Camper Culture~

I live on a portion of the east coast which is inundated with holiday sites. People come from as far as Australia and New Zealand and wind up here, in the caravan parks and leisure sites of East Lincolnshire, during the summer. At this time of year, the roads are clogged with caravans, RVs, campers, station wagons, people carriers, and slow drivers.

I suppose, then, my passion for camper trucks and caravans peaks around this time, as the hot weather and the caravan sites I drive past constantly put me in the mood for leisurely activities. I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post, when I wrote about the Hot Wheels “Backwoods Bomb”, that the idea of travelling the world in a pickup truck with camper attachment would be a great adventure.

So today I put together my other two pickup truck campers, one by Matchbox and one by Realtoy, to show my three trucks. There is only one more I need to collect to complete the set to my satisfaction – the Majorette (Dodge?) camper, which is one the collectors snap up before you can get your purse out.


Star of the show – Matchbox Ford Camper~

The Matchbox Camper has no official branding on its baseplate, but those with a keen eye for detail will soon identify the vehicle. It has to take the pick of the litter for this batch.

Ford as manufacturer is revealed by the very small branding on the right hand portion of the front grille. Now one might be inclined to believe this to be an F-series truck, due to the camper attachments generally being seen on the larger Fords, but the design of the truck doesn’t match the real vehicle – so let’s look closer.

The license plate is what tells us which model this is. “COU 113” is actually a clever coded message. “COU” is an obvious reference to the fact that this is a Ford Courier, a name given to a series of compact pickups provided by Ford since 1971. The Ford Courier was actually the Mazda B-series with a revised face, picked up by Ford in response to the success of Toyota and Isuzu’s small sub-2000cc pickup trucks.

The model we have is the series two, introduced in 1977, and Matchbox have stuck to the 1977 model as it doesn’t have the inset indicator and parking lights seen on the grilles of 1978 models and beyond. It has distinctive angular styling, reminiscent of all 80s automobiles. This generation courier was sold until 1985 in Australia, but ended earlier in other markets (US was in 1983)

But what about the 113 on the license plate? Curiouser and curiouser. One source attributes it to the wheelbase, which supposedly was 113 inches, but I’m not so certain. I actually think it’s a reference to the maximum speed limit of the second generation Ford Courier of around 70 miles per hour – in Euro babble, that translates to 113km/h. But who can really say?

Being copyrighted 1979, this is a very old Matchbox, and certain elements reveal the somewhat primitive nature of models in that era. Firstly, I couldn’t seem to see any interior detail. The windows have been tinted dark, probably to hide the fact that there isn’t any interior detail – no seats, no steering wheel, no dash, at least not as far as I can see.

Its age is also reflected in the lack of windows on the camper attachment – The Hot Wheels Backwoods Bomb, which also debuted earlier in the decade, lacks windows to the camper attachment.

However, these small niggly little details are exchanged for Matchbox’s reputation for fantastic quality castings. Metal body and metal base make the model heavy, and as we have seen, the detailing on the grille is accurate for 1977 and as such helps us identify the model easily. The truck comes in a lovely red colour – petrol filler cap is on the left side, one bolt holds the body to the chassis at the front, likewise with the camper attached to the cab roof – the rear consists of the metal body hooked through the rear of the camper, giving the effect of tail lights.

The camper attachment, made of plastic, has excellent detailing – particularly on the back, with the door and the spare wheel. The license plate is also detailed on the rear. It’s a shame they didn’t make it detachable, so that you could use the truck separate – but then again, that would probably result in a lot of them getting lost.


Realtoy GMC C/K – early days

I’ve seen this model advertised as both Realtoy and Edocar, so I’m not sure which is right as I’ve had this model a very long time. If it is Edocar, it might make sense, as those models, sold under a Dutch name, were from a Hong-Kong manufacturer. If it is Realtoy, it makes as much sense, as back in the days this model was made, Realtoy was a bit of an upstart, and would likely copy castings produced by other manufacturers.

Evidence of this shameless theft can be seen by Googling Matchbox’s GMC Tow Truck, and then by observing Realtoy’s 1990s equivalent, of which I have a hastily repaired copy (I used a Lego to replace the missing red roof light!). Compare this with Matchbox, and you decide for yourself if the chaps at Realtoy found inspiration from somewhere:


Utterly heinous! These models were commonly seen in places like Woolworths and Toys R Us (and still are, as a matter of fact) where the equivalent Matchbox might not.

The dastardly copycat tow-truck casting was clearly reused, when Realtoy decided to turn it into a camper… adding their own flare to the model.


While there are no brand names or trademarks to indicate so, and if you didn’t know it was based off the Matchbox of the same name, car folks will be able to tell that this is a GMC C/K, the forerunner to the Sierra or its sister the Chevrolet Silverado.

The square headlights and grille, along with the boxy body are iconic GMC. Interestingly, this appears to be based on the 1987 GMC shape, but with the quad headlights of the 1988 GMC – even though that truck had a much rounder body shape.

The original, boxy shape, was a result of wind-tunnel testing, as GMC designers attempted to make the vehicle more aerodynamic.

The model itself is nothing special, but I like the colours. Any car with a crocodile on it is a winner in my book. I like the interesting combinations made with the metal body and the plastic camper attachment, which, as in the Matchbox, is permanently attached. The plastic base makes it a lightweight vehicle. It features chrome baseplate, green body with “Welcome to Africa/Safari” decals, yellow camper with orange roof, and blue awning/roof box/pop top – I’m not sure.

No working suspension on either of the models, of course.

All together

Combine these with the Backwoods Bomb, and which is your favourite? The Bomb is the most fun in my opinion, due to its weight and its ease of movement, as well as the colour, but the Matchbox is the most handsome looking car of the lot. If Matchbox had done a GMC pickup with camper attachment, it would have looked utterly fantastic.








Pickup campers aren’t the only ones I plan to show, either. Before long I hope to show off some other cars we spy during the tourist season, including Volkswagen campers, the Toyota Lite Ace, and hopefully I’ll be getting the Majorette Dodge pickup soon!


Happy camping!

Featured image: truck_camper, by Grant Harder. Flickr. Original



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