Vellum Venom Vignette: Diecasting A Designer's 8-bit Nightmare?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
vellum venom vignette diecasting a designer s 8 bit nightmare

I suspect there’s more than a handful of Transportation Design students finding employment in the toy business and I know my fellow design classmates at CCS collected diecast model cars. They’re inspirational, personally helping me render light/shadow reflections on the vellum.

Visits to (Pasteiner’s) Auto Zone happened regularly, sometimes with the same higher regard than local religious institutions. So spare me, oh mighty autoblogosphere, from the manufactured excitement of Lego’s F40 kit.

I reckon it’s a designer’s 8-bit nightmare.

This Vellum Venom isn’t a slam on Lego, their Creator Series or people behind them. Their Architecture series gives me a special feeling: plastic bricks make for great scale models of postwar architectural treasures from around the world.

Just not for cars. Never.

This Vellum Venom is a reminder of the diecast’s superiority in representation, dollar value and as a foundation to admire and/or seek inspiration. Get your kicks by turning an F40 diecast under a desk lamp to see how light reflects off Pininfarina’s coachwork. Clip the springs on a few Miastos and your studio gets transportation design cred for cheap.

Call it drafting table design porn. My diecast F40 joined me for my CCS misadventures. Some 10+ years later, I was honored to ride shotgun in a real one. To wit:

That 100 dollar, Nintendo-y, Minecraft-lookin’ pile of plastic dots insults The Machine’s beautiful stamped body. It’s an affront to the legacy of Mr. Pininfarina. Who knows, maybe even the aerodynamics hatin’ Mr. Ferrari would kick it out of the office.

Even worse, availability of diecasts in mind, Lego’s kit is less automotive connoisseur and more garden-variety geek…back when that was a bad thing.

A proper scale model, a tasty Bburago reproduction (while out of production) is much cheaper on eBay. I know, I know: Bburagos are the Trader Joe’s of scale model cars. My budget remains tight, I hold no delusions there.

There’s the simply stunning Pocher 1:8th scale model, even Kyosho and Hot Wheels make better interpretations. However, as the purchase price rises, the benefits of finer diecast details are a sliding economy of scale.

And much like a customizable-ish Lego model, Bburagos are easily disassembled for painting its casting details to a respectable level of accuracy — like proper black trim on the beltline, window pillars and more accurate interior colors. Repainting takes less time than it would to watch the first half of a Nashville Oilers game. my typical study break back at CCS.

Unlike the Lego, sorta like the upscale diecasts, the Bburago F40 is beautiful on its own — especially above the smexy intake runners of my SHO-coffee table, but I digress…

To my design-savvy readers: Don’t sell yourself short with Legos. You loved ’em as a kid. The Internet says this F40 kit is totally awesome. The extensive assembly time is not without its charms. But no…no, do not worship this false idol.

The vellum demands you do justice to the Ferrari F40, get a Bburago F40 for 50 percent less cash or go big with the premium diecast brands. And insist your friends do the same!

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2 of 34 comments
  • Koshchei Koshchei on Aug 05, 2015

    I'm more interested in your SHO intake table than the die-cast F-40. Tell me about it.

  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Aug 06, 2015

    That picture on the box cover is actually quite flattering. I don't think it would even look that good in person, based on this picture: I'm with you on this one, Sajeev. That F40 looks terrible. I had a ridiculous amount of Lego growing up. That and Playmobil were easy to convince my mother to buy, as she thought they were good toys. I'm used to a Lego model being a collection of basic materials that can be used to make many other things, not a bunch of customized pieces that combine to form an ugly version of a simpler toy. I just don't get modern Lego, and I even had a couple of fairly large Technics vehicles. That said, I'd probably have been happy to build it and play with it if I found it under the Christmas tree as a kid. But give that kid the choice between that and a decent radio-controlled car and it's not even close. The RC car is both more fun and more educational, in my opinion, especially if it's one you build yourself. My Lambo wasn't nearly as pretty as I remember it though. Some big wheel gaps there. It may have had more suspension travel than the actual Countach. Pushrod setup on the front. I also had quite a few Bburagos. Unfortunately, no F40. My favorite was probably my dark blue Diablo. It's been awhile since I looked at my 1:18 model collection. I'll have to go visit my father and see them sometime. Maybe I'll even find the Tyco Countach.

  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.
  • Pickles69 They have a point. All things (or engines/propulsion) to all people. Yet, when the analogy of being, “a department store,” of options is used, I shudder. Department stores are failing faster than any other retail. Just something to chew on.