|Overall Panel Fit:||9/10|
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Following her historic rookie season in the NASCAR® K&N Pro Series West, 17-year-old Hailie Deegan is set to take the racing world by storm as she returns to Bill McAnally Racing for 2019. Deegan will be piloting the No. 19 Monster Energy/NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry fulltime in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West as well as in select East races.
Lionel modified their window box in 2018, dropping the styrofoam insert to provide a cleaner look and greener footprint. The new box still has the slim corner window to show off the front left corner of the car, with the rest of the box done in black with carbon fiber and honeycomb printed textures. A vibrant green line splits the textures on the front panel, then cuts diagonally to the right of the window. Deegan's logo is printed above and to the right of the window, and "Lionel Racing/The Official Die-Cast of NASCAR" is printed in a black band under the window. "1:24-Scale Stock Car/Limited Edition Adult Collectible" is printed in the bottom right corner, under a sticker showing a full 3/4 view of the car. The window end flap has printed logos for Hailie Deegan, Deegan 38, the K&N Pro Series, and Bill McAnally Racing. The classic silver sticker with the driver and car info, release, and serial number are on this panel as well, just above a black sticker indicating this is a Standard Finish car. The opposite end is a reproduction of the vintage ARC packaging, with the two-digit year the replica was issued (19), Action "A" logo and "Action Racing Collectibles/Still the choice of champions" text, and QR code sticker. The top and back repeat all of the logos, plus include the car number and web addresses for Deegan. The bottom panel has the legal boilerplate and barcode. Opening the flap behind the car allows you to slide out a plastic tray with a clear plastic cover.
There has been, for a number of years, a sort of rule in place to draw a line between NASCAR diecasts sold as "toys" and those sold as "adult collectibles." By fastening the car to a plastic base and altering the text on the packaging, manufacturers and retailers have been able to separate cars sold with any kind of sponsorship featuring alcoholic beverages (such as Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s #8 "Bud" car, or Brad Keselowski's #2 "Miller Lite" car). While Monster Beverages was only selling energy drinks at the time of this diecasts's release, there were several news stories earlier in the year about their possible forays into alcohol- and cannabis-infused drinks. As a "better safe than sorry," Lionel Racing has included a "buyer must be 21+ years of age" stipulation on their web site, and included a card in the packaging that states "This product is mounted to a base using a specialized screw as required by the licensor and/or other regulatory agencies." To remove the car from its base, two epoxy plugs have to be dug out of the base and a triangular screwdriver used to remove the screws. It's an irritating process, made all the more absurd when you realize that these stipulations mean that Hailie Deegan is not allowed to purchase a replica of her own car.
Fortunately, once you get past that silliness, you've got a really nice looking replica. The body is all metal, with the hinged hood, trunk, and roof flaps having good tight seams all around. The hood/trunk pins are chrome plastic pieces, the windshield, side windows, rear window, and trunk rail are all clear plastic, and the hood and trunk hinges are separate unpainted metal pieces. It's painted satin black with flat white and neon green accents, and the work here is incredible. Not only are the placement and coverage flawless, everything has the same uniform finish to really give it a cohesive look. The detail achieved here is equally impressive, with subtle gradations in the light and grille stickers, fully legible text on even the smallest contingency sponsors, and a perfectly rendered hairline separating the "O" and lightning bolt in the Napa Power Premium Plus logos.
The bulk of the engine is two parts split horizontally: the upper having the belt assembly, upper radiator hose, valve covers, ignition wires, and intake manifold; the lower having the block, starter, oil pan, headers, and transmission. The paint here is as good as it is on the body, and the separate air cleaner helps, but there's only so much that can be done to hide the simple assembly.
The rest of the chassis looks better than the forward half: separate exhaust pipes, separate drive shaft, and a detailed rear end with an oil pump, sway bar, metal coil springs, and telescoping shocks. Paint is good, with the appropriate details all picked out cleanly and exhibiting good coverage. It rides on plastic 8-hole wheels painted black with red pinstripes and detailed centers, wrapped in vinyl tires with white "General" lettering.
The interior is nicely detailed with a soft window net, separate shifter, seat, and fire suppression system, and a well-detailed dashboard. Paint continues to be a highlight with sharp gauge faces and enough painted details to make things interesting (including the fire suppression tanks, oil line fittings, and mirror inserts). The three adjustment points are correctly located under the rear window holes, and the cold air hoses generally line up to the windows correctly. The trunk has the correct fuel lines and separate tank, all easily visible despite the relatively small trunk opening.
The hood, trunk, and roof flaps all open. The hood and trunk hinges are stiff enough to hold any angle. The roof flaps are on loose hinges, but open far enough that they will stay open. All four corners have working springs. Finally, the front wheels are posable and tied to the steering wheel.
As expected from Lionel Racing, all the details appear to be correct and scaling is a good 1/24.
I really, really hate the "permanently attached to the base" thing. But, aside from that, everything else here is killer. The updated packaging can actually work for MIB collectors and the car looks fantastic, meaning that the critical bits are good and the rest is likely to be ignored by most buyers. As demonstrated above, should you wish to remove the car it can be done...so even that particular irritation isn't a deal breaker.
Send me an e-mail with your thoughts!