Lamley Awards 2020: Top of the Class for the Bearded Mug Bunch.

It’s incredible to think it’s been nearly a year since I joined the Lamley Writing Squad and was given a key to the Lamley Complex. And what a year it’s been, right? Don’t worry, I’m not here to tell you how awful 2020 has been and how 2021 is going to be so much better. That’s fodder for fantasy fiction. 

What I will do is present some prose on my “Top 10* new additions and castings that have found their way into my garage in 2020.” Yes, that was the unofficial working title before slimming it down to something more digestible. Yes, the asterisk is there to excuse my inability to stick within the Squad’s parameters. Read on.

While I may not have openly admitted it, I’ve alluded to the fact that my garage is overrun with purchases I most likely didn’t need. I have a problem, I get it, and I’m currently working with a buddy to start a support group, ha. John had a great article back in February talking about the exact issue regarding collectors coming to grips with their collections and how at times they can be overwhelming to keep, and to keep up.

But back to why we’re here today – the list! 

Because 2020 has felt like it was 24 months long, I really had to think about what I bought this year and what castings were new. The struggle was real, but without further ado, may I present, in no particular order, my Class of 2020.

Most Likely to be Found Bouncing at the Local Bar: Greenlight’s 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Show Vehicle from Hot Pursuit 34

This is a casting I was very much excited to see break cover. With the patrol version of the Explorer being used extensively by departments as a replacement for the retired Crown Vic, Greenlight has kept up with it in miniature scale. Series 10 saw the 2013 Explorer demo car and while they introduced the freshened ’16 model in Series 20, a formal demo car was never done. This 2020 version marks a return to form with the all-new generation carry to the torch for future releases. It has subsequently been outfitted in NYPD livery as well as a black demo version (among others), but this is where it all started.

Most Spirited: PARA64 Mitsubishi GTO in Puma livery

I’ve already stated just how great this release is in a broader PARA64 post (which you can read about HERE. However, I will rehash why I enjoy it so much. The 3000GT/GTO is underrepresented in the diecast world. Matchbox had the 3000GT Spyder and Tomica has the first-generation car (think pop-up headlights). That’s it, as far I as know, if you don’t count Auto World’s stunning new Dodge Stealth casting. So to have a brand who is rather new to 1:64 scale come along and introduce not just the road versions (they did both the 3000GT and GTO in red, green and white), but an obscure racing livery as well, was a real home run for collectors.

Most Athletic: Auto World Chevrolet Silverado High Country 2020 Release 2A

Auto World has been crushing it lately. It seems every time they tease a new casting, they set the bar higher. If you flip through their back catalog, you’ll notice they lean heavily towards older cars. When it was announced they would be doing the redesigned 2019 Silverado, I was curious to see how it would fare in the wake of the previously released 2018 F-150, the company’s first foray into the modern full-size pickup market. When it arrived in Northsky blue, I was more than satisfied with its presentation. First, its heft is noticeable. To complement its opening hood is a drop-down tailgate. The wheels are beautifully finished and the detailing throughout is well done. The only mark against it would be the elementary execution of the headlights. For some reason, Auto World thinks it’s acceptable to tampo the eyes of the casting in #FFFFFF white, adding just a dab of orange to the corners to replicate parking lights.

Greenlight utilized the same approach on theirs which also leaves me scratching my head. Is it that hard to pay respect to the jeweled LED headlights by attempting a little depth? AW’s 2015-2017 Mustang suffered a similar shortcoming, only they changed course a few years into production and did away with the silver pen headlights. By that logic, maybe AW will right their wrong in 2022? Otherwise, it’s been a stellar casting, especially in top trim.

Most Likely to Wear Their Letter Jacket to Their 25th Reunion: Hobby Japan Subaru Impreza WRX STi Version II – Sports Blue

Swimming, tennis and a varsity imaginary number? I’ll spare you another long paragraph of romantic drivel since I already did a rather extensive post on a multitude of Subaru Impreza castings, culminating with the GC set from Hobby Japan. You can read all about that HERE. However, that couldn’t stop me from selecting the WR Blue STi as the belle of the ball, a car I would love to get my hands on in 1:1 form. A car that is just as capable as doing the grocery run as it is being a ski slope transport or blasting down the Wangan. Unfortunately with two young kids, a mortgage and all the other associated costs of adulting, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Although the US’ 25 year import rule is slowing opening the gates for many hot Imprezas of the mid-90s. For now, having the scaled down version in my possession is good enough.

Most Likely to Request a Tow Truck at the Most Inopportune Time: Tomica Limited Vintage Ferrari 355 Berlinetta

The Ferrari 355 is a car I wouldn’t hesitate to seek out if I ever came into a large sum of money. A small amount for the initial purchase and the balance for the upkeep in maintenance and repairs. In my opinion, it’s a Maranello standout of timeless design in a modern sea of aerodynamic angles and wonky wind tunnel wonders. I’ll always recall leaving the bagel shop I worked at back in high school one Sunday afternoon. Parked at the top of the lot was a Rosso Corsa example. As we approached our cars, the Ferrari barked to life, backed out of its spot, rolled angrily through the lot and entered the main road with aplomb and with complete disregard for any oncoming traffic. The sound its 3.5L 40V V8 made as it shrieked into the distance was seared into my brain forever. Hot Wheels has a handful of 355 variants, as does Kyosho. But when it was announced that TLV would be tackling the model as well, my excitement rose. Given their experience with the F40, Dinos and the Testarossa/512 TR, there were no doubts they would do it justice. It was released in both Berlinetta and Spyder iterations, but for me it’s the former that ticks all the boxes. 

Teacher’s Pet: Mini GT Corvette C8

This do-it-all budget supercar was somewhat of a shocker, not because I’m not yet keen on the C8, but because Mini GT has released so many winners over the last year. This one arrived towards the end of October, in a box that included the HKS R32 and the BMW M4, and immediately caught my eye. The paint is impressive, the wheels are on point and the details dialed in. It would not look out of place parked next to the Huracán Evo or the GT2 RS. This car has all the answers to every question ever posed to those that came before it. The only demerit this casting presents is the lack of side mirrors. That little detail would have no doubt placed it as the valedictorian. Even if you’re not a fan of America’s sweetheart, you will appreciate having this piece in your collection.

Life of the Party: Hot Wheels Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale – Boulevard

I’ve already waxed lyrical about this Mark Jones’ masterpiece in a previous post, so again, I’ll cut right to the chase. If you asked me ten years ago where I saw the Hot Wheels’ line headed in the next decade, I would have never given this car any thought. When it was previewed at an event long, long ago, I nearly fell out of my chair (not really, as I was sitting, stationary mind you, in a car at the time). I feel having a model like this getting the green light for production is going to open the door for other less conventional cars.

Class Clown: Inno64 Mitsubishi Pajero Evo – Silver

This one was another unexpected gem from a brand I don’t often purchase. It’s not because I don’t care for their cars, quite the opposite. They are in the business of creating some exceptionally detailed shelf pieces for budget-minded collectors – sort of. While each boxed heirloom will only set you back on average $20, the frequency in which new product is rolled out will quickly bankrupt even the wealthiest of collectors. That is certainly not a bad thing, as I would rather have more choices than not, but for those who can’t control late night urges to Buy-It-Now, it can be a little unnerving. At quick glance, the proportions of the Pajero Evolution  appear to be a caricature of the standard Pajero, thus its designation in the yearbook. But take a few moments to really appreciate the lines and you’ll find they follow more than a few deliberate directions. Bozo this rally veteran is not, and your respect it demands and commands. 

Most Likely to Inspire #TBT Posts: Hot Wheels Volkswagen Jetta MK3 – Modern Classics

When this casting was first previewed for an upcoming premium Fast & Furious series, I was more excited for the prospect of what it could be rather than what it was slated for. Sure, Jesse’s Jetta in the original Fast and Furious has become somewhat legendary in the VW scene (maybe legendary isn’t the word, although it’s alleged that Frankie Munoz once owned it. Perhaps notorious?). But my tuning style leans more towards OEM+ than emptying the entire Wings West catalog on one anonymous family sedan. So when it was leaked as being part of the next Modern Classics, I was hoping for the best. I was not disappointed. While the removal of the horrid Wings West-style spoiler wasn’t in the cards for the casting, the Tornado red paint, textured door moldings, and InPro-esque clear tails really raised the bar. Coupled with the dual-round headlights and grill insert (a Strictly Foreign piece, if I recall correctly), painted flares and roll cage, it was an unusual mashup of styling cues if anything. Heck, even the gray 5-spokes reminded me of Borbet Type A wheels. I will always (for the most part) advocate for door mirrors, and the frontend tampos make the parking lights and dummy panels look engorged, but as a whole I couldn’t be happier. This car is more than the physical toy I can roll on my desk. It’s a connection to memories I’ve made with my own MK3 Jetta back in the early aughts and into the 2010s with my second one. It harks back to friendships made, irreplaceable experiences and helped mold my formative years in a positive way. For those reasons I can look past the casting’s shortcomings and hold it to a higher level of appreciation.

Most Likely to Succeed: Hot Wheels Subaru Impreza 22B STi – Modern Classics

This is THE one! When the casting was released to the Mainline in the B case (I believe that’s correct), I hoarded as many as I could get my grubby mitts on without alarming my family and forcing them to stage one of those interventions. That meant scouring multiple GameStops and scavenging picked-through cases to amass a double digit stash of the ultimate Impreza. The 10-spoke wheels were, IMO, the most fitting of the available options, but the red over amber taillights were a bit out of place for the 22B. I asked Hot Wheels designer Leeway Chang why it was like that and his gracious response was that they were like that in some countries and when they tried the silver, it popped too much. I disagreed with the first half until I did a little digging and found Australian 22Bs did in fact feature the red/amber taillights. How many made it down under? Five.

That would have been my number one casting for this year if it hadn’t been for its almost immediate elevation to Premium status in 2020’s Modern Classics line. A diecast chassis, additional tampos, ‘corrected’ taillights, and mesh Real Riders turned its temporary desk position into a permanent resident on my bookshelf. The only way it would have been completely over the top is if they used the lace-style wheels first found on IndyCars. Regardless, this miniature model is packed with so much want I’m not surprised the fenders are ballooned out the way they are. While it might not possess the scale accuracy of a Kyosho, you can’t beat the value it provides. I haven’t hoarded the Premium release, as I haven’t found it on the pegs yet (I ordered a case of MC online). But I’m sure once my local Walmarts catch up, I’ll gladly help them move stock.

While the following aren’t exactly receiving participation awards, they certainly deserve some sort of recognition.

Honorable Mention #1: Hot Wheels Oldsmobile Aurora from Demolition Man

My favorite “old man car” is easily the Aurora. As I mentioned in the Lamley Daily, the first-gen Olds will forever hold a place in my heart. If I had a need for a comfortable cruising car, I wouldn’t hesitate to seek one out. The second release in teal is also a winner, but I didn’t have one easily accessible to photograph.

Honorable Mention #2: M2 1971 Dodge Charger Super Bee in B5 Blue

Earlier in the year I gathered together a bunch of then-recent M2 purchases and wrote and photographed them. For me, the standout of the bunch was this ’71 Charger. It’s a car in real life that easily gets overlooked, and undervalued (undercut?), by the 68-70 Charger. M2’s many 1/64 models are a great way to place the undervalued Chargers en masse in your garage.

Honorable Mention #3: Greenlight Hitch & Tow Ram 3500 and Livestock Trailer – OMT Exclusive

I still remember where I first read that Greenlight was bringing the Ram 3500 Dually to market…it was to be an exclusive through Outback Toys and followed the F-350 Dually that was initially a Town & Country Toys exclusive. In the pickup truck world, I would handily choose the Ram over the Ford based on looks alone and completely ignoring any reliability history (change my mind). The diecast world has seen a handful of color schemes and trim levels in the ensuing months, including in Dually Drivers and further store exclusives, the former being the subject here. This Ram was featured in a 9-piece set along with the Chevy 3500 HD and Ford F-350 pulling three different livestock trailers. OMT is an acronym for Outback Toys, MC-2 and Town & Country and the models are a collaborative effort. Instead of scooping them all up, I made a fiscally responsible decision and only chose the ones that appealed to me. The two tone grayish blue over silver was hitched to the silver diecast trailer. The only disappointment I’ve had with the Rams is the lack of a diecast chassis. I understand cost constraints for the Series cars, but at Hobby-exclusive prices, it shouldn’t have a plastic base. Overall, I’m pleased to have this and a few others added to my collection. Greenlight has been on a roll these last few years with the introduction of varied castings. The workaday trailers only enhance the realism of anyone’s 1/64 world.

Honorable Mention #4: Greenlight Chevrolet C60 Grain Truck

This B&B Farm Toys exclusive is the first usage of the casting that has seen only one other outing since (the latter being a C65). Like the above Hitch & Tows, this white cab/red box was part of a much larger set with differing beds, including a propane tank and a fertilizer tank. The cabs came in an assortment of colors and the wheels were either those pictured or classic Mack-style wheels. Again, at $20 each, I made a strategic move to only purchase select ones. I’m interested in seeing if this casting will make an appearance at some point in the Heavy Duty series or will remain a B&B exclusive.

Honorable Mention #5: Greenlight Under the Hood 1971 AMC Javelin AMX

I have been hunting down as many variations of this casting, one of my favorite muscle cars, all year. Thankfully, I learned a few tricks and have been able to strike a majority off my list, including this one. Besides the SST in the second series of GL Muscle, this is the only time the Javelin has been painted in yellow. As a bonus, it features proper wheels instead of those awful steam roller tires that have a tendency to hamstring the casting. 

Honorable Mention #6: Hot Wheels Mini Truck #89

This Mini Truck was a new purchase, but not necessarily new to my collection. This classic casting has been with me since it was released in 1990, but after finally coming across the Nissan Hardbody in a similar paint scheme, I knew I had to get a package-fresh one for a possible pairing post. That said, this Blue Card did more than set me up for future content (worry not, it will be cracked), it sent me off on a field trip of finding others that correlated from my junior years. You know how easy it is to not have to worry about the souvenir cap since I’m an adult? It can easily turn an innocent eBay romp into one of regret. Even so, I encourage everyone to fulfill their quota of childhood connections by browsing the ‘Bay for former flames. 

Honorable Mention #7: Matchbox 2019 Mustang Coupe

Matchbox was cracking out new castings this year at an alarming rate, with most of them accepted with open arms. The 2019 Mustang Coupe, which debuted in the Walmart exclusive Mustang series, could almost be construed as an act of penance for last year’s poorly executed 2018 Mustang convertible. However it came to be, it was a welcome addition and an instant trifecta, with both the featured orange and a Bullitt-like green singles and the grey over black wheel version in the Top Gun 5-pack. With excellent proportions, front and rear tampos, and the all-important side mirrors, it’s a must for any Mustang fan and should be up for consideration by any Matchbox collector.

Honorable Mention #8: Hot Wheels Big-Air Bel-Air

This is just a cool casting. Brendon Vetuskey’s Hot Wheels CV is as red-blooded American as they come, with countless badass designs to his credit. I’m sure you all recall the ’55 Bel Air Gasser? This baja-style ’56 Bel Air is the perfect complement to it, a pendulum swing so wide it leaves you wondering if there is anything he couldn’t dream up. Take a closer look at the Mainline’s details and that they’re all packed into a dollar price point is incredible. Considering the popularity of Facebook’s Safari All The Cars group, it’s not surprising a casting like this exists. And with Brendon on the case, the choice to base it on a Bel Air was a no-brainer.

There you have it, folks. My version of a Top 10 with a few additions sprinkled in under the guise of Honorable Mentions. I really enjoyed myself putting this list together. It reminded me that there were an incredible amount of incredible castings released this year from every manufacturer. It also highlighted the fact that my collection is all over the place; that is, I collect what I like (especially if it’s red or blue, apparently). I’ll be purging a bunch of things for 2021 and focusing on more realism and scale moving forward so who knows what next year’s graduating class will bring. Cheers!

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