Recently, we held a court session where we determined that the accusations that Arrinera used a kit car to produce its Venocar prototype were false. At the same time, we did find Arrinera 100 percent guilty of completely ripping off Ferrari’s design scheme, but Arrinera was allowed to walk free based on the copycat precedent set by every major automobile manufacturer in the world.

Now we have a new case to present. The Plaintiff is Icon, a small business that specializes in taking SUVs and making them bad-ass off road buggies. The Defendant is Mattel, a multi-billion dollar toy company and manufacturer of Hot Wheels die cast cars.

There are two details to be hammered out in this edition of Vehicular Court.

Case No. 1: Did Mattel directly rip off Icon’s FJ40 image and just very lightly Photoshop it to create its press release photo for the Die Cast Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40?

Case No 2: Is the final production Hot Wheels FJ40 a direct replica of the Icon FJ40?

Click past the jump to see the complete hearing and verdict.

Let’s start with case No. 1; finding out whether Hot Wheels just Photoshopped a stock image of the Icon FJ40.

Vehicular Court: Icon Accuses Hot Wheels of Ripping Off FJ40 Design Exterior
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Examining the picture, there is no question in our mind that the two are extremely similar. The vehicles are in the same position and the bodylines are just about identical. To be 100 percent certain, we took the liberty of taking the two images and using the Photoshop Quick Selection Tool to select the main body of the Icon FJ40, then overlapping it onto the Hot Wheels image. This showed us, which you can see in the above image, that they are 100 percent identical in shape, size (sans a few area where Hot Wheels blurred the image), angle, and outline, including the man sitting in the driver’s seat.

Vehicular Court: Icon Accuses Hot Wheels of Ripping Off FJ40 Design Exterior
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There was the slight possibility that the two were similar looking just because they are both based on the Land Cruiser FJ40. That coincidence flies straight out the window now, as we can safely say that Hot Wheels is completely guilty as charged in ripping off the FJ40’s image and plastering a very shoddy Photoshop on it. C’mon, guys, at least change the truck a little…

Now on to case no. 2: Is the final production of the Hot Wheels FJ40 a complete rip off of the Icon FJ40?

Vehicular Court: Icon Accuses Hot Wheels of Ripping Off FJ40 Design Exterior
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In comparing the actual production Hot Wheels FJ40, we do notice that there are some similarities between them. However, similarities do not prove guilt to us, it just shows the Mattel saw the Icon FJ40 and liked its styling, so its designers used some details from it. As you can see, it is lacking the fog lights in the push bar, the spare tire is mounted differently, and there are more roll bar lights on the Hot Wheels model.

Vehicular Court: Icon Accuses Hot Wheels of Ripping Off FJ40 Design Exterior
- image 458958

Though they are similar, we have to rule not guilty in this case, as there are just a few similarities between the two, which can be attributed to the fact that both vehicles are based on the Land Cruiser FJ40. The Hot Wheels model may have been inspired by Icon’s model and if so, we think that Icon should get credit and a small piece of the sales pie, but that’s typically not how it works.

What do you think?
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