Model: Matchbox MB008 Rover 3500
Release: 1981 MB8 worldwide continued in 1982 outside of USA
Where to get it: Looking at ebay now, or toy fairs
Why is it in the collection: This is the exact model that made me into a Matchbox only collector.
I was born in the UK in 1972, and growing up as a young child I loved toy cars. Birthdays or Christmas, anybody asked what I wanted as a gift, my first response would be toy cars. The UK at the time had 2 major manufacturers of toy cars in the mid-late 1970s. Matchbox and Corgi. Dinky were still around, but a lot of their offerings were on a larger scale, and I liked the miniature sized vehicles more than anything. I saw occasional Dinkys, but not as often as you would think. Trips to the seaside would often find Majorette in stores, but other brands like Siku and Hot Wheels were very thin on the ground. As a youngster, my collection was mainly Matchbox and Corgi. I would say 95% those 2 manufacturers, 4% Majorette, and 1% other models.
But then, 1981 saw something a little unusual. I was handed both a Corgi and a Matchbox Rover 3500. Both companies had launched them around the same time. I do remember the Corgi had an opening rear.
But the Matchbox had something I had never seen before. An opening sunroof. However, I was unhappy with the way the 2 models looked (compared to each other). Both looked nothing like each other in my eyes and that really irritated me. I didn’t want to have 2 toy cars of the same vehicle that were so different. I was like that. Weird! So one had to go. I messed about with the sunroof on the Matchbox one, thinking this is way cool. But then the Corgi had that opening re…. Oh the window just fell out the rear. Really? It’s days old and already falling apart. Well that was an easy decision. The Corgi was thrown away and the Matchbox kept. A very pivotal moment in my life. It was then I told everybody I only wanted Matchbox. I packed up all my other non-Matchbox branded toy cars and put them away. My parents have told me they are still in the attic. One day I will go and check. But from that moment on I only got Matchbox models.
Yes, I was 8, soon to be 9 when I received mine, and I continued playing with them a lot for a few years after. So this does have a little playwear, and the wheels do show signs of wear on the bottom edge due to me rolling it around outside on the pavement. But it hasn’t held up too badly. A few chips and marks, but still very presentable.
Sure I have added variations to my collection of bronze Rover 3500s over the years, but my original one is a very important model in the collection. It is the one that made me a Matchbox only collector, and will always have an important place in my collection. I am not looking to ever upgrade it to a mint version. It’s more valuable to me than any other Rover 3500s I have (including the prepros I own). One of the most significant models in my collection, full stop.