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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Majorette and Matchbox Ford Bronco II



I recently got two different Ford Bronco's from the 1980's: one is the full-size Bronco now based on the F-150 platform, while the other is the smaller Bronco II based on the Ranger platform and was the precursor to the Ford Explorer.  Here's two different versions of the Bronco II in diecast.




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The origins of why the Big 3 American automakers starting to make smaller SUV's is still a mystery.  Granted higher gas prices was one of them, but was there any competition?  The Japan automakers did not get their small SUV's going until the mid-1980's.  Competition for the Jeep CJ?  Sort of, but that was years ago when the Bronco was small enough to battle the Jeep and International, who stopped making the Harvester SUV's after 1980.  Ironically the new Cherokee arrived at the same time with unibody construction and 4-doors that would not appear from others until well into the 1990's.  So what's the point for the Ford Bronco II and Chevy S-10 Blazer?  Well one thing's for certain its the east of use: the sturdy SUV's of the Big 3 were ginormous by the 1980's being too wide to fit in any garage, too rough for daily use, and too thirsty for fuel.  The new Bronco II was based on the smaller Ranger pickup and gave a better option for a practical off-road vehicle that can be drive on the road like a normal vehicle.  The Bronco II had the looks of the Bronco and Ranger, but unlike the larger Bronco the II had a one-piece roof.  Powertrains included an I-4 or a 2.8L V6 that produced an estimated 100 hp through a 5-speed manual transmission.  One of the problems of the small two-door SUV's at the time was they were prone to rollover easily, and the Bronco II was impacted with several lawsuits from injuries sustained from rollovers in these SUV's.







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Apparently both Matchbox and Majorette got the notice as both trucks offer wider tires to offset the tricky handling.  Plus it looks better than the dinky stock setup offered on the real Bronco II's.  The Matchbox version was more rugged with a slightly taller height.  The front-end headlight and grille details are obstructed by the brush guard grille with integrated winch.  The sides are a typical boxy SUV with exterior mirrors and taller rear side windows.  Also not the sunroof which is open in a tilt position.  The rear has detailed taillights, Ford badge on the tailgate, and a separate spare tire.  The base doesn't show much, yet you can see some axle details looking from the front or rear.  Inside both trucks offer well detailed, if not crisp, interiors.  The Matchbox version has front bucket seats with a center console, silhouette dashboard layout, while the rear seat is completely removed to allow gear to sit in the back: an axe, tackle box, fishing poles, and a shotgun with scope.  The Matchbox bronco had a useful life and competed with Jeep CJ's and the full-size Blazer 4x4 all with similar stance and tires.  Though in the last years of its life the Bronco II was strangely left for pizza delivery duties.









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For a cleaner version Majorette's got your back with this black with red interior version.  The stance is slightly lowered and the wheels not as aggressive, but it still has the off-road ready look.  The front end lacks a brush guard so the headlights and grille is clearly detailed (I added some additional lighting and trim details).  The sides have the typical box look with some nice flared fenders to add some character.  The sunroof on top is there but it does not tilt open.  At the rear the taillights are larger and more detailed, but the tailgate lacks the external spare tire.  Not having the spare tire is a good thing since it allows the rear window to open: it open and closes like a solid piece with no flimsiness.  The red interior has seating for five with a basic layout: no dashboard details and no shifter details, either.  This truck also features a working suspension which is nice, but the tires tend to rub against the body to making grinding noises and the dip in the base lowers the ground clearance.  Unlike the Matchbox version this Majorette version was short-lived before being replaced by a new casting that fills in the sunroof, eliminates the interior and opening rear window, and adds flashing lights at the press of the body for the Sonic Flashers line.






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There's a few more examples of Bronco II's out there, but these are the only two to take the 1:64 scale range.






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