Diecast Delights: A………Cadillac Escalade EXT?!? In 1/18 Scale.

What on Earth drove me to buy this model? What possible reason could I have for wanting to dilute my otherwise spectacular and wisely chosen collection of 1:18s with a model of a vehicle that I, well, kind of hate?
I’m still struggling for an answer to this conundrum, but I’m glad I do have an Escalade EXT in my miniature garage because I can honestly say that the Good, the Bad and the Ugly are all fairly represented.

I will never quite understand the appeal of the Cadillac Escalade, let alone the EXT version. I mean, GM already had the Tahoe and Yukon available for all your rough ‘n tumble family haulage needs, and all the Escalade really added was an encrustment of chome and gewgaws, nothing really substantial, yet ballers, rappers and unfathomably successful celebrities quickly embraced this new, bejewelled GMT820 to their collective bosoms.
Yet, when Cadillac tried the same basic thing in the 1980s and ended up with the Cimmaron, they got laughed at.
At least the EXT version was vaguely interesting in a what-on-earth-were-they-thinking kind of way. Launched, slightly ironically, as a competitor to FoMoCo’s confidently released Blackwood, (the pickup derivative of the Navigator and really just a reskinned F-150), the EXT was built from the GMT806 platform found under the GMC Suburban. The package the EXT offered, once you stripped away the dressing and some of the juciest ingredients, was basically the same as the Chevrolet Avalanche, a car which, due to the lack of Cadillac emblems would simply Not Do for the aforementioned High-Status-Individuals who were supposed to be buying them.
Anyway, on to the model. This is the only model (at the time of going to press) that I own in 1:18 scale made by Anson, one of the brands that cluttered up the entry-level end of the diecast marketplace. Out of the box the first impressions are that the proportions seem pretty convincing, the stance of the car looks just about right, and the paintwork is even and blemish-free, if a little on the thick side. It’s a heavy bugger, too. The chrome wheels are a bit shiny and crap, but then the ones on the original were probably a bit shiny and crap, too.
The fine detail is far from the worst I’ve seen. Emblems are reasonably true to scale and are crisply applied; no drunken angles or anything really stupid. The rear license plate was printed on a paper sticker so I immediately peeled the damn thing off.
Under the bonnet there sits the correct 6.0 High Output Vortec V8. You won’t be marvelling at extreme detail here, this engine takes the form of a sliver of injection-moulded plastic with a few nicely-placed decals and splashes of colour. But again it all looks convincing enough and is a damn sight better than I thought it might have been.
There’s some dust in the photo, I might make the engine bay more realistic by adding a layer of crud and muck under the hood like you see on every other GMT800.
The cabin offers a strange blend of strengths and weaknesses. Where they’ve taken the trouble to add detail they’ve done it quite thoroughly. The dashboard binnacle, the adjacent HVAC controls and the entertainment equipment all pass a high degree of muster based on a quick Google image search. In fact, Anson have done a good job of matching the colour of the (very unlikely to have any similarities whatsoever with genuine) wood trim found liberally applied around the Escalade’s interior, and the half wood-rimmed steering wheel is a pretty faithful miniaturisation of the original. The window and lock buttons on the door panels look alright, too
But then you look at the other section of the dash, in front of the passenger, and it all looks considerably worse. The air-vents are just embossed into a lump of plastic which looks like waxy white chocolate. The seats are made of a similar material, all moulded in one piece including what I presume are supposed to be seat belt buckles; the release buttons being shown as a randomly shaped red blobs.
It’s kind of weird that there should be such extremes within this interior, it might have been better if every bit of it was average rather than having excellent bits and terrible bits. It’s like eating an exquisite slice of delicious, moist fruit cake and then finding a brussels sprout in it.
There is one part of this model that is genuinely excellent, though, and that’s the rear end. This is fortunate as it happens to be the one feature that makes the EXT an interesting vehicle.
The load bay is covered by a tonneau made from three removable pieces. This isn’t quite like how it is on the 1:1, but excusable. Even more so when you remove them to reveal a more-or-less perfectly detailed load box beneath.
The non-slip surfaces have the right patterns, as do the mouldings in the sidewalls. The tailgate drops down and sits very nearly flush with the load bay, and at a flat horizontal angle. If I was putting this model on permanent display I’d probably have the rear end exposed, it’s by far and away the most attractive aspect of the model. But it’s not the best bit.
This is.
Anson actually took the trouble to model the hidden storage compartments found on either side of the load box. I love that they did this. It’s this, the load bay at the back and probably the accurate roof-bars that make this quite an endearing model.
Yes, bits of this model are pretty awful; the running gear is quite crude (and pretty brittle if the bits that I had to superglue back on are anything to go by) but the positives win overall and leave me happy to give it an overall rating of 60%. I doubt very much that anybody else will ever model this car, so if (for whatever reason) you want one it’s a choice of Anson or nothing, and prices on eBay seem to be absolutely all over the place.
I’m pretty sure my reason for buying this in the first place was just morbid fascination.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2013)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

  1. david42 Avatar

    It’s still too big.

  2. Rover_1 Avatar

    If you want to collect 1:18s you could do worse than collect 4WD/SUVs. From Hummers and Range Rovers to Jeeps and Land Rovers or Land Cruisers, they’re all available, not any more expensive and because of their size; arguably very good value/mass of goods per dollar.

    1. RoadworkUK Avatar

      Stay tuned to possibly enjoy a Hummer H1 and a P38 Range Rover on this very channel.

      1. Rover_1 Avatar

        Both of which I have.
        Maisto H1, H2 Hummers. AutoArt P38 Rangie, (with the desired, but apparently difficult, trick of all four doors opening).

        1. RoadworkUK Avatar

          You’re clearly a man of taste! My P38 enjoys the honour of being the cheapest AutoArt I ever bought.

          1. Rover_1 Avatar

            Ha, mine too. Tying with the Toyota MRS and E46 3 series.
            All from a closing down sale.

  3. jayp2112 Avatar

    Sorry for the OT already- Looking up what a P38 is, I found this page on the dev history.

    1. Rover_1 Avatar

      The AutoArt P38 is identical in colour to the one in that article.

  4. longrooffan Avatar

    Nice Truck.

  5. Maymar Avatar

    With the dash, they did a pretty fantastic job of recreating the panel gaps to perfect scale. I can imagine that’s a pretty similar match to the interior plastics as well (the GMT900s are significantly nicer).
    That said, I’m curious about the tonneau cover – the real ones absolutely have a 3-piece cover. As I recall, it’s three possibly interchangeable panels (either that, or sequentially numbered) that are designed to slot into each other, and are held in place with a pretty simple swivelling clasp.