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In the history of films, there's been many classic scenes, many classic acting performances, many classic showings of directorial prowess, many classic scores, many classic uses of cinematography, etc., etc., etc. But one detail that doesn't always come across within the same parameters as any of those mentioned above, but that by far can create its own extensive subcategory on its own, is that many films have showcased a variety of classic cars. From the DeLorean time machine and the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 to the Dodge Challenger of Vanishing Point, the Mustang/Charger duo of Bullit and the mean Plymouth Fury of Christine, over the years there have indeed been many films that have featured iconic cars that have been ingrained into our consciousness as something more special than your stock Toyota Corollas or Austin Allegros. But in the extensive compilation of such classic film cars, no list could ever be considered complete without including Max Rockatansky's 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT, the "Last of the V8 Interceptors" featured in the first two Mad Max films. It is by far one of the meanest cars to have ever graced the silver screen with its sinister black on black paint scheme, its monster blower pushing through the bonnet, its various other external and internal modifications, and its early '70s Australian muscle car body style. It simply oozes "cool" from every single angle. But, of course, owning such a car is the priviledge of those with time, skill and money at their disposal to turn a standard XB into a replica and the rest of us will just have to continue on dreaming of owning one. Except, if you can settle for something a little more modest.
Coming out from the precision modeling firm of AUTOART, just at the end of 2007 the company announced the issuing of an 1/18 scale die cast pre-assembled model of the Mad Max 2 "The Road Warrior" Interceptor, the first such Interceptor model done as a die cast 1/18 model. Throughout the years there have been various models made of the Interceptor (both in the Mad Max and Road Warrior formats), but most have been either conversion kits or hard-to-find plastic model kits, it has taken surprisingly long for anybody to issue the car as a large pre-assembled model such as this. And what a model it is! Based on the old Biante molds, who have for years now provided high quality 1/18 models of various Australian muscle Falcons, including the XA, XB and XC coupes, the reason for the scarcity of the Mad Max variant for all these years must be more centered on the difficulties of securing the rights of the film's studio. As I am forever the supporter of high quality when it comes to items like this, it is delightful to see that the model has been crafted with all due attention to detail. Generally speaking the model is heavy and fairly large even for a 1/18 coupe, almost rivaling my Grosser Mercedes it stands next to and really dwarfing my (supposedly) similarly sized DeLorean. The model thus truly has an imposing presence that is only accentuated by the brilliant black paintjob. The car really does come across as if it truly is the real thing, only shrunken down to size.
The body itself, like I said earlier, is most definitely a stock Biante shell and on to this has been attached a spoiler near the back of the roof and wider flares over the wheel arches. These are perhaps not entirely accurate to the real life thing, smelling more like shortcuts to not be forced to recraft the old molds for these additions, but neither do they look any worse for wear and the fitting of these additional component are clean and tight. The body is completely painted in black, with the larger portion being gloss black and the bottom featuring some satin black that most noticeably wraps itself upwards after the rear wheel arc towards the remnants of the rear spoiler, while there is also a similarly matt black streak going across the bonnet. Now this being the Mad Max 2 version, the body has been customised to meet the details of that film. The bottom half of the Peter Arcadipane "Concorde" custom nosepiece has been chopped off to give the car better ground clearance and really makes the car seem as if it is fitted with a 4x4 chassis, belying its original sleeper appearance. The tires and wheels of course are fat and wide Goodriches, perfectly suitable for usage on badly kept roads where endurance counts. The entire backside of the car is dominated by the two, huge gastanks that take up the entire boot area and go all the way through the old rear window frame, both sturdily strapped in. The fitting of the doors is perfect with no ugly cracks taking away from the look of the body and neither door is left popping out due to poor fit. The doors themselves have been realistically hinged with smaller low-swing hinges, a truly positive trait that seems to be currently reigning with precision scale models rather than having those huge, bulky hinges of yesteryears or lower priced models that removed the door to hang beside the front fenders and about a millimeter off the body. Lights are also realistic and well detailed from the red/orange/red taillights, the smaller sidelights and the square Falcon XC front lights hidden behind the gold-coloured, striped mask covers, making the front end to look like the headpiece of a knight's helmet.
Taking a look inside the engine compartment, we get to see the fully detailed 351 Cleveland V8 engine with all wiring, labels and other details you'd expect to see under the bonnet. On top of this is mounted the huge blower with the Scott injector hat sitting atop (though missing the grafted Weiand brand name beside the belt pulley), a non-functional movie prop on the original car, but one that when turned on through a separate electric motor, gave the illusion that the car really could pump out that 600 horses and sucking nitro like the mechanics raved about in the original film. In fact, no matter how hard you peer down into the engine compartment, the same attention to detail will continuously make you notice new gratifying things. The interior itself is likewise detailed, though the insides of the car are stripped very bare of any additional material, apart from a heavy rollbar that has been added behind the driver's seat. The dash as expected features detailed meters and gauges (including a huge fuel gauge sadly showing a very low amount of guzzoline on board), the MAXROB rallye steering wheel is accurate and the gearshift with the red supercharger activation switch attached to the side is there. Also the passenger seat has been removed and in its place is a sideways doggy seat attached to the passenger side door, leaving the interior considerably more barren than what the original Mad Max car would have given out. The underside is perhaps more plasticy looking than a real car, but ignoring the different markings and stuff is still accurate enough. The most noticeable detail here are the exhaust pipes that branch off into four separate flutes and shoot out from the sides of the car between the front door and the rear wheel arch.
Going through the model, I can't say that I have noticed anything really that is monstrously out of place or inaccurate. I would most certainly have to say this is quite possibly the finest scale model I have ever had the pleasure of holding and the sheer attention to detail is astounding. To make the car even more complete, the model comes with a number of little accessories that include a spare wheel, two jerry cans, two knives (one for the driver's side door and one to go under the car beside the little explosive device), a brown box of dog food and even two additional cans of Dinki-Di dog food, accurate right down to the little doggy face. And to complete the car, Max's faithful "dog" is also included, though I have to say he is maybe a bit oversized for the car. But, of course, anything of this caliber must come with a price and the Interceptor is indeed one hefty piece of metal. I paid around Euro100 for the model when buying it out of HobbyLink Japan's online store, where the basic asking price is 14 800 yen (around Euro95) + shipping. So with that in mind, casual collectors on a tight budget might want to think twice before ordering this baby, the model most certainly being aimed towards the Mad Max fans specifically, though the novelty value and high quality craftsmanship are certainly traits that many serious collectors would be wise to pick up on. I myself had always wanted a decent black Interceptor model, therefore the moment I saw this on HLJ's website, I immediately put my preorder in no matter what the price finally ended up being. For the most die-hard Mad Max fans, the MM2 version may require a bit more work depending on how movie accurate you want it to be, such as the model is spotless clean while in the car in the film was old, dusty and worn-looking, making the model a bit of a cross between the new MM1 car and the modified MM2 one. Also the accessory parts can't be attached to the car unless you glue them on, thus they may get easily lost if you're not careful.
But really, I have barely nothing to criticise this scale model for, every detail being so well replicated as based on the real Road Warrior replica built by Gordon Hayes. This kind of attention to detail is what I am more than happy to pay myself silly for, particularly as you never know how long such a model may still be around (it's unlikely that the Interceptor will be a high production model). And should this model be successful as it most certainly is destined to be, then who knows if the MM1 Interceptor will follow, which may indeed be enough for me to shell out another hundred on it. But do bare note, as it always is when it concerns me, that this is not a model for playing. Of course, unless you enjoy paying over Euro100 for a model like this, then giving it to a young kid who'll probably destroy it within a couple of days, then be my guest (this regards to the obvious choking hazard as well). So this is a special model, done for special demand and with the amount of detail added, makes it an almost required purchase for any scale model afficionado and conosseur or Mad Max fan in general. After all, this IS "the Last of the V8 Interceptors... a piece of history."
For further pictures, check:
PS. And please no comments about how silly I am. It's my money. I'll spend it in which ever way that I want.
© berlioz, 2008