Chappie-lust (I think it must be a 60's boomer thing) finally seduced me into splurging on some Exoto 1:18 diecasts that I'd been eyeballing for many, many years:
Chaparral 2E, 1966 Monterey Grand Prix (#66 Jim Hall)
I'm not a diehard diecast collector, but I got da Chaparral-jones and I love detail and craftmanship, no matter where it comes from; this is far above anything I've encountered before! There's a lot of working detail, photo-etching, metal parts, tubing and bunches of wiring that must have taken quite a while to assemble at the factory. I've owned a few diecast toys before but this sucker is mind-boggling, in a league of its own.
In the pics, the wing is leaning back slightly-- I first thought that the floppy wing was a design flaw that I'd have to live with (or resort to glue to fix); Fortunately, hidden amongst all the dense detail were tiny hinged struts that secure the wing's support struts to the chassis. It took tweezers to guide them in position, but lo and behold-- a properly-assembled Chaparral. Yes, I consider this to be a flawless product, best appreciated with good lighting and good eyesight.
Though nearly out of "final stock" at Exoto's website, this particular version of the 2E wasn't very hard to find on eBay and was radically discounted from the published MSRP. It was still pricey, but in today's marketplace, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything this cool and this detailed for the money. It totally squelched any interest I had in acquiring a 60's Cox 1:24 Chaparral 2E slot car.
Chaparral 2, 1965 Road America (#65 Jim Hall)
12/29/11- As a kid, I also had Cox's Chaparral 2 slot car kit with sidewinder motor and magnesium chassis: This version of Exoto's Chaparral 2 with smooth fenders and fixed spoiler looks to be a similarly early version of the Chaparral 2, but includes the historically accurate ugly hood air scoop. The smooth-fender version is retired by Exoto, so (at this time) it's a little more difficult to find than the later "shark fin" (ventilated) fender versions. Apparently, the Chaparral 2's evolution was fast and furious, resulting in versions with shark fin front fenders, rear fenders, and a version with a moveable arm-actuated rear spoiler/wing.
As you might expect, there's a size difference between the 1:18 diecast and 1:32 slot car... but that's just the tip of the iceberg:
Naturally, the front body panel is removeable and there's a bunch of detail there, too: The pics of the 2E give you an idea of the level of detail, and there are lots of great close-up photos on the 'net if you're interested. In person, the intricate detail is best appreciated with Optivisors.
Chaparral 2F, 1967 LeMans (#8 Jennings/Johnson)
12/31/11- The Chaparral 2F is the most beefy of the three, and includes some unique details like the spare tire and piston-supported (driver's side only) gull wing doors. (Very cool, but very fragile: Not long after unpacking it, I opened the door too far and had to glue the piston rod retainer back using a pin and magnifiers.) There are plenty of hinged parts, like the doors for the gas cap access (also hinged), the panels to the sides of the headlights, and the rear spare tire access.
Although the wheels are removeable and a tool is included to remove the knock-offs (I found it easier to use my fingers), the wheels can be a bitch to remount since there's only a very short bit of screw thread protruding, and the knock-off tightens in less than a turn once it catches. However, it's something you've got to do at least once, to see the disc brake detail.
For obvious reasons, the engine and interior detail aren't quite as accessible as the other two Chaparrals, but the model's underside shows that Exoto didn't use that as an excuse to scrimp on the engine detailing.
The wing mounting isn't as solid as the 2E's since there are no retaining struts to hook into the support struts. The support struts have a single end pin that plugs into a hole; the pins are fairly long and fit snugly, but permit a bit of front-to-back wobble.
I was disappointed that the wing's range of adjustment is very limited, with much less range than the 2E's. Most of the pics of the 1:1 2F show the wing with an obvious downward tilt (I believe that's supposed to be the default position), but you can't replicate that with Exoto's wing.
I was curious about the blanked-out Firestone decal on the sides towards the front: It looks like they neglected to print the full graphic! According to Google, it turns out that Exoto really did their homework: At the time, LeMans rules disallowed such callous commercialism (ah... the good old days!), so the "Firestone" was blanked out on the graphic. (So it seems that MRRC didn't do their homework.)
I'd love to get a 1:18 diecast Chaparral 2D, and although Exoto advertises one as a preorder on their website, I suspect that it will never happen: Apparently, it's been offered as a preorder for many, many years. The fact that Chaparral Cars has successfully sued Exoto for not paying royalties probably doesn't help the situation.
In the auto diecast collectors world, Exoto seems to have earned a dismal reputation for their business practices and customer service (and prices), but no one seems to dispute the unparalleled detail and quality of their products (or be willing to dump their collection on principled grounds, LOL!). At this time and for many years, no other diecast company has matched their level of detail and accuracy: They're sort of like a bad-mannered child prodigy. Generally speaking, collectors warn of paying for not-in-stock items (like preorders) on their website, and of attempting to get refunds (which some have reported as a long, painful process).
I acquired my Chaparrals from other vendors on eBay and Amazon, so those transactions were smooth and predictable. However, because I was so impressed by the Chaparrals, I was determined to acquire Exoto's museum-quality 1951 Exoto Alfa Romeo Alfetta 159, which ratchets up the level of detail even higher! The end-of-year discounted price at Exoto's website was considerably lower than the best price I could find anywhere else, so despite the trash-talking and warnings from the forums, I pulled the trigger.
Winner, 1951 Grand Prix of Belgium, Giuseppe "Nino" Farina
01/03/12- Happy New Year! I'm happy to report that everything went smoothly, and I received the model within 5 days after I ordered it (with the long holiday weekend in-between). For what it's worth, the model totally lived up to expectations, starting with the over-the-top packaging (the best stuff is under the skin):
Due to the lighting, it was difficult to capture the shade of red as seen in person, so I manipulated the hue, saturation, & darkness in the pics below. To me, the actual color seems closest to the picture above: It's a darker and richer, almost burgandy tint.
MRRC's Chaparral 2F Slot Cars