Given the return of pallets of $13.99 Maistos to Sam's Club and Costco stores near you, this series should give you some insight as to which ones to go buy and which to avoid as you make your way to your local discount club.
It's Mercedes month on my desk so I thought what better way than to start off this series with a new-to-me 1957 300 SL convertible. Cost? $13.99 plus tax.
Design and Accuracy: 6/10
In a vacuum, this is not a bad looking model. The basic proportions are right, and the 300SL's classic shape looks good no matter how poorly it is re-created. But especially when compared with higher end models (see: 1952 CMC 300SL Carrera Panamericana sharing desk space - review forthcoming), this one falls short. Also, I think there are some scaling problems.; for example, the exhaust pipe on this model is almost as big as the tail light, the interior door handles are half the length of the seat bottoms, and the plastic suitcase on the luggage rack is almost as big as the interior. They aren't enough to really distract you unless you're looking for them.
Fit and Finish: 3/10
The model's budget roots really show through on this one. The windshield feels as though it will snap off if breathed on incorrectly. The wheels have a ton of horizontal play. The model is light and feels flimsy. The paint and metalwork are jagged in places, like under the wheel well and in the fender vents. The paint, while bright and clear, is rife with little drips, rash, and other small defects. Unlike other Maistos I have the interior is borderline crude, with random chrome plastic pieces thrown in which are supposed to represent trim (though the "300SL" on the dash is a nice touch.) The sticker which is supposed to be the speedometer already has a few tiny bubbles in it. Overall, build quality is not this model's strong suit.
For a budget model, it's not all bad news. The steering works, doors open, hood and trunk open as well (the latter revealing a full size spare tire). At least the hood is hinged the correct way. The engine has some simple detailing. I'm nitpicking but the trunk does not open enough to be useful. The chassis is surprisingly detailed for a model at this price point and includes nice detailing on the engine underside, a driveshaft, fuel tank, rear diff, and other parts you're never going to look at. We'll let it slide that those parts aren't actually chrome in real life.
Overall, given its $13.99 price point, this one earns an automatic 5 points from me. (Frankly, so will all of the Maistos I will review, because good luck finding any other decent NEW 1/18s for under $20). I give it one more point since it's nice to look at. However, given how many other amazing Maistos there are out there right now, this should probably not be on the top of your list. The build quality is lacking, and there are simply better choices available.
I've been to about 8 Costco/Sam's Club stores since the pallets starting showing up and haven't seen any of these other than the one I bought, but it's a Maisto so it's not a rare model by any stretch. 1 point because it is certainly a "mass market" diecast and 1 more point since I can't find any others, though I expect there are many of them on eBay and elsewhere.
Now, this score is a bit skewed because the categories I scored it lowest in - rarity and fit and finish - are not why you would buy this model in the first place. You're either buying this for your kid to play with, to put out and not worry about it getting dusty/dirty/handled, or to round out a collection.
and here's a closing Easter Egg for you. Notwithstanding its placement in a Maisto box – it appears that this model is actually a Bburago. Makes sense given that Maisto has owned Bburago for almost 10 years now, but I found that surprising nonetheless.