Model: Matchbox MB544 Porsche 911 Turbo
Release: 2006 3-pack, based on the MB25
ebay link: Matchbox Porsche 911 Turbo
Why is it in the collection: There is a “wheelie” good explanation.
When I was younger, I used to just collect what I liked. I became fascinated with the Matchbox brand and after a run in with a Corgi Rover 3500 at aged 8 I became Matchbox exclusive. As an adult collector I started going back into the history of Matchbox and decided that I didn’t like pre-Superfast items so decided to limit myself to those. So the regular wheels were not sought after. Premium issues were just starting to appear sporting 2-part rubber wheels, and again I picked up the first batch, was not too impressed and decided not to go for them. So I had a real thing against wheels. SO I made a rule that I would only collect Superfast onward with plastic wheels.
Plus, I store all of my Matchbox in Matchbox branded carry cases. These cases (either the 48-model or the 24-model tool box) have trays with 12 slots for holding models in. Wheels tend to be the very edges inside the slots and were not visible. So I just didn’t care about them. They came with whatever they came with.
But then, in 2006, Matchbox released this lovely blue version of the Porsche 911 Turbo in the basic range as MB25. I snapped up the first one I saw when it appeared in Woolworth in the UK. It debuted with flower wheels. A later production run swapped them for lace wheels. I saw it at Woolworth and thought to myself I don’t do wheels, but I preferred the look of the lace wheel. I debated, I stood there for quite a few minutes just looking at the model in my hand. People were probably wondering what I was doing. I had always ignored wheels, but it looked so much better with lace wheels. And it was one of my favourite models of all time, and it was the nicest I had seen it. I thought long and hard, and I ended up getting it. My first deliberate wheel variation. Production finished, and that was that. Or so I thought.
A fellow collector from Australia posted some pictures on the internet of the latest batch of 3-packs that were just arriving there. 3-packs tend to sport vehicles just pulled from either the basic range or from 5-packs. You don’t tend to find anything unusual in them. But once in a while, something unique arrives. This was one of those times. Although production had finished as a basic range issue, they still made another batch for 3-packs. But this batch sported the brand new double 10-spoke wheel that had just launched. Oh wow! I had got my first deliberate wheel variation because I thought the lace looked better than the flower wheel. But now this model looks incredible on the new wheels. I needed to get it. There was no debating now. I was becoming a wheel variation collector. But I could only find it in Australia, and so set up a deal to trade for one which got shipped to the UK from Australia.
So although strictly speaking, the lace wheel version was my first wheel variation, at the time I was planning on it being a one-off. I even debated getting rid of the flower wheel one so I still only had the one wheel. It was the double 10-spoke wheel release that made me into a wheel variation collector.
The whole model sort of is significant to me, but the fact that I went to a lot of trouble to get myself that double 10-spoke variation really puts it at the top of the list of most significant out of the 3. The other 2, I was literally in Woolworth and so there was little effort (except with my brain for the lace one). But that double 10-spoke. It really started a whole new chapter in my collecting life.