July 22nd Matchbox Ambassador Update: Upcoming 2014 New Models andeverything else from the 2013 MC Gathering of Friends…

Greetings fellow collectors…

It is early Monday morning, I am sitting in my brother’s basement in Durango, Colorado, and I am finally finishing up my last report as Matchbox Ambassador.  It was a whirlwind weekend at the Matchbox Collectors International Gathering of Friends in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and sleep was not as high on the priority list as it probably should have been.  I am feeling that now, and the 6-hour drive later today from Durango to Salt Lake City somehow does not seem that appealing.

But I know I am not the only one returning home today to whatever state or country they live in a complete daze.  It was a fantastic weekend as usual, wonderfully hosted by Jim and Vicki Gallegos, and it was also full of good little tidbits from Mattel’s Dave Weiss, Michael Heralda, and Andrew Vranicar.

That is my final task, to try and break down all the info presented by Mattel at the Gathering and pass it on to you.  Then I will happily take my stroll into the sunset to join my fellow seven former Ambassadors in the great toy room in the sky, and watch the newest Ambo, Nigel Cooper, take the reigns.

Yes, THAT Nigel Cooper.  If you have collected Matchbox for any significant amount of time, you are aware of that name.  Nigel is one of the foremost experts on Matchbox, and well he should be, as he has collected and written about Matchbox for at least the last 35 years.  His perspective on the current line will be truly unique, and surely very informative.  Given that we are still entrenched in the 60th Anniversary celebration of Matchbox, the fact that Nigel hails from the UK, the birthplace of Matchbox, and knows the brand as well as anyone, Nigel was Mattel’s choice to serve as the 9th Matchbox Ambassador.  And a great choice indeed.

I had several chances this weekend to talk with Nigel, and he takes over as soon as I post this report.  We have made arrangements to ensure that no matter by what method you read the Ambassador Reports, whether it be on forums, through email, club newsletters, by way of Facebook or Twitter, or here at Lamley, that will continue.  Nigel might add a few more methods as well.  I have offered my full support to Nigel, and as is tradition with the Ambassadors, will do all I can to help make Nigel’s tenure the best we have had.

And in case you are wondering, the list of the nine Ambassadors goes like this, in order:

2005/06 John Yanouzas
2006/07 Jim Gallegos
2007/08 David Tilley
2008/09 Terry Ozima
2009/10 John Nijhus
2010/11 Chuck Wiersma
2011/12 Shabbir Malik
2012/13 John Lambert
2013/14 Nigel Cooper

Once again, a hearty congrats to Nigel, and I look forward to his time as Ambassador.

So there is your first bit of news.  Now on to the all the other morsels of upcoming Matchbox.

The presentation began with a bird’s eye view of the brand presented by Andrew Vranicar of the Matchbox marketing team.  The brand will continue into 2014 with its “Unstoppable Vehicles for Heroic Adventures” branding tag, and will consist of three main product lines: Core (basic vehicles), Sky Busters, and Rugged Vehicles.

The Matchbox logo will also go through another change, but one that I think will be welcomed by collectors.  The lozenge is back, in familiar Matchbox colors and font, and will obviously be seen all over the 2014 line.  You can see it here as part of 2014 display brought by Mattel to the dinner:

Basic packaging will also look different in 2014.  The logo will be featured at the top of the card instead of down the side, and artwork for each vehicle will continue.

Dave then took over to present the new tools for 2014.  There will be four major categories in the basic lineup – Explorers, Construction, Heroic Rescue, and Adventure City.  Dave mentioned that the word “industrial” comes to mind when looking at the 2014 lineup, and after seeing the models, that is very clear.  There is a heavy emphasis on large utility vehicles, particularly construction, and they are designed with kid’s perspective in mind (think about how a 5-year-old would look up at a truck).  They are big, they are tough, and they can go just about anywhere.

There are 26 new tools for 2014, and 7 of them are licensed vehicles.  The list is below, with a little bonus treat this year: Dave allowed me access to the 15 preproduction models he brought for the display, and I was able to photograph closeups of all of them.  The models were behind plexiglass at the presentation, so these closeups are for those that attended the Gathering as well.

Keep in mind that these are early prototypes or 3D prints, and modifications are entirely possible.  Photos are shown with permission from Mattel.  The list of new models is as follows, with accompanying photos when available:

Travel Tracker (Safari Truck)


Exploration Truck

2014 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD

Rumble Raider

Sea Spy (inflatable boat)


Ford F350 Stake Bed Truck

Long-Nosed Tractor


Auger (Drill)

Mini Dozer (pictured in the display, not here as it is going through major modifications)

Tracked Tractor

Mound Mover (wheeled bulldozer)

Heroic Rescue:

’63 Mack Pumper Model B

Military Dune Buggy

Crime Crusher (police car)

Rapids Rescue (rescue truck with raft on top)

Rescue ATV

Toyota Tacoma Life Guard

Battle Tank

Adventure City:
Mega School Bus

2014 VW Bulli (Concept or production still being developed)

Front-Loading Garbage Truck

Land Rover LR4

Alfa Romeo 4C

There is the list.  You can see the push towards big, tough, utility vehicles, with an Italian beauty mixed in.

And if you want to copy and paste the list without the photos, here it is again:

Travel Tracker
Exploration Truck
2014 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD
Rumble Raider
Sea Spy – inflatable Boat
Ford F350 Stake Bed 
Long Nosed Tractor
Auger (Drill)
Mini Dozer
Tracked Tractor
Mound Mover (wheeled bulldozer)
Heroic Rescue:
63 Mack Pumper Model B
Military Dune Buggy
Crime Crusher (police car)
Rapids Rescue (rescue truck with raft on top)
Rescue ATV
Toyota Tacoma Life Guard
Battle Tank
Adventure City:
Mega School Bus
2014 VW Bulli Concept
Front Loading Garbage Truck
Land Rover LR4
Alfa Romeo 4C

And news from the two other product lines:

Sky Buster new tools:

Gee Bee R
Virgin Atlantic Spaceship Two
Sky Shredder helicopter (non-licensed)
Fire Rescue Plane (non-licensed)

Rugged Diecast:

A new line of non-licensed 1:24 scale models, all parallel with the “Unstoppable” theme.  They will be large trucks with large wheels, mostly metal with rubber tires and articulated stirring.  Think big vehicles for kids to play with inside and outside.

There will also be five new Creature Catcher sets, this time with vehicles that capture creatures from the air and sea.

The team also brought several FEP’s for display, including some 2013 models that collectors have been eagerly awaiting:

I took a few pics of some notables:


Dodge Charger Police

Dodge A100 Pickup


That last model?  The new Questor, in National Parks livery, should be out in late 2013, early 2014.  The others are coming very soon.

There are a lot more sneaks, news, and other tidbits to come, and that will fall on the shoulders of #9.

Now on to a few more goodies from the Gathering.  Obviously, the unveiling of the Mattel-produced models is always a big deal, and Jim Gallegos and the team did not disappoint:

Dinner Model – Routemaster Bus

In keeping with the 60th Anniversary celebration, Matchbox’s UK roots were recognized with the selection with one of the most British of vehicles, the Double Decker Bus.  And British it is.

Early Registration Variant – Routemaster Bus:

One of the reasons to sign up for the Gathering early is to be one of the lucky recipients of the Early Registrant variant on the Dinner Model.  The first 75 registrants were given this stunning Zamac version of the Dinner Bus, and if I dare offer my opinion, I like it even more.

Dealer Model – ’56 Buick Century:

Another beauty was handed out to those that reserved dealer tables at the Toy Show.  The Buick was done in Fire livery to pay homage to Jim Gallegos’ cousin who served as Chief of the Duran Fire Department in Torrance County, and who passed away unexpectedly last year.  It is a beautiful model, and unsurprisingly was a huge hit with those in attendance.

There was one other Matchbox model given out at the dinner, and I forgot to photograph it in the studio.  I will have to save it for another photo shoot:

Lastly, many of you like to see some close-ups of the preproduction models Mattel donated to the charity auction to benefit Rachel’s Courtyard.  They didn’t disappoint.  Here are a few close-ups, including one snagged by yours truly after a battle with the 3rd Ambassador and my Lamley counterpart:

The Gathering festivities will be back next year for #12, so reserve July 18-20, 2014 on your calendars.

I think that is it.  I’m done.

Thanks again to the Mattel team for giving me this opportunity, and thanks to you collectors for all the support throughout the year.  It was an absolute blast, but I am going to enjoy having my Sunday nights back.

Nigel, you’re up…

28 Replies to “July 22nd Matchbox Ambassador Update: Upcoming 2014 New Models andeverything else from the 2013 MC Gathering of Friends…”

  1. Well it looks like another year for saving even more money, at this rate come 2016 I wont be buying ANY matchbox, far far far too many generics, far far far to many digger style models, oh well, never mind

  2. John, that fire chief Buick is one of the coolest car ever, I may have to hunt that one down. The A 100 pickup is awesome and the B Mack is one of the best models ever made. The Pierce last year was amazing, but they outdid themselves on this one. Is your blog going to keep on being on Hot Wheels web site? Mark fireracer27

  3. Well done John,going to be hard for the new chap.

    Now to the topic of Matchbox,I think Siku will be having a laugh that lot of junk in the proposed clunky look,utter rubbish.


  4. They can't get by me on the generic utility pieces. The booms need to be centered if they're on or off a turret. I think it has to do with balance of the vehicle in real life. I think on the excavator the boom is sitting on the right side of the vehicle. I realize it's small scale so the cab will force the boom to the right.

    The Tacoma is awesome even with the surf board. Can they bring the Baywatch deco back? 😛

    The Mack fire truck is perfect. A fire company by me has an antique model like that.

    The theme park by me in NJ has a Safari ride that uses the old Army Kaiser trucks in that fashion to move park guests.

    Questor looks great. The Raider truck looks like a raised version of the existing Raider generic truck.

  5. Can someone explain to me how that excavator work? See I foolishly collect Tomica's licensed construction vehicles so pardon my ignorance. How can it scoop anything with such a short arm? Why is the plow on the back? And what are those gigantic ribbed hoses? They aren't hydraulic lines.

  6. most of the 2014 new generics aren't that appeasing. maybe because there's already so many off road 4×4's in the line as of right now. so i guess i'll still for my fancy, the emergency models.

    of the 4 pictured: the 1963 Mack Fire Engine has to be one of the best looking new models i've seen in a long while. i'm hoping they put it in a pack with the classic seagrave, the buick police car, & the cadillac ambulance, that'd be one awesome pack to have all antique emergency apparatus. maybe 2015 or 2016 they can do an open cab american lafrance like my home town used to have?

    the Rescue ATV things alright. seeing some fire companies starting to get off road rescue type units so that'll be interesting as long as they dont' mess it up like the blaze buster.

    the toyota tacoma life guard truck looks really cool too.

    the battle tank…………. wait, why is a TANK in the Heroic Rescue Section? am i the only one confused by this. a war TANK in RESCUE???? Maybe it shoots water instead of bullets. Pass

    other then that maybe there will be a little light at the end of the tunnel for some realistic emergency models next year.

  7. Sad news. Clearly the instructions are to make room for Hot Wheels. Silverado, F-350, Tacoma, Mack, a Land Rover Discovery and the Lotus-esque Alfa Romeo. Nice adittions all of them, and if done as wonderfully as the Toyota, I'll try to get them all. But that is not enough for Matchbox.

    I'm worried to see the “Heroic” name return, and so many kinds of vehicles that have historically sell poorly. Mattel is going back to a failed strategy with the Matchbox brand.

    On a brighter note, I was impressed at looking at the prototypes. They looked like 3D printing prototypes, and reading the text, they are! Super cool!

  8. Thanks for your great reports this past year.

    As far as 2014 goes, I'm not into construction, heavy duty rigs so none of those tempt/interest me int he slightest. As you mentioned, they are obviously meant for kids. The fire truck, Buick and double decker buses are great and I am hoping I get a chance at them. I will also be interested in any of the American automobiles (Dodge Charger, etc) should I see them.

  9. John, tank you so much for doing such a great job keeping us informed. It's not your fault that Mattel insists on offering so many Matcdhboxes that don't appeal to us adult collectors. I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing they'd swap off some of their models between Matchbox and Hot Wheels, sending the unlicensed ones asross the hall to HW and adding some of HW's production-basedmodels to the Matchbox lineup. Still, I'm looking forward to a few of the upcoming models: The Mack pumper, the A100, the Silverado, BMW, Alfa Romeo, Charger Police car, etc. The REAL ones.

    Corvair Jim

  10. John,

    Thanks for a great year of fantastic coverage in your Ambassador role. The bar has been set once again.


  11. Someone can tell me the web page of the new ambassador?

    My favorites?
    The 2014 VW Bulli Concept, Land Rover LR4, Alfa Romeo 4C, Rescue ATV, Toyota Tacoma Life Guard, 2014 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD…
    Travel Tracker can be interesting depending the paint job…
    Best regards

  12. Ok I agree way toooo many generics but I see a few BUT just a few gems. Is it me or should. It be the other way AROUND?

  13. Having attended the Gathering myself, I can tell you that the room went silent at the Mattel presentation. I can remember previous years when there were cheers and enthusiastic applause. Not so this year. Just a preview of what's to come for the Matchbox brand.

  14. im oveer the generic models matchbox should only do real life vehicles however i do like the tacoma but id perfer it without the lifegurad stuff ion the back

  15. Matchbox needs to do more real life cars eg holden ford mercedes and give up on the generic models thats what hotwheels is for Personally they should do a police 10 pack instead of a 5 pack as every year the cars in the 5 packs get more generic

  16. I'm now interested in the BMW 1M but the problem is it's not yet available in my hometown (Fredericton,New Brunswick,Canada) so the obvious question is when will the 1Ms be sold at local retailers? I'm hoping it's prior to Christmas (though it ain't meant to be a Christmas present) but at the risk of sounding pessimistic it doesn't seem likely they will be available at my local retailers anytime soon.

  17. CAN YOU PASS ALONG THE DESIRE TO KEEp this line alive it kicked tail! AT least ask. really hope to see these models again and really need a midnight Striker.

  18. I'd like to see more vehicles like the Sahara survivor with a military theam. Or better yet, a seprate line of such vehicles done in 1/72 or 1/80 scale.

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