Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tomica vs Matchbox - Bentley Continental GT

Bentley Continental GT

Tomica Bentley Continental GT, 1/61, Made in Vietnam

Matchbox Bentley Continental GT, 1/64, Made in Thailand

Have you wonder which is the best car maker in Japan? Toyota? Honda? Well, the answer is Tomica. To date, Tomica has made 5,3800,000 cars since 1970. This is achieved within a short time span of just 40 years. Jokes aside, since this year marks the 40th anniversary for Tomica, this issue comparo will be based on a new Tomica released in 2010.

Car industries in the real world today is much similar with minicar in the toy industries. For example, Honda Jazz we get here through the authorized agent are Thai build in order to lower the production cost but you are still able to buy a Japan made by parallel means (Honda Fit). For the toy world, it is much more cruel, every maker is moving to a less developed nation to maintain a healthy growth in profit margin for the company. For Tomica, it was first made in Japan in 1970. Due to budget constrain, some productions were shifted to Hong Kong to keep the cost down in 1971. The Honda N360, Capella Rotary for example were fully made in Hong Kong. Quality is a far cry from their Japanese cousin then and production was shift back to Japan. By then, Hong Kong has already made 6 casting including the Colt Galant, Datsun 1300, Datsun Cedric and Sprinter 1200SL. As the Hong Kong made Tomica are of a very short production, these are highly sought after by Tomica fans. Although quality is bad but it is still better than most current day Tomicas. If you intend to buy one, the price of a mint in box will cost you around S$1000.00 but MIB condition is hard to come by even you are ready to pay for one. For a loose and heavily paint chip condition, the price might be around S$150.00 since they are consider really rare now. It is also rumoured that Korea also produced Tomica at a very short period. I have seen one in Yahoo Japan once but I am not really sure if the car or the packaging is Korean made. Tomy started to shift their product to China in early 90s and by 1995, the first casting roll out of the Chinese factory although there is still a transition production for older cast being made in Japan. By 1997, all productions are done in China, I remember I started actively buying Tomica in 1996 and I was still able to find Japan made Tomica till 1998. Fortunately there are still some Japanese cast being kept in Japan but not many are left already. They are destroyed for customers who love gift set or anniversary set which were produced in China for lower cost. New collectors don't mind or don't care if the quality is good or the origin of the production. As a Tomica collector, I do mind but maybe it's good for me too as I don't have to waste my money on extra gift sets. Regular Tomicas which started in China varies in quality depending on models. I remember the worst were the Nissan Primera, Mercedes C Class and Range Rover. Primera has big gap on doors (after closing of doors), bad suspension and poor paint, C Class is same as the Primera but suspension was good while the Ranger Rover has a little of everything mentioned. I was totally disappointed with Tomica then as this is not the Tomica I used to play with when I was a kid. There are also some good China made Tomica as mention in my previous post. As cost of production in China gradually becomes higher and there are many Chinese copies of Tomica. Production were shifted to Vietnam in 2008 and the first Vietnamese effort rolled out in 2009, the Toyota iQ. There will be still transition of Chinese made and Tomy plan to shift totally to Vietnam in 2011.

When I first know that Tomica is going to make a Bentley, I was really excited. This is the first time Tomica is making a Bentley. They have made a Rolls Royce before but that was many years ago. When I lay my hands on this Bentley in January, I was thinking Tomica must have wanted it to be really a big car, note that the scale is 1/61 vs 1/76 of the 70s RR Phantom (ok, I know Phantom is a huge car). I would appreciate if the size is slightly smaller at maybe 1/65. For Tomica scale, Kei cars or small hatch are usually from 1/50 to 1/57, mid-size cars usually from 1/58 to 1/62, larger sedan 1/63 and above. First impression were good on this Bentley, nice cast, nice paint but can they improve on the Vietnamese made button wheels?

As for the Matchbox, it was originally a English made toy car back in the 50s as Moko, Lesney in 60s and Superfast in the 70s. In the 80s, they were shift to Macao and repackage into a blue box. At one time, they were made in China but that was the worse era as they are into no direction and no nice cars that can attract collectors. I started to take notice of Matchbox again in 2008 when they have some classic cars like the Austin Mini Van, Cadillac Hearst, Citroen DS etc. Thanks to my friend Enyozilla who crush countless toy cars under his zilla feet for sponsoring (and sparing) this MB Bentley for my comparo. Blister was thrown after opening up this Bentley. Just a simple comparison of the 2 casting between the Tomica and the Matchbox, you can see that the Tomica has a finer cast while the MB has rougher edges. Paint used on the Tomica is also better than the MB. The walk over of Tomica versus the MB extends to interior department where better plastic and better crafted interior are found in the Tomica. The base of both cars are both plastic but Tomica follows its tradition style of base but the MB base can be laughable as being "economy class in a budget airline".

Perhaps I was a little fussy with Tomica. Common flaw of a Vietnamese made Tomica is the button wheels. Look at the 2009 Toyota Townace if you do not understand what I mean. The wheels are more Yujin Tomica rather than Tomica button wheels. Japan made button wheels are chromed, China made button wheels are painted (so you will see the chrome fading off after a few years), Vietnam made Tomica are painted but with better paint but the spokes becomes "Yujinised". Above picture shows that there is uneven control of the spoke size.

MB wheels are closer to the real thing but it looks much more suitable for a Porsche and a BMW M3. In my personal opinion, it is really ugly too but it should be the correct size as compared to the Tomica button wheels.

It seems like both Tomica and Matchbox are using decals extensively today. Tomica has a use better quality decal and do not over use them like in the case of the Matchbox. Front grill of the Tomica is crafted with the casting, not so for the MB. The head lights on the MB looks a little misaligned. I personally feel that die cast at this level (Tomica or Matchbox), just keep it as simple as possible, there is no need to make it with with such details. If you are looking for details at this level, you might be looking at the wrong segment. Matchbox should not be over dependent on decals for detailing. Although MB might want to enhance the details by using decals, the Bentley logo is just a "black" spot on its bonnet without the "B", the "number plate with the "Bentley" name is not carefully applied.

So, when buying a Bentley Continental GT. Who should you buy from? I will list out the package that you get for the price you are paying for and you decide for yourself.
Tomica Bentley Continental GT
Price in SGD: $5.95,
unit above from Japan for 378yen
What you get:
- A nice red/white TakaraTomy Box
- Color only Gun Metal Gray
- Car Made in Vietnam
- Bigger car, larger scale of 1/61
- Nice Bentley logo
- Car has suspension
Matchbox Bentley Continental GT
Price in SGD: $3.50
What you get:
- A blister pack but I thrown it
- Available in a few colors
- Car made in Thailand
- Sport Rims
- A pair of wing mirrors


  1. so when can u return me the MBX bentley for destruction......

  2. anytime, I dun want it already...please destroy it... hehehe

  3. I never had Tomica die cast toy cars and I can't find ones in my local shops. I wanna buy a few for my kid.

    I have most of the other companies die cast toy cars and have written an article on them (Matchbox vs Hot Wheels vs Majorette Toy Cars )but for the life of me I can not write a single sentence on Tomica. I am sad :(