Tomica, Konami, Kyosho and Charawheels - Japan's Best

Posted by: Doug in Member Blogs

For many years, Tomica has been the standard-bearer for Japanese small-scale diecast. While Tomica's 35 years of history and consistent quality have created one of the most respected products in the diecast industry, newcomers are now presenting a serious challenge. In the last several years, top quality models have appeared from Konami, Kyosho and Charawheels, a Japanese brand owned by Mattel. Tomica has responded with the Tomica Limited line offering, offering collector versions of classic and current models. Which Japanese company produces the best 1:64 scale diecast today? Here are four examples to help you decide.

Konami - 1968 Mazda Cosmo L10B

This beautiful car is seldom seen outside of Japan as few were exported. The combination of stylish lines and Rotary power, gave this sports coupe plenty of panache and helped bring Mazda the attention of the automotive community. It is not as brutal at Toyota's 2000GT and it does copy western styled sports car design in the manner of the Nissan Fairlady 240Z. 

The Konami model is in perfect 1:64 scale and shows the stylish lines of the first Mazda sports car. The wheels are correct for the car and the tires are the correct size and width. Trim is well detailed and the interior even features a sporty wood steering wheel. This model has been done by Tomica but the Konami is the better of the two. The price for this model is less than $5.

The Konami model is in perfect 1:64 scale and shows the stylish lines of the first Mazda sports car. The wheels are correct for the car and the tires are the correct size and width. Trim is well detailed and the interior even features a sporty wood steering wheel. This model has been done by Tomica but the Konami is the better of the two. The price for this model is less than $5.

Kyosho - 1956 Ferrari D50 Formula 1 Racer

The 1956 Ferrari D50 began life in 1955 as a Lancia. When Lancia suspended their F1 program, Ferrari was able to use the D50 for the 1956 season. Juan Manual Fangio won the Driver's Championship for Ferrari that year. the most distinctive feature of the D50 is the side-pod fuel tanks that were intended to aid aerodynamics. Mercedes-Benz also used F1 cars with enclosed-body aero-aids in this era.

The Kyosho D50 required assembly from a kit. All the pieces fit perfectly and the end result is a fine model. The solid windshield might be a point of contention for some but at least it won't break off. The tires and wheels are excellent and appropriate for the car. The graphics are well-placed and authentic. The availability of these models and price are the biggest problems for collectors.

Charawheels - Citroen 2CV

The classic 2CV has seldom looked better than it does with the version from Charawheels/Diapet. This Citroen 2CV might date from the 1960's with it's textured hood and side vents. The position of the rear wheels is especially good and will be immediately recognized as correct by anyone who has owned a 2CV.

The base reads 'Mattel' and 'Hot Wheels' but the quality is much better than one would expect. This model was part of a three car set from the 'Lupin the Third' movie and features a female driver dressed as a bride. Even this curious addition is well done. The red interior and black dash look good and the roll-back top is well-made. The wheels and tires are simple but effective and look fine on this model. It was necessary to buy a three-car set to get this model, bringing the price for this example to about $10.

Tomica Limited - Subaru 360 SS

Only Tomica could make a Subaru 360 look like a sports car. It says SS on the nose and perhaps this 360 offered a few more horsepower than the stock version. Even so, it is hard to see a car shaped like this as anything but cute and slow. The rear engine is not visible but the nose opens. The scale of this casting is a huge 1:50 but the small-size of the real car does not make it seem oversized.

Tomica Limited models are castings that were initially offered as regular line pieces but have now returned with better paint detail, correct wheels and rubber tires. They also cost quite a bit more than regular models and it seems they are selling well for Tomica. The success of these limited models has certainly been a source of inspiration for Konami and Kyosho to offer their models in this scale. These Tomica castings are very good but do not have the delicacy of the Konami models. Tomica has found a way to give new life to existing and retired castings and this is both clever and profitable. Other manufacturers could learn from this example and clearly, other Japanese diecast companies are doing just that.


Tags: Vehicles, Tales of Toy Cars

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