Sunday, December 22, 2013

Collector's Corner - Maisto 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz

As Christmas approaches and parents flock to Costco for the $12.99 Maisto Special Edition 1:18 scale diecast models for their children, it seems appropriate to reflect on one of the Maisto models I received for Christmas as a kid. This is a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.

The '59 Eldorado is a perennial favorite at Maisto. It has been re-issued many times in several different colors since around 1993, both in stock form and as a customized "All Stars" release. Among the early colors available were a stereotypical Pepto-Bismol pink, timeless black, a medium blue and a red with tan interior. Then there was a solid white version with a brothel-red interior. I really loved this thing as a kid, probably because I was nuts for '50s cars. I played with it a lot, and somehow it mostly held together. The casualties were a broken tailpipe and the trunk hinge retainer that kept the trunk lid in place. By some miracle nothing else came off that couldn't be pressed back into position.

By all accounts this is a budget model. If you're looking for a museum-quality '59 Cadillac, buy one from Auto Art or Precision Miniatures. This car is fairly kid-friendly with no sharp edges, though there are plenty of small parts that can break off easily. The proportions are a bit iffy. To me it looks like the front end is wrong somehow, and the windshield seems too low. The chrome body trim gets points for being an actual separate piece, but sacrifices points for the ridiculously heavy-handed application of chrome on top of the tail fins. The piece is about three times as thick as it needed to be and could probably have been achieved with silver paint. The fin chrome can also be easily be removed by a child. Ask me how I know. The seats tilt forward for access to the back seat. Those too can be pulled out easily by a child, as can the engine's air cleaner.

Speaking of the engine, the 390 cubic inch V8 is replicated in blue and black plastics with only the air cleaner painted. The unpainted firewall fashioned from the same red plastic as the interior tub hurts the realism of the engine bay, particularly with details like the brake master cylinder and steering column left plain red. The one thing that does look good in plain red are the spark plug wires, an item frequently ignored in low-priced models. The lights are a mixed bag. Front lights are so-so with multiple mounting pegs clearly visible. The rear lights are well done, albeit rounded off so the bullet-shaped tips don't poke little baby fingers. Body decals are limited, with stickers serving as the license plates, hood badge and hubcap centers; tampo printing makes up the Eldorado fender lettering and the little wing shapes above the headlights.

The interior is acceptable for a budget model, made of soft-touch plastics and containing enough detail to satisfy a young collector. The windshield visors are flexible and won't just break off if you try to move them. The trunk contains the shell of a spare tire but don't try to remove it. There's nothing there.

I give Maisto a lot of credit for giving their models some pretty resilient paintwork. The fact that this survived my childhood from about age 5 onward with so little damage is impressive. Granted, it was one of my favorites so that may have figured in taking care of it. It still has a place on my display shelf.

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