Lesney Matchbox time is here again, and today we visit a red vehicle of a different type. This is Lesney Matchbox 71b, the Jeep Gladiator. This casting entered the range in 1964, remaining until 1968, and is a shining example of the high quality products Lesney was able to produce by the mid 60s:

As the 60s progressed, the Matchbox line was advancing in exponential amounts of refinement. Glazing, interiors, suspension, moving parts, precise trim, realistic paints, and sharp fine line detailing all became the norm within a few years. This casting represents many of those features. I estimate scale maybe around 1:65, it still works well with other models. Contained in this model is excellent and accurate proportion and detail, glazing, interior, and moving parts - things unknown 5 years prior. From all angles, this model is the ideal of a scale model and a toy existing in the same casting:

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Doors open to reveal a detailed interior:

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Front and rear have similar detail. The front end area on this model is excellent, and the tailgate font and detail is amazingly accurate. Also note the crisp detail on the interior door panels, all of this is really something for a pocket money toy car of this age:

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The base contains identifying data. Age is hard to determine as this casting had a relatively uniform production run. One can guess 1965-7:

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I am definitely happy to have this in my collection. I found this at the Gilmore Museum, in Michigan, last November - some remember I mentioned it at the time. It was in a basket of random loose diecast in the gift shop - a couple slightly older castings caught my eye, so I dug in, and found this. This model has just a few chips, probably from being tossed in that basket. It is a fun souvenir of a long trip, and for $3, the price was right:

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A couple 1:1s from pickuptrucks.com. The Gladiator is an excellent piece of industrial design, the basic design in production for a couple decades, and is still good looking 55+ years after introduction:

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