Hollywood’s Most Famous Hero Cars Revisited in Diecast – 2

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Like the Lazenby DBS, the Dalton Vantage has been largely ignored by diecast manufacturers. This is a shame, as the big Aston’s styling is quite attractive. With or without gadgets, this would be a welcome addition to the diecast world.

The Dalton Era
When Roger Moore finally hung up his tux and Walther PPK, the future of Bond was in question. After an unsuccessful attempt to secure upand- coming TV star Pierce Brosnan, veteran actor Timothy Dalton was cast. But with Ian Fleming’s original writings all but exhausted, no one really knew what to expect for Bond or for how long. Dalton’s debut as a dark and dour Bond in 1987’s “The Living Daylights” came off quite well. Dalton was something of a throwback to a tough-guy Bond, and the car selected was a throwback, too. For the first time in 18 years, Bond was again behind the wheel of an Aston Martin. In this case, it was the muscle-bound Vantage V8. Like Dalton’s Bond, the Vantage was a brute. It weighed more than two tons, but 375 horses kept it out front of the bad guys, and Q’s gadgets cleared any obstacles in its way. Featured in both coupe and convertible forms, it was one of the meanest-looking Bond cars yet. In 1989, Dalton followed with the disappointing “License To Kill,” in which the only automotive action involved some ridiculous Peterbilt tanker trucks.

UT 1:18*
Minichamps 1:43
Kyosho 1:12 and 1:18*
AUTOart 1:18*
Minichamps 1:43
Kyosho 1:12
Joyride Studios (RC2) 1:18
Minichamps 1:43
*Out of production

The Brosnan Era—At Last
As early as 1985, audiences knew that Irishman Pierce Brosnan, the star of the TV series “Remington Steele,” was the logical heir to the Bond mantle. Film producers knew it, too, but the TV studio to which Brosnan was under contract felt differently, so it would be another decade before Brosnan was issued his license to kill in “GoldenEye.” There was much buzz about the new 007 partnership with German (!) carmaker BMW in a highly publicized three-picture deal. The Z3 roadster was chosen, and while it was definitely a looker, its performance didn’t spark any real fireworks on screen. In the 1997 follow-up, “Tomorrow Never Dies,” automotive action heated up, but with a pudgy, uncharismatic protagonist—the 750iL. The 7 series—more limousine than sports car—seemed illcast; it was almost as if another car had been planned but wasn’t ready in time. The wow factor returned in ’99 with the introduction of the Z8 roadster in “The World is Not Enough.” The Z8’s brief appearance (necessarily so because the movie cars were prototypes) was not enough to salvage the movie, and critics started to question whether the Bond series had at last been played out. Reports of Bond’s demise turned out to be greatly exaggerated, however, as the title of Brosnan’s 2001 final fling as the world’s top secret agent emphatically declared. In “Die Another Day,” the only thing dead was BMW’s deal, and Aston—now owned by Ford—was back where it belonged. The coolest Bond car since the original DB5, the gorgeous Vanquish had curves to rival those of the film’s femme fatale, Halle Berry. Gadgets galore and a spectacular chase/battle against a wicked Jaguar XKR convertible sporting a mini gun turret across a frozen lake made for some of the most exciting auto action in any Bond film.

craig bond cars in diecast
Joyride Studios (RC2) 1:18
Corgi 1:36
Minichamps 1:43
Minichamps 1:43

The New Bond
Things came full circle with the 2006 remake of “Casino Royale.” New Bond Daniel Craig brings a welcome ferocity to the role, and the crisp rework of Fleming’s first Bond novel gives him substance to work with. The vehicular lead has substance, too; the super-secret DBS V12 is as seductive as it is mysterious— all the more so because of its minimalist gadgetry. Its screen time is all too brief, but Bond does get to stretch its legs in one scene, and we get a hint of how well it suits the day-to-day requirements of international super-spy transportation. From what we see of it, the new DBS V12 looks capable of heart-stopping action; luckily, it comes with a defibrillator in the glove box! As with virtually all of his equipment, Bond uses the DBS hard, but I hope Q-branch can fix it up so we get to see this exotic Bond beauty again. But whether it’s the DBS or something new, you can bet that the next Bond car will uphold the tradition of the most recognizable movie-car franchise of all time.

From a marketing perspective, we know the “James Bond” name sells, regardless of what the featured car actually is. But the best thing about the new DBS V12 is that its appeal comes not from Q-branch but from Aston Martin’s HQ. In fact, apart from an unusually well-stocked glove box, there is no evidence that the new Bondmobile is anything but a box-stock Aston. That’s OK, though; the DBS brings plenty of tricks on its own. Aston has been remarkably tightlipped about the DBS specs—partly to build anticipation in connection with the film, and partly to avoid damaging the sales of its current flagship, the Vanquish S. The DBS is a grand slam style-wise—or whatever the British equivalent is in cricket. Aston is typically a bit conservative but not so here. Nominally a variant of the slim and sleek DB9, the fenders on the DBS flare extensively, giving it a very “hippy” look (think Ursula Andress in “Dr. No” to the DB9’s Sophie Marceau in “The World Is Not Enough”). RC2 does a fine job of replicating the shape, although the many scoops, lips and character lines cre
ate challenges with panel gaps. The finish is competently done—smooth except for one blemish on the hood—but somehow, the gray does not pop the way paint should on a car of this shape. Blame Aston not RC2, but they should have gone with a more dynamic color. Inside, black plastic simulates black leather. This is standard fare for mid-price models, but racy seats and a chrome shifter handle dress things up a bit. The double-decker glove box with defibrillator, med kit and extra weapons is permanently molded in the partly open position. RC2 sort of had to do this to differentiate Bond’s car from a stock DBS, but honestly, it makes the interior look a bit busy. The 6.0L V-12 looks massive under the hood; even if Q wanted to wedge machine guns or rocket launchers under here there wouldn’t be room, so the estimated 530 horses is all the firepower Bond gets. Detail is right on target though; this is one of the prettiest modern engines, and its chrome intake plenum and aluminum-strut tower braces provide nice contrast to the black molded bits. A scale molded tray hides most of the underside, but parts of the suspension peek out here and there. The wheels and tires are worth a look; the ultra-low-profile tires have a realistic tread and proper width proportions. The split 10-spoke wheels are beautiful—much more attractive than the Vanquish’s. Their open design permits a fair amount of brake detail to be visible as well. With its Joyride Studios division, RC2 has cornered the market on 1:18 diecasts of Bond vehicles. You might say it’s licensed to kill off any competition at that scale—at least, for now. It’s a smart move, and the product the company is cranking out is crafted well enough to satisfy most Bond aficionados. This car does quite well, particularly given its sub-$50 price point, and the built-in collector value of the Bond franchise means you’ll have to act fast if you want Bond’s latest beauty.

Updated: June 30, 2011 — 11:26 AM
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