Model: Matchbox 2009 promotional MB713 1965 Austin Minivan
Release: 2009 MICA (The Matchbox Club as it was at the time) UK Convention April 2009, limited to 400 examples
Where to get it: eBay is the best bet
Why is it in the collection: I designed it!
I was very proud of this model. Back in the mid 2000s, Matchbox wanted to set up a link between the company and the collector community. The Matchbox Ambassadorship was born and tenures would begin at the Matchbox Gathering every July each year in Albuquerque and finish at the following Gathering. I was chosen as the 3rd Ambassador and my tenure ran from July 2008 until July 2009. I had a very good relationship with the team in El Segundo CA, and also with the person in charge of Matchbox at Mattel UK at the time. I spoke with Kevin McGimpsey, who was head of MICA UK about the possibility of tying the model into the event in April 2009. He allowed me to use the MICA logo, which was actually transitioning into “The Matchbox Club” (although everybody still called it MICA), and I chose the 1965 Austin Minivan as the model to use. Due to time constraints we needed to have a model that was popular, but was also sort of a vehicle that some of the older club members in the UK would get behind. Kevin himself had always used Models of Yesteryear models as promotional tools, and the idea of a miniature needed to have a bit of a crossover appeal. Plus the owners of the Austin license at the time were easy to work with.
So we went with the Minivan. British Racing green is my favourite shade, so I wanted it to be that. I came up with the side design, telling them what I wanted, where I wanted it. Sadly, due to the time constraints they couldn’t do thorough background checks on my name to make sure there was no issue, so under the door logo it says “Official 2008-2009 Ambassador vehicle”. A slight tweak. Front and rear I just said just put the regular details on there.
The only other change they made was due to Felix Holst, who was in charge of the brand at the time. He said the roof looked better if it was black. I was okay with that. Production ran in early 2009, and then there were 8 boxes with 50 models per box created at the factory in Thailand and shipped directly to my house. They didn’t even see the finished article in El Segundo as time was so tight. The backs of the blisters state up to 450. It was something they always did, just in case there was a mis-count. Overstate how many there are with an “up to”, to avoid any legal ramifications. Superfast in the 00s used to have the same. 7,500 made (“up to” 8,000), 15,000 made (“up to” 15,500).
I brought the 8 boxes with me to the MICA Convention, as they arrived with less than a week to spare. Kevin took 7 of them which were then handed out to all the attendees, and some spares sold off as extras. The final box I then took back home. I met up with the guys from El Segundo a short time later, as we had a line preview around the same time, and 30 of us converged on El Segundo for the event. I handed some models from my allotment of 50 to the Mattel guys, and a few collectors who wanted them. The others mainly went to family and friends. I was so proud of my little model. I still am.
I even kept a couple of spare models back mint in package. I know, I open everything in my collection. But these are not in the collection per se. I have one loose for the collection. I am holding back the other 2 in case there comes a time when I have somebody new in my life with whom I would like to pass it on to. You never know.