What do tuner cars, drifting, and animé have in common? Rising popularity among the young male audience, for one. An animé (that’s Japanese animated movies and TV series to the terminally out of touch!) title that plays heavily on this demographic is the “Initial D” series, which focuses on a pair of rival street racing gangs and their automotive rumbles in a number of Japanese-tuner cars. In addition to the episodes (available on DVD from Tokyopop.com), the series has inspired a collectible card game and a line of ZipZap micro RC cars from RadioShack. The next logical step was, of course, to introduce a line of die-cast cars modeled after the principal vehicles in the series-a Toyota Trueno AE86 and a Nissan Skyline GTR R32 (a couple of others are in the works, too). These are cars that players of the Gran Turismo series of video games (not coincidentally the very same young male demographic) will be intimately familiar with, though other Americans may not be, as neither car was sold in the U.S. (although the Trueno is loosely related to the last RWD Toyota Corolla GTS).
Jada Toys has stepped up to the plate and manufactured both cars in 1:24 scale. The white-over-black Trueno comes as a kit and requires minor assembly. It comes with a plastic driver/hero figure from series “Tak” (shouldn’t it be “Tach?”) and his love interest. The sinister black Skyline, driven by the leader of the rival Night Kids gang, looks every inch the bad guy car. Both cars have accurate exteriors, low prices and plenty of back story! The cars and DVDs of the series will be available at Wal-Mart, Kmart and Toys ‘R’ Us.
AUTOart Diecast Lamborghini Miura SV
> Some things just stand the test of time. A good example is the Tangerine dream car you see here: Lamborghini’s Miura SV-a design that’s as fresh as the day it debuted (unlike the art-rock trio of the same name and vintage!). AutoArt’s 1:18-scale beauty faithfully renders the simple, sensuous lines that evoke its era without looking dated, even 40 years after Bertone designers penned them. And the rock band? Well, let’s stick with the Lambo.
AutoArt has a knack for detail that more than justifies the $60 price of most of its 1:18-scale offerings. I was hugely amused to stumble upon the clever spring-loaded catch in the left front fender well that releases the pop-up headlights. The clamshell engine cover opens to reveal a well-detailed, transverse-mounted DOHC 4.0L V12 engine, complete with metal-flake valve covers with “Lamborghini” embossed and painted on them. The air cleaners atop the four triple-throat Weber carb stacks even have little Fram Filter logos! The tubes of the box-frame chassis are easily visible, as are the detailed suspension pieces (though the springs are not functional).
Inside, the multicolored steering wheel has metal spokes along with the signature charging bull emblem. The floorboards are covered in rich, gray carpeting that is soft to the touch, and the trim pieces are covered in appropriate amounts of chrome. I dare not wedge my finger in to check, but like the wheel spokes, the shifter gate appears to be metal-not just painted on. The hard plastic seat and pedals could use a touch more detail, but aside from that, the interior is excellent.
AutoArt’s strikes an admirable balance between price and quality in the 1:18 segment. The sticker on the Miura SV is only $30 or so above entry level, but its detail and execution make it good enough to display it right alongside premium models that can cost twice as much.
THIS JUST IN!
GMP opens Tom’s Garagea members-only club for serious die-cast collectors. Members will enjoy access to special editions of GMP products, first dibs on all new releases, sneak peeks at upcoming products and the chance to talk shop with GMP designers and planners. This is unique access. To check out how to get your key to Tom’s Garage, head over to GMPdiecast.com!