Friday, September 2, 2016

Retro Review: Modern Era Malibu International Electronic General Lee Toys


In a recent post, I mentioned the Malibu International General Lee.  I realized that I never really blogged about these cool toys and it gave me a reason to get them all out and play with them, I mean take pictures of them for the blog.  This is the entire collection of Dukes of Hazzard toys brought to us by Malibu International LTD.

I can't really find much out about Malibu International LTD online except that they made these General Lee toys and some other diecasts.  I'm not sure if they were owned by any parent company of Ertl or Johnny Lightning, as those are the normal manufacturers of Dukes toy cars.  Whoever they were, I'm glad they made some cool Dukes stuff.  


The first car we're looking at is a behemoth.  This is the 1/10 scale remote control General Lee. That's 18 inches long.  It is the biggest General Lee toy ever made.  The only thing bigger than this is the inflatable General Lee from the golden era, but this one has moving parts.


The 1/18 scale cars are just under 12 inches.  This bad boy dwarfs them.  It is just a huge car.


The body has all the right lines and the decals are spot on.  The suspension makes the car look like a low rider, but you take what you can get.


This car does not have front or back plates.  The antenna for this car is pretty long.


The bottom doesn't have any detail as it's purely made as a remote control, not a replica.


It comes with a standard looking controller.  The controller is powered by a standard 9 volt battery, while the car itself comes with a batter pack and a charger to plug in.


This car is definitely unique and stands alone on top of the General Lee toy food chain.  If you want anything bigger, you better start shopping for a 1969 Dodge Charger.  (I better start doing that soon.)


The 1/10 remote control General Lee was released in 2005, at the start of the modern era, in two different boxes.  The TV show box has the standard artwork that we know and love.


The front of the box illustrates that the car has full function to go in many directions.  I would hope so.


Here I've been calling it a remote control, and the box calls it a radio control car.  Is there a difference?  Maybe someone who has more knowledge on RC can fill me in.  (Or I could just google it.  Nah.)


The back of the box shows the Gen'ral in action as well as the show logo with our favorite cousins.


The Dukes does celebrate the USA.  I really like this description.


The bottom of the box is pretty plain but does have a website for Malibu International which no longer works.  Maybe someone reading this post can give a little insight to who Malibu International was and how they got to make Dukes toys.  Fingers crossed.  


The toys came with a little Dixie horn button.  The batteries came pre-installed and there is a "try me" hole in the box.  This is the one issue I have with all of these Malibu International toys.  They all come with batteries inside that will eventual go bad.  And possibly leak.  What is a diehard collector who loves to keep boxes unopened to do about this?  I still haven't figured that out and so far the batteries all still work.  Here is the Dixie horn from the 1/10 RC General Lee.  You'll notice the horn plays three times.  There is speculation as to why it plays three times.  Some say it is a glitch, but I think it is from the scene in the movie where Bo first discovers Cooter installed the horn and plays it three times, much to Luke's dismay.  The movie versions came out first.


Speaking of the movie versions, here is the same car in the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard movie package. These cars were mostly only available at Walmart and I remember calling every Wally World around trying to find them.  They eventually made it to all Walmarts, but I drove about an hour to get the first ones available.


The back of the box has the same pictures of the RC car, but a different description to follow the movie and the movie cousins.


Darn it, they spelled Rosco wrong!


After eleven years, I still find it funny that they blacked out Bo's Led Zeppelin logo on his shirt.


I used the 1/10 RC in my action figure photo shot when series 2 of Figures Toy Co.'s Dukes actions figures were released.  I love those pictures.


Along with the huge 1/10 General Lee, there was a 1/18 scale remote control (radio control?) car released.  It also came in TV and movie varieties.


The 1/18 RC is, obviously, the same size as the 1/18 decasts that have dominated this hobby since 2000.


The car is very similar to the 1/18s.  The most noticeable difference is the blacked out windows.  Bo and Luke might have some trouble jumping through those.


The push bar is a little different on this car as it has a bottom piece that seems actually designed to push things out of the way.  This is a toy designed to be played with after all.  The front flag plate is (mistakenly) attached.


The 1/18 version does have the CNH320 plate on the back, where the 1/10 does not.


The controller is a little more detailed than its 1/10 brother.  The wheel used to turn the car actually has a Vector wheel built in.  That is a very nice touch by the designers of this toy.


 The 1/10 version is a little bigger than the 1/18.


This car comes with a little box that plays Dixie.  Maybe adding the function to the car or the controller was too expensive, or they forgot until the end.  I guess you are supposed to carry this little box around and hit the button when you hit a jump.  That's a lot of controlling and button pushing.  Yeehaw!


 This one also plays the horn three times.  Weird.


The boxes for the 1/18 are very similar, just movie and TV designed.


They are nearly identical to the 1/10 versions, just smaller.  They have the same pictures and write-ups.


The final offering from Malibu International came out a year later in 2006.  It is the "Realistic Light and Sound Action General Lee" commonly referred to as the light and sound General Lee.  It only came in TV show variety.


It has a very similar box to most modern 1/18s from Ertl, JL, and Autoworld, as well as the 1/18 RC.


This car, as the name suggests, lights up and plays sounds.  There is also a try me area to the box.


This means the batteries are, again, already installed.  There is a little tab in place that separates the connection inside and won't let the buttons work while it is there.  I wonder if that tab will stop the batteries from draining and corroding after time.  I doubt it.


I think the three sounds chosen are the best three sounds you could pick.


The back of the box is the same as the RC car.  In fact it's the same pictures of the product.  It seems that this car shares the same body with the RC.  The little hole where the pull tab is is the same hole the antenna came through on the RC.




The bottom of this car has a little more detail as there are fewer moving parts inside.  





 As you press a button, the lights blink and a sound is played.  Thankfully, this one only plays Dixie once.  The motor revving is a nice recording, but I'm not crazy about the yeehaw.  It doesn't sound like either Duke Boy and was obviously recorded for this toy by someone trying too hard.


The reason I suspect that Malibu International is a subsidiary of some parent company of Ertl and JL is because these cars is nearly identical to the standard 1/18 diecasts, except made of plastic.  Now you may be thinking, of course they are similar, they are all the Gen'ral, but look at the differences between the standard 1/25 and the Danbury Mint General Lee and you will see what I mean.


Every detail of the 1/18 diecast is replicated on the Malibu International toys.  Somebody was working together from both companies to make these plastic versions.  The Malibu light and sound is on top and a standard Ertl 1/18 is on the bottom.


The decals, the details, the windshield wipers, the gas cap, they are all the same pieces.


I really like these toys.  And that's what they are, toys.  They are made to be played with and opened, not made for a collector to keep unopened.  I bought several when they were first released and did play with a 1/18 RC but the act of using the reverse function as a brake quickly broke the little gear used as a drive train.  I took one apart and found the pieces used weren't the highest quality.  If you're looking for quality RC cars, these aren't it.  They make better additions to the collection than actually ramp jumpers.  I've had them for a little over ten years now and so far the batteries inside are still good.  I wonder how they'll be ten years from now.

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