Unboxing classic Tomica Gift Sets, part 2: Mitsubishi Dakar Rally Pajeros!

In last week’s post, we took a look at some classic Tomica Gift Sets that featured 1970s supercars and domestic Japanese emergency vehicles from the 90s. Fun as they are, this week we get to the set that really got my attention in this auction lot: the Mitsubishi Dakar Rally Set that, like Tomica Famous Car Museum Super Cars, was also released in July 1997. What a month that was for Tomica fans.

As a rally collector and a Tomica collector, this one doesn’t just tick a couple of boxes, it goes straight into the top five items in my Tomica collection. I absolutely love it. The set comprises the first three finishers in the 8,049km 1997 Dakar Rally – which were all factory-entered, SWB Mitsubishi Pajeros/Monteros with a surprising amount of production parts, including the 3.5-litre, 266-horsepower V6 engine – plus the Rally Support Camion, a support truck.

I’m not 100% sure but I think all four of the castings in the Dakar set might be unique to that release. Let’s start with the Pajeros. They use the base from the #30 Mitsubishi Pajero Metal Top (1993-99) but have a unique body to mimic the real rally-raid vehicles. They are different too from the later #72 Mitsubishi Pajero Rally Type, which in turn was based on the #30 Mitsubishi Pajero (1999-2006) that succeeded the Metal Top. Still with me? Good! Let’s look at them one by one.

The #205 Pajero that finished first in the hands of Kenjiro Shinozuka and Henri Magne:

Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Bruno Musmarra drove the #200 car to second place, just four minutes behind:

Third was the #202 PIAA machine of Bruno Saby and Dominique Serieys:

In all three cases, the decos are well reproduced and full of detail, even without applying the enclosed sticker sheets.

Elsewhere in my collection is a loose example of the original, #69 Tomica Pajero (1982-93), which was released in several liveries representing earlier Paris-Dakar competitors. Here’s mine with the Off Road Express one.

#69 was also issued in the regular range with Nikon sponsorship, as raced by the factory team in the mid-1980s (Patrick Zaniroli won in a Nikon Pajero in ’85), as well as in another real-life racing livery, Citizen. I’ve not been able to pin down the origin of the colours on mine, however. If you know, please comment below!

Here are both of them with the excellent Inno 64 Pajero Evo representing Jutta Kleinschmidt’s car from the 1999 Dakar. More on that model here.

Some of the older Tomica Pajeros are pretty pricey now but they’ve released many different versions down the years. If Mitsubishis are your thing, you don’t have to break the bank to find one.

(find Tomica Pajeros on eBay)

Back to the set. The deco on the Rally Support Camion is authentic, too, even if the casting itself is chosen for convenience rather than accuracy. Here it is with a small photo of the real thing for comparison (sorry, couldn’t find this bigger):

According to the box, “It is a representation of the 97 Dakar Rally Camion truck, and unlike the actual vehicle. Also, unlike the normal Tomica, it has four wheels.” Talk about full disclosure! The casting used here is based on the #7 Mitsubishi Super Great Truck, but it’s been heavily modified to look more like the Dakar vehicle. Most notably, the second axle has been deleted to turn this from a six-wheeler into a four-wheeler, just as the box describes (you can still see the axle stub in the side view below). There’s also no aerodynamic fairing on top of the cab, nor beneath the truck box between the wheels.

(find the Dakar Set on eBay)

And that’s it. I hope I’ve given you a flavour of the treasures to be found in Tomica Gift Sets. Digging into them is like opening Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates (or should that be Pandora’s box!) but they are well worth getting lost in. Happy collecting!

(find Tomica Gift Sets on eBay)

(follow me on Instagram @diecast215)

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