Friday, November 19, 2010

Toy Review – Back to the Future Part II: DeLorean Time Machine By Diamond Select Toys

I hate to start this review on a negative note, but there’s no getting around the false representation involved in this toy. The box proclaims it to be the time machine from Back to the Future Part II. It is not. If it were, the tires would fold down for a flight mode. They don’t.
I’ve been pretty excited about this toy ever since Diamond first announced it. I’m 34 years old, so the Back to the Future trilogy is somewhat sacred to me and the second movie will always be my favorite (though the third is kind of special too since it was one of those rare movies I saw with my dad). And besides the nostalgia and just general high quality of the franchise; who wouldn’t want a toy of that DeLorean?

This thing actually showed up in Toys R Us months ago, but I really didn’t want to spend forty dollars on it. I think they got four in, and as I watched them slowly sell over the course of a few months I kept fighting the urge to pick one up. Once the last one was gone I was kind of sorry I hadn’t bought one, but that price was about ten dollars too much.
A few weeks ago Toys R Us got new cases in that had the Back to the Future III version as well as this one. I knew they’d probably be gone after this shipment, so I used a 15% off coupon and five dollars in TRU Rewards to bring the price down to a more reasonable thirty bucks.
Now that Mattel has the license to produce Back to the Future toys I am very curious to see what happens. You can’t very well produce action figures without making at least one version of the iconic time machine, but Mattel just doesn’t seem very inclined towards vehicles. Will they make 3 ¾” scale figures and take advantage of this version already existing? Will they finally nut up and put together a 6” scale vehicle (perhaps testing the waters for an ECTO-1 or some MOTUC vehicles)? Either way we’ll be spending even more time on motherfucking Mattycollector.com. We’ll just have to wait and see.
First Glance: This is a nice looking toy that I’ve been eyeing for a while. Just sitting there in the box it appears to be about the same quality as a Burago or other pre-assembled model car toy. The price suggests that it is die-cast or at the very least has some metal parts. Picking it up confirms that it doesn’t. Still, it looks like a faithful recreation.
Sculpt: I’m going to be talking about how well the DeLorean lives up to my memory of the movie one, so if you want a detailed technical review I’m going to be letting you down big time. I couldn’t tell you which wires and pipes go where, I can just relay whether or not the car seems right.
And it does. There is a lot of attention to detail on this toy, from the time machine parts on the back to the interior.
All of the wires and tubes and hoses on the back look nice. It’s basically the big jumble of parts that it should be. The big silver thing on top is what you press to activate the lights and sounds and it feels solid and durable. The doors both operate like they should and will stay open without support. The hood opens, but that’s where the batteries go, so there’s nothing under there except the switch to change modes. It has the standard three that all electronic toys seem to have now: off, display (to conserve battery life while on the store shelf), play.
The light-up parts are very nicely done. They are all separate pieces from the body – headlights, tail lights, dashboard, exterior light tube thingies (I don’t know exactly what those are called) and the Flux Capacitor. My only gripe here is that the Flux Capacitor isn’t actually visible unless it is lit up, but that’s more of a design issue.
I totally forgot to see if the steering wheel operates the wheels or not (it doesn't - lame). That’s usually one of my first checks on a new wheeled toy (although this one did have a lot to distract me). The wheels are rubber, which should be a given on a toy car this size. They are tight and roll well. The wheels do not, however, swing down into flight mode. This is a huge problem for me.
This toy is marketed and labeled as the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future Part II. Where we don’t need roads. While the road only model does show up in the second feature, I feel it is hugely misleading to suggest that this is the car from that movie. I can’t imagine there is a person on this planet that wouldn’t identify the flying version as the primary car for Part II. Most people probably wouldn’t even think about the older model being in it. And don’t think this is an oversight or an engineering issue on Diamond’s part, because a “flying” version is available as an Entertainment Earth Exclusive for five dollars more (which I did not know until after I bought this one). I think it would have been much more honest and better business to label this DeLorean as being from the first movie.
The interior looks great. The steering wheel and instrument panels are incredibly detailed and the circuitry and stuff behind the seats is just great. My complaint here is that I would rather there be no seatbelts at all than they be sculpted onto the seats. It looks crappy and spoils the illusion of this being a tiny replica rather than a toy. Other toy companies have managed to have functioning seatbelts at this scale and I think Diamond could have, too. Because I’m sure America has some kind of ridiculous legislation about toy vehicles having seatbelts.
Design: The paint apps on the car look nice and accurate. The only problem is that the packaging rubbed some of the paint off of the hood during shipping. And it really looks shitty. Diamond should have put some of that protective plastic that Sideshow is so fond of over all of the contact points between package and toy on this thing. Overall there isn’t a ton of paint, but not a lot is needed.
Diamond only had one sticker to put on this thing – the license plate. And it’s crooked. It really should have been sculpted at this scale, but if they had to use a sticker they could have at least put it on straight.
Features: Normally this would be the “Accessories” section, but “Features” makes more sense for this toy.
The DeLorean has around seven or eight different light/sound combinations. The sounds are effects taken straight from tha movie and all sound fantastic. They are just loud enough, have no background fuzz and have a good duration.
The lights are also extremely well done. The headlights and tail lights are very bright and the design of the clear parts looks great. The interior lights on the dash, instrument panel and Flux Capacitor are a nice touch. I was expecting the Flux Capacitor to light up, but the dashboard stuff is a nice bonus.
Packaging: The DeLorean comes in a well done window box. It has a clear panel on the top and front that show off the vehicle. The graphics look good, but it is odd that Doc and Marty are absent.
Overall: While this is a cool car to own, it has issues. For thirty bucks I am a little dissatisfied. For forty I might well have returned it. The scratched paint on the hood is probably my biggest problem, but the wheels’ lack of function and that stupid license plate sticker are no good either. Also, that Flux Capacitor should be visible whether it is lit up or not.
Honestly, while this was meant to be a toy, it is really more of a desk piece. It’s cool, fans of the movies will enjoy it. But for my purposes and tastes as a toy collector and critic the Back to the Future Part II DeLorean gets
2 out of 5
It would get a whole extra point if Diamond had just labeled it as the Part I car.
Oh, and I had no Doc or Marty figures, so I had to find a different time traveler to pilot the DeLorean:
I guess it beats the hell out of that Oldsmobile.
Until next time, stay creepy
-Phantom

4 comments:

  1. It's missing something else that the BTTF2 car had... Mr. Fusion. Hard to believe they overlooked that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. When I was actually writing the review I was thinking Mr. Fusion retracted into the car so I forgave it, but after watching the first movie again recently I realized this was not the case. Good catch, Scottie.

    ReplyDelete
  3. They made the box say part 2 because it is cheaper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that occurred to me. But it doesn't make it any less a lie.

      Delete