During the 1970s, Land-Rover liked to boast that there was not a single country on the face of the earth that it had not delivered at least one of its vehicles in civilian form. This was a feat that perhaps only Volkswagen could rival and, consequently, it should come as no surprise to diecast collectors that models of Land-Rovers have proven nearly as popular with diecast manufacturers located outside of Great Britain as with those headquartered in the Land-Rover's home country. Since this article is a companion to an earlier piece that covered the Land-Rover's history yet concerned itself only with British-made Land-Rover miniatures, the author's usual introduction has been forgone. For the complete 1:64 scale Land-Rover story, please refer to the back issues of this publication. Furthermore, to keep the scope of this article constrained within manageable limits, the author has excluded miniatures produced entirely in plastic (i.e. no metal componentry whatsoever) from this discussion.
Although residing on the fringes of what defines a diecast model, Safir's Land-Rover Series III 109" Regular represents another finely detailed miniature of which several variations exist. Comprised of a plastic pickup-style body attached to a diecast base, this model is quite rare and accordingly priced on today's antique toy market. As with other 109" Regular models, this miniature was fitted with various roofs to create a number of variants.
Now absorbed into Solido which is itself a division of Majorette, the Spanish firm of Mira has recently gained some time in the toy car spotlight for its 1:18 scale miniatures of less commonly modeled American classic cars and trucks. Since the Solido takeover, production has been relocated to China; however, all small scale models were apparently discontinued several years ago. During the 1970s, Mira manufactured a wide range of 1:64 scale miniatures that included a healthy number of prototypes that no one else ever bothered with such as a number of Seats and a Land-Rover that was probably based on the license-built Santanas. A relatively accurate miniature of a Series III 109" Station Wagon, the model is spoiled by clumsy wheels that are far too small and poorly fitting opening front doors.
Once manufacturing the most extensive line of 1:64 scale miniatures in Spain, Guisval still exists and introduces new models from time to time; however, its current range pales in comparison to the brand's glory days of the 1970s. Alongside countless European cars and a fair scattering of trucks, Guisval produced a 1:64 scale Land-Rover Series III 109" in a couple of interesting variations including a missile carrier and a tow truck. A collector of toy Land-Rovers should not dismiss these models as yet more copies of the well-known Corgi Junior casting: early versions had an opening bonnet and doors (later deleted and cast shut) and accurate two-piece wheels that were replaced with "speed wheels" in later years.
Ambiguity is the hallmark of some diecast brands and although supposedly related to Guisval, it is difficult to ascertain what relationship, if any, exists between this company and the similarly named Guiloy. Of Guiloy's varied offerings, only 1:64 scale Range Rover carries the banner for Land-Rover. Apparently acquired from Pilen (the casting is exactly the same), Guiloy's Range Rover presents something of a challenge for completists who want one of everything.
One of several competing brands from Spain, Pilen is probably best known
to collectors for having been hired out to supply a range of 1:43 scale
models to the French branch of Mecanno for sale under the legendary Dinky
trademark. Pilen also offered a nicely designed range of 1:64 scale miniatures
that included one of the best Range Rover models of its time period. More
abundant than some of the other models discussed in this article, Pilen
1:64 (and 1:43) scale Range Rover can still be found occasionally on today's
antique toy market at fair prices.
Over the years, Mattel's Hot Wheels has offered many miniatures of English cars; however, each of their models invariably has at least one fatal flaw that relegates it to being a toy rather than scale model. Nonetheless, the Hot Wheels brand has remained perennially popular since its introduction during the late 1960s and today is the best selling line of diecast cars in the world. Now retired, Hot Wheels' Range Rover came onto the scene in the aftermath of the vehicle's introduction to the North American market during the late 1980s. Decorated in a variety of paint schemes that spanned from sedate to tasteless, this miniature was always equipped with oversized tires that added little to its overall appearance or appeal. Becoming a Hot Wheels car by default, Corgi Juniors' old Land-Rover 110 made a brief entrance and quick exit from the line a few years ago after Mattel assumed control of Corgi. Sprayed in loud orange paint with "Smith Electric" logos, this model was erroneous labeled as a "Land-Rover Mk. II."
Yet another model with a peculiar background is Ertl's Land-Rover 110" Regular. Apparently intended for distribution outside of the United States, Ertl's 1:64 scale miniature was made available in couple of different variations and followed the time-honored tradition of producing a basic pickup casting and installing various roofs over the bed to conjure up varying models. Equipped with particularly accurate wheels, this model can be a challenge to locate in Ertl's home country.
As with the New Zealand miniatures, Japan's AHI also "generated" a Land-Rover miniature that appeared suspiciously similar to Lesney's Matchbox #12-A. Keys to identification are the model's extremely weighty feel (they are so heavy and soft that must have been cast in a lead alloy) and the lack any information on the base save for "Japan". Equipped with a driver who is forever at the steering wheel, these toys are extremely difficult to locate today, especially with their original packaging.
Also originating in Japan at the same time as the AHIs were many look-alike models that whose manufacturers remain unknown. Always of poor quality, such models were sold in dime stores throughout the world during the 1950s and 1960s and frequently included stamped steel componentry in addition to diecast bodies.
During the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Hong Kong was a hotbed of diecast pirating and the most vulnerable line of miniatures prone to forgery was Corgi's Junior range. During the mid-1970s, a mysterious company named Larami sold a pirate of Corgi Junior's Land-Rover 109" Pickup that was almost identical to the Welsh original except for its wheels and diecast base. Not as abundant on the antique toy market as the Corgi Junior model, the Larami Land-Rover does occasionally make appearances on toy show tables.
Another company with a history similar to Real Toy is Welly, a firm familiar to most collectors as the maker of those two-for-a-dollar toy cars sold at the Walgreens drug store chain. As with Real Toy, Welly began acquiring the proper licenses to manufacture officially sanctioned scale models of various car maker's vehicles a couple of years ago. The results were remarkable and gone were the old Tomica rip-offs, replaced with some of the most accurate and well-made models available for $1 or less. A stand-out among Welly's 1:64 scale offerings is its Land-Rover Freelander with its laser-printed logos, two-piece wheels and painfully accurate rear roof and interior moldings.
Seemingly arriving out of nowhere, Hongwell burst onto the diecast scene a few years ago with a line of amazingly accurate models scaled at 1:72. Sporting incredibly detailed interiors, as many separate parts as some 1:43 and larger scale models and complicated paint schemes, Hongwell's competitively priced miniatures have pleased collectors throughout the world. Currently, the range consists exclusively of European prototypes with a strong emphasis on German vehicles; however, Great Britain is represented by the best small-scale Land-Rover Freelander available. Also marketed under the Schuco brand name, this line of models is definitely worth searching for.
To end our review of 1:64 scale Land-Rovers, we return to England's Matchbox whose new model of the Discovery has recently appeared in the diecast aisles. A static model with no operating features, Matchbox's Disco features a very accurate profile that could be greatly improved by removing the childish tampo printed logos the model is seemingly always festooned with. Now included in Matchbox's 50 States series and representing Vermont, this miniature is sure to be fertile ground for future variations; nevertheless, it is doubtful that it will ever surpass the number different paint schemes that have been sprayed the company's Land-Rover 90 over the past decade and a half.
It was once said that in some parts of the world, the first motorized
vehicle a person would ever see was a Land-Rover. Although competition from
Japan has eroded Land-Rover's stranglehold on Third World markets since
the late 1960s, both old and new products from this British four-wheel-drive
maker still maintain a strong following and continue to be immensely popular
throughout the world. Perhaps this explains why so many Land-Rover toys
have been conjured up by diecast makers located in every corner of the globe.
Range Rover - Siku #1338/1341
Land Rover - Efsi
Land Rover 90 - Majorette #266
Range Rover Fire - Majorette #248
Land Rover Ambulance - Mira #165
Land Rover - Guisval
Range Rover - Guiloy
Range Rover - Pilen
Range Rover - Kiko
Land Rover - Tootsietoy
Range Rover - Hot Wheels
Land Rover - Ertl
Land Rover - Fun Ho!
Range Rover - Tomica #54
Land Rover - AHI
Range Rover -Playart
Land Rover - Real Toy
Freelander - Welly #2055
Freelander - Hongwell