I’ve been meaning to do this for the past couple weeks, and it’s finally done: a list of my top ten favorite models from 2016.
It’s been a great year to say the least, one that’s been dramatically different than any others that I’ve been in this hobby (if I recall, it’s been about 8 years of serious collecting now). I’ve ditched my embargo with online purchases, filtered out a large portion of my collection that I didn’t care for, filled it in with cars I liked more, and quickly started up a whole new collection in a different scale.
Let’s look back at some of the best from 2016. All brands, scales, and models that have released in this past year (even if they were “technically” 2015 or 2017 models) were eligible to make this list. Some have had an entire post dedicated to them; others have gone under the radar, but never forgotten. Ten through one, here we go.
Hot Wheels Car Culture “Euro Style” - Volkswagen Golf MK7
This is my selection for the Car Culture releases. There have been hits and misses, and for the most part, each subsequent series has been worse than the previous one, with the Japan Historics never seeing the light of day around here and the Redliners being easily the most disappointing in recent memory. Euro Style held its own amongst the best, and while everyone was going nuts over the E30 M3 and the Porsches, I couldn’t get enough of the Golf. Perfect color, perfect wheels on a brand new (and realistic) casting. Last time I checked, those are the three most critical components of what makes a model great, and this one meets all of the criteria.
Johnny Lightning Classic Gold Series 2 - Chevrolet Monza
Johnny Lightning came back in 2016 and brought back some of their classic castings. For those who didn’t collect during their first stint, folks like me were drawn in to cars that we had never heard of before. In general, they were a bit overpriced, and some lacked a premium feel, but that didn’t stop me from getting both colorways of this model. To this day, I still don’t know what a Chevorlet Monza is, and I wouldn’t be able to identify one without seeing the badge.
The Jeep Wagoneer could’ve easily taken this spot, but I liked the Monza just a tad more.
Tomica Limited Vintage NEO - Lancia Delta Integrale
My TLV nomination was not one of the many, and I say many, Skylines that were released this year. Instead, it’s this little red hatchback by a company that the average person has never heard of before. Having never seen a Delta in person before, it feels like I’m looking at the real thing anyways when it comes to this model. As expected, TLV shines with the detailing and realism they put into their models. I just didn’t expect to like this one that much, giving it a slight edge over the slew of R35's that I will never get tired of.
GT Spirit - Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R (1/18)
Not only is the GT350R the most exciting real car of the year, a scale model of one is also a no-brainer to make this list. This Euro-exclusive colorway, in proper Ford blue, is a stunner to say the least. GT Spirit has leaped from a “what? who?” to my favorite eighteenth scale brand with just a handful of models under my belt because they’re that good. They make you forget you just dropped a load of money on a bunch of plastic. Who needs opening parts when you can’t even make it past the exterior without passing out?
Hot Wheels Retro Entertainment “Gran Turismo” - Nissan Concept 2020 Vision GT
If there’s a single model that completely came out of nowhere and exceeded expectations, in my eyes, this is the one. First of all, no one expected Hot Wheels to make the Vision GT. Secondly, I expected this model to be completely irrelevant having already owned the TLV rendition of this video-game fantasy car. You know what though, I prefer the former over the latter. In my opinion, the best Retro Entertainment release, and it doesn’t come close. Keep sleeping on it.
Tarmac Works - 2017 Nissan GT-R (R35) (1/18)
Spoiler alert: this isn’t the first time you’ll be seeing this car today. I’m unashamedly an avid R35 fan, and this is my fourth in 1/18. As a model, this is my favorite yet, and that bright orange color may have something (or a lot) to do with it. Also, the details. The execution. The complete package. From a brand that isn’t even a major player in the diecast market, Tarmac Works has put themselves on my radar with this impressive model of the car I fantasize about day and night. I just posted about it not too long ago, so you can read all of my acclaims there.
Tomica Premium - Honda S2000 Type S
Watching the Tomica Premium line grow has been one of the more exciting developments of the past year. It started out with few hits and many misses, but they’ve been pretty much all head shots since then, with none better than the S2000 Type S, or S2000 CR as they’re called here in the states. Premium models have had their share of flaws, but I couldn’t find any here. No droopiness caused by the suspension. The proportions are bang-on. The wheels are the correct size for once, with a realistic offset to give it that aggressive sports car look that all the others lack. This is the perfect example of how to do premium.
Matchbox “Best of World” Series 2: Mercedes-Benz CLS
This singular model represents so many things about everything positive regarding Matchbox’s current state. The evolution of the “Best of World” premium line, which for Series 2 now includes more castings that collectors actually want. The reintroduction of some of Matchbox’s best castings, the ones that have gone into hibernation for the past decade. The return of Mercedes-Benz to not only the orange brand, but to both Mattel brands. The borrowing of wheels from big brother Hot Wheels, a decision which I’m not 100% on board with, but has undeniably excellent results. Look, I’m just glad to be able to have more of these Benzes in the collection. I love the first-gen CLS, and it’s one of the greatest 4-door designs of all time.
AUTOart - Nissan Fairlady Z (S30) Wangan Midnight “Akuma no Z” (1/18)
I think it’s fair to say that there hasn’t been a more hyped 1/18 model this year than AUTOart’s Devil Z. With great hype comes great expectations, and any slight blemish is considered failure. There’s no failure here. I got this model because I liked the Wangan Midnight movie that much. It never gets old, and neither does staring at this model. Vintage, classic cars are completely out of my collecting range for eighteenths, but that didn’t stop me from putting this in second place. Don’t be surprised if, by this time next year, you see its rival on the top ten list as well.
Tomica - 2017 Nissan GT-R (R35)
There is no better non-premium casting of the R35 than the one Tomica makes. The original one, in silver, remains my favorite casting of all time, with the Ultimate Opal Black SpecV, in Tomica Limited trim, being my top model ever. And now it’s been updated for the 2017 model year, retaining all of the same qualities that made it a personal favorite. The proportions are still dead-on. The front grille detailing remains unmatched. Not much has changed, but you never mess with a good thing.
So that rounds out my top ten favorite models of 2016. With every good model, there’s always a bad one, so look out for a not-top-ten list soon!
Feel free to debate, rant, criticize, or slam me for my choices!