Father’s Day has always been a boon for retailers of grilling utensils and neckties, and while a 30-pound bag of charcoal from Home Depot is nice and everything—and dads will gladly accept it—as a gift idea, it’s a little, um, lazy. Dads could be interested in other things as well, things that don’t support the charcoal or necktie industry, and we suspect that some of them could be small vehicles of various kinds, remote-controlled or not, and in many different sizes. Here are 10 non-lazy, non-barbecue ideas in a range of budgets for Father’s Day gifts.
This Japanese toymaker’s line of 1:64 will make Hot Wheels or Majorette cars seem like something produced with 1950s technology. The level of detail on Tomica’s offerings, most of which are those of Japanese cars in this line, can best be described as on a level of watchmaking, and they’re priced accordingly: $15 and up, prior to shipping costs. It sounds pricey, but once you buy one of these you’ll understand their appeal.
For all of F1’s popularity, you won’t find scale models from the past at your local toy store. Thankfully, Minichamps has been cranking out F1 cars in 1:43 (and the larger and pricier 1:18 scale) for quite some time, giving collectors and racing fans alike some wide choices when it comes to eras and drivers. These can be at times be pricey depending on what you’re after, as some of these models have been out of production for years, so don’t expect uniform pricing. But many are still very affordable. It just may take a while to find the one you want at the price you want.
Maisto’s line of various exotic cars, which built up momentum in the 1990s, continues to offer a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to 1:18 scale models. Did your dad own a Jaguar XJ220 in the 1990s? Probably not. Did he daily a Ferrari F40? (It depends—he might have owned an F40, as many dads did, but he only drove it on the weekends). Maisto slightly overproduced a number of these 1:18 diecast models, to put it mildly, and the result 25 years later is that there are lots of them on eBay. Lately, Maisto has turned its attention to slightly more common cars, ranging from a 1970 Chevy Nova to a 2001 Chevy Corvette to a 2014 Jeep Wrangler. Surely someone’s dad owns a 2014 Jeep Wrangler somewhere?
The modelmaker Neo (not to be confused with the programmer Neo played by Keanu Reeves) has turned its attention to common American and Japanese cars of the past 40 years. This means that everything from a 1968 Ford Country Squire to a 1992 Honda Prelude has been reproduced in 1:43 scale, in resin, perhaps even in the color that your dad had at one point. It’s always worth checking if your dad’s first car has been offered in 1:43, because these can be fun gifts. Or they could be less fun if that car ended up being wrecked somehow in real life. Buyer discretion advised.
Does your dad know about the Tatra 815? Well, he should, because this truck was very innovative when it came out and in many ways upstaged Tatra’s passenger cars, featuring a frameless architecture and an unorthodox suspension design. The “frame” was essentially a long tube that housed the driveshaft and also served as the main structural element, allowing axles to be easily added in a modular fashion. The 815 was built in many different forms, but this dump truck version is one of the more common ones, especially in these classic colors. The 815 debuted decades ago, but these trucks are still in use all over Europe.
It is well known that dads love robots, and they love to sit in lawn chairs. They also love not working on the weekends. The center of this Venn diagram, we propose, is a dad who owns a robot that’s also a lawnmower. Before the robot apocalypse arrives and these robots all team up to take over the world, you can still purchase and force a lawn mowing robot to give your yard a haircut. The robot in question is Husqvarna’s Automower 310, which works on yards up to a quarter of an acre and produces fine clippings that act as a fertilizer for the lawn. It’s also quiet enough to be used at night because it’s electric—and weatherproof to work in the rain (though it would be funnier if it was gasoline-powered and incredibly loud like a riding mower). It’s also notably cheaper than most riding mowers—priced at $1,199. Is this the future of lawn-mowing?
Maisto produced a number of popular supercars and sports cars of the 1990s in 1:18 scale, selling them for very reasonable prices back in the day. But Maisto may have overestimated the demand for these a bit in the U.S., which is why they’re still available for very reasonable prices. This means a gang of Ferrari, Porsche, BMW and Lamborghini and other automaker’s models can be easily found for not much dough, still in their original boxes. Almost three decades later, it’s still tough to beat these for value and detail, because modern 1:18 models tend to be much more expensive from other toymakers.
Almost at the other end of the scale model spectrum is the 1:87 scale, a popular scale for model railroads in Europe. But not only model railroads—this is a fairly popular scale for passenger cars and trucks as well. Brekina is one of the players in this segment, and they made a wide variety of European cars, trucks and buses. The cars tend to be German, and there is an almost endless variety of them. Prices for cars are just under $20, which may surprise some used to Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, but keep in mind that these are meant to be realistic and are built to be displayed, rather than played with, so the construction is skewed toward realism.
The German scale model maker Wiking has an extensive catalog of models in 1:87 scale, models that are either bought by collector or by model railroaders for their dioramas. The most obscure European trucks are on Wiking’s menu, ranging from forklifts to DAF to Magirus trucks, like the one seen above. Models of vintage trucks are not hard to find from this maker, at least online, and there is an endless variety of them in Wiking’s repertoire. Prices can vary quite a bit, from just a few dollars to $50.00, so it can take some time to find something specific at a price you like. eBay is the place for these.
Everyone’s favorite car that they saw in Ewan McGregor and Charley Borman’s Long Way Round has finally been reproduced in glorious 1:18 scale. That’s right: The UAZ 452V, the official vehicle of Mongolia, is now available in this giant scale to take up an entire shelf on a bookcase. The 452V has been in production in Ulyanovsk, Russia, pretty much unchanged since the 1960s, and it’s one of the earliest and easily the longest-produced 4×4 minivans. Nicknamed bukhanka, which means bread loaf, the 452V can perform ridiculous off-road feats while carrying up to a dozen people. The 452V model is made by StartScaleModels, which offers these in a number of paint colors, in addition to other Eastern Euro cars in 1:18 scale.
Drones have been a hobby long enough to drop in price to be affordable to just about everyone, and high-quality drones with a lot of advanced capabilities aren’t out of reach either. One of the most popular models on the market right now is Holy Stone’s HS120D GPS quadcopter with a camera that features a 1080HD filming capability and functions like auto-follow and an automatic return home. The footage goes directly to your smartphone, which is attached to the video game-like control pad. This model offers up to 36 minutes of flying time on its two batteries. With a price of $169.99, this is a very affordable way to get into the hobby.
Who has time to build a Lego model with 3,696 pieces? A lot of people these days. Which is why earlier this month Lego released a 1:8 scale model of the Lamborghini Sián in the big Technic format. It even has a working transmission with little gears that you have to assemble. In fact, we’re pretty sure it’s easier just to assemble the real thing at the factory, because the transmission is done at that point and you just have to plug it in. We feel that the Lego transmission inside this 1:8 scale model might take a whole week to put together. If 3,696 pieces sound expensive, that’s because they are: The Lego Sián costs $379.99. But it will keep Dad occupied.
This famous European bus design originated in Budapest, Hungary, and quickly conquered the world starting in the late 1960s. The 280.33 version of the Ikarus seen here is one of the many, many versions of the 200 series, which was produced in a staggering variety of layouts. One of the variants of this bendy bus was even used by major cities in the U.S. and Canada, including Chicago, San Francisco, Honolulu, Houston, Toronto, Portland and Calgary. The last of the 280s exited use in North America in the early 1990s, but the 200 series lived on much longer in Eastern Europe. This 1:87 bus by Brekina is a part of its European truck and bus series, and can be found on eBay or directly from Brekina online.
Indycar fans used to be underserved in past years when it came to scale models, and the reality was that you couldn’t really find Indycar merchandise in big box stores—NASCAR was usually all you could encounter. The reality is very different in the age of e-commerce, as you no longer have to seek out something on foot, and the variety is much better as well. Greenlight now has a line of Indycars in 1:64 scale, with quite a lot of variety when it comes to modern teams and drivers. Detail quality is higher than ever and prices don’t bite. These are available in blister packs on j-hooks and rectangular jewel boxes alike, for easy (and dust-free) storage and display.
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