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Monday, June 20, 2016

Majorette 5 pack and 10 pack review: Now available in the USA!



Like Majorette's?  Wanna get one in the United States of America?  Well, too bad because aside from a used mix find somewhere at some antique place or something mostly Ebay will be the only place to get them, and usually the newer versions are obtained by our fellow international customers.  However, a hidden feature deep down at Wal-mart.com reveals 5 and 10 packs that can be purchased, along with special Fire and Police play sets.  Dinky Toys has brought some of the Majorette castings to the US, but thanks to new toy regulations it is hard for them to appear in US stores; but not from an online perspective.  And for those who don't like the added shipping charge Wal-mart also allows site-to-store where you can pick it up at a specified Wal-mart store without paying any shipping fees.  The 5-pack cost $14.27, while the 10-pack cost $26.50; not hardly cheap but wait until they mark off the price and you can find one at discounted price (I believe mine's was $10 and $21 when both were marked down).  So what do you get for the price?  Realistic cars with nary any graphics on the body, just factory logo's, some with opening features, and a nice starter kit for the Majorette line. Keep in mind that three vehicles are omitted here because they are in both packs: the BMW 5-series wagon, the Mitsubishi ASX, and the Audi R8.  Here's what you can expect:



Supercars: Audi R8, Porsche 918 Spyder, Lamborghini Aventador

Yes Majorette makes supercars and lots of good ones at best.  Even a bunch of them were made for the Dubai police.  Unfortunately, not all of them made it into the packs (wish they were), so here's the three in the packages.  The Audi R8 looks good in red with blacked-out 5-spoke wheels, and detailed grille and headlights up front, but the rear lacks any details.  The paint seems thick, the stance too high, and the interior dashboard is poorly done.  This is one of the few poorly-done castings in the group, and with the fine Matchbox casting this seems like an outfit.  Too bad, at least you can enjoy the V8 engine details in the back window.







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The Porsche 918 Spyder is a nice surprise despite the awkward blue with red interior color combination.  The front has clear headlights that are part of the windshield with dual lower scoops that are part of the base. The 5-spoke wheels on all of the supercar castings have detailed vented brake calipers that are not noticeable unless you are up close.  The sides show off the nice C-character line, side exhaust, and rollbars that lead into the rear engine cover.  The rear has detailed taillights, Porsche 918 Spyder badge, and lower diffuser.  Compared to the Hot Wheels version this Majorette looks more realistic and eye-catching.  The interior shows a thick 3-spoke steering wheel, dual gauges, flowing center console, bucket seats, and detailed door panels.  The 918 also has a working suspension, a Majorette tradition, but the wheels with the ribbed edges tend to rub against the body making grinding noise.









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The final one is the Lamborghini Aventador, a nice surprise in a field of me-too castings.  The yellow paint is just like all the others, but the Majorette offers a working suspension, clear headlights with Y-shaped running lights, blacked-out wheels, detailed rear panel with taillights and a license plate that is also the rear base latch.  The interior is hard-to-see but has better details than the R8.  The engine compartment, unlike the R8, is hard-to-see with the ribbed pattern.  Out of the three the Aventador looks the most realistic of the bunch.





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City cars: Fiat 500 and Honda CR-Z

Majorette also makes city cars, though most are sold in Europe and most are unknown in the U.S.  Thankfully these two are very familiar to the U.S.  The Fiat 500 is a nicely-done casting if it wasn't for competition that includes the Hot Wheels 500 Sport.  The front has detailed headlights with lower grille, foglights, and 500 plate, while the rear has detailed taillights and 500 badge on the rear plate that also doubles as the base tab.  Despite the Sport look it looks more like a Lounge model with the multi-spoke wheels with working suspension.  The base shows off most of the drivetrain details, while the interior has the correct dash layout and seat design.  Again, nice but nothing new here.










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The Honda CR-Z is ending production this year so why not celebrate with this Majorette model.  The CR-Z has a sporty hatchback profile that is backed by a 1.5L SOHC I-4 and electric motor 122 hp and 128 Ib-ft of torque through a unique for the segment six-speed manual transmission.  The front is pointy with painted headlight and center black grille with CRZ logo, the sides show an upswept beltline to a fastback roof, ending to the rear with detailed taillights and base plate tab.  At this point not any of the cars have opening parts, but that changes with the CRZ as it offers an opening rear hatch to the cargo area.  The hatch is a clear plastic piece with the painted trim and uses the pillars to support the piece when closed.  Nice, but on a white-colored car the transparent hatch is more noticeable.  The CRZ also comes with 6-spoke wheels and working suspension for a sporty look, while the interior has the detailed dashboard with center gauges, 3-spoke steering wheel, and shifter on the console.  This is the only car in this pack that is right-hand drive, and notice how times have changed with the move from metal to plastic bases and the slots that support the metal spring for the suspension piece has been removed on newer castings.






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Mixed Bag: Chevy Silverado and 2009 BMW Z4

A few oddballs in the group that are all by themselves, yet they still have the look.  The Chevy Silverado extended cab is the second diecast version of the 2007-2013 Silverado bodystyle behind the Hot Wheels version.  Like the Hot Wheels version it is an extended cab pickup with an exposed bed, but that bed is all-metal and the ground clearance is at a normal ride height.  The blue color is nice and is adorned by clear headlights and a blacked-out grille with gold bowtie logo.  The sides have the flared fenders and a lack of a gap between the bed and cab, while the rear has detailed taillights, Silverado badges, and a black bumper.  So far it seems pretty good, then you get into the interior and for a non-LTZ model it gets the LTZ trimmed dash that is shared with the 2006 Chevy Tahoe, complete with car-like dashboard and center console, yet it still manages to seat five.  The worst defenders are the wheels (looks too blingy on this truck) and the base that apparently was copied from a German car of some sort as it looks nothing like a body-on-frame, live axle pickup chassis with no spare tire.  At least it has some cool exhaust tips.  Plus there's plenty more pickup trucks offered in the Majorette line to join with the Silverado.






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The other one is an amazing, one-of-a-kind-for-its-scale 2009 BMW Z4.  Thanks to US regulations the removable hard top is removed, but still this car looks awesome.  Start with the orange paint with blacked-out wheels that makes the Z4 look more like the Jaguar F-type (which Majorette just recently released in the same color outfit!).  Like the Silverado the Z4 was introduced at a time when the recession hit so not many replica's were made; too bad as the new Z4 looks better than the previous-generation with flowing headlights that are clear, twin kidney grilles with silver outline, and a smooth long hood, short deck profile.  The rear has detailed taillights, rear spoiler on the trunklid, and dual exhaust below.  Sporty!  The interior has a nice clean look with detailed dashboard that has 3-spoke steering wheel, center radio controls, shifter on detailed console, and bucket seats; even the starter button is detailed!  Majorette did a great job with this casting, and it looks even better without the top and with those blacked-out wheels.






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Mini-SUV's: Mitsubishi ASX and Dacia Duster

Majorette also makes quite a variety of SUV's, so in these sets they provided two small SUV's.  The Mitsubishi ASX is better known as the Outlander Sport in the US.  The light blue SUV has a small look as the wheels are pushed to the corners.  The front-end has clear headlights with detailed Evo grille with silver trim and side foglights, while the rear has detailed taillights and badges on the hatch.  The color is nice, though the lighting details are a bit sloppy.  The interior offers seating for five though the rear seats are a bit cramped and the cargo area is small.  The dashboard has a simple layout with 4-spoke steering wheel, dual pod gauges, central radio and HVAC controls, and 5-speed manual shifter.  The hood opens up to reveal the engine area, which is hard-to-see since it connects the headlights to the windshield, to show the 2.0L DOHC I-4 that produces 150 horsepower.









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One of two vehicles not sold in the US is the Dacia Duster.  This rugged SUV was a partnership with Renault and Dacia to produce a rugged small SUV that can be sold to many countries worldwide.  It looks the part with rounded corners joined by flared fenders that remind me of the Nissan Xterra.  The front has clear headlights with a chrome trim center grille and lower bumper that is rugged and shaped for more ground clearance.  The brown color also looks good on this casting.  The rear has a taller stance with detailed taillights and Duster badge on the liftgate.  Speaking of liftgate it opens up to a spacious cargo area with the rear seat up, and just below is the sole trailer hitch in the group.  The interior is basic and rugged, like the ASX, with 3-spoke steering wheel, 5-speed manual shifter, and central controls, but the interior is far more spacious than the ASX.  The uni-body platform has a full-time transfer case for the 4x4 system, while the momentum is provided by a 2.0L DOHC I-4 that produces 133 horsepower.  This SUV looks rugged and cool even if it's a small SUV with a car-based platform.







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Wagon's and Hatches: BMW 5-series Estate, 2015 VW Golf GTI, and 2014 Alfa Romeo Giulietta

The last segment looks into an area that I know Majorette very well in: hatchbacks and wagon's.  Case in point is the 2015 VW Golf GTI.  This is the latest generation of the Golf and a long line of Gold hatchback's that Majorette has produced.  I have previously owned the Mark II GTI and Mark III standard Golf hatches that both have opening rear hatches.  The new one continues tradition with a nice, sleek black paint job with clear headlights and red line at the grille up front.  The lower bumper with side gills looks cool, while the rear has detailed taillights, VW badging, and dual exhaust tips.  The rear hatch opens, but mines was stubborn and after countless clips with a knife (scratching the gate in the process, note the Sharpie touch-ups) the rear window comes loose and allows me to work with the hatch more to finally open up; now it opens properly.  The interior has the familiar Golf dashboard layout, but times have changed with better quality materials and high-tech features like a touchscreen infortainment system.  The powertrain is still the 2.0L DOHC I-4 that produces 217 hp and 258 Ib-ft of torque through a six-speed manual transmission.  The new Golf handles much better than the Alfa with great precision, and even though I don't have the Hot Wheels version yet I can see this one being far more superior than the Mattel version.







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A competitor arrives in this pack and it's the not-sold-in-US Alfa Romeo Giulietta 5-door hatchback, better known as the Dodge Dart in the US.  This hatchback was designed to go after the Golf and it does very well despite not being as refined as the Golf.  The front has the clear headlight lenses with V-shaped grille that looks awkward on this car.  The sides feature two more doors at the rear with handles hidden in the C-pillars, while the rear barely has the detailed taillights, Giulietta badge on the hatch, and dual exhaust.  The rear hatch also opens but is smaller and does not have the cargo capacity of the Golf.  The interior has a more sporty look that mirrors the Golf but with Alfa's own way of doing things.  Despite the added doors the interior space is about the same as the Golf.  Engine power is provided by the 1.4L DOHC turbocharged MultiAir I-4 that produces 168 hp and 180 Ib-ft of torque through a 6-speed manual transmission.  Handling is as spirited as the Golf, but with more body roll in the process.  Not as sharp as the Golf GTI, the Giulietta is still one nice piece.






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Finally, its a traditional station wagon and one from a brand that usually does not sell a bunch and rarely ever gets made into diecast: the BMW 5-series Estate.  Based on the 2005 model the Estate gives a unique twist in the sea of 5-series sedan replica's.  The dark blue paint looks good though it hides most of the details.  The front has painted sweptback headlights with detailed twin kidney grilles and lower bumper with detailed grille slots. The sides show off the wagon look quite well with no sloping roofline and four large doors, while the rear has detailed taillights, base plate holder, and dual-tipped exhaust exit.  It's interesting how BMW manages to make the wagon's look so good while preserving the boxy look.  The interior has seating for five with a large cargo area that would be obtainable if it was offered with an opening rear hatch (which it does not have).  The dashboard has the familiar BMW setup with that infamous I-drive screen in the middle.  The exhaust layout on the base suggests the engine is a 3.0L DOHC I-6 that produces 254 hp and 221 Ib-ft of torque to the rear wheels by the 6-speed automatic transmission.  Not sporty or quick as the GTI or Alfa, but it gets the job done.  This is a workhorse in a nice German outfit.


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Overall the set is very impressive and makes the Mattel sets seem childish: no generics and clean paint jobs.  Could use more opening parts and models, but overall it's a nice set and worth the price.  The biggest issue I found was the need for more Majorette models because after this set you'd have to rely on your International friends from now on to get the rest.  One thing's for sure Majorette needs to come back to the U.S. retail stores!

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