Rival die-cast manufacturers Majorette and Matchbox each built a replica of the Renault 5 over the course of the 1970s. While Matchbox only sold the three-door version of the 5, Majorette built both the three-door and the five-door and it even added the potent, mid-engined Turbo model to its catalog shortly after the real car landed in showrooms.
Although both the Majorette and the Matchbox 5s were produced in several colors, we chose to look at yellow examples in order to make the comparison as fair as possible. Both cars were designed as toys, not as collector pieces, but it’s interesting to spot the differences between two similarly-sized/-priced models built in roughly the same time period.
The first thing that stands out is that the Matchbox model is a little bigger than the Majorette. The Majorette is stamped 1/55-scale; the Matchbox’s exact scale is not given but it likely lies somewhere in the vicinity of 1/53 or 1/54 – not a big difference on paper, but it is certainly noticeable when the two cars are side by side.
The Matchbox model features an opening hatch crafted out of plastic, no side mirrors, Le Car stickers on both sides as well as a trailer hitch protruding from the rear bumper. The rear window is taller and skinnier than on the real car, a concession likely made in the name of facilitating the task of opening the hatch.
The Majorette model wears a decidedly simpler appearance but it more than makes up for it with realistic details inside and out as well as more accurate proportions. The headlights, the bumpers and even the two-spoke steering wheel are outlined and the air vent on the hood is made of plastic. The biggest issues with it are oversized door mirrors and a mysterious crease above both front wheels.