When Matchbox released the Austin Mini Van for the first time in 2007, amid the excitement that collectors had for the model was the anticipation of a future version in panda livery.
Panda livery? Well I know some of you know what I am referring to. Others, especially those that share a passion for JDM with Lamley, might link the term “panda” to the black and white design on the AE86. In this case, we are talking about the small British police cars that sported either a black-and-white or light blue-and-white design. These were not used for pursuits, but rather community patrolling. Why ride a bike when you could rumble around town in a car with the power of a 4-wheel bike? There were a few cars that sported the panda livery, and the Austin Mini Van was one.
So collectors assumed that day would come, when the Mini Van casting would go as British as British could be and dress as a panda. And they waited, and waited, and waited, until Matchbox surprised them in 2011 with a beautiful panda version in the Lesney lineup.
And it was worth the wait. The model got the full 4-sided treatment and a metal base sporting a brand new tow hook. The model is a complete beauty, and we aren’t the only ones that think so. The panda Mini was a fast mover on the pegs, and is easily one of the most difficult Lesney Edition models to acquire second-hand today.
But it is worth it if you can find it. (In the meantime, it is probably a wise idea to grab the other Lesney Edition models before they vanish as well. Our Matchbox Monday partner, MVE Collectibles, has a fair amount of Lesney Editions left, as well as a ton of other hard-to-find Matchbox and other brands. I hope you check them out…)
Matchbox Austin Mini Van Panda Police Car (2011 Lesney Edition):