JCCS Week: The Matchbox Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser…

We have been very excited to do this post.

It has been interesting to see the various reactions among diecast collectors to the surge of popularity that classic Japanese cars have experienced.  Some don’t get why the Datsun 510 has gone from pegwarmer to high-priced in a short period of time, and why other collectors are crawling all over each other to find the Datsun Wagon that just came out.

I always smile when I read someone’s comments saying “that blog guy” is to blame for the high prices of Hot Wheels Skylines and 510’s.  If only I had that kind of power.  The truth is that interest in nostalgic Japanese cars is growing everywhere, and diecast collectors are just mirroring that.

Long ago I explained where my interest in Japanese cars started.  It was in 1981 when my father broke the mold and traded in his Ford Maverick for a sky blue 1982 Honda Accord.  This was big, considering his father owned a Ford dealership in Utah, and until then the family had always been about Fords.  Buying a Japanese car was a big deal back then.  I quickly fell in love with that Accord, as did my father, who finally let it go after driving it 220,000 miles.

I was very sad to see the Accord go, and remember thinking how cool it would be to restore an Accord someday.  I also thought about the old Civics I used to see with the luggage rack on the back, as well as later versions of the Prelude.  Then a few years later, in 1998, Lexus released the IS, and to this day that car remains one of my favorites.  (Is it too early to push Tomica Limited Vintage to do a Sportcross?)  It was then I realized that while I loved a lot of German cars, and Italian cars, and some American cars, my true love was for Japanese cars.  Thanks to the internet, I soon learned that there were a lot more people out there who shared the same interest, and my education into all things Japanese Auto started.

And it was very clear that those that shared my passion, at least here in the US, are my same age or younger.  I am firmly entrenched in Generation X, and in a lot of ways we are the first generation of Americans the GREW UP on Japanese cars.  Camry’s and Accords are all over now, and that all started when we were young.

So while I have no personal connection to Skylines or Crowns or even Hino trucks, my interest in them continues to deepen as I learn more about them.  And it all started with that gateway drug, the 1982 Honda Accord.

What does that have to do with the Matchbox FJ40?  Nothing.  Other to A) give you an explanation why some like to say I “hype the shit out of Japanese cars” and B) help you understand why a Matchbox model like the FJ40 would be right in my wheel house.

The deeper I get into Japanese cars, the more I am interested in cars from all walks.  Not just the poster cars.  Sure, I get as giddy as any when I see a Hako or Kenmeri, or a 2000GT for that matter.  But I find myself more interested today in the kei cars, the family sedans, the wagons, the pickups, and anything else that served a purpose in its day.  So I might find myself spending more time at JCCS with a Subaru 360 than a ’71 Skyline made up to look like a GT-R.

The FJ40 is one of those cars.  It is transcendent.  It is easily recognizable.  Off-roaders love it.  It was hugely popular in the US before a lot of other Japanese cars were.  And it is as signature of a nostalgic Japanese automobile as they come.

And that is why I am always happy when there is a very nice 1:64 version to collect.  The Matchbox easily qualifies.  It was released in 2009, and was designed by none other than one of Mattel’s Japanese car gurus, Ryu Asada.  It looks better than most $1 models, and reeks of Ryu’s amazing attention to detail.

And like many Hot Wheels Japanese cars, the Matchbox FJ40 is experiencing a surge in value, and older versions are getting harder and harder to find.  Only more than most Hot Wheels.  The red 10-pack model from 2009 has easily fetched $100-plus in ebay auctions, and models like the 2010 10-pack version in Safari livery and the green Lesney Edition are not far behind.

Of course, in one of my more stupid moves, I decided to only collect the plain versions of the Land Cruiser, and left those with decos behind.  I had to correct that, and thankfully found ebay seller Spitfire Toys, who helped me fill in the holes.  (Highly recommended seller, by the way.  He is worth following if you are into Matchbox.)

So now I have them all, save the 2014 version that should be out soon.  We will give that one a fair amount of attention when it is released, as we had a hand in its design.  More on that later.

For now, let’s celebrate JCCS Week with Matchbox’s best entry so far into the nostalgic Japanese diecast collection…

Matchbox Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser:

2009 Mainline

2009 Mainline Recolor

2009 10-pack Exclusive

2010 Mainline

2010 Lesney Edition

2010 10-pack Exclusive

2011 5-pack

2011 Mainline

2012 5-pack

2012 Mainline

2013 Mainline/5-pack

Some random shots:

Lastly, the First Edition that has made the trip to several National Parks in and around Utah.  We have photographed it in several locations, hence the dirt.  It may make more trips soon…

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