Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Itty-bitty Buicks. Models and toys of the Buick brand. BUICK WEEK

You don’t have to be a grown-up to develop a passion for Buicks.  Over the years, General Motors’ “Doctor’s Car” has been rendered in miniature hundreds of times.  What youngster wouldn’t want to imagine themselves in a powerful ’87 GNX or a luxurious ’53 Skylark?  With that in mind, today’s “Buick Week” entry examines all kinds of Buick scale models and toys.  Some of them may still be favorites among kids today.  Some of them may be full-fledged adult collectibles.  But they all convey the enthusiasm that people have had for the tri-shield brand over the years.

Some early Buick models were of the pot metal bank variety, but since our collection runs more toward plastic dealer promotional models, we’ll kick off this story there.  In 1954, AMT introduced two of these models to the market, including a Roadmaster four-door sedan, and a sporty ’54 Skylark convertible.

When you look at these models today, you might think, “ugh, that’s pretty crude.”  But you need to put them into context.  In the 1950s, it would have been a big deal for a kid to get a replica of a real car this nice.  They even came in factory colors.  Think about that blue Skylark in the picture.  Sure, you could read about that car in a magazine.  But few people ever got to actually see one, not much less own one.  But thanks to this little model, anyone could have a three-dimensional, 1/25th-scale version on their shelf.

As the years went on, the quality of these promos improved, as you can see by this ’56 Roadmaster four-door hardtop.  Now they sold these in toy stores and in dealerships, but you can tell this one was sold in a dealership due to its authentic colors and chrome-plated trim.  This one even has an exceptionally nice paint job for the day.  And things like the separate hood ornament and porthole trim made them even more amazing.  This model really was “high tech” back in the day.

By the time you got to the mid-1960s, the details were even better.  This ’66 Skylark is almost as good as any model produced today.  It might be all one color, but if you were to do a little paint work and Bare Metal Foil, this car could be a curbside show winner.  Of course, if someone were to take this pristine model and paint on it, I would have to personally come over to their house and strangle them.  But the point is, it’s a nice model.

Now if you really need a super-detailed Buick model, the high-end die cast companies have got you covered.  This is a Franklin Mint ’49 Roadmaster convertible.  It was just made a few years ago, so it isn’t actually old like the promos are, but the attention to detail is amazing.  I can’t think of anything that would be more like holding a scaled-down version of this actual car in your hands.  Everywhere you look; the interior, the undercarriage, the engine; is just mind-blowing. 

Almost as nice is this 1/18th-scale version of the 1938 Buick Y-Job dream car.  This one is made by Ertl, a company more known for making die cast tractors and semi-trucks.  They nailed this one, though, and everyone who likes Buicks, concept cars, or just fine die cast cars should own one.  What is this car and why is it so special?  You’ll have to tune in tomorrow for the next installment of Buick Week.

This ’53 Skylark is much smaller than the Y-Job above: 1/43rd-scale to be exact.  This one was done by a company called Brooklin Models, and it is made of heavy white metal.  These are interesting models.  They’re not particularly detailed all that great.  The proportions are usually a little out of whack.  And they don’t have many fine details.  But there’s just something about the way they feel when you hold them in your hand that justifies the $100+ price tag.  I can’t really describe it in words, but if you love models, you’ll know it when you feel it.

Other than the occasional die cast, there weren’t many Buick promo models after the mid-1960s.  They did make plastic Reattas and Regals in about 1988.  Those were pretty nice models with a lot of details.  I wanted to take some pictures of them for you, but they were so buried in the model storage closet, I would still be digging them out.  So instead, this is a picture of a pewter Reatta, which was also a promotional item from back in the day.

As you look through the slideshow, you see some off-ball die casts, Hot Wheels cars, model kits, and more.  There has truly been a wide variety of small Buicks over the years.

For a better version of the slideshow, click this link.

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