Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tomica vs Siku - Mercedes A-Class

I have been looking for a similar Siku model which Tomica made. A model which both are produced not in their home country and some improvements I like to point out to Tomica which Siku has maintained. In fact, Tomica and Siku has many similarities. Listing out some of them as follows. Tomica made Japanese cars and occasionally German cars while Siku concentrate on German cars and at times made a few Toyotas. Both brands still survive today although Siku started almost 20 years earlier in making plastic toy cars. Tomica and Siku have cars with opening doors or hatch. Tomica and Siku have shifted the production on the line of regular cars out of their home countries since the 90s. Tomica and Siku are similarly priced in Singapore and other countries depending on exchange rates. They are not in the same price range with Hot Wheels which are at least $2.00 cheaper. When I got hold of a Siku Mercedes A Class, I thought that this should be the best model for me to point out the strength and weakness of each brand. I respect both Tomica and Siku and hope that they will improve for the benefit of collectors who loves them.  

One distinctive feature of both brands, opening feature, in this case, rear hatches. Most beginner collectors of Tomica would have thought that one piece hatch without a through hole is a norm for Tomica but it isn't true. The Siku (in green) is what Tomica used to have if the hatch opens. Tomica started to paint the rear windows on the opening hatch when the production was shifted to China in the mid 90s. Some models which are Japanese made but transit to China factory are spared due to existing mould. New models such as Toyota Ipsum or Honda Odyssey which are produced in China suffered with this new treatment. This is a move I felt totally disgusted. This is a move to cut production cost. Isn't shifting to China a cost cutting movement already? Siku is made in China too but how can a German company able to maintain the same production quality  and why not a Japanese company? What Tomica has done well in the rear are the detailing on the rear light which the lines are crafted in the mould. Most current Siku uses red plastic to represent rear lights which looks better than painting. Siku of the 90s till early 2000 are mostly paintings without extra rear plastic lights. Siku are actually improving progrssively with time, cost cutting measures seems not considered as a priority but quality is. The rear bumper on the Tomica looks neat too because it look like a separate piece if viewed from the side.

For the front treatment, Siku go a step further to paint the grill and the Mercedes logo on the detailing. I am not saying that Tomica didn't do a good job. In fact, I am quite approve of what Tomica has done. Detailing to be done on the casting rather than paint work to differentiate various parts of the car. Very basic painting is fine with me. Toy cars at this scale do not need extra detailing by paint or decals or you should be looking at Autoart instead. Toy cars which uses decals heavily on head light, grill etc are a result of cost cutting mould. Just look at current Matchbox or Hot Wheels. Tomica also omitted licence plate after production shifted out of Japan which Siku still maintain this tradition.

Both hatch open and shuts well. Siku A Class has a deeper boot, thanks to the larger scale of 1:55 vs Tomica 1:57.

Siku has a fix scale of 1:55 across the board for its regular cars with exception of some trucks which likely to be 1:87 for 0800~1400 series. Tomica is scaled to fit into the box but not so true today as they come in various scales with lots of free play within the box. Tomica beats Siku in the wheels segment as 80% of Tomica comes with suspension. Rim design is subjective because I like the button wheels trademark on the Tomica although Siku A Class rims are closer to the real thing. The tyres on the Siku are fatter too, a little too fat in my opinion. Notice that Siku of this era uses plastic wheels while current day Siku upgraded to rubber, something you can find only on a Tomica Limited. Again, this is quite subjective because I refused to play with rubber wheeled cars when I was a kid as these cars are reluctant to skid or accelerate across the room when pushed.

Tomica failed on the rear three quarters. Instead of using extra plastic material, they decide to save this process and paint it over instead. A huge disappointment for anyone who played with or collect Tomica since young. If Siku can do it at the same cost, I don't see why Tomica can't. Saving the earth by using less plastic? The Tomica A Class is more of an isolated case because not many Tomica were given this treatment then. After production is shifted southwards to Vietnam, we see more Tomica are given this treatment. It has already become a standard "package" on 2012 and 2013 Tomica. Just look at the Corolla Fielder and Corvette.
Wing mirrors are not really important for me but Siku go the extra mile to cast them. I felt that Tomica should make Tomica the way how Siku has employed in their procedures. I have to say that Tomica excels in the paint department as most paint finishes with metallic or glossy look. If the Siku is shrink to 1:60, complete with button wheels and finished with Tomica paint, it will be perfect as a Tomica. Go! Go! Tomica, move forward. We know you can do it if you want.


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