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Monday, December 28, 2015

RMZ City 1:40 and Matchbox 1:64 Land Rover Defender 110




Land Rover has been the iconic off-road vehicle to Britian similar to the Jeep in America, and while most of the line today consists of luxurious go anywhere SUV's the original Land Rover is always the boxy one.  The latest evolution is called the Defender and is calling it quits at the end of this year as Land Rover prepares an all-new Defender in a couple of years, and for good reason: The Defender is not sold anymore in the US since 1998 when the federal mandate of dual airbags left the Defender out (it has no room for airbags).  The new platform hopefully will meet up to US safety regulations and return the Defender name to the US.  For now only the diecast versions are the best way to enjoy the Defender, with two to offer: either the two-door Defender 90 or the 4-door Defender 110 wagon.




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The Defender was introduced in 1983 as a replacement for the Series III, still based on the original Land Rover since the 1940's.  The new Defender offers more modern amenities in a convenient package that still has the classy boxy looks.  The enclosed cab area is now more common, offering a rear door that swings to the left and has room in the back for four more passengers on the sides.  The dashboard is flat and barely has enough room for A/C (but not for airbags), and crude dynamics although in recent years the Defender has morphed toward a more luxurious interior despite the limiting accomidations.  The styling has stayed the same even with some nice modern enhancements based with brushed aluminum grille and skid plates and LED lights.  90 was the two-door models with 110 for the four-door models, both numbers referencing the wheelbase of the models.  Engine's have gone through several iterations from diesel inline-four's to gas V8's.  The current engine is the 2.2L duraTorque turbo diesel I-4 from the Ford Transit line.  It produces 122 hp. and 265 Ib-ft of torque through a six-speed manual only.  The two-speed transfer case also has three locking differentials, including one for the center transfer case.  This truck is more mainstream across the globe as the main safari vehicle, even outclassing the Discovery or Range Rover.




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The RMZ City version is an oddity for a company that has so far made modern vehicles; the Discovery looking like an old-fashion item compared to the others.  The colors range from subtle (white or this dark green shown here) or wild (how about orange?).  The dark green does a good job hiding the black trim pieces on the roof and the wheelwell lips.  The front has the brushed silver grille from the SVX concept truck with round headlights and LED signal lights, Land Rover badges and lettering on the hood, hood vents, and the typical classic front bumper (with Land Rover plate) and upright windshield.  The 110 has a more modern look complete with silver running boards and 5-spoke wheels, with the lack of a roof rack typically found on most of these trucks (but the corner windows on the roof remain).  The classic look continues with exposed door hinges and gas cap.  The rear has the typical flat-look with new LED round taillights, Defender plate and name badge, and spare tire with Land Rover logo.  The lower bumper is more utilitarian with a cover that hides the central step to access the rear cargo area, hooks and bolts, left-side exhaust tip in silver, and of course the mud flaps remain.





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Underneath I added details to the front skid plate, exhaust system, and drivetrain components.  Interesting to note that the pull-back motor is angled at a 45 degree angle to not interfere with the excellent ground clearance.  One of the problems with some RMZ models is the rather high floor in the interior, and is Defender has that issue but still the interior is pretty nicely done.  The center stack is more high-end with silver accents and an analog clock surrounding the radio and HVAC controls.  The radio and gauges are clear pieces with white graphics for the controls and dials.  The seats are more modern and feature a center console for ample storage as the flat dashboard lacks any glovebox and still uses the older 2-spoke steering wheel, and of course shifters for the transfer case and 6-speed manual.  The rear seat is a bench that offers room and thankfully avoids the pullback motor by a slight margin.  There is no third-row seat on this version as the pull-back motor takes up most of the roomy interior that is as big as a Chevy Suburban in the 110 model.  Another change was the third row seats on the 110: instead of facing to the sides on the older models the latest models make the seats face forward like the other two rows, yet still swing up to the sides to make room in the cargo area.




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On the other side is the well-known Matchbox version that was introduced in 2005 to pay tribute to the original Lesney version that was introduced back in the 1960's.  The metallic green of the first release is the best with only headlight details at the front and the Land Rover Defender badge on the rear spare tire.  This one is more geared toward a safari run with front brush guard with integrated lights, snorkel for the air filter, roof rack with four Hella lights at the front and gear that features tent, camping accessories, and a fuel canteen.  To get access to the roof is via a ladder at the rear of the vehicle.  Sadly Mattel cost-cutting made the inner section of the roof rack part of the plastic windows instead of the metal as in the earlier versions.  Other features like the running boards, detailed base, and interior is on-par with the RMZ version, though the interior is likely more utilitarian than luxurious like the modern RMZ version.  This Defender has gone through several different variations, most of them a with safari-like graphics and soon an ambulance deco in 2016, and still proves to be a popular casting with collectors.



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Hopefully the future Defender will still carry on the rugged features that made the Defender famous with a modern touch, but for now US customers will have to rely on either a used Defender or just these two replica's.


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