I’ve been marching to the beat of Greenlight’s drum since 2009, and in the years following, I’ve freed hundreds of cars from their blister prisons. Of course, once I was done admiring them, they were bagged and tagged and relegated to Rubbermaids in my detached garage. I will occasionally dig through the body bags and reminisce about hunting diecast at Toys “R” Us, but these days it’s more of an “add-to-cart” addiction.
Wow, talk about starting this out on a high note.
Although most of my earliest Greenlight memories are fuzzy, I do have a few that stand out. First, I vividly recall leaving a Dodge Charger Virginia State Trooper Green Machine behind at Target because I wasn’t keen on their chase pieces and also didn’t like that it wasn’t properly painted. What do they say about hindsight? Another memory more apropos to this post is that, while GL offered nearly perfectly proportioned castings, their tire choice in some instances left much to be desired.
I’m staring at you, steamroller tires.
Just like our diecast’s 1:1 counterparts, wheels can make or break a car. Choosing the appropriate width and aspect ratio of the sidewall is just as important as selecting the wheels themselves. One wrong calculation or misjudgment and the aesthetics of your ride is thrown out of whack. It’s almost like wearing Vans with a tuxedo (although I think this is a thing now).
It’s in this department that Greenlight oftentimes got it wrong. I speak in the past tense because, while there are still some head-scratchers being released, it seems with each new casting, GL is trying harder for pinpoint accuracy. And I commend them for that.
Before more words are spilled on this topic, it should be made clear this will not be a diatribe against a company regarding something so trivial as tire width on a diecast car. The realistic design application for each wheel is [mostly] spot-on, and there are many occasions in which GL hit it out of the park. Their 1970/71 Pontiac GTO casting is one of my favorites, its Rally II wheels perfectly matched. The Road Runner/GTX has a 50/50 success rate, in my opinion. Same for the 68-70 Charger. All great castings worth adding the majority of releases to your collection. And Greenlight really levels up the realism by applying factory colors to their castings, another huge win for collectors worldwide.
Similar praises can’t be paid to the 1970/71 Challenger, unfortunately. And that’s a bummer, because when it comes to an iconic muscle car, the Challenger is one of the prolific ones. The only versions produced by Greenlight featuring the smaller width tires are the Black Bandit T/A and the 1970 Sam Posey #77 race car. All other releases (as far as I can recall) are kneecapped by disproportionate rollers. Despite these shortcomings (widecomings?), I still found it easy and enjoyable to add the High Impact paint options, among others, to my Jammers.
The biggest offender by far is the Ford Crown Victoria. It’s mostly utilized in the Hot Pursuit series, where it’s adorned with numerous police liveries from around the world. Hands down my favorite series, only a small percentage of the CVPI features the alternative P71 wheel covers in place of the steel wheels. The 2007-2010 Dodge Charger, another ubiquitous casting for the boys in blue, sports either the stock silver five-spoke wheels, blacked-out generic five-spokes (also found on the Ford Explorer Police Interceptor) or smaller diameter black five-spokes. Scaled up from 1/64, the massive rubber would measure 355 mm…at all four corners! In comparison, the reasonably sized tires come in at a more believable, but certainly not completely accurate, 255 mm. Please note I took my measurements with a ruler. I’m sure they’d be exact had I used a micrometer.
Combined with the lack of side-view mirror on some castings, the appearance is awkward at best. Thus my striving for validation of my chief complaint. But there is hope…
Over the last few years, Greenlight has been on a winning streak when it comes to introducing new castings. The Foxbody Mustang, released back in 2010 if my memory serves me right, was a champion of proper width. The Dodge Monaco, which followed in 2012, took a few years to find its fitted footwear, but never while on patrol. Rather, it was in Country Roads Series 13, in 2015, which saw the 1977 Dodge Royal Monaco repping the most realistic wheel and tire combo yet. It turned out to be an anomaly for the casting, unfortunately, as I haven’t found another release not rolling wide wheels.
The 1967 Ford Custom, wearing a vintage Chicago PD livery, came along in 2015. It has yet to be tainted and still stands as one of my favorite classic cop cars, particularly as a New Jersey Troop car.
I could go on, and on, and on. And I will.
The 1970s Dodge Coronet/Monaco and Plymouth Fury. The Pontiac LeMans. The Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. The 1955 Chevrolet wagon varieties. The Checker Marathon. The Ford Torino, both coupe and sedan. The Ford LTD wagons and the Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park. The Volkswagen Squareback. The Chevy Caprice. The Datsun Z and 510. The Skyline GT-Rs. The Squarebodies. The Ranchero. The Mustang II. The Mercury Cougar. The DUALLYS! Greenlight has been churning out surprise after surprise and, with the recent release of the 2020 catalog, will be keeping that momentum up into the new decade.
And that isn’t even an inclusive list. The one thing these new castings have in common is that they all feature appealing wheels, with a factory appearance or a period-correct tuner sense.
So while I can complain into the void and clap back at trolls on this topic all day long, I would be wasting valuable energy that could be used for excitement towards the future. Sure, there will continue to be some missteps. The final generation Crown Vic was just released in Hot Pursuit 32 in a Laredo, Texas uniform. Pictured above, its proverbial footgear look more like clown shoes than combat boots. GL did spiff it up a bit by adding trim rings to the otherwise black steel wheels. I don’t recall them doing that before. With the upcoming release of the 1992-1997 Crown Victoria, I’m curious to see how much use is left in the tank of the former.
Other new castings on the horizon that have my attention include the 2020 Explorer (with proper wheels!!), the Studebaker Commander, the Kaiser Jeepster, AMC Matador, the 1992-96 Escort RS (!), and so many more. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a great time to be a diecast collector. Roll on.
16 Replies to “Narrowing Down Greenlight’s Wide World of Wheels.”
Well I am a car geek. I have been onboard with greenlight since day one. I am forgiving of certain details but I feel they are excellent. As for storing your collection in totes…, don’t do that. Display them so you can enjoy them
Oh, I agree. Greenlight has released some killer product over the years. But the steamroller wheels…they drive me nuts! I am really looking forward to 2020’s product.
I appreciate your suggestion for displaying my collection, too. As soon as I have enough space or a dedicated room in my home, they’ll be more accessible. Until then, they shall live in the garage.
Most of the Greenlight I have collected are movie/tv cars that either Hot Wheels didn’t make or in most cases Greenlight did it better. I also like their quality better than M2 but the only place they can be found near me is Hobby Lobby. I wish Walmart or Target would carry them.
Yeah, they certainly do movie cars justice…especially if you’re a scale collector. I’m hoping Target starts to carry GL again, but who knows.
That might be a matter of personal bias, but Greenlight is easily the most interesting and diverse Diecast brand out there today. Gone are the bad old days when they’d release wave after wave of the same six cop cars. These days there’s all sorts of cars from all around the world, from the mundane to the unique, and things just keep getting better. GL is king
Oh, I agree…that’s why I ended my post the way I did. GL is on a winning streak and it’s great to see the variation not only within the series, but the series themselves. But I really wish they would retire those silly oversized wheels. That is all.
I really appreciate your Greenlight blog along with your writing style. You are right, the steamroller wheels have been a seriously frustrating issue for years now. The rim castings are usually great but the oversize tyres ruin the stance of the model. Nonetheless Greenlight offer exceptionally good models and even better, the scale is a consistently accurate 1/64. It is so refreshing to see 4 door sedans!
Thanks John! Besides those wheels (when they’re used), GL is one of my favorite premium brands to collect. With the introduction of the Heavy/Super Duty line and sedans, they’ve really diversified their portfolio; and collectors are really reaping the dividends!
Awesome article and great photography too! 🙂
Thanks Cody…glad you enjoyed it!
I over some QC issues with Greenlight. Because they make casting others don’t and they are affordable. Unlike another diecast maker they don’t fall apart.
It’s funny you mention the QC issues as compared to another brand. I’ll be covering them in a future topic.
Greenlight by far my fav brand to collect! Relatively easy to find in australia with some stores even carrying the hobby exclusives . The local distributor has been doing its own exclusives of classic aussie muscle and race cars.
Terrific post. Hopefully the first of many.
I love GL. It is arguably my favorite brand, but it is also a frustrating brand. GL puts out lots of new castings and cool series. They have great licensing. They are reasonably scale accurate. They are creative and prolific. They do stuff nobody else would. Like putting out a 1986-1991 Taurus. Or a 80s boxy wagon. Or a garbage truck. So cool. And often their casting look great.
But GL is infuriating too. Sometimes they butcher a casting. I was so excited about the K-5 Blazer, but the result is mediocre (read: disappointment). A body that looks good, but with faint door lines. Worse, a stance that is totally off (even for a 2 wheel drive – and they are supposedly putting out 4×4 versions). It is the stance that makes the Blazer unique. So disappointing. And what happened to the 70s Monte Carlo? It looks terrible. Even worse than the JL one. One figures that after the 240Z fiasco they would actually look at prototypes before greenlighting production (pun most definitely intended).
In many ways, I wish greenlight did all the licensing, designing and marketing and Mini GT produced all the cars (as they actually sweat the details, delay stuff to get them right and reject cars with bad QC).
I agree the steamroller tries are annoying, but I think they look worse on sportier cars (like the Challenger) than cars like the Crown Vic or Chevy C-10. Why the Monte Carlo (pictured) looks like a GL design from 15 years ago is perplexing. Any ideas on this?
On steamroller GL car (like the Crown Victoria) is it possible for GL (or a customizer) to use slimmer tires and spacers to get it right? If GL can do this, why don’t they?
Another infuriating thing about GL is QC. QC is a huge problem. At least the cars are cheap, but I’d prefer to buy one perfect 10 dollar car than 2 impect 5 dollar cars. I’d say M2 and GL are about even on QC. M2’s are harder to put together and more realisitic (more lens details etc.), but arguably have slightly more QC issues (I am seeing a bit of improvement lately though). M2 cars also are screwed together which means stance issues can often fixed. GLs on the other hand….
And with all that GL still edges out other brands I love such as Tomica, Mini GT, Auto World and Inno64 as my favorite brand…
…I do really wish GL cars came with boxes (like Asian diecast). Especially some of their larger castings (trucks, monster trucks) are very difficult to store. And yes, GL cars do break.
Thanks Tor! And I really appreciate your well written response. I enjoy the engagement aspect nearly as much as I enjoy the writing.
GL is definitely one of my favorite brands as well, for the variety of the castings and the series themselves. And not only cars or trucks, but semis and super duties as well. It’s an exciting time to collect.
I’ve only got a few new Blazers, but specifically the army release leaves a bit to be desired. The wheels, although they’re the smaller ones, really should have some more beef to them. I did just crack the Fall Guy GMC and it’s great. Monster tires with a lift…and a roll bar! I think that casting would have benefitted from side mirrors though, perhaps cast into the windows like the 2012 Dodge Charger. It’s tough though, since they’re mostly those aluminum ones and would be tough to make them look right.
They seemed to have adjusted the body on the 240Z casting…the rear wheel wells are less cut out and the smaller wheels fit better. It’s still a head scratcher, but the racing liveries more than make up for its other shortcomings.
And you’re right about the steamroller tires looking worse on the sports cars. I don’t have many of the newer ones (maybe just a handful of newer Challengers), so I didn’t even think of them. I don’t care for the Camaros, beyond the COPO.
I’m excited for GL’s future and hopefully someone who’s somebody is ready this and immediately rectifies the issues we’ve spoken about, ha!
Just found your article as I was looking for some Lamley features on GL. Big up on a superb post. I am a South African collector, and have shifted my attention to Greenlight recently, as I became increasingly more frustrated with Mattel’s complete disregard for scale. This is one of the areas where GL truly excels in.
Being at the Southern tip of Africa, GL is only available from importers here, so we are not all that spoiled for choice.
May I suggest that you possibly write a ‘Greenlight for dummies’ article, which might have some info on the company’s origins, and especially base codes etc, as background information on Greenlight seems to be quite scarce. Keep up the excellent writing!
Limpopo, South Africa