February 24th Matchcbox Ambassador Update…

Ambassador Report 27



In my haste to show the new Mustang I inadvertently featured a Foxbody Mustang from 1986. Thank to Nic, I can show the correct Mustang from 1993 in the form of a Ford MustangFoxbody Special Service Package. There have already been several requests that the livery is as accurate as possible and there has hardly been a dissenting voice regarding the surpriseintroduction of this US Police Car. It would be a great idea if a Police Car, modern or classic, could also be included in the range from a country outside of the US.


I am pleased that the International Brush Fire Truck will be generally available in the US. I cannot think of even one promotional that was available world-wide. I have manyMatchbox promotionals from around the world and part of the fun has been in the chase to find something not issued in the home country. This has often led to long-term collecting friendships where we help each other. I certainly would not have many of my most treasured models without the help of a collector overseas. Now that the model will be available for a fraction of what was being asked on auction sites, perhaps we should not complain but seek out an accommodating US collector – there are hundreds out there!


Several of you asked for further information regarding the Guildsman. Chris Pryor has found a link to the originaldesigner and further interesting information.http://www.breithaupts.com/totc597.htm


To quote just a small section from the original designer, Phil Gannon:

I have just come across your letter by chance. I can give you all the details relating to the Vauxhall Guildsman model as I was the designer and modeller of the original way back in the 1968/69 competition year! I still have the original model, sketch plans and Vauxhall information.

I was placed third in the competition. The competition ran from 1965 to 1970, I entered three times being successful in year one in the top twenty five, year two 4th place and finally year three 3rd.

Lesneys (Matchbox) approached Vauxhall to produce a model from one of the thousands of designs submitted over the five year period, mine being the only one selected!

All entrants were given a number and all rights for publicity were given to Vauxhall Motors as part of the competition, however, two years after the competition I was awarded a further £25 for the model being produced. Out of interest the second and fourth place winners went on to work for Jaguar Cars and Land Rover design depts.

Should anyone be interested in further information relating to the model, competition or details of the original model, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Phil. Gannon



The Princeton, WV Rescue Squad version shown on theKimtek 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.

This is something to consider.  Thanks for the suggestion.


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 line-up, 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. What does the Matchbox team think?

These are good suggestions. We do have challengesregarding their size and weight but we will take your suggestions into consideration.


I’d like to know if we’re going to see anymore classic American Muscle cars from the 60’s and 70’s, like the 71 Firebird or the Mustang CS. I know Muscle Cars are more up Hot Wheels’ alley, but, in my opinion, Matchbox’s take on the 71 Firebird was much better than Hot Wheels’ “custom” version, for example. From the stance, to the proportions, to the overall body shape, there’s something about Matchbox’s ‘Bird that just feels right and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I do know I’d love to see more American cars getting the same treatment. My personal suggestion would be the 1973/1974 Chevrolet Nova, which, despite similar to the 1968/1972 models, has yet to be done in small scale. Is there a place for it in Matchbox’s line-up, with the Firebird and Mustang?

Never say never when it comes to Muscle cars. There is always a place for them in the City Adventure segment. We are doing Mustang LX SSP this year although it’s a police version. We have not abandoned Muscle cars but need to be prudent about where they fit in the line.


I think the already too-large wildfires around the world are going to become more common in the news, perhaps as soon as this summer, and I think the public’s response to a Forest/Park Service themed fire five pack will be positive (perhaps frustrating me when I can’t find them….). That said, I wonder if Matchbox will ever produce a European forest fire truck….Unimogs are commonly used as are other marques. While I’m on a roll, (we fire guys often call a fire response a “roll”), my best-case scenario has Matchbox making some Australian forest fire trucks too…there are some very interesting vehicles in use “down under”, from all around the Australasian region. An “international forest fire” themed multipack would be a “hot” item in my book. (Puns intended….) (I’ll keep dreaming about those, as the practicality of the idea is a bit far-fetched.) Would you consider making some regional fire vehicles? Your suggestions are not farfetched. 

We are always looking around the world to see what new vehicles will work in our Heroic Rescue segment. You have some good suggestions.


When will you be able to provide the complete list for 2014 releases?

We hope to post this later this month. Revisions are always happening. We want to post a list that is the most final.  The paint is not dry yet as they say.


Do you have any news on the Premier series planned for 2014 – just a clue would help?

Note that there is no “Premier” series for this year. 


As the Acre Maker has received so many favourable comments and it has a tow hook, are you planning to release some trailers, either in the range or as parts of a set?

No plans for new trailers at the moment. We did want to make it compatible with our current farm trailer however.


A few years back Matchbox had a wonderful idea andrecolored the whole range gold. It was known as the Gold Challenge. Could we have another one of these, please? It would stimulate sales and should be easy for you to do as there was no decoration on any model – just plain gold.

Thanks for the suggestion.  


There are no new images available to show this week. I hopeto have more in my next report.

A Little More History

In the 1960s most Matchbox models were replicas of vehicles that could be seen on the streets. The1970s saw a change in direction, not only to feature unrealistic cars in flamboyant colours, but also to copy the most exotic and expensive cars often including concept cars in the range that would never see the action outside of the motor show stand.


The full size Maserati Bora was first introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971 during an era that spawned a myriad of mid-engined sports cars such as the Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari Boxster and BMW M1. The Bora dates back to thedays when Maserati was owned by Citroen and although it was an Italian, Alfieri, who designed the real car, a number of French idiosyncrasies were included in the design. Citroen’s high pressure hydraulic system not only meant no-travel braking but also was the source to raise and lower the headlights, tilt the front seat and move the pedals forwards and backwards. The seat was rigidly fixed to the bulkhead and so the pedals, steering column and seat squab had to move to accommodate different sized drivers. The Maserati Bora could be yours in 1972 for just £9832, which included air conditioning and electric windows and a speedo showing an optimistic 200 mph – its top speed was just 175mph. Only 500 were made of which only 20 were right hand drive and so Matchbox decided to model the left hand drive version.



The new models for the 1973 Matchbox range did not include one commonplace vehicle. Most were figments of a designer’s imagination striving to copy the Hot Wheels range. No wondercollectors of the time, who had been used to the traditional releases of everyday vehicles, complained bitterly. There were 19 new models including five cars that most children would never glimpse in their lifetime. The Monterverdi Hai, Lamborghini CountachDatsun 126X, Saab Sonnet III andMaserati Bora were certainly not everyday cars that fathers would drive to work.


The Maserati was released in early 1973 painted in metallic burgundy with a yellow interior, opening doors and a No 8 label on the bonnet. The very first issues had an unpainted base but it was quickly decided to paint the base green as the front grille and rear bumper and exhausts were visible and it was felt that green would be more attractive than bare metal. The green paint tended to be dark in shade but light and metallic green paint was used on occasion. The variations notpainted dark green are rare.



The miniature range contains hundreds of models that received at least one colour change during its period of issue, sometimes to lift flagging sales and to stimulate further interest. The Bora must have been a good seller as it was not replaced until 1978 and during that time it remained inmetallic burgundy. However, it popped up in the 1979 catalogue towing a massive Caravan so the interior had been adapted to include a very unlikely tow hook. There was a change in livery to plain gold and the base was painted silver grey. This colour scheme did not last long and so prices tend toreflect this.


The mould was used again, albeit in a simplified form in 1985 as a model in a budget priced range called Super GTs. These models first produced in England and then in China, all had plastic bases, no opening parts and blacked out windows to avoid the fitting of interiors and thus reduce cost. They were painted in a variety of colours including yellow, shades of blue, beige and fluorescent green.


Collectors thus have an interesting choice. The cheapest example will include the whole Super GT range that may still be purchased at swapmeets or on auction sites for not much more than a few pounds, though they are getting harder to find. There are 15 known variations to look out for. The standard issue Bora in metallic burgundy has 11 known variations, mainly relating to wheels and base shades. A standard model should cost no more than £5 and you may be lucky and pick up a rarer base colour. A mint boxed example may cost a little more from a dealer at around £10. The gold Bora may well cost you more with a mint example in a pristine TP-4 blister pack, often changing hands around £80.



In 1981 the Bora was reissued when, for the first time, the standard Superfast range was split into two parts to suit the USA and Rest of the World markets. Demand for Hot Rod models had declined outside of America and so more realistic models featured in the Rest of the World range. However,sixteen reissues of obsolete Hot Rod models were released across the Atlantic with new names and numbers. The Bora was now called Sunburner, emblazoned across the roof, and took the number

37 berth. It was painted black with yellow and red flames decorating bonnet and doors. A red interior and tow hook was fitted and this was one of only a few models that were made in Hong Kong. It was also manufactured in England and Macau.Tampo printing on some of these models was more of a green than yellow flames. Though not that easy to find outside of America, it is not a rare model and may be found for only a few pounds. The white model is a pre-production for theSunburner when colours were being considered.




A replica of “Mayflower” sailed to America in May 1957, three hundred years after the original boat set sail, with Matchbox models on board – quoted in Games and Toysfrom May 1957.


In the spring of 1966 a “Matchbox” Collectors Club Official Quarterly Newsletter was published for the first time. The first issue of Volume 4 in April 1969 described the 1958 issues and quoted:


Also at this time Lesney brought out the first military vehicles which appeared in the line until 1967, when the last vehicle, No. 67 Saladin Armoured Car, was retired. Some of the very avid collecting fans have reported finding as many as nine different shades on a particular model. The militaries have remained excellent collector’s items, especially the No. 55 DUKW Amphibian.


Comment: I have never seen or heard of these shade variations and I thought that the olive green paint used remained exceptionally constant throughout the time military models were issued. The DUKW was probably the worst seller of the military models as it was out of scale with the other models. However, the picture box associated with this model is very rare. The image of the 1966 range still shows two military models which had first joined the range in 1958.


The first Bedford Crane Truck, 13a, was too large to fit into the standard size boxes Lesney had ordered. All models then were limited by the size of the box. Jack Odell had to grind 1/8” from the die blocks to make it fit.Later the Aston Martin, 53a, was too big for the box because of a mistake by a draughtsman with a pantograph, but it was decided on this occasion to alter the size of the box to accommodate the model. The size of this model caused a review of the range in terms of size and many models were then up-rated or replaced. Jack Odell had one of these real Astons that was painted yellow. He later had it repainted red to avoid being mistaken for another owner of a yellow car, who frequented some of the gentlemen’s clubs in central London!!!


In 1976 the Toe Joe, 74c, was released in the Two Pack range. The rarest variation is the red-bodied version. I found 24 of these models with red arms at 80p each in Hereford Covered Market. I sold them for £1 eachincluding postage to collectors from around the world. This model now fetches upward of £200. A batch of red bodied models with green arms appeared plentiful for a considerable time in JFK Airport shop in New York.


When the first cars joined the 1-75 range, there were sufficient women who lived locally to accept a large biscuit tin containing 72 toys in order to decorate the grilles and radiators. When the company moved from Barrett’s Grove to Eastway, there was no local labour force on the industrial estate and so Odell designed mask-spraying machines and a metal cap was fitted to ensure only the requisite area was sprayed.


The Queen and Prince Philip visited the Matchbox factory on Wednesday, November 12th 1969 between 3 and 4.30pm. To quote from the official newsletter:


…. A surprise awaited them in the Matchbox reception room where a Matchbox Motorway was made up in a nice little scenic form. The Queen and Duke were so excited with it, Mr Smith and Mr Odell gave it to them. In the corner of the room was a very exclusive visitors’ book. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were the first ones to sign their names  …….  and doesn’t it make you feel good that she and the Duke are proud owners of the Matchbox Motorway?



Are you sure you know the colours of all of your models? To check, see if you agree with this list published by Matchbox of the new models for 1971:


 8Wildcat DragsterOntario Orange

19Road DragsterLime Rock Red

29Racing MiniOval Track Orange

30Beach BuggyGrand Prix Gold & Violet

34Formula 1 RacerPikes Peak Purple

36Hot Rod DraguarRiverside Red

52Dodge ChargerLe Mans Magenta

54Ford CapriTalladega Tangerine

62 Rat Rod DragsterLanghorne Lime



Complaints from collectors to the Matchbox team are not new. This is part of a letter bemoaning the arrival of futuristic models which claimed …..


…. It seems as though Lesney are falling back into the toy making business to compete with other companies. Many of the “Mod” type Superfast vehicles are figments of someone’s imagination. I doubt seriously if a number of them would be roadworthy. The MB11 Flying Bug is an insult to Germany and the Volkswagen industry. The Big Banger, MB26, is so nose heavy that it would topple over at a sudden stop. What about the poor driver’s visibility? Whoever heard of a Superfast Fork Lift Truck? I guess, however, once you become a Matchbox addict, it’s hard to kick the habit. I just pray the Models of Yesteryear do not go Superfast.



By 1982, most of the futuristic models had been deleted from the range.


Nigel Cooper      24th February 2014

23 Replies to “February 24th Matchcbox Ambassador Update…”

  1. Thank you Nigel for another excellent report.
    I would like to put some questions to the matchbox:
    1) Is it possible to fit in your plans for 2015 Ford S-Max, any new Audi, Mini Countryman Dakar or Paceman, any Lamborghini, Mclaren, or Rolls Royce in your city adventure segment?

    2) With such a rich history of classics for when a new edition of the same? The MG B Coupe, Ford Transit MK1, Fiat, Lancia and others would be good ….

    Best Regards

  2. I'm glad to hear about the Muscle Cars… It's hard to put a finger on why, but I actually like the Matchbox Muscle Cars a little better than the Hot Wheels versions. They seem to be better proportioned and stanced, closer to the real thing.

    Anyways, I got another question, one that the people at Matchbox are probably tired to hear, but I still have to ask… Are there any plans to bring the brand back to Brazil? Or rather, were there ever any attempts at bringing Matchbox back to Brazil, or it was settled that the brand would not be coming back once it was removed?

    It's unfortunate that the collecting landscape in Brazil probably wouldn't be able to support both Matchbox and Hot Wheels when only HW is a good seller among kids, but I've started seeing MBX playsets in stores recently and became curious.

  3. Hey, Nigel. It's nice to see you again. And I see I'm not the one who has to be responsible though haha.

    Anyway, AGAIN NO IMAGES FROM MATTEL FOR THE NEW RELEASES!? Then am I embarassed? I'm really curious to see every time what's new for the mainline. But I'd have 2 or a few more questions for Matchbox or Mattel to answer. Would you be kind enough to put them up Nigel?

    Here comes the questions;

    Question 1: I'd really like to see Matchbox do some more sporty cars. Hot Wheels has done some such as their Pagani Huayra (which was a new model for 2013, as last year), Ferrari 458 Italia (since its debut in 2010), or the 10' Camaro. Can you do some other sporty models like these examples. Please and thanks Matchbox.

    Moving to the 2nd question (oh, I just have 2 to make 4 questions in all.).

    Question 2: I'd like to see the aboriginal version of the Charger pursuit. As I'm pleased to say thank you to Matchbox for answering if the could do the aboriginal version on the Ford Explorer. But I hope it will also happen to the Charger pursuit. Please could it happen sometime in the next few years on your descision?

    3rd question: That Mercedes SLR McLaren was an awesome model. And so as that Bentley Continental GT. That Porsche 911 GT3 is getting old now, and it's being used, A LOT. Can't we re-use the SLR McLaren and the Bentley and some of the other models that could be re-used than the 911 GT3 then?

    Last question.

    Question 4: I'm curious to know that I'm concerned about the Bulli is not going to be delayed or not even going to be used. That's stupid. But that's kinda a great model Matchbox could mke. Why would Matchbox switch it to a different model, the Mustang police or just the stock Mustang?

    That is all my questions. I have a few more things to say. They're not questions.

    Please I hope you show some images of some new releases next week. But I guess it's that way.

    WOW, I have 4 questions. I dunno about you Nigel, but have you ever heard that some Wal-Marts are ditching Matchbox? Really fustrating and embarassing for Matchbox. And I feel sorry for this company. But I like Matchbox, and so far they're only available on eBay and so sad thae U.S people still have 2013 Matchbox restored hitting their Wal-Mart shelves. But even worst than all you guys in the U.S. I live in Toronto, Canada, Ontario. My local Wal-Mart still has some 2013 Matchbox BATCH H to K. And Hot Wheels is good at my Wal-Mart. They have 2014 Hot Wheels batch F on the pegs at my Wal-Mart.

    Still feeling sorry. I am just so sorry for you Matchbox.

    That's all for today. See you Nigel next week.

    Don't forget about the images for the new releases.

  4. How about a 1975-79 Chevrolet Nova 2 Door Coupe in 1:64 Scale? It seems as though ALL toy manufacturers avoided producing this model for no apparent acceptable reason.

  5. Thank you Nigel for another excellent report.
    I Have a question to Matchbox: Is possible to re-intruduce the Audi R8 but in LM Ultra (costumer version) in the city adventure segment?
    Best regards

  6. Great report Nigel, the information on the Maserati Bora is especially thorough, you certainly never cease to impress with your wealth of Matchbox knowledge. Now if only you could be allowed to lead the direction of new Matchbox releases!

    Fingers crossed the next report contains tastefully designed models like those in the exotics 5-pack seen last week.

  7. Can you ask Matchbox to consider doing some Caterpillar-licensed deco's on their existing construction models? They did this 10+ years ago and have some great construction models out now that would look good in a Caterpillar theme. Thanks!

  8. I have the Maserati Bora, and I must say, that was a great casting, considering the technology they had back then. I really love how the doors open, such a great feature. Such a beautiful and interesting car in real life as well. I would be excited when Matchbox is actually able to create a casting of a new-age Maserati.

  9. can you ask matchbox about the matchbox on a mission will it be the new real working rigs or will it just be repaints

  10. Superb!
    Enjoyed the questions segment and hope to see MB reintroduce opening components.
    Military vehicles are difficult to find and MB is the manufacturer with the greatest distribution that is available; I hope they increase their output and add additional models to their $5 line, especially WWII models. A Panzer would go great with the Sherman they did a few years ago in the $7 diorama set.
    Thanks again!

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