Taking a trip off road with the Matchbox and Majorette Land Rover Defenders

Now I want to make one thing clear before we get underway: this is not a Matchbox vs Majorette post at all, more a look at both models in the same light. A look at some superb diecast from the two brands and a bit of a bask in just how good it is to be a collector these days. Let’s get going…

The new Land Rover Defender was one of the most eagerly anticipated and long awaited follow on acts since BMW bought back the Mini name. Designs, concepts, sketches and computer mock-ups had been flying around for many years in the motoring press, even before the model was confirmed and camouflaged prototypes began road tests. Speculation was rife until Land Rover finally pulled the covers off in 2019. Purists recoiled at the lack of ladder chassis and “mechanical purity”, bemoaning the lack of simplicity that had made the original Defenders so famous. But despite being a bit of a Luddite at times, I wasn’t one of them. There’s no doubt that the Defender is one seriously cool and seriously capable bit of kit.

In terms of diecast versions there are already a number of 1:64/3 inch versions available, with Tarmac Works and a couple of Chinese manufacturers offering premium 1/64 offerings of the Defender 110 and now Matchbox and Majorette offering their off the peg versions of the short wheelbase Defender 90. And I’m a huge fan of both.

The Majorette version is one of the company’s newest toolings and it’s a stunner.

I love the looks, the colour, the wheels. It’s testament to just how hard Majorette are working these days to get noticed. The quality for a mainline is brilliant, with sharp decals and decent paint. The trademark Majorette suspension is present as well as the moving parts, which in this case are the doors which open to reveal a pretty nicely detailed interior.

The headlights are molded as part of the window piece in clear plastic, and the tail lights are picked out with decals. The spare wheel is a neat touch and the contrasting white of the roof and wheels looks great. The only gripes I have are the lack of paint on the sills which is something Majorette really need to get on top of. A touch of paint would go a long way here. The other gripe is scale, which really isn’t an issue for me but I imagine will be for some collectors. The base claims the scale is 1/66 but I’m erring on the side of it being closer to 1/60 or 1/55. Regardless, this is one you all need to get hold of.

The Matchbox version seems to come in closer to 1/64 scale but I haven’t done any measurements to confirm this. And I love it just as much as the Majorette. The proportions are great, and while the Majorette goes for larger wheels with lower profile tyres the Matchbox keeps to a standard look with the 6 spoke wheels and chunky tyres. The colour is also rather close to the Pangea Green that buyers of the full size Defender can specify.

The decals are clear and crisp, something Matchbox are getting very good at these days. The headlights inparticular are nicely done, and the Land Rover badges and “DEFENDER” script are easy to see. It’s a bit of a pain that Matchbox have chose to black out the windows to the point they’re almost opaque, especially when there’s an interior to look at. But that’s my only bugbear; It’s on par with the Bronco for one of the Matchbox releases of the year for me.

Trying to pick between the two for me would be pointless. I like them both. And I’ll like the Tarmac version when I bag that too. I prefer instead to look at these as a prism of just how good the hobby is right now, and these two show some real progress for both brands. Matchbox’s dark years are well and truly gone and forgotten, and Majorette are fighting hard to stand alongside them.

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(Find the Majorette Landrover Defender and the Matchbox version on Ebay)

9 Replies to “Taking a trip off road with the Matchbox and Majorette Land Rover Defenders”

  1. Just like with the Matchbox Bronco, I am mesmerised by your photography. It’s really good and sells the models before I even see them in person.

    It’d be unfair to compare the two, as they’re different price points. I think Majorette managed to get more details in, and make a better casting, thanks to the higher price, and also a chunkier-feeling casting. The Matchbox feels tiny and light, but they did get the paintjob, the wheels and the tampos a bit better. It feels like a more polished example. With premium tampo treatment (including a two tone roof and such), the Matchbox would truly shine. But I don’t like that the top is made up of one full window piece. We’ve got this for many years, and it’s not a big issue on small cars but on a chunky SUV like the Defender, it looks off. I also know that we can do nothing about it, but it needed to be mentioned anyway.

    Good writeup and photographs, Alex! As always!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, really appreciated.
      And yes, the prices were my motivation behind not comparing them, as was the scale 🙂 also I really didn’t want an internet “vs” match either, as I like both manufacturers! 🙂
      The plastic roof is something I have seen a lot of complaints about, the Honda E also has this I believe?

  2. The Matchbox definitely has more accurate proportions and better attention to detail, particularly in the headlight/taillight tampos. The major downside with it is the fact that is has no interior which explains the completely opaque windows. They’ve been doing that quite a lot lately in order to keep the cost down. It’s a shame because Matchbox never had to worry about that for years. During the golden age (2005-2011 for me) you would never see cars with no interiors, blue-tint windows or cars stripped of chrome in favor of cheaper grey or black plastic. If they didn’t have that sudden direction change in 2012 that took its toll, they wouldn’t be suffering like they did for the last several years. They would be financially successful like they were during the late 2000s and wouldn’t have to cost-cut as much. Since Hot Wheels is so successful, they don’t have to do that as much which still explains their heavy use of chrome and cars having interiors. Despite all of this, I still love Matchbox. They were the preferred cars to play with when I was a kid and have always had better accuracy in their castings oppose to Hot Wheels. Also, the fact that they emphasize on making real street cars that you would see on the road everyday instead of crap fantasy castings.

    1. Matchbox are my pick of the two Mattel brands these days, their subject matter is better and the quality is a lot better than Hot Wheels. They also look less cartoon/aimed at children, and with models like the Muntz Jet, Subaru SVX and Powell Sport Truck, you know they’re aiming at car people.
      I am sure the Land Rover has an interior under the window piece by the way, I could see the seats in certain lights.

  3. So true 1/64 scale would be a length of 2.81 inches and 1.21 inches for height. You can check the accuracy of the scale that way. The 1:1 is 101.9 Inches long and 77.6 inches tall.

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