A Tale of Two: Matchbox & Hot Wheels Nissan D21 Hardbody Pickups

Full Yin & Yang.

Contrary to what some think, even with Mattel owning both brands, there is no meeting where designers for both brands get together and decide who does what model. Even though they are under the same roof, and even though designers for both brands will dabble in the other occasionally, the direction for both is quite separate. The teams sit down each year and figure out what models are best to do within the direction their brand is taking.

And because those directions can be so darn different, most of the time models made are very different. But other times, due to direction or designer interest, the same vehicle can be made by both brands. And the takes can be very different. Or similar.

Needless to say, the teams didn’t look at each other and both decide to do D21 Hardbody Trucks, with one going slammed and the other stock. It happened organically, and the pair couldn’t work better together.

Hot Wheels released its ultra-slammed Hardbody in the final mix of 2019 Car Culture, and Matchbox is set to drop theirs in Mix 3 of their mainline. My guess is D21 fans are thrilled with both.

And there are a lot of D21 fans. The truck strikes a hint of 90’s nostalgia, and is a minitruck icon. How many of us remember the sound of bass-rattling cabs pulling up alongside at traffic lights or being held up in a parking lot as one slowly maneuvers a speed bump? Good times.

Hot Wheels hit that right on the nose with theirs, but the Hardbody also was a highly functional truck, and Matchbox hot that with theirs. Slightly lifted with a tow hook and a bed full of stuff, it will surely do the job. But it goes nostalgic as well with its perfect 90’s era side striping.

Such a great pair. 90’s nostalgia is full-force and these fit perfectly. Both hit different notes, and as a collector of both brands I love when this happens.

The Matchbox will be the first basic model to sport the new Matchbox off-road wheels. The Moving Parts Ford Ranger is the first model overall. These wheels are a welcome addition, as Matchbox didn’t have an “in-between” wheel for pickups like this. The other off-road wheels seemed better suited for heavy utility vehicles or total off-readers. I see these wheels being used a lot moving forward.

I am looking forward to David Tilley tackling this one, as he will undoubtedly jump into his vast collection of Matchbox mini-trucks to compare and contrast. It will be cool to this next to some of the other trucks Matchbox has done. Even without the cool factor the D21 brings, this truck is such a great one to have, and it is bound to be a hit.

That is what I love about this hobby. The “culture” of Car Culture is more interesting to me, and watching the response to Hot Wheels first dropping a slammed D21 and Matchbox following with a stock instantly made me dig a bit into why the response was so passionate. Part is the mere fact that so many of us grew up with these cars, but many are intertwined into our identity. Whether a Testarossa Poster on the wall, a D21 in the garage, the constant rides in Mom’s Grand Marquis, or seeing a Hakosuka for the first time, each model can illicit a reaction.

That is why I can only laugh when little battles ignite between “car experts” on Instagram, or when someone gets criticized for not knowing what a particular car or style is. I wasn’t born with any car knowledge, and I am always gaining more. This goofy hobby is what brings most of it. I will keep asking, I will keep pronouncing things wrong, I will still try and act like I know what I am talking about, I will still enjoy this hobby.

I have a new appreciation for the D21. I’m collecting both castings.

4 Replies to “A Tale of Two: Matchbox & Hot Wheels Nissan D21 Hardbody Pickups”

  1. Great article!

    The only problem with either casting is that the MB one will most likely never get a metal chassis.
    Lots of memories of tons of these in the parking lot at Tinker in the dorms, both stock and mod’d versions.

  2. What I like best is that unlike last year’s Power Wagon; it isn’t lifted. It’s just plain stock. There are tons of these in my area. You can’t kill them. They usually RUST out before they WEAR out. I’m looking at getting one myself in 1/1.

    And; a trailer hitch. From my tastes, I think this is one of the best MBX done in a while. Love the way it turned out.

  3. Nice models, both. However, they may be made by different teams, but aside from stance, there really isn’t a lot between the products that make them feel they are from different divisions of Mattel.

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