Matchbox toy collectors know too well that the creative concepts dreamed up by toy designers don’t always come to fruition. Whether they are cut due to cost, dropped because of impractical design, blocked by licensing issues, or just forgotten, some features and designs don’t always make it to production. Here’s a sampling of details, features and models originally drawn or proposed by Matchbox designers ranging from the Lesney says to the Mattel era. Some of these designs were left on paper, others made it through the initial stages of the design process to early prototype stages, and some even made it to metal. However, none of them actually made it to market.
First, the MB 571 Sea Rescue Helicopter, a Mattel miniature design, was originally conceived in January, 2001 for a 2003 release. The concept drawing shows that a “retractable cable” play feature was originally planned. Unfortunately, this feature was never produced.
Note “Retractable Cable…” verbiage to lower right of model.
The design drawings also included a Coast Guard livery as depicted in the bottom rear ¾ view drawing. In the end, the model was released in a generic red-white-blue swirl livery.
Note Coast Guard livery on model.
The MB 524 Land Rover Discovery was originally designed to have a rear tailgate that opened. Intricate dials and details were cast on the weather tracking console located in the rear of the model. The opening door and console never made it to market. However, the detail cast on the floor of the tailgate’s interior was still cast on the production model.
Preproduction resin casting of Land Rover Discovery with opening tailgate. Notice instrument panel with dials on interior.
Production interior (plastic) on left compared to preproduction resin on right. Note lack of instrument console on production interior to left.
Production model on left, resin cast preproduction on right. Notice change in Matchbox logos painted on the rear section of the models.
The MB 406 Land Rover Freelander did not have a feature as opposed to a body style change. One original design of the model had the rear of the model enclosed. However, only the open back version of this model ever made it to market.
Two resin sample castings of MB 406 Land Rover Freelander with closed bodies.
Resin PrePro casting with enclosed body on left, production casting with open rear section on right.
Resin casting with closed body on left, production casting with open body on right.
The MB 026 Volvo Cable Truck was originally designed by Lesney to have an extra part – a nylon (plastic) ramp that could be pulled out from under the cable reel cradle to support the unloading of the reels. The extending ramp can be seen at the rear of the model in the design drawing below. Also note in this 1978 design drawing, the original truck was to have three axles versus the two axles issued on the production model.
Drawing of Volvo Cable Truck with extending ramp to rear and three axles.
Drawing of proposed Volvo Cable Truck ramp.
The ramp would lie in the gap between the bed of the truck and the cable reel cradle.
PrePro sample model of Volvo Truck in white, production sample in yellow.
The Volvo Truck was eventually produced with three axles – but as the MB 139 Volvo Tilt Lorry. The Volvo Cable Truck and Zoo Truck were never issued with the three axles.
Lesney’s MB 034 Chevy Pro Stocker was originally designated the Chevy NASCAR. This was indicated in the model’s original design drawing. Pre-production metal castings of the model with the NASCAR base were made and are much sought after today. This drawing, with the number and date still blank, dated from 1978.
By the time this sample model was cast, the model was designated No. 34 and the copyright year was cast as 1980 as shown on this preproduction casting.
Note Chevy NASCAR, No. 34, and 1980 copyright on the base of this prepro model.
PrePro sample of the Chevy Nascar in orange.
By the time the model was released, the name was changed to Chevy Pro-Stocker. Production models were never issued with NASCAR on the base.
A Helicopter Transporter was proposed for the 1-75 miniature line. The Lesney design from 1978, included a truck body in die cast and a helicopter made of plastic and nylon. Much like the later produced MB 146 Plane Transporter, the helicopter was to be a secondary part of the model. The copter’s main rotor would rotate and the copter could be removed from the platform. Unlike the later issued MB 146, this truck had two axles instead of three.
Miniature collectors may recall seeing a resin sample of this model in Matchbox books. I am not aware of this model ever making it to metal.
Here is a sample of Lesney’s unreleased No. 105 Boss Mustang box. The artwork and box design, dated September of 1981, never made it to production. Although the model was issued in this livery, it was released in the generic yellow boxes of the time or on blisterpack.
In contrast to the 75 miniature model limit as prominently printed on the sides of the box, the model was numbered 105. Picture boxes from this era added a lot to the perception of the model. Print samples of this box have sold at auction dating as late as 2008.
It is easy to envision how this next model would have looked rolling out of the factory. Designated the YMC17, the 1962 Chevy Impala 409 was destined for the America’s Most Wanted line of the Models of Yesteryear Series. The drawing, from Matchbox’s Euro R&D bureau, is dated 1998. Any PrePro copies of the model out there?
American muscle car aficionados may appreciate this 1969 AMC AMX. The model actually made it to resin stage and a sample was sold at auction in 2012. Like the Impala, it too destined was for the Models of Yesteryear range.
This next model, a miniature, was actually issued in the 1998 MB 1-75 range. However, the MB 336 ‘71 Camaro Z-28 undertook a few changes between being drawn on paper and produced on the factory line. As indicated in the drawings, the model was originally designed with:
- A grid like pattern on the headlights.
- Smooth turn signals (front) with no dimples.
- A rectangular grille.
- A grille without the Z28 badge.
- No dimples on the taillights.
Note grid pattern on headlights, lack of dimples on turn signals, and rectangular grille.
Note lack of dimples on taillights.
Before a model is cast in metal, it is usually molded in resin. In the photo below, the resin copy on the left is compared to a first shot casting on the right. Notice how the grille is a nearly perfect rectangular shape on the resin casting (as in the drawing) and a bit more trapezoidal (narrow at bottom and wider at top) on the metal model to the right.
In this next photo, three test shots are compared side by side. The model on the left is the first shot casting with no detail cast on the grille, headlights, or turn signals. The casting in the middle has the headlights cast with a grid like pattern as in the drawing. The grille pattern and turn signal dimples are cast as well. In the model on the right, the headlights are cast smooth, the dimples remain on the turn signals, and a badge (not on the original drawings) was added to the grille. This final example is how the final production model was actually cast.
In the next photo, the model on the left has no detailing cast on the taillights. The middle and right models have the dimples cast on the taillights – a feature not on the original drawing.
I have no drawings available for this next model, they are resin samples. The production version of this 2 1/2 Ton Truck was issued in 2001 as part of the Matchbox Collectibles line. This resin sample suggests it was being reworked for inclusion in the regular miniatures line. Look at the casting closely and notice the 8-spoke tread wheel design of the spare tire on the base of the model, the lack of side view mirrors, and removed detail on the undercarriage. This sample was a streamlined version of the FC-15 2 1/2 Ton Truck. The canvas on the back of the model was designed to be removable for added play value.
Last but not least, the following design is a personal favorite of mine – the 1965 GTO. The first photo shows a master pattern resin of the MB 364 hard top next to its three inch counterpart. Some details like the windshield wipers were lost in the scale transition. However, the model retained fairly sharp design integrity. Note that this was not the same model as the 1967 GTO issued in the Models of Yesteryear Series.
In addition to the hard top version, the model was also proposed as a convertible designated the MB 365. Like the hardtop, this model was never released as a Matchbox. What a boss car!
MB58 Renault Master Ambulance MB33 Highway Maintenance Truck
MB95 Sand Shredder MB73 BMW R1200 RT-P Police Motorcycle
MB14 Whiplash MB60 Crime Crusher 4×4
13 Replies to “June 4th Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Larry Scaduto…”
I say that truck is a Mack CF fire pumper!
Now that was a good guess…..and you would be absolutely correct!!!!
I hate Generics, But the Vista is really nice – Can i ask please, pretty please, WHEN IS THE RANGE ROVER EVOQUE COMING
I will ask once again for you. The generics are part of the line and I show everything that Matchbox sends. I tell you what……no generics next report!!!! How does that sound??
would like to see a report including some info in the '97/'98 Dirt Machines line… Excellent series, and it would be interesting to hear about how the borrowing of all those HW castings worked
Question for the next report. Where the @#$%&& is the info on the E-One Command for the mail in promo? Now that the deadline has passed and we didn't get the info on where to buy, what is a collector to do?
I think the new livery for the Scrambulance is the best yet! Since the Scrambulance is quite similar to the Unimog, Bremach, and other Unimog-esque trucks, any plans on making a pickup version and calling it the Scrambler?
I like the Olds Vista. I never bought any when the casting was out.
The Ground Grinder is perfect!
I would have loved to see the Deuce and a Half in the mainline. It would have gone good with the Abrams, Amphibious Assault Vehicle, Sherman, Humvee, and Bradley APC. At the time it would have came out, I would have been six. I would have likely loved that truck. Having the removable canopy would have added a lot of play value. Well, I still had the TrooP Carrier (that's exactly how it appears on the base, with the capitalized P), which was sort of similar but not as cool.
I think that ramp would have offered a lot more play value on the Volvo.
I am waiting for a reply from the Matchbox Team regarding this model. My guess is that the promo will be extended or the models will end up at the Mattel Store. We'll see what info is released some time soon.
No release date is available at this time. So the wait will go on………sorry I didn't get a better answer from Matchbox. But they did answer it for you.
Is that a promise… LOL….
Thank you – i cant understand why the wait, Majorette is already on a yet another recolour of theirs, and Oxford Diecast have been pumping them out, please gee them along a bit……
I think all those models that never seen the light of day would have sold many versions. This totally boggles my mind. We have all this generic crap that comes out and sits and most are hideous to look at.