Matchbox does Adventure right with the 1990 VW Golf 4×4 Country & 1995 Chevy G30 Van…

Remember a few years ago?

Matchbox had some sort of wordy slogan about Adventure and Heroes and being Unstoppable or some shit like that.  I seriously can’t remember.

“Unstoppable Action for Maximum Adventure”?

“Adventure Heroes for Unstoppable Action”?

“4 out of 5 Dentists Recommend Unstoppable Action Heroes with Maximum Adventure”?

I can’t remember, but undoubtedly it was the result of marketing meeting after meeting of Unstoppable Overthinking for Maximum Awfulness.

There was some sort of thinking at the time that Matchbox needed to be WAY different than Hot Wheels, and needed to swing a tad younger.  The result was a slogan that would make no sense to any kid or their potentially purchasing parents, and the models wouldn’t make sense either.  A 4×4 School Bus?  A 4×4 Garbage Truck?  A 4×4 this?  A 4×4 that?  There was an idea that kids would like these exaggerated models because it would reflect the way they see the world.  What?!?

I don’t think kids see a school bus and think it looks like a 4×4.  I think they see a school bus and think it looks like a school bus.  Now if they saw a 4×4 School Bus at a monster truck show, they would think it looked like a school bus at a monster truck show, and would then in turn want a Monster Jam replica.  That’s the blue brand.  See how in order to differentiate the brands they accomplished nothing?

Needless to say, the models hung.  And hung.  And hung.  The massive failure was the lack of realism.  Adventure is a good thing.  Matchbox can have adventures.  But those adventure vehicles have to look right.  They don’t even have to be licensed.  They just have to look real.

Now this intro might be a better served in the preview of the 2017 Matchbox Originals, or non-licensed models.  While licensed vehicles are ALWAYS better, it seems that the Originals are pushing back towards realism, which is a very good thing.

But Adventure needs a kick in the pants as well.  Remember the Coyote 500?  If you don’t just head to the Matchbox pegs.  There is probably one or 50 still there.  Or the Terrain Trouncer?  Maybe the 4×4 Buggy.  Look them up and you get my point.  Thankfully the push for realism has shifted the Adventure side of the Matchbox line with two fantastic – and real – adventure-themed vehicles coming in 2017.

The 1990 Volkswagen Golf 4×4 Country and 1995 Chevy G30 Van come from the next great era for diecast replicas – the 1990’s – and scream adventure.  A little off-roading in the VW and some motorcycle, bike, gear and human hauling in the converted Chevy Ambulance.

Both are vehicles you would see on an adventure.  In fact, you can see some dude leaning against the Chevy Van with a brewski, a sunburn, and a canoe at his feet.  In Moab.  Or replace the canoe with a surfboard on the beach.  And that some dude is easy to picture because it is Gerry Cody, the Senior Design Manager at Matchbox, and the owner of that van.  Bro.

So yes, Matchbox, let’s do adventure.  But I like this adventure a lot better than the last unstoppable hero adventure.  Glad that stopped.

23 Replies to “Matchbox does Adventure right with the 1990 VW Golf 4×4 Country & 1995 Chevy G30 Van…”

  1. I feel like this article came from a different planet than the one I'm from. I grew up in the United States in the 1990's. No part of my childhood experience or fantasy was concerned with or would have appreciated a converted Chevrolet Express van-bodied ambulance dirt bike-hauler. This makes no more sense to me than a 4×4 school bus.

  2. All depends on where you were. Where I grew up, this vehicle meant nothing. But where my mom's family lived, this is EXACTLY what I would see driving around town when we went on vacation to visit.

  3. Does anyone else picture the Isuzu Rodeo MBX casting each time they see that 3D-printed 4×4 Golf, or is it just me?

    Definitely looking forward to these 2!

  4. I like the van. I think many of us have seen a similar vehicle on the road. I would have preferred the regular ambulance. Maybe we will get both at some time. I also think that a regular Rabbit would sell just as well as the new Rompin Rabbit shown here. Both are better than the Mudstang.

  5. The rescue squad in my town used a pair of ambulances like this up until about 2005. That's why I'm getting one to modify to a regular ambulance–except I didn't notice that sunroof until now.

  6. Hey Jeff, the cool thing about that Golf Country is it's an actual model that was offered for sale…complete with brush guard and rear mounted tire. Very cool and I'm very excited this as been added to the line.

  7. I wish they would put the rivet in front of the van backwards. Now you see that big bubble in the front. Some models are hooked in the front and have just one rivet in the back, this would be an option that lookde better. Anyway, I buy them both.

  8. I'm glad to see what Matchbox realized was a total failure during their horrible 2012 transition that was “Adventure and Unstoppable Action” Like you said, this title didn't make sense to kids or adults alike. The models didn't help at all either! Generic 4×4 and construction pieces of crap that didn't even look the least bit exciting, realistic, or for a lack of a better word, adventurous. Hopefully these two are a sign of the way Matchbox used to approach adventure themed vehicles from their golden days: using licensed or real-looking generic castings for adventure vehicles.

  9. Looking forward to this pair. Sadly I doubt if the bike is removable from the van. (It would have been 20+ years ago!)

    I think these are good relevant models – imagination can take a child a long way. In answer to a post above – one of my old colleagues had an ex ambulance as a camper. I carry my (pedal) bike on the back of my van as will many others I will see on my trip up to the lakes at the weekend. (although my van isn't an ex-ambulance)

    Golf country – what a good left field choice.


  10. Well done on continuing to publish critical and balanced reviews of Matchbox, supported by top quality macro photography. Kudos! Please excuse the question as I'm very new to Matchbox collecting (well, renewed … I had lots of them as a kid in the 70s). Which 4×4 School Bus do you mean? MB482 perhaps? I'd suggest MB649 is a better example of where Matchbox went wrong.

  11. They are both nice. I just hope the van isnt ruined by a plastic body like the long awaited new transt was. That was a huge let down. There is just far too much plastic in the line.

  12. What about Binz Ambulance 1970 (on base of Mercedes Mercedes 220/8), typical European ambulance; Ford Galaxie
    1971 police car (TV: Streets of San Francisco), come back of Mercury police car 1971 and Ford LTD 1987?

  13. You can get that from Maisto/Tonka on the used market. Not sure if it's still being made, but they did the Express cargo van both with stock ride height and a slammed version. No interior, sadly. A post-facelift model with an interior would be nice to see from somebody.

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