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)
2014 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD
Sea Spy (inflatable boat)
Ford F350 Stake Bed Truck
Mini Dozer (pictured in the display, not here as it is going through major modifications)
Mound Mover (wheeled bulldozer)
’63 Mack Pumper Model B
Military Dune Buggy
Crime Crusher (police car)
Rapids Rescue (rescue truck with raft on top)
Toyota Tacoma Life Guard
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:
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)
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…