‘Tis the season.
The end of summer and beginning of fall means one—and only one—-thing: time to run to your nearby wholesale club to nab some cheap cars. Pallets chock-full of Maistos and Bburagos repackaged as Maistos are hitting floors now. Assortments will vary on an individual basis, but from what I’ve seen and what other collectors have reported, there is a plethora of exotic gems out there. Fancy yourself a Lamborghini Huracan Performante, Aventador, or Centenario? How about a yellow—excuse me, Giallo Modena—Ferrari FXX K? Or perhaps you’re more into the V8s like the 458 Speciale and 488 GTB, both of which are available in Rosso Corsa, of course. I even spotted an odd Nissan GT-R in bright blue with gold wheels. Definitely not OEM colors but hey, Godzilla. Just be prepared for some curious stares by all the lame, boring, no-life, non-collectors in the vicinity as you spend ten minutes shuffling and rearranging the stacks of boxes on the pallet. #noshame
At $15 a pop—less than half the suggested retail prices of these models—you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value anywhere in the land of model cars. That’s the price of a good 1:64 for something much, much larger (and more detailed). Look, I give Maisto a lot of crap and mock them when I can, if for no other reason than pure entertainment, but even the most stubborn elitist would submit to their whims this time each year.
Today, I want to talk about one of the hot new releases from Maisto this season: the Bugatti Chiron Sport. Technically, it isn’t even a new model; the Sport version is just a recolored rehash of the regular Chiron from a couple years back. Nonetheless, this is a delight for variant collectors (guilty!). It’s one of the models I had hoped to find this fall, and lightning struck on my very first trip. Can confirm that I walked out of there with a huge grin on my face that day. The lady checking receipts at the door was probably wondering “what the hell is wrong with this guy?”
I got my Bugatti, okay? Deal with it.
Maisto’s Bugatti Chiron Sport is modeled after the debut car unveiled at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, in a sinister red and black two-tone that would make Darth Vader seriously consider trading in his TIE Advanced for something more avant-garde. Apparently these things can fly too, but that’s a different story. As far as the real machine is concerned, the Sport is a marginally improved version of the regular Chiron, with a dash of weight reduction, suspension adjustments, and torque vectoring—all geared towards making the big bug a little more track-worthy.
Now is the time I wish I had my old Chiron on hand so that I could compare the difference between it and the new Sport model, but I passed off my old toy a while back, having to clear room for my burgeoning miniature garage. Besides, I plan to upgrade to a higher-end Chiron at some point in the distant future, perhaps the Kyosho or (hopefully) the AUTOart specimen. For now, an old photo will do:
It’s the same color combo as the Sport, but the silver trim curving around the doors has been changed to red, and the wheels have been blacked-out. Classy to racy. The unique feature on the new one, however, is the obnoxious number “16” (touting the Bugatti’s 16-cylinder engine) printed on the front grille—again, resembling the 1:1.
The most obvious disparity between the miniature and its life-sized counterpart is that the black paint on the Maisto replaces the exposed carbon-fiber on the actual car. That’s the compromise you have to make with a budget model. Other carbon-fiber details applied on the exterior and interior are achieved via injection-molded plastic. Not my favorite method, but it’s the most cost-efficient one—perfectly reasonable on a model of this caliber—and it looks decent. Overall paint quality is mediocre; random flecks and scratches are noticeable throughout the surface, and the coat is quite thick as is typical with this brand. You wouldn’t find these flaws on a high-end model but, then again, this isn’t one.
There are a few other annoying nuances, which is why I generally avoid products from the May Cheong group. The sad, droopy wheels. The way the steering springs back to neutral. The scuffs all over the windshield.
On the plus side, the detail is very good—particularly the lights, brakes, and interior. Most of all, the deployable rear wing is a hoot to play with, no matter your age. Again, no shame.
At the end of the day, these are the perfect entry-level models for new collectors and great filler matériel for established collectors looking to load up their arsenals. Or perhaps you just want something to play with and photograph for a little bit which, in that case, is $15 well spent.