In the coming weeks we will be doing a series here on Lamley featuring many of the Matchbox models that debuted between the years of 2005-2011. It was a magical time for Matchbox, where the designers were cranking out fantastic casting after fantastic casting, including many replicas of cars not as well-known in the US. The series we will be doing will also feature background on each model from Felix Holst, who ran the Matchbox brand at that time, and whose last position was heading up the entire Wheels Division at Mattel.
Felix talks highly of those times, calling that group of designers at Matchbox “diecast pirates” who turned the orange brand around while showing the blue brand how to produce models with a global appeal. He said “the legacy of that team is far more than just the MBx models they produced.”
He is totally right. While Hot Wheels was focused on muscle and strangely-tooned models at the time, Matchbox was producing cars from all kinds of eras and all corners of the world. Italy, Japan, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, Brazil, France, and on and on.
As the direction of each brand changed, we have seen that global approach shift to Hot Wheels. The output of globally-focused models has been nothing short of impressive, with classic Euro and JDM models well represented. But that legacy remains with Matchbox. We would not see these models from Hot Wheels today if that Matchbox team had not had the amount of success they did churning out such unique and well-executed models. It is no surprise that when Hot Wheels releases a model like the ’63 Aston Martin DB5, “That should have been a Matchbox!” is the predominant observation.
That golden era of Matchbox clearly had a heavy influence on Mattel, whether it is the orange or blue brands. And nothing is indicative of that heritage than the brand new Hot Wheels ’70 Ford Escort RS1600.
This the first image of the Escort loose, and say it with us: “This should have been a Matchbox!” We will go more in-depth on this one when we have it in hand, but this looks to be a gem. Sure, the main reason we have this model in the mainline is because it was used in the Fast & Furious franchise, but seeing it on a Hot Wheels card is really not a surprise these days with so many similar models already produced. And its execution appears to be as good as any Hot Wheels model we have seen in awhile.
Sure, some will complain of the chrome interior, but we will take that any day if it means chrome detailing on the exterior. Considering the 4-piece only limitations, this model is pretty remarkable.
We can’t wait to see it in person, and even more, we are looking forward to the rumored premium version in the Retro Entertainment line. Let’s hope that happens…