Shop tour!

Been a while since I posted an update about how my small shop is shaping up. The big news is that I finally (!) bought a router 🤩! From Makita and battery-operated (18v), the DRT50Z is a very decent piece of kit. I also bought a set of bits from Bosch, which I think will cover most of my needs. However, these bits are 1/4″, and Makita ships the DRT50Z with two collets, in 6 and 8 mm sizes 🙄. Therefore, I had to order a 1/4″ (6,35 mm) collet, that arrived today. This afternoon I tried it out on some scraps of wood and the end result looked great.

Can’t say I have any specific job for a palm router right now, yet I’m looking forward to making wood chips fly 😁.

And how is Forza Motorsports doing?

Sauron’s ride at Road Atlanta.

Well, Turn10 fixed most (all?) of the stability issues. Therefore, currently it’s totally playable without you wanting to throw the XBox out the window. There still are some “missing” features, like no damage in single player – if you flip (!!) the car nothing breaks 🙄. Frustrating, if you want more realism. Graphics are still sketchy in some parts, and the livery editor is the same neolithic thing of 10 years ago. Yet, worse of all, is if you setup a race session with multiple cars, sometimes a few cars are rendered like a chassis base with four wheels with the pilot sitting inside 😣. Totally ridiculous.

With all that, and specially having EA WRC at hand, I’m not playing much. The game is (now) essentially OK, however I got so pissed at it in the beginning that currently I can’t be bothered about it 😕.

Ixo: I’m impressed


As a 1:43 model manufacturer, Ixo is one of the so-called “budget brands”. That group consists of brands like Altaya, CMR, Schuco (they also have a premium line), HighSpeed, Brumm, Herpa, etc. Its a long list. I’m never shy in saying that you shouldn’t judge the model by the brand, however in general terms, budget brand models are not very good. In fact, they’re usually poor. Of course, to be a rule there has to be exceptions (I always cite Brumm in this case).

Ixo, however, has been consistently the exception to the budget-brand-means-bad-model rule. Their current models are truly good, to the point that they can rival Spark, in terms of bang-for-the buck. Click HERE if you want to read a little more about this.

Top 5 – 2023

Another year gone, my hair is whiter, my back complains more and it’s time for the Top 5 models of the year. The 2023 collecting year was pretty good, and I got some VERY nice models. And at the time of this writing, the W-143 Garage now consists of 531 models 😯. I guess that the biggest news is that I officially added a Rally Wing to the W-143 Garage. I can’t say that now I’m a “rally collector”, because I won’t buy a lot of stuff. However I will try to get some specific models that speak to my heart. So, to list them in chronological order, here are my Top 5 Models of 2023:

1️⃣ The 1992 905 is a Le Mans winner (= must buy) that eluded me for a few years. One of those models that are hard to find for no obvious reasons – it looks the same as the 1993 winner 🤔. Nonetheless, I finally got one!

2️⃣ Ooooh, a Looksmart. Considered to be one of the top premium brands in 1:43, I was dying to see what it offered. A beautiful model of a class-winning car, however just Spark-good at 150% Spark’s price. Very nice, but too expensive.

3️⃣ When Minichamps wants to, they make a killer Silberpfeil. In this case, Bernd Rosemeyer’s Typ Lucca. Just when I thought I wouldn’t get any more Silberpfeile, Minichamps comes out with this gem.

4️⃣ The Breadvan. Didn’t even finish one Le Mans race, yet it represents a few guys that got fed up with Old Man Enzo’s wife 🤣. Only in Italy… Comedy aside, the model is g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s, possibly THE nicest I have.

5️⃣ Of course I had to put a rally car in this list. I got some nicer models this year, no doubt (Mini, Quattro, etc). However, the “Safari Delta” made the list because it was the first Ixo rally car I bought. And I was thoroughly impressed by what they can offer at a very low price.

EA WRC: best racing game in the last years?

After my HUGE expectations with Forza Motorsport and subsequent disappointment (Turn10 fixed some issues yet I’m totally sick of the game), I’m happy to say I got a new race game. Electronic Arts released EA WRC in November, and I bought it 10 days ago. Even though it looked great when announced, I vowed to never again pre-order a game. With that, I waited to read some real-world reviews before spending money. And since reviews were consistently good, I bought it. To my utter delight, the game truly is really good. Of course it has some issues (there are no perfect games), nonetheless it is challenging and really fun to play.

You can, in a way, build your own car, selecting key components and some aesthetic features..

One of the things I really enjoyed about it is the ability to “create” your own car, be it a Rally1, Rally2 or Rally3 class car. Well, not create create, yet you can choose a few different looks and mechanical components. And these parts (engine, brakes, gearbox, etc) can impact on how the car handles and if it’s less or more reliable. And of course, you can also create your own livery. You can’t actually go bonkers, since you depend on (many) pre-set decals, however you still can get really creative.

All liveries are customizable, yet for the Mini I kept it looking like the real deal.

You can also choose to use a “real” car, like my Mini above. It’s a FWD, that I use for some historical rally events. In the case of the Mini, I mainly used it in regularity races, which are quite fun to do. Nonetheless, you can choose almost any kind of rally car. From a very early Mini to an outrageous Group B monster to the technical marvel of a Rally1.

The Group B cars are REALLY tough to master! Loose focus for a second and you’re into the bushes.

However, not everything is roses. The game is HARD! I have decades of experience with Playstation and XBox racing games, including games like the classic Dirt. Nonetheless, EA WRC is giving me a hard time 😯. The FWD and the modern 4WD cars, like WRC or Rally3 (“Rally Junior”) are precise and steady . On the other hand, RWD Group B cars specially are horrible to control. If I wink wrong, I loose it, and to the bushes we go. I find them absurdly tough to tame. To the point that I have to go really slow or else I put the car in the boondocks. On almost every stage 😣. And since it’s hard to win races driving slowly, you get the picture. However, very probably that happens due to pilot incompetence. Or at least I hope so.

Conversely, Rally Junior cars are a delight to drive – not overly fast but nimble and predictable.

Another big issue is that the game has no instruction manual. So you have to learn by trial and error, and in career mode things get difficult. You have a team to manage (contract engineers, choose what races to participate in) yet no hint on what to do. And there’s no oops-button, with no way of undoing a management decision. So if you choose wrong, you can’t go back and choose better.

Rally1 cars: total beasts, yet tamable animals.

Nonetheless, if you’re interested in rally motorsports and the WRC, it’s a VERY enjoyable game. Not perfect, but in terms of a console racing game it is challenging and very entertaining. While this may be true, it is a demanding game, with a very steep learning curve. Bottom line, as a racing game (and if you do like rallying, of course) in general it’s exponentially better than Forza.