The Formula 1 cars of the mid-1970s had a prolonged and indisputable international impact on the world of motorsport diecast collecting. Vehicles like the BRM P201, Shadow DN3, and Lola T370, despite not being capable of wins in 1974, joined such championship-caliber machines as the Lotus JPS 72, McLaren M23, and Brabham BT44 on store shelves—made by such brands as Polistil (with authentic deco), Yatming, and today’s focus, Playart.
These cars made it to market in a number of different packages. Playart’s own Fastwheel packaging saw them inserted into boxes, while they went to blister packs under the Sears Road Mates and Charmerz Super Singles names (and, as with many of the cars of the era, there are probably a number of others). The group was also sold together in a larger box featuring Playart’s Super Six packaging, joining sets of emergency vehicles and road cars in the line.
But if you think the packaging variations are interesting, you should see the cars!
Between the six different models that Playart produced, I’ve acquired no fewer than 29 different graphic variations. Owing to their age and play wear, not all of my copies are in the best shape, but even the beat-up vehicles help to tell an interesting story.
Unlike Polistil, which licensed actual liveries, and Yatming, which offered reasonable approximations with the same sponsors, these Playart models feature fantasy graphics and color schemes that interweave real sponsors with vehicles they’d never appear on in real life. (A Shell-backed Lotus? Viceroy instead of UOP on the Shadow?) But beyond the primary color, it’s hard to find completely matching graphics on more than one of the same car.
Take the Esso and Goodyear-backed Lola T370, for example. The first version of this car that I personally acquired was fairly modest, featuring yellow and white stripes and sponsor decals, plus purple stripes on the sidepods. I’ve got an even more conservative version of the car as well with white stripes in lieu of the purple, and a second version of that scheme that flips the white and yellow. But there are also versions of the car with red numbers and stripes, and even a red base and interior instead of the typical black, adding up to six in all.
The BRM P201, one of two Gulf-backed cars in the line (but omitting its iconic globe logo), also features six different variations by my count, mixing multiple blues with green, red, pink, and black. Most cars feature a V-stripe on the sidepods, although a plain-looking version omits it. In contrast, the other Gulf car, the Brabham BT44, ties the Shadow DN3 for the fewest variations with three; the green car rotates between red, black, and white number graphics on its sides. (I also have a version of the car with silver wheels, but while I’ve included it in my count, this may have been expert custom work.)
While the McLaren M23 was among the best of these cars in competition, it was also the only unsponsored car in this line, and the one whose graphics featured the greatest departure from the primary colors that dominated the era. As for the Lotus JPS 72, the colors weren’t so much a departure from standard racing fare as they were a departure for the sponsor. It may be the only time I’ve ever seen a Shell logo appear in blue, and seeing the logo in black on the white base version of the car is a unique contrast.
I’ve seen more versions of these cars for sale, including a Lola without the sidepod striping, black stripes on the McLaren, and a stripe-less BRM with all tampos in black. I also have yet to come across a clean copy of the all-purple McLaren, as the one I acquired had custom decal work applied to it. In short, chasing and acquiring the full line of these variations may take a number of years, but with so many options to explore, the Super Six live up to their name.