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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Racing Champions Mint 1980 Ford Bronco



As for the larger Bronco sibling in the 1980's not many replica's have been made.  Hot Wheels made a rugged version with a plastic roof section at the rear and a dirt bike in place of the rear spare tire.  At the turn of the century a brief run of a Bronco casting was made by Racing Champions Mint.  The casting was briefly resurrected in 2007 by Johnny Lightning, and now the casting makes a wider appearance in the newly-revived Racing Champions Mint by Round 2.





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In 1978 the Bronco was moved to the F-series platform to save costs of running an independent platform like the previous Bronco and to better suit the Bronco for it competitors at GM with the K-5 Blazer and Yukon and at Dodge with the Ramcharger, all based on full-size pickup platforms.  In 1980 the Bronco shared the new generation with the F-150 with more aerodynamic styling and car-like features.  The Racing Champions Mint version arrived in 1999, but by then the Mint line was starting to fade and selection at stores was spotty (I remember having a hard time trying to find a few of the new castings in 1999).  I was lucky to spot this red with white top Bronco from Target as it was a Target exclusive (the package has a collector number T6 designating the Target specialty).  There was also a blue one that I never saw.  The casting has mixed reviews for me: it looks good in some areas and it does not in others.  The front grille is a separate piece with detailed headlights, signal lights, and eggcrate grille, but the grille is flat and does not show the proper look of the real truck.  The side bodylines are nicely done from the separate top to the trim pieces, but the squatting rear end is bothersome, as is the skinny tires on wheels that don't really resemble any wheels on a stock 1980 Bronco.  Plus they kill the mood for the 4x4 nature of the truck.





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After a brief stint at Johnny Lightning where a new metal base replaced the chrome metal that suffered from stress cracking, it disappears again.  Now for 2016 the Bronco returns to the RC Mint line with four new colors and some added trim detailing.  The colors offered are brown/tan, light blue/white, red/white, and light green/white.  At the front the grille detailing resumes but adds details to the black grille inserts, FORD letters on the hood, and lower bumper trim with Wyoming plates front and rear.  The two-tone color helps break up the monochrome look of the original release with added details to the door handles, chrome wheelwell trim, lower black moldings, XLT badge on the B-pillars, and Bronco badges on the front fenders.  The wheels stay the same, but now adds white-letter Firestone on the tires.  The rear adds detailed taillights, bumper trim and plate, and a silver panel on the tailgate with Ford and XLT logo's, though the Ford logo seems to float a bit higher (maybe that's the way it should be?).  There's no spare tire and yes the rear-end still sags.





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The base is now of better metal quality and still has the Johnny Lightning logo.  You can see drivetrain, exhaust, and fuel tank details, though it lacks any axle details front and rear.  The hood opens up to reveal the 351 CID V8 that produced 210 hp. through a 5-speed manual transmission and through a part-time two-speed transfer case.  The blue engine block is nicely done and the air cleaner is a separate piece on top.  The interior is even more impressive and blows away the Hot Wheels version.  There is bucket seats up front with a center console in between, while the rear bench seat offers plenty of room with plenty of cargo room from behind.  The dashboard layout is nicely done and accurate with the warning lights and air vents on the upper level, while the lower level houses the gauges, radio, HVAC controls, and glove box, along with the two-spoke steering wheel.  Even the shifters and door panels are detailed.  This is the highlight of this casting.








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Its nice to see this Bronco back despite the skinny tires, flat grille, and squatting rear end.  Round 2 did a better job with adding more details to the body to give it a more realistic look with visual interest.

Update:  Here's the light blue/white version:







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Update 5/27/17: The Bronco now returns to the Police force in 2017 with the California Highway Patrol versions in black with white doors (shown) or white with black doors, with a few more variations and even some chase models:













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