* Prices may differ from that shown
Trying to find a novel tack to a familiar scenario, I thought Id do something different for a change by writing of something nobody has ever written on Dooyoo before. (Now this review may jump around a bit, so please bear with me.)
You know, I have always been fascinated by scale models. The fact that you may actually own something that in real life would be totally impossible, like a train or a much admired car, is just really cool. In my youth I used to build quite a lot of plastic models, so much so that I had to give up the hobby as I started to run out of space (with the exception of the odd model that has simply been too irresistible not to get). But even though it can give a lot of pleasure to build something with your own hands, the end results may not always be as satisfactory, and there come occasions when a finished die cast model will be preferable. Now die cast models can be a bit hit and miss, depending of course on what you are looking for. As far as Im concerned, quality comes above everything else, and if a model looks fake when compared to its real 1:1 counterpart, it can really make any model feel a great disappointment. With that in mind, even though by default the higher grade models cost more, I usually scrutinise every model for any deficiencies that could detract from me paying a high price for it. And sadly many times they fall behind expectations, with the most exquisite models remaining outside of my budget and leaving me with mediocrity to be contented with. However, every now and again some true gems do appear at relatively affordable prices, and so it was during my traditional excursion to the Hot Rod & Rock Show in early 2006 that I hit on one of these gems.
Signature Models Manufacturing Co. is a firm specializing in building precision die cast models and plastic toys. Though their product set up is not the largest around, they do have a reputation of having one of the most eclectic high-quality model line-ups around that centers more on older, pre-1960s cars (so dont expect to find the usual newest Ferraris and other such ordinary staples from them). Offering basically cars in sizes of 1:18 and 1:32, their premium line-up also has some old hood caps and a couple of ships (notably Titanics both sister ships, but not the Titanic for which Im grateful). Now to return to the point of my review, one of these cars I saw at that exhibition really almost made my heart skip a beat or two, for on one of the stalls I saw a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 770K Grosser Pullman model. Now I really like a big, old car and I dont think there are many that get quite as big as the Grosser.
The Grosser Mercedes was first introduced in 1930 as the top of the line model for Daimler-Benz, offering the latest in technology at that time. But as time went on, the old 1930 design was already starting to look a little old by 1937 and a re-design was badly being called for, particularly when the other high-end Mercs at the time, the sporty and ultra-teutonic 500K of 1934-36 and its successor 540K, were already far ahead in both styling and technology. Therefore, the Grosser was taken completely apart and given a huge make-over. Sporting a new chassis developed from Mercedes Grand Prix racers and a smoother, grander body style, the new Grosser certainly looked as grandiose as it was supposed to (even Cadillacs would be ashamed if set beside a Grosser). Also the engine was upgraded, sporting a new M150 7,7 litre straight-eight that developed 155 hp and a top speed of 145 km/h, that was further boosted by a massive supercharger to 230 hp and a maximal speed of 170 km/h (though it had the bad problem that if the kompressor was used for over a minute it would fry the camshaft). Body styles were also varied as was the custom of the time, consisting of a four window formal sedan and cabriolet, a 7-seater Tourenwagen cabriolet, a Pullman limousine, a six window F-Cabriolet or Kaiserwagen and two sporty, two-door B-Cabriolets. All in all, this was certainly a car that was meant to impress, though production was limited and the total of these new Grossers amounted to 88 examples built between 1938 and 1943.
Now this is certainly a model that was about as hard to come by than a real life thing. There really isnt a steady market for a speciality model such as this for most of the people getting a buzz out a the newest Ferrari or Nissan (which are both crap as far as Im concerned). That is until Signature decided to make a 1:18 die cast out of it, and even then not only limiting in making one, but offered the 770K as a Pullman limousine and as a four-door Tourenwagen Cabriolet. The version I have is the Pullman formal sedan and, judging by photos of the cabriolet, the better of the two (that is being closer to the ideal modern styling I like). First of all I have to mention that this is definitely a heavy model. With so much mass, it is also sturdy as a paperweight with wheels, making it quite a piece to appreciate and feel that this car really is grand as promised. This is further intensified by the fact that the tires are sturdy and have no whitewalls as American cars always had (the Grossers very rarely sported whitewalls at all).
The paintjob is exquisitely done, being smooth and shiny, giving a reflection as good as a mirror. Now, the Pullman is available in either black or gray, but I have to say that the gray colour scheme just does not fit the car, being ever so militaristic and bland, while the black (the colour I have) gives the model a really grandiose look, which is also truer as I have not seen a single photograph where a Grosser was coloured with a light colour. And when you take into account that the radiator grille has for some odd reason been painted body colour instead of being chromed as it should be, the gray colour is simply too obtrusive to give a really favourable impression. Speaking of chrome, there actually is not a whole lot of it. With the radiator being not chromed, it only leaves the bumpers, the head lights, and other smaller trim accessories like the window frames and side strips chromed, which is still enough to lighten the model a bit (though unfortunately the black strips on the bumpers have not been detailed, so they need to be added if it bothers you). But a big plus is that the head lights have been given an authetic touch, so that the stubs keeping the lenses in place are not irritatingly visible as they are on so many models.
The body has been done with great precision of course. All doors open (that is hood, the four doors and trunk), and have been mostly realistically hinged. The hood opens on a spine of hinges (both sides as youd expect from 1930s style), as do the doors that swing in opposite directions against each other. Oftentimes doors are connected with these bulky hinges that make the door swing a couple of millimeters away from the body and effectively this construct prevents the rear doors to have any chance of opening unless they do so to the opposite direction. Here there are real metallic hinges, which allows both front and rear doors to open, despite being hinged from the same position from the middle of the car. Also the doors fit perfectly. In most models, there is a problem of the fitting of the doors, which leaves them a little popped out or featuring huge cracks. Not so here; the doors fit perfectly in place, perhaps a bit too well. The only way to open them is to pull on the frail, little door handles and there is always a danger in them remaining in your fingers after the act. But this is well compensated in having a good looking car when the doors are closed. The trunk lid has been attached with traditional bulky hinges, but it doesnt really matter here as the curved lid hides them quite effectively from sight with the addition of a bit of shadow to further help things out.
The interior is no less detailed. The floors are all carpeted with a gruff, soft texture that is extended all the way to the inside roof and trunk (though being less soft). All windows have been connected to the doors, so the plastics are not attached to the inside roof as you often see. Likewise the seats (both front and rear) are made of soft plastic to make them more elastic and authentic to the original leather couches in the real cars. The dash and other parts of the interior have been lined with simulated wood, which is detailed a bit massively perhaps to the scale, but look the part just as well, while the dials on the dash have been realistically photo etched with great detail for something so small. The engine compartment is a little less striking as all parts are molded in gray (aluminum) and black with not much details (though it is not supposed to be cluttered up with all kinds of wires and stuff). Looking at old factory pictures, however, there appears to be a bit more chrome used that is not detailed on this model, like in the torsion bars and coil springs, though the swnky dual supercharger pipes do make a great zing when protruding through the right side of the hood and are naturally chromed here as well. The springs by the way are absent from the front of the car but the rear suspension is functional. The massive kompressor on the drivers side, however, has been given a little extra decaling, which is nice. Even the bottom of the car doesnt have much chrome on it apart from the exhaust pipe, but is accurately detailed nevertheless.
Well, as you can probably tell by now, this is an exquisite scale model. Apart from a few very minor criticisms, there is very little bad things I have to say of this model. It is well constructed, well finished and extremely impressive wherever you display it. Maybe it can be termed as being a little bit glorifying Hitler if you want to see it that way (the Grosser was a favourite gift of his to give to his friends) but as far as Im concerned its just a prestigious car. Amazon is currently stocking the model in black with a sticker price of £37.99 while I paid 60 for it in the exhibition, which I consider quite reasonable for the quality you get. As such, however, this is most certainly not a toy. It contains (naturally) lots of small parts and it can break pretty easily if manhandled (definitely I wouldnt let anybody under the age of 20 touch this baby). This is for display purposes only. Its one you only touch for sweeping off dust and even when handling it you better use silk gloves so you wont smear it with nasty fingerprints. In conclusion, the 1938 Grosser Mercedes Pullman Limousine is a fantastic model of one of my favourite cars; it is beautiful to look at, mighty in my display case, and is unusual from the norm. Certainly a keeper.
*To check out images of the car see this link:
© berlioz, 2007