Planet Xdroop

December 05, 2016

Diecast Collection Blog

Green Blob

Well since we're getting all BMW here -- this is, what, the fifth BMW post in a row? -- we might as well look at this one. It is the BMW 2002 from the 2016 BMW Anniversary series.

For some reason I'm always disappointed by this casting. The iconic headlights always get buried in the paint on the nose and it just ends up looking... meh. The rest of the car looks ok in the green and yellow, which is a color combination that I wouldn't have thought would work.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 05, 2016 08:00 AM

December 02, 2016

Diecast Collection Blog

Is 2009 "Retro" Already?

So today we have the "Retro Entertainment 2016 - Grand Turismo" series car, the 2009 Nissan GT-R. I'm not sure what is "retro" about that statement, 2009 wasn't that long ago, and while Grand Turismo has gone through a few iterations, there can't have been too many of them including the '09 GT-R. I guess this is Internet retro, where anything that's scrolled off the front page of your favorite aggregator is ancient history. Kids these days have the collective memories of a squirrel.

But here we are. Generally this casting isn't highly thought of in the collector circles, there being far superior offerings from other die-cast makers, especially those in Japan. Still, this captures the essence of the car, and in a mainline would be well-enough designed for good play value. The problem is that without the premium paint and the detailed tampo work, this car is a pretty bland offering, so while the car would run the track well and survive play in good shape, it probably wouldn't be attractive to anyone to pick up and play with.
Still, the detail is nice to look at. I like the silver-rimed wheels and the paintwork along the lower running boards, and the "boy racer" decals that cover the car from front to back.

Mine has a detail in the rear window that I can't explain. It almost looks like it is intentional, with the hints of a crossing-swoop in the fuzz, but the rest of the block makes it look like a manufacturing flaw.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 06:58 PM

Curling Season Starts With Two Wins

So it's that time of year again when we haul out the brooms and sliders and make our way back to the rink. Today's excursion yielded a win, despite my best efforts at mediocre play, but more relevantly it provided an excuse to stop at the Toys 'R Us at St Laurent mall. The store had an odd assortment of cars, ranging from peg warmers that were old the last time I was out here in early summer to the latest cars from the latest case -- for example, the Porsche below is I'm pretty sure from the fresh batch.

So here's what I came away with:

Finding the Retro Entertainment cars are very hit-or-miss here in Ottawa. We do clearly get some cases, but the desirable cars fly off the shelves while the pegwarmers stick around for ever. Personally the only one from this mix/series I was looking for was the Skyline GT-R, but when I saw this one on the pegs I had to consider it on the grounds that I'd probably never see it again if I passed it up.

Similarly the Car Culture Trucks series I've seen three of the five castings so far at the two Walmarts that I stalk, but neither the one I'd definitely buy (the Subaru Brat) nor the one I might consider (the Volkswagen).

Even when holding it I wasn't sure about the yellow Lambourghini, but the aero bits and shark fin sold it for me. I got the second Lamborghini so that the first one wouldn't feel lonely. And the bright red Porsche was a no-brainer.

Of course they all got opened:

The Lamborghini Veneo is a Retro Entertainment car in the nice (immediately discarded) packaging. It has a bright paint color, a metal base, and Real Rider wheels. Normally I don't like Lamborghinis, I think they are trying too hard to be "that wild and crazy car company" putting out ever more elaborate aero packages and powerful motors and trick all-wheel-drive systems. But all together this car works for me, the yellow takes the edge off of the angular harsh craziness. Real Rider tires almost always add to rather than subtract from a premium car, and the gold chrome on the weels just set everything off perfectly. And because it is a premium car, it feels great in the hand.

It has actually been promoted to the over-the-desk shelf.

#2 for today's haul is the red Porsche 911 GT3 RS. This is a re-casting of the other 911 GT3 RS that we looked at in comparison with the Majorette offering. This casting is better than the older one, even the over-the-top wing is rendered better here than it was on the older car. In a premium model this casting will kick some serious ass. Even so as a mainliner, it sits extremely well when compared to the previous generation.

Finally, the pity-Lamborghini, which comes with the ridiculous name of "Lamborghini Hurican LP 620-2 Super Trofeo". Just add a "WTFBBQ Turbo" on the back of this and the name would be complete. This car embodies everything I don't like about the marque. Excessive aero, monster wings, fenders and vents and scoops, presumtuously-self-important name, and all that. Even though it manages to look a bit plain -- especially from the engine cover back -- when compared to the Veneo above, it still manages to project that "brutalist" styling cue that I dislike. So while I am surprised that I like the Veneo, I am not surprised that I don't like this one.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 06:58 PM

Yeah, I'm Weak

Yeah, Toys'R'Us Kanata had it, and when I held it, I knew I was going to buy it.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 09:11 AM

Hot Hot Bird

So, speaking of the Hot Bird... let's look at a couple which I pulled off of my wall. From left to right, you're looking at a 2006 Cool Classics Series 2 in Spectraflame Green....

mmmm.... gorgeous Spectraflame.

Sorry, got distracted. The middle car is from 1977 or 1982 and is a mainline -- there isn't anything I can see which can tell us whether it is from '77 or from '82, the cars appear to be identical in the research I've done. This car is one from my original collection as a kid, which it might actually date back to 1977.

The third car is from the 2008 Since '68 series and is in Metalflake blue.

But seriously, Spectraflame. Oh my god.

Spectraflame is a wonderful, wonderful finish and I appreciate Mattel using it sparingly because while we all know I'd buy a brick if it was painted Spectraflame, using it all the time would make the other finishes look shabby by comparison. Keeping it for occasional, premium line use is just good marketing. The tampos are restrained, with marque-appropriate labels and the mandatory flaming chicken.

I'm just going to leave this here because I can't get enough of it. Seriously, this article is taking forever to write because the car is on my desk and I can't stop looking at it, even under the crappy room light.

Aaaaaaanyways... the Since '68 car is a little less special, but still a fine looking car. I'm not sure about the gray over the front wheels, that's an odd choice. But it is still a nice addition to the collection, flaming chicken and all. Nice painted rear end, with the Trans Am stenciling on the back spoiler.

And finally, the original, where it all began. As you can see, this is an experienced toy.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 09:10 AM


So since we've looked at the 1M, I think we should take a moment to look at the first M car, the BMW M1.

The M1 was built as a result of a collaboration between Lamborghini and BMW, although the partnership fell apart and BMW went on to produce the cars on their own. Produced in the heady days of homologation, this was a thinly-veiled race car that was sold to the public in sufficient numbers to make the car available for sportscar racing.

The Hot Wheels casting here is from the 2016 BMW series. The casting itself has been released in the past under the name Wind Splitter, presumably due to licensing reasons.

The toy here looks pretty simple, being without the mandatory fins, wings, splitters, and vents that modern supercars seem to have to have. But since this is from the dawn of the "supercar" era, when this car was released all that nonsense was in the future. This model is pretty true to the real car it is drawn from.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 09:08 AM


Well, I was rewarded for my persistence today, I was back in the Centrum Plaza at lunch time looking for cat food -- we've run out of the food Ceili likes, and I can't find it anywhere, so we're trying something else new -- and decided that instead of a "nice" lunch, I'd take a quick lunch at Pizza Pizza and then check out Wal-Mart on the off chance that the Trucks had been refreshed. And lucky me, they had. I got the one I wanted.

Overall this silver/zamac coloring isn't one of my favorites, the Cool Classics Brat has a nicer finish. But this one has nice Real Rider tires and painted tail lights, so overall I'd say they were a wash when compared to each other.

Really happy with this one. I'm not sure I'll buy the Datsun 620 truck if I ever see it, I'll have to decide once I actually have the blister in-hand. The other three trucks from this series don't interest me personally either.

Wal-Mart had obviously topped up the mainline pegs with a new case, there were a bunch of the Lamborghinis that I didn't like last time there as well as some of the other newer castings I saw on Saturday at Toys'R'Us. Most of the deeper peg cars were still the same old ones I've been staring at for a month, though.

So: bring on the Track Day cars!

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 09:08 AM

Brat Hummin' & Hawin'

So the longer I have this thing, the less I like it.

I'm referring to the Car Cultures Trucks series member Subaru Brat. As you can see above, it has been on my desk at the office since I got it, so I see, and handle, it almost every day.

One thing I didn't notice immediately was that the base was a black plastic, not metal like the Cool Classics Brat is. The other thing is that the zamac finish really doesn't look good -- there are lots of flaws and inconsistancies that make the car look a bit weathered and worn. Which is fine if that's what you are going for, but I'm not.

The wheels, base, finish and color are all better on the Cool Classics car.

I am disappointed.

UPDATE: Reddit informs me, and I have verified for myself, that this is in fact a metal base that has been painted carefully to look like plastic. I suppose that's... better? Still not great. It doesn't explain why the Trucks casting is so much lighter than the Cool Classics casting is.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 09:04 AM

Track Day Comes Early

This is the first of the Track Day cars I've been able to find. This is a Porsche 964. Track Day is the latest in the Car Classics premium series. Mattel keeps pumping out the hits, small series of cars that are well made and focused so that they have maximum collector appeal. I think the fact that these series are all licensed models, not fantasy models, also leads to their success.

Anyways, this seems to be a first edition of this casting. It is a neat little car, and it is reasonably well executed with lots of details. I'm not a huge fan of the orange/brown wheels, and I also think the red bumpers make the car look a little patched together, as if someone had put red rubber around the front and back of the car. Also the choice of the silver paint can also suggest that the car has had a bit of a wearing life. Which might be the look that they were going for. It is probably exactly the sort of car you'd see at a track day. owned by someone rich enough to buy the porsche and keep it running as a track day car but not enough money to keep it perfect. 

From a car enthusiast point of view, this is exactly the type of car I like to see in real life -- a car that isn't a garage queen, one which is kept up and run regularly in an environment where it was built to run. From a diecast collector's standpoint, however, I'd prefer to see maybe better paint, nicer wheels, and body-color coordinated bumpers. So yeah, it isn't a favorite.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 09:03 AM

Track Day Part 2: Hauling Ass

If you are going to haul ass, you might as well have an ass worth hauling.

This is the Track Day series '78 Porsche 935. I bought it because it intrigues me, and I already had the Porsche series example of this car (which has the casting name of Porsche 935-78), but this particular one turned into an unexpected delight.

This car looks like a race car, and that's because it in fact actually is a race car, not just a car that was designed for racing, re-designed for the street, and then retro-modded back into a track car. It has serious aero in the form of the deep nose, long fender flairs feeding back smoothing into a long rear, which itself houses a gigantic diffuser.

But what makes this car a delight is the paint. I love the "Metallic Red" as its called, and the detail work with the white and blue down the sides is perfect, neither too much nor too little.

In a perfect world I probably wouldn't do gold lace wheels on this car, but even so they don't detract from the car's look.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 09:03 AM

Track Day Part 3: Peer Pressure

So for all the Car Culture series, I have not been a completionist -- I only have been buying what I actually like and look forward to opening. I can't think of too many things that I've seriously wanted all members of, and it is even rare that a casting captures my eye enough for me to want to dig through eBay and collect previously released iterations.

All that to say, the internet groups I follow say that this Datsun Bluebird 510 is a popular, cool casting to have, and I bought it. Partly because of the Internet, but also partly because I have both a Cool Classics Series 2 iteration and a Heritage - Real Riders iteration. (At least, according to my CollectHW listings. I didn't think the Cool Classics car was a series 2 car, and I thought the Heritage - Real Riders was different. But the castings are currently buried in my unopened car pile and I can't immediately get at them.)

So, here it is. I can see why people like it, it is a faithful rendering of the type of basic automobile that people buy and make questionable decisions in. You buy it for nothing, and then learn how to live life while beating the hell out of it. (For me, that car is a '86 Honda Civic 4-door.) As such, it is exactly what shows up on track day -- the dedicated racer that almost anyone can afford because it still costs nothing and nobody cares about it, but you can still have fun without endangering either yourself or your wallet too much.

It still doesn't really do anything for me, and as I look at it I wonder if it will show up in the 'meh' pile down the road.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 09:03 AM

Second Chances

So one weird thing that's been going on at WalMart is that they still have pegs labelled "BMW Anniversary", even though the set apparently came and went way back in February (at least, that's when I got mine). At the time, I passed on the motorcycle, and I couldn't find a Z4M.

Well it turns out that whomever runs the plans for WalMart knew that there would be more coming, because WalMart Bayshore had what looked like at least one case, maybe two, up on pegs when I was in there back on November 5th. And they did have a Z4M, so I picked it up.

The dark, flat color actually works here. Normally I don't like flat, but here it seems to work. It also has the benefit of nicely setting off the red rings on the wheels. I saw a car in real life that had wheels like this, reflective red material around the inner rim of the wheel, and it looked awesome in the dark when crossing traffic. Makes me want them.

The model has a busy rear diffuser which I could have done without, and a nicely detailed interior which I'd keep. The front chin spoiler isn't going to be very friendly to the orange track, but this car isn't likely to find itself on too many of those.

Overall this is a very nice car.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 09:02 AM


So just to prove we are not total Hot Wheels snobs, here is a selection of Matchbox BMW 1M cars. Matchbox is a weird brand for me -- I've looked at them for years when I've been looking at Hot Wheels but there have rarely been any cars that have ever even piqued my interest. It hasn't helped that Matchbox distribution was terrible here in Canada -- the WalMart pegs were usually barren, and Toys R Us appears to have abandoned even the pretence of carrying them. Over the last year or two, though, Matchbox seems to have been reducing the number of trucks and industrial equipment type vehicles and changing the density of fantasy cars to allow for more licensed models, and my interest has increased accordingly. A licensed car from Matchbox is more likely to be realistic and have fewer compromises made in terms of track-play. So a car with a deep spoiler will be modelled with a deep spoiler.

The 1M is a favourite of mine, because it is the type of car that is not entirely totally out of the question of me eventually driving or owning. It is a small commuter car with performance enhancements.

These are the 1M cars that I've accumulated in the last year. The red and blue ones both came from Dollarama, and are probably somewhat older; the black one is from Matchbox's Best Of The World series and came in a nice presentation box with a decorated faux "matchbox" sized box included, presumably to make one nostalgic for the times when this was how they actually were sold.

Of all of them, I think the black one is my favorite. It has been granted a little more attention to detail because of it's presence in a premium line. The wheels are a little weird to me, I'm not sure I like them -- I'm talking about the tread pattern here, not the sidewall, which is very nice. I guess this is what you get with a "realistic" car.

Not really sure what to say about the blue one here. I think that in any Hot Wheels assortment this would be better turned out than the average Hot Wheels car, but when lined up with the black and red cars here it is the weakest of the bunch. Blue is a fine color, but I prefer red and black more; and these are, to my eye, the weakest wheels of the options here.

The finish on the red car is very nice, and the wheel selection too makes it a nice toy.

Since I shot and wrote this I have aquired a fourth 1M, the gold one from the 2017 series. I'll make sure to open and shoot it soon.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 09:02 AM


Another nice casting from 2016 was the appearance of the 1973 BMW 3.0 CSL "Batmobile" Race Car. So-named because of the ridiculous wings sprouting from the back of the car, this was a classic race car built as a version of the classic 3.0 Coupe.

In this dress, the black car is the better looking one. I like that this model extends the windshield plastic to the front and rear of the car to better give the illusion of "lights".

The illusion is especially effective if you find the magic orientations of your lights and your camera.

The white model can also do the lights trick, however for whatever reason the tampo detail is not very good on this car. This makes me wonder if I've just been unlucky, or if there is something to the production of white cars that leads to less effective tampoing.

Unfortunately the tampo flaws are all-around on this car.

by David Mackintosh ( at December 02, 2016 08:00 AM

November 29, 2016

Blather Blog

Bell Wins One

So I know it is popular to complain about the various companies that provide services to us. Telecom companies especially, since they seem to like to do the minimum amount of work necessary to collect the maximum amount of money.

However, I have a different story.

See we've got Bell Fibe through the "Better" bundle from about three years ago. Nominally this is a 25/10 service, and we routinely see around 20/3 through it. Not fantastic, and actually slower than the Rogers service it replaced -- but we keep it because A) its bundled into the Bell service we have, and B) Bell made it easier to switch -- by listing trivial details like what TV channels come with which TV packages, and listing on their web page a willingness to sell an "unlimited bytes" add-on -- than Rogers made it to stay with them.

The other Saturday, Jenn tells me that the internet is slow. Now I'd left something running through the morning while I was away with Nathan, and just assumed that that something was still running. Well it was -- or rather, a side-effect of what I'd left running was running -- but there was no question about it, the internet was slow.

Since I'm a network admin, I decided that I should rule out all of my gear. This is easy to do since my current home network is a firewall behind the Bell router thing, so I could just plug a laptop directly into the Bell thing, get an IP address, and test from there.

Yep, Internet is still slow, it isn't our gear. Even power-cycling the two Bell boxes isn't helping.

So here's where the story starts.

I call the Bell line and jump through the phone tree. After about ten seconds on hold, I get forwarded to someone, and she turns out not to be the triage/ticket-entry-person, but the actual tech who'll be looking at the issue. I mention to her that since I got straight to her on Saturday that this means my problem is specific to me, not a network issue, otherwise all my neighbors would be on the phone and I'd have waited on hold longer. After fifteen minutes, she agrees with me that there's some problem, and tells me she can have the next available tech come to have an on-site look.

The next available time? 8-12 in the morning the following day.

On Sunday.

So ok, the next morning the Bell tech shows up at about 8:15AM.

On Sunday.

Since we have a pair of ancient Bell devices, he says before he does any troubleshooting he'll just replace them with a single, more up-to-date device.

An hour later, he's got all the systems up and running, and everything looks good. We conclude from this that there was a problem in one of the two boxes he pulled out, so just doing the replacement solved the issue. No need for any further diagnostics.

He even boosted the speed a bit, so now I'm running something like 32/4 instead of 20/3. This is likely the best I'll get until either A) Bell drags real fiber out to my neighbourhood or B) I go with someone else for Internet.

So let's review. On a busy Saturday, I got directly to a tech without waiting. On Sunday morning, I got a home visit from a tech who fixed my problem in less than an hour.

Now that's service.

by David Mackintosh ( at November 29, 2016 05:00 PM