTOart model.


Universal Hobbies/UH

UH does not seem to have had an active 2006 and from what I can see have only released further versions of existing models such as their Land Rover Defender range of 1:18ths.


Welly

Welly in all honesty would not be my favourite brand as most of the models they do tend to be available from other manufacturers with more detail (at an admittedly higher price of course as Welly is a budget brand) and they can be crude in their detailing. However they do have an interesting range of affordable models, especially for anyone starting out in the hobby, which is no bad thing. In 2006 they released models of the latest Mercedes-Benz SLK, the original 1964 ½ Ford Mustang coupe, a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro and a 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. They also released a nice model of the 1982 Chevrolet Corvette (in a variety of colours) which has been quite a hit amongst Corvette collectors (especially as it is a lot cheaper than the equivalent model by AUTOart).
Additional models released in 2006 by Welly included the Volvo XC90, Audi A4 cabriolet, Mercedes-Benz SL500, 2005 Lincoln Navigator and a 1950s Ford Crestliner


Yat Ming (YM)

YM tends to make a mixed bag of models in terms of quality, some being the equal of a good Minichamps or AUTOart (and being priced accordingly) as well as cheaper more budget orientated models which can be hit and miss in terms of quality. In 2006 they released a fine model of the 1961 Chrysler Imperial convertible (as part of their Signature series; what the higher priced models they make are known as). Lower priced models they released included a nice looking Oldsmobile Toronado from 1966 and a 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato. Both were good models for their asking price, and if you have any modelling skills would be relatively easy to add extra detail to.
In addition to the above models, Yat Ming introduced their own version of the Corvette C2 Grand Sports (at a considerably cheaper price point than the Exoto versions!), a 2006 Pontiac Solstice, a 1964 Ford Falcon and a 1961 DeSoto."

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#2 Guest_Sir Gary_*

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 07:05 PM

Ronan ,

considering your family commitments right now Im suprised you had the time (and the effort :giggle) to write such a detailed article .

That is a terrific review , you should be proud of yourself . Well done  :10

(Im pleased you didnt hand write it though , as with you being a Doc I probably would never have been able to read it :lol)

#3 Guest_Mr McKane_*

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 07:10 PM

WOW, what a read.  :10

All that happened this year? Blimey.

#4 OFFLINE   Ducati-900SS

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 08:37 PM

Great write up!  Way to wrap up the year and you put it all together in one tidy package!

Great job!!!

Sean


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#5 OFFLINE   guitardave_1

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 03:26 AM

Great work Ronan. That certainly must have taken you a while to put together. It's all too easy to forget how may releases were all within this year.

I suspect it was released too late for you to include, but one tiny addition would be the DBR9 to Solido's range. Not to pick holes in what was a fantastic read, but it could be one of their best and most important models to date.
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#6 OFFLINE   mbc112

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 04:44 AM

Thank you Ronan for this great 2006 overview !!  :10  :10  :10
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#7 OFFLINE   JSB 33

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 05:23 AM

Thanks so much for taking the time, Ronan!
I really enjoyed that read :10
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Posted ImageE Rod_017, on 23 July 2012 - 11:34 AM, said:

Reason why 1:43 scale cars aren't that popular because most people including me(sorry it I offend) consider them toys and not Collectable model cars. .

Should you collect 1:43?

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In my opinion, no if you can afford 1:18 models. First of all, most people will think of them as toys, while 1:18 models can look as something classy if you have a few.



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#8 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 01:09 PM

Sir Gary, on Nov 16 2006, 01:05 AM, said:

Ronan ,

considering your family commitments right now Im suprised you had the time (and the effort :giggle) to write such a detailed article .

That is a terrific review , you should be proud of yourself . Well done  :10

(Im pleased you didnt hand write it though , as with you being a Doc I probably would never have been able to read it :lol)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Thanks Gary! Glad you enjoyed the read!

I wish I had a euro/pound/dollar for every time I heard that old chestnut about doctor's writing, I'd have quite a stack of cash if I did! Unfortunately it's true though, my handwriting starts out badly in the morning and by evening it looks like a spider with ink on it's legs walked across the paper! :giggle  :cheers

#9 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 01:10 PM

Mr McKane, on Nov 16 2006, 01:10 AM, said:

WOW, what a read.  :10

All that happened this year? Blimey.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Glad you enjoyed it! 2006 was indeed a busy year for new 1:18ths. I personally don't know how I'm going to sneak all the new models I want from this year into the house past my wife!!! :dizzy  :lol

#10 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 01:11 PM

Ducati-900SS, on Nov 16 2006, 02:37 AM, said:

Great write up!  Way to wrap up the year and you put it all together in one tidy package!

Great job!!!

Sean

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Thanks Sean! Glad you enjoyed it! :cheers

#11 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 01:13 PM

guitardave_1, on Nov 16 2006, 09:26 AM, said:

Great work Ronan. That certainly must have taken you a while to put together. It's all too easy to forget how may releases were all within this year.

I suspect it was released too late for you to include, but one tiny addition would be the DBR9 to Solido's range. Not to pick holes in what was a fantastic read, but it could be one of their best and most important models to date.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Thanks Dave! It can be a big project to figure out all the new releases in a given year.

You are correct about the Solido DBR9 in that I think it has just been released and so I think therefore it should be considered as a 2007 release (in terms of the Diecastxchage cars of the year competition). Hence I did not include it this year, but I suspect it will prove to be a big player in next years car of the year competition and in the review of 2007! :cheers

#12 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 01:14 PM

mbc112, on Nov 16 2006, 10:44 AM, said:

Thank you Ronan for this great 2006 overview !!  :10  :10  :10

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My pleasure Gunther! Glad you enjoyed it! :cheers

#13 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 01:14 PM

Max Power, on Nov 16 2006, 11:23 AM, said:

Thanks so much for taking the time, Ronan!
I really enjoyed that read :10

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No problem Jeff! I enjoyed writing it! :cheers

#14 OFFLINE   jinx

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 01:19 PM

Brilliant review. As a died in the wool 1:43 collector, I did not appreciate the breadth of models available.

Great reading

:cheers


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#15 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 01:25 PM

jinx, on Nov 16 2006, 07:19 PM, said:

Brilliant review. As a died in the wool 1:43 collector, I did not appreciate the breadth of models available.

Great reading

:cheers


Steve

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Thanks Steve! There really is a lot of variety these days in 1:18th (certainly enough to keep the pressure on collectors like myself who have broad tastes!) which is a good thing of course! Nothing like the variety in 1:43rd of course, but not too bad all the same! :cheers

#16 Guest_DiecastX_*

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 09:14 AM

Ronan, Nice job on the recap - very informative read indeed :cheers

#17 OFFLINE   acisne

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 10:32 AM

What a read! :cheers  :cheers  :cheers Thanks Ronan, with all your commitments and your move, I can see how difficult it must had been to compile it.

When you think about it, '06 had a lot going in the diecast world. Lots of highs and lows, but mostly highs in my humble opinion.

Where is it written that the more diecast $$$ equals a better diecast?

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#18 Guest_JayFields_*

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 10:38 AM

One of the very best posts ever on DX! Well done!
:10  :10  :10  :10  :10  :10  :10  :10  :10  :10  (that's supposed to be 100/100)

#19 OFFLINE   Gus W

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 12:17 PM

Very interesting review which was very informative. Many thanks  :10
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#20 OFFLINE   castrol_supra_gt

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 01:10 PM

Thanks for the write up, Ronan. :cheers

I think you summed up the year brilliantly.
Darren

#21 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 01:15 PM

DiecastX, on Nov 17 2006, 03:14 PM, said:

Ronan, Nice job on the recap - very informative read indeed :cheers

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Thanks Darrick! Glad you enjoyed it! :cheers

#22 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 01:16 PM

acisne, on Nov 17 2006, 04:32 PM, said:

What a read! :cheers  :cheers  :cheers Thanks Ronan, with all your commitments and your move, I can see how difficult it must had been to compile it.

When you think about it, '06 had a lot going in the diecast world. Lots of highs and lows, but mostly highs in my humble opinion.

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Thanks Al! I agree that overall it was a good year for 1:18ths and here's hoping 2007 will be more of the same! :cheers

#23 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 01:16 PM

JayFields, on Nov 17 2006, 04:38 PM, said:

One of the very best posts ever on DX! Well done!
:10  :10  :10  :10  :10  :10  :10  :10  :10  :10  (that's supposed to be 100/100)

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:lol Thanks Joao!!! :cheers

#24 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 01:17 PM

Gus W, on Nov 17 2006, 06:17 PM, said:

Very interesting review which was very informative. Many thanks  :10

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My pleasure Gus! :cheers

#25 OFFLINE   Ronan

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 01:18 PM

castrol_supra_gt, on Nov 17 2006, 07:10 PM, said:

Thanks for the write up, Ronan. :cheers

I think you summed up the year brilliantly.

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Thanks Darren! It's hard to think of every single model released this year but I think I got most of the highlights! :cheers




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