Did the Ferrari license move from Maisto to Tomica? Dare I dream of a TLV Ferrari?

My guess is most of you know about this at this point, but Tomica dropped one of the bombshells of the year this week:

If you haven’t heard, Takara Tomy announced that the Tomica line will extend to Ferrari models.  And to start the La Ferrari will debut in the basic range, and a stunning Testarossa will hit Tomica Premium.  And to top it all off, a Ferrari Auto Service set will be released as well.

Needless to say, it’s a big deal.

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But it brings up a major question.  What is going on with the Ferrari license?

Ferrari keeps its diecast license exclusive, meaning one company will hold the license to produce miniature replicas.  That was Mattel for years, until they lost it to the May Cheong Group out of China, who produces Maisto and bburago.  Maisto and bburago made a acquisition of the license a big deal of course, announcing several lines in several scales, mainly under the bburago brand.  They made a big push, but then….nothing.

Obviously it wasn’t nothing from their perspective, but for many collectors around the world, Ferrari diecast vanished.  Many collectors in the US and elsewhere, used to Hot Wheels’ approach to Ferrari, were less than impressed with the Maisto/bburago approach, with most small scales looking VERY toy-like, especially with the cheap-looking wheels being used.  I was impressed with the 1/18 scale efforts, but was quite a bit underwhelmed with the small scale products.

But no matter how the models looked, it didn’t matter because these models barely made a peep in many markets.  Here in the US, I remember seeing some at Toys R Us, and some at Dollar General.  That is it.  And they didn’t move anyway.  In the US, Ferrari went from a MASSIVE component of the Hot Wheels global branding to a pegwarmer in a discount store.  That isn’t a good thing.

Of course, the US is only one market, and in many other markets maybe the bburago/Maisto Ferraris did well, especially in the larger scales, which are more popular overseas.  Still, Ferrari could not have been happy with what was essentially a vanishing in many important markets.  And, for what its worth, I miss the shit out of finding cool Ferrari replicas.  And I know I am not alone.

So this development from Tomica is significant.  How significant I have no idea.  It is a curious time to see these models announced.  May Cheong’s exclusive license with Ferrari started in January of 2015.  Maybe the initial exclusivity contract was for 3 years, plus a 90 day clause.  That would time out to right about now.

Then of course, on the new website that Tomica has dedicated to Ferrari, this is at the bottom:

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M.C.G is still there.  So maybe the exclusive rights are gone.  I can’t see anything else about it anywhere, so obviously time will tell.

My guess is the first question from most of you is whether or not we will see Hot Wheels Ferraris again.  I haven’t heard anything, and at this point I really doubt it.  Whatever agreement was made between the May Cheong Group and Takara Tomy, my guess is it is only between them.  Maybe Ferrari demanded better worldwide presence, and asked M.C.G. to bring in a partner, or maybe this is a special one-off.  If I had to guess, it’s the former.

Which leads to what might be the million dollar question for us 1/64 nerds: Could we actually see a Tomica Limited Vintage Ferrari someday?  TLV has done some Italian cars in the past, namely Alfa Romeo and Fiat.  Do I dare dream of a TLV 250 GTO?  Or a TLV-N 308?  That is a very dangerous path, so I will hold off for now.  But wow.

In the meantime, Jeff Koch is taking pre-orders for the basic models and playset on his IG account, and I am sure Japan Booster will have the Premium models and more available as well.

Welcome back Ferrari.

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22 thoughts on “Did the Ferrari license move from Maisto to Tomica? Dare I dream of a TLV Ferrari?

  1. Probably more than Porsche video-game licenses, the Ferrari model-car license is the most sought after automotive license anyone can have. It’s the crown jewel of toy-car fare, and to see Takara Tomy wielding it is a breath of fresh air. May Cheong wasted their opportunity in an awful way. It’s time for a new player, and Tomica is one of the best in the game at any price.

    And what better car to re-debut the marque (there have been Tomica Basic Ferraris in the past) than with the LaFerrari and Testarossa, two icons of their time.

  2. OK, right. Reading the fine print I can tell that Tomica is making this on behalf of May Cheong. Huh. So I reckon this is a one-time thing, either that or they’re lazy.

    1. Interesting bit: the same wheels were equipped on the 2017 Ford GT casting they have and it works, mostly because the body is 1:64.

      Thing is that the wheels only look small because of the inherent design of the wheels (look at a comparable 5-spoke from HW) and the requirements of suspension travel that every Tomica on the basic line needs to have.

  3. The Maisto Ferrari didn’t sell well here in Spain. In my city , which is the 4th largest in Spain, they could only be found at 1 or 2 stores, and they were definitely pegwarmers. They were 1:55, so most collectors didn’t buy them. I didn’t.

  4. The LaFerrari casting looks gorgeous! Too bad the wheels don’t live up to the casting, but a wheel swap will change that. And the Testarossa looks brilliant too! Especially the white, which I know some are going to consider is an indirect replica of Miami Vice. I am certainly excited for both. Lets see if I actually manage to get them.

  5. Even here in estonia they hung around because the pricing (4.99 for 1/64 scaled car,6.99 for 1/43 scaled car) but they were mostly on discount because they didnt sell well. I did pick some of them up

  6. Enough with the wheel complaints.its just one part in the overall design of a casting.and tomica makes better casting than hot wheels.so bye bye ferrari hotwheels.i never missed ya.

  7. It looks like May Cheong is sub-licensing Ferrari. This means May Cheong will be getting a cut of Tomica’s sales.

    But it still means nothing for US customers. Outside of a few hobby shops and EBay, Tomica is still not a widely distributed brand. Shipping costs alone will kill your wallet.

  8. Bringing back Ferrari is sure an awesome gesture for the collectors. But I don’t feel Hot Wheels did any justice to the amount of details that could have been replicated. So I do hope we will get TLV releases just to enjoy the smallest details that is expected from TLV.

  9. Unless the headline reads “Mattel gets the Ferrari license back”, any Ferrari news gets a big fat “meh” from me. With Toys R Us gone, the big box stores are the only places I get my diecast, and Mattel is the only thing they stock reliably. Yes, TLV Ferrari products would be mouth-watering, but those are completely out of my price range. I guess I’ll just continue to hope against hope that they get it back someday.

    1. Positive spin: this is big either way, as it shows that May Cheong (Maisto + Bburago) can’t actually do this on their own. Sub-licensing still gives other players a chance, and seeing Takara Tomy have a go is a welcome development.

      What I’m trying to say is that this is a sign of things to come. We could be looking at the same situation as EA’s exclusive Porsche deal, or this could be just a one-time set-up that’s good for just one or two years, but it’s easy for me to think that maybe Ferrari is looking at other options, including, potentially, going back to Mattel.

      1. We can certainly hope so. Don’t get me wrong, this news is definitely a step in the right direction, but I’ll remain skeptical until something with more relevance to the U.S. market happens.

  10. A 250 GTO. .. far too obvious a choice. and there are prettier Ferraris. A 250 GT Berlinetta for one. Or a 275GTB. And yes, I am definitely dreaming…

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