kia tasman camo

Why Haven’t We Seen Any Models of Camo Test Mules?

Ron Ruelle model car hall of fame
by Ron Ruelle

Kia recently showed off a concept for their upcoming Tasman pickup truck. Well, they didn’t really show it, they hid it. Like many under-development vehicles, the truck was wrapped in a wild scheme designed to make it hard to make out the details and to foil spy photographers and Photoshoppers.

Also, it’s not technically a concept, but likely a near-production-ready model. And for something they don’t want you to see, they commissioned New Zealand–based artist Richard Boyd-Dunlop to create a wild, unique wrap. Eye-catching, isn’t it?

Which begs the question, why don’t we see diecast models of these camo cars? 

Think about the phases of a new car design… there is often a concept car, sometimes wild, sometimes not too far from something plausible. Those are flashed in front of the adoring car enthusiast market to gin up excitement. We see models of many of those, which is a gamble for a model car company to create. Since the concept usually was seen in a single color, these models have to stretch reality for variants in other colors.

jeep prowler prangler camo

In the next step, the company builds a functioning chassis which may or may not include body panels close to finished. There are many examples of completely fake components on these cars, most famously the Prangler. That was a Plymouth Prowler mule with its proper front end and the cab of a hardtop Jeep. It’s an absurd-looking vehicle designed to hide the prowler’s rear flanks. Now there’s a model I’d love to see. 

Chevrolet Corvette C8 camo

As design gets closer to production, more finished bodywork hits the streets. It’s here where the camo comes in. They don’t want you to see this.  Or do they? Nothing builds up hype like a news leak. But here’s the thing… Since they are usually very close to the final product, if a model car company already has a casting for the real car, why not paint it to match the camouflage car? The most recent Corvette never had a concept car or a weird mule, just an almost-finished car hiding in plain sight.

Who wouldn’t want a diecast C8 Corvette in camo? Or various Mini Coopers with their artistic wraps? Would we even be talking about the Kia Tasman if not for that intriguing wrap? It’s time we got to see this sort of thing in diecast!

mini cooper camos

If you’ve spotted any diecast camouflage cars in the wild let us know!

Ron Ruelle is a cartoonist, writer, and illustrator who also writes about model cars. You can see his work at

2 thoughts on “Why Haven’t We Seen Any Models of Camo Test Mules?

  1. GreenLight made the only test mule models I can think of. It’s a great idea!

    The assortment was called “Spy Shots” and I believe there were only three cars: a Chevy Cruze, Chrysler 300C, and Dodge Dart.

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