Franklin Mint '08

30 Dec 2007 | 5,844 views | No Comment
When you say “Franklin Mint,” you’re talking some of the highest quality replicas on the market from one of the pioneers of 1:24 die cast automobiles and trucks. They offer everything, too, from contemporary cars and trucks to some rare historic cars and trucks that aren’t often seen even in museums. Prices for their products generally range from just over $100 to $140, and the collection is an extensive one. For instance, the Franklin Mint has a number of worthy limited-edition products available. Most cost $130 to $140 depending on the replica. 70Vette First in line is a limited edition blue 1970 Corvette LT-1 model that is a real knockout. The appearance, profile, relationship between wheels and body, and other points are all dead-on accurate. The car has textured, folding seats and a highly detailed engine; and you'll find that all of the distinctions that identify this limited production engine are nicely depicted. That's a good thing when you think about the role that the real engine played. It's considered the last high compression General Motors muscle car motor made. 70Challenger Dodge Challengers are always hot, and Franklin Mint has one of the best around—a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T equipped with the landmark 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine. This car is, hands down, the best Challenger I've seen regardless of scale. Even Highway 61, heretofore the champion when it comes to Mopar products, doesn't have quite level of detail that the 1:24 Franklin Mint Challenger has. Every single wire, brake line and fuel line on the underbody is intricately applied and accurately positioned. There is overspray paint depicted on the underside of the model, which was the practice by the factory for the real car. Even the temporary spare tire has the coding on it that came from the factory, applied to its treads, and there's a "shaker" label right under the hood -- a detail many companies miss. This is a "must-have model" for most collectors, and I suggest you act quickly before these cars disappear. 07GT500 A 2007 Ford Mustang GT convertible, also a limited edition, rounds out this week's model selections. Like the others, this 1:24 car is almost a work of art -- substantial, heavy and well-built. The interior is especially well-done, with readable gauges and accurate surfaces and textures. The scale model has an interior that is done in a shade of orange-red upholstery that accurately portrays the real car, and the texture of the "leather" used for the seats also is highly reflective of the original car. The engine looks suitably plumbed and wired, and there's lots of detail on the underside of the car as well. The only problem I had with this car is that the removable lowered top piece did not fit properly in the holes provided, and seating it correctly on top of the rear deck for displaying was a real problem. Franklin Mint does especially well replicating Corvette models—many with engine and option combinations that you won’t find anywhere else—even if you’re in the market for the real car. These are all 1:24 models with highly detailed interiors, beautifully done V-8 engines, and opening doors and hoods. Prices range between $90 and $135. Take for example, their 1:24 1963 Corvette Sting Ray fastback coupe, done in the classic silver finish. This car is so authentic that it's done in fiberglass, the material of choice for real Corvettes, not the metal used for most Corvette models. 63VetteStingray The interior has well-done, legible gauges in black and white, and depicts a manual transmission equipped car. The red seats are so authentic you can see not only the upholstery pattern but also the wrinkles and creases that would come from use. The engine is the fuel injected V-8 with all of the usual plumbing, trim and labels. Speaking of labels, I was pleased to see two stickers on the floor underneath the back window for tire changing instructions. That's a detail I haven't seen on other 1963 Vette models. The only suspected flaw I saw was that the car sits a bit too high upon its whitewall tires, and adjusting them just a smidge would result in a totally accurate presentation. The 1971 yellow Sting Ray convertible is one of the mint's older models, but that's not to say that it isn't every bit as nice. This one is an L-88-engined car with black interior and wood trim on the doors and console of the car. The back deck opens up behind the seats, but the seats don't fold forward as they do with some of the newer Franklin mint items. I also wondered if the emblem on the rear deck was a bit smaller than it should be for complete accuracy. The third model is a real beauty -- a 1971 topped Corvette done in a beautiful gold finish. This is a lovely piece with folding seats, fabric belts and matching gold carpets. This model is a very rare LS6-engine equipped Corvette, and once again you get the usual wiring and hoses included along with the appropriate air cleaner, valve covers and label-trimmed accessories. But my favorite was the bright red-orange 1970 Corvette convertible with its shark tail rear end, deeply glossy red-orange paint and dual exhausts. It is a limited edition model, with only 5,000 pieces planned. All of these models have been highly authenticated by the Franklin Mint. Extensive research went into each one, with hundreds of pictures taken of every angle of these cars to ensure accuracy. They also have been chosen and designed with the help of Corvette clubs across the country. The selection of options and choice of colors also is discussed exhaustively at the Franklin Mint before the model is given approval. The models also have been sent on to General Motors to make sure that they accurately portray the cars they are replicating. Ford comes in for attention from Franklin Mint, too. GT500 For starters, there’s Franklin Mint’s all-new 1:24 Mustang Shelby GT500. Of all the GT500 models I've seen, it is far and away the most accurately designed -- an important addition to your collection if authenticity is important to you. You obviously won't be able to drive it, but my experience with models has been that their value and desirability generally follow the real cars. That's why models of Corvettes, Ferraris, BMWs and all the muscle cars are so expensive on the model car resale market. Bottom line: The real GT500 is hard to find and will have a stratospheric value someday. So too, will this miniature version. Thanks to a team-up of performance legend Carroll Shelby and Ford, the GT500 is making its first appearance in 40 years in dealer showrooms. The real car, priced at $40,930 to $45,755 before the inevitable dealer markup for a highly desirable automobile, is powered by a 5.4-liter, 500-horsepower behemoth of a V-8 engine. It features a Roots-Type Eaton supercharger and an air-to-water intercooler. On the model, you'll see one of the most beautiful interiors ever in this particular scale. The seats have the right matte finish to duplicate leather, chrome and aluminum trim on the instrument panel and the pedals, brushed aluminum sill plates and a nice chrome finish on the tiny gear shift. The back window has the defroster elements duplicated in its surface. The tiny Shelby Cobra emblems are so well done you can make out the lettering and the famed snake. There's even a Shelby Cobra decal in the lower corner of the windshield. The engine and the undercarriage are joys to behold with every single decal, wire and piece of plumbing done in the correct color, texture and lettering. It would be fun for Franklin Mint to make a diagram of each, so you can tell what part does what. Opening doors, hood and trunk, along with all the attendant details, are the order of the day on this car. Another important point: Most models of this car fail to include the little snake emblem etched into the seat bolsters. Not this one. It's got them right there, proof of the car's pedigree. Only 5,000 copies of this model will be available, and at $140, it's likely to sell fast. For more information on Franklin Mint models, go to www.franklinmint.com.

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