When it comes to collecting variations and rare models, collectors almost always think of Hot Wheels. But in the last few years there have been some very rare Matchbox models as well.
I will try to profile a few of them as we move along on this blog, so why not start with two of the rarest and most highly sought-after Matchbox models of the Mattel era.
“Chilean” Austin Mini Van:
Maybe the king of rare Mattel Matchbox models.
It is not exactly known what this model was scheduled to be a part of, but it was eventually scrapped by Mattel. But enough were made that Mattel decided to release it as a 10-pack exclusive. They announced it by way of the Matchbox Ambassador, and told collectors to start looking for it in 10-packs. A couple of months later, they changed the story, and said it would not be in 10-packs, but instead in ROW (rest-of-world) 3-packs.
It was about then that MCCH collector Viva Chile (Ramon Rivera) stated that he had found a few of the 3-packs at a toy store in Santiago, Chile. No one thought anything of it, until months and months went by and no others had been found anywhere. It was eventually dubbed the Chilean Mini, and it was only reported found by Ramon in Santiago. Finally one turned up in Switzerland about a year later, but that is all that has been reported. Whatever happened to the rest is unknown, but there is probably a very good chance a few of these are enjoying life the toyboxes of several Chilean children.
Ramon did donate a couple of the packs to the MCCH Gathering a few years ago, and they fetched very high prices in auction.
Life EMS Promotional Model:
Like the Chilean Mini, there is a mystery behind this model. It was produced as a give-away for the Life EMS Ambulance company, supposedly given to employees sometime in 2011. Life EMS is owned by the same people who own Meijers grocery stores in the US midwest, and Mattel stated that this model would also be available for sale at Meijers. It never happened. The only time this model was found was in VERY small numbers at Mattel stores. There has never been any report of them showing up at Meijers, and nothing on ebay from Life EMS employees looking to sell.
The model pictured belongs to MCCH member canadiancatgreen, who won it on an MCCH raffle. There are only a handful of others known. Matchbox and emergency collectors are still looking high and low. There might be cases of them hidden at some Meijers warehouse somewhere, so many hold out hope that they will turn up. It is looking less and less likely.