The Porsche 956 dominated the World Championship in the 1980's, and epitomizes the Group C era. While this lack of competition eventually led to the demise of the series, for a while there were some interesting races and lots of 'guest' drivers from Formula One (Senna, Keke Rosberg).
This car was developed secretly in 1982, and was raced exclusively by the porsche factory team that year. The car had excellent ground effects, which created a vacuum to 'suck' the car to the track. It became a privateer favorite, and Joest scored back-to-back Le Mans wins in a 956. The car was not usable for the IMSA GTP races, so in 1984 Porsche developed a similar, but different car called the 962. In 1986, they they made a yet a third car called the 962C, which was an upgrade/modification of the 962 for the European group C championship.
Anyone who has an interest in LeMans definitely needs a bunch of these models. In fact, a sub-genre of collecting only 956 models would be nearly as cool as collecting McLaren F1 GTR models. But here you have many options, because there are the same individual models being done by two companies, Minichamps and Quartzo.
Now I know you are not going to believe this, because let's face it, you are obsessed with getting every Minichamps model ever made. But wake up, here is photographic evidence that the Quartzo models are easily better (and cheaper!) than the Minichamps versions. Behold two models: a 'Marlboro' by Quartzo and a 'NewMan' by Minichamps.
While both models look very good separately, when you get them close, the details really pop out, and ALL favor the Quartzo. Most noticable is that Quartzo's casting is sharper, and the small details are much more deliberate. Notably, the towing loop on the front of the car is an actual 'functional' loop on the Quartzo version, and it is just an crude indentation on the Minichamps. (Look closely and you can see daylight under the loop)
The Quartzo has an actual cast (and painted) fuel inlet, while the Minichamps version is just a decal. This is shown in the picture below. The circles on the decal (just behind the side window and below the 'C') are supposed to be the fuel inlet. They really cheesed out on this one!
The interior detail is better on the Quartzo. If you look very carefully, you can see the blue seatbelts in the cockpit. The vent window is also better on the Quartzo, as it is a three dimensonal raised section to mimic the sliding panel. On the Minichamps, it is just a square decal. I recently saw a '1:1' scale model of the 956 at Symbolic cars (List price = $1.3 Million), and If you can't afford that version, get the Quartzo one.
The decals and wheels on both are excellent. The Quartzo goes the extra step with decals under the headlights. Also, the red area has a very cool matte finish to it that looks really good under strong light. These also have correct tobacco markings, which is rare and may become impossible to find in the near future. They typically sell on eBay in the $20 to $25 range, and are an excellent value.
While many of the versions are available from both companies, there are more Quartzos. I plan on buying only Quartzo in the future. These Quartzo models were also issued in the late 80's under the Vitesse label (Quartzo's parent company), but they come blank with decal sheets that must be applied.
WARNING: Do not confuse these Quartzo models for the older Onyx models of the similar Porsche 962. Those were the ones with the matching boxes and really bad decals. I have seen them up close, and they are horrible. They tend to be sold very cheaply on eBay but are a complete waste of money. However, Quartzo is atoning for this past sin by issuing completely new versions of the Porsche 962, starting with the Rothmans LeMans winner of 1986. These were released in November and look to be excellent.
Minichamps has issued 12 of these 956 models, plus the 1982 Rothmans LM winner in the dealer editions. (There are also three versions of the 962, including the non-compliant 'street' version in yellow. This is a completely different car from a later period. And I can't imagine driving to the hardware store in a 962.) Every dealer website I have looked at has got either the model number or race details wrong on these models. So here is the final list, the product of much research: Minichamps 956 page
And just one more thing, how cool is it that the LeMans winner was a rolling ad for Designer Jeans! . I remember people having these 'NewMan' threads in junior high school, and boy were they stylin'. The ultimate 1984 outfit would be these jeans, a 'Members Only' bomber jacket (in burgundy), Reebok 'Phase I' sneakers, and an Izod shirt. Long live 80's fashion!!