If you want to watch a model car collector get all angsty, ask them for their opinion on resin or ABS-bodied models. Over the last few years, collector forums and Facebook groups have been saturated with comments from people who seemingly would sooner die than accept plastic model cars; for many, it's diecast metal or nothing.
In 2019, however, we started seeing this intense level of resistance start to crumble. AUTOart's line of "composite" models (cars with ABS plastic body panels mounted on a diecast metal core) came of age this year with some truly stunning pieces, while on the resin side of the aisle, there was an almost endless stream of brilliantly detailed new models from industry stalwarts like Spark, TSM, Ottomobile and GT Spirit. In the face of such variety, selecting our top new releases of 2019 was no easy task, but we feel that these five cars exemplify what made the past year one of the best in recent memory.
5. Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 2.8 (1973 Daytona 24 Hours), 1:18-scale resin, by GT Spirit. Featuring one of the best finishes we've seen on a resin-bodied car, GT Spirit's amazing '73 Porsche RSR in iconic Penske-Sunoco livery was among the fastest-selling 1:18-scale cars we've handled at Model Citizen. The popularity of vintage air-cooled Porsches shows no signs of letting up soon, and we hope to see more historic racing 911s from this top resin modeller in the future. Sold out.
4. Alpina B6 3.5 (E30), 1:43-scale resin, by Spark. The rise of the "Radwood" generation of collector cars has yielded some very intriguing subject matter in the the model car world. One of the most impressive pieces to appear in 2019 was Spark's wonderful 1:43 Alpina B6, an '80s tuner car legend. Spark's replica accurately captures all of the signature Alpina bits (road wheels, custom seats, intricate stripe kit) that make the B6 visually distinctive. $75.
3. Shelby Cobra Competition Targa Florio, 1:43-scale resin, by TSM. Having already tackled every imaginable variation of the Cobra Daytona Coupe, TSM turned their attention this year to the venerable Competition Roadster. We love the choice of the #146 Targa Florio contender, driven heroically though ultimately futilely by Dan Gurney. TSM's model doesn't disappoint; as always, they nail the fine details with particular attention paid to the race cockpit. The Targa Florio Cobra was our favorite 1:43 release of 2019. $85
2. Jaguar E-Type Lightweight, 1:18-scale ABS composite, by AUTOart. If any single model showed how good ABS construction could be in 2019, it was AUTOart's masterful '63 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight racer. Though lacking in physical heft, the E-Type's detail is absolutely incredible; its delicate clamshell hood opens to reveal a perfectly realized straight six powerplant, and cockpit detail is similarly excellent. Our only complaint with AUTOart's Lightweight Jag is that it was not offered in a specific historic race livery, and we hope they'll release some in the coming year (Cunningham, anyone?) $210
1. Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette (1982), 1:18-scale diecast, by AUTOart. In a year dominated by fantastic resin and ABS releases, it's a bit surprising that the superstar of the year would be a model car hewn from traditional diecast metal. Such was the undeniable brilliance of AUTOart's 1982 Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette, a car that seemed to shout that diecast is not dead. Featuring lift-off body panels, the Super Silhouette offered a level of detail consistent with more expensive 1:18-scale offerings, cementing its status as a future classic from Day One. It was also one of the fastest models to sell out completely that we can remember, and we hope that AUTOart will take the lesson and continue to offer very high-end metal models in the years to come. Sold out.