Tiny Machines - Tarmac Works Macau GP 2020 MiniCar Fest
Just a one hour ferry ride from Hong Kong, the middle of November is a very important time for motorsport in the Asia Pacific, as the city of Macau prepares for a weekend of racing. The narrow, winding streets of the city are transformed into the famous Guia Circuit, and disciplines from Formula Three to the Touring Car Championship battle it out amidst a backdrop of colonial Portugese history, casinos, and Macanese egg tarts.
Despite reservations it would be cancelled, the 2020 Macau GP was given the green light to go ahead as planned; with appropriate social distancing measures in place. But given the current circumstances affecting worldwide travel and tourism due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, competing teams and only a select number of people would be allowed to enter Macau, after completing a mandatory fourteen-day self quarantine. Hence, the competition this year would be smaller compared to previous years, with much of the teams on the roster primarily being from Hong Kong, Macau, and the neighboring Great Bay Area of Southern China (Guangzhou etc.)
This left those who had plans to travel to Macau to spectate the races along the Guia Circuit, having to cancel their itineraries. Thankfully, with the internet and streaming services, eager fans and spectators not in Macau were still able to catch up with the action from their living rooms, televisions, and mobile devices.
The same goes for vendors who usually make the journey to Macau to release new merchandise or items to coincide with the Macau Grand Prix: especially Hong Kong based diecast brand Tarmac Works. It is not uncommon for them to release limited edition diecast models, dropped at the beginning of the GP weekend, to give a chance for collectors and fans to take away a small souvenir of Macau's motorsport history.
But despite not being able to physically be present at the festivities this year, Tarmac Works still aimed to launch their latest series of models paying homage to some famous cars that have made a mark in previous GPs, whilst celebrating this year's race action remotely from Hong Kong.
Taking place at their headquarters at the Gravity co-working space in Kwun Tong, the 'Minicar Fest' in Hong Kong appropriately had a livestream feed of the ongoing races from the Guia Circuit playing off a projector (for the entire weekend), whilst attendees got a firsthand look at the latest diecast releases from the brand, and a preview of some of their ‘works in progress’.
The focus that week was their recent additions to the Tarmac Works lineup: their annual Macau Grand Prix homages being four cars in particular: the Volvo 850 Estate (in Pentax livery) that served as the official 1994 Macau GP safety car, and the Crown Motors racing team entrant in the 1989 Guia Race: a Toyota Corolla Levin AE92 coupe.
Callbacks to last year’s Macau Grand Prix were also taking the center stage at the release party: namely Vanthoor’s Audi R8 LMS 2019 that ran in the 2019 FIA GT World Cup (Macau GT Cup), and the Dallara Formula 3 racer, participant of the FIA F3 World Cup 2019 (Formula 3 Macau GP).
In addition, there were two ‘secret models’ whose forms would only be revealed on the first day it opened to the public.
Said secret models were revealed to be two very special BMWs that have a special place in Macau GP history (to the point they are kept in the official Grand Prix Museum in downtown Macau): the champion of the 1987 Macau Guia Race: the Schnitzer Motorsport BMW E30 M3 in the iconic red and gold ‘Hilton’ racing livery, and the champion of the 1994 Guia Race: also from Schnitzer Motorsport, in the form of a BMW E36 E18i in red and white ‘San Miguel’ livery.
Also making its debut that weekend was a highly anticipated RWB addition to the Tarmac lineup: the ‘Morelow’ RWB Porsche 993 model. Inspired by the Marlboro Racing liveries from McLaren’s Formula One days (the MP4 driven by the Brazillian legend, Aryton Senna), both the 1/64 and 1/43 scale models, in limited numbers, made their debut. A series of ‘Morelow’ RWB collectable pins, along with a collectable and appropriately-liveried oil can container (for the 1/64 model exclusively) were made available. Limited to 3 units per person that is.
Alongside the Macau Grand Prix exclusive models on show and for purchase, Tarmac Works also wanted to use the opportunity to showcase some of their latest, or upcoming models fans could anticipate to get their hands on by 2021 or in later years to come.
Even in primer casting and though they have yet to be fully painted to match their real-world counterparts, Tarmac made their R&D efforts draw a lot of attention from the crowd as they got a sneak preview of what to expect, or to put down a deposit to pre-order their future desk decorations, shelf additions, or to flip as collectibles to the next eager buyer.
Some of my personal picks for models I am looking forward to are definitely the 1/43 scale models ones: Tarmac Works has been collaborating a lot with Rauh Welt Begriff lately - the widebody air cooled Porsche specialist headed by Akira Nakai (Nakai-San, as NFS fans will remember). The backdate 964 series notably, will be getting castings of their own for collectors and NFS fans alike.
I will also be looking forward to another Japanese tuner Tarmac will be collaborating with: Liberty Walk. Renowned for their widebody kits on Lamborghinis to Nissan Skylines, their car that drew a lot of attention at Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS 2020) - the Nissan ER34 ‘Super Silhouette’ Skyline, that pays homage to the Skyline’s run with the Japanese Super GT championship - will be coming to the Hobby 43 line by Tarmac in the future. More affordable and available for the likes of myself who can’t afford a ER34, let alone a LB conversion kit.
The Porsche 911 GT3 RS series they will be rolling out too as part of their Hobby64 line is also on my list on models to look out for: this modern classic - one of the last naturally aspirated and manual transmission Porsches, built solely for performance, will ideally be suited for purist fans. Classic fans will love the 935 ‘Flat Nose’ in period-correct race liveries too.
Of course, the latest A90 Supra would eventually receive its own 1/64 scale casting: I especially love the ‘test/spy’ livery that will be available for their casting. You can also look forward to the Rocketbunny Pandem castings they are doing in conjunction with Ignition Model; pricey, but depending on how much of a Supra hypebeast you are, worth paying for.
The latest Defender in the Land Rover family will also be getting a casting, complete with its own storage container, as part of the growing ‘Global 64’ scale family. You know, Doug Demuro just bought one.
We will also see more Hobby64 castings of ‘fast wagons’ in the coming year: the Volvo 850 Estate will roll out in more colors and even in UK Police livery, and the Evo IX Wagon (largely unheard of outside of Asia), will make its debut too. Roof Box, a classic staple of wagon builds, is available as an option!
Keeping on topic of oddballs, Tarmac also has castings of the Toyota Hilux and Hiace in development. The Hiluxes, while still in 3D-print moulds, will likely be paying homage to the usual slew of Japanese tuning firms, or even racing teams in Southeast Asia (ASEAN) who do indeed, race these trucks competitively.
I will be making a beeline for the widebody, Bosozuku-exhaust styled Hiaces, especially in MoonEyes livery. This is an all-original model developed by Tarmac Works in-house, no doubt inspired by the VanKulture builds throughout Asia, especially in Japan!
Global64 will also be getting more exotics added to its lineup: the Zonda Cinque, a favorite among supercar spotters and its timeless design, will be one to look out for.
Need Christmas gift ideas for the holiday coming up fast and soon? The last Global64 releases for 2020 will be making their way to stores in a bit: the Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe Black Series and Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R will sign off this strange year; check your local hobby shop soon.
And being the end of the year, they also had a clearence sale of some of their old, existing models taking up inventory; giving people a chance to snag some models at discount prices. An even greater incentive? Every $200 HKD got you a free 'Morelow' mini container, while every $1500 HKD granted you either a Tarmac x Illest collab t-shirt/tote bag with RWB HK No.9 (which had a spot at SEMA 2018, and may or may not be part of a future feature on HPT)/free 1/43 model, along with event-exclusive stickers and the 2021 official brochure.
Aside from the sneak previews and observing the ongoing Macau GP action occasionally in the background, I also admired the dioramas Tarmac had brought out to display all of the models.
Of course, the sense of the Grand Prix had to be present with replicas of the Guia Circuit’s podium and paddock area at the Mandarin Oriental straight, along with the ‘Casino’ corner; complete with a crane lifting out a car that had wiped out (which is fairly easy to do on a tight and narrow city circuit).
But what really drew my attention was the Japan dioramas: the sleepy town complete with Sakura petals, a FamilyMart convenience store parking area, and countryside aesthetics that reminded me of driving up the mountain roads of Hakone for some spirited driving.
The Daikoku Futo one though, was the winner in my book. Complete with the spiralling Tokyo highway ramps that eventually take you down to the Parking Area itself; aka the best car culture gathering place in the world.
I love how they even included the detail of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police eventually rolling in to order everyone to disperse (make their way to Tatsumi PA or to another ‘meet spot’), in the form of yet another 3D cast in progress: a A70 Supra, with a Police version in the works.
I do not want to imagine how much these dioramas could set you back to own, let alone commission as a custom, one-off order. Though I would not mind paying for my very own Daikoku PA diorama to have at home, given who knows how long until I can start to plan my next physical trip to the motherland.
I love how Tarmac Works, despite travel abroad being severely limited, was able to bring a piece of the Macau Grand Prix this year to Hong Kong for collectors, race fans, and car enthusiasts to come and enjoy themselves. After all, I was hoping to cover and watch the Grand Prix this year, but getting to watch the livestream of the events whilst getting a first look at some future additions to my miniature garage? I could not pass up that opportunity to combine two different passions related to cars that weekend.