Hot Wheels and Tomica have been covering similar subject matter for as long as there are cars on the road, but have rarely met in the same street of value propositions.
Now, however, they’re creating models of the same machines, so I’m interested in seeing where their approaches to die-cast toys are taking them, and who made a better hybrid Honda NSX in their respective basic lines.
In this Inspection Room feature, I’m reviewing both Tomica’s and Hot Wheels’ renditions of the 2017 Honda NSX.
[Drafted on 4 June 2020]
I’ve written a comparison review between Tomica and Hot Wheels before, but only after finally finishing the deadlines for my schoolwork did I realize that I already have two models worth scrutinizing. That’s when it clicked: I should have written this a long time ago!
Seeing as I have two 1/6x versions of the NSX on hand, I set out to book a whole week to shooting and writing this review. Along the way, I keep a close, critical eye on each casting, trying to find mistakes and merits to each. The result? A close fight, one that’s leaving me quite stumped as I write this review.
How close? I say the castings themselves come from the same supplier, just slightly upsized for Tomica. Body lines seem to be almost the same, and while Tomica’s got the deeper intake moulding everywhere, Hot Wheels has the buttress gap that’s reflective of the real thing.
That said, the size does help Tomica’s case more than HW’s, as it gives off a more robust feel to the hand. Considering the build quality seems equally adequate, the edge Tomica gets here lies more in its slightly more premium quality, justifying its Php120 higher sticker price.
Here’s where the outlooks start to diverge, however. Because what good is the body casting job if the details leave much to be desired? In this criteria, the real battle begins, and both brands have high and low points worth noting.
See, while it’s the HW that matches 1:64, it does so with uneven execution. Mattel’s NC1 replica steps up from Tomy’s by rendering the buttress found on the real thing, but the paintwork isn’t scratch-tolerant, the badges are misplaced, and it’s a touch too light. But I’m still getting a complete package, thanks to the excellent choice of Y5 wheels for this car.
It’s those wheels that put Tomica’s biggest weakness to the fore: the Type 2 Sport wheels look incomplete, and may even detract from the rest of the (otherwise brilliant) casting. A shame, because the model not only has more weight but also has crisper details, maximizing the slightly bigger scale this casting is set on. Put another way: the Y5s belong here, too.
In many of my pre-purchase comparisons, it’s Tomica that tends to upstage Hot Wheels — with their real working suspension and opening parts, they comfortably pull away from Mattel’s version by this point in the review. But not here, because the suspension alone isn’t enough to keep the red car ahead.
This makes the value proposition far trickier: both versions are trading blows in both body construction and detail; playability and collectability. Tomica’s NSX costs twice as much as HW, and there aren’t enough major distinguishing characteristics that make it stand out at first glance. And that’s significant, because if Mattel succeeded in nailing the sweet spot here for less, what reason would a casual collector or parent have to pay another Hot Wheels’ worth of money on something that’s about the same?
It’s a close win for Tomica. Which, to me, is a surprising result. Frankly, this verdict can go either way, which is why the blue car lies slightly out of focus in the background. Had Tomica equipped their replica with Y5-like rims, it would have run away with the win. But considering how cheap Hot Wheels’ NSX was when it was first released, a shopper may think twice before taking the red box.
Because for what it’s worth, Hot Wheels nailed it just as elegantly as Tomica for half the price, which is huge for someone who collects toy cars on a budget. I can even make a case for HW winning this if not for the “meatiness” and clarity that Tomica has achieved here. In the end, Tomica’s version has enough of an edge for me to still hold it in higher esteem. But if you just want an NSX for pennies, you can’t go wrong with Mattel’s effort.
So ends this feature on these two tiny toy cars that’s doubling as a milestone in my time at LaLD. You’ve just read the first review I wrote as an official part of the DriveTribe Creators’ Programme. That means I can get paid to write not only diecast-related features but other automotive-related articles as well. It’s a game-changer, and I’m extra delighted to be part of such a group.