July 8th Matchbox Ambassador Update: A sneak peek at the upcoming Gathering exclusives, plus a background of the Type 34 Karmann Ghia…

Greetings fellow collectors…

We are now less than two weeks away from the Matchbox Collectors International Gathering of Friends in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  In the Matchbox world this is a big deal, not only for those attending, but for any Matchbox fan from around the world.  For those of us attending, it means the chance to see some old friends, make new ones, immerse ourselves in the hobby for a few days (i.e. geek out with fellow geeks), pick the brains of the Mattel folk, and even come home with some new additions to the collection.

For those not attending, it is still significant because this is the time that Mattel gives a sort of “State of the Business” presentation, and previews the upcoming year.  By this time in two weeks we should have a good idea of what new models are slated for 2014, as well as where the brand as a whole is headed.  These presentations have taken on a little more significance with the Matchbox brand in a bit of a transition currently, so anyone with any vested interest in Matchbox is bound to be paying attention.

With all that said, the Matchbox team has already given us a handful of 2014 sneaks.  No new tools, but new decos, and the response so far from collectors appears to be pretty positive.  This week, because of the July 4th holiday, the folks at Mattel took a long 4-day weekend, and weren’t able to prepare any sneaks.  For me it is not a huge deal, as there is a lot coming very soon.

But never fear, we still have some stuff to show.

We mentioned that one aspect of the Gathering that many look forward to is the Mattel-produced exclusives.  Mattel goes all out on these, and the results are always nothing short of stunning.

Well, I got the word from event organizer Jim Gallegos that the exclusives have arrived in Albuquerque, so I asked him if we could preview them for all the world to see.  Surprisingly, Jim obliged.  He waited for the perfect light, found a perfect background, and took the clearest photos he could.  He photographed both the Dinner Model and the Dealer Model, and I have to say, these two are complete stunners.  Just see for yourself:

2013 International Matchbox Collectors Gathering of Friends Dinner Model:

2013 International Matchbox Collectors Gathering of Friends Dealer Model:

Yes, Jim might have gotten a little too happy with the crop function on his photo-editing software, but you get the gist.  These models are beautiful.  You can see that the Matchbox team put thought into every detail, and the results are jaw-dropping.

Jim usually keeps these a secret until right up to the Saturday night dinner, but I am thankful he let us see them here first.

Jim also let me in on another exciting development for this year’s Gathering.  I will let him announce it:

Come see the Matchbox 1:1 scale Ford F350 Superlift at the Matchbox Collectors International Gathering of Friends Convention.  19-21 July in Albuquerque.  The Mattel Team and all the top collectors from around the world will be in attendance. 

We’ve seen a lot of cars that were made into toys and scale models, but what about the other way around? Well, Superlift Suspension Systems did just that with its Matchbox F-350 Brush Truck, which made its debut at the 2011 SEMA Show.  Superlift, Matchbox and Ford got together to create what could very possibly be the world’s most bad-ass brush truck using a 2011 F-350 Super Duty as the base chassis. The truck wears an astonishing 10-inch lift and 41-inch Interko IROK tires. A full tube exo-cage helps protect the PPG “Oh So Orange” paint, and a smattering of lights and sirens ensure that everyone will see this emergency vehicle coming.

A full fire-fighting utility bed, complete with water tanks, pumps and hoses, sits ready to take on brush fires and the like, and a front-mounted water canon means that the Matchbox brush truck can tackle flames going and coming.  Not only that, but this full-sized truck drove off with a Ford Product Excellence Award.

Created as a concept by Matchbox, the Superlift’s R&D team turned it into a full-sized, drivable reality using a 2011 Ford F-350.

Also, s
eminars, in room trading, auction, a custom contest, friends and collectors from around the world come to this one of a kind event. 

The Bernalillo County and Albuquerque Fire Departmant Ladder Trucks, Albuquerque Police Department and other emergency vehicles will be present.  Free fingerprinting for children available.

Contact Jim Gallegos @ matchb0x1@aol.com or call 505-892-8848 for details.
*All proceeds from this event go to support Rachel’s Courtyard Children’s Hospital.

How cool is that?  I hope someone leaves the keys in the ignition because I am fixin’ for a joyride.

I know I can speak for the Mattel team when I say that they are very excited to join the collecting world in Albuquerque this year, and I am sure a blast will be had by all…

Before I close this update, I thought it was appropriate to share this article which was written for the Lamley Group Blog and posted last week.  I had asked Lee Hedges, one of the foremost experts on the Volkswagen Type 34 Karmann Ghia, to give us a background on the car, which has just recently been released as a Matchbox model.  The Type 34 is nearly as well known as its Type 14 cousin, so Lee’s insights are great for those of us wanting to learn more about a model that is easily going to be one of the most popular in 2013.

Here is Lee’s article:

The Karmann Ghia is a combination of the famous Carrozzeria Ghia design firm in Turin Italy and the coachbuilding expertise of Wilhelm Karmann in Osnabrück Germany.  The first version of the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is known as the Type 14, and it was first released in 1955.  It’s 20-year production ran through 1974 with 445,000 units built.  In 1961 the second version of Karmann Ghia was introduced, known as the Type 34 (T34.  It was based on the VW 1500 (Type 3) series with flatter larger engine, squarer design, and fitted with many more standard features.  The T34 was the most expensive Volkswagen model available during its 8-year production from 1962-69 and only 42,505 units were built, 10% of the T14 production.  T34s were never officially exported to America.  A Cabriolet version was designed in 1961 and 15 units were built in October-November 1962 but VW quickly shut-down the production.  Only six of the original 15 have survived today, all living in Germany.  An electric-sunroof option was offered (2% of production) and it was the second vehicle ever to be fitted with an electric sliding roof.  It’s styling was considered cutting-edge in 1961 with its unique front nose design, tiny pillars, & huge greenhouse cockpit.  Today there are estimated to be 2500 T34s that have survived of the original 42,000.  Rust is a common issue with the coachbuilt body design and the lack of spare parts makes restoring one extremely difficult & expensive.  The international organization for T34 owners is T34 World (www.T34World.org) and they celebrated its 50th Anniversary in Germany with 154 T34s participating in the weekend events, setting a new world record the most T34s at one event.

The Matchbox 1:64 scale Type 34 Cabriolet model is the newest one for owners & collectors.  It was chosen to complement the T14 Cabriolet design from 2009.  For Mattel designers to have chosen the Cabriolet over the Coupe is interesting, since the Cabriolet had limited production & public awareness.  But the Cabriolet model allows enhanced visibility for the interior and makes it an instant collectible.  The design is true to the original with the four headlight design, beltline crease all the way around the body, the round tail lights, and the thin top boot design.  The solid black interior makes it difficult to see the details.  The light blue exterior paint mimics the Pacific Blue used on 1962-64 T34 models.  And the chromed bumpers with integrated bumper guards and front turn signal lights give it a polished appearance.

What about the details?  Are there any features that are not true to the original design?  Interestingly, the Matchbox Cabriolet top design was based on a handmade Cabriolet and not the original one, evidenced by the lack of inner top frame design which resulted in a thinner rear seat design.  This model also features dual side mirrors, of which only the driver’s side was standard equipment.  The tiny door locks molded into the rear armrest pads were used in 1967-69 models, previously the locks were integrated into the inner door pull lever.  The headlight detail is interesting as well, featuring separated “projector-type” beams with separate chrome rings.  Although difficult to produce in a $1 model, the side mirror was originally an aluminum head, not painted to match the body in this model.

There’s no doubt that the new Matchbox T34 Cabriolet will be customized based on owner’s personal cars.  For T34 model collectors there have been two T34 Cabriolets built over the past 50 years.  The first was a zinc white metal kit by DUE based on the Corgi model in the 1987.  The second was a cast resin version by Serata in Japan in 2005.  And of course there have been many personalized Cabriolet conversions of the Coupes, especially the Minichamps models due to their extremely detailed interior design.  A colorful variety of scale T34 Cabriolet models are below, from Lee Hedges’ personal collection.

In-scale models of T34s are rare, however there are over 200 different models produced from 1963 to 2013.  The largest scale models are the 1:18th scale plastic ones built by Struxy in Germany.  The slightly smaller 1:21st scale tin Coupes were made by Ichiko & Shimazaki, and are most often seen in police colors.  Minichamps has been offering a 1:44th scale model since 2001.  The 1:47th scale models were built by Corgi and featured die-cast metal body with opening front & rear hoods and a clear engine lid.  The 1:61st scale models were built by Siku in a zinc casting with opening doors & rhinestone headlights.  There are several HO 1:87th scale models including the plastic kits built by FM2, Praline, & Busch. 

So a bit of a makeshift report today, but I think there are plenty of good tidbits in there.  I will be back with my final update next Monday, and then it is off to Albuquerque.
Until then…

4 Replies to “July 8th Matchbox Ambassador Update: A sneak peek at the upcoming Gathering exclusives, plus a background of the Type 34 Karmann Ghia…”

  1. Now that's funny!!!!!! And Pamela has seen a lot of action at the implant factory! As you see I used my words very carefully…. This is a family blog!!! Isn't it??????

  2. I think they oughta make the T34 Coupe along with the Cabrio. Realistically, that might be a long shot, the way Matty (Mattel) operates. However, seeing how the coupe looks, it just feels a little empty without it.

  3. Superlift…. Superlift…. Superlift…. drool…. I only hope I actually spend some time indoors enjoying the company of “geeks” when this 1:1 toy is on the scene! Somebody get a picture of me with that Ford!

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