September 8 Matchbox Ambassador Update, by Nigel Cooper…

Ambassador Report 3
Thank you again for your responses. Keep them coming. I can take both comment and criticism! Although most collectors deduced correctly that the colour schemes for last week’s models were those for 2014, I may have caused a little confusion with the red Ambulance because the 2013 version is the orange and white version which had been shown previously. The three Police models could appear in the same set.
I have forwarded many of your questions to Mattel but await their reply together with photos of new items as indicated below.
I have received your messages that were sent while I was on vacation last week.  We all have returned from the Labor day holiday today so I have been digging thru my 278 e-mail messages. Please let me review these latest batch of questions for your next report.  We also have photographed the latest ton of sample images which should be very exciting.I will digest this latest batch.
I do have two models to show you in the form of MB-31 Amphiflyer (MB890), a new casting, which may also be known as Coast Guard Hovercraft  and MB-99 Desert Thunder V16 (MB712), a recolour.

Many collectors felt that the first Hovercraft to join the miniature range in 1972 was of far too small a scale in comparison to the rest of the series, though it was a reasonable copy of the Hovercraft SRN6. However, the real vehicle quickly became the most produced and successful hovercraft design in the world. The miniature version must have sold well as it remained in the range for seven years in the same colour scheme and only minor modifications.   It was even produced in the Super Kings range in 1974 and a second miniature version was released in 1977, which shared the same base design.  A pre-production version of MB72 was shown in the catalogue and an interesting blister card is shown below together with some pre-production examples of the MB 2 Hovercraft. Of course there have been Hovercrafts in the range recently and it is interesting to see how Matchbox Hovercrafts have evolved over the years.

The Desert Thunder has undergone a variety of colour schemes since its introduction and this design is certainly eye-catching.
I have been overwhelmed by the number of responses on various websites and sent to me personally. I appreciate that you may have read some of these but here is a sample of comments relative to my previous report.
  I’ve translated your recent two reports into Chinese and shared with my colleagues. If you don’t object, I will continue my translations. I have a question which other members may also have. I noticed that some newly issued 2013 copyrighted models, the new MB878 Jeep 4×4 for example, have a new Matchbox logo style. It looks like the old Lesney italic logo without frame during mid-1970s and early 1980s, but interestingly the registered symbol “R” and its circle is replaced with “TM”. As I know, “Matchbox” is a registered trademark owned by Mattel, and it should be with “R” instead of “TM”. Only some creative/non-authentic models such as the “MBX Coupe” will have a “TM” beside the name in honor of its intellectual property. Hence, I don’t understand why Mattel changed it for the 2013/2014 new tools or retools. Is it a mistake? Thanks,Lingyun – China 
  I just re looked at the models and noticed the ambulance has “Matchbox Tri-County Department” on the shield, wouldn’t something like “Matchbox Tri-County Fire Department” or just “Matchbox Fire Department” make more sense?
   Our local Rural King store just got in a large batch of RWR’s including the Fire Stalker. They have a fairly large amount of other matchbox as well. I don’t know if other Rural King stores are the same though. They’re priced at $5 each. No Mission Force sets though.
   Oh, as far as the cement mixer goes, I wish I had bought one or two of those when they were in stores… of course, I would’ve been too young to even know they existed back then, let alone have money to spend on them… I look at photos of them today and think it has what I most like about diecast toys, it is a realistic MODEL of something that is real (and that I have used throughout my life, even as recently as this summer). That, to me, is what makes Matchbox (and much of the HW line) worthy of constant trips to stores and constant deductions from my billfold.
  It is nice to see the response from Mattel on different items. I can see where business on their end and a hobby on our end, have to meet in the middle. I appreciate the thought going into the end product like the F-100 vs some crazy graphics nobody wants. Keep up the good work.
  First off, I’m very fond of the new decos on the 3 emergency models shown, but even with these nice graphics I’ll agree with others that it would have been nice to have the Explorer in a more stock body style.      
   I didn’t realize any of what Mattel shared about the SKU’s and recolors, and I guess the Mbx team is limited because of this……..It’s always interesting to learn how these things work.
  I am with you on RWR’s. I’m upset to see them go, and this does bring up a burning question that I have. Will Mission Force Sets have a price decrease? RWR’s retailed at a price of $3.99 at Target/Wal-Mart originally, so that was their true retail price. However, the RWR is now being replaced with two mainline models, each retailing at $0.97 each. So, there’s a $2 loss in value. Will this be deducted from the final cost? And when will another store, preferably Target or Wal-mart, pick up these sets again? Like you said, Nigel, they are way too expensive at Kohl’s. $15 is too much. They retailed originally at Target and Wal-Mart for $9.99, their true retail price. I am really looking for an answer to this quibble. We should have a price decrease on these!

  It is interesting to hear about SKU’s. Thanks for the info. I’ll bring up another burning question I have, somewhat relative to this. Why are 5-packs continuing with the 4 5-packs having only basic 1/120 models and the other 8 with 1 basic 1/120 model for 2014? Originally, Matchbox said this was to make room for the 60th Anniversary Series. But, like I knew it was going to happen, it stayed in 2014 even though there is NO collector line or any new series. Why can’t we have all exclusive 5-packs again? Did the SKU number drop from 2013 to 2014?

  As for the retooling I will wait till I see the changes to pass judgement on most of them but I can say that the Dennis Sabre should definitely be left alone, swapping a diecast body for plastic is just not on and is more evidence of the destruction of what used to be the “greatest name in diecast” surely it would be better for Mattel to take a stance against Wal-Mart or whomever is dictating their prices and say enough is enough, we can no longer cheapen our product to meet a ridiculous price point. The quality must rise and so must the price, the rest of the world is paying a higher price for Matchbox than those in the USA and it is time they come in to line with the rest of us and accept a higher price.
  I went to Hamleys yesterday, went up to the fourth floor, and there was a separate ‘Matchbox’ display, Wow! I thought. Then I had a good look and there were no 60thanniversary models at all and of the four sides of the display , only 3 were Mattel goods. Hamley’s had used one side to put some crappy RC models in. Sadly the Hotwheels display was vastly better, with an illuminated display case with loads of unboxed models. Reminded me of a MB display from the 70’s.  Both MB and HW models were £3 a pop!  (That’s $4.50 each to our US cousins!!)
  I just photographed a bunch of MATCHBOX FEP vehicles this week (final 2013 and a few 2014) so our new Ambassador will be receiving them by next week I imagine. Patience certainly is a virtue! Lol!  (not arrived as yet!).  On a totally different topic, … I am currently working on the decoration for the final 9/10 pack exclusive vehicle – anyone have a suggestion on what color to make the body? Damn, what a tease! The color has already been selected and I am just now putting the final touches on it. Maybe a hint is in order…. I was inspired by a Brush Fire Truck I saw parked in the parking lot at the Albuquerque convention back in July. I am NOT referring to the Orange “BEAST” parked in front of the hotel lobby.
Peg Warmers and Rare as Hen’s teeth
This has proved more difficult than I imagined as some describe the Peg Warmers asCadillac CTS Wagons and Fisker Karma with reports as far away as Wales and New Zealand. Others have said that the Fisker in particular flies off the shelves.
  I never did find the Fargo Police Interceptor from 2011, as was the same as the black & white police Buick issued last year. The 100th Anniversary Pierce seems to be a hot seller as well, at least I’d only ever seen one on the pegs. And actually, most every emergency issue seems to do sell out fairly fast, some a little slower, but most go quick, and few if any have ever warmed pegs for months at a time. The slow stuff, well the Coyote, as mentioned, each and every version has been slow.
  Some stores still have Coyote 200/300/500 or whatever the real designation is from about two years ago or more, hanging around and not even being sold for “half off” when offered. I wonder just what Mattel sees in the model that brought another recolor into the latest batch (K?)… but then, maybe around these parts ORVs are so commonplace that an imaginary toy can’t compete with reality, so they don’t sell. (The most common ORVs that I see around here are Jeeps and 4-wheeler ATVs, so maybe that’s why the Coyote is a shelf loser… even kids don’t see it as a “real” off-road vehicle.)
   As far as peg-warmers go: Coyote 500. MASSIVE peg-warmer. We STILL have 2012 Coyote’s hanging on the pegs at my local Target. At least 5 of them. And, at my local Stop & Shop, there are several 2012 mainlines hanging on the pegs and even the 2011 mainlines! It is a horrid seller. It may have to do with the designs, but I really believe that it has to do with the model itself. As far as hot-sellers; I’d have to say that most of the 4×4 stuff shoots out like a rocket. I hate to say it, but its true. It’s actually been super easy to grab Ghia’s around here. They stay longer than the Dump Dozer does.
   Much to my surprise the Dump Dozer flies off pegs and the VW Type 34 Karmann Ghia that debuted in 2013 remains on the pegs.
Matchbox Video
Finally I received an email from Dirk including a very interesting youtube Matchbox video. He said I could use the video in my report. He had bought an old super 8 movie and transferred it to a digital format. He likes the Uncle Sam part!!
Cast your mind back to a time when Matchbox advertisements were like this:

I understand there will be a Code 1 model at the Leipzig Show. It is a limited edition like last years Seagrave and comes in crystal case. Collectors can get it at the 
fair ground (all infos on or later  
in the

The models associated with previous Leipzig shows from the 1-75 series are:

First was a Mercedes CLS in cream silver in blue paper box – 1500pcs
Than a Karmann in green 150 pcs
Then a Volvo in copper 500 pcs
Last year a Seagrave 500pcs
And this year  a red…………… new casting this year … 500 pcs

Next week I hope to have more photographs and I promise not to ramble on so much.
Nigel Cooper
September 2013

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