Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Desert Island Cars Vol. 6: Niku Driver HC's Top Ten

desert island toys

Hugo aka Niku Driver HC from Portugal

TC Toys 1964 Ford Mustang
TC Toys's 1964 Ford Mustang 
Who are TC Toys? Good question, I have no clear idea about the answer either. My parents tell me that I bought this from some classic car show, which may not be far away from the truth... Be that as it may, this is a very nice blue 'Stang, one which simbolizes the greatest times in its life. Imagine being a young man in the mid 1960's, full of hopes, dreams and enough money to tick all those delicious option boxes for your brand new Mustang (amidst an undoubtely larger-than-life waiting list)... Good days, those.

Yes, it may not be in the best of conditions, with somewhat sticky wheels and dirty bodywork, but I like it that way. That gives the car character, like a worn-down but still eager Mustang. And there is another cool bonus; if you spotted the gimmick in the opening picture or not, I will tell you a little something:
TC Toys 1964 Ford Mustang

It also doubles as a keychain! Now how cool is that?

Bburago's 2012 Alpine A110-50
​Bburago's 2012 Alpine A110-50

Bburago, strict owner of Ferrari licensing for all scale model Ferraris, has not been in the 1/64 business for long, but they have been getting better with time. Yes, their quality is far from golden works such as Minichamps and Siku's finest, but nonetheless, Bburago has a few good-looking gems in this lineup.

Like this A110-50 you see here; the detailing and stance are well-made, especially compared to the similar Norev model. Another point where Italy beats France is paint scheme; the Norev misses a great deal of details that Bburago has nailed down beautifully, such as the stylized A110-50 logo on the roof and even the black portion on the rear wing! Perhaps Norev was having a mauvaise fois (that's bad day in French don't you know), but that does not justify such a botched 1/64 scale model when they offer an amazing 1/18 rendition of the A110-50. So, congratulations to Bburago for making a desirable 1/64 model, perhaps one day there will be more of them...

Siku Citroen Traction Avant
Siku's Citroen Traction Avant (1471 two-tone paint version)
No, there is no need to adjust your computer/tablet/smartphone screen, the "old timey" effect in the picture was more than intentional. After all, a car like this can be a very effective time machine while not getting that much older itself... And the Traction is one of those cars, being the very first front-wheel-drive car in European automotive history.

As for Siku's own model, it was a matter of loving the vintage look; the two-tone paintjob, the very faithful dish rims and those carefully-placed opening suicide doors all come together to make a very desirable classic model for me. It was a bit of an impulse buy, but I am far from regretting it. Granted, it may look better in the black that made it famous, but for me, this Traction is good either way.

Oh, and that text? Well, that is just the naime the Portuguese have affectionately christened the Traction with. Like many Portuguese car nicknames, there is no clear translation for it in English, but let's just say we call it that because of its... nose-heavy personality. (laughs)

Hot Wheels '71 Datsun 510 Wagon
Hot Wheels's '71 Datsun 510 Wagon (2015 HW Showroom - NightBurnerz version)
Move over, Family Truckster, this is the real badass wagon...

...ok ok, put the pitchforks and torches down, I was just kidding. What do I know, I am just a foolish young Portuguese man who has not yet understood the legend behind "National Lampoon's Vacation". But do not worry, I do understand that the Truckster is a proper family hauler than can beat anything you throw at it. Much like this 510, in fact; perhaps yellow is not the best color to go with red and white striping, but this was the wagon I could find at the time, and I do not despite it regardless of color. The 510 is one of those HW castings that was a labor of love by a very proud Japanese designer, and I greatly admire that love that has been put into it. There is one thing that would make it 120% glorious, however, a Brock Racing Enterprises paint scheme. Can you imagine!? A 510 decked in the same color as Pete Brock's legendary Fairlady convertible... That, my friends, is a gold mine waiting to be discovered.

Majorette 2004 Peugeot 307 WRC
Majorette's 2004 Peugeot 307 WRC ("Branching fork rims" version)
If the opening picture was not telling, I am a huge Peugeot supporter. Yes, the brand has gone through rough times, times when their cars were amongst the worst in Europe, but under the tutelage of new CEO Carlos Tavares, the brand is quickly regaining its status. My family life has been involved with Peugeots time and time again, with my father owning three different models (206, 307 and 307 SW) and my mother being a brief owner of a 106. It wasn't thanks to cars like the 307 WRC that the brand reached greatness, however; that was a pretty shoddy racing effort, recognized as a "whale" and that is only known for the tragic accident that claimed co-navigator Michael Park's life in 2004.

Wow, that is a sad story behind a car, isn't it? Either way, this Majorette casting is a nice product from close neighbour country France (talk about a sequence, a French car made by a French company, bought by a young Portuguese man). The Total paintjob is pretty cool, despite being forced to have painted tail and headlights. The rims are not half bad either, either if they are far from being accurate. All in all, it's a cool WRC car, even if it was a far cry away from the 206 WRC's career...

Greenlight Hollywood's 1970 Ford Bronco Bronco Buster
Greenlight Hollywood's 1970 Ford Bronco "Bronco Buster" (Smokey and the Bandit 4-car set version)
YEHAWWW! Buckle up on the Bronco Buster's saddle boy, we got a moonshinin' convoy to catch! D'ese cops ain't got nothin' on the Bronco!

Ahem, apologies for that, my inner redneck kicked in for a second. But who wouldn't want to feel like a redneck if you could drive a Bronco like the Bronco Buster, tearing through police roadblocks and being Burt Reynold's sidekick? I sure felt like it, especially after purchasing the Greenlight 4-car set featuring cars from both Smokey and the Bandit and its sequel, my first (and so far only) Greenlight purchase. Happening just a few days after my birthday only made this purchase even sweeter, despite the painstaking process of choosing between bringing four separate Greenlight or M2 models, or bringing an entire 4-car set home. The prospect of better future value as a whole ended up swaying the scales in Smokey's favor, alongside the two Pontiac Trans Ams... Can you blame me for adoring American muscle this much?

Norev Peugeot 908 HDI FAP
Norev's Peugeot 908 HDI FAP (Number 9 factory car version)

Please do not look at me like that, I am trying to memorize the car's name. Did you know that there were other cars from Peugeot which were named 908, like the 908 RC? Therefore, it is possible to get those two mixed up, so I have to remember this properly without looking like an idiot in from of others.

But that poor joke aside, Norev do make a lot of Peugeot scale models, which should not come as a surprise given that the brand is Peugeot's close partner when it comes to scale model merchandise. And what better car to promote than the LMP diesel-fueled beast known as the 908 HDI FAP? There is not much I can complain about in this casting; the livery is flawless, and all parts are faithfully recreated. It is a pain trying to clean the car from any dust it may gather, due to its many openings and holes, so beware of that... I will say this, though; that rear wing is very tough. Even despite my haphazard way of storing cars, it has not been broken or severed from its supports at any time in its life. Too bad that makes it more tenacious than Peugeot's entire Le Mans effort...

Greenlight Hollywood's 1980 Pontiac Firebird T/A
Greenlight Hollywood's 1980 Pontiac Firebird T/A (Smokey and the Bandit 4-car set version)
Now y'all can't have Smokey without a Bandit to oppose it, now can ya?

Argh, there goes my inner redneck again, sorry for that once more. 'Tis is my favorite Bandit to take to an deserted island, for two reasons; its movie status and the fact that my other Greenlight Bandit Pontiac has a strangely set front suspension setting that makes it look like it's leaning on one side of the car. And since the latter would drive me insane with thinking in a deserted island, I choose this Trans Am instead for my list. Even despite being a more castrated muscle car than its predecessor, this bird still oozes style; from the golden striping to the T-Top, as well as that godly Flaming Chicken, this Bandit is a well-dressed wheelin', moonshine stealin' Pontiac. Which is far more fitting than the disastrous television movie Bandit...

I mean seriously, who choose the Dodge Stealth for that!? Sure, it may be more powerful than this Trans Am, but it's also heavier than a Ford Bronco! And what kind of American bandit parades himself around in a Japanese car? That's no Dodge, it's nothing more than just a rebadged Mistubishi 3000GT! If I wanted a proper Japanese bandit, I'd go for a Lancer Evolution; now that is a proper choice to lose them Smokeys on dirt roads...

Norev 1/64 2015 Peugeot Vision Gran Turismo
Norev's 2015 Peugeot Vision Gran Turismo (two-tone white/red version)

Ah yes, the Vision Gran Turismo project... It is a controversial venture indeed, as many fans from the Gran Turismo franchise deem this as nothing more than a meaningless marketing ego-stroking project that has retarded the development of the videogame series itself, while others claim that there is no place for "fake futuristic cars" in a videogame which prides itself on being realistic. I beg to differ, but that is a discussion for another time and place; all I will say is that the VGT project has breathed some new life into designing modern concept cars, from mild ventures such as the Peugeot all the way to mental Blade Runner beasts like GM Design's Chaparral 2X.

But since no scale model company has yet to create a 1/64 2X, this is the next best thing. Already with a 1/43 Alpine VGT model in my posession, and with other VGT scale models either being too expensive (Modeler's) or difficult to find without hitting online auction websites (Tomica Limited Vintage's Nissan 2020), I thought I had all the best possible VGTs in my area. But one fated day, fellow collector and Philippine's own RC-Kakashi-14 promptly proved me wrong, by showing me a picture of an 1/64 Peugeot VGT model. After putting my jaw back into place, I immediately started planning for getting my hands on one before they disappeared from the face of Portugal. And fortunately, I managed to avoid that bad ending, but not without some fight from fate; with a father having a day off from work, we started by going to a dealership in the Rio Tinto area. However, the only scale model Peugeots there were 1/43-sized, which was far from desirable. With time quickly running out but armed with better preparation, I took my smartphone and called up a nearby dealership in the same area. As luck would have it, there were not one, but two VGTs awaiting me at my arrival, just before the doors were shut down for the day. With some persuading, I got my hands on the car you see above, and my hunt for a futuristic lion ended on a happy note.

As for the car itself, it's difficult to review; many paint details are missing, namely the French flags embeed into the car's rear panels, but there is no other comparable scale model for me to truly criticize it. And at the ridiculous price many people around Europe are demanding for their cars (as much as $11), when I payed roughly $4, I could easily sell the car now and make a cool profit. But that would betray all the work done by both me and Kakashi, now wouldn't it? Besides, this one is a keeper, not a seller...

Siku 2013 Alfa Romeo 4C

Siku's 2013 Alfa Romeo 4C
My pride and joy, my most beloved posession... There are many expressions which I can use to describe this car, but they are all sheer praise. Along with being my favorite 1/64 model, the 4C is one of my favorite modern sports car designs; many claim that it is a mess of lines and holes, others say that it is too uncompromising. But for me, this was never meant to be a work of perfection, this was just meant to be the Alfa that retrieved Arese's sporty roots and did something about their faded look. And boy did it ever... It may be no Miata, but the 4C is a car that will catch many looks and attentions, all while being a dream drive when the roads are laid forth in a mountain landscape.

When I discovered that both Siku and Matchbox had made 1/64 4C models, the chase was on. With no local supermarkets or toy stores having MBX's own model in their stocks, Siku became my main target to reach my personal El Dorado, and eventually a local toy store owner told me that he could keep a 4C aside for me when it arrived at his store. But as time passed, it seemed that my dream would never arrive at its destination, and I was just about ready to give it all up. But then, in a fated day in January 2016, in my bathroom (of all places), a call hit my phone. The store owner had done it; new Siku stock had come in, and lo and behold, so did the 4C. In the very same day, I quickly made my way to my hometown of Valongo, to retrive my eagerly-awaited prize. There's hardly anything I can fault on the 4C that is not related to its real-life design; the shoddy headlights were eventually fixed in the production U.S. and Spyder models, but not here, and Siku's own rim style brings the overall quality down by being bland-looking. But you see, the rims are the least of my concerns. Are you curious why that is? Well, in my rushed impatience, I asked a relative for something to quench my 4C "thirst". That red beneath Siku's car is not just any red;

It is my other pride and joy; my BBR Top Marques Alfa Romeo 4C. I do not need to complain about wheels, especially when you have black-coated teledial-style rims at your beck and call. But since BBR's model is a diamond that needs proper caring, the Siku is a more down-to-Earth 4C that I can appreciate. All day, every day...

So, this is my collection. Thanks for watching!

Minicar Pics 1/64:  The last shot with the 1/18 is very cool.  Well done, Kinnikuman!  We've seen few "Desert Island" lists so far, and just when we think these lists couldn't be more unique, we encounter a new list with......  more different types of cars!  Thanks Hugo!



  1. Great stuff Hugo, awesome read mate. :)

    1. Moderator: Comment has been edited to remove thirty-eight f-bombs. j/k


    2. Only 38? Lucky you and Hugo caught me in a good mood. xD

    3. Correction: It was two hundred thirty eight. Almost a record. Almost.


  2. What can I say? I just love my 1/18 way too much to not pair it with my favorite 1/64 model... Being a car-loving Kinnikuman has that sort of effect on you. (laughs) Also, no love shown for that Bronco picture? I kinda like it more than the Alfa, just because it looks like something you'd see in movie...

    But hopefully my list provides an entertaining read, if nothing else. I am far from being a collector of ultra-rare releases, as most of what I bought as a child was bought at absolute random (like a child would, haha). The day I buy a Tomica Limited Vintage, whatever model shall it be, it will jump into this list without second guessing! Same goes for any Oversteer Mazda that I might get my hands on...

    1. Bronco is excellent. For me though, Bronco is the king of all retreads. If I was to nominate a casting done to death, it just may be the GL Bronco. lol It's okay, we are diverse group of collectors, and that's excellent. Without diversity, these desert island lists would be pretty boring. :D

      P.S. I hope you get to check out TLVs or Oversteer castings soon. Expensive, but definitely worth the price of admission!

    2. I do suppose that the Bronco is no Dodge Ramcharger, but it comes pretty close to its levels, wouldn't you say? ;) Still, it shows that Greenlight knows their SUVs/4x4s, and they know them well... It's a great casting for sure. And I agree, variety is the spice of life, and it's good that all these Desert Island lists are so varied in character! :D

      I do hope that one day I can get my hands on at least one TLV and one Oversteer model. The only things stopping me from doing so right now are as followed; money (this sort of Nihonjin quality comes at a cost, granted, but still), learning how to purchase things online ('cause I have never done it so far in my life) and having to pick one casting from a wide variety of amazing ones, haha!

    3. Buying toy cars online is the easiest thing, Hugo. In fact, it's much too easy. Internet can be a bad influence & also a enabler. Just ask Jarrod's wallet; it will tell you that it still has nightmares about a6m5 & amiami to this day. lmao

      P.S. If you like GL Broncos, you may enjoy checking out these exclusive releases:

    4. Haha, I couldn't put that better myself, Shinji-san. It's easy to do, but also easy to mess up. Internet buying is not something you can do half-heartedly, because one false step could be far too costly... I want to do it, mainly because there are many Japanese goods that I want with all my heart, but all that comes at a price. A price that I need to get to grips with...

      Thanks for sharing the Bronco link, by the way, much appreciated. Still, I think I prefer my Bronco Buster, haha! But those Baja Broncos are not half bad, mind you...

  3. It is a slippery slope. I haven't gained traction in years! lol

  4. Very nice collection, but i think the Kyosho will be a very replacement for that Siku (Alfa 4C) right?