There are some very exciting releases this month. I have largely shifted away from the higher tier cars released by Lionel in boxed packaging I often refer to as the "trackside" series. This means that I count more heavily on the Lionel Authentics line to keep my fleets up to date. This month we get a good bunch of core liveries that haven't been done in a long time for cars such as the 14 and the 21.
Championship Title Cars: Sheldon Creed & Austin Cindric
Sheldon Creed and Austin Cindric both won their first title series championships in 2020. Sheldon Creed dabbled in the NCWTS for a few years, namely at Eldora, before notching a full-time ride with GMS Racing in 2019. It took him just one season more to amass five wins, win top fives, and thirteen top tens, with just one DNF. This paved the way for Creeds first Title win at ISM raceway in Phoenix. Lionel commemorates this season with a special roof decal onto of his 1/64 Chevy Silverado. Similarly, Austin Cindric has been making a name fore himself in the Xfinity series over the past few years. He has shown great competence on road courses especially but like Sheldon Creed, got it done in a big way at ISM for his first title series championship. Not only in they wave do we get the 1/64 scale MoneyLion Mustang Cindric so frequently drove in 2020 but we also get a liquid color variant to chase after. Good luck finding one!
Team Penske Mustangs: Brad Keselowski & Ryan Blaney
With Austin Cindric getting a premier spot in this month's releases it makes sense to segue into other Team Penske cars available. Lionel has released may different Brad K cars through the years, and I have several. In fact I have several Brad K Discount Tire Mustangs as well. So at first, while another Discount Tire Ford doesn't seem all that interesting, it may be important to remember that this will likely be one of the last times a 1/64 diecast Penske #2 has the name "Brad Keselowski" above the door. In my opinion, this is quietly, a historically important release. The other Team Penske selection is a nice looking Menards For Mustang for Ryan Blaney. Of all the Menards schemes through the years, this continues to be one of my favorites. The revolving hood sponsors keep things interesting and this addition features Moen brand products. This will be a great addition to anyone's Blaney fleet.
Stewart Haas Mustangs: Kevin Harvick, Chase Briscoe
For some reason, certain full time teams get very little representation in the Authentics line. What I mean by that, is some car numbers are just rarely made. While that isn't the case for the 4 car, it is very true of the number 14. The last time we saw the 14 car in this line was in Wave 7 of 2020. (Clint Bowyers's "Built Ford Tough" Mustang. Anyway, It's really nice to get Chase Briscoe's High Point Mustang in this line and this is my personal top pick of the group. For all intents and purposes, the Kevin Harvick is very much a rerelease but has been brought up to speed with the current livery as the one from Wave 5 in 2019 is just a bit different. Overall, in this Ford heavy release, this is good representation for the Kannapolis based race team.
Wood Brothers Racing Mustang: Matt DiBenidetto
Lionel is good for a Wood Bros car about once a year. In back-to-back years the Authentics line is offering the usual Motorcraft Quick Lane Mustang. Nothing fancy or different here. This will likely be the last 21 car we ever see made in this line, in this scale with Dibenidetto's name on the name rail with him, like Brad K, moving on from his current team next. This pick is a close second to the Chase Briscoe in this wave. I do hope to see perhaps one more Matty D chassis this year in the Menards colors. Not likely, but one can hope!
Joe Gibbs Racing Camry: Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch is a factor. As I write this, in the past few weeks he has won his 102nd Xfinity race. He also just finished rubbing the bumper of the pace car at New Hampshire while wearing this exact Interstate Batteries livery seen below. Interstate Batteries has been the longest continuing partner of JGR and continues to feature as the primary sponsor a few races each year. While Kyle will only run a few laps today as a result of crashing during a sudden rain storm, he will likely receive more coverage than the race winner. The car looks good. I don't think they have quite the right color or green though. While it seems tempting to use neon green, there is almost a hint of mint green visible.
For the first time since Wave 9 of 2020, a Michael Annett car has appeared. This is the fourth Annett car in the Authentics line and the first one in the standard "Pilot, Flying J" livery. I'm not a diehard Xifnity car collector, but this is one I've been going to see for a long while. It looks like they got the main features of the car correct. It is still lacking in detailed areas. The associate sponsor, Allstate Peterbuilt sticker is too big and the red field of color on the door should extend all the way to the window frame. Also note how the red field runs forward of the front wheel to the top of the splitter. This is also incorrect as the red field with a white boarder should end before reaching the splitter. However, this is still a nice addition to the Authentics line. If I was rating each one of these choices for production, this one would be third.
This is a nice wave for Lionel. Among all the global issues impacting the retail sector, they are still delivering some nice pieces for collectors and fans. My only real criticism is the absence of a single Cup series chevy. There are a flood of Mustangs here, but almost all of them for one reason or another are significant and purchase worthy. I love the continuing trend to release at least something from each of the top three title series and I truly hope to see that tree continue on. On to Wave 5!
Here, I will investigate 1/64 scale diecast race cars and the on track impact of each car.