Matchbox Monday has a sweet tooth

It’s that time of week again. Time for a look at the latest in the Matchbox licensed vehicles game. Last year they came up with a set of 6 models in what Matchbox call the Candy set, although many of just call it the Sweets set. They were sold in smaller chains of stores and through hobby stores and dealers. I got mine at the Gathering in Albuquerque last July, and in 2020 we have a second set of 6. I received mine with many thanks to Wheel Collectors who are selling these.

Licenses have been around for a long time. Until the late 1970s you wanted a license for something, you just put it on. It could be attributed to George Lucas really, when Star Wars came out he came up with a novel plan to create a deal where he would take a lower payout for the film itself and take a large proportion of revenue off the sales of merchandise. Legal documents were set up where you wanted something with Star Wars on it, you legally had to go through him and he would receive a percentage of the money earned. Genius. The film became a success, and toys related to it were a massive earner. George became ultra rich. It wasn’t long before everybody was setting up similar deals. Your logo, company name, brand etc wants to be used on something, they approach you and set up a deal. It’s standard practice nowadays. In early days and especially through the 1970s when Matchbox put stickers on many models, they just slapped brand names on them without any thoughts. But by the end of the 1970s things had changed. Licensed deals became a big deal.

One of the first deals set up was a tie in to a US TV series called Code Red. The series was launched in 1981 in USA, but sadly was not a big hit. It was cancelled after 1 season, and the final episode didn’t even air. But Lesney set up a deal to market a range of exclusive models in USA in unique Code Red packaging, with characters from the show on the front of the blister. It was based in Los Angeles, so many models had an LA theme to them.

Licenses started becoming more significant and as Matchbox were attempting to branch out into other areas with unique models, they came up with new licenses for various items. These 2 models were created exclusively to be a part of a James Bond: A View To a Kill tie-in in late 1985. The castings were then added to the basic range for 1986. They were also the last 2 castings in miniature that started life being made in England. Their tooling was shipped to Macau in mid 1986.

During the Tyco era things got a little stranger. Pogs became a thing in the early 1990s and Matchbox started selling Matchcaps in 1995 to try and feed off the success, with Matchbox branded pogs inside the packs along with the models. Of course they tried to avoid using the name “Pog”, as it is a trademarked name. They weren’t successful. Proper licenses were the way to go, and since Mattel have taken over, things have really come along in leaps and bounds.

At first it was fairly simple. They set up a deal to create some models for the France 1998 World Cup in football (or soccer for USA readers). A 5-pack was made, an Action pack with the TV News Truck and Opel Calibra with alternate plastic components, and even the Opel Calibra was added to the basic range in a third configuration of plastic components. Simple.

Things became a lot more involved with the 1999 Coca Cola license. The first year simply saw a 5-pack of models all featuring the Coca Cola license, but as things progressed over the next few years, premium sets in the Collectibles range, basics, 5-packs, and even a unique Coca Cola themed side series emerged.

Here are a couple of 2003 Coca Cola singles in packages. Just like the current sweets, you often found these in more obscure places and through hobby stores and dealers. 2003 was a daft year for the license though. The packages stated there would be 12 models, and the first 6 were released. However, the license was running out at the end of the year, and the second set was delayed. They couldn’t justify putting them into production so close to the end of the license, so they were dropped.

These were the 6 in question. Never produced, and only reaching pre-production status. Their names were written down the right hand column in the packaging for the first 6. They did even set up a new Coca Cola license for 9 models the following year, which made things even stranger. But while this was going on, licensed sets and models were really taking place in the Matchbox brand.

The first licensed 5-pack arrived in 2001. Just like the latest models, this was food related, being a license for Kellog’s. But over the years, TV shows, films, a lot of Nickelodeon related items and other licenses were created. For short while in 2003-2005, 3 of the models from a 5-pack would also be sold in a single blister in an alternate colour, but by the early 2010s, the 5-pack was altered to become a 3-pack.

The last 3-pack was made in 2013 with Jake & The Neverland Pirates on the side of the MB567 Cadillac Escalade, MB709 Chevy Van and MB586 Billboard Truck.

After this there was a re-think to the licenses for Matchbox and in 2015 a new license was created for Jurassic World, which I will dive in to a little more thoroughly later (plan for another blog report).

Since then we have seen a few random licenses for things. In 2016 we saw a Shark Week set of models and 5-pack (and another Discovery 5-pack), and we all know Jurassic World really went all out in 2018.

And as mentioned in 2019 we saw set 1 of the Sweets models. But let’s get stuck into the new batch.

First up we see the MB741 VW Caddy sporting a Tootsie Roll Pop side design. The packaging marks this as 1/6.

However, the models themselves all had a number on them between 1 and 6, and the VW Caddy had a 2 on the side. That’s just to see who is paying attention or explode the minds of those with OCD. The Tootsie Pop has been around since 1931, so outdoing VW by a few years. They were made famous in the 1970s when the title character from the TV series Kojak had a habit of sucking on them after quitting smoking. Do a google search of Kojak and you will be inundated with pictures of Telly Savalas sucking on a Tootsie Pop.

But what about the VW Caddy itself? First debuting in 2008, the model has something very unique about it. Pick up any VW Caddy (an early one, the latest Tootsie Pop one) and flip it over. The base says “Licensed by Volkswagen” on it. Doing a blog about licenses, and this was an awkward one. Cadillac have an affiliation with “Caddy” in USA, so the casting itself never made mention of Caddy to appease Cadillac. However, it was purely the casting. Tampo designs have Caddy in them. Packages have Caddy on them. The blue 2008 MB46 debut had Caddy as the license plate. The legal requirement was not to put Caddy in the base name on the model, hence the Licensed by Volkswagen base name. The model was also a part of the 2008 1st Editions 10-pack in a lovely white with a VW Parts side design.

2009 saw quite a lot of use, with the Incs green design being MB45 in the basic range (except Latin America (LAAM) which didn’t have it that year). Between 2008 and 2011 the US range was 100, with both ROW and LAAM markets taking 75 out of the 100 of the models (different assortment of 75) with those numbered above 75 from the US range moved to whatever empty slots were below 75 when the 25 were taken out. We also saw a German exclusive locksmith design. Schlüsseldienst was the only word written in German on the side design for the 2009 Euro Editions release. Everything else was in English. The thing is it says Schlüsseldienst Locksmiths. Schlüsseldienst is German for Locksmiths. I guess they are the people you call when you work as a locksmith and get locked out yourself. I thought it was funny, but I have a weird sense of humour. We also saw 2 licensed side designs that year too. DHL, an originally American but now German postal company, was part of the City Services 5-pack that year and the red & black Firestone issue was part of the 2009 Superfast set.

2010 saw another basic range issue not for the LAAM market, as the silver Quick Steam model was MB65 in the US and ROW markets only. We also saw a red MVS design in the City Action 5-pack and blue Glass & Window design appear in the “Real” all-exclusive 10-pack that year.

2011 looked to be it for the casting. We saw a teal Service Center 5-pack issue and a yellow Handy Manny licensed 5-pack offering and then the casting went quiet. From 2012 until 2018 it was not used.

Tootsie Pops is actually its second release though since returning, as it returned to the basic range (worldwide) as MB86 in 2019 in a lovely Pizza design. However, with a Renault Kangoo arriving later in 2020 I do wonder if this little casting’s days are numbered. Could Tootsie Pops be its last release?

Number 2 of 6 is the MB995 Ford GT40.

As can be seen, the model itself has 4 on the side. Sugar Daddy lollipops were first launched back in 1925, although they were originally called Papa Sucker, changing to the current name in 1932. The Ford GT40 was much newer, first arriving in 1964. A classic car with a classic sweet on the side.

Of course the Matchbox version of the Ford GT40 arrived back in 2004, and debuted as part of the 2004 Superfast range, in a throwback livery to the earlier Lesney MB41 casting which had been in use between 1966 and 1970 before turning bronze in 1971 (it did later return in Japan in the late 1970s). However, the throwback design was a late decision.

When MB634 was first planned, it was to have been in a blue with stripes and 73 roundels on it. Early pre-production mock-ups were made, but the new team had just taken over, and saw that the newly launched Superfast series had 4 castings that were throwback to old Lesneys, so created throwback liveries for them too. They also created alternates for a unique 4-pack of dealer models which they gave out at the 2004 Hershey convention. The Ford was in silver for the 4-pack.

The casting continued for the next 2 years but only in the premium Superfast series. 2005 saw different colours for the US market (white 15,000 made) and ROW market (blue 7,500 made). In 2006, now down to a single set again, it was chosen to be one of the models receiving a “Streakers” design, another throwback to classics from the Lesney era.

After that we finally saw non-premium issues. 2007 saw a German exclusive Stars of Cars edition in black and 2008 saw it in the Best of British series. After that the casting was retired.

But then, 2015 came around, and the casting was looked at for revival. A change was made to it, as the rear exhausts were originally a part of the base section and were slotted through the rear and the casting was rivetted at the front. A change in the manufacturing process to eliminate slotting in parts meant that the base needed altering to remove the exhaust section, and the body was altered to fill in the space with exhausts, and add in a post to rivet to the base at the rear. For manufacturing purposes, dropping parts onto each other and rivetting is a faster process than trying to slot things together. Which is why many models saw changes a little while ago. Due to the change, the model’s manufacturing number became MB995, and in 2015 we saw it finally debut in the basic range.

In 2015 it was sold in yellow as MB22 and it returned 2 years later as MB23 in 2017 in green. 2018 saw it debut the ever-popular Gulf look for the first time on a Matchbox model as part of the premium Globe Trotters series. Hopefully we will see some more GT40s in the future too.

Taking the 3 of 6 slot in the series is the MB982 Hummer H2 SUV Concept in brown with the Tootsie Roll side design.

For those with OCD who had exploding heads with the different numbers between model and packaging can breath a sigh of relief. It has 3 on the model as well. Tootsie Rolls are the oldest of the sweets here as they date back to 1907. Almost 8 decades before the first military Hummer (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, shortened to HMMWV, nicknamed Humvee) was launched, before turning to road going Hummers a little over a decade later. When I did a report on the 2020 batch B (part 1) models a few weeks ago I did run through all the basic range issues on this casting. So now, how about all non-basics.

We start with the first Superfast issue. Its first, and only premium release. It was part of the 2004 Superfast series but after that outside of the basic range it was a sort of go-to model for licensed sets. Obviously still is. It was a Flintstones liveried orange model appear later in 2004 in a Hanna Barbera 5-pack, and an alternate single issue now in yellow but with the same livery arrived early 2005. Later in 2006 is was a part of a Nick Jr 5-pack featuring Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants on the side playing drums.

It took until 2007 for a regular non-basic issue to arrive as a white Sheriff themed look was included in the 2007 Police 5-pack. It was also a part of the 2007 “Adventure” all-exclusive 10-pack also in white, this time with a Safari Tour side design. Of course it continued in the licensed packs too. It was in the 3rd Go Diego Go themed 5-pack of that year, and also sported a change. It can be found with either a chrome base or a black base.

2008 saw the same mix of insertions. 5-pack, Vacation, light blue. Licensed 5-pack, Spongebob Squarepants, dark blue. Adventure 10-pack, tan.

But for 2009, it wasn’t in a 10-pack, with the yellow being the Beach Patrol 5-pack issue and orange the Little Einsteins licensed 5-pack issue.

2010 saw a red Mountain Adventure 5-pack issue, but this time 2 licensed 5-pack offerings. Another red for a Nickelodeon set, and a blue for the Disney Movie set.

2011 was a lot of fun. We had the yearly licensed offering, this time in red for the Penguins of Madagascar 5-pack. But we also saw a grey Dino Adventure 5-pack release, where during production it went through 3 different types of wheels. We had the cog wheels, the 6-spoke wheels, and the crown wheels even popped up at one point. For those who collect variations, that did mean buying 3x 5-packs.

But after that, non-basic offerings have become a little rarer. 2012 saw another licensed Penguins of Madagascar 5-pack for the last year they were made. It then popped up in a 2015 Jurassic World Jungle 5-pack in black and in 2017 was a part of the Walmart exclusive camo set. Tootsie Roll is the latest non-basic release.

Another I had touched on a couple of weeks ago, number 4 of 6 is the MB999 Food Truck (or Chow Mobile as it is known as now). Now Charms do cover a variety of sweets as the company was founded in 1912. What better then than to have a food truck to showcase the variety of them.

Of course the model is mainly depicting the Blow Pops, one of the Charms brands introduced in 1969. Oh look this one had a 5 on the side, as it is number 4 in the set.

The Food Truck first debuted in 2013 as MB4. However, when it first arrived it was assigned the manufacturing number MB889. Mr Lugo’s in white and the purple 2014 Caramel Club MB8 were the only variations of MB889. The casting went through a retooling for 2015.

There were a number of changes made, but the most noticeable was that the snacks depicted on the side were now a part of the body section as opposed to the interior section initially. However, there was a slight blooper made.

When they made the change they forget to update the manufacturing number at first, and the 2015 issue still stated MB889 on it, even though it had moved to the MB999 slot. It was rectified before the 2016 issue arrived.

These are all the basics of MB999 (including the error 2015 issue).

For 2015 it was light yellow as MB9 featuring a Fun Fun Sushi design. 2016 was red as MB11 featuring a Dragon Steam Sum logo. 2017 was blue with a Worksite Food Truck design. 2018 was dark yellow as MB25 for Clark’s Ice Cream & Yogurt. 2019 was orangey red featuring Sriracha on the side. 2020 sees it as MB18 in black with The Lobster Cage logo. As such this casting has been a staple of the basic range since 2013.

In fact last year’s Sweets issue for Nerds was the first time the casting was used for a variation outside of the basic range.

On to the 5th model out of 6 according to the packaging. Another returnee to the sweets theme is the MB713 ’65 Austin Minivan. The name Junior Mints stems from a pun on a play that the inventor was a big fan of. James O. Welch had launched them in 1949, and based the name on his favourite play, known as Junior Miss. It was shown on Broadway in 1943, and he had never forgotten it. So the mints are 16 years older than the van they are on.

This is marked up as No. One on the side, so putting the number is a similar style to the logo, giving it a very classy look. And what’s this on the rear? A tow hook? There must be an unwritten rule that they throw one on there every now and then. I will get to that.

The casting had quite a stellar debut. Launching in 2007 as MB31 in tan, the model was one of the chosen ones to sport a version 2 through the year. Even more, that version 2 was in metallic emerald, as it was depicting the 55th anniversary of the brand (which at the time was being done a year early). Emerald being the gift of choice to celebrate 55 years (well since 1937 when the 25 year rule after 25 was expanded to include every 5th year). It was also chosen as the show model for the 2007 Matchbox Gathering in Albuquerque in blue. At the end of the year it also rolled up in the 1st Editions 10-pack in mustard gold sporting what I think (if memory serves me right) the last time the orginal disk wheels were used on a Matchbox model, before being replaced by a new disk design that had a ring around it.

If you thought 2007 was a big year for the casting, it was nothing on 2008. It was sold as MB7 in mustard in the basic range, and was also in green in the Best of British series. It was also a part of the 2008 Classic Cars 5-pack in blue with a white roof, and this model sported a wheel variation where the regular disk wheels (the newer style with a ring around the central disk) were swapped out with a set of tri-spokes for a production run. June 2008 saw a 2009 Pre-Toy Fair model appear too, as this was a time when Pre-Toy Fairs received exclusive models too. But that’s not it.

It was also a part of the 2008 Superfast series. However, when the first half of the Superfast series launched it sported some exclusive Superfast wheels (which all 10 did), which on this model were a retro 5-spoke design. But a late short production run of all 10 models in the batch saw them revert to regular basic wheels, which in this case was tri-spoke.

2009 was yet another stellar year for the casting. It’s third year in the basic range saw it in red with a Benz design on the side. A second Classic Cars 5-pack blue issue, this time in a lighter blue with a Lumber Co side design and another pastel blue Butcher Shop release for the 2009 Best of British set. It also saw a creamy white Richie’s Pizza Delivery release in the “Real” all-exclusive 10-pack that year, and there was a little promotional model in green too. If you haven’t seen it before, you will find more out about it soon. I promise.

So after 3 years of being used in multiple lines 2010 saw just a basic range MB72 issue. That was it. So me being me, I had to just make do with finding shade variations on the blue paint job to tide me over until 2011.

Because it went nuts again. As I said there is something about a random tow hook. The hook debuted on the back of the 2011 Lesney Edition in British “Panda Car” baby blue and white. Panda Cars were a nickname given in Britain to the police cars of the time. Although they were blue and white, not black and white like, well a panda. There was also a City Life 5-pack issue in pale lemon with a bike theme & a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse licensed 5-pack issue in red. As well as those, we saw a basic range that proved to be rather elusive. Released as MB72 in the US and LAAM ranges, it was also MB48 in the ROW range, but for some reason only appeared in a single batch, and then disappeared. Many people seemed to miss it. Then there was a random metallic green model with a white roof. Supposedly a short run that was being prepared for something which got cancelled, this model ended up being thrown in a random 3-pack and sold in markets that had them. The majority ended up in Chile, although a handful were also found in Holland. But it did get the nickname the Chilean Minivan.

After the 2011 high, things did sort of peter out. It has seen sporadic issues since. 2012 was another Mickey Mouse Clubhouse issue, this time in purple. After not being used in 2013 at all, it popped up in the 2014 City Works 5-pack in silver. 2015, again another year off, and 2016 started what is now known as the sweet age of the model. Okay it’s not, but what if it was? I mean 2016 saw it in purple for the Best of series featuring a Battenburgs livery. Then after nothing for 2017, we saw a 2018 MB27 chocolate themed release. So before it even was added to the sweets sets the previous 2 issues were both food related.

Then obviously last year it was in the Sweets set in silver with a Baby Ruth logo. And no tow hook. This year’s issue is only the second time we have seen a tow hook on the casting.

Finally, 6 of 6, as depicted on the card and the model. The MB723 VW Beetle 4×4. DOTS have been around since 1945, and are a very popular gum drop sweet in USA. But this is the first time the casting is an older vehicle in essence to the sweet depicted. The VW Beetle was first launched in 1938. Outdoing the sweets! Chalk one up to the car. Okay it wasn’t actually a contest.

Now obviously the Beetle 4×4 is not based on one of the original Beetles, or Type 1 as it was originally known. It is a custom Baja style beach buggy vehicle that was based on a later Beetle body style. One of a number of Matchbox Beetle 4×4 castings, this is the latest one that is in use. I do like the different front and rear wheel looks. Chrome for the front, green for the rear.

The casting first debuted back in 2007 where it was sold as MB61. A quiet debut year compared to the Austin Minivan as shown previously. It has still seen quite a lot of use since.

2008 was a year that saw the Beetle chosen as one of the models to be in 2 versions through the year, with an orange MB91 (for the US range), MB63 (LAAM range) or MB31 (ROW range) arrive, which did find an assortment sporting some older oval wheels rather than the newer ringed gear wheels that had debuted the year before. A later green version 2 did not see anything unusual with the wheels.

The same happened with the 5-packs. The Dino Mountain 5-pack saw the usual ringed gear wheels swapped out on a batch with the older ovals. The licensed 5-pack Nick Jr model in yellow saw no such change.

There was a purple 10-pack version for the all-exclusive Adventure set.

2009 saw a basic range version in brown. This time it was MB82 for the US range, MB24 for the LAAM range, but continued as MB31 for the ROW range. I found this brown paint job was really good for shades. I am nuts like that.

As well as basics, we saw another 5-pack issue in the Desert Advenure set, and again another appearance for the ovals for a production run instead of the usual ringed gear. It also appeared for a second consecutive year in the Adventure 10-pack.

2010 saw just 1 issue. A favourite of quite a few. National Parks. I will do more on National Parks later, but for now, this MB91 (US), MB55 (LAAM), MB58 (ROW) issue was also good for shades. It then took 2011 off.

Returning in 2012, we saw a white basic range issue as MB41. It was one worldwide range in 2012, making this much easier to number. It was also in the Desert Adventure 5-pack in green.

It has become a little quiter since then. However, since 2014 it has always sported ringed 8-spoke wheels. In 2014 it was MB63 in white with an Off Road side design. 2015 saw it in purple as MB105 sporting many Matchbox personnel names on the sides. Finally, after a 3-year absense it returned in 2019 sporting the Gulf blue design. This was in the No Road, No Problem 5-pack, as well as a number of 9-packs. Then the latest Sweets issue.

So that’s it for another report. Who would have thought I could pad out a report on a set of 6 sweets models into something so long. My next article will either be 3 lines long about 20 models, or a 3-book volume on a single model. I haven’t decided yet.

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David Tilley

9 thoughts on “Matchbox Monday has a sweet tooth

  1. Good write up… Alot of these I’ve never seen. 2017 green Ford GT. Was that released for the ROW market?… I only found that on long card. As for Tesco I suppose a tray full of jolly RANCHERo’s is all we get again and again……… Sour taste to my mouth now…..

    1. Oh I forgot to say, the green GT40 did only appear in 1 batch, and the UK happened to skip that batch. However, Poundland did get a tiny batch in a few random stores. But mine too came from USA.

      1. Great news for batch B 2020. Just a few Ranchero’s to sell..! I got my 2017 Ford gt from poundland.. Those were the days!!!…. Asda sometimes didn’t have Mattel boxes. It looked as tho they had their own boxes and i believe some odd line ups were missing such as the green ford gt40. I assumed they were USA only . I just never saw them in short card. Thank you and I must say keep up your nice write ups… MB38 model A vans?!!….

  2. Wow! What an informative article. This is a must read for any MBX fan or diecast collector for that matter.
    I recognize some of the variations displayed, but haven’t seen many of these & the DHL example is pretty cool.
    Cool deal!

  3. That was a looong article! But I read through all of it and it was quite fun. Nice to see the Chilean Mini and pre-pro GT40 making a cameo appearance. I really miss the “rare Matchbox models of the Mattel era” posts that John used to do. They were some of my favourite posts on the blog back then. Is there a way we can bring those back please?

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