It is always interesting to look at models with very short lifespans. Both Mattel brands are littered with them. Some are one-and-done, others go through a couple of redesigns and disappear, and so on.
It appears that in most cases, the disappearance of a casting has to do with licensing issues. Sometimes a car company does not like how a casting turned out after it was first released, sometimes a license cannot get renewed, and other times it just has to do with a change in personnel and how they do business.
Recently Mattel has had licensing disagreements with BMW (resolved) and Mercedes-Benz (ongoing) that have deprived us of castings of those great cars. Another was Subaru, which has been resolved as well and Matchbox collectors finally have the Impreza police back in the lineup.
Today’s MotD is another. Matchbox’s Alfa casting was wildly popular with collectors right from its debut in 2007. It surprisingly didn’t stay on the pegs long in the US, where familiarity with the car is very low.
What we are showing here is the last of seven versions of the casting, released in the Superfast line in 2008. The reason this model is no longer produced is simple. Back when Alfa Romeo was approached by Mattel, there was a different licensing staff. The model was approved, and the Matchbox team was ready to give the casting a long life with many versions, some stock and some not. In fact the first version of the model was an exclusive release for the 2007 Matchbox Gathering of Friends convention, and was done in a racing deco with spectraflame copper paint. The first two basic models were red, and then recolored white, both stock colors.
In the meantime, the licensing staff at Alfa was replaced, and their approach was much more strict. What Mattel either did not know, or did not think mattered, is that the actual 1965 Alfa Giulia Sprint GTA was only produced in two colors: red and white. The Alfa licensing staff wanted to stick with that and only allowed Matchbox to produce the model in those two colors. Mattel tried to get creative, and released a basic range Alfa in pearl white, but that was squashed as well. If you were really lucky, you found the pearl Alfa in very early batches.
Seeing that Alfa was playing hardball, Mattel produced a couple more versions in either plain white or red, and then retired the casting after the Superfast version. There is a rumor that the casting was retooled to an Alfa Junior in order to produce more colors, but I think those plans are dead for now.
So we only have the eight versions, counting the pearl white variation, and of those the last one is my favorite. It is highly detailed, and the disk wheels look perfect. In time we will feature all of the eight Alfas, but for now let’s start with the best one.
Matchbox 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA (2008 Superfast):