Feb 3rd Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Nigel Cooper…

Sorry for the tardiness.  Work had me here:

And here:

And here:

And here:

And I kept stopping to do this:

Which meant I had no time to post the Report.  But it is up now.

Ambassador Report 24
There is no feeling that can quite emulate going into a store and finding a model that you have been searching for some time on the peg. I am sure we all leave the store with a lighter step. Conversely, there is little to match a trek around a large number of stores to find precisely nothing, or worse, models from more than a year ago. The walk is then perhaps more of a shuffle or even a stamp!  Like so many others, I am very grateful to David Tilley for publishing regular updates of what has been found this side and the far side of the Atlantic. It is so frustrating to know that there are more than 20 models that have been released in the UK from the end of last year and new models for this year, that I and many friends across the country, have yet to see. The gentleman on Ebay who has these new models at the exhorbitant cost of £6 each, perhaps reflects the problems of availability. How many sales must be lost?
The new releases shown in this report will not only please emergency vehicle collectors but also collectors of the real vehicle with particular reference to the Dodge Charger Pursuit sporting an accurate Police Department livery.
  • I would like the Seagrave better with the chrome base, but I’m going to get this one anyway with the Crown Victoria in the same  5 pack.  Can you tell us what the other three will be?  
    They are: Blaze Buster, Flame Smasher & 06 Fire Engine
  • Can you tell us whether there will again b e 5 recolours for 2014 and what they will be? 
Yes there will be 5 recolors planned for 2014:
Blockade Buster
Travel Tracker
Land Rover LR4
International Scout 
Crime Crusher
  • I am so looking forward to the Range Rover Evoque. Can you tell us when it will be released? 
We are shooting for this year but currently there are delays.
  • Can you tell the current situation of the Toyota Tacoma and Life Guard Travel Tracker (Safari Truck)?  
Both models are on trackThe Travel Tracker was shown this week in the Ambassador report.  The Toyota Tacoma will be shown soon.
  • Is there any chance of producing any of the following – The New Jaguar F- 
Type, a Rolls Royce, Bentley, or Fiat Abarth 500,  Alfa Romeo – the GTAM (road version) from the Alfa Romeo GTA previously produced or a Lambretta Scooter? Can you  re-use the Desert Thunder tool and create new forms (not only colour variations)  maybe a 6×6  or an army version? 
Not at this time. We are however doing the Alfa Romeo 4C for this year. No plans to modify the Desert Thunder into another version.
  • In the 2014 Matchbox 9-packs with the metallic green Opel Frogster, the name is misspelled ‘FroNgster’ on the back of the package). I s this just an error? Why do we have the same generic models in different 9 packs as it cuts down the incentive to buy?
Regarding the print error on the 9 packs, we will check this. Thank you.
  • Is it possible for  you to ask Matchbox when will they do Rescue cars (Police, Ambulance, Fire) like the old days where you feel that the cars come fitted with lights. Can you do more Emergency 5 packs with real vehicles?  
We need to have  both real and non licensed emergency & rescue vehicles in mainline and in 5 packs .  We currently have 2  different 5 packs for 2014 that will do this.  
  • I am trying to collect modified casting models.
Apparently there are two modified castings in the Beach Five Pack but can you give me any details about the following modified castings?
        Some modifications happened but others were delayed or stopped for  
various reasons. See below.
MB870 F-250 Super Duty  (modified) The modifications have been previously explained in an ambassador report. This model will appear again with new deco in 2014
MB875 Hydroplane  (modified) The Hydroplane was supposed to be in the 2013 Beach 5 pack as well. This did happen.
Of the other missing 8 models I do not have any idea where to look for these models:
MB835 Coyote (modified) was planned for 2013 but did not happen. 
MB836 Road Tripper (modified) was planned for 2013 but did not happen.
MB849 Rescue Helicopter (modified) was started for 2013 but was delayed for use.
MB857 Chevrolet Suburban (modified)
MB872 2013 BMW X 5 (modified) Will have a permanent light bar (part of window)  and will be in this year’s Heroic Rescue segment.
MB873 2013 International Armored Car (modified) Body was converted to plastic but was not used in 2013 . 
MB876 Dennis Sabre (Modified) same as MB873 The modification was planned for use in the 2013 for the  Emergency rescue 5Pk but did not happen.
MB880 2013 Mission Helicopter (modified) 
The first three Modified Casting I found were from the 2013 Five Pack Desert:
MB874 4 Wheeler (modified)
MB878 Jeep 4 x 4 (modified)
From the 2013 Five Pack Outdoor set:
MB868 Travel Trailer (modified)
From the 2013 Five Pack EMS:
MB871 Highway Rescue Fire Engine (modified)
MB877 International Pumper (modified)
  • “The Seagrave Fire Engine will feature in both the Heroic Rescue Segment and the Fire 5 car pack.” My question is will this same color scheme be released in both the heroic segment and the five pack or will we get to see a color or design change between the two?  
No, the deco will remain the same for both versions.
I hope to see one day a model painted as a Civil Defense fire engine or even in grey as a US Navy fire engine as found on many military bases years ago. Will this be possible? Do you have to get a licence?
This is an interesting Idea. US Civil Defense colors are often two toned which would be difficult to do in the basic line however there are different versions of CD vehicles from past and present that also include international models that have very unique decorations. The CD logo may be licensed as well but this is an interesting idea with possibilities. Thank you for the suggestion.
  • The Aston-Martin you’ve pictured was a great model, especially the Premiere version. I know we have had a contemporary model added to the range in recent years but how about considering adding a classic Aston-Martin at some point too seeing as they go down so well? Hot wheels ended up getting a 1963 DB5 which many collectors, including myself, would have loved to have seen produced as a matchbox. Instead, is there any chance Mattel would consider including a late 60’s early 70’s DB5/6 Convertible for the matchbox range to complement it? I think this particular style Aston-Martin would be very suitable. 
Your suggestion is well noted.  Thank you.
As in all cases, we are grateful to Mattel for allowing the publication of images relating to forthcoming models. Here is a new sneak peek of the deco for the Dodge Charger Pursuit.  This has real liveries on it from the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, which is in the state of Missouri.  Images of the actual car can be seen on their web site. It will be in the Heroic /Rescue segment.
These next three are in the Rescue duty 5 pack for this year.

This next vehicle is in the Fire Command 5 pack for this year.
 This sky Buster deco is part of the Mission Force Jungle Adventure for this year. The plane is the Sky Safari.
The Matchbox team is always keen to hear your responses to these new issues. You will see from the answers to your questions that they do heed your responses. 
A Little More History
A collector friend visited the other day and was keen to point out his favourite pre-production models. You may share some of his views or you may think otherwise. As promised, these focus upon the 1970s, though not exclusively.
The Slingshot Dragster of 1971 was originally fitted with thin front wheels. However, in the quest for greater speed, wide front wheels were fitted. This metallic green example looks so different from the hot pink, steel blue and orange versions. Though the Slingshot was never a favourite of his, the metallic green colour was stunning.
The Woosh ‘n’Push was in the range from 1972 until 1976. It was one of the many attempts to emulate Hot Wheels because of its flared lines, bulky rear engine and open design without windows. The issued colours were yellow with red seats and magenta with cream seats. This red version was thought to stand out as it was fitted with contrasting orange-yellow seats. It is his favourite pre-production model. 
The De Tomaso Pantera was released between 1975 and 1981. This is a miniature of an authentic car. It was coloured white throughout this time but a blue version was available in the US only range. The labels tended to detract from the overall look and white was perhaps an uninspired choice. This two-tone blue example shows it off to its full potential.
Only available between 1975 and early 1979, the Hellraiser featured a white body with red seats and then a metallic blue body with ivory seats. The square nose, interior layout and exposed engine suggest that the designer may have been one and the same for this car and the Woosh’n’Push. 
The Freeway Gas Tanker was originally released in 1973. One wonders whether the futuristic cab design was to avoid licensing costs. Many colour schemes and petrol companies were used and there are many casting variations to please variation collectors. A ludicrously outsize hook was fitted in 1978 to assist older collectors to hitch up to a trailer. The trailer was created specifically for this two-pack. This collector friend acknowledges that this casting is reviled by some, nevertheless it is one of his favourites and he has more than a hundred variations. 
The Personnel Carrier joined the range in 1976 until 1980. It was originally planned to have a radar antenna fitted to the cab roof but at the last minute a gun was substituted. It is an original and imaginative design and it may be argued that this was the best military vehicle of the 1970s, especially because of its casting detail.
The Wreck Truck of 1978 had a four year life in the range and is sometimes called a Ford, though in truth, it is a generic casting.  It replaced the long-running Toe Joe, which continued in the two packs. This pre-production model is particularly attractive by virtue of its green tinted windows. These were never fitted to production models, though a short run had blue windows, whilst all other models were fitted with amber windows.
The Armored Truck (note the American spelling), was released in 1979 and is quite an accurate representation of a US Security Truck. For the most part, the model was painted red, though two German versions were painted dark green, the second manufactured in Macau in 1987 in an even darker shade of green, being much harder to find. The pre-production version is particularly interesting in view of the diminutive roof light, which was enlarged considerably for the issued versions.
The Mustang Piston Popper was originally released in 1973 as one of the first two models featuring the Rolamatic innovation, along with the Clipper. The Piston Popper ran until 1979 in the same deep blue livery. However, it was re-released in 1980 as a Limited Edition in the US where the number was erased from the base and the name changed on the packaging to No. 60 Hot Popper. The words Mustang Piston Popper  always remained on the base, though catalogues simply referred to it as Piston Popper. Subsequently it was issued in Hong Kong and Macau in orange with Sunkist advertising. This pre-production, Macau model is unique in that it is fitted with a plastic base and painted in an attractive red shade.

The Airport Coach was another generic casting from 1977 with a plastic upper half. Initially it was available in blue with three airline liveries and then red with two airlines advertised. The final Lesney casting was in white advertising Alitalia. Once manufacture was transferred to Macau, it appeared in several airline related gift sets in wide range of colours. The Coach shown displays the familiar Lufthansa logo is nevertheless unique because it has a yellow body.
The Volvo Truck was released in 1982 as either a Cable Truck or a Zoo Truck. In 1984 it was converted to a Box Truck which coincided with manufacture in Macau. This version proved very lucrative for Matchbox as the large side panels enabled a huge range of labels to be fitted. Conversely, this all black version, with no label, is particularly classy to this collector friend.
The final choice dates from an original issue date of 1987. This Ferrari Testarossa appears to be an experimental piece in that it retained the standard red metal baseplate with black interior and clear windows, whilst the body was sprayed in gold. The paint did not adhere very well and so any idea to recolour in gold was shelved.

Nigel Cooper      3rd February 2014

18 Replies to “Feb 3rd Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Nigel Cooper…”

  1. Well the Charger looks good and the Renault too despite being plastic fantastic. I think my mam describes the current releases of matchbox “plastic looking tractor things”.

  2. I don't understand why people complain about the DB5 being a Hot Wheels, because truth be told, HW did it exactly as Matchbox would have. If you want the DB5 that bad just buy the freaking HW and shut up.

  3. Hello Nigel again, happy February, and thanks for the next ambassador report.

    Anyways, thank you mattel and Nigel for showing the next deco on my new favorite casting since it's debut for 2013, the 2012 Charger pursuit.

    I like the Charger but however, when is mattel going to release the aboriginal version of the Charger pursuit? Has anyone saw the real version on Dodge. com website earlier or late in 2012? Or you can just check Google images to see it.
    But though the Charger is still my favorite casting and probably mattel will actually do it in the future.

    Talking about the Charger, I just notice thank you mattel and Nigel for showing answers I would want to see that I would want to agree and be interested into. Thank you again.

    I agree on one thing from an answer of a question;
    Yay, if mattel is really absolutely sure the 15' 4c will hit the pegs for 2014, mattel needs to make a better decision for taking granted for the 4c.

    I think that's all I will say today for today's ambassador report.

    See you Nigel next ambassador report. And I'm hoping to see more interested stuff next time.

    And please comment back.

  4. i wake up this morning and begin to drool looking at this.

    YAY! more fire/emergency rigs.

    in order
    the dodge charger looks excellent. very nice design and also NEW light bar. i wonder if matchbox will interchange last years separate light bar & this new built in light bar with this model in the main line & 5 packs.

    the 2003 4×4 fire engine: while not an exact model of a mini or midi-pumper it does look good in this flat red design. i was trying to rid those from my matchbox county apparatus set but maybe i'll just have to add this one.

    the renault master ambulance looks amazing.

    the NEW RESCUE ATV. looks really amazing. btw NEW Casting! i like it. you see alot of rural fire departments use these kind of apparatus for wilderness fires/rescue as opposed to regular sized rigs.
    for an example google mildred fire company in sullivan county pa. they run 2 since they protect part of rickett's glenn national park.

    the flame smasher fire tanker. while not a good casting. (would have loved to see a regular elliptical or even a tanker-pumper) it doesn't look all that bad in pure red. yes it's still very unrealistic in size but it's looking better in flat red. ill debate if i'll get this model when i get to see it in person. the first release didn't amuse me to much.

    that is all from me

  5. First, no one has mentioned how awesome Nigel's place of work looks!? Either Wales is experiencing a bit of a dry spell or you're stateside Nigel? I am intrigued. If you need an assistant I just picked up a new pair of hiking boots!

    Relating to the new models shown, the Boone County 2013 Charger looks great, however I'm concerned about the light bar revision from the first release. Am I correct that the light bar is now integrated into the windows and will mean red or blue windows if the light bar becomes anything other than clear in the future?

    The Renault Master Ambulance is tastefully done in realistic livery though it would've been nice to finish it with the logos of real emergency response team, especially a European one to make it 100% authentic. This said from an American, I'm sure it would be well received and appreciated in the EU for the extra effort from Matchbox to acquire licensing from the UK, Netherlands and so on for future versions of this?

    Unfortunately for the other vehicles previewed I don't feel they merit a response.

    Thanks again for another look into the past Nigel, I've yet to see one of those Pantera models first hand, I like the blue 1978 Wreck Truck for its realism too, even if it is a 'Matchbox Original'.

  6. I really only like the Charger and Master

    'd like to see a French ambulance design on the Master.

    And while doing a search, I also found that the fire dept. in Geneva, Switzerland uses Ford E-Series ambulances. Even though I find it a little weird to see a US (well it's a Canadian-made Crestline ambulance body) ambulance in a European country, I think that this would be a good unique design and a break from the mostly made-up agencies (only the San Luis Obispo and Boone Co. designs were real)


  7. Just to clarify, that is me, jtl from Lamley. I posted those pics to explain why I didn't post Nigel's report earlier. Nigel resided in the UK.

    And yes, I work in some pretty amazing land. Everyone should have visiting Southern Utah on their bucket list.

  8. Ha okay, thanks for the clarification. Still impressive nonetheless! I have some friends visiting Zion National Park over spring break… though I may be in central Arizona at the time I'll be sure to visit Utah before too long!

  9. As others have said, the Charger and the ambulance both look really good in their new liveries. I do fear the day, though, that the Charger is released with blue or red windows in order to give it a colored light bar. I'm glad it's clear for now.

    I had never paid much attention to the 4×4 fire truck before, but the new red and grey paint scheme does good things for the vehicle. I think the true selling point, though, is that there are so many details that have been printed on the sides.

    I am really excited to see the 6×6 ATV. It looks good, and has some fun details included. For those of you unfamiliar with the actual vehicle it's based on, run a Google image search for “Polaris Ranger 6×6,” or take a look at these that have already been converted for ambulance duty:
    Matchbox has done a really great job in modeling that vehicle, and as far as I'm concerned, it's a really cool vehicle to start with. 6×6 always wins bonus points in my book.

    Can't say I'm as pleased with the Flame Smasher. The all-red body and the lack of smaller details in the tampo make it look rather like a single blob rather than a cab with a tank on the back. The orange window/light bar just adds to that effect. I think this casting needs more to differentiate the cab from the cargo. A few more details on the tampo would make a big difference, too, such as actually putting some color on the HazMat placards.

    Nobody has said much about the Sky Safari. I think the black and silver is a great color scheme for this aircraft, and I'm glad to see the casting moving forward. I like the way this tilt-rotor looks, and appreciate the moving parts (wing+rotors). My only wish is that the cargo hook were located closer to the center of the aircraft, rather than way behind the rotors and near the tail.

    A few questions that I would be pleased to hear from Matchbox about:
    From the time the Sahara Survivor appeared, I thought it was inspired by the British Special Forces Pink Panther Land Rover [Link: http://www.landroverclub.net/Club/HTML/Pink_panther.htm ][Link: http://www.allisons.org/ll/4/LandRover/Military/Pink-Panther/ ] What are the chances of Matchbox putting out a version of this casting in the pale, matte pink formerly used for desert camouflage?

    Other questions/idea: We know that Matchbox's current focus is on exploration and adventure. Matchbox did a great version of the Space Shuttle, but what about making the Lunar Rover for the mainline? It certainly counts as exploration and adventure, and if Hot Wheels' Mars Rover is any indication, vehicles with such a unique historic/scientific value sure don't stay on the pegs for very long.

    Similarly, the Camel Trophy was a competition based not on racing or speed, but on exploration and getting through difficult terrain. What about making a Camel Trophy livery of one of the many Matchbox Land Rovers? The Defender 110 would be perfect, although just about any one of them would work. Again, an authentic livery of a historic competition should have a high demand on the pegs.

    Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camel_Trophy
    Related quotes from the article: “[Camel Trophy events] were all about adventure and exploration. Over the next eight years, the expeditions crossed Sumatra, Papua New Guinea, Zaire, Brazil, Borneo, Australia, Madagascar (the first north-south crossing) and Sulawesi before returning to the Amazon. These grueling tests of human endurance brought together teams from around the world in the hope of triumphing in some of the most treacherous off-road conditions imaginable. Team work and camaraderie were crucial.”

  10. The Princeton, WV Rescue Squad version shown on the Kimtek website I've actually seen in person . In fact, that's the main reason I was excited when I first saw the prototype version of the Matchbox one. Maybe Matchbox will consider a Princeton Rescue Squad version of this model in the future.

  11. I'm back again Nigel. I have a question to ask. If Matchbox has done the Renault Master ambulance, then how about a new ambulance casting Matchbox can do? Can Matchbox do a new different ambulance casting such as a Mercedes Benz Sprinter in an ambulance livery, the Chevrolet Express\GMC Savana 1500\2500\3500 (Mattel can decide on what model it can be- 1500\2500\3500, those are the options for the Chevrolet Express\GMC Savana) also an ambulance, or, my favorite van, the Dodge Grand Caravan\Chrysler Town & Country (Mattel can decide what year they could be)? Is there any chance showing these van castings as a new ambulance casting? Or a police or fire chief car livery? Could these be good ideas that could be planned somewhat later in the future. Not this year since everything's planned for 2014 already, but SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE?

  12. I agree with the theme Camel Trophy and I think a great idea! The Matchbox have all models from the Land Rover Defender 90, Defender 110, Freelander and the Discovery and Range Rover. Well they could do a special 5 pack – (Camel Trophy Edition or Land Rover edition) anticipating the launch of the Evoque and the LR4. Now here's a nice question for Matchbox not you think Nigel?

    Ps: Thank you Nigel for another excellent report.

  13. We do already know that Matchbox won't be doing any Mercedes models until something changes in the licensing agreement between the two companies, so the Sprinter can't happen any time soon. But I do like the idea of a Chevy Express or the now-deceased Dodge Ram full-size van.

    I think it's high time that Matchbox had a minivan in the lineup, simply based on the number of kids that ride around in them…I think they'd be pretty excited to have a toy version of their family car. As far as minivans go, though, I think I'd vote for the Honda Odyssey.

  14. Nigel if you stumble upon my questions my questions to you are would you have anyway of knowing when the Dodge Charger Boone County Sheriff car and the white colored Renault Master Ambulance will arrive to retailers or in my case when might it arrive to Canadian retailers since I reside in Canada,also,and even though this article doesn't concern a Ford Interceptor Marshall car,a blue colored BMW civilian motorbike my other question to you is would you know when the bike and marshall car may arrive to Canadian retailers since I'm taking a liking to these vehicles.Please respond to my questions as soon as possible.Thanks.

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