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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

*100th Post!* Matchbox Toyota Tacoma Lifeguard, with a few other Tacoma/Truck's




Wow!  100 posts already!  Well I can start this one with a look at the new Toyota Tacoma from Matchbox in Lifeguard trim, and I compare it to another same-generation Tacoma from an unknown company, who copies from Motormax using the same dimensions as the previous-generation Tacoma from Motormax, and finally the low and high ends of the Majorette Toyota truck from the 1980's.  As you may already know the Hot Wheels 1987 Toyota Truck has already been profiled.



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Modern-day Toyota Truck

The Toyota Truck has been in production since 1967, and still continues today under Tacoma or HiLux names.  The 1980's saw the introduction of the 4x4 model and a more tougher look for the small Toyota truck.  The third-generation was introduced in 1978, with the 4x4 a year afterwards.  The powertrain was a 1.6L SOHC I-4 producing 80 hp. through a 5-speed manual, and 4x4 models benefitted from solid front and rear axles on leaf springs.  This generation also saw camper spin-offs thanks to Winnebago.



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In 1995, to better separate itself from the larger T100, the Truck was renamed Tacoma in the US, featuring more aggressive styling (just like the prior generation, the grilles were different from 2WD and 4WD models).  4-cylinder engine was still offered, with 4x4's getting the larger 2.7L making 150 hp., or the new 3.4L DOHC V6 producing 190 hp.  Both offered with 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, and 2WD and 4x4 setup. In 1998 the front-end was smoother and a new trim was offered called PreRunner: essentially a 2WD truck made to look like the 4x4 version.  In 2001 after joining the now larger Tundra model, the Tacoma received a revised front-end to look more like the Tundra, and a revised interior.  New models include Double Cab and Stepside versions, and sport models predating to the upcoming X-Runner.




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In 2005 the new Tacoma was introduced with radically new styling, featuring flared fenders on all models (really looks odd on the 2WD's small tires), larger headlights and taillights, turn signals now inside the headlights to allow the return of foglights, composite bed with power outlet, rear doors on Double Cab, refined interior with car-like dash similar to the Camry, full-length console on all models, and two engine choices: 2.5L I-4 or the new 4.0L DOHC V6 producing 236 hp. and 266 Ib-ft. of torque through a 5-speed manual/4-speed automatic (I-4) or 6-speed manual/5-speed automatic (V6).  The X-runner is the high-performance version opposite of the TRD PreRunner 4x4's, with a lower stance, ground effects, 18-inch wheels, suspension enhancements, and a V6/Six-speed manual only combo, available in red, black, or Speedway blue.  In 2009 LED brake lights and optional blacked-out headlight bezels were offered.  In 2011 the front-end featured a revised grille and headlights, along with a few interior revisions.


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Matchbox:  Good, but short of a Life saver

It took Mattel long enough, but they finally produced the new Tacoma for the Matchbox line as a Double Cab PreRunner with lifeguard material in the back that includes tanks, ropes in the bed, and a roof rack with surfboard and rescue lights; sadly the bed materials are part of the windows meaning no interior.  Worse is the roof rack cutting into the roof!  Very sloppy job Mattel!  Otherwise its nicely done with detailed front grille with Toyota badge, front and rear bumpers, side doors and fender flares, and the 6-spoke wheels that look right at home on this truck.  I would like to see more lighting detail, though.  The base looks sloppy, especially trying to figure out if this is a 4x4 or 2WD, or a manual or automatic transmission (who knows), and the mud flaps are a little off.  I was really anticipating this casting when I first saw the pictures, but seeing the final result I was longing for more like an interior or lighting detailing on the outside (the latter offered by the 2014 Matchbox Convention models).



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Copycat new Tacoma to the old Motormax Tacoma

In 2009 at Dollar General I found my first current-generation Tacoma as this red extended-cab that I originally thought was the Motormax version, until the flared fenders gave it away!  This unknown brand produced a lot of vehicles that are almost direct copies of the Motormax 1:64 castings, right down to the exact wheels!  Still the Tacoma was nicely done with the proper details, though the Tacoma on the doors sits too high and the large lettering in the rear is unnecessary on today's newer Tacoma's.  The base is nicely-done, though I did had to cut off the plastic stilts that secure the vehicle to the box which was an eyesore to look at!  The interior (even this cheap model has one!!!) is nicely done and accurate.  I only seen one of these as the brand quickly closed down (hmmm, I wonder why?), disappointing since this is one nicely-done Tacoma with lots of potential for customizers.


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The Motormax version came out in 2004 that started with ones with wild graphics, but thanks to a brief time at Wal-greens and Toys-R-Us I was able to find some nicely-stock versions in black and beige.  Just like the one from Dollar General it's just as nice with the proper details, though the silver taillights on the black and the round look of the rear lenses are a bit off.  The interior is so nicely done Motormax took the time to insert detailed door panels in the front!  Since then Motormax has resorted to cheap generic versions for the Toys-R-Us Fast Lane line, including one that looks like a generic custom of the Tacoma!


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Majorette's classy HiLux

Finally is one of the oldest Toyota pickups I have in scale, and it's been a veteran to the French Majorette company.  Based on the early 1980's HiLux, it started life as a 2WD truck with optional campers in the bed, later modified with a 4x4 look and rear roll bar, with the occasional Monster Truck (seen in white with the odd 'American Monster Truck' on the sides).  The front has a detailed grille, metal headlights and bumper, and those nubs on the hood are the rearview mirrors on the HiLux models.  The sides are clean, strangely lacking door details, while the rear has detailed taillights and TOYOTA carved into the tailgate.  The bed has detailed lumber in the middle as well.  A trailer hitch in the back allows for towing ability with other Majorette trailers (however, useless in the 4x4 application).  The interior is basic but has all the amenities there.  The hood opens up to show the detailed 4-cylinder engine, the base has a working suspension, and the base is all-metal.  Ahh, the joys of Majorette's fine detailing!


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Maisto Baja Toyota Truck

As a bonus is this Toyota Truck from Maisto 1:64, based on Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart's Toyota-badge BAJA truck in the late 1980's/early 1990's.  (Hot Wheels has done his 1993 T100-based Baja truck in 1:64).  Even though it's littered with racing gear, suspension, and Tonka graphics, you can still recognize the 1984-1988 Toyota Xtracab profile from the front and rear corner lights to the cab and windows.  It's a very nicely-done casting that is one of my favorite, though it's not a stock truck like i'd prefer it would be.

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