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Discussion Starter #1
Let me begin by saying the topic of this thread is not meant to be Playing Mantis vs. RC2. Yesterday I purchased my first JL since RC2 relaunched the line and thought I might take it upon myself to do a little investigative reporting, examining for myself some of the stories I have heard concerning the new line of die-cast cars being produced under the banner of Johnny Lightning. My intent in this was to examine all visible pros and cons through a step by step analysis, comparing an old (PM), and new (RC2) version of the same casting…in this case, the ‘55 Lincoln Futura. Will some of the rumors concerning quality and packaging design problems be disproved or substantiated? Let’s find out.



Phase 1: Packaging/Design/Content









From a contemporary design point of view, the frontal view Playing Mantis card (top left) offered little or no charm. Even looking at it through the veil of nostalgia, it was poorly conceived. Once the photo card is removed, all that’s left is the Street Freaks logo, which looks like it was designed in about two minutes flat, plucked straight off the top of the designer’s head in this case. Take away the color and what do you have left?



The rear view of the PM card (bottom left), offers a list of other vehicles from their then current Street Freaks line, club information offering a choice of two exclusive cars to their members, and an eight hundred numbers that offers to answer questions about the club or product in general, and their web site.



The frontal view new RC2 packaging (top right), shows much more initiative in design. The black racing stripes are sleek and the photo knock outs on the card is a simple, yet dynamic solution to adding content. Having the series release number right on the front of the package is convenient as well.



Rc2 packaging from the rear view (bottom right),gives us the usual check list of other cars in the current Classic Gold series, a check list of the coming soon Musclecars, R12. The new photo cards have a spec sheet with vehicle information on the back. The web site is included, but no information about the club. Since the club is now free, stating this information would be a great way to increase traffic to their site. There’s a blurb about the high quality and state of the art tooling in both English and French languages. Also, there is no phone number for RC2. Unfortunately, this is one of the main differences when going from a small independently owned company to a larger corporation. The individual (or in this case, the customer) is never given the same attention. It isn’t considered cost effective.



Phase 1 conclusions:



PM’s packaging was cheaply done, but welcomed costumer relations, and also gave incentive to join their car club.



RC2 can afford much better designers, however customer relations is not encouraged. Their free club (a nice bit of incentive for new customers) is not mentioned. They do have that very nice blurb written in both English and French, hyping their line for anyone who enjoys reading such things.

 

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Discussion Starter #2
Phase 2: Packaging Specs









In this first of photos, I’ve included a close up of the vehicle spec sheet from the RC2 package (top left).



I believe I recall reading that the new cards were about an inch and a half taller than the old cards. However, when I held both cards back to back (top right), the precise measurement shows the new cards to be only ¾ of an inch taller at the utmost peak. The actual size of the older PM cards also varied, and some were much taller than the current card (bottom left). This caused some minor storage problems in the past, but nothing that couldn’t be easily overcome because all of the older cards stacked flat (bottom right) inside a box or plastic storage container.









In this second group of photos, we come to the main problem of storage/shipping caused by the new packaging. It has nothing to do with the package size, the problem is caused by the raised logo area. When placing one card on top of the other (top left), they will no longer lay flat. In fact, they do not actually lay down at all. For those who like to hang cards on their walls or displays in an overlapping fashion, this will no longer be possible. Again, the raised logo are pushes the plastic bubble of the top card well beyond the bubble of the card behind it (top right). This is because the raised logo extends outward over half an inch (bottom left). As you can clearly see, the JL logo is printed on the actual card below the raised area. A simple solution to all these problems would be to eliminate the raised area. Or, if a raised area must be a part of the design, raise it 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. There is a well nearly ¼ of an inch deep on the back of the card, created by the lip of the plastic shell (bottom right). This could potentially allow the cards to interlock, or at least lay flat.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Phase 3: Out of package quality analysis









This first group of photos were taken to show that both cars are the exact same casting with different paint jobs. I have read many reports of this particular casting in the new release having a loose or totally dislodged canopy. The canopy looked connected to this particular car in the packaging, but also read that it fell off when opened in one instance. I was interested to see what would happen when I opened mine. The canopy did not fall off, but it is loose enough for me to move it from side to side with my finger. The PM version has a tight canopy.



There was no harsh or lingering odor when the new package was opened. Both castings also have plastic tires, so my next move was to test the wheel movement. First the PM version. All wheels turned freely. Tires were even in alignment, the car rolled in a straight line across my desk. Next, I tested the RC2 versions wheels. The front left tire and the right rear tire did not move at all. With some minor bending of the rear axle, I managed to free up the back tire. The left front tire seems to be pushed up into the wheel well quite securely. I still have not managed to work it loose. It does, however roll across the desk in a straight line on three wheels. That left front tire doesn’t touch the ground…it’s pushed up that far.









Finally, in these last photos (left) shows the PM Futura’s inner plastic shell doubles as a display for the car. There’s even a slot on the back to hook the photo card into. The “Kustumized Lincoln Futura” logo came pre-attached at the bottom. On the right, I placed the RC2 Futura on the plastic base from inside the package. I leaned the Johnny Lightning.com banner against the bottom. It was not attached. And I hooked the photo card onto the plastic holder I got out of the Boothill Express I recently opened. RC2 provided no inner holder.



Overall conclusions:



Keeping in mind that this was a random sampling. I would’ve normally taken my recently purchase Futura back to the store I purchased it for an exchange. But judging from all the other reports, I might get a better quality one, I might get a worse one. Seems like a gamble, and RC2 is gambling with their product. In art school, they always said, presentation is nine-tenths of the law…and RC2 makes an impressive presentation. However, quality and customer relations seems to be lacking.



The older PM version might’ve given less thought to the presentation, but more thought to the sort of little extras collectors find appealing.



With a few simple adjustments and better quality control RC2 could be top of the ladder with their JL line. They have the original castings, they have a nice presentation. I was very excited about finding this car. I rarely find the castings I most want on pegs in my area. It is also a fact that word of mouth sells a lot of product. However, I fear they will not get the same lip service PM had if the above mentioned problems are not addressed. I have attempted to be as objective about my findings as I possibly could. But in the end, this experience has left me with a feeling like that song…First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is. Johnny’s back, but it isn’t Johnny, but it is.

 

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Nice write up and comparision between JL and RC2 Dragnet Supporter! :thumbsup:

Batman approves of the RC2 Futura. :p

 

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Thanks for the thourogh investigation, Dragnet!

I havent purchased the new Futura yet, probably wont, not a huge fan of it, but if I do I will be getting the plastic wheel version so it'll go on the track better.
 

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There is also a noticable clarity difference in the canopy plastic. My new Futura as with the one you have is more cloudy and wiggles too. One of my ongoing peeves with both JL and RC quality control has always been bent axles or bases that didn't seat properly.
Now, time for some CHEESE! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Karl said:
There is also a noticable clarity difference in the canopy plastic. My new Futura as with the one you have is more cloudy and wiggles too. One of my ongoing peeves with both JL and RC quality control has always been bent axles or bases that didn't seat properly.
Now, time for some CHEESE! :)
The new canopy deffinitly wiggles. The clarity on the new casting may be due to the green tinting process, which I personally found appealing. I didn't list this as a specific problem, since the tinting was intentional. And in my comparison of these two particular castings, I could still see more interior detail within the RC2 Futura, simply because the interior is gray or silver. The PM interior on my Street Freaks version is black. So even though the canopy is clear, it is difficult to see the fine detail.

I also forgot to mention price in my report, which was $3.96 at my local WM.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I was hoping to find no problems with the wheels, I couldn't tell until I opened it. And the canopy looked firmly attached in the package. I hope RC2 gives this line a fair shake. The post about looking to attract more kids could be an attempt to broaden their line. I hope it doesn't mean downsizing or cheapening the cars themselves :(
 

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Futura buyer -Quality Inspection time;

*Upon visual inspection of 7 (packaged) Futuras;

quantity 4- (real wheels with hubs) all wheels appear level and even, in relation to the Futura body.
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quantity 3- (hard wheels with Cragars) all front wheels, on all these cars were completely jammed, up into the wheelwells.

2 cars had front wheels that were jammed on the drivers side.
1 cars had front wheels that were jammed on the passenger side.

*no particular pattern in mis-assembly.
However, most jammed wheels appear to be on the front drivers side

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1 other damaged Futura (#8), was opened and described prior to this reply.It had real wheels with hubs.

*There is no aparrant relationship, to what style of wheels sets, were improperly crimped.

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5 canopies, out of 8 Futuras, were not connected to the body by their corresponding rear tabs.

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Summary;
4, out of 8 Futuras (from one household) had visible wheel assembly errors and functional flaws.

5 out of 8 Futuras had sloppy, loose or completeley detatched window canopies.

of these 8 Futuras,4 had combined axle flaws AND loose canopies
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Do those pre-dertermined new destinations include a return trip to the store you bought them from? If I find a rubber tires version, or a second plastic tires to keep inside the package, I would like to buy them...but not if I see visible damage. Was it just the Futuras that seemed to get kicked around and treated carelessly, or does anyone else see wheels jamed on other new castings?

Thanks for the input, RobDog. This is not a random problem. Just too many of these Futuras having similar problems. If I were in a position to do so at RC2, I would doing some house cleaning. With the time they took to reorganize and relaunch this line, I would say someone dropped the ball. They may have other plans, such as bankruptcy if the company isn't doing well financially, who knows. A lot of businesses are hurting.
 

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Interesting read, thanks for posting! not a fan of the casting, but in my informal inspection of the cars I've seen on the pegs, all had canopies that were not attached.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
RobDog said:
drag,
the remainders were promised out to DadsCoronet and some Batmobile/Futura collectors.
I supposedly,have a CG pre-order out there somewhere from Russ,I'll keep that one in the blister, for my Batstash.
I'll try to give you a hand, if anything changes.

can you hear it now?...I have a 1 of 100 Lincoln Futura, that have 4 rolling tires.
Thanks, I appreciate that. Let me know if you come across anything extra on the pegs in decent shape. In about a month, I should be in a better position to try to track down a few castings I've been looking for. I wanted to place an order with Milezone's myself, but just couldn't do it right now. My fear is that by the time I can afford to do so, the Futuras will be history.
 
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