Solido...we've been expecting you!

29 July 2022
Stephen Paul Hardy unboxes some of Solido’s latest offerings and finds himself behaving like the proverbial child in a toy shop.
Solido...we've been expecting you! Images

There are certain cars that every mainstream diecast manufacturer appears to deem essential for inclusion in its catalogue at some time or other – ‘that’ 1963 DB5 undoubtably tops the list. It is a compelling thought, though, that if the original narratives had been faithfully adhered to, the most popular scale model car ever made would probably have been a dowdy Bentley of one Mk or another. And by the same token if the principal character’s automotive image in the 1964 motion picture (yes the quaint seems more appropriate than the colloquial of ‘film’) Goldfinger had not been fashionably upgraded to the latest contemporary Aston Martin launched in 1963, conceivably the alternative would have been the also new, but rather more conservatively styled, Bristol 408.

As it is, a considerable number of us instantly recognise and automatically associate with a DB5 in Birch Silver to the point of subconsciously hearing a certain theme tune in our heads. So much so that, particularly thanks to the series starring Daniel Craig, it wouldn’t be the same without at least a few seconds of ‘that’ car and several minutes of ‘that’ soundtrack. Yes, there have already been a considerable number of models, in most scales, already made of it. Some languish in standard showroom appearance, some dubiously masquerading and some getting the full blown accessory gadget treatment. Yes I am deliberately trying not to mention his name or number, nor the registration numbers variously assigned to ‘that’ DB5. And this is one of the up-front reasons that I really like Solido’s new model.

Aston Martin DB5 - 1964

One of the first things I noticed about Solido’s 1/18 scale diecast DB5 in Silver Birch (S1807101) is that it doesn’t carry, nor come with optional number plates alluding to the cinematic stars. It is unpretentious and so with no allusion to, or basking in the reflected glory of, cinematic charisma, the pressure is, therefore, off. So we can see and appreciate it for what it is - a very pleasing, good value, 1/18 diecast of the cutting edge of the British motor industry from 1963.

I have (of course) still got my treasured boyhood first release, all action, gold-painted 1/43 version, but for many years have also desired a collector’s quality version in charismatic silver. Until now, the choice has been too great and the variation in cost tempered with wildly differing modelling quality too varied for me to pursue my wish. At last I have to hand what is for me the ideal solution to my quest. A well-proportioned, nicely-finished 1/18 diecast enhanced by some good detailing sat within an affordable budget band. Maybe the wait was worth it because the modelling quality of those wire wheels, radiator grille and light lenses front and back is now way above the quality we used to see on models in the sector of the market Solido is vigorously active in. Announced right at the outset of Solido’s new models for 2022 (and indeed installed as its catalogue cover star) I have been expecting its arrival for six months. A wait that was worth it.

And now for something totally unrelated and totally different...

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Toyota Supra Mk.4 (A80) Coupé and Targa - 1993

Another pair from Solido’s new tooling investment for 2022 are the Supra Mk.4 (A80) Coupé and Targa in Renaissance Red (S1807601) and Super White (S1807602) respectively. Like the DB5, this pair are 1/18 diecasts having opening doors and removable roof centre panel on the Targa.

This generation of Supra engenders for me similar feelings of attraction to the body line styling that the earlier series Mazda MXs had combined with a front nose image that certainly screams evocation of earlier Toyota sports cars. Displaying many of the assembly qualities that I have mentioned in recent reviews of Solido new models, this pair of emotionally robust models are really nice additions to the fast growing ranks of Solido models showcasing Japanese cars. Their finish in street standard, not metallic, primary colours makes a refreshing change (and contrast with) some of the wilder, tuned releases we have seen of late.

Solido’s new 1/43 range

To which “We’ve been expecting you” equally applies! So the first eight models in Solido’s newly-tooled venture back into 1/43 are now to hand and sending my mind into that ‘child in a toy shop’ mode. Where do I start, which shall I open first? Breathing deeply and just taking stock (in all senses of the phrase), there are four pairs of models:
• Renault Megane R26R: White (S4310201) Blue (S4310202)
• Dodge Challenger: Demon Red (S4310301) Plum Crazy (S4310302)
• Citroën BX Sport: Gris Renard Metallic (S4311001) Rouge Feu (S4311002)
• BMW M5 E39:  Blue (S4310501) Silver (S4310502)

Which, consistent with Solido’s current catalogue strategy, starts to mark out a good international spread of subjects. Let’s start, at an overview level, with the packaging which is a good, robust, quality take on the contemporary style of a clear box top to a black display base. The models are secured to that base with a single screw passing through a separate locating bridge piece. As is fairly usual at the moment, the whole display box is then housed in a card sleeve outer carton, which I have to say is a far better, more robust, thickness than from several other manufacturers.

After focussing so often on the highly-detailed end of the market from the likes of Matrix, AutoCult, etc., we have to remember that the target customer base for this new range is very broad and extends well beyond the connoisseur collector remit. Indeed, they carry the now ubiquitous mandatory warning about not being suitable for children under 14 years of age. A cautioning that often makes me wonder what of our childhood toys would be left for us to play with if by some Tardis-driven intervention travelling back in time our toy boxes were subjected to an audit and removal process that applied today’s suitability criteria to them. (Oh my goodness I could have swallowed that gun-toting man dressed in blue as he was ejected…) I have a sneaking feeling given that these new 1/43 series, like the larger 1/18 Solido models, are destined for supermarket and similar retail outlet shelves, in addition to shops specialising in scale models. Many of them will, in fact, quickly become treasured by younger collectors.

The diecast body shells, with inserted plastic light fittings, wipers etc and rivet-secured glazing, are assembled to the plastic baseplates with cross head screws. The mating of these two outer cases traps the detailed plastic interior assemblies in place. Wheels are diecast, well-detailed, and shod with separate soft tyres. The whole effect is enhanced by separate brake disc and calliper assemblies that remain fixed when the wheels are rotated (or the car runs along a surface) – a detail that I am certain will captivate and entertain the younger echelons of the collecting fraternity, in particular. With its wide-spoked alloy rims, the Dodge Challenger is best of the four at displaying this feature and, in doing so, raises another observation.

This new series is far from being just of well-appointed, toy-level models. With an interesting and fast-growing catalogue range of vehicles, these incorporate some fab detailing in terms of badging, trim, etc., over nicely-finished paintwork. For me, of the eight models released so far, the BMW M5 E39 ‘youngtimer’ stands out as the sort of model that is going to appeal not only to collectors young and old, but as a whimsical purchase by owners, or aspiring owners, of the real thing. Indeed it is the sort of model that frequently also turns up packaged as a manufacturer’s promotional in dealerships.