The need to pause and reflect at the dawning of a new year is one of the human race's great universalities, and we at Model Citizen are just as human as the next guy. For the past three years, we've looked back at the previous twelve months' worth of new model car releases to select five that we felt represented the best of the best, and now as 2019 commences, it's time once again to take stock. These were the five models that rang our bell the loudest in 2018:

Looksmart 1:18 Ferrari 312T3 1978 Canadian Grand Prix | Model Citizen's Top 5 New Models of 2018

5. Ferrari 312T3 - 1978 Canadian GP Winner, 1:18 scale, by Looksmart. You could scarcely script a better "feel-good story" than that of Gilles Villeneuve at the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix. Driving with unusual patience for a young driver with a reputation for wildness (but also brilliance), Villeneuve outlasted tough competition from Lotus, Wolf, and from his own Ferrari teammate, Carlos Reutemann, to score his maiden F1 win on his home track, in frigid conditions. The car that carried him to victory was the subject in 2018 of a faithfully executed 1:18-scale resin replica by Looksmart. Fit and finish are excellent; while authentically sparse, the Ferrari's racing cockpit is beautiful to behold. $200

Alpina B2S 1:43 Scale by Spark | Model Citizen's Top 5 Models of 2018

4. Alpina E9 B2S, 1:43 scale, by Spark. We are absolute suckers for German tuner cars, but where that genre of subject matter tends to focus on Autobahn stormers from the 1980s and 90s, it's important to remember that companies like AMG and Alpina were around a couple of decades earlier. Spark's Alpina B2S, a BMW E9 coupe massaged for track duty, is a very attractive reminder. Resplendent in Inka Orange, the B2S offers Spark's customary level of detail in 1:43 scale, especially in the Alpina's distinctive multi-spoke road wheels. $75

Plymouth 'Cuda T/A Swede Savage 1:18 Acme | Model Citizen's Top 5 Models of 2018

3. Plymouth Barracuda Trans Am - Swede Savage, 1:18 scale, by Acme Trading Company. Acme nailed all the important details with their latest Mopar E-body racer (and at a very reasonable price), but this car stands apart in two critical areas. First is the beautiful exterior finish, which features some truly fantasic decal work. Second is the very decision to pay tribute to Swede Savage himself with this model. Savage was a unique talent behind the wheel of a race car, who was only beginning to reveal his true potential when a tragic accident at the Indy 500 claimed his life in 1973. We believe that the real value in model cars is in the stories they can help us tell, and Acme's Swede Savage 'Cuda tells a chapter of a great driver's tale quite eloquently. $145

Lexus LC500 1:18 AUTOart | Model Citizen's Top 5 Models of 2018

2. Lexus LC500, 1:18 scale, by AUTOart. Though there are those who continue to rail against AUTOart's gradual shift to the use of ABS plastic for the bodies of their 1:18-scale cars, the Lexus LC500 stands as a very good argument in favor of the new material. This model is, in a word, stunning. Fit, finish and detail are excellent, and the overall shape of the car is wonderfully accurate. The tight shutlines show the best of what can be done with of the primary rationales for using this material, according to AUTOart. The "never-plastics" are running out of excuses. Starting at $180

Porsche 356 1951 1:43 Scale Spark | Model Citizen's Top 5 Models of 2018

1. 1951 Porsche 356 Coupe, 1:43 scale, by Spark. The best model cars do more than just accurately represent their 1:1-scale subject matter...they also stir an emotional response. Spark's resin replica of the very early Porsche 356 Coupe is just such a model. The level of detail poured into it is astonishing - check out the almost impossibly fine script of the hood badging! - but more than that, there is an intangible beauty to this model. Perhaps it's the gorgeous, rich color, or the tightly tucked wheel fitment. Maybe it's an imperceptible tweak in the proportions of the model that make it look maybe even better than the real car. Whatever it is, the Spark 356 is a standout in a year of standouts, and is our pick for best new model release of 2018. $75

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