Well, this week for Matchbox Monday, I am currently waiting on a package to arrive from Wheel Collectors with new items, so I needed to come up with something different. I have done a little dive into my collection and thought I would come up with something a little unusual. I am not sure if this has been done before. A full 2002 logo set of basic range models in photo.
Mattel first came up with a logo set for the 2000 US only range, which was designed for a bit of fun to be a millenium bug. Each of the basic range issues for the US range saw Matchbox 2000 appear somewhere on the model.
After the success of this, they decided that for the 2002 series they would create another logo hunt. But this time, it would be worldwide. Both the US and ROW ranges would see it. The first 10,000 models sported a “50” logo somewhere on the model. However, with a worldwide release, it all depended on who ordered when as to where they could turn up. Some proved very frustrating. The 50 was representing Matchbox’ 50th year selling models. With the other brand at Mattel celebrating a birthday in 2003, they brought it forward a year with the mathematical equation that it was the 50th year that they were selling. Technically, that is correct, but everybody always celebrated the more logical “take one away from the other” way. But I digress, the series saw 51 models being sold worldwide, with a further 24 out of the range of 75 being for either the US market or ROW market. So that gave us a total of 99 models to hunt down. And hunt I did. It was not easy, but I did manage to obtain a full set. Let’s dive in.
Taking the MB1 slot for the year was the MB481 Wrecker Truck. It often went by the name King Tow, especially on packaging. It had debuted the year before, and was mid way through a 3-year run in the basic range. The first 10,000 saw a big 50 on the front of the model before it was removed for the later production. The model was a 3-axle wreck truck with a 2-piece moving rear hook section.
MB2 for the year was the classic MB017 Leyland Titan London Bus. The casting had debuted in 1982, and had been a mainstay of the ROW range until 1996, although had been a lot more sporadic in the US range. It popped back briefly in 2000, and then saw this swansong in 2002. Again the large 50 logo was easy to spot on the front of the roof for the first 10,000.
In the MB3 position was the MB469 Street Cleaner. This was its third basic range release, but the first time it was being sold worldwide, after being a US exclusive for its first 2 years. The logo was clear to see on the front bucket, which was one of the numerous moving parts this model sported. The bucket was a 2-piece section that would move up and down and rotate in and out. Plus the model sported brushes on the side which would move out. One thing you notice with the early 2000s Mattel era was the designs were a little creative and bright, but the play value was tremendous. So many moving parts throughout the range. The Street Cleaner would carry on until 2005 (apart from 2004) before being dropped.
MB4 for 2002 was the MB292 Ford Falcon casting. The casting had been an Australian exclusive in 1997, ROW exclusive in 1998, then back in Australia only (I should include New Zealand in that, as they too took the AUS exclusives) for 2 more runs in 2000 and 2001 before this too had a swansong for 2002. It was the first, and obviously last time it was sold worldwide, as a yellow taxi. Because this was a racing variant of the vehicle, and even included roll bars in the interior. Again, the logo was large and in charge on the front.
This is where we start the split. For the US range, MB5 was the MB420 Chevy Impala Police. It featured a D.A.R.E. logo on the side, as they had a license for D.A.R.E. products and we had seen quite a few over the previous few years. The first 10,000 again saw a nice big 50 on the front. The casting had been exclusive to the US market every year since launch in 2000 and took until 2005 for the ROW market to be included in a release. It was then dropped, but did pop back again in 2009 worldwide then saw a final US only issue in 2010.
The ROW range (Rest Of the World) however saw the MB5 slot filled by the MB356 Porsche Boxster in yellow. It was at the end of a 4-year run in the basic range, although after the 1999 worldwide debut and 2000 issue, it became a little more exclusive. 2001 saw it only released in Germany and this final model was only for the ROW market. It did pop back up again in 2005, again only in the ROW market before being dropped for good. The logo on this one was part of the window section.
MB6 for the US range was a classic MB129 Chevy Blazer 4×4. A staple of the basic range since 1984, it did actually take a year off in 2001 before sporting this Smokey the Bear livery for 2002. As with all model in the US range so far, the logo was easy to spot on the front. Since then the casting has had a sporadic basic range release, although the last one was in 2019. It still pops up from time to time.
MB6 for the ROW market was the MB463 Ford Focus. However, this was a tricky one. You see, ROW markets saw the basic range being sold in window boxes. Being Matchbox, the model faces to the left. You may note that this model is facing right to show off the logo that adorned the first 10,000. That meant that in the package it was actually on the far side and was not visible. Some people said that careful manipulation of the box (or just squashing it, let’s be honest) they could just see the top edge of the ring around the 50. For me, it was not a problem. I open everything and grabbed it as soon as I saw it. That meant I was getting the first run. Those trying to catch up later it will cause a lot more problems. This was one of 4 basic range releases for the Focus, but the only one not sold worldwide. The 2000, 2003 and 2005 issues were sold in all markets.
In the US range, we saw MB7 as the MB458 Chevy Camaro Police in grey with a “Take a bite out of crime” design. It was one of only two basic range issues that sported the lo-pro roof light, and both were US only. The previous issue was in 1999. Again, as with all US issues so far, the logo was easy to see on the front.
For the ROW range, the MB7 slot was taken by the MB451 BMW 3-series Coupe. Sold in deep burgundy with just a front detailing, the model saw the 50 logo on the boot (or trunk, but this was ROW so I am going with boot). The model had debuted in 2000 worldwide, but did not see an outing in 2001. This was its second basic range issue, and it saw one more in 2005, although that was worldwide again.
MB8 for the US market and another very large logo across the front. The MB436 Chevy Suburban had debuted in 2000 and had been a worldwide release for 2 years before becoming a US exclusive for 2002. After that it was dropped from the basic range, although did pop back up in 2010 and 2012 for 2 more runs. This was a really nice “Stop, drop and roll” design, as this set of 4 models had all been part of a “Safety Stars” sub-group in the US range.
MB8 however, was another headache for ROW collectors. Oh look, it’s facing right again. The MB334 Mercedes Benz E-Class had first arrived in 1998 and was sold again in 1999, both times worldwide. After that it went on hiatus before this ROW exclusive popped up, and again plenty of window boxes became rather squished trying to figure out if they were sporting a logo on the first 10,000. As with the Focus, if you squashed it in the right way, you could just make out the top edge of the ring. The casting only saw one more ROW issue the following year before being dropped from the range.
MB9 and we are back to an amalgamated set. The MB532 BMW Z8 was a brand new casting worldwide and the first 10,000 saw the logo on the rear trunk or boot. The casting was a staple of the basic range until 2005, although the 2004 issue was ROW only, before being dropped. Four years in total.
MB10 for 2002 was the second version of the MB517 Dodge Viper GTSR. The model had debuted in 2001 worldwide, and went on to see a number of random visits, which, apart from 2008 which wasn’t sold in the ROW areas, were worldwide issues. It was last seen in 2017. For this release, the 50 logo was seen on the roof.
MB11 for 2002 was the MB515 casting of the 2000 Chevy Corvette Convertible. The casting had debuted the previous year, and it was in the midst of a 3-year worldwide run, before popping back up again in 2008 and 2013. The logo was on the trunk on this one, but although I got the angle good here, can actually be missed. White on silver isn’t the easiest to see.
MB12 was the MB368 1999 Ford Mustang Convertible. After debuting in 1999 and being used again in 2000, both times as a US exclusive, 2002 saw the model finally arrive worldwide in the basic range. It was also its last time too, as this 3rd release was its final basic. I remember at the time that the model wasn’t easy to find on US long card and most of the logo models were being found in ROW window boxes. As with the Corvette, the logo doesn’t really stand out. This was on the top right corner of the hood, and it may have been better if the Corvette and this Mustang had been in the alternate colours to make them stand out better.
Splitting the range again. MB13-16 was different between US and ROW markets, with MB13 in the US being the MB304 Ford Crown Victoria with lo-pro police light. The first 10,000 sported a trunk logo. The model had debuted in 1997 worldwide, and after 1998 (also worldwide) and 1999 (US only), it took 2000 off before returning in 2001 (US exclusive) and 2002 was its swansong year in the basic range. But this wasn’t its last outing. Keep reading.
The ROW market saw a different MB13. The MB498 Ambulance casting had debuted in 2001, and was in the middle of a 3-year worldwide run (the US market saw a different one later in the year). The model sported rear opening doors showing a patient on a stretcher inside. This was another in the headache series for ROW collectors. And this was a serious headache. Again, the logo was on the wrong side. It was in the upper left corner, if the model was pointing to the right (but packaged left in the window boxes). Plus, this model is straight edged. There was no manipulating packages to check for this. The only way to know for sure was to open it.
The US market decided to get involved in the stress of logos being on the wrong side too. MB14 was the first US exclusive issue where the model faced the wrong way. The MB525 Sea Speeder was also in the midst of a 3 year basic range run, although 2002 was the only 1 of the three consecutive outings that wasn’t worldwide. However, 2002 saw US issues issued on long carded blister just as they are now. So once it was determined where the logo was (towards the rear on a curved lower hull), it was simply a case of picking up the blister, tilting forwards, and peering behind the model. The model had a spinning radar on it, which often gets overlooked.
No chance for ROW collectors to check MB14. The MB111 Snorkel Fire Engine (which was being known as Flame Chaser in 2002) was another model with the logo on the wrong side, and this one was at the bottom in the middle of the flat side. Literally, it had to be opened to be sure of obtaining the logo version. The casting had been in the basic range since 1983, and the ROW range dropped it after 1998, with the US stretching for another 2 years, dropping it after 2000. After taking 2001 off, this was its swansong.
MB15 for the US market was the MB157 International School Bus. Although packaging did call it Police Bus instead, due to the design being used. Again, the logo was on the wrong side. The model was straight edged too, so doing the “US blister – tilt forward and peer behind” motion still didn’t 100% know for sure. The surrounding tampo design sported quite a bit of yellow in a circular wave, and some people were not completely sure. A few mistakes were made, but most did manage to get this one right. This was another casting on its swansong outing. The casting had debuted in 1985 in the US range running non-stop until 2000, and after taking a year off popped back up for this one. The ROW range saw it from 1987 until 1994, and it did pop back up in 1998 too.
Most of the basic range was 4-model sub-sections, and this was the only ROW exclusive from this sub-section that actually had the logo on the correct side. However, it was quite faint behind the rear wheel, and you did have to look fairly closely to spot it. This casting was in the midst of quite the sporadic (by year and where it was sold) run in the basic range. Debuting in 1999 worldwide, 2000 saw it as a US exclusive, then in 2001 it wasn’t in the US range, but saw an outing for the Australian market. After 2002 it didn’t see another basic until 2005, then a final one in 2009.
MB16 in 2002 for the US market was the second and final outing of the MB499 Ford F-series with raft. After debuting in 2001 worldwide, the 2002 series saw it become a US exclusive with a large logo on the hood. After that the casting saw a revision and become MB581 for another basic range run in 2003. It has seen another revision since, becoming MB870, but has not been seen in the basic range since MB581 debuted.
MB16 for the ROW market was the MB431 Ford Transit with triang roof light casting. It had first debuted in 1999 exclusively for the German market, staying that way for 2000, before becoming an ROW issue for 2001 and 2002. It saw a final worldwide release in 2003. Again, the logo was on the wrong side, but the model was a little more curved, and some say they were able to just make out the top edge of the logo with careful manipulation of packaging. It was lucky it was black on white, and towards the top.
MB17 worldwide for 2002 was the MB495 Cement Mixer casting which had debuted the previous year. The design was actually the same as the 2001 colour, except it was now dark yellow instead of white. The barrel spins round too for play value. It was in its second year of a three year run in the basic range, with 2003 actually seeing a new design. People joked that if it was a real vehicle, that 50 logo all over the front window would block the driver’s view.
MB18 was the MB209 Faun, no wait not Faun, Dump Truck. The original MB058 Faun Dump Truck had debuted in 1977 running until 1982. When it returned in 1989, it had changed to the new MAN number, with the only change being the removal of the Faun company name. It ran until 1997, took 1998 off, came back for 1999 & 2000, took 2001 off before we saw this one. Quite a long time this model has been around. The logo was on the top corner of the dump. It popped back in 2006 again, before another change saw it become MB710 and sporadic appearances in 2008, 2010 and 2017.
MB19 was yet another model in the midst of a 3-year basic range run. The MB493 Bulldozer with moving shovel had arrived in 2001 and ran until 2003, the last of which in USA only. However, it was then altered into MB601 and used two more times in 2004 and 2006 worldwide. The logo sits easily visible on the front.
MB20 was the MB492 Road Roller. This too had debuted in 2001, as many construction themed models were created for that year, although this one did run for 5 years worldwide. It sported a centrally pivoting section and rollers both ends. The logo was easy to spot on the side below the steering wheel.
Time to split between the two ranges again. MB21 for the US market was the MB326 Ford F-150 Pick-up. It had debuted in 1998 and saw two years as a worldwide release. After taking 2000 off, it popped back up exclusively in Australia for 2001, beofre moving to being a US exclusive for 2002. This also proved to be its swansong too as a basic range issue. The logo was very to spot on this one on the hood.
For the ROW range, MB21 was the MB239 Jaguar XJ-220. This casting had debuted in 1993 worldwide, and ran until 1997 in the US, 1998 in ROW areas before being dropped. It then came back as a UK exclusive in 2000 before becoming an ROW exclusive for two more years, with 2002 being this one’s swansong in the basic range. Actually, scratch that, swansong period. We never saw this casting again after this release in any range. The logo was fairly easy to see on the bonnet (ROW way of saying it). Finally, ROW issues started to understand not putting them in awkward places.
MB22 for the US was another in a set of 4 pick-up trucks. The sub-section was called “Great Outdoors”, but the models all happened to be pick-ups. MB399 Chevy Silverado 4×4 was an offshoot of the MB398 except on larger 4×4 wheels, with both debuting in 1999. The 4×4 had a 4-year run in the basic range, although every other year was US exclusive (2000, 2002). The logo was loud and proud on the hood (US way of saying it) on this one. Easy to see. This casting was modified to MB981 in the mid ’10s, but neither have been seen in the basic range since this particular issue.
For the ROW market, MB22 was the MB335 Porsche 911GT1. This casting was just finishing a 5-year unbroken run in the basic range, although the 1998 and 2000 ones were the only ones sold worldwide, with the US not seeing the other 3. After a year off, it came back in 2004 for 1 more outing, again ROW only. The logo on this was also on the bonnet (ROW way of saying it again, I think you see what I’m doing here).
The MB23 slot in the US range was taken by the MB249 Chevy K-1500 Pick-up 4×4. This model had debuted back in 1996 running until 1999 in the US range (1998 was ROW too), with 2002 the first of its four pop-ins. It came back in 2008 (US only), 2012 and 2014 (both worldwide) before the casting was altered first into MB953, then MB1000 (although MB1000 still says MB953 on the base due to a mistake). MB953 was seen in the 2015 range. Again the US issues have a lot of large logos on hoods, with this being no exception.
MB23 for the ROW market was the MB232 Lamborghini Diablo. Coming with the opening rear, reminiscent of the classic Countach from the Lesney era that also sported the opening rear exposing an engine, this was also a swansong outing. It had run worldwide from 1992 until 1997 before taking 1998 off. In 1999 it was a German exclusive before getting one more worldwide issue in 2000. 2001 saw 2 different releases, one for the UK market and another again for the German market before this final red version with the 50 logo on the boot (it’s rear engined, the bonnet is open, the boot is at the front). However unlike the Jag XJ220 it did see a few more issues elsewhere after its final basic range outing.
Hey look, the MB24 US exclusive has a massive logo on the hood. The MB485 Ford Explorer Sport Trac had debuted in 2001 and this was the middle release from its three year run. But that was because it turned into MB605 with the rear tailgate sealed up for 2004, and one more basic range issue. This is still one of my favourite castings with the opening rear and a netting that spins round inside to cover over the open tailgate. Only the debut was a worldwide issue, with this and the 2003 issue being US exclusive. The cost-reduced 2004 model was worldwide again. But by then the fun with the rear was gone.
For the ROW market, MB24 was the MB440 Lotus Elise (Lotus say you should pronounce it “el-ee-zhay”, not how it looks). This casting was on year 3 of a six year unbroken run in the basic range, although only the final 2005 issue was worldwide. All others from 2000 onwards had been ROW exclusive. This was the only one out of this set of four ROW exclusives that didn’t see the logo on the front, as it was on the rear engine cover.
The next set of 4 models were also split between the US and ROW ranges. For the US market MB25 was the MB488 Ladder Truck, which was known on packages as Fire Crusher. This was another debut from 2001 that only ran 3 years. This was the only one of the three that was not sold worldwide. The logo was on the actual rear of the model, but because it was in blisters, you could see the side of the blister easily to find the logo. The model also sported an extending and raising ladder section.
The ROW MB25 was the final basic range issue of the MB304 Ford Crown Victoria Police with lo-pro light. As mentioned earlier, 2002 was the final year for the basic range release of this model, but batches were being released in number order in groups of 4 up to 52 (53-75 were mixed in with the batches), so MB25 ROW appeared after MB13 US.
MB26 for the US market was another of the MB498 Ambulance casting. However, unlike the ROW MB13 mentioned earlier, this one had a logo that was easy to see. It was right there on the hood. The model did see a change of wheel during regular production, with the original dome giving way to lace wheels late on.
The ROW range saw a different MB26. The MB476 Mercedes Benz E430 Wagon Police with square roof light (the only roof light it came with) had debuted in the 2001 basic range as an ROW exclusive and this was its only other basic range outing. Again, as an ROW exclusive. It was never seen in the US basic range. The logo was easy to see on the bonnet.
MB27 for the US market saw another of the MB379 International Pumper. For this issue the logo was much easier to see on the hood. As mentioned earlier, the casting was not seen in the basic range after 2009, but was changed to MB877 later. That too has never seen a basic range issue either.
MB27 for the ROW was actually the debut for the MB545 Ford Falcon AU Police with square roof light in the basic range. It was an off-shoot of an earlier MB521 civilian model, and after debuting here as an ROW exclusive, 2003 saw another ROW issue, with 2004 seeing a final worldwide release. There was a lo-pro roof light manufacturing number MB553 version which never saw a basic range, and a triang roof light MB635 version which never actually saw a release, period! Nothing. the MAN number was given for it, but it never saw the light of day. The logo was easy to see on the bonnet.
MB28 was a sporadic MB360 Ford Expedition (civilian casting) issue. After debuting in 1999 worldwide, the casting saw a 2000 and 2002 US only release and a final 2006 worldwide version. Being a US issue, it also saw another of the massive hood logos.
The final ROW issue of this group of 4, MB28, was the MB439 BMW 328i Police with square roof light (again, the only light it ever came with). This was the third of five basic range outings. They were a little unusual. For 2000, it debuted in the German range and “other” ROW range in two different designs. I am saying “other” as for 2000 (and 2001) the ROW range was further split with UK, Germany and Australia (its three biggest markets at the time) receiving 10 exclusives just for their market. A fourth set of 10 was available for the other markets that were part of the overall ROW group. For 2001 it was in all ROW markets, as well as 2002 obviously (they had amalgamated this year). Then for 2003 it was a US exclusive, and after taking 2004 returned to ROW status. I always thought it was funny. It has Polizei, clearly marking it as German. But also Metro Patrol. A bit confusing. The logo was on the roof behind the light.
And now we return to worldwide status for quite a run. MB29 was the MB427 Mercedes Benz ML430. This was the final basic range issue for this casting which had debuted in 1999 as a German exclusive. In 2000 it became a worldwide issue, and returned again for this final outing. The logo was easy to spot behind the rear wheel on the correct side, regardless of which pack it was found in (most were on US long card).
MB30 and yet another which was mid-way through a 3-year basic range run. The MB516 Chrysler Panel Cruiser had debuted worldwide in 2001 and saw another worldwide release for 2002 before going US only for its final 2003 release. Again the logo was easy to spot on the panel on the side.
MB31 was the debut of the MB539 BMW X5. The casting had been created 2 ways, with an opening door MB535 also being created, but only ever used in a BMW dealer set. Mind you the MB539 sealed door didn’t get a lot of use. After this worldwide debut, it became an ROW exclusive in 2003 and that was it. The logo was on the roof at the front. I had fun with this model, as shades of blue were quite noticeable, even on the logo version. So yeah, I have 2 of the 10,000 made on that one.
MB32 was the first of 2 Hummers in a row. This was the MB522 Hummer (or Humvee) which had debuted in 2001 as an offshoot of the earlier MB256 version from 1994 which had a gun sticking out the roof. It was only used twice in the basic range, both times worldwide. This was the latter of the two, and sported a 50 logo on the hood/bonnet. The casting was later altered into MB983 which involved sealing the opening rear later, but that has never been in the basic range.
The second of 2 Hummers in a row adorned the MB33 slot. The MB506 Hummer Police had double debuted in 2001 as both a US and UK exclusive in 2 different designs, before going worldwide for all basics from 2002. It saw 3 further outings in 2003, 2012 and 2014 before being altered into MB952 and seeing a 2015 basic range issue. The alteration involved changing the rear to seal the opening hatch.
MB34 was quite a clever casting. The MB448 Air Lift Helicopter had arrived in 2000 sporting quite the feature. Underneath was a hook at the end of a piece of rope. By spinning the rotor on top you could unravel the rope and hook, or roll it back in depending on which way you spun the rotor. The rear also pulled out and the small rotor on the side would also spin. Quite a bit of play value here. It ran for 4 years in the basic range, all worldwide, with this being the third year in green, with a red 50 logo on the glass portion of the roof.
MB35 for 2002 was another sporadic issue. The MB519 Hovercraft with hose that could be spun round first debuted as a US exclusive in 2001. After that, this was was its first of five worldwide release and sported a small 50 logo right at the front of the model. It saw further releases in 2003, 2012, 2017 and 2018.
MB36 was the MB514 Troop Carrier with canopy. The casting had debuted in 2001 as a US exclusive before moving to a worldwide issue for 2002. The first 10,000 saw a 50 logo on the hood/bonnet before it vanished. Later runs also saw the dome wheels change to lace. An MB584 offshoot, Troop Carrier without canopy, was added to the toolbank for 2003, but that never saw a basic range release, and this never saw another basic either.
The next sub-set of four models were part of the “Nite Glow” sub-section and as such all contained plastic parts that would glow in the dark. The first of them in the MB37 slot was the MB512 Robot Truck. This casting had debuted in 2001 as a US exclusive before becoming a worldwide release for what turned out to be its final basic range issue. As had happened in the past, the logo was added to the wrong side. Luckily the model was packaged the wrong way too so you could see it. It was on the opening side door. The model also had an extendable radar that would lift up off the roof.
Another 3-year model. The MB38 slot for 2002 was taken by the MB518 Over-Under Rescue Boat (later renamed Beach Patrol) which sported a glow in the dark interior section. 2001 had been a US exclusive, but this and the 2003 issue were worldwide. The logo was easy enough to locate on the front side of the hull. However, the casting was re-tooled into MB826 later and re-entered the basic range in 2012 and 2013.
MB39 was taken by the MB510 Armored Response Vehicle. The casting had debuted in 2001 (US only), and this was the only other time it was used in the basic range. The tooling was altered (barely) into MB606 and used again in the basic range in 2004, 2014 and 2018. The logo was easy to see on the front and the opening glow in the dark rear exposed the interior which would also glow in the dark.
MB40 was the MB497 Radar Search Plane. A rather novel release, which again was part of the 2001-2003 release schedule. All worldwide this time, and this sported a 50 logo on the roof in front of the glow in the dark radar, and also had glow in the dakr wings which would pull out.
MB41 was the MB233 Airport Fire Truck. Clearly a Gloster Javelin, it never actualy mentioned the real vehicle’s name on the model, and after debuting in 1992, the casting had a very sporadic life in the basic range. Two worldwide releases saw it dropped after 1993, but popping back up in 1999 in one design everywhere except Germany but also as a German exclusive in an alternate design. 2000 was a fun year. It was a US exclusive in 1 design, and again Germany saw a second one, but it happened to be the same one as their 1999 version. The “other” ROW range was supposed to have had a release too, but that entire batch was skipped in those markets, and the group of 5 never appeared. But two of them did appear in a 3-pack, of which this was one. Are you following? Or are you totally confused? I am and I am writing this. It then appeared this last time as a worldwide issue for its swansong. The logo was easy to see over the rear wheel, and the model had 2 moving parts. The ladder moves and spins round, as well as the nozzle.
MB42 saw another model in its basic range swansong. The MB229 Mack Auxiliary Power Truck had been around worldwide continuously since 1991 (except 2000) with 2002 proving to be its final outing. Featuring a pair of floodlights that would raise up, tilt back/forth and swivel round, it had good play value. No wonder it had a good run. This saw a 50 logo buried in the tampo printing behind the rear wheel. Almost missable. Once the logo had vanished, this too saw a wheel change with the domes giving way to sawblades later on.
MB43 was a huge favourite of many. Oh this was such a popular casting. Honestly, they would literally fly off the pegs. Particularly 3-4 years later when people were fed up of seeing them and threw them across the stores. Okay, yeah, the MB523 Radar Truck jammed pegs for five years from 2001 until 2005 (I remember people still saying they could find them on pegs in 2008, and I remember pics of multiple years of releases being on pegs together). They hung around for ages. If there was ever a competition for peg warmer of the millenium from Matchbox, you are looking at the winner. Such a shame. The concept was brilliant. I loved the idea of a radar truck, and had this been designed differently, it could have been a whole different story. I still think the rotating radar on the top is cool though. The fact that it debuted worldwide and ran for five consecutive years is astonishing really. This was its second outing and the logo was on the side between the wheels. Okay I bet a few people shuddered when they saw that picture.
This was MB44. It even had 44 on the tampo design. The MB402 Dennis Sabre had first debuted in 1999 as an ROW exclusive. In 2000 it was an “other” ROW exclusive (in the batch of 5 that did get made out of 10) as well as a UK exclusive design in an alternate design. After that it became a worldwide release in 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2008 before retiring. The logo was fairly easy to see behind the rear wheel.
MB45 was the second of two releases for the MB491 VW Beetle 4×4 with opening boot/trunk (that sported a spare wheel inside). After debuting in 2001 as a US and a UK exclusive in 2 different designs, it saw a second and final worldwide release in 2002 that sported a 50 logo on the roof behind the lights. The model was then cost reduced for 2003 and MB582 with sealed boot/trunk ran for four more years before a whole new casting was created for 2007.
MB46 this year was the MB429 Dune Buggy This casting had debuted in 1999 and sold worldwide before 2000 saw it become a US and Australian exclusive in 2 designs. 2001 was US only before this final 2002 issue for the casting as it was. The logo appeared on the upper front of the model. The casting was later turned in to the MB854 Sand Speeder and re-appeared in the basic range in 2017.
MB47 for 2002 was the first of two basic range releases for the MB543 Nissan Xterra without kayaks model. It had actually debuted in a 5-pack in 2001 as an offshoot to an earlier MB490 casting that sported 2 kayaks on the roof. However, the kayaks did cause issues with the opening rear. After 2002, the non-kayak version popped up again in 2004 before stopping basic range use. However, later on, the earlier MB490 casting was completely overhauled and re-debuted with no kayaks or opening rear in 2018. The logo was easy enough to see on the bonnet/hood.
MB48 was the MB442 Jeep Grand Cherokee with raft. This was the swansong in the basic range for this casting that had debuted worldwide in 2000. All three issues had been worldwide. The logo was again on the bonnet/hood and easy to see. The casting itself does still see occasional use, just not in the basic range. It also spawned an offshoot, as a raft-free MB471 version was created too, but that has never been used in the basic range.
Oh wait, this is a US only issue. Yes, we are back on the splits again. MB49 for the US market was the MB398 Chevy Silverado. This, alongside the MB399 4×4 version (already seen as MB22 US) both saw quite sporadic uses. This even more. It debuted in 1999 as a US exclusive. And then, yeah it was this one that sported a nice easy to see 50 logo on the hood. After that, just one more release…. In 2013, the first time it was sold worldwide. Oh, and obviously the last.
The ROW range saw quite a different vehicle. The MB486 Jeep Wrangler with luggage had debuted in 2001 worldwide as an off-shoot of MB369. Then we saw this release, just in the ROW market, and never again in the basic range. The original MB369 saw 4 different releases (although for one it didn’t sport the roll bars). The logo was easy to spot here on the bonnet.
MB50 for the US market was the MB281 Ford Transit. Quite an unusual choice, as the Transit was not very well known in USA at the time. It had debuted as an ROW exclusive in 1996, and ran as an ROW exclusive until 1999, and in 2000 two version were sold in the UK and German markets only. After taking 2001 off it saw this as a debut US issue. For 2004 it was back in the ROW range, with a final worldwide release in 2005. The logo this time was on the rear of the model.
MB50 for the ROW market was the MB373 Watercraft with Trailer. After debuting in 1999 worldwide, it saw a second worldwide issue in 2000 and after taking 2001 off, saw this final basic range release but only in ROW countries for 2002. the 50 logo was on the watercraft’s seat.
MB51 for the US market was the MB324 Chevy Tahoe. This model had already had a bit of a rough few years. It debuted in 1998 worldwide, and after that saw three outings as a “US” exclusive (1999, 2000 and 2002). I am putting “US” in brackets here, as the term US doesn’t mean USA. It is the main market. But it was a lot easier to say than domestic long card, which is the proper way of saying it. “US” issues usually actually cover a lot of the American continent, and depending on the era, can sometimes include other areas too. The Far East has been known to take them at times, and Australia/New Zealand has also been known to sell them. Depending on the era/year, “ROW” has been known to shrink down to basically UK/Europe with “US” being everywhere else. Other times, US could mean North America (which does include Canada) and ROW being elsewhere. Things evolve over years so one country can move in or out of a particular range as time goes on. In 1999, the Tahoe was like gold dust in USA itself. Many people were sourcing them from Canada. In 2002, we saw another awkward situation. According to Mattel, the 10,000 logo run was made, but the order was sent to somewhere in South America. South America didn’t have a big collector base at the time, and as such most of the models simply ended up in kids hands who didn’t know what they had was unusual. This was actually the last model I got to finish my set, in 2005! Cost a fortune to get it (mint, packaged), after which I opened it, and later dropped it causing a chip toward the front of the roof. Oh well, I am not getting it again. It makes mine unique. It stands out. But I got it. I am good. The logo was on the hood on this one.
MB51 for the ROW market was so much easier for me. Being UK based, I simply wandered into the local toy store when they appeared and picked it up. The MB524 Land Rover Discovery had just debuted worldwide the year before before moving to being an ROW exclusive in 2002. After that it had a strange release schedule. 2003 worldwide, then 2005 worldwide again, going US exclusive in 2008, worldwide in 2009 before being US and LAAM (LAtin AMerica) in 2010 (not ROW) and a final worldwide release in 2012. The logo was easy to spot on the bonnet.
MB52 for the US market followed the MB51 lead for 2002. South America was the place to be as these ended up down there. It was only the second issue for this casting after debuting in 2000. The casting was later altered to a police casting with the window forming the light and reappeared in 2018 in the basic range. There was an MB474 triang roof light police version that never appeared in the basic range and an MB479 civilian issue with plain roof which again never saw a basic issue. The logo is on the rear of the model on the upper half of the left door.
MB52 for the ROW market was the MB484 Tower Boat. The casting had debuted in 2001, and this was it for the basic range. One more issue as an ROW exclusive. Many people are unaware that the rear opens to display the engine. The logo was at the rear of the hull (on the correct side).
A new casting in the MB53 slot and back to being worldwide. The MB528 Police Car was a generic that ran for four non-consecutive years worldwide. It took 2005 off before returning for a swansong in 2006. It sported an opening trunk/boot which is where you could find the logo.
MB54 worldwide was another brand new casting that only actually ran for one year like that. The MB524 Tanker Truck debuted with this clever retractable hose that would slide in and out from the rear underneath the tank. However, this was the only issue like that as it was cost reduced for 2003 into MB583 which also only ran for one year in the basic range.
A lot of new castings here as MB55 for 2002 was also new. The MB536 3-axle Dump Truck debuted this year and has seen further outings in 2003-2005, 2009 and 2012 (only 2003 was US exclusive all others worldwide) before being modified into MB931 and seeing one more outing in 2014 worldwide. The 50 logo on this was at the front of the side design on the moveable dump and because it is mixed in with the rest of the design could be missed. Most of these also happened to appear in ROW window boxes rather than on US long card.
MB56 for 2002 was, you guessed it, another new casting. The MB540 Bucket Fire Truck debuted in red and sporting the 50 logo on the side just before the rear wheel. The casting saw one further basic issue the following year before being cost reduced. This originally had a boom with a person in a bucket that would move and rotate round in 2 points or articulation. For 2004 the casting was cost reduced to a single solid piece that didn’t move. MB602 only ran that one year worldwide before being dropped from the basic range.
MB57, yet another new casting (most are from this point, as that was part of the MB53-75 grouping, that most were new castings), was the MB542 Trash Truck. After debuting in 2002, it ran for three years finishing in 2004. There was a lot to this casting. It had a bucket inside the rear that you could take out and slot into the forks sticking out the front. That would then rotate up and slide back/forth to dump contents into the rear, which would also move. It may not have been the prettiest casting, but this goes down as one of the most fun for play value. I tell you, taking this photo brought me lots of fun playing with it. It was seriously under-rated. The 50 logo was on the roof of the cab.
MB58 saw the debut of the MB546 Chevy Avalanche casting. A nice simple design with a huge 50 logo on the bonnet/hood. We have seen sporadic uses for the casting ever since, with 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2017 seeing basic range issue. The 2005 and 2008 were not available for the ROW market though.
MB59 for the year was the debut of the MB547 Cycle With Sidecar casting. Quite an unusual casting. This ran for 3 years in the basic range before being dropped. The logo was on the front screen.
MB60 was another debut. The MB548 Mobile Light Truck was designed to link together to form a chain. So it was quite useful as a twin pack model too. It also had an extendable set of floodlights that would lift up. Luckily, this was sporting the logo on the wrong side, but the model was put in packages backwards so it was easy to see. It is just to the right of the ! triangle before the right wheel. It ran for 3 years, with 2003 being a US exclusive and 2004 an ROW exclusive.
The model that debuted in the MB61 slot was the MB551 Ice Breaker. It only saw two basic range outings. After this debut it also ran in the 2004 range worldwide. For those who never noticed, there is a small area at the rear with a tab. If you lift it, you can see the engine underneath. The 50 logo on this one was on the far right side of the hull. Easy to see.
MB62 saw the debut of the MB555 GMC Terradyne casting. It ran for two years worldwide but was dropped after 2003. In 2008 the US range saw it briefly return, and then the whole world did in 2010 for its swansong. This was a simple design for the debut. The GMC logo on the grille was red, and there was a Terradyne logo in silver on the side doors. Oh and a great big 50 on the first 10,000 made.
MB63 has had quite a lot of use and change over the years. MB541 Rescue Helicopter debuted here in white, featuring a retractable rear section and moving rotor blades. The 50 logo was on the side window section. Since then, it was in the range worldwide until 2004, then came back in 2012/2013. It was then modified into MB849 and then again into MB984, although so far has not been in the basic range, staying in 5-packs.
MB64 saw the launch of the MB562 Fork Lift casting. It had a clever 2-part raising section that kept the forks perfectly level as you raised it. It was also a little unusual as the 50 logo had a white background. Quite unique among the offerings this year. In total both the US and ROW ranges had three releases of this casting but not the same three. 2003 saw it as a US exclusive, then 2004 an ROW exclusive, before it had a final outing in 2005 worldwide.
There were still a few split models, and MB65 was one of them. For the US market, the MB530 Ice Cream Truck casting debuted. The model was quite clever in that it had a side door that slid open. When you opened it, a gentleman holding an ice cream would appear at the open side window. After debuting as a US exclusive, the casting would then become a worldwide release for the next two years before being dropped after 2004. The logo was easy to spot on the front of the model.
The ROW market saw a different model debut. The MB531 Ferrari 360 Spider saw a lovely red issue with the 50 logo adorning the clear engine cover on the rear. The casting continued on until 2005 at which time all Ferrari castings were sadly pulled from the Matchbox range, due to exclusive Ferrari contracts. The 2004 was also an ROW only, but 2003 and 2005 were worldwide releases.
MB66 for 2002 was worldwide and the debut of the MB537 Limousine casting. Sporting a large 50 logo on the rear it used the base section for colour breaks front and rear. It only ran for one more year in the basic range, but has seen plenty of action elsewhere.
MB67 for 2002 was a funny model. The MB564 Foam Fire Turck! That’s not a spelling mistake (I probably have made a bunch in this article) but not this one.
The base shot to prove it. When it arrived it wasn’t long until people noticed the small mistake. Mattel did make note of it and a very late production run of 2002 saw the base altered, and from 2003 it was sorted. But these early “turks” still make me smile. The 50 logo was on the top right of the front bonnet/hood. Since the debut the model has seen quite a lot of action. All worldwide. It has been seen in the basic range in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2012 and 2017. It has recently been modified, but recent alterations have not been given new MAN numbers if the change is permanent.
I did say most models were new castings. Not all though. MB68 was a returnee. The MB480 Arctic Track Truck had actually debuted in 2001 worldwide and returned in 2002. However, this was actually its last outing in the basic range. So all around it are new models debuting, but this was heading the other way. After the 50 logo on the roof disappeared, this was another model that found a wheel change mid run, with the domes giving way to lace wheels.
MB69 was another split. While the ROW range saw something new, the US range made do with another of the 2001-2003 models. This was the MB482 School Bus which ran exclusively in the US range for those three years. This was its middle version, and the 50 logo was on the side just behind the rear wheel. The casting did sport an opening side door too. The only School Bus that Matchbox has ever made to have an opening part.
The ROW MB69 was new. My most anticipated model of the year. The MB544 Porsche 911 Turbo arrived in yellow, and the first 10,000 sported the 50 logo just above the rear wheel arch. This was actually the only time it was an ROW exclusive. After that all basics had a worldwide release. 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2012.
MB70 was also split between the US and ROW market, but these were both new castings. For the US market we saw the MB550 Chevy SSR arrive in blue with simple front and rear design and a 50 logo on the upper rear. After debuting as a US only, 2003 saw it go worldwide before being dropped. It did briefly pop back up in 2007 but that was it for basic range issues.
MB70 for the ROW market was the MB549 VW W12 Concept. Unlike the Porsche (just shown) that had a black logo which showed up well against the yellow background, this has a silver logo. Look closely. It is on the side door. Yeah, this was another one that was easy to miss if you weren’t paying attention. The casting continued exclusively in the basic range except for its final issue in 2005 which was sold worldwide.
MB71 for 2002 was the MB487 Airport Fire Pumper. It had actually debuted in 2001 so this was its second outing, with a final outing in 2003. It was another in the long list of 3-year models. Many 2001 issues got dropped after 2003. Strange that. The logo was on the side of the water tank. The casting also had a 2-part hose that would have a lot of movement through its two points of articulation. But a little aside here. This casting was chosen as the 2002 Toy Fair model in 2001.
Not once, but twice too. There were two versions, one in yellow and one in burgundy. Both had the same Birthday Party design on the tank, albeit in different colours, but the rest of the designs were different. They were also where we first saw the 50 logo, as the yellow sported it on the roof, and the burgundy in the front window.
And if you thought that was a fun little aside, just wait for this one. MB72 for 2002 was another brand new casting. The MB552 VW microbus in two-tone blue with a 50 logo on the rear for the first 10,000 before it vanished. But Mattel had a lot of fun with this. For the 2002 New York Convention they recreated this model as a dealer model, with the logo. Except they did it 8 times!
There are actually three variations, all in two versions. The model is not part of the 10,000 piece logo run, these are additional. The logo is yellow here instead of black. Plus the model sports 2-part rubber wheels instead of the regular lace ones. But three parts were made in two colours. At the front are two sporting the interior variations. Half have tan interiors, the other half grey. Behind are the window variations. Half have clear windows, the other half smoke tinted. Back left are the base variations. Half have black bases, the other half grey. Back right are the other 2. Because when you mix the three different variations 50/50 among each model and ensure all three are equally split all around, you end up with eight variations.
1 – tan interior, clear window, black base. 2 – tan interior, clear window, but now grey base. 3 – tan interior, now tinted window, black base. 4 – tan interior, tinted window, but grey base. 5-8 same but now with grey interior. More often than not, you will actually find these being sold as a set. I actually only obtained mine recently thanks to a good friend of mine, Terry Ozima.
Okay back to the regular stuff now. Another rarity. Remember the MB51 and MB52 US issues that somehow ended up in South America. Well this MB73 was also part of that batch and ended up there too. It was the final split model of the year, as it was a US exclusive. The MB556 Pontiac Piranha was debuting this year, and proving to be extremely tough for those trying to find the logos. It was the debut year for the casting which only lasted one more year in the basic range, although 2003 was a worldwide release.
The ROW range saw a different casting debut as MB73. This was the MB561 Smart Cabrio. A cute little casting that arrived in silver with just the rear tonneau cover tampo printed (apart from the side 50 logo on the first 10,000). After this debut it took a few more years before it got another basic range outing. It finally returned in 2005, again exclusive to the ROW range. And then it went again. We finally saw it again in 2008 where it finally saw a worldwide release and it continued on into 2009 again worldwide before being dropped for good. Literally! It has not been seen in any capacity since the 2009 basic issue.
MB74 was a new casting. But it was actually a re-casting. Matchbox already had a BMW Z3 casting. MB297 had been around since 1997 and had run until 2001 in the basic range. However, BMW had asked Mattel for a dealer set for 2002, and they set about utilizing some castings that they already had and also create a few new ones. But BMW were not happy with the MB297 Z3. So they redid it. They actually created an MB533 with opening doors casting that was used in the BMW Dealer Set, but also the MB538 with sealed doors version which then was used in the basic range. After all that, it was immediately dropped from the US range, and only saw 2003 as an ROW release before being dropped from there too.
Finally, MB75. The MB563 Water Pumper was the final new casting of the year taking the final spot in the range. The logo was to be found just behind the front wheel on the first 10,000 before fading away. The casting did too shortly after, as it was only used one more time in 2003.
So that’s it, a full rundown of the MB1-75 range for 2002. I hope it wasn’t too long. Especially as with 24 models different between the 2 markets it was actually 99 models. But I did say a group shot. Here are a few more photos.
These pictures contain only logo models from the full set of 99 basic range issues split between the 2 ranges. Finally….
An overhead view of the full set of 99 1-75 issue models from 2002 with logo. I honestly do not know if anybody has ever done a photo of the entire 2002 logo set before. Or is the first time it has ever been done?
I may do another dive into my collection next week depending on when my package arrives from USA. I hope people have enjoyed my first deep dive. If anybody has ideas or thoughts for future dives (remember I do miniatures only from Superfast 1969 onwards) so any ideas I will see if I can accommodate.