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The 2017 Matchbox ’95 Custom Chevy Van already has a nickname…

It’s Big Red.

Not to be confused with my father’s “Big Red”, a red (of course) Ford Galaxie 500 that whisked he and my mother away on their honeymoon.  (Later replaced by a Ford Maverick, then the oft-mentioned Honda Accord I have written about here.)

This Big Red, or ’95 Custom Chevy Van, a converted ambulance no less, is a replica of the bicycle hauler that still sits in the driveway of one Gerry Cody, maniacal biker, facial hair specialist, goofball and overall passionate dude whose day job involves developing playthings for some El Segundo-based toymaker.

When talking to Gerry (pronounced “Gary”, but just call him Codyman), amid an onslaught of “dude”, “bro”, and “rad”, you will quickly learn about his passion for life, which for him should be spent outdoors.  And if you want to spend every extra moment outdoors, you need something to get you there.  A few years ago Gerry chose this van to be his transport.  Big Red.

photo credit: Gerry Cody

Back then Gerry ran the bike racing team Bike Blood (the blog still exists), and he needed something to get him, his team, and their equipment around.  Finding this used ambulance for sale was love at first site, and a bright red paint coat later, Big Red was born.  His new trusted companion for the Boom Boom that is biking.

The Bike Blood days are over, but the van continues on, taking Gerry and all his whatnots on excursions all over the place.  And there is usually something attached to the back, ready to take the adventure that much deeper.  Big Red screams Codyman.

So is this blog feature a tribute to Gerry?  Probably.  Gerry should get a lot of credit for bringing the passion back to Matchbox.  His approach to life is “all in”, and that was his approach to bringing Matchbox back.  It is contagious, and the orange brand continues on that trajectory, even as Gerry has moved on to new duties at Mattel (with an eye still on orange).

If you look at the last two years of Lamley, the Matchbox passion is there too.  I said it was contagious.  Meeting Codyman made it so.  I could not help but buy in, and I am excited for what is coming.  Doing this blog does afford me the opportunity to get to know people and see how things work, and getting a glimpse of the efforts made at Matchbox the last couple of years has truly been a blast.  And hanging with Gerry is, well, rad.  Bro.

So Big Red is most definitely Gerry’s model.  His Matchbox legacy.  A model he had to battle to get done, jumping over numerous hurdles along the way.  (Note the diecast body.  Based on history this model doesn’t get made unless the body is plastic.)  It also sports another cool detail that we have seen emerge the last year from designer Abe Lugo:

Yep, following the bed of the VW Pickup and the engine and harness of the Nissan Skyline, we now have two versions of the van.  One with a motorcycle on the back and one with a spare wheel and equipment.  I love that Matchbox is doing this.  Brings the fun back, even within all the budget and other restrictions they have to work with.

So yeah, this model is cool.  Super cool.  For me personally, it represents a special friendship that wouldn’t have happened without doing this blasted blog thing.

Look for Big Red soon.  Thanks once again to Mattel for allowing this preview…

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41 thoughts on “The 2017 Matchbox ’95 Custom Chevy Van already has a nickname… Leave a comment

  1. Nice and im sure ill pick up a few when they finally hit the U.K. but im afraid blaming budget restraints for a lack of interior and other daft cost cutting measures is getting a bit tiresome. Ive no doubt Mattel have put these constraints on the MBX team but for collectors outside of the U.S. who pay a little bit more for them its truly baffling. Needless to say we can buy Majorette, Welly, Realtoy etc for the same price and im afraid their execution is SO MUCH better. I also buy a lot of obscure Chinese brands from AliExpress some are licensed castings and some arnt but they all equal or better MBX and all show no signs of no interior, lack of all round tampo hit and plastic bodies.
    Its time for Mattel to call the bluff of your big U.S. retailers and start raising prices away from the ancient one dollar.

  2. John, please confirm whether it has interior or not. I don't see any reason why this would not have an interior. The rest of it looks brilliant! I wish the base wasn't chrome but I'll take it anyway.

  3. If you wanted an interior, the body would have to have been plastic. I really don't get what you idiots don't understand about the constraints of keeping a model at a $1 price point. If you want an interior so bad, spend $3 to $5 on the very abundant supply of semi-premium and premium models that are readily available elsewhere, and stop whining like a little bitch

  4. Completely agree. Lack of interior ruins the model more than having additional plastic. MBX is supposed to be dedicated to higly detail realistic models…if I wanted black windows, I'd buy Maisto.

  5. Benjamin Addie If theses cost contraint are so important then why did they add an interior to the Volvo V60, the Hudson hornet police, the nissan skyline, and any other new models last year? I can understand the no interior argument in the case of models that have special feature like moving parts, opening hood/doors etc. But in the case of this van, there is absolutely no excuses. Your point is just completly childrish and stupid. So, I think the moron here is you, buddy.

  6. Sorry Benjamin but the rest of the World pay more than a dollar for their Matchbox and indeed Hot Wheels so why should this truly vast market have to suffer for this archaic price point. Im not trying to start an argument as I love hearing both sides of the story its just an observation. I have loads of 1/64 Welly who retail at the same price as an MBX but none suffer from the odd and short term cost cutting.

  7. That's a fantastic looking model! I love it when Mattel bases models on employee cars. First, there was the '63 Cadillac Hearse, now this beautiful van. I hope I can get one.

  8. This is great. I dont care about interior unless you make an interior with a driver in it. Making the body diecast instead of plastic and have the side mirrors are all nice touches. Keep it up matchbox.

  9. John, it doesn't matter to me if the car has an interior or not. Call me part of the old guard, since I've been collection since 1973 and well aware of the history of Matchbox. the earlier versions of MBX (1953-1959) did not have interiors and they sold just fine. I spend most of my time searching for the older stuff because of their realism.

    Also, I fully understand why most of the current MBX and Hot Wheels do not have interiors, and that's cost. (Same goes for generics-licensing costs are expensive. Most of the the Chinese brands are copying the legitimate brands, and claiming to have licensing agreements, and they are clearly not. Welly, Realtoy, Playmind have licenses, but some of the more obscure brand do not.) And since children, not us grownups or those who love to scalp for profit, generics are necessary.

    Perhaps if the brands put interiors in everything and raise the prices to $3.00-5.oo, then everbody will be happy. But I doubt it.so here's a solution: Let everybody who are unhappy with this raise enough money and buy Matchbox from Mattel, and then run it the way they want to. Then when the cost of the raw materials and labor become a reality, then maybe they will change their minds.

  10. Another neat piece from Matchbox and a great story John. Thanks .
    I can see the bike on the back falling off with a little rough play and probably should have been made as part of the interior .

  11. Emile, there is absolutely a reason that this van has no interior while other models (every one you mentioned, in fact) do. There is a significant amount of additional die-cast on this Chevy Van. Not only is it larger than ALL of the models you mentioned, but one whole side of it doesn't even have any cut-outs for windows. That's all additional die-cast material that has to be made up for by cutting some other aspect.

    And Ambassador84, I do agree that the price-point is no longer a rational one for Mattel to stick to, but the truth is that their sales here in the states would suffer if they upped the price…it's a sad reality. I know that folks in other countries happily pay more for the product, but the sheer amount of business Mattel does with U.S. stores means that they really can't raise prices and expect the stores to play along.

  12. Price point is still valid no matter where. If the mainline went up from $1 to $2 stateside, international prices would likely go up as well. Premium items outside the states have a similar percentage increase compared to mainlines as they do stateside.

    To the interior deal… I have been wondering if the team has looked at making the window and interior one piece, like HW had done for a number of cars over the years ('57 Chevy and '57 T-Bird are two off the top of my head).

  13. An increase in mainline/basic price point would raise the prices outside the states as well. So as archaic as many feel it might be, it would affect everyone, not just the states. So you may pay (equivalent to) $2 now but if they were to increase the price point you would pay maybe (equivalent of) $3 or $4.

  14. Benjamin, I think you will find this casting is much smaller than you think. It will be closer to 1/87 than to 1/64 ans much smaller than the old Chevy van. You can tell form the wheels being used.

    I would have preferred that the rear accessories would have been part of an interior and as a result not been chromed. It would have been a better execution. IN this case the 4 piece rule was used to have a second base.

    The reality of the 4 part rule limitation and the US price point is that when the price point does increase, it will not result in more parts or better quality of models. Just higher prices. The argument you make to just by the other higher priced models doesn't hold value with the hoards of MB collectors. ( I do buy other brands.) For us we view this as a down grading of the brand. It was always about the quality. Not it seams the models are only designed around a price point. It is not a good business model. You will lose your customers. we have seen it numerous times. IN the last decade MB has gone from a sales growth and leader in the Mattel family to minimal shelf space, lack of distribution, etc. what has changed? They have gotten away from the core brand values and solely looking at margins per unit.

  15. Again, we have Majorette in Europe at $2 price point, it doesn't have plastic bodies or generics, it has interiors, it has correct scale and no stupid 4 part rule. And both Majorette and Matchbox are made in Thailand.
    I'm writing this because I'm just sick of all these continuous comments about how important it is to keep the costs down, bla bla bla. But if you look at Majorette, it just shows Mattel is incapable of producing good products and who knows why.
    Please don't take this personal, I wrote this as a long-term Matchbox fan, but I'm just sick of all this cost cutting and quality eroding crap.

  16. I agree on Majorette JL, the quality is there, and I am a big fan (2017 looks amazing). But there is one big differentiating factor, at least today. Hot Wheels and Matchbox are in US Walmart, and Majorette is not. When it comes to the basic Hot Wheels and Matchbox lines, the $1 price point is demanded by the big box retailers here in the US, and Mattel has to oblige.

    A few years ago, Hot Wheels raised the price of basics by about 10 cents, and it lasted not even a year. Walmart and Target and others demanded that it go back down to a dollar. Whatever research Walmart does, they feel that $1 is where those cars should be. Whether we agree or not, that is what Walmart wants and sadly what Walmart wants they get. Plus I am sure the numbers bear that Mattel sells a TON more at $1 than at higher prices. This is why when it comes to cost production, Mattel deals not in pennies but in fractions of pennies, and budgets per model are set to keep that $1 price point in US big box stores. That is where it all starts.

    I guess my point is there is a lot more to the story, and a lot more players in it, than you and I know. Kids are still the massive majority of buyers, whether collectors think that or not. Sure, I would love to see an interior in this, but reality is reality in today's market, and knowing that, I think Matchbox killed it on this one.

    Majorette sells mostly in Europe and Asia, where the markets are different. I would kill to see Majorette on the pegs here in the US, and I hope it happens. But they will be priced higher and might have a hard time competing with the $1 cars. Collectors have a different eye than a parent walking buy with a kid. To them a $2 Majorette and a $1 Hot Wheels look the same in the blister. Only one is half the price of the other, and one has much higher brand recognition here in the US than the other.

    Again, this is just what the reality is today. Not defending it, just stating it.

  17. Benjamin Addie, Sorry, but this chevy van does'nt have that much metal to justify an non-interior argument. Just compare it the the ford F100 panel van (YES it's a older model, i get that, but they did'nt change it, do they?), released in batch A. All metal, no roof cut, with interior. I think here is the issue : the ressources in between HW and MBX are just horribly distribued. Mattel is putting more metal to their hot wheels cars (like plastic spoiler become part of the metal body) and also put a lot of metal on generics model that nobody care for and warm the pegs. and because Mattel is'nt capable to take reasonnable decisions and to control their materials needs (like to priorise licenced model that will definetly sold well) there is a waste of metal in the majority of the vehicules produces, and because of that they have to cut from other thing like the general quality of the viehicule (having extra parts, interiors, moving parts,etc)I also observed a downgrade of quality in the paint of most hot wheels and mbx cars (inegality in between the parts, some cracks found on the roof, doors… I have pictures to prove it) But that's just my point of view, but things need to changes, and need to be change for the best for our Hobby.

  18. For me the having interior or not doesn't matter. But I wish matchbox could make the models of real cars we could see on the street. I have to admit these vans are cool, but I prefer the daily street cars, volkswagen golf, ford focus or honda accord. Tired of so many off-road vehicles and generic cars. Matchbox should make the replicas what children's fathers or mothers are driving.

  19. Jeff and Emile, you both make good points. And Jeff you're right, I didn't have a whole lot to compare these pics to, I guess it is pretty small. Shame, that means it'll look goofy next to the 70s Chevy Van.

    You both make good points, and I do agree with the general consensus that it's a shame that cost-cutting means us collectors get a compromised product. I suppose part of why they still do the F100 panel the old-fashioned way is that they're trimming costs with the new models. Oh well.

    I suppose a silver lining to this is the satisfaction you get when you snag one of the occasional new models that MB does hit out of the park.

  20. Whilst this does open up a very convincing argument for why there's no interior, surely it would be better to make as much of the trim one piece? The bike in black moulded into an interior inlay for example, could've looked much more complete and saved having to use an extra chrome piece?

  21. I just found mine last night, with the bike on it. The one I was hoping for. I don’t care that it has no interior. Those blobs of steering wheels don’t excite me much anyway. And the windshield has a dull texture to it. The casting is great. I wish the bike had more defined handlebars, but I may be able to fix that when I do the detail painting.Drill a small hole in the boss and insert a wire, bend to shape. I can’t wait to dull the grille down and add paint details. This one will look GREAT.

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