Matchbox Monday – Moving Parts past, present & future

Today for Matchbox Monday I bring you the latest batch of Moving parts, with great thanks as always to Wheel Collectors. But first, a quick history. Moving parts returned to the Matchbox brand in a general form for the more run of the mill vehicles (in a sense) in 2019 after fading out finally in the mid 2000s.

Now obviously in the very early years of Matchbox there were no opening features as such. But by the 1960s it was quite commonplace among the cars and the like that the range had. The early 1970s and the transition to Superfast wheels, you could quite often see something that would open on a model. Be it the doors, the bonnet (or hood), the boot (or trunk), even a canopy or roof. These 5 vehicles are all from the early 1970s showing the different types of opening feature you would see on cars. Iso Grifo (doors), Ford Zodiac Mk IV (bonnet/hood), Dodge Charger Mk III (canopy), VW Camper (roof) and Rolls Royce Silver Shadow (boot/trunk) are just some of the vehicles that had these features. Not all did. There were plenty that were just the vehicle.

Matchbox carried on into the mid 1980s and beyond under Universal ownership, but with R&D still being in the UK, we had many of the same people working in the creation of new vehicles, so it was a case of carry on. The Oldsmobile Aerotech (engine), Chevy Camaro IROC-Z (bonnet/hood), Mercury Sable (rear), Saab 9000 Turbo (doors) and London Taxi (rear suicide doors) carried on the tradition that we were used to. But as Tyco moved in and Mattel took over things took a change. Less cars saw opening features, with the MB528 Police Car and MB530 Ice Cream Truck being the last new castings to be added to the basic range in 2002 that saw opening features. The same year saw 3x BMW castings sport them, but were not for basic range use. 2006 was the official last year for basic range issues with opening features, as the MB528 Police Car with opening rear was last seen in the basic range at that point, alongside the MB504 Jeep Liberty whch had opening doors but had debuted in 2001.

Now we could argue the construction field still sports moving features. Dump Trucks are still ever present and still dump. Even the MB1176 MBX Backhoe that debuted in the 2019 basic range has a moving bucket on the front. We do get moving features on utility vehicles. But these are cleverly done through reduced parts in other areas to accomodate the moving feature, and most being Matchbox originals designs also means no license fees for making them. But cars, and similar types of vehicles have not had them for quite a while now. So this is why when they were announced to return for 2019 it was a great sign for the future. This is something that Matchbox is all about, therefore many are really enjoying seeing them again.

The first batch arrived showcasing quite the throwback vibe. 2 classics depicting vehicles from the Lesney era, plus a previsouly altered Mattel era casting, being altered again in a throwback to its debut.

The MB1135 ’67 VW Type 3 Fastback was reminiscent of the classic Lesney MB67 VW 1600TL, especially being in red, which was the regular wheel look, which just about transitioned into the Superfast era. The MB1138 ’64 Pontiac Grand Prix was also a throwback to another classic Lesney. This model had debuted in 1965 in red, but changed to purple for Superfast, which the new vehicle replicated. As mentioned the MB1137 ’00 Nissan Xterra was a throwback to early Mattel. The MB543 casting first debuted in 2001 in a School Spirit 5-pack in white with musical notes on the side, as an offshoot of an earlier MB490 Xterra with kayaks model. Over the year the model had been changed to seal the opening rear, but a new version in 2019 saw them re-open the rear again.

Batch B turned up a few months later (although the USA itself appeared to skip that batch as they went elsewhere). The MB1140 ’06 Ford Crown Victoria Police was another offshoot of an already existing casting, the MB901 casting. However, both the other 2 were brand new. The MB1139 ’16 Chevy Camaro links to the MB1036 convertible casting that had recently debuted, and the MB1141 Jeep Willys Wagon is closely related to the earlier MB955 Jeep Willys Pickup 4×4.

However, all these feature opening parts which their cousins don’t.

Batch C then took the 3 models from batch B and releasing them in new designs as well as bringing in 3 more brand new castings.

The ’06 Crown Victoria now sported a Boone County Sheriff design on the side instead of the earlier MYPD, the Camaro was blue not brown, and the Jeep turned red after debuting in green.

We also saw 3 more brand new castings. The MB1146 ’82 Nissan 280ZX is a throwback to an older (supposed to be Lesney but due to issues and delays ended up being Universal) casting that debuted in 1983, also featuring opening doors, but the other 2 were all new. Just because they were cool. The MB1143 ’65 Chevy C10 Pickup was really nice in blue featuring the ability to see the engine. Then there was the MB1142 ’17 Tesla Model X that was just too cool with the opening rear gullwing doors.

Finally the 4th batch of 2019 capped the set off at 18 models. As with the last batch there were 3 models in a version 2, and 3 brand new offerings.

Batch A debuts saw new versions for batch D, with the Xterra turning yellow after debuting in blue, and both the other 2 now turning blue (the Grand Prix was purple, the VW red before).

The series finished with 3 brand new castings, unlike anything in the Matchbox stable already. The MB1147 Renault Trezor Concept was just really cool with the unique opening canopy section and so the idea was to try and replicate that in miniature. It really stood out from what people usually see. As did the MB1164 ’36 Custom Ford Sedan, which was based on a real custom vehicle. Alongside these we also saw the MB1149 ’83 Buick Riviera Convertible in red, which was only the 3rd Buick ever made by Matchbox in miniature.

So that brought us to a close in 2019. Next we move to 2020 and the series continues for this year. Batch A has recently appeared, and with many thanks to Wheel Collectors I am able to showcase the lastest stuff.

Batch A consists of 5 models in total, 3 brand new to the mix and 2 carry overs from the previous batch.

The MB1147 Renault Trezor Concept and MB1164 ’36 Custom Ford Sedan originally debuted in 2019 but carried over into the mix. There is a reason behind this. I will try and explain. Mattel assign a number of SKUs to their toy ranges for each brand to use on a yearly basis. Each SKU is assigned to a particular issue in a particular range. Take the Camaros in 2019. We had a brown and a blue. Two releases, two SKUs. But with only so many SKUs assigned to the Moving Parts range for 2020, by carrying over 2 SKUs it allowed for the batch to have more variety in store. For us as collectors who follow these items closely we see instantly that there are repeated arrivals, but for others who are more casual collectors, and let’s be honest, the kids they are officially making these for (it is a toy brand) they see a greater variety on the pegs. They see a choice of 5, not a choice of 3. It actually allows for the brand to visibly have this greater variety without actually increasing costs by tooling up more vehicles in unique liveries (the SKU) to include. We have seen it for a few years in the basic range, but this is actually something that can be done across any of the ranges. It is not just a basic range thing. I see the logic behind it. After all, they are still a business and they do still want to make money. By creating this elevated assortment by re-using previous SKUs it creates more variety at a lower cost.

So with that (hopefully) explained, let’s move on to the real meat of the assortment. The 3 newbies.

I will begin with the brand new casting. The MB1125 2019 Ford Ranger. You may have noticed the Moving Parts card design has been slightly tweaked for 2020. The model is shown in the package with the bonnet (or hood) depicted in the open position and the upper right indicating the same.

The livery for this debut is the latest in the ongoing Skyjacker Suspensions designs.

But what you may not have noticed, is the fact that this model has debuted the brand new wheel design. It is a new wheel for rugged vehicles that is debuting this year featuring a noticeable rugged outer edge, and a concave 10-spoke surrounded by a dotted ring. We will come up with a name for it shortly. It is also going to be seen on the upcoming basic range Nissan Hardbody in batch C and more in the future.

But this casting has a secret second opening feature. Not shown in the blister, or even on the package, once opened you discover that the rear tailgate also opens. Wow! Two opening features. That is a lovely bonus.

The only other vehicle I can think of off the top of my head that had 2 opening features was the classic Lesney MB46 Mercedes Benz 300SE. It sported opening doors and rear. However, after 1970 the doors were sealed, with the rear also being sealed a few years later.

In addition we see the MB1163 ’18 Range Rover Vogue SE debut in the Moving Parts range.

It comes in a lovely metallic black design.

Now I would like to point out something. Moving parts is an extension to the basic range in a way, and as such the castings do still follow the same simple rules as the basic range does. One of these is the “2 passes through the tampo machine” rule.

However, this model does achieve 4 sides with printing. I am not too sure how they have managed to achieve it with this particular model, but the end result is almost a premium look. So hats off to the Matchbox team for their hard work in getting this one done. I always like to point out when things have been over-achieved. It shows the efforts that the team, and sometimes the people in the factory too, do to make sure things work. I mentioned it last time with the Lamborghini Gallardo. When you look at these models sometimes things may pass by. But then you look closer and think “wait a sec…”

Bringing out the premium issue from 2019 shows that by choosing black as a basic colour they have sneakily managed to bypass some of the tampo.

But the opening rear is a clear piece, and requires the body colour being added first where needed and then overtampoed again. They achieved the same effect on the non-premium issue too, so I am impressed.

This is the 3rd Range Rover vehicle “officially” released by Matchbox. We saw the MB691 Sport debut in 2006, with the 2011 MB35 issue shown here. We also saw the MB896 Evoque arrive in 2016, although originally it was due in 2013, but saw some delays. Shown here is the 2017 MB100 in dark charcoal, as it is as close to black as it has been.

These really make for a great trio of Range Rover vehicles. Now I did say officially, as unofficially we did get a Range Rover back in the 1970s.

Who remembers the MB20 Police Patrol? It debuted in 1975 and ran until 1981 in the US range, but continued until 1984 in the ROW range. However, it never made any mention to being a Range Rover, even in the casting details either. Sometimes a model added certain details in to the casting beyond its official name. But it was clear as day that it was a Range Rover.

Its final issue (not including the fact that the casting was sent to Hungary in 1987 for local production for 1 year) was in 1984-85 where Japan saw an exclusive MB8 version in black and white with Japanese police markings.

Which leads me to the best model ever. I mean, best in the batch. Okay I am a sucker for Porsche 911 Turbos and particularly the 930 era (1975-1989 in real life). That, to me, has always been the pinnacle of the vehicle, and even though I love modern 911s, the 930 just tips the scale as the most beautiful. Especially in red.

This is why I absolutely love this release.

It’s such a simple design with just front and rear detailing. The rear spoiler is actually a separate piece in contrasting black.

If I ever win the lottery I will own a real life one of these in red. So this is why this model has immeditely shot right to the top of my favourite Matchbox model of all time, in line with the classic Lesney casting.

I mean I absolutely loved the debut of this MB1152 ’80 Porsche 911 Turbo when it arrived in the 2019 Superfast range, but….

The new one’s red. My dream Porsche 911 Turbo is red, so I cannot get better than this. Job done. Pack up and go home. Okay I am going a little overboard. I apologize. But it’s a freaking red Porsche Turbo! Okay, I got that out of my system. Time for…. more Porsche Turbos!

Designed in May 1977 by A. J. Wallace (I have forgotten his first name, I think it was Alan but I cannot confirm, these 3 early pre-production samples all feature a blank front license plate as the casting was still being tinkered with before production began in 1978.

By the time it was ready for production S-AN 161 had been cast into the license plate. I have no idea why.

Between 1978 and 1981 it was sold in brown, silver and green, all with no tampo printing at all.

Tampo printed versions appeared in 1982, with the 90 design being quite well remembered. It also went to Brazil in 1987 for local production with a similar, albeit more basic, design being used.

Japan also saw 2 unique designs as the model was doubled up for the extended Japanese 1-100 market for 1984-87, with a white MB28 and red MB78.

The regular MB3 saw a similar look to the Japanese MB28 arrive in 1987 (the box around the 14 on the door is the big giveaway) before a blue and another red finished off the basic range run in 1993. A full 16 years of unbroken usage from 1978-1993.

The MB003 casting was last used in a 1997 Super Cars 5-pack before being retired. The Superfast debut in 2019 saw quite a nod to the original casting as the overall sizes were almost identical. Of course there were a few tweaks. No tow hook, no front license plate, a separate rear spoiler and wing mirros added being the most noticeable. But the casting is very reminiscent. And I love it.

Of course I did say red is my favourite. So the newest addition does add to my small group of red ultimate favourites. Beside it is the Japanese exclusive MB78, and at the back is actually a 1982 MB3 issue where they forgot to tampo print it. Bonus red! Has anybody figured out that I love red?

Okay I am going to have to finish the Porsche write-up now. I don’t want to bore everybody to death with my love of this model. The title of this blog is about past, present and future. Well, future time. Who wants a little sneak peek at 2 of the castings due in the next batch?

What do you think of the MB1222 1948 Divco Truck? This sneak preview has been provided by Abe at Mattel who generously passed on a few quick images of the model in FEP guise. This is pretty much ready for production now. I know people have been talking a lot about having a model of a Divco, and I don’t think this disappoints. The rear doors open on this model, as seen in a couple of the photos. But that’s not all.

He surprised me with a second sneek. The MB1223 Lamborghini Centenario. Created in 2016 initially to celebrate Ferrucio Lamborghini’s 100th birthday, only 20 coupes and 20 roadsters will be made in total, and the coupe with the scissor doors has been replicated in miniature by Matchbox, depicting the Geneva Motor Show launch colour scheme. I think both of these could be pretty popular vehicles when they appear in the next batch. I am definitely sitting here on the edge of my seat waiting for the next batch.

So that’s it for another blog. I hope you enjoyed it. Next week, all Porsche! No?

David Tilley

9 thoughts on “Matchbox Monday – Moving Parts past, present & future

  1. Past lesney and universal blended opening parts in normal 75 mainline also WE and ALL can BUY THEM. ….. Future and a massive dumbdown this brand has played over the years….and yoyo. …. Presently NOT available in the UK…. As above I like,but outside most of Brit’s hands ….. Toymaster has began to put 5packs including the USA only Mercedes 5pack!!…. £.9.99 tho… Good write up.

  2. The Lamborghini is fantastic.

    All the others are excellent.

    It’s going to be very hard to get this set, but I’m definitely going to try.

  3. Great article- loved all of the pictures! I wish either Hot Wheels or Matchbox could produce the Ford Ranger in a stock color sans tampo. All of them have been hideous to date.

  4. No offense to the Porsche (I’m a Porsche fanboy myself) but how good it that Centenario!!?? Wow. I am impressed by how nicely Matchbox made it. The rear wheels look too small (one of the very few times I’ll say it should’ve have larger rear wheels) but I’ll let it slide as the overall the casting looks great. And the raised rear spoiler makes up for it. Definitely looking forward to this one.

  5. I’m not paying 3 or 4 times more for a little piece of plastic that opens or closes on a toy car. Every other manufacturer has opening parts as standard, Tomica, Siku, Majorette opening parts are standard, it’s embarrassing to make this a premium feature. Tyco Matchbox were far superior to the cheap castings Matchbox sells now.

  6. All the older models are much better. More metal, suspension and the opening parts were considered the norm in the basic line and not premium to which Mattel brand them now. In fact if it wasn’t for Mattel’s constant cost cutting we wouldn’t have lost moving parts in the basic line to begin with. I try to be positive as much as I can but I’m sorry I cannot see anything good from the brand as long as Mattel own it. Poor distribution world wide including the US, cost cut poor quality models (small scales, unchromed parts, plastic bodies) and total lack of respect for what the name Matchbox meant has lead to the brand dying year after year in one country after the next and yet we see praise here all the time, why and for what?

  7. I can only hope this line continues to see improvement in 2020. It was off to a horrible start in 2019. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my area I barely saw anything. As far as I know, Walmart is the only U.S. retailer to carry this line and their support has been atrocious. At the most, they’ve maybe gotten 1 case per store. So if you’re not the first person to happen upon these once they’ve been stocked, then too bad for you. There’s just so many of these models that I’ve never seen. That all change of course with the release of mix D at the end of 2019. With the release of the Renault Trezor concept, I finally had firsthand proof that this line truly existed. I saw the Buick Rivera once or twice and may have even spotted the ’36 Ford, but the Trezor was there on the pegs confirming the line for months upon months, long after all other models had disappeared. Then what does Mattel do? In one incredibly unexplainable move, they release the Trezor AGAIN in the first batch of 2020. Not only one, but 2 pieces! Meanwhile, the very popular and highly desirable red recolor of the Porsche 911 only gets a single piece in the case. Mattel’s reasoning here makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

    Anyway, aside from never seeing the red 911 and only seeing the carried forward green ’36 Ford once, the Moving Parts line is off to a MUCH stronger start with the E case than all of 2019. I am seeing plenty of black Range Rovers everywhere I go, as well as the occasional Skyjacker Ford. Of course the Renault Trezor is stacking up ever deeper at all stores. Nobody wanted it the first time around and fewer still want it now.

    I cannot wait for the Lamborghini Centenario, but my fear is it will be the Porsche 911 of mix F, never to be seen. If Mattel had any sense, they’d pack these 3 or 4 per case. I’m also interested in the fourth release of the Xterra. Hopefully this time around I can find one. Finally, let’s get a carryforward of that red 911 ASAP!

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