Majorette is a French toy manufacturer which mostly produces small die-cast cars and other construction and military vehicles, particularly in 1:64 scale. This is a normal 2.5–3 in (64–76 mm) size, thus Majorette has sometimes been called the Matchbox Toys of France. Traditionally, production was centered in the urban area of Lyon, but models are now made in Thailand.
The company was founded in 1961 by Emile Véron, of the family that also created Norev (the Véron family name spelled backwards). Initially, model railways and accessories were made and the firm was known as Rail-Route. By 1964, the first cars came to market, and in 1967, the name was changed to Majorette.
Majorette became the main French manufacturer of Matchbox-sized miniature vehicles (scale variously pegged to 3 inches long). The company soon became the largest French toy car manufacturer. The main competition was Matchbox of Hackney, London, but also German Siku and later, conceptually, Japanese Tomica. Though French cars like Peugeot and Renault were emphasized, other licensed marques included European brands, and North American vehicles from General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. Japanese Nissan and Toyota are also represented.
At the end of 1980, Majorette purchased revered diecast producer Solido. About this same time, the Portuguese company Novacar was also purchased and Majorette production commenced in Portugal. Besides their important domestic presence, Majorette relies heavily on commercial sales to foreign markets. In 1982, Majorette USA was established in Miami, Florida, but that extension was relatively short-lived as Majorettes were not heavily retailed in the U.S. through the 1990s and 2000s. Majorette was purchased by Smoby in 2003. In 2008, there was talk that Majorette, then called Smoby-Majorette, was to be divorced from Smoby and sold to MI29, a French investment fund which owns Bigben Interactive for €3,900,000. This venture was abandoned in 2009 when Majorette found itself insolvent again, and through a tribunal at the commercial court of Paris, a sale was granted to Simba-Dickie, who bought Smoby. Majorette and Solido today remain a part of the Simba-Dickie group, which is more commonly called Dickie Toys.