Lamley Awards 2020: My Top 10 new models and best buys of the year, by Graham Heeps

It’s almost not 2020 anymore (hooray!) but before we move on, the Lamley writers are counting down their highlights of the year.

Today it’s my turn and there’s not a Squarebody nor a Gulf logo in sight! I’m actually going to run down two lists. The first is my choices for the best new models of 2020. After that I’ll share my 10 favourite additions to my collection this year. Here we go, starting with the best new models…

My Top 10 New Models of 2020

10) HW Volvo 850 Estate – Mainline

I loved Super Touring racing back in the ’90s and this Volvo was one of the most memorable cars of that era, despite its lack of on-track success. This model drops in at number 10 because of its influence. Since it broke cover we’ve had 850 estates from Tarmac Works and Pop Race, the latest example of higher-priced brands seemingly looking to low-cost Hot Wheels for their inspiration: see also Mercedes 190, BRE, Gassers etc. A little originality wouldn’t go amiss from some of the diecast product planners out there.

(find Hot Wheels Volvo 850 on eBay)

9) Majorette Toyota Celica GT – Racing

Full marks for originality here, though. I recently featured this rally model in a short article right here on Lamley, so I won’t repeat myself, but this a fantastic choice of casting from Majorette and very well executed.

(find the Majorette Toyota Celica on eBay)

8) Mini GT Land Rover Defender 110 – Camel Trophy

I bought my first Mini GT models in 2020 and am a convert to their winning mix of true-scale 1:64, attention to detail, wheels that turn and competitive pricing. This Camel Trophy Defender has amazing detail for the price, and I have a second deco – Royal Mail – on order.

(find Mini GT Land Rover on eBay)

7) Matchbox Aston Martin DBR1 – Top Gun Maverick

Old-race-car-loving, Matchbox-collecting me was an easy target for this new Aston Martin but even so, this one is beautifully done by Abe Lugo and the team. For me this is the better of the two versions so far, from one of the Top Gun Maverick five-packs. Did I mention that I was also obsessed with Top Gun as a teenager? While we’re on Matchbox basics, let’s give an honourable mention to the long-awaited MGB, too.

(find Matchbox Aston Martin DBR1 on eBay)

6) Hot Wheels Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale – Boulevard

Another classic sports car, this time from Hot Wheels. As a former Alfa owner I was always predisposed to like this one, but they nailed it all the same. This all-metal beauty is sleek and chunky, reminding me of old Matchbox Superfast castings like the Ford Group 6.

(find Hot Wheels Alfa 33 Stradale on eBay)

5) Matchbox Ford Ranger – Moving Parts

This gets my pick as the underrated model of the year. Moving Parts distribution still needs some work – I had to order this in from the States – but some of the castings have been terrific. I love that both the hood and tailgate open, and the Skyjacker livery is cool as well.

(find Matchbox Ford Ranger on eBay)

4) Hot Wheels ’72 Mercedes-Benz 280 SEL 4.5 – Modern Classics

Another great Hot Wheels newcomer that will doubtless be a contender for Best Hot Wheels Premium New Model in the Lamley Awards. With that stance, wheels and the subtle Spectraflame paint, it just oozes menace. Fantastic.

(find Hot Wheels Mercedes 280 SEL on eBay)

3) Matchbox Lamborghini Centenario – Moving Parts

Matchbox’s best model of the year for me. It’s great to see them doing supercars again and Lamborghinis are part of Matchbox’s heritage, going right back to the Regular Wheels Miura. The detail on the Centenario is excellent for a $2 car – take a look at the rear end – and hopefully the play value in the scissor doors will inspire more kids to dream of supercars like so many of us did.

(find Matchbox Centenario on eBay)

2) Inno64 Mitsubishi Pajero Evo – 1999 Jutta Kleinschmidt

My first Inno purchase is a stunner, slotting nicely into my mostly CM’s 1:64 rally car display. The Pajero is not a cheap model but the detail and quality of the finish are well worth the price. Inno has several authentic rally-raid liveries to pick from, plus a street car, but I went for the distinctive Jutta Kleinschmidt/Tina Thörner PlayStation truck from ’99.

(find Inno64 Pajero on eBay)

1) Hot Wheels RS200 – Thrill Climbers

I grew up loving rallying in the 1980s, and although the Audi Quattro was my favourite rally car, as a 10-year-old I confidently assessed that the RS200 would make an incredible road car. Much later I had the chance to drive one on track – a visceral experience, but I quickly ran out of talent!

I had the Matchbox version, of course, and a Radiopaging Scalextric one as well, but it was a brilliant surprise when the new Hot Wheels emerged this year. Ford- and rally-loving Mark Jones did the design work and created a masterpiece, in my view – it’s my new model of the year, no question.

(find Hot Wheels RS200 on eBay)

This seems a good place to mention the new Greenlight Escort Cosworth as well, another great version of a classic Ford rally car. It was an unexpected casting choice but as noted earlier, there aren’t enough of those, so great job Greenlight.

(find Greenlight Hot Hatches on eBay)

My Top 10 Buys of 2020

Still here? Great! Just for fun, here’s another top 10 for you. This was a great year for new 1:64 diecast, but older models account for at least 50% of what I buy, so the 10 listed here are mostly different to my Top 10 New Models of 2020.

My main collecting themes are Matchbox (including my continuing Mission800 quest to collect one each of the first 800 numbered castings), Tomica, race cars and rally cars, which goes a long way to explaining my choices here. Let’s get going, again beginning with my #10 choice and counting down to my favourite acquisition of 2020!

10) Matchbox Cosmic Blues – Charlie Mack Model of the Month

Charlie Mack has forgotten more about Matchbox than I’ll ever know. His amazing collection is even the subject of an upcoming documentary film. I have several of his excellent reference books and occasionally buy from him on eBay when he’s clearing out spares. He also continues to produce his extremely limited-run Models of the Month (working with Color Comp I believe) and occasionally I pick one up. I couldn’t resist this reimagining of the Cosmic Blues, inspired by the Super Kings K-43 Cambuster like the one I was given at a Christmas party aged about 4. That’s it in the picture!

(find Matchbox Cosmic Blues on eBay)

9) Greenlight Dallara IndyCar – Fuzzy’s Vodka

Greenlight has been making licensed IndyCar models in 1:64 for about seven seasons now. I only have a handful, partly because they’re tougher to get hold of outside the States, but I added a 2018 Indy 500 1-2-3 set this year. My favourite of the three is this second-placed car of Ed Carpenter, which looks mean in the all-black deco of sponsor, Fuzzy’s Vodka.

(find Greenlight Fuzzy’s IndyCar on eBay)

8) Action Collectibles Buick Regal – Bobby Allison

I love motorsport history and was inspired by reading the book Bobby Allison and the Alabama Gang to seek out a few models of cars driven by Bobby, Donnie, Clifford and Davey Allison, plus Neil Bonnett and Hut Stricklin. This may be the pick of the bunch, representing Bobby’s Buick Regal from 1983. It’s an old Platinum Series model by Action Collectibles.

(find Bobby Allison 1:64 NASCAR on eBay)

7) Kyosho McLaren F1 GTR – Ueno Clinic

I don’t buy a lot of Kyosho racing cars because they’re hard to find for a good price outside of Japan, but of the few I bought this year, this may be the most iconic. It’s the Kokusai Kaihatsu/Lanzante car that was driven to victory at Le Mans in 1995. Thanks to Jeff Koch (@the_toy_pimp on Instagram) for hooking me up with this one.

(find 1:64 Kyosho McLaren F1 on eBay)

6) Inno64 Mitsubishi Pajero Evo – 1999 Jutta Kleinschmidt

This one again. The continuing rise of premium 1:64 is certainly one of the diecast stories of the year but a lot of the common subjects (JDM street cars, RWB Porsches etc) fall outside of my collection. Not so this phenomenal Dakar Pajero, which goes nicely with my collection of mostly-CM’s 1:64 rally cars. The quality and detail are just amazing, so congratulations to Inno on one of the models of the year.

(find Inno64 Pajero on eBay)

5) Matchbox Audi Quattro

I bought the original Lesney issue of the Quattro as soon as it came out in 1982 and it was always a childhood favourite. Almost 40 years later I was able to get this version of the Audi from Matchbox Gathering organizer, Jim Gallegos. It’s surely one of the best, but only came about because a BP promo was cancelled. The Audi logo on the hood was tampo’d over the original BP one!

(find Matchbox Audi Quattro on eBay)

4) Matchbox National Parks Chevy Silverado

It was one of those moments when you look in a bin and think, “Is that a…?”. I was at a pre-Covid toy show in January and I spotted this Chevy, which has become a bit of a legend due to its limited availability (a 10-pack in Canada) and the growing desirability of the National Parks series of models. One of the axles isn’t quite straight, but I’m very happy to have it all the same.

(find National Parks Silverado on eBay)

3) Hot Wheels Audi Sport Quattro – Thrill Climbers

Another Quattro. Before this Hot Wheels came out last year, I think you have to go back to the 1980s for the last time a mainstream manufacturer did a decent one in 1:64-ish scale. I love the Matchbox casting (see above) and Majorette did a good one too, wide slicks aside! I bought the mainline Sport Quattro when it first appeared, but it pales in comparison with the authentic-ish colour scheme in the excellent Thrill Climbers series.

(find Hot Wheels Thrill Climbers on eBay)

2) Matchbox Chrysler Voyager

This unique promo had eluded me for years, mostly because I was refusing to overpay! It was great to finally cross it off the Mission800 list and it doesn’t disappoint. Note the different front end from the much more common Dodge Caravan releases. More here.

(find Matchbox Chrysler Voyager on eBay)

1) Tomica Porsche 956 – Advan

I never thought I’d own this rare model but was offered it by a friend at a great price (thank you Nick @nms_collection_). It’s unboxed and missing a couple of labels, but didn’t require a second mortgage to acquire, so I’m delighted all the same. It’s a great addition both to my Tomica collection and my lineup of 1:64 racing Porsches – more on that here.

(find the Tomica 956 on eBay)

Honourable mentions: There were plenty of other models that I was happy to add to my collection this year (why else would I have bought them?!) but a few others came close to making this countdown. In no particular order they were the Shelby Collectibles Cobra Daytona Coupe, an old Matchbox/White Rose NASCAR transporter featuring the ’93 Country Time Thunderbird of Bobby Hamilton, a Tomica cement mixer from a shareholder set that I found in a thrift store, the Hot Wheels Dirty Blonde Gasser, Bubba Wallace’s BLM Chevy NASCAR and the Hot Wheels Flying Customs Skyline KDR30, which wouldn’t have looked out of place as a Hot One back in the 1980s.

Hope you’ve enjoyed these rundowns, subjective as they are. Let me know your favourites in the comments below!

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