Diecast Delights: A Jeep Rubicon in 1:18 Scale

IMAG4891 Something happened last week, not sure what, but it inspired me to head up into my attic and uncover a model Jeep that has been begging for a Diecast Delights feature for years. I realised we’ve not done enough in Diecast Delights to explore the wonderful variety of off road vehicles that exist in the miniature domain. Models of these motorised  mud-slingers actually deserve specific attention from the scale model collector. You see, off-roading is fun. For the majority of those who do it, it’s a game. A hobby. Just like collecting models. And, whether you’re voluntarily hub-deep in mud, hobby-wrenching on an old 318 or playing with a new 1:18, you’re playing. So lets get a double win with an excellent model of a machine built for fun. The Jeep TJ Rubicon.

Click any image to see it clearer than mud.

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This was an impulse buy, like ten years ago. I went to Tesco on my way home from work in Ipswich and, after scoring a loaf of bread, some deodorant and eight cans of Adnams Broadside I ventured into the toys section. Here, among the imported plastic action figures, pacific-rim sourced construction kits and other nonsense guaranteed to entertain little fingers for several seconds max, there was a stack of these honeys priced at £7.99 each. I bought one because I could; I was spending the same on beer that evening anyway. So what we have here is another of those opportunities for debate vis-a-vis model vs toy vs replica. IMAG4875 I’m no Jeep expert, I had to look up exactly what Rubicon meant in Jeepworld. Turns out it’s a pretty heavily specified riff on the late TJ era Jeep platform with air-locking Dana 44’s and chequerplating along the rocker panels and a juicy set of 16″ alloy wheels. And, well, here they all are. IMAG4888 Let’s get critical. The solid red paint is ever so slightly unevenly applied. The exposed  door hinges and detail around the base of the screen with the folding mechanism are there under the surface but mostly obscured by paint and, well, that’s it for complaints. Judging by the Google search results I’d say the the proportions seem good, as does the way it sits on those really nicely modelled 5-spoke wheels. Outrageously, the tread pattern on the tyres is correct for the factory-fit Goodyear MTR P245/75 R16 tyres. IMAG4894 Now that’s attention to detail, and it adds to the fact that all the lights are properly represented, there are catches to secure the bonnet, optically-correct mirrors and a distortion-free windshield. It’s all slightly ridiculous for a £7.99 model. IMAG4896 Under the hood sits the 4.0 Power Tech six-cylinder engine, not overwhelmingly detailed but, at least, accurate. There are a few, almost unnecessarily high-fidelity touches, though, like the caution notices and the schematic for the auxiliary belt routing. Flip it over and look at the chassis, and the front and rear diffs are in place, both looking for all the world like black plastic Dana 44s. IMAG4893 It’s a similar story inside. Where there has been an opportunity to add detail, they’ve taken it. The centre console switchgear, HVAC controls and stereo are laid out and labelled correctly, as are the instruments in the binnacle. The selector for the automatic transmission has every position marked, and even the hi-lo ratio selector lever is present and correct. There are labelled cruise control buttons on the accurately shaped and marked steering wheel, and the seat belt buckles have red painted buttons. But there are no seat belts. Aha! If it had been an Auto Art…. IMAG4879 This is one of those times when a model is several hundred percent better than it has any need to be, given its price point and likely audience. It’s something we’ve seen an awful lot of from Maisto, from whose Thai factory this model issued from back in 2006. If you’re a Jeep TJ owner, you just have to get yourself one of these. Even if you’re not, it makes a nice way of representing Jeep, whose long story is a vital part of all that the Hooniverse celebrates. (All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)

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