Big things with little cars

Et Forma Virtutis Dei | Tomica LaFerrari | Inspection Room

You might see this photo on Instagram this Saturday.
Photo: all shot and edited by author

In semel, videre: A series de pura vermiculus, velut lucem movere prope ut ieiunium, vir singulari recta in cor hominis fulmen gubernat. Resonabat sonus transiliens colles - grandi tonitru ingenti tumultu maiore quam alto.

Si attendere videre forma - prima venatione locum habet suscitavit perpetuo pedibus eius rostro ponatur ad iter quod ducit in intendere.


[At once, I see: a streak of pure crimson, moving almost as fast as light, a singular bolt driving straight into the heart of man. The sound resonated across the hills — a great, deafening noise louder than the thunder high in the sky.]

[If you pay attention, you might see its form — hunched, its hind legs perpetually raised, its muzzle nosed down to dive into the path at which it takes.]


Arguably one of the tougher parts of creating these shots are the angles. With bad backdrops, inconsistent lighting and useless, blurry zoom I resorted to just approximating press shots and compositing them.

There are certain cars that seem unreachable, unfathomable, unreal. Cars that have gone past human perception, overwhelming the feeble senses with an assault that stuns any mortal and makes them shake, and at times weep.

Many such cars have come to pass. Ferrari’s sixth-generation hypercar is one of them, and I finally have one in my hand. And it’s all thanks to a most astounding quirk in licensing that let a die-cast maker at the peak of its power create something another was not able to do.


Presenting, for the LaLD audience, Tomica’s 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari, recreated in 1:62.


PRAEFATIO (Prologue)

Some of these shots, like this one, were taken inside a canvas shoe shelf, which was a cramped place where natural sunlight can’t reach it. Still, I reckon I did okay.

Ever saw something that, metaphorically speaking, simply took your heart? Or at least, piqued your curiosity? Ever pined for something for so long that you go beyond heaven and Earth to having it, making it your own? That every missed opportunity is heartbreak, and the mere sight of it in the hands of others only serve to remind you of something that may never be yours after all? Hot Wheels’ LaFerrari was that kind of toy car to me. As a tifoso, its real-life reveal revved my heart for the first time since the 458, and with far greater intensity than ever before.

You might end up trying to come back to this image for some of these shots.
Image: from the Hot Wheels Wiki

So when Hot Wheels’ casting eluded me, from its release to the day Mattel lost its license a sore point in my play, it became a sore point in my quest. Not like the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 were any harder to find, but then, they proved to be plentiful in the long run. LaFerrari was rare, sought-after...and after 2015, almost all but unreachable.


Quid est Nomen? (What’s in a Name?)

My desk was no better, but at least the top was white and the walls can be darkened enough that multiple layer adjustments can obscure the cracks.

This obsession with the car seemed strange, given that the LaFerrari isn’t that fast compared to its competition—in a flying lap, it was almost two seconds slower. Despite being lighter AND more powerful than the P1 and 918, LaFerrari is seen as the third option, one that you choose out of emotion and devotion rather than future-proofing or outright pace. Even its name conveys a high, haughty bravado that precedes itself— “The Ultimate Ferrari”—a definitive distillation of everything that the marque is: Italian pride in automotive form.

I know, I know, this could use less of a tilt, but it’s the only way I can hide elements of the background I didn’t like.

Why, then, to pine for the car? Among other reasons like fandom and its smokin’-good looks (don’t give me that look), completion compelled me. There were three of them in real life, and I wanted those three in my hands—the P1 in hyperblurple, the 918 in sterling silver, and the LaFerrari in Rosso Corsa. Road test films from many a publication and automotive scribe came and went; only my blue P1 was present in every viewing case. But that was about to change.

Genus Equi Magni (Supreme Thoroughbred)

God, I love this car. To quote Melone, a character in JoJo: Vento Aureo, all I can say is: “Di Molto!”

In early 2018, it was announced that Tomica gained sub-licensing rights from May Cheong Group to produce Ferraris exclusively for the Japanese market, confirming rumors made late in 2017. Seconds later, I went back in time to plug in Sebastian Vettel’s victorious radio chatter to loudspeakers. “Finally,” I say, “accessible Ferraris within my reach!” And it helped that the re-debut of the marque to Tomica featured a Testarossa for the Premium line and the LaFerrari, the Ferrari I pined for the most, in the basic line. That distinction was key.

This is totally not a teaser for new features to come. Nope, nope, nope. Not until I can buy key wares.

You see, the basic line was host to a dizzying array of incredible modern machinery from the world’s manufacturers. The year prior saw eye-popping debuts of world-class supercars: Audi R8 V10 Plus, Lamborghini Centenario, Mercedes-AMG GT R, and my personal favorite, the 2017 Ford GT, whose accuracy is emblematic of the supercharged progress Tomica has achieved in this niche for the past half-decade. This progress is continued in 2018, with the Lamborghini Huracan Performante and Lotus 3-Eleven.

Of course it can’t be a real Tomica post without the box. That’s a massive oversight in hindsight while shooting the 2017 Ford GT.

And it’s in this context that Tomica’s LaFerrari comes in. Thanks to a chance scout around the buy-n-sell pages on Facebook, I found a seller that has stock of the cars for Php300 on Shopee (listing is sold out). That’s Php50 higher than mall prices, but I was willing to pay the price for one, and knowing that prices could only get higher, I bought it. Naturally, that day was the most euphoric I’ve ever felt after having bought a toy car, but it still needs a thorough look.

Signa Splendoris (Signs of Brilliance)

It’s the accuracy that stuns me the most. Comparisons to the real thing only net favorable results. I just wish I could get small OH5 wheels for it.

Of course, giving the LaFerrari model a critical look was tough at first, especially in the seemingly endless honeymoon period that I had with the car. Of course it was stupendous. Gorgeous. Tomica’s die-cast rendition has a body that’s realistically-rendered, even at 1:62 scale (millimeters below 1:64, natch), with multiple details, like its badges, printedlegibly on the car. Its suspension is tuned with just the right amount of firmness, ensuring the car is as low-slung as the real thing. The paint is impeccable Rosso Corsa, and on first crack it did look like it was sprayed in the same paint shop as the real car. You can see the interior and engine bay through clear, accurate glass. Looks like this casting can do me no wrong.

These shots, done with a chair, made me punch the air in frustration. The sunlight wasn’t ideally bright enough, and the final masters radiate red.

But it does, though. For one, the backing where the headlamps are mounted are in body color, not black, which means they fade away in some photos. The taillights, despite being its own mould, are almost non-existent, as though they’re part of the body instead of a different part, and they disappear due to the lack of any contrast or extra sculpting (you can see the taillights better in white). The wheels are Type 2, so they’re wide, but they’re also Type 2, so they’re inaccurate. The black lines that separate the panels are not there; neither are the rear intakes (which blend flatly when photographed) and front wheel cutouts. And compared to some other Tomica, this one doesn’t seem to be as robust as its impeccable build quality suggests.

Maybe I should stop using “billboard” shots like this. Or maybe I just need better billboards.

Against its success as a casting, however, those issues are quashed with grace and poise and power. Tomica’s LaFerrari is incredible as it’s a true collectible, made with collectors in mind, and yet it’s still, for most other intents and purposes, a plaything. I don’t want to dent it even once (at least before I finish this feature), but I suppose a kid can race this for his/her entire childhood and still hold up. The price point also indicates such—it’s in the Basic line, next to sedans and usual Tomica fare. But the final product is nothing less than collector-grade, with craftsmanship that exudes precision, care, and a reverence to the actual car.

This would probably work better with an extra editing pass to reduce the colors. On the other hand, I lose the detail.

Kyosho did a better, truly accurate LaFerrari, but Tomica, with momentum by their side, made something that approaches that standard for less money. Hot Wheels’s rendition looked a little too chunky and stocky, with PR5 wheels that look even less at home there than the Type 2 shoes in Tomica’s model, but it was Mattel’s casting that sparked the fuse, the first desire that made my collection even possible at all. Every other car before this LaFerrari was acquired to distract myself from the one thing I might never have. Now I do, and it’s just as amazing as its hype made it to be.

And now, the trickiest shot I took for this feature. That is the horizontal beam of a stool I used as a place to mount the camera. Zooming to 1.6x using what I’m pretty sure is digital zoom yielded...good results?!

At its zenith, Tomica’s LaFerrari represents the high-water mark against which subsequent Basic-bound sports cars and supercars shall now be measured against. This LaFerrari truly is the best model in my current collection, the best Tomica I have ever had, and the second-greatest palm-sized Ferrari I’ve ever owned. Time may chip away at the paint and deform the body, but a casting of this quality is nothing short of timeless.

Oh no! The rear-right wheel is a bit out of the arches!

Tanti insidiatur superque aurum. Pauci praestet hoc exemplo clare elucet excellentiam quantum ad speculum solis. Ut possideatis eam, quid pretii lapillo, qui absconderis penes me, qui tot annos ita vivo.

[It was worth the wait, and more than its weight in gold. Few shall surpass this model, which shines clearly in its excellence as much as a mirror is to the light of the sun. What I possess is a precious gem, one that I shall treasure for as long as I live.]



One of only two shots using the glass table in my aunt’s room. It was a hassle shooting on that table with passable quality, so I utilized it less than the desk and living room chairs.

AT LAST!!! I have finally done it! A full review feature of my most favorite casting, a car that I treasure so much it’s on a different clear box from even the rest of my Tomica. This has been a long-overdue feature (I started the draft in 22 October, 2018!), one that I’ve been meaning to write and shoot but haven’t gotten the time to do so. Yet here it is! You’re reading it. I am immensely happy that I managed to finish this write-up.

Here’s hoping you enjoy it!

“Et Forma Virtutis Dei” means “The Beauty of Power”. All of the Latin in this article is translated using Google, which is...not very good, at least compared to Italian, but come on, this is LaFerrari. It’s got to be Latin.


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