Not really a surprise, eh?
As promised, this is Part 1 of the unveiling of my 5 favorite Matchbox castings. I don’t think collectors are roaming the streets wondering what my favorite Matchbox castings are, but it does give me a chance to showcase some of the best Matchbox models Mattel has put out in the last 10 years. Plus, you got to guess which models they were, and maybe someone got it right. We will have to see.
Anyway, each day this week through Friday, around this time, I will unveil another one of my faves. I am starting with one of the most obvious, and then go from there. These are not ranked. Choosing five was hard enough, choosing my absolute favorite is impossible. In some ways, I am mad I did this, because the models that didn’t make the this could easily have been my Top 5 another time. More on that later in the week.
But let’s start with the BMW 1M. Or M1, or whatever BMW has asked Mattel to call it. If I were to google this car, I would type in 1M, so that is what I am going with.
I don’t have any set criteria for picking a favorite. Obviously I have to like the casting, and the actual car, but there are other little tidbits that might seep in as well. In this case, the model holds some significance as well.
But let’s start with the model. The BMW 1M is one of the bright spots in what has been a lackluster and confusing time at Matchbox. The powers that be seemed to be more concerned with separating the Hot Wheels and Matchbox brands than actually emphasizing good product from both. The result was a more diverse Hot Wheels line, full of models that could have easily been Matchbox models years before, and a Matchbox brand that was mired in a line full of exaggerated off-road and utility vehicles. Realism, for the most part, was thrown out the window.
And it was too bad. Realism was always Matchbox’s bread and butter, and that is how collectors viewed them as well. Some outspoken collectors would say they were not interested in Matchbox because the models weren’t exciting (i.e. they didn’t have flames or exaggerated rear wheels), but the models were quality. But the last few years, the new castings were unrealistic, and the liveries on the realistic cars were strange as well. Matchbox was a big messy bag of overthinking.
But occasionally a model would drop that would remind us all that at its core Matchbox could still produce the best $1 models around. The Dodge A100 was one. The Type 34 Karmann Ghia another. And this BMW 1M was one as well.
There is a formula for what makes a Matchbox model great. Unique selection x fantastic execution = great Matchbox. The 1M is definitely unique. BMW’s are on the pegs all the time. Both Hot Wheels and Matchbox produce them. But the 1M is special because, well, it is the 1M. Not the M3, or M5, but the limited production M version of the no-longer-produced 1 Series. I remember reading an article about the how the 1M would be a future classic, and I agree. Those that own one love it. And they are a lucky bunch considering only 740 made it to the US.
Then comes the execution. The model is shrunk down in such a nice way. The flared wheel wells are there because they are there on the real car. It looks boxy because the model is boxy. The stance looks wide because the stance is wide. It is a mean little car, and the Matchbox replicates that.
Beyond the casting we have seen it in signature colors, from Valencia Orange to Monte Carlo Blue. Not to mention the special homage to the 3.0 CSL for current Ambassador Dirk Schleuer’s event in Germany last year. It has already been a good run, 3 years in. It gets even better with the black version coming in the Best of the World line.
Lastly, it holds a little significance. It may not be the most interesting story, but it represents my year as Matchbox Ambassador. The 1M was announced at the same dinner that I was named Ambassador, and it was my favorite model to unveil while doing my reports. In fact, the Matchbox team at the time would tell you I hounded them for info and images of the model as it was being developed, whether I could show them or not.
On a particularly bad week, when for some reason I was getting a lot of grief from a few disgruntled Matchbox collectors, I got an email from the team, telling me I was doing a nice job as Ambassador, and that they had attached a little present for my eyes only. It was a picture of the first 1M prepro they had in hand. I can’t show the photo, because I had to promise not to, but the model was painted yellow with a fresh colored “Barbie” interior. I was stoked to see the model, even if we were still months from its release. The photo cheered me up.
Months later, in early July, when my time as Ambassador was coming to a close, the team shared a pic with of the prepros they were donating for the upcoming Gathering charity auction. I was told that one model might catch my attention, and it sure did. It was the same yellow 1M prepro. I knew I had to have it, and following a bidding battle with my Lamley counterpart, David Tilley, I was able to snag it.
I do love having prepros of my favorite castings, but this one is extra special because it signifies my time as Ambassador, which was a real privilege to take on. Oh, and it looks pretty cool.
Like I said earlier, it is impossible to pick an absolute favorite Matchbox, but if my life depended on it, this would most likely by my choice…
(Find the Matchbox BMW 1M on eBay… Search “M1” as well.)