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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Maisto 1:18, 1:24, and Matchbox and Maisto 1:64 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac






One of the most popular truck-based SUV's of the early part of this century is the 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac.  Not only for its unique looks but also as an advertisement for the new tubular bed extender that uses the tailgate to extend the short bed of 4-door pickup trucks.  Almost every diecast manufacturer had their hand in making the 2001 Sport Trac, and no one was big at that than Maisto who released 1:18, 1:12, 1:43 Power Racer, and 1:64 scales of the truck.  Matchbox also got their hand on one in 2001 as well.  All of these trucks, save the Maisto 1:43 and 1:64 and the Matchbox version after 2002, have the functioning bed extender.  Let's take a look at a few of them.





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Maisto 1:18

Oh, I remember the day I got this dark blue truck:  It was November 2000 and I got my first visit to a large auto show, the Miami International Auto Show.  After tooling around the vast landscape of automobiles, concept cars, and even news crew covering the auto show I ended with a trip to the accessories room where one had a large selection of diecast replica's for sale.  One of them stood out was a blue 4-door pickup in 1:18 scale with a chrome bed extender on display: It was the new Maisto 1:18 Ford Explorer Sport Trac.  Since then I enjoyed this casting and still do, though it seems a bit narrow, low, and still wearing the 5-spoke wheels on smooth tires that the 1999 pre-production truck shown at the Detroit Auto Show premiered with.  The Explorer Sport Trac was the result of the 1996 Adrenalin concept truck, though the butchy look was replaced with smoother lines.  The Sport Trac shared the 1999 Ford Explorer platform with the 2-door Sport that featured the same front-end styling.  The 4-door would become a completely different Explorer in 2002.  It was roomy, versatile, and had a pickup bed that was part of the cab, integrated a composite bedliner, and featured the unique tubular bed extender, and also there was a power outlet in the bed as well.  The rear window would roll down like certain Toyota SUV's would do.  It was a hit when it first came out, though in recent years and in the second-generation the popularity would wind down as SUV moved more toward car-based crossover's, meaning the Sport Trac was done with after 2010.








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Other colors offered was Mandrian Orange and White, the latter shown here was part of the 1:18 Show Stoppers trailer hitch series with the 2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R.  The front has the large, round projector lamps, twin-nostril grille, and lower gray bumper with foglights and tow hooks.  The sides show off the flared fender flares, lower gray cladding with running boards, and keyless entry buttons on the driver's side door.  The roof has side running rails and brake light, while the bed has the external hooks for tie-downs that are functional on this casting.  The back-end has the gray bumper with the long tailgate and stacked taillights with round inner lenses that are the only tell-tale sign to the 1996 Adrenalin concept.  The party trick is the tailgate that swings down and rotating at 180 degrees is the bed extender that gives more room to the small bed.  You can fit longer diecast vehicles with the tailgate down than with it up, though despite the divider trick the bed extender does get in the way when not in use (although you can remove the bed extender, though the 1:18 would not be an easy one to do without breaking something).







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The interior is very roomy with seating for five and has that familiar sporty truck look shared with the Ranger.  The gauges are white-faced, the steering wheel 4-spoke, the radio and HVAC controls mounted in the center, and the deep center console.  All four doors open, though not as wide and not without a hitch: on my blue tester the doors do become stubborn to close until you can shift the door around and finally get the door to close.  I would like to see a detailed headliner as the center brake light is clearly visible without it.  Open the hood to show off the 4.0L SOHC V6 that produced 210 hp. through a four-speed automatic.  The engine detailing is vast, though with a lot of hoses and pipes getting in the way of the engine block.  Nice touches include the round intake hose, intake manifold, yellow labels on the fluid resovoir's, and the warning and information label along the front radiator support.  The chassis shows off the upper and lower control arm front and live axle with leaf springs rear suspensions, with Maisto's trademark working coil springs on all four wheels.  The spare tire is accurately-sized, the exhaust has a nice chrome piping, and the four-wheel transfer case is there that can operate part-time or full-time with the rotate of a knob on the dashboard.







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Maisto 1:24 and 1:64

For those who want the same function as the 1:18 without the size then look at the 1:24 scale version from Maisto.  There are some consequences:  The hood does not open, nor does the rear doors, but it's a small price to pay for the same features and details, namely the functioning tailgate and bed extender remain!  Other changes include taillights and center brake light now painted on, no foglights detailed, and the tires are more aggressive versions found on the production vehicle even though the rear end tends to sag more.  The same trio of colors offered on the 1:18 is also offered here, so there's not much downgrading here if you want a smaller version of the 1:18 with the same features and functionality.  The 1:43 Power Racer (not shown) was the first Sport Trac in Maisto's Sport Trac line, and it goes without the functioning bed extender and a rather small front bumper.  It was exciting to find at first, but then got quickly old when the 1:18 arrived.  The Maisto 1:64 was the final version arriving in 2001: Again, no bed extender here, but at least the bed is deeper than the 1:64 version.  The Maisto 1:64 version plays it clean with the same color examples (though the blue was not as prominent) and has the proper details.  A few caveats: No interior, poorly-detailed base, and cheap wheels that got worse with blingy designs in later versions.






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Matchbox 1:64

Then again the Maisto 1:64 was much better than this Matchbox version.  Introduced in 2001, the beginning of the awful Hero City-era, the Sport Trac was poorly executed.  The front-end was smaller, especially at the bumper, with detailed headlights.  The sides had rear small windows on the rear doors blocked off in the metal, the running boards part of the base and smoothly integrating into the body, and bed hooks that are barely visible.  The rear has barely-visible taillights and a blocky design to the rear bumper.  The interior has the proper setup, but again the steering wheel is too big and the door panels are missing.  The base has some weird assortment of skinny pipes and what appears to be a drivetrain with dual side exit exhausts.  Once again, despite the malacies, the tailgate swings down and the bed extender flips out.  The bed extender also comes out when not in use (not a good thing for a small kids toy!) and the bed is painted black.  Well, it lasted for a few years before a retool in 2003 kicked the bed extender out and sealed the tailgate into the body, turning it into a more awful casting.  At this point the Maisto versions are still better!



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So if I had a preference I go for the Maisto 1:18, or the Maisto 1:24 for a smaller collection as both offer the great looks of the Sport Trac and the cool functionality of the bed extender to haul any gear or diecast-related stuff that you may have.














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