March 16th Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Larry Scaduto…

Ambassador’s Report March 16th, 2015
By: Larry Scaduto
Before I get into my introduction, I just wanted to mention that it’s been an honor to meet and know Dave Weise, who is no longer with Matchbox. He has been a friend to my wife, Gina and I for several years and a friend and fighter for us collectors for an even longer time. He will be greatly missed. Thank you, Dave for your years of dedication to the hobby and the support of the Ambassador’s Program. Good luck in your future endeavors and take care my friend!
Larry & Gina

Pictured: Designer Jeremy Cox, me & my wife Gina and Dave Weise
Good day to all!! This report is just a little late. But at least it’s here! This week I am covering a wide assortment of topics. So get ready……it’s 32 pages long!! Well at least on my screen it is. I start off with a new Supreme Heroes model and some new decos for 2015. With the help of Chuck Wiersma he has writen an article about a series that never made it to the store shelves.          Matchbox Adventure Packs with Color Changing Action. Please take the time to read this informative and interesting story about this wonderful series. Also check out the WHAT’S NEW SECTION….some nice models there as well. Have a good day and thank you for reading. Larry
Supreme Heroes Renault Master Ambulance

Here we have something special from France called VEHICULE DE SECOURS ROUTIER LEGER on the Renault Master Ambulance (MB885).  This is one of the many types of rescue vehicles used in France with Authentic decoration.

Nice work on this model! Printed on all four sides!!

New for 2015
Water Hauler (I wouldn’t mind this being revised back to being the Dump Truck it once was)
Next we have the Ford E-350 for our mainline & 5 packs.  Note that this model has an all new one piece plastic body (different from the one used in the Supreme Hero line). We have not changed the MB Number, so it is also MB771. Since the cab and rear body are one component we can now decorate both areas at the same time allowing for full coverage. 
Next is one of the exclusive vehicles for the 9/10 car packs: The MBX Moving Van (MB763).
Lastly, this is a refresh for the Air Blitz (SB111) Remember the propeller is in the back.
All images and articles are presented here with the consent and permission of Mattel and the Matchbox Team.
If you need to reach me, send an e-mail to:


Featured in this week’s report are models from the never released Matchbox Adventure Packs. This series was just about ready to go before the plug was pulled. I don’t have the complete collection, (I know you’re shocked!) but I have an article in my History Section from our 6th Ambassador, Chuck Wiersma. In this article there is an extensive and interesting look into this wonderful series that didn’t make it to the store shelves. Let me know what you think. 
MB314 Mobile Crane & MB315 Volvo Flat Bed Truck

MB029 Tractor Shovel & MB209 Faun Dump Truck

MB036 Ford Refuse Truck & MB146 Plane Transporter

MB134 Extending Ladder Fire Truck & MB100 Peterbilt Tanker

MB186 Dodge Dakota Pickup Truck

As mentioned elsewhere, this week’s History Section features models from the Chuck Wiersma Collection. His expertise on these models and his ability to thoroughly explain the whole process involved with the development of this series is once again second to none. Enjoy…

Matchbox Adventure Packs with Color Changing Action — Another Lost Series

In 1998, Mattel-Tyco out of Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, USA developed a new line of Matchbox product called Matchbox Adventure Pack with Color Changing Action.  The line included eight (8) two-model action sets each featuring one model with a color changing capability and a second model with a water spraying feature.  The models were developed from pre-existing miniature range models.
Special paint application for the color changing feature and water bladder attachments for water spray feature were developed for the series.   The color changing part on the model would change color when sprayed with warm or cool water.  Four of the eight sets made it to a short run production before being cancelled.  The remaining four sets did not appear to have progressed beyond early development stage.  None of the sets made it to market.
The sets were Mining, TB 002 Tanker Blaze, TB 007 Jet fire, House (Cottage) Transporter, TB 004 Shark Transport, TB 006 Police Siege, Bear Attack, and Shark Attack.

The Mining set featured the MB 209 Faun Dump truck with a color changing dirt load mated with a modified MB 029 Tractor Shovel with water bladder and hose.  The dump used the same dirt load as issued in the Adventure Pack Mining set.   The dirt load changed from brown to gold when sprayed with warm water.  Early mockups of the Tractor Shovel featured a handle on the sides of the shovel.  The flame logo on the back of the Tractor Shovel’s tank seems a bit confusing.

Final Sample of Gold Mining Set.  Note flame logo on back of Tractor Shovel bladder.
Cold livery is dark load shown in bed of dump.  Warm livery is gold load shown to right.
Concept drawing of Tractor Shovel with bladder tank assembly on rear.

The TB 002 Tanker Blaze set featured the MB 100 Peterbilt Tanker with a color changing tank and a modified MB 134 Extending Ladder Fire Truck (Oshkosh) with water bladder and hose.  The plastic tank on the back of the Peterbilt was light colored with red and yellow stripes when warmed and a dark tank with red and yellow flames when cooled.  The fire truck had an opaque bladder mounted to the top with a hose to squirt water on the burning Peterbilt.

Final samples of Tanker Blaze Set.  Models shown are production grade.
Early samples of Tanker Blaze Set.  Fire Truck has early design of bladder and decal livery.  Tanker color actually changes.
Concept Drawing of Fire Truck with bladder tank assembly and hose.

The TB 007 Jet Fire set featured the MB 146 Plane Transporter with color changing plastic jet and a modified MB 036 Ford Refuse Truck with water bladder and hose.  The Transporter Truck featured a matte green finish – same as the Water Tanker.  When cool, the upper body of the jet would remain dark green.  When warmed, battle damage would appear on the wings as well as J58 on the tail.  The wings were made of opaque plastic where earlier mockups attempted to use clear plastic wings with painted surfaces.   Early mockups of the tanker had the tank marked Jet Fuel.  Why would one pour fuel on a fire?

Final sample of Jet Fire Set.  Note chrome wheels on transporter and “Water” on tanker.
Final samples of the jets.  Cold jet on Transporter to the left.  Warmed jet with battle damage on right.

The House Transporter set featured a modified MB 315 Volvo Flatbed Truck with a color changing house load and a modified MB 314 Mobile Crane with water bladder and hose.  When I first saw the early prototype of the Truck and cottage I was very excited as I thought it was an attempt to reissue models themed on earlier Lesney designs – in this case the Site Hut Truck.  I felt the black and white contrast made for an exciting look.  I was taken back a bit when I saw the bright colors on the final sample models.  The house on flatbed platform was never issued.  The crane feature on the truck still worked with the modified bladder.

Early sample of House Transporter set.  Bladder on crane is solid hard resin for mockup.  The white plastic cottage has no paint applied to it.

Final samples of truck and cottage.  Warm livery of house shows vivid colors as shown on back of truck.  Cold livery shows pale as shown on right.

Final sample of Cottage Transporter set.  Note vivid colors on cottage in its cold livery and the cottage logo on the Volvo cab doors and sides of the crane.
Concept drawings of cottage on truck bed assembly – front and side views.
Concept drawing of cottage on truck bed assembly.

The TB 004 Shark Transport set featured a modified MB 389 Volvo Tank Truck (open top) and a modified MB 100 Peterbilt Tanker with rubber bladder and hose.  The set also featured a small plastic shark.  The Volvo was most likely to be issued in aqua green truck with white stripe but trucks in reverse colors were mocked up as well.  The sides of the tank were marked Caution with a shark logo.  The tank was reported to be a solid color such as yellow when cool and then turn clear (to see the shark) when warm water was added.  The white Peterbilt Tanker was equipped with an aqua green bladder with white H2O deco and a hose.  None of any clear plastic models in this set have color changing paint.  This set is not known to have made it passed the development stage.

Early sample of TB 004 Shark Transport Set.  Bladder on Peterbilt is made of rubber and works.  Note green color of Volvo Truck.
Early samples of the Volvo Trucks with a painted yellow container and a translucent container.
Concept drawing of Peterbilt Tanker with bladder assembly and hose.

The TB 006 Police Siege set is where things started going a bit violent.  It featured an MB 148 Volvo Container Truck with small plastic gunman and loot inside the rear container paired with a modified MB 153 Mission Helicopter with water bladder gun/missile.  The prototypes I have seen had the Volvo in black with the grey container in Moving Co. livery.  When sprayed with warm water the box was supposed to go translucent and the gunman with bags of money and stacks of gold were to be visible.  Once sprayed with water, the sides of the back were to appear battle damaged and show the interior of the container.  The large bladder affixed to the bottom of the Mission Helicopter resembled some type of large gun or missile.  The siege scene on the interior has been found in green, grey and beige.  The helicopter has been found in black and white Police or blue and white Police Air Unit liveries.  I believe the latter was the intended livery.  The set also never made it past development.

A mounted early mockup of Police TB 006 Police Siege Set.  Note the production helicopter in this early mockup.
Later design for helicopter in TB 006 Police Siege Set.  Note blue and white livery as well as red nozzle on tank.
Design mockups of the Volvo Moving Truck with gunman and loot.  Note decals on container sides on model to right simulating battle damage.  Also note container insert piece with gunman, bags of loot, and stacks of gold.

The Bear Attack set featured a modified MB 186 Dodge Dakota Pickup with camper plus a modified MB 188 GMC Wrecker converted into a cistern tanker truck.  The Dodge is a modified prototype with the roll bar removed and a plastic camper attached.  Campers can be found in grey or blue with no deco or in white with label decoration applied to them.  The stickers depicted signs of a bear attack and frightened family in the camper.  The camper was purported to change color when sprayed to show signs of a bear attack.  A plastic bear also was designed for the set.
The camper truck would have made a great model for the 1-75 line.  The Cistern Truck, as I call it, only made it to a hard resin bladder and hand decorated decal prototype stage.  A rubber master mold of the bladder was made for the back of the GMC but I have never seen one actually installed on the truck.  The models on the presentation plinth give an idea how the models would have appeared in pack.  Kind of frightening for children I think.  The camper truck remains one of my favorite models.

Prototype set of Bear Attack mounted on plinth
Prototype sample of Camper back in white with stickers showing bear damage view from left side of vehicle.  Note claw marks. 
Prototype sample of Camper back in white with stickers showing bear damage view from right side of vehicle.  

Lastly, the Shark Attack set featured the venerable Lesney designed No. 9 Boat and Trailer hooked to a modified MB 230 Isuzu Amigo with raft load.  This set also came with a shark.  I can only guess the color changing feature on the boat would have been to show shark damage.  The Amigo’s bladder was made of hard resin and the deco consists of hand applied decals.    These two models are mounted to a cardboard plinth in prep for prototype package assembly.  Like the bladder for the Bear Attack set, a master rubber mold of the bladder was produced for the Isuzu Amigo although I have not seen samples of it installed.

Early mockup of Shark Attack set.  Load on back of Amigo is resin.

I am not aware of any versions of the Shark Transport, Police Siege, Bear Attack or Shark Attack sets where the color changing feature worked.  Some test bladders were made of very brittle material that did not work.  When I first had a chance to inspect a tank and hose for the Jet Attack Tanker Truck, the plastic tank was so brittle I broke the base of the tank with only slight pressure from my thumb.

Various bladders from the MB 036 Refuse Truck turned Tanker truck for the Jet Blaze Set.  Note the very brittle white tank with thumb hole on the left.  Also note the various sample nozzles tested.

The design of this series not only required the development of color changing plastic parts, but also the development of the water spraying function.  Bladders, hoses, nozzles, bladder mount attachments, and other plastic pieces like the shark, house, gunmen, and dirt load had to be created.  In all I counted at least 28 parts that had to be designed or modified to fit existing models to make this series work.  Quite a bit of time and resources were invested in this line’s development

Prototype and sample parts (clockwise from left to right):  Tank and mount in black and silver grey resin and master rubber bladder in beige for Faun Crane (House Transporter set), master rubber bladder in grey and sample rubber bladder in aqua for Peterbilt Tanker (Shark Transport set).
Prototype and sample parts (clockwise from left to right):  final color changing sample of tank for Peterbilt Tanker (Tanker Blaze set), master rubber bladder in grey for GMC Wrecker turned Cistern Truck (Bear Attack set), master rubber bladder in grey for Isuzu Amigo (Shark Attack set), and final color changing sample of dirt load for Faun Dump (Mining set).
On left, tampo deco masters for color changing jet (Jet Fire set).  On right, sample decals for Mission Helicopter (Police Siege set).  Decals were for prototype design only.
Prototype and sample parts (left to right):  Prototype rubber bladder in grey and rubber master mold of bladder for Fire Truck (Tanker Blaze set), mockup of red painted hard resin bladder on black mount for Tractor Shovel plus beige colored rubber bladder for Tractor Shovel (Mining set).
Several prototype samples of the Jet from the Jet Fire set.  Note clear wings with deco on two models at front.  Final sample is dark green model to the right.
At rear:  brass molds for the rubber bladder from the Peterbilt Tanker (Shark Transport) and Mission Chopper (Police Siege).  At front:  one of four copper plates used to apply the red and yellow color changing paint on the side of the Peterbilt Tanker (Tanker Blaze).

Several sets made it into mockup packaging including the Mining, Tanker Blaze, and House Transport Sets.

Sample pack of Mining set.
Sample pack of Tanker Blaze set.
Sample set of House Transport models in Jet Fire package.

Several plastic pieces developed for this series and for the regular Adventure Pack series did eventually make their way to market.  The shark tank, shark, and the dirt load for the Faun Dump were released in the regular Adventure Pack Series.
The samples shown here prove that there was an intensive development in graphics, new concept design, and new tooling.  Unfortunately, yet another set of fun models we never got to see on store shelves.

By:  C. Wiersma

The Matchbox website has been updated as most of us know. The 2014 models are pictured. The artwork is superb!!! I know many of you would like to see the 2015 line, but that is in the works and takes time to put it all together. Since the 2015 list has not been released, I would not expect the poster to appear any time soon. Please go to the website…. It is really nice now!!
I’ve been receiving questions about the promotion on our website regarding the Real Working Rigs offer. I must admit, I had to read it a few times to understand it myself. But here is the explanation….You do have to shop at a certain store to get a specific Fire Truck since each will be exclusive to a specific store. The $20.00 Matchbox purchase must also be on one receipt.  Please go to the website and on the home page, click on the (Be a Hero Icon) and it shows the 3 models (actually 4 now). There are arrows that you click on to show what model will actually be available at which retailer. The rules and regulations are also explained in greater detail as well. Please read this carefully since there is a time limit for this promotion. Currently the site is only showing 3 Real Working Rigs. The fourth model will be the E-One Mobile Command. Details and pictures soon to follow….. 

Matchbox Power Grabs
Turn Tamer & Mini Dozer
Cliff Hanger / Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 Polizia / Volkswagen Saveiro Cross
Blaze Blitzer / Load Lifter / Crime Crusher
Badlander / Blockade Buster / Sand Shredder 
(Can you guess which ones are the exclusives?)
1953 Studebaker Starliner
Kia Sportspace Concept
Donkervoort D8 GTO
Audi RS3 Sportback
1974 Plymouth Duster
Cement Mixer Trailer
2014 Porsche 918 Spyder-Weissac
Flybridge Cabin Cruiser

Here is the explanation on why the Cadillac Ambulance was modified… 
Greetings Larry, 
It seems that there is a lot of discontent from collectors regarding the changes we have made to the 63 Cadillac Ambulance and that there are those who feel that is this has reduced the quality of the toy.
We had some hard financial decisions to make in order to keep this model in the line:
1.       Reduce the die cast weight to continue using a die cast body.
2.       Convert the body to plastic with a die cast chassis.
3.       Keep the casting as is and remove it from the basic line entirely.
We chose to keep the die cast body with modifications.  The quality of the toy has not been diminished but with this modification but at least it can continue in the line.
Note that the original casting is still available but only for use in a premium line now.  It was planned for use in the Supreme Hero line but the series had been reduced which included this model.
We understand that collectors will not understand the concept of having a skylight on an ambulance but kids will like it because now you can see the cool details inside. The Caddy will live on in the basic line.
A few months ago I featured The Graffic Traffic Series in my History section. I pictured what I believed was the complete set of the Airport models. Just a few weeks ago I was proved wrong, as this set appeared on e-bay with the NASA Space Shuttle & Peterbilt Tanker. Never knew this one existed. Of course I had to have it!!!! My bid of almost $60.00 was enough to win this from another bidder. If I outbid someone here reading this article….my apologies! (Kinda Sort of)

14 Replies to “March 16th Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Larry Scaduto…”

  1. Is that a new design I see on the Lamborghini Gallardo? Some more photos of it would be appreciated. The Renault Ambulance looks okay but a bit “in your face” with those wheels. I much prefer the Ford even though its plagued with plastic now. The rest of the models are ok at best, not interested in them (are you reading Matchbox?). The story was a bit too long (I guess stories are long) although I found it interesting. Some of the models like the Peterbuilt and Volvo trucks were quite nice. I would love to buy those decals in the third last photo. I wish Matcbox sold them like that. Would be interesting and enjoyable to put those decals on other models.

    Anyway, when are the new models being unveiled? Its been at least three-four months or more since the first 18 of the 25 were showcased. And what about the rest of the 7 models? Why are you being so lousy, Matchbox?

  2. Will we see the price of Matchbox reduced in the store for us non US folk? Because Mattel toys are very expensive and it has nothing to do with inflation or taxes, they are doing this to keep it at $1 but outside the US these toys that get lower in quality each year (thet plastic used in lego is much higher quality) have gone from $2 to around $3.50, while no other toy brand has had price increases or lowered quality or content. Matchbox is to Britain what Hot Wheels is to the US, yet shops are dropping the brand like flys over the past couple years, parents and kids must not be buying.

  3. I love the Renault. Sure it's plastic, but one of the best Matchbox ambulances in a long time. Plus, isn't this version the first French emergency vehicle Matchbox has ever done?

    The Water Hauler I am indifferent towards.

    I'd be able to forgive the E-350 being changed to plastic, as it is all white and has clear windows, opening up to a ton of customizing possiblities. But, instead of leaving the light bar in the correct position, they cut a hole in the roof, meaning red windows are a possiblity, which means I think I'll pass on this one. Luckily, the old casting is still here for the Supreme Heroes line.

    What were they thinking with the moving truck?! This looks horrible.

    Get rid of the Air Blitz, it looks awful.

    I need a few 9-packs from Walmart, so I'm sure the $20 purchase for one of these mail-ins should come quick.

    Some of the Power Grabs are really great, like the VW Saviero, but many are awful, like the Crime Crusher.

    I've almost completely switched to only Siku, Majorette, and Tomica, even though they are not easy to find here in the United States, as they are so well done, and none of the brands cut corners like Mattel has done. If it weren't for so many nice new models this year, like the Mack CF, and the Supreme Heroes line, I would not be buying any Matchbox at all.

    I think these prototypes with the water squirters might have done well. I know I would have enjoyed them when I was little.

  4. It is my understanding that Matchbox charges the same amount for their products to retailers worldwide. It's the individual retailers that hike the prices to the level you see at the stores outside of the USA. There might be some other tariffs or fees I'm not aware of, but Mattel gives a suggested retail price and the retailers have the final say on what they charge. There are stores here that only charge .97 and there are a select few that charge $1.99 and anything in between those prices. But it seems here in the states once a Matchbox model goes over the $1.00 threshold, sales start to suffer.

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