The amazing Pop Race Toyota Celica GT-Four Safari

You might have seen this Toyota Celica in this classic livery appearing everywhere on eBay, or if you are lucky, in your diecast hobby dealer. You are wondering why it’s in box with a baseplate, what is Pop Race, and who is the manufacturer ? Or maybe you don’t care at all and just like the model, and that’s it. Anyway, I’ll try to bring some answers to all those mysteries.

This Toyota Celica GT-Four ST185 Safari Rally 1993 is branded Pop Race. It comes in an acrylic box and a plastic base, both very colorful and perfectly matching the Castrol colors of the Toyota. This Pop Race logo doesn’t indicate the manufacturer, as far as Pop Race itself doesn’t do the development of the cars.

I would love to know if like me, you are a bit lost with all those Pop Race cars, and this opacity of the origin of the brand. Even me, I wasn’t sure before asking Inno64 who did this car. I don’t know why, but it’s important to me to know who designed it, and who made it. It can tell you a lot about the model and the quality you can except for. The packaging looks like Tarmac Works, as well as Inno64, and frankly, Hobby Japan did announce the Celica in various forms a few months ago (and the boxes are quite the same, except the design logos that are super strict from Hobby Japan).

So, as you guessed, the Celica is developed and made (I guess) by Inno64. Though, I know because I asked, and nothing on the packaging indicates Inno64. They develop cars for Pop Race, which is cool, because it means more models I have chance to be crazy of. In this particular case, it could be confusing, because the Toyota Celica is not at Inno64 catalog. Such as the Pop Race Audi R8 (that is a Tarmac Works star model, but it’s not a Tarmac obviously), or the Chevrolet Cruze you don’t find in Inno64 mainline. But the Mitsubishi Starion is, the Lancer Evo III is, the Nissan Pandem R32 is, and the Hakotora will be. In those cases, I think we can talk about collaboration models… Mmh mmh.

Anyway, the Pop Race cars are very centered on Pop Race logos, the brand itself,not the origin of the “manufacturer”, and even the base plate doesn’t give that much information of the model itself. You have to closely look at the tiny inscription in the back of the box to know the Celica is a Safari 1993 version. Strange. I must admit this particularity disturbs me a bit, but I can live with. Oh, and as I said, the car comes with a plastic base exactly like Inno models. That is a very convincing argument for me to add it to my collection, because I take care of the way I display my cars (but it’s just me). In other words, I really don’t like much the Pop Race cardboard packaging that are used for many other models. That’s a shame, because the Starion’s and other street Celica’s are very interesting to me …

Back on the model itself. It is STUNNING. 1 point for the guys who don’t care at all the origin of the casting. The model is among what you can expect to be the best value for money on the 1:64 market. It’s a kind of CM’s legacy of 2021, and clearly Inno64 standards, I would say at its best. You can find some on eBay.

It’s a very very photogenic car, in a famous Castrol livery. The model is very highly detailed, and reminds me the Inno64 Lancer Evolution III Safari Rally, with all the tiny pieces such as bars, snorkel, lights, mudguards … The only reproach I can say is the stance (for once!). In my opinion, the Safari rally cars must be higher. Other than that, this is a master piece. Details are in the interior as well, and I particularly love the details through the rear window, where you can spot a spare tire too.

Really, this Toyota Celica is one of those models you love to see pop up, and really make you smile. With a very Safari stance, it could have been a serious candidate for model of the year.

This is a metal chassis, and the car rolls.

This Toyota is joining my Safari collection, mainly composed of CM’s cars, and be sure I’m very happy with it. I highly suggest you to grab one, because it is iconic, and prices have already gone up crazy (and I’ve observed it is already difficult to get the Inno64 Evo III Safari at a fair price). But please understand it’s not a $100 car, and let some eBay sellers dream … Enjoy!

As a bonus, here are some photos of the CM’s model in comparison to the Pop Race. Even if almost 20 years of difference, you can see how CM’s models were great!


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