This article was initially published in January 2004.
In the last 40 years, there have only been four models from Mercedes-Benz that truly follow in the tradition of the original 300SL Roadster of the 1950's. As each new SL Roadster model has arrived, toy car makers have been eager to offer a miniature version. This will certainly be the case with the new 500SL model of 2003. In my collection of SL roadster models, I found four, with tops in place, in dark blue that share different shades of this color with the newest 500SL model from Real Toy. Both Real Toy and Siku have been the earliest to offer the 2003 500SL but the Real Toy represents the stock, showroom model while the Siku represents the AMG tuned version.
Real Toy seldom gets the respect it deserves today. Many remember the Real Toy models of the 1990's where some castings looked too much like the competition and the quality was sometimes on the low end. That has all changed. First Real Toy decided to offer collector level paint on their models and now they are offering superior castings to match the paint. Compare the Real Toy SL Roadster to earlier models from Maisto, Yat Ming and Corgi and it is clear that Real Toy is serious about doing great toy cars.
The Corgi 280SL of the 1960's is a delightful period piece. The speed-type wheels look crude by today's standards and the yellow interior is not the best choice for a dark blue car but the lines are nice and the addition of opening doors increased play value. It can be challenging to find a this Corgi Junior model in good condition and values have increased for the best examples.
The Zylmex 450SL of the 1970's is also a decent model with opening doors and good detail. The version shown here was bought at a store in Canada just last year so it may still be in production. The wheels are a cheap and unfortunate choice but the paint is quite good.
Maisto offered the blue 500SL of the late 1980's and 1990's. This long-running model is still in production by Maisto and Edocar at last check. It pre-dates Maisto's decision to abandon interiors, although the black one in this model is hard to see. As with the Corgi and Yat Ming cars, the wheels are also the weak point of this model.
Each of these models was created in the era of the real car it represents and as such are also representative of the diecast techniques of the period. All have sold for less than $1 and this amazing value continues with the Real Toy model. All four have been and will continue to introduce and inspire generations of children to someday own one of the great SL Roadsters from Mercedes-Benz.