Strange Rover

We tested the Range Rover Sport by SCHUCO (art.no. 45 269 1800)

das Fahrzeugmodell steht neben einer Teepackung auf einer Spiegelfläche

What have Tetley, second largest tea producer in the world, and Range Rover in common? Well, do a survey on the continent and this is the answer you will probably get: Both are typically English! This, of course, is not the case anymore - both brands have been owned by the Indian TATA Group for years. And while here in the UK many tears have been shed over the sellout of ailing British businesses to financially strong companies overseas, their phenomenal success under new ownership is often hard to ignore: Jaguar Land Rover Group, for example, have just proudly announced a record-breaking 19% increase in car sales. And as Germany has become one of their most important markets, we are not surprised to see some of their iconic vehicles being produced in 1/87 scale, Germany's (as well as the world's) favourite model railway scale.

Today, we will take a closer look at the Range Rover Sport made by Schuco, a German toy and model manufacturer with an almost 100-year history full of vicissitudes. Nowadays, Schuco belongs to the SIMBA DICKIE GROUP which has only recently acquired the renowned model railway manufacturer Märklin. Interestingly, the production of the tested car miniature has already been discontinued while the little Range Rover kann still be found in some modelling shops.

das Fahrzeugmodell in der VerpackungIt was actually the unusual packaging that struck our eye first. The model car is 'parked' on a metal plate with a printed picture of an original Range Rover Sport. The plaque also shows some tech specs of the real car, and the model is protected by a sturdy clear plastic cover. Removing the packaging could hardly be any easier: The metal plate can be pulled out to one side thus releasing the car into its owner's palm. We are not so happy though with the sharp edges of the plate which can easily cut your fingers if you are not very careful. A sticker on the back of the plaque consequently advises in German and English language to 'remove the [...] metal plate [...] before giving the article to a child'.

Bore holes in all four corners are obviously meant to enable you to screw the plate to any kind of presentation board - the model car virtually comes with a 'decorative plaque'. Nice idea! Unfortunately, the metal plate shows some pretty visible scratch marks, despite being well protected by the plastic packaging - and that might spoil the exhibition plans of some pernickety collectors.

The printed information on the plate contains the technical data of the TDV8 engine which was available from 2007 - 2010 and refers to the model car as 'Land Rover Sport' which is at least misleading: While the real car was indeed based on the Land Rover Discovery platform, it was actually sold under the more prestigious Range Rover label, and this can be found at the front and the rear of the Schuco model.

FrontansichtThe first impression of the rather heavy metal miniature is so-so: While we do like the realistically large-dimensioned wheels which even show some kind of tread pattern we would be struggling at the same time to recognise the vehicle, seen from the front, as a Range Rover if the lettering above the grille was missing. On the other hand, the eye of the connoisseur will spot quite a few characteristic details like e.g. the typical 'gills' beside the front wings (highlighted by Schuco with some silver paint) or the multicoloured (!) tiny little 'Land Rover' badges which give proof of the manufacturer's undeniable desire to create an accurate replica of the original vehicle. The model car neither looks too big nor too small; thorough measuring will show later if it is really true to scale.

A few visible scratch marks in the windows must be the result of careless handling during the assembly process as the packaging should have sufficiently protected the car on its way to the collector. Luckily, these are the only damages, and apart from the headlight inserts and the glazing which is a bit too thick where it sits under the metal roof, all parts fit into one another well. There's no accounting for taste regarding the colour of the car, but the quality of the metallic paintwork with its fine particles is good and so is the overall 'look-and-feel' of the Schuco model. Subtle body contours and narrow door cracks show that metal construction and fineness of detail do not necessarily exclude each other - although the lock sits a bit too deep in the boot door and thus reminds us somehow of a belly button...

Unfortunately, the first impression of the lights is not very good - to put it mildly. Whoever at Schuco's came up with the idea of using two ill-fitting see-through plastic chips to replicate headlamps should at least be transferred to a different department. We would have expected to see those body-coloured headlights with black 'pupils' in a Disney cartoon rather than on a collectors' model. And did the manufacturer acually run out of the elsewhere lavishly applied silver paint or did they simply forget to colour the fog lamps in the front bumper?

SeitenansichtWhile the rust-brown colour of the car might not be everybody's cup of tea, it goes together well with the black interior and the silver parts. According to our measurements the bodywork is almost exactly 1/87 scale. Therefore, the little Range Rover should fit perfectly well into a H0 scale model railway layout or diorama, as long as the other accessories used in those miniature environments are true to scale, too. As we have already mentioned above, the Schuco 4x4 can also score in terms of wealth and fineness of detail: We have not seen the replication of the tiny headlamp washer nozzles in many other model cars - really impressive! Well, obviously you can't have everything though: The wing mirrors look pretty plump, some parts of the car should rather be black than brown metallic and the rear doors lack the typical triangular windows - they haven't been reproduced at all.

HeckansichtThe worst blunders can be found at the rear of the model car: While the trademark lettering 'RANGE ROVER' should actually sit on the bottom edge of the tailgate, it is - probably for printing-technical reasons - situated above the number plate holder. Apart from that, the Schuco vehicle is equipped with silver tail lamps - similar to the ones of the superior Range Rover MkIII 'VOGUE' (which did have the trademark lettering above the number plate holder but otherwise looked completely different). Artistic freedom? Well, there is no such thing when it comes to making a true-to-scale replica.

To make things worse, the German manufacturer has put a spoke in the wheel of those hobbyists keen to modify and improve the miniature model with their skilled hands: In some decades-old Matchbox car fashion the bottom is fixed to the bodywork with two resilient rivets and therefore cannot be dismantled without the application of some kind of force (we would be thinking of drilling out the rivets).

There is nothing to moan about the quality of the metallic paint and the plastic, only the silver applications should be a bit more precise. The interior mirror is missing completely and the plump wing mirrors lack their silver faces.

We have mentioned the poor replication of the lights already; at least the side indicator lights in the front doors have been modelled but should be highlighted with a little bit of orange paint. This and the absence of the characteristic front light projectors as well as other important light elements at the front and the rear of the car lead to further points deduction in all three disciplines 'completeness / presence of all lights', 'attention to detail' and 'closeness to reality in terms of colour'.

While the interior is unimposingly black, it still bears witness of some loving attention to detail. Especially the fine, typically Range-Rover-style steering wheel which even shows the brand logo deserves nothing less than the compliment 'outstanding'. Rims and tyres look realistic, too, and are true to scale. At least, the little Range Rover does not disappoint on the last metres of our test track.

Ansicht von oben

conclusion

Especially the poor replication of the front and rear lights prevent the Range Rover Sport by Schuco from achieving a better test result. Faulty reproduction of important details is an absolute no-go for collectors and other high-quality modelling enthusiasts. Therefore, the overall verdict 'in need of improvement' does not really surprise - despite a few impressive highlights in some chapters of this product test. To crown it all, the Schuco vehicle has taken over the bottom spot of our ranking list from Bub's BMW 2002 Convertible, interestingly a metal miniature, too. Further tests will reveal if this - plastic beats diecast - marks a general trend in the 1/87 scale model market.

 

synopsis*
Packaging (50) 45
Protection of the vehicle (25) 24
Unpacking the vehicle (10) 8
Information content (15) 13
Visual overall impression (350) 263
'First impression' (50) 31
Proportions / recognisability of the real vehicle (50) 37
Closeness to scale, subjective impression (40) 34
Condition / intactness of the model (30) 25
Fitting accuracy / flawless assembly (30) 26
'Look-and-feel' / subjective impression of the model quality (40) 33
Wealth of detail / attention to detail (30) 21
Fineness of detail (30) 24
Lights (20) 8
Wheels and tyres (20) 16
Harmony of colours (10) 8
Vehicle body (200) 157
Closeness to scale (40) 36
Wealth of detail / attention to detail (40) 30
Fineness of detail (30) 24
Colour quality of the plastic, if applicable: paintwork quality (35) 33
Quality of prints, colour and chrome applications (35) 26
Interior and exterior mirrors (20) 8
Lights (150) 53
Completeness / presence of all lights (50) 38
Attention to detail (50) 10
Closeness to reality in terms of colour (50) 5
Interior / Dashboard / Seats (100) 87
Wealth of detail / attention to detail (40) 35
Fineness of detail (40) 33
Steering wheel / handle bars (20) 19
Wheels (150) 132
Closeness to scale (50) 45
Wealth of detail / attention to detail (40) 35
Fineness of detail (40) 34
Colour quality of the rims (20) 18
overall verdict: in need of improvement 737
(max. 1000)

*Find out more about the test criteria for model vehicles here.

Tested February 2014     German flag   © Volker Labitzke - www.tiny-world-BIG.com - please visit our  main page