Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Post-Apocalyptic Cars and Motorcycles

Post-Apocalyptic Cars and Motorcycles

Though Chicago Skirmish Wargames is preparing for our summer Song of Blades and Heroes campaign, I would like to dedicate two last blog entries to post-apocalyptic gaming, which has occupied a good deal of our time and energy over the last six months. In this post I'll review a few recent finds that the penny-pinching gamer will find appealing. On the docket today we have 1/43 diecast cars from Bburago, as well as Hot Wheels motorcycles.

Bburago "Street Fire" 1/43 Die Cast Cars 

Following up a tip from the Post-Apocalyptic Wargames forum, I headed over to my local Dollar General and found what may be the cheapest 1/43 cars ever! At about $2.50 each, these cars are about half the price of cars from affordable brands like Kinsmart, Motormax and Welly and Maisto. As you'll see below, these cars hold up well against those brands. Here's the armada I came home with after my first visit; I've since purchased a couple more.

Pictured are: Mini Cooper, Ford Mustang GT, Hummer HX Concept, Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum, Ford F150, and Dodge Charger. Also available were a Porsche, Lamborgini, Dodge Viper, Corvette, and one or two other sports cars, but as high-performance sports cars don't fit into my vision of post-apoc, I didn't purchase them.

A few more visits to Dollar Generals seemed to confirm that is the extent of the available selection. For those on the hunt, the boxes they come in look like this:

I was curious how these cars would measure up to other diecast in scale. The picture below shows the Dodge Magnum next to a Welly 1/43 Crown Victoria (nice little cars — see my brief review of them here).

Though the Crown Vic seems unusually large, checking the comparative measurements of these two cars, the scales are very close. The Magnum is only a smidge short compared to the 90's Crown Vic, which is a very large car compared to most contemporary autos.

Like Hot Wheels cars, the Bburago are box-scale cars for which the size of the car has been adjusted to fit the box in which they will be sold. This resulted the cars being of a fairly uniform scale, except that the Mini and Mustang are a bit large and the F150 and H3 a touch small. As the pictures below show, the differences in scale are minor and should be no problem for most 28mm gamers. The miniature in this picture is 29mm from boot sole to eye and 37mm from bottom of base to top of his hat.

Chrysler 300

Dodge Charger

Mini Cooper

Hummer HX (Never put into production, this concept vehicle deserves special mention as the car in the series that has real potential as a sci-fi vehicle)

Ford F-150

 Ford Mustang GT

And here's one more pic of the Welly Crown Vic for comparison.

Quality observations
On balance these cars are quite nice. They have good detailing, even extending to small brand names and colored edges around windows. The interiors are nice, and there are none of the annoying pull-back motors that every other cheap die-cast car seems to come with.

All is not perfect, however. The cars suffer from one-piece, mostly untreaded tires that look cheap. Also, most are mounted high in the wheel wells so the car can ride low. The low-rider phenomenon affects lots of brands of toys these days, so I am not surprised, but it's wholly unsuited for the rough roads of a dark future.

The cars have a rather unique assembly system. There are no screws holding the car together. Usually this would mean that they would be difficult to disassemble, but these cars are held together with a clips — usually attached to bumpers or front grills — that can be easily released or cut away from the bottom of the car for easy disassembly. The picture below shows the clips attached to the bumpers that hold the car together. (Also note that the wheels are attached directly to studs on the body, and once the body and chassis are separated, they can simply be pulled off without too much effort.)

In the final assessment, I am quite pleased with these cars. The scale variation is minor enough that it doesn't bother me, and the issues with the wheels can be dealt with through repositioning and repainting or replacement. I have nothing but good things to say about the usefulness of the selection, overall quality, detail and ease of disassembly, and of course the phenomenal value. I have not found diecast cars anywhere that approach the quality of these cars at anywhere near this price.

Hot Wheels Motorcycles 
Though most Hot Wheels toy cars are far to small to be useful in 28mm scale gaming, many of their motorcycles are spot-on. The choppers in particular scale very well with 28mm, as their longer shape means they are often designed to be a bit smaller to fit inside the standard Hot Wheels packaging. They also tend to be a bit narrower than other bikes and thus easier to fit a rider on.

The figures on the bikes are a mix of Games Workshop parts, primarily GorkaMorka Ork arms and legs and Imperial Guard Catachan torsos and heads with a mix of weapons. I've put the official Hot Wheels names in "quotes."

"OCC Splitback" Chopper


"Blast Lane" Chopper


I've got three of these assembled, although there is still some detailing, positioning and green-stuffing of the seat areas to be done. The metallic sections and wheels will likely be repainted, but I'm going to try and keep the body paintjobs mostly intact with a bit of weathering added. For a few more pics of similar bikes and a potential cheap rider figure for these bikes, check out Lucky Joe's Place.

Here are two more bikes that will probably be incorporated into my biker gang. The blue "Boss Hog Cycles" trike is very well sized. The white "Scorchin' Shooter" is too wide to easy put a figure in the saddle, but I'm going to take a Dremel to it and see what I can do.

These three may also see use, though not likely with my biker gang. I have 3 each of the tri-wheel "Tri and Stop Me" and "Snow Ride" snowmobile. They might end up with police or military riders. The orange "Hyper Mite" (shown with canopy removed) will end up with a gang someday when I find a suitable replacement for the tiny front wheels.

I found the "HW450F" dirt bike and "Canyon Carver" to be unsuitable for my use, but I include them as scale references for those who may be interested.

Though the project isn't finished, I'm very happy with the Hot Wheels choppers. The size is right, and the detailing is as good or better than you'd find on comparably sized gaming models. At about a buck each, you can pick a few up to experiment with with no real risk to the gaming budget.

— Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames member

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