LaLD Best of 2019: Wall-D Awards Tomica Poll Results
The votes are in. The Dino is out. Now, the envelopes please...
You voted, the poll tabulated, and now I'll be telling you which three Tomica Basic cars and Premium car became the best, a day later than I said I would. What are they?
BEST TOMICA BASIC 2019: ELIMINATION STAGE
We start with Basic, whose generic wheels ensure that the bodies are the ones to be judged the most. Only the highest-quality replicas can stand a chance in this mid-range line, so finding out which rose to the top of the crop should be a little easier. And at the close of the polls, it really was.
The first to go are two of the four SUVs in the lineup, namely the Honda CR-V and Volvo XC60, and the Camry. Despite two of them being flush 1:64, they got no votes. Literally nil. That may be a symptom of my inability to promote the poll (3.1k impression but just 62 votes? Weak), but could be just because we don't like the more staid cars, even if Volvo is a debutante that should have commanded a few more votes. Round 2 of elimination saw more J-market eliminations. All three vans, the Forester and the taxi got just 8 percent of the total votes combined. Not surprising given the Western audience leaning towards European options, but the turnout and voting demography is still disappointing all the same.
It's the third round that makes this hard to judge. Yes, sure, I despised the Urus, so I'm okay with it getting just 3.2 percent of the vote. Past the R35/20 NISMO though, the race gets tight. The Mitsuoka, Jimny and C7 ZR1 differ in such ways that really make them difficult to judge against each other, resulting in a tie at the end of the poll. So maybe it's more pertinent to try judging them against past releases and other versions?
The Rock Star certainly holds its own against the Miata it's actually based on, and looks good for a C3 Corvette knockoff, but isn't really to the taste of the audience. The Jimny is good, too, and may be the best version of the little off-roader cent-for-cent (HK Era-car's version may be on equal terms to Tarmac Works), but with no opening parts it provides less play value for something so robust. As for the ZR1...it could have risen to the Top 5 if it wasn't colored in a boring gunmetal.
BEST TOMICA BASIC 2019: THE TOP 5
So what's with the Top 5, then? They're headlining cars in real life, and the castings Tomica made are impeccably-sculpted for being a toy. Yet some are simply better than others.
At both ends of the Top 5 are Toyotas, each serving two different masters. The Century is reserved for the biggest bosses; the Supra is reserved for the biggest BMW haters. To my surprise, however, it's the Supra that won out. Why?
It can't be the scale, can it? The supercars in this Top 5 is sitting pretty in this penthouse despite two of them coming in at 1:68. Certainly not in craftsmanship, either--the Century has fully-glassed headlamps, something only the Enzo also has. Preference? But why raise the Supra up against more powerful competition?
Maybe it's because the Ferrari hype has died down. Maybe the Century is too small, despite being the cheapest possible version of the real car one can own. Maybe the Speedtail and Aventador SVJ are either too long or too wide. The Supra, meanwhile, is smack-dab in the perfect strike zone. At 1:60, it passes for a Majorette, but has stunning body accuracy that can show the French castings up. It's meaty, heavy, yet chuckable. So far, it may be the very best replica of it made this year. But it only eked out a 2.2% advantage against a decked-out SVJ and a Speedtail that is now as sought-after as the (better) 720S before it.
There you have it, then: the Supra, SVJ and Speedtail land on the top, second, and final steps on the podium respectively, showing that the momentum Tomica generated is showing no sign of stopping. Yet the Top 5 is still a contentious vote within the council. Somehow, the people's choice isn't aligned with the author's choice. For now, at least, we leave this door closed.
BEST TOMICA PREMIUM 2019: THE FINAL VERDICT
At 45 votes, Premium is an even less-conclusive poll, so the winner here only ever came out ahead by a hair. Once again, the vote came down to outside context: against other castings, how effective are they?
The Dino didn't get a chance to prove itself against its more famous cousin, but it's not like the model was a slouch: it had the right mix of playability with plastic tyres and detail that can keep up with Limited Vintage. In fact, this became the recurring theme: we had to compare some cars with others of its ilk to see where they stand in the value scale.
Case in point: the McLaren Senna, Ferrari F40 and the Nissan Skyline Super Silhouette, , two all-star cars whose Premium versions are as contentious as they are brilliant. The former has already been made before, with a more realistic quality, too, yet the Tomica stands head and shoulders from Hot Wheels' rendition, whose missing details and shoddy orange recolor tarnish an otherwise competent body-casting. The latter, meanwhile, blows Mattel out of the water, and can sufficiently stand in for the more exclusive LV model even if the rear end seems permanently ajar. Finally, the Super Silhouette straddles the line between premium construction and playability, all while somehow staying more low-key than its co-equal from Car Culture and the replicas from LV.
As for the rest? Well there aren't very many competitors, so judging them on their own merits is easier to do. The Datsun Z-car impresses; the Silvia and 2000GT get by on realism. The Diablo is the most loaded mode feature-wise; the Beetle is more pedestrian. Yet third place is a tie, and the top two is neck-and-neck.
Winning the lone place at the top, then, came down to consistency. Sadly, the F40 still doesn't shut flush with the rest of the car. The winner, then, is the Brutalist McLaren, which hit the Goldilocks zone between toy and collectible without feeling like I'm missing out on something greater.
There you have it: the winners are a mix of surprise pick and inevitable victor. Yet the selections only reinforce the notion that Takara Tomy is one brand worth collecting, with standout variety and the perfectly-tuned mix between play and collector value that makes them sought-after outside Asia.
Here's to 2020, and here's to Tomica preserving its momentum through to a new decade.