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Saturday, March 28, 2015

70's European Sedan-Based Ambulances - Matchbox vs. Corgi vs. Majorette

I've always loved the Matchbox Superfast version of the Mercedes Ambulance (left-most car).  But when I recently found the Majorette Citroen DS ambulance (middle car), complete with flags on the front of the car, I decided a European sedan-based ambulance (modeled in 1/64th scale) comparison test was in order.  In going through my collection today I noticed that I had a third contender, another Mercedes ambulance, from Corgi.  Given Corgi's reputation for making high quality models (particularly in the larger scale) and the fact that it was a European sedan-based ambulance, I felt that I had to include it (right car). 

 However in the actual comparison, the Corgi was not even in the same league as the others.  The car is light and plasticky (the base is plastic), without any opening doors or gates, and without even an interior.  The detailing is poor, with ambulance-related tampos rather than any detailing paint.  The wheels look like they could have come off of a drug-store brand toy car.  They even copied Matchbox' 'Binz' name (why?).  While I'm happy that Corgi made an attempt, it just feels cheap, an embarrassment to the Corgi name.  Relegating the Corgi to last place is an easy and immediate decision.

Picking a winner between the other two is much more difficult.  The Lesney Matchbox has a nice weight to it, and the spring-loaded suspension rolls well.  The grill and bumpers and lights are cast into the base so are a different color than the body - giving a quality look and feel.  The detailing on the body is sharp and precise.  I chose the model with the early thin superfast wheels which are in a correct scale for width.  The lift gate open and a stretcher is included.  I actually have several of this model, both in superfast and regular wheel forms. 

As for the majorette Citroen, it is the only example of this model that I have.  The scale is correct and right in line with the Lesney.  The flags on the front fenders are a really nice touch.  Like the Lesney Matchbox, the bumpers and grill are cast into the metal base, so contrast nicely with the white body.  The headlights are actual plastic and a seperate piece.  The body has nice sharp detailing.  The lift gate opens (but its plastic so feels cheaper than the Matchbox), but my model does not have a stretcher (there is a patient cast into the plastic way-back).  Again, the wheels roll nicely and the suspension is springy.  This will be a tough choice to pick!

In the end, I gave the edge to the Majorette, on the basis that:  1.  It is rarer than the Matchbox (not quite a fair criteria I know, but its my blog so I'm the boss!),  2.  The lights, bumpers and grill are so impressive, and look higher quality even than the Matchbox' high quality grill/bumper/lights.  The Matchbox did have the separate stretcher, but I felt that was contrastingly equalled by the Majorette's front flags.   The Matchbox also had a better and softer ride, but it wasn't enough to make up for the first 2 factors.  Nice win Majorette - and nice effort Matchbox! 

As a P.S., I'm including photos of the equivalent Matchbox in a Speed King higher scale car.  This is VERY similar to the smaller 1/64 version - with detailing that is essentially identical.  The Speed King has opening doors and a blanket for the stretcher - but is otherwise the same model as the smaller car (not a bad thing!).

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