Thursday, September 20, 2012

Collector's Corner - Maisto Ferrari F50 Berlinetta and Barchetta

Occasionally I like to do a photo shoot with two of my models together. In this case it's two Maisto Ferrari F50s, a Berlinetta and a Barchetta. The F50 was one of my favorite sports cars when I was a kid. Created in the mid-'90s to commemorate 50 years of Ferrari, the F50 was utterly outrageous in every way. Some people to this day think it's one of the ugliest things out there. I was smitten with it because it just looked so exotic. I drew it, I raced with it in Need For Speed, and I ended up with three of them in 1:18 scale (a friend gave me another red coupe years ago). In fact, the red 1997 First Editions Hot Wheels F50 Barchetta I got as a gift at age nine was the first toy car I treated with the utmost respect, and from that day on did my best not to damage my collection. So you could say that the F50 had a little bit of an impact on me.

In retrospect, I can kind of see why people don't like the F50. I don't even like it as much as I used to. Compared to the F40, which is beautiful in its brutal honesty and simplicity, the F50 seems fussy and overstyled. Still, it has an exotic look to it that draws small children and convinces parents to funnel into Costco at Christmas time and buy lots of bright red and yellow Maisto Ferraris.
These models have their share of faults, but the parts you don't usually pay attention to are actually their strongest assets. I could rag on the lack of paint on the top of the rear wheel arches when the engine cover is opened. But look at that V12 with its spark plug wires, individual hoses and textured surfaces. The functional suspension is also visible back there. The rear taillight panel mesh has actual holes, not just indentations, and the chrome prancing horse is a separate piece. The interior is excellent, with seatbelts, chrome window cranks and a delicate chrome manual shifter in a six-speed gate. The seatbelt buckles and release buttons are painted as well.
Exterior body detailing is so-so. This is an older Maisto so certain things are iffy, including but not limited to body gaps. The doors don't like to open and close smoothly, but unlike most Maisto models, they do not use dog-leg hinges. They're a more realistic hinge that holds the door closer to the body. Tires are Goodyear Eagle F1s with embossed lettering, another nice touch. Most of the light lenses have their mounting pegs hidden from view, with only the front turn signals showing how they're connected to the body. One of my biggest pet peeves about this model was always the front air intakes in the hood. It transitions from the metal hood to a separate piece of plastic and the gaps between them always bothered me. One must remember that at the end of the day this is still a budget model intended for children and the manufacturer had to make cuts here and there. I can appreciate that, before Hot Wheels got an exclusive license to make Ferrari replicas, Maisto was out there producing this and doing a pretty good job of it.

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