The closest thing to the old Matchbox 1-75 series available today is the Tomica range of “fit the box” models. Sadly they do not appear to be sold officially here in the UK and imports from the Far East make them much dearer than Mattel’s Hot Wheels or Matchbox models. But the uniform red and white boxes with drawings of the cars on front are popular with Japanese children with a model being released every month and 140 kept in the range at any time. Like old-fashioned Matchbox the models are a variety of scales with everything from large construction vehicles to the smallest of cars all fitting in the same box though Tomy do print the scale on the front for your information. They also print a lot more on the box but speaking no Japanese I cannot translate it. The range was started in 1970 and has always aimed to cover the output of the Japanese car firms, though some foreign cars have also been included in the range. The models are made in Vietnam rather than China nowadays.
Here I look at two cars that would appeal to kids in the UK as well as Japan. As Japan also has right hand drive cars the home market cars are often little different to the ones we see here. Though many of the cars made by Tomy are never exported to the UK though they may be seen in Australia and New Zealand where many are imported second hand..
#50 Toyota Prius
The Prius is a well known hybrid car frequently used as a taxi or private hire car here in the UK.
The printing of lights and black areas on these models is not particularly neat but quite a bit of effort has gone into the badging. The rear window on the Prius is actually painted on.
The wheels are very like Matchbox speed wheels.
Play value is provided as the hatch opens. The hinges are very thick presumably to meet toy safety standards.
The profile of the model is fairly accurate though paint is very thin at the panel lines .
#76 Honda Civic Type R
Lots of black paint to highlight the spoiler and intakes but not particularly fine masking! The opening bonnet gives the model play value but the huge hinges take up most of the engine space!
The shape of the Civic is nicely captured.
The Honda badge on the front is printed well and gives the front end a nice balance against all the matt black.
At the rear the Honda badge again looks good as does the tiny printed Civic badging.
From the side the black printing shows as a bit crude in outline. The large plastic spoiler has been very well modelled. Even the speed wheels are a diffrent type with fashionable coloured wheel rims.
It is nice to think that Japanese children might be being given these models as pocket money toys in the way that I was given Lesney Matchbox models by my Mum. Perhaps this will make sure that diecast collecting stays alive at least in Japan.
We welcome your comments and questions. Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.