Our ongoing series on rare Mattel-era Matchbox continues. You can read Parts 1 through 11 here. Rare Hot Wheels models are far more well-known, but there are plenty of rare Matchbox to hunt down.
And today, we are showcasing four models of an 8-car set that we are sure will interest quite a few of our readers. And these models are not easy to find at all.
We should set the stage. Matchbox has had its share of peaks and valleys, as long-term collectors know. For every “realistic models” era like 2006-2010, when the models mimicked what was on the road, there are eras littered with over-the-top cartoonish models made to attract the little tykes. One such era was the early 2000’s, or as collectors like to call it, the Hero City Era. Most of the models from that era were as cartoonish as ever. Some like to compare some of today’s garish Matchbox designs, like the off-roading school bus, to the Hero City models, but they don’t come close. A police car that looks like a policeman’s whistle, or a submarine that looks like a fish, are indicative of the Hero City models. They were all pretty bad.
But there were a few diamonds hidden in the muck of the Hero City Era. Mattel must have had some marketing report that stated US customers wanted cartoonish fluff, while European customers were still into realism. So Matchbox still made some real car castings, and they remains some of the best castings they have ever done. Models like the Porsche 911 Turbo, Mini Cooper, Mercedes E Class, and BMW X5 came out of the era. Matchbox has always known how to execute great models, they just sometimes chose not to do them.
Of all the realistic series from that era, none were better than the 8-car BMW Dealer Set. And those models are what we are showing today.
First off, any model that is over 10-years old is going to harder to find, but that is not why the set is rare. Back in 2003, Matchbox issued this special promotional set of 8 BMW’s, and only made them available at German BMW dealerships. That is why they are rare. Only in car dealerships. Only BMW dealerships. Only Germany. We assume these were made as part of an agreement with BMW, and Matchbox went all out.
Just look at how good-looking these models are, and you know why those that were lucky enough to get them are holding onto them. Some models have opening parts, some metal bases, and Mattel clearly paid attention to the paint they used, as the models look really clean. Mix all those factors, and that is what you call the perfect storm of rare.
We snagged these images of the set from ebay listing several months ago. Here are the eight:
Not bad, eh? If you want them, you have to be diligent. They don’t pop up very often, but ebay is the best option. Hunt using the search term “Matchbox BMW Dealer” and hope you get lucky. Our search has only yielded one model, which we hope one of you snags (It expires today).
We are lucky enough to have four, and in our humble opinion, the best four (although we are always on the hunt for the others). Highlights? The silver paint on the Z8, the red and blue on the two 3 Series models, and the details on all of them. But the gem of the set is the BMW X5. Not only is it fantastic in silver with simple detailing, but it is also unique.
This is the only version of the BMW X5, which returned to the 2014 Matchbox basic range last month, with opening doors. Why they did it we don’t know, but we are glad they did it. They even included some casting detailing on the inside of the door. It remains one of our all-time favorite Matchbox models, and we feel lucky to have it.
Enjoy the pics…
BMW 3 Series Coupe & 328i
7 Replies to “Rare Matchbox of the Mattel Era, Part 12: The 2003 BMW Dealer Set…”
Awesome! This is why I love Matchbox. They simply, absolutely nail it when they want to. Unfortunately its not a lot of times but when it does happen, you have some amazing models like these! I really like how the Z8 turned out, as thats a car I don't really like (I like the Z3 and Z4) but this casting is fantastic. In fact, all four are spot-on! The X5 is real awesome, with those opening doors and simply silver paint. I wish Matchbox would look back at models like these and start producing them again (new models or old returnees). I also posted a small surprise on the facebook post of this topic. Thanks for showing the photos!
While these were sold in Germany, a few US dealerships got their hands on a few sets. My local dealership in Arizona got several displays of these but they sold out very quickly. The only ones I bought were the 3 series cabriolet and the police car.
These are fantastic! MB at their best when will they realize what we already know? They still do real very well when they do it. The 63 Mack the Seagrave perfect examples. Please,please go back to doing what you do best….
Very nice- just got into some Matchbox, but these are special, no doubt…
I love Matchbox when they do castings like this. However, there are years of Bimmers we've missed out on, like for example, why is it Mercedes-Benz has no problem lending it's S500 for a casting but we've never seen a 760, 745, the M series other than this current one(and not a cop car, please)only Hot Wheels made a decent M3, it would be nice to see Matchbox versions of these. And why aren't they giving us the newer models, we're still working off designs from 2-3 years ago. I would think with this company being based overseas, would really have its customers up on the newest cars, not rehashed models
I just scored the blue 3 series for 13.50 and the silver x5 for 15.50 . Sometimes you gotta love ebay
I just bought the Matchbox BMW 3 Series (328i) “Polizei” police car in a $4 toy car grab bag from a Value Village in Ottawa, Canada. I thought I remembered you saying something in one of your Youtube videos about there being a German dealer-exclusive BMW police car but, since I found it in Canada, I didn’t think there was much chance that this “Polizei” BMW was that release.
However, checking eBay and Google Image search, while there have been somewhat similar BMW 328i releases in white with green “Polizei” tampos in an FAO Schwarz boxset and in the Stars of Cars series, the one I have now has the headlight, grille, and taillight tampos (which the FAO Schwarz version lacks), I can only conclude that I found the German dealer exclusive. I suppose it must have been owned by a German kid who moved to Canada.
It has some scuff marks on the hood tampo, but, since I paid about a tenth of the eBay price, I can’t complain too much. It looks good with my Matchbox Intl. era Mercedes-Benz 300E that’s also in a (different but still white-and-green) Polizei livery that was also a Value Village find.