March 18 Matchbox Ambassador Update: New Double Decker Bus and other sneaks…

Greetings once again fellow collectors.  I hope you all have had a pleasant week.  I am happy to deliver another batch of sneak peaks this week, including another new model.

Based on the response, in the last couple of updates we have had the good (Karmann Ghia Type 34), the bad (the Dump Dozer), and the ugly (oh, that darn Dump Dozer again).  Considering those two took up all three labels, it is up to you folks where to put this next new model.

I will let you see it, and then I will let you know my opinion.

Say hello to the Two Story Bus, or the next Double Decker to bear the Matchbox name.  This is a non-licensed model made in the same styling as the buses bustling around London these days:

There are obviously two things that you will notice right off the bat:

1. It is not red.  Nope, not red.  Future versions will be, but it will debut in gold and white.

2. The body is plastic.  The base is metal, and we will get into that in a minute.

There is also one thing that you maybe cannot tell from the photos:

1. It is the same size as the current Routemaster casting, which allows you to put the two side-by-side.

Now on to what will most likely be the most talked-about aspect of the bus – the fact that it is plastic.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course, and there are many collectors out there that I highly respect who have not been happy at all with this development.

But I will ask this:  When a new Double Decker was announced for the mainline, did you expect it to be metal?  Based on the fact that certain castings are too big to be all metal, is it really a surprise?  Would you prefer that the lower half was metal, and the top half plastic?  It has been made very clear to collectors that this is a necessary move for both the blue and orange brands within Mattel in order to keep costs where they need to be for the basic ranges.  So the plastic debate can rage on among collectors, but plastic on large models is here to stay.  We all have our reasons for collecting, and metal models may be a determining factor for some.

So I hope that collectors can give a model like the new Renault Ambulance and this Double Decker a fair shake on their designs.  Like the Renault (which we will be showing on Lamley later today), I really like the Double Decker.  I think it is a welcome addition to the lineup, and makes perfect sense as a Matchbox.  Also note this one appears to have an interior, which is not something the Routemaster can boast.

Collectors, have at it.  I hope we can hear from a lot of you, whether here on the blog, or on various forums.  Of course you can make comments about the fact that it is plastic, but what else do you think? The Matchbox team is well aware of your opinions on plastic, but they are doing what they have to, and based on that, this model, at least to me, is a rousing success.

Moving on, three more sneaks for you, starting with the Ford F550 Super Duty in fire livery:

And the Rescue Helicopter, in what appears to be an EMT livery:

And finally, the Fire Stalker RWR.  This will be part of the Airport Mission Force set, which will also feature the Airport Delivery we featured two weeks ago:

12 Replies to “March 18 Matchbox Ambassador Update: New Double Decker Bus and other sneaks…”

  1. I'm not a bus guy, but the first thing I noticed about it was the interior. I don't even remember being aware the Routemaster doesn't have one (I have a Routemaster–from before the 60th Anniv. version).

    I'm still waiting for the Fire Stalker I bought online to arrive–possibly not before April, per the shipping notice (and it's here in the US! Must be coming by mule train). So it's good to see that this RWR at least has a rotating “boom”, unlike the scale model of the Colet. The yellow looks good on this model. Too bad the first Fire Stalker I see in stores may be in a Mission Force set…where it will cost as much as twice the single-issue price. Love the F550, but they could color it almost anything and I'd add it to my collection. That's what plastic model enamel is for…

  2. The new Two Story Bus is a nice looking piece for a non-licensed model – I'll refrain from calling it a casting, and I really like the gold/white scheme… But oh how the gold mid-section should be where the metal is.

    It really makes me wonder though how low Mattel will go to maintain the one dollar and change price point, as the inflation train keeps chugging. Perhaps they might consider it worthwhile to actually up costs, if it means maintaining the quality and value of their product. Which currently they seem content to let slide down the tubes. That is the wrong direction and a classic corporate mistake.

    As for the Fire Stalker RWR, it's a one of their better non-licensed models. Looks pretty fun for kids of all ages.

    – Full Flaps! on HobbyTalk

  3. the two story bus is a great model. i dont care that it's the body is plastic, as long as they get the detail to come out good. and as you mentioned it has an interior! that's great!

    the emergency vehicles (since im more of an emergency collector)
    will get the ford mini-pumper. i like the red and white mix on it
    the mission force helicopter i probably wont get
    and as for the fire stalker i probably wont get it but i'm glad they're thinking outside the box with that model & including it in an airport theme and not keeping it to an all brush theme (the telescoping boom makes it semi-resemble the airport crash tenders that we see at airports)

  4. The cheapness of both the basic Matchboxes and their counterpart, Hot Wheels, has made them my last choice in collecting diecast cars so if they want to switch to plastic then go ahead, it will just be one more reason why they will both be in last place on my collecting list. I will stick to the quality castings and happily pay the price to get the quality I want. Bottom line – why in the world would I want to collect and display something of inferior quality? I may as well collect plastic beads.

  5. It is not so much the plastic I can't stand – it is the fact that they look so obviously plastic, even from a distance. Oh, how a coat of paint could make a world of difference – for me at least. The “soft”-looking plastic Matchbox uses just cannot compare to the finish that a painted surface offers. And adding more insult, are the inevitable lines where the plastic formula/dye/etc didn't completely mix perfectly. This lines (or veins) can be seen easily in the gold portion of the bus. For those reasons, I despise Matchbox's use of plastic.
    There have been other toy cars made in plastic which are still highly desired by collectors, simply because they don't look so obviously plastic, thanks to a coat of paint (Novacar, Majorette Deluxe, and Supreme are a few examples of making plastic castings that still look great).

    I realize that because a coat of paint is another cost, as opposed to cutting another corner and just using colored plastic, that Matchbox is not likely to ever fulfill my wish for painted plastic on those models that are deemed necessary to be cast in plastic, but I really think it would make the plastic stuff more desirable.

    I do like the livery on the Ford, but again, the plasticy-looking plastic is distracting. The helicopter is just plain ugly. Helicopters aren't my thing anyway, but that casting in particular is U G L Y, ugly!

  6. Ok so we know the plastic is bad,especially since this is a die cast site. That said the bus actually looks good detail and tempo wise at first glance. That heli I have always hated. Retire it already there are better ones that have been cast. The Ford is great cause well it's a Ford barring the obvious. The Fire Stalker is a pleasant surprise. For some it may be overwhelming but considering all the forest equipment MB has been producing this fits right in. Would like to see it recolored in the forestry color and livery at some point. If MB and Mattel as a whole would get back to what is what this hobby is about,die cast things would be so much better. Leave the plastic for the wheels.

  7. You can get metal double-decker buses from souvenir shops – no reason Matchbox can't make one. Tomica still offers their London Bus(all metal, plastic base) in their numbered line-up. Stop making excuses for cheap product.

  8. The bus is going to find a good home with me. In fact, about a dozen should make it to my home. Modifications and customizing are spinning in my head, and altering plastic will be much easier than working with metal. An interior is also a big plus.
    The Fire Stalker falls into the same category, a great source of parts and some easy modifications will make it look quite different.
    Thumbs up for both.

  9. Mattel are doing their very best to destroy the brand. An all plastic double decker bus is yet another joke that has no punchline.

    These plastic mouldings (they're not castings) are cheap and nasty and will do more damage to the Matchbox brand than what the Ultra Heroes ever did.

  10. The bus is the only definite purchase for me – even with all the plastic. In the early 80s, Hot Wheels came out with a city bus casting (which looked very similar to a GMC RTS, but was generic), and every release of that bus (which was last used in the HW lineup in the early 90s) had a plastic body and metal base. It's one of my all-time favorite bus castings. So I guess that's why plastic bodies don't bother me too much when it comes to buses. Of course, it would have been much better if the lower half had been metal.


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