Matchbox Monday… Mustang… MMM!

So it’s week 2 of my new role in The Lamley Group, and this week it’s all about the Mustangs.

With the help of Wheel Collectors I will be getting many items from USA to continue with my weekly posts (thanks Matt & Matt), although next week may be a delve into my history as I am not sure if the box will arrive on time. Remember I am in the UK and they are in USA so it does take a week or 2 for the packages to arrive. I have something cool planned for my first dive back if I need to next week. But for now, it’s new items.

Walmart in USA put in a request to Mattel a few years back to create a set or 2 of exclusive models each year to sell alongside the basic range and recently these have included a brand new casting debuting as part of the range. For 2020, their exclusives have also expanded with 4 sets of 6 models planned. They are in fact 2 series, but 2 sets for each series. This means after this, we will see a 2nd set of 6 Mustangs later in the year too. But for now, let’s showcase what we have in this batch. I will simply work through them in manufacturing number order. There isn’t an official numbering system for them.

First up is the MB342 ’65 Ford Mustang GT Fastback. Believe it or not, this model actually has a very long history.

It was the first Mustang Matchbox ever made. Released as MB8 in the 1967 basic range, it originally sported a lever on the side of the vehicle which would turn the front wheels (they called it autosteer), but when the model was converted to Superfast wheels in 1970 they couldn’t keep the autosteer function, so it was removed. It was only sold for 1 year as a Superfast model before Lesney (the owners at the time) came up with a radical alteration for 1971.

All side detailing for doors etc. was wiped from the model, which left them with a smooth surface for applying a “wildcat” label. Plus a huge engine was added sticking out the hood. First year issues ranged wildly in shade from dark orange, to a pretty much almost pink with a simple black design label on the side.

After the first year of a simple black design, they started to get a better handle on their oranges, but for the next 3 years, the multi-coloured “wildcat” label was occasionally swapped out with various others during label shortages (like the ratrod label from Cougar Dragster or sailboat label from VW Camper). But after 1974 this casting was dropped from the basic range. It did briefly re-appear though, as a USA exclusive in 1981. Sold as MB23 it was simply called GT 350, and the base name was also wiped/renamed too. But it was a 1-off, and for 1982 it had been dropped again, so never actually received a manufacturing number. The tooling lay in the factory for a decade and a half until somebody came up with a bright idea to do something with it.

It saw a little tinkering, and a “factory reset” to almost original spec. Yes the tow hook was removed, and the side detailing added was slightly different to the side detailing on the original Lesney made Mustang, but that classic that debuted in 1967 was back! However, as noted, GT 350 was from 1981, which was the year of the brand split, and utter chaos around 2 different models being made under one MB number (GT 350 for the US market, Atlas for the ROW market), causing them to create a manufacturing number list for 1982 and beyond. So as it didn;t have one, they gave it one. It was simply next in the list of where they were, so MB342 was a classic Matchbox model first released in 1967.

This casting has seen a number of issues since 1998 when it debuted, although to date only 2 have been basic range issues. The white was it’s 1999 debut (with a blue with white stripes in 2008), but there have been nods to its Lesney roots. Some subtely, like the 2004 My Classic Car Collectibles model in red which finished off the Collectibles scene, or perhaps the 2004 Superfast edition which was a specific throwback to its Lesney past.

After the 2008 basic range issue, the model did see some more tinkering. The base was changed to plastic, and a few other things were altered (rivets are noticeably slightly further in now) and the interior did see a tweak too.

However, after the tinkering, we saw a few issues in 2010 and 2011, with the last being this red with white stripes issue in a 10-pack and then nothing until it resurfaced in the 2019 Holidays 5-pack in green.

How about a little white group shot. Back to front we have the original 1960s era Lesney debut (the 1970 Superfast transitional model shown), the altered Lesney (1981 GT 350 US exclusive shown), the retro-modified MB342 (US exclusive debut from 1999), the tinkered in 2009 updated but still MB342 casting (2010 5-pack issue) and the latest. It’s definitely got a history this one.

Which leads us to the 2nd oldest casting in the group. MB812 was a 1968 California Special. Often known as the GT/CS.

Although debuting in 2011, we haven’t actually seen many releases, with the previous issue being the 2015 MB15 in metallic black.

It is fairly close to the 2011 10-pack 1st Editions release although the newer edition on the left is a darker shade of blue.

However, one of the things with these GT/CS models is the side design, which appears on all California Specials in real life, so almost always has been added to the Matchbox model too. I say almost, as there was an exception.

The side design was still evident on this pair of 2011 Matchbox Gathering exclusive models. But additional logos and a 9 roundel were added to the side and a pair of hood stripes for the dealer model for the event, with the same model also being used for the dinner model (before we got the early bird specials) with additional white roof tampoing. It was a fun event that year as always and I am currently looking forward to my next journey to USA this July to attend the latest convention in Albuquerque NM (July 17-19). I guess my Matchbox Monday will be a little expanded that weekend. But I’m sidetracking.

Just to complete the set, I have shown the 2011 10-pack and 2015 basic, but these are all the other ’68 Ford Mustang GT/CS releases that have been made (with the new one at the front). From back to front we have the 2011 debut MB25 in silver, 2012 red and lime MB61 (it was one of the models sporting 2 versions that year), the 2013 60th Anniversary special (apart from the Gathering promos, the only other to receive front and rear printing) and the 2014 brown (which for fun I did find shades on – I like chocolate). As to why it didn’t see an awful lot of action may have something to do with the model after the next model in the list.

But as I am doing these in MAN number order, I will do the MB969 ’93 Ford Mustang LX SSP first. The Special Service Package was an uprated Mustang LX model created by Ford as a lightweight speedier vehicle for police departments to use. They were sold between 1982 and 1993, with Matchbox making a model of the final vehicle.

This is the entire history of this casting in the Matchbox range. Debuting at the end of the 2014 range, it was part of the final batch as MB95. Silver was due to be the 2nd version for 2015 as MB50, but there were a few issues and the model was delayed. It eventually turned up in the 2016 range as MB66. For some people who like to keep their models on card (I have heard there are people who do that for some reason), there was a sneaky get-around. Because the 2014 issue debuted in the final batch of 2014, it did roll over into the first batch of 2015, and was put in a 2015 style blister. But because it was a 2014 model they didn’t add the number. So for those people they slipped the 2015 blister packed 2014 model in the empty 2015 MB50 slot to complete their set. It also appeared in the 2016 Best of series in blue. We never saw it again until now, when it sees 2 releases, both being continuing themes. The 2020 MBX Highway 5-pack sees a brown Boone County release (the latest in a long line of Boone County models, since Matchbox linked up with Keith Hoskins in Boone County MO, we have now seen 6 police vehicles sporting their design (as well as 2 fire vehicles).

This Mustang set sees the police car sporting the same Texas Highway Patrol design as debuted in the 2018 Texas Rangers 5-pack. At the time we saw the MB574 Jeep Cherokke Police and MB1045 Speed Trapper (obviously paired up as the Jeep was the only 1 with a tow hook), an undercover MB1021 ’15 RAM 1500 Police in plain grey, MB841 BMW R1200 RT-P Motorbike and MB933 Dodge Charger Pursuit (the latter sports an almost identical design, with the Mustang seeing just more white tampo over the top).

Which leads me to the MB1009 ’68 Custom Ford Mustang “Mudstanger”. As mentioned with the GT/CS, this may have been part of the reason for that model’s lean period. They took the ’68 and turned it into a huge off-roader. Now before you ask, they do exist.

Here’s a real one. The Matchbox team thought it would be something a bit different, so they did it. Ford signed off on it. It’s had a few outings since 2016.

It debuted as MB94 in the 2016 basic range in green and since that time we have seen a few different designs.

It’s second basic release was as MB124 in 2017 in white. As well as the 2 basics we have seen….

Two different Color Changer models. First in orange in 2017 then in off white in 2019.

Plus there have been 2 different 5-pack issues with zamac in 2018 and blue in 2019. BTW the zamac issue has the same skull and crossbones design which features on the hood of the new model, except this was on sides. So now we get on to the more recent stuff.

Next up is the 2018 Mustang GT Convertible. The MB1170 casting only debued in the 2019 basic range, so as yet has not seen much action.

In fact, this is it. The 2019 MB4 in orange, and newbie in brown. Of course the orange did see some nice shading through its production run so there is that that. But I don’t want to leave this at just 2 photos so let’s see.

Convertibles! The ’18 Convertible just so happens to be the 4th Matchbox model of a Mustang Convertible. Funnily though, all the other 3 were based around the 4th generation Mustang. First up was actually the concept. In January 1993 at NAIAS Ford unveiled the Mach III which was a vision of the direction they were taking for the Mk IV. The red MB257, back left, was the debut Matchbox version from 1994 where it was sold as MB15 in the US market or MB28 in the ROW market. MB277 followed in 1995. This was a 4th generation Cobra which in its debut year (also in red), was only sold in the US range as MB71. A black version was sold worldwide the following year. In 1999 Matchbox created the updated MB367/MB368 models (SN-95 Mustang, or “New Edge” due to the Ford design language of the time), which were literally the same vehicle as either a hardtop or convertible and this white MB368 Convertible was sold exclusively in the US range as MB36.

So this 6th generation Convertible is the first non-4th gen related release.

Finally, MB1226. As metnioned right at the start, recently Matchbox have been creating exclusive castings to debut in the Walmart exclusive series, and 2020 sees this ’19 Mustang GT Coupe fill that role. Remember, this casting will see a version 2 in the next Mustang batch later this year too.

So what to do? Well there’s only one thing. I know the 2018 Convertible did get a few comments about it’s final look. From the front they do look very similar.

The rear though, yeah you do see the convertible was a little flatter, whereas the coupe does curve out a little more. Me, personally, I liked the convertible. I say it often, but we are all different, and what one person likes another may not. But even though I do like it, I do much prefer the coupe. This thing is gorgeous! But I would say that even if they were identical. The 1999 Mustang literally was identical except the roof section, yet I much perferred having it. I just prefer coupes over convertibles.

The base also shows another difference you may have noticed in the front view. The base forms the lower front of the convertible, yet the body section does on the coupe. The colour break is good as in real life they do have them. Buyt it enhances the grille of the coupe more doing it this way, so that is a tough one for me.

But let’s add a little more greenery to the Coupe. Yes, that is definitely a bit of green, and all of them castings of older Matchbox Mustang models not shown yet. Back left is the MB609 ’04 Ford Mustang Concept GT 2004 Superfast edition. Back right the MB298 ’68 Mustang Cobra Jet 2007 Superfast America release. Middle left a classic Lesney Roman Numeral US exclusive edition of the older MB44-B Boss Mustang from 1980. Middle right theMB322 ’70 Mustang Boss from the 2005 Superfast Collectors Tin, and at the fron the MB367 ’99 Mustang hardtop which was sold in the US range only in 2000 as MB17.

Well I hope you enjoyed my latest Matchbox article. Next week will either be more new stuff if my shipment arrives in time, or a small dive into my collection. In the meantime, one final picture, just because….

These 2 looked so good together. The new for 2020 ’65 Mustang and a classic 2004 Superfast edition of the ’99 Mustang Convertible.

David Tilley

14 thoughts on “Matchbox Monday… Mustang… MMM!

  1. Great article. That new 2020 mustang coupe looks good and i my end up getting one. The only problem is not the casting . It have a lot of mustang castings do in some ways adding another is a pain ad i am looking st trying add to othet areas like my french car manufacturers area. It just shows how cars like mustangs have a large following. I will get them if they ate well done like that 2020 coupe.

    1. Yes there are a lot of Mustang collectors out there, which is why we see a lot of Mustangs in miniature. Mind you I would love to see Matchbox tackle more French manufacturers too. There is a Renault Kangoo coming for 2020 which I am excited about though.

      1. As a kid i grow up in canada but i loved euro cars. I rode in a citron 2cv and it was lime being on a magic carpet. The renault sounds great but seeing some citroen newly released like the 2 cv would nice if the market place will allow it. Seeing you are reviewing matchbox it would nice to the models of yesteryearcome back in some form. I liked that series a lot.

  2. Tbh Mr Tilley , I didn’t realise how many versions of each. My happy memory is the lesney piston Popper of which I painted black for Mad Max , which me and friends would play and recreate scene’s as a 1980s child. Also the auto steer 60s mustang. I have a few of the above. The Tyco Mach lll makes me smile. Some mbx was sent to me as a gift from Canada in mid 90s teen years. I still have many way out colours of that era. Do you think Mattel will send Tesco an exclusive?… It sound silly but I hope one day there will be a G.O.S.H set or vehicle. Great Ormond Street Hospital … For children. I have the 80s transit…. This will be great causes.

    1. I too am hoping that Tesco will commit some sort of exclusive at some point soon. I guess the first round was a test to see how they sold. I am waiting to see what changes are made for the February reset there. But I would love to see something unique in their stores too. That would be amazing.

      Yeah if you had some stuff from the 1990s, especially if they were Tyco, you could have some very wild liveries on actually pretty decent castings.

  3. great article! David Tilley – bravo! the Matchbox Archaeologist we need- I love the ‘no stone left unturned’ method-

  4. Great article! I didn’t know the GT350 is 50 years old. Very cool. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and your collection.

  5. I was only interested in the new coupe, the Fox-body police cruiser and the GT/CS from this assortment, so I was initially disappointed to only find the first two in stores. Seeing here that the GT/CS is essentially identical (that color variation is VERY slight) to the 10-pack one from several years ago (which I do have), I’m no longer disappointed! I got everything I wanted from this batch. Can’t wait to see the second go-around.

  6. Nice post David and good to see you on here aswell as Instagram(Dubzeus on there). Looking forward to seeing some Porsche content soon.

  7. These started hitting in my area a few weeks ago. Clearly the older models are the most popular. I’ve only found the ’18 convertible and ’19 coupe. The coupe is beautiful! I really like the choice of metallic green paint with gold wheels. I passed on the convertible and now that is the only model that can be found. I’d really like to have the ’65 fastback and the ’68 California Special, but will pass on the police cruiser and mudder. The search continues.

  8. I wish they’d do a non-cop version of the ’93 Mustang. The 90s Mustang has always been a favorite of mine. I had a model kit of one as a kid. I don’t like the lights on the roof which pretty much limit the casting’s use to police and other emergency vehicles. If Matchbox does a version without these, I’ll buy it. Until then, it’s probably the one in this series I wanna skip the most, excluding possibly the Mudstanger. But I think I’d get the Mudstanger before the ’93 Mustang cop car.

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