Hollywood Collectibles Group
|Overall Panel Fit:||10/10|
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The Fifth Element Flying Taxi (Review)
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NOTE: This part of a two-vehicle set. Go here for details about the other vehicle.
As Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) makes her escape from the authorities in The Fifth Element, she lands in the back of a taxi driven by Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis). Dallas proceeds to use his military training to outmaneuver the heavily armed NYPD and eventually escape with Leeloo. Writer/director Luc Besson had decided to make Dallas a cab driver after reading Jean-Claude Mézières' The Circles of Power (which featured a flying hack driver named S'Traks on the planet Rubanis), though some fans have also noted similarities between Dallas and the titular character of the 1981 Heavy Metal story "Harry Canyon" (artist/production designer Jean Giraud, aka Mœbius, worked on both The Fifth Element and Heavy Metal).
The set is packed in a large black box featuring a photo of the diorama on the front framed by the words "Flying Cars." The movie title is across the top of the front panel, with a 3/4 view of the taxi spanning the three panels that make up the top front right corner. The movie title is repeated on both end flaps and the top panel, and the bottom of the box has all of the legal and purchase information (including the number and edition size). The back of the box has large separate photos of the cars, the movie title, vehicle function instructions, a brief synopsis of the set, and the HCG and Sony logos/copyright information. The cars and display base are packed separately in pockets in a large styrofoam tray. Although the photos and piece itself show this as being a run of 1000 pieces, HCG has confirmed that the edition size is actually 500 pieces.
The taxi is hollow cold-cast resin, with generally clean casting throughout. The main body is smooth and evenly cast, with nice straight panel lines for the doors and hood. There are some minor soft spots around the grille and bumpers, but they actually fit the used and weathered look of the taxi. The roof sign, windows, and lights are all clear plastic. A few separate details have been added to the chassis to make it more screen-accurate, including a set of propulsion jets that stick out the back. The bottom center of the chassis is a removable piece, acting as both a battery cover and the mount for the "flying" feature. When displayed by itself, the cover magnetically snaps into place. When displayed as part of the diorama, the car snaps into a similar piece that is permanently mounted to the wall. It's a very clever way to make the car look great by itself and be secure as part of the diorama. The top half of the car is medium yellow, and pretty close to what contemporary NYC taxis use. The bottom half is metalized silver. A checkerboard stripe masks most of the joint between the two colors, but the areas where they come together look pretty good with minimal bleed. The stripes and numbers are printed cleanly, with only one small flaw at the corner of the stripe over the right tail light. The car is then given an overall weathering to make it look used. The weathering is expertly applied with subtle fades and a very good use of color. The interior is somewhat basic, but given how little of it is visible through the narrow windows I can't fault them for simplifying some details. What is there looks very good, and includes a full dashboard, pilot seat/controls, safety divider with center console, and rear seat.
A push-button switch on the chassis (cast to look like a matching greeble on the other side of the car) activates the light-up feature. The roof, interior, headlights, center driving light, markers, and tail lights all glow brightly. The panel in the center of the chassis can also be removed to create a mounting point to attach the car to the diorama. The diorama is a section of wall with windows (two of them are shuttered, and the third is blocked by a futuristic air conditioner), vents, braces, a "One Way" (down) street sign, and a green "Madison Ave" (also down) sign. Like the car, there is an expert weathering on everything to make it look "used" without going as far as "dirty." The taxi fits near the top left corner of the wall. Near the center bottom of the wall is a name plate with the item number and edition size. The base of the diorama has the symbols for the four elements spaced across it. The overall piece is 15.5" (39.4 cm) x 11" (27.9 cm).
Hollywood Collectibles Group claims to have based this on a screen-used miniature, and comparing it to shots of the movie that seems believable. The shape and details are right, and the paint is outstanding. It is approximately 9" (23 cm) long, and so fits well with other 1/24 scale replicas.
In my review of the Watchmen Owl Ship, I commented that the only drawback to buying that was the price. I have no such concern here, even though this is another cold-cast resin piece for nearly the same price. That's because here you're getting two vehicles, with full interiors and lights, plus a very cool backdrop/display base. This is an absolute must-have for fans of The Fifth Element, and a nice piece for a more general TV/movie collection.
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