You’ll know by now my love for commercial vehicles. And also my love for Japanese vehicles, and subsequently Japanese diecast. This one hits my buttons perfectly.
If someone asked you to find a model of an Isuzu Elf equipped with an auger you would normally be reaching for the back catalogues of diecast giant Tomica. But there’s not a TLV, Premium or Black Box in sight here as this was made by the lesser known Japanese brand of Eidai, under their “Grip Zechin” range. And it’s got bags of charm and vintage cool.
Grip Zechin models were made between 1975 and the early 1980s and featured mainly industrial vehicles including Hitachi and Caterpillar excavators, Nissan Caravans and Mitsubishi Fusos.
Like Tomica, the range also had some non road vehicles like a Shinkansen “Bullet Train”, a Misui-Zosen hovercraft and a JNR class D51 steam train. There were several second generation Isuzu Elf models with various configurations including this one equipped with the auger attachment.
Produced almost globally from Japan to Columbia, the Isuzu Elf is a hugely successful light truck that over the years has been produced under license by Chevrolet, Mazda, Nissan and GMC amongst others. The second generation Elf was introduced in 1968 ended production in 1975. As a quick Google Image search proves, examples can still be found working away in far flung corners of the globe.
The Eidai version is a great bit of retro diecast. My example came in its original box albeit a little crumpled with age and missing the original plastic insert, but cool nontheless.
The model is very similar to Tomicas of the era, and scaled at 1/62. The suspension functions, the support legs slide out and the auger attachment rotates and articulates.
There’s a driver behind the wheel and there should have been an auger operator sat at the controls but sadly mine is missing. It doesn’t detract from it at all however, and it’s a real favourite in my collection.
It’s good to get back to the pages of Lamley with something like this, and lucky that neighbours were having work done on their driveway to give me a rather fitting backdrop!
(Find Eidai Grip models on Ebay)
2 Replies to “Tomica? Not this time. Grip Zechin Isuzu Elf”
Superb! I discovered these in Germany in the late 80’s and was really impressed with the detail, and the range of bulldozers, cranes, fire engines etc. – and being smaller were a bit more affordable than whatever big Tomicas could be found, yet still had working bits.
They are great and *still* more affordable then vintage Tomicas!