Matchbox Monday – snapshot 10 years ago

Well, we could be in for a short period of no new items to showcase on the Matchbox front, although Wheel Collectors will be sending me items over as soon as they get any in. So what to do in the meantime? Each week I will try and come up with something a bit different. I thought for this week, how about a snapshot of this month 10 years ago in the Matchbox basic range.

2010 was year 3 in a 4-year run of releasing 100 models in the US basic range, but having an alternate range for Latin America (known as LAAM) and a different alternate for other countries (known as ROW). These 2 alternates were simply 75 out of the 100 models being sold in the US range, with models sporting a US number above 75 being renumbered to fill in the gaps under 75.

March 2010 saw the 4th batch of the year arrive, with 7 new additions being added in to the set. Four were worldwide issues, 1 was in the US and ROW ranges only and a further 2 in the US and LAAM ranges only. So let’s show what they were and reminisce.

First up was a brand new casting. The MB786 ’57 GMC Stepside debuted in batch D of 2010. It debuted in a lovely light blue with simple front and side detailing on it. Except….

Walmart in USA. Walmart had put in a request with Mattel to have something unique and the Matchbox guys originally came up with a plan to create 4 designs in the basic range exclusively to Walmart in USA. This was the first of them, and featured a nice nod to the history of the Walmart company on the side of this irridescent white model. Of course the Walmart exclusives have now moved to unique sets of models, rather than just alternate basics, but this was where it all began. Both models were MB38 for the year.

And as I usually do, I expand with a view of the entire history of the model. Being the debut, there was nothing before it, but by the end of 2010 we had seen a third issue too, as a bronze version appeared in the all-exclusive 1st Editions 10-pack too.

After that it also saw 3 issues in 2011. The basic range issue was plain black. Literally no tampo at all. I still remember when the first ones appeared people thought they were errors, until it dawned on us that they were all coming like that. It’s pretty rare for a model nowadays to have no tampo printing at all, but but that did not detract from the look. It looked amazing in black. A yellow with white roof was added to the Lesney Editions series that year, which was the premium range of the time. Full tampo printing and at the time a diecast metal base were what stood it apart from regular issues. It also saw its first 5-pack release as it was included in the Farm 5-pack in blue with an Eco-Growers side design.

After that it took 2012 off to recover before finally popping up in 2013 in a Battle Mission 5-pack in olive with a star side design. It returned to the basic range for one more shot in its original guise in dark green with a Canon Construction design. 2015 saw another Farm issue, this time in a Mission Force set which proved to be the final issue before the casting was altered.

Shortly after production of the Mission Force set, the casting changed to MB985 which saw a few tweaks to the production methods and a few components being changed. The easiest visible difference is seen in the bed as the altered casting has the body section intrude in to the rear of the bed a little as this is where a new rivet was included for better assembly. The debut was later in 2015 (in fact the new casting appeared almost at the same time as the last one was bowing out) in the Classic Rides 5-pack.

Of course it was not the only tweak. MB1066 was introduced in 2017 which was a different casting with a plastic body and metal base which was created for the Color Changers series. There are a few differences between the 2 castings (it is not just a straight swap), and the new casting was even more unique as the Matchbox team decided to create a full or empty bed variant for those of us who like that sort of thing. It debuted in what would be either a light green when warm, or dark green with dirt when cold design, which was reminiscent of the 2013 5-pack issue.

Another Color Changes release was in 2018, this time in either cream or brown when warm or cold in a unique Marios design.

But as to the earlier MB985 casting itself which had arrived late in 2015, it has only seen 2 further releases. Both basic range. In 2017 it was MB80 in the long-running Boone County design and in 2019 it was MB92 in red with a Coaster to Coaster vintage bicycles theme.

Next up in the new releases for batch D of 2010 was another brand new casting. The MB789 Skidster is a Matchbox originals design, which looks a lot like many skid steer vehicles available in real life. It debuted the Ranec theme to the basic range too, which is a long running white and orange theme. But did you know the first first production run saw something a little unusual?

With such a small area on the base to fit the model details, the copyright year of 2009 and MB789 details were put on the underside of the bucket. But the first models off the production line didn’t have them. The underside of the bucket was plain. This was a very short run, and for those who try to find variations like that, not easy to find. They were very quickly added and are still a part of the underside to this day. And that is on quite a few models.

After debuting as MB39 in white, it was one of 25 models chosen to receive a second version later in the year, which in this case was yellow. It was also included in the end of year 1st Editions 10-pack in a nice red.

2011 saw it get another basic range outing as MB39, this time in a yellow with Lyons Bros design. However, being year 4 of the US/LAAM/ROW, it was not included in the LAAM range. An orange version appeared in the Construction 5-pack that year too sporting a King J design.

2012 saw the range unite as 1, and this was sold as MB1 that year in zamac with a fluorescent yellow bucket. Another orange in another 5-pack too, this one being a part of the City Works 5-pack.

2013 just saw a basic range issue in purple as MB76 with 2014 seeing just a Construction Zone 5-pack release in green. After that it took a year off.

Since 2016 it appears that this model has been a 1-a-year release. 2016 it returned to the basic range in white as MB50. In 2017 a dark blue Toy Box Construction release appeared in the Construction 5-pack and 2018 another basic range issue in yellow as MB41 looking similar to the 2010 version 2. It is a darker yellow and the window section is light smoke compared to dark smoke of the original.

2019 saw another basic range issue in yellow, this time featuring the CarGo design and 2020 has seen a purple Construction II 5-pack issue featuring the agrobio Nutrients design.

Next up was the MB742 2008 Garbage Truck in white as MB66.

However, as it just appeared in batch C of 2020, I actually covered that one last week so it seems pointless to do it all again. So next….

The next model is the only one that was released in the US and ROW ranges only. MB694 had been around since 2006, and for the 2010 range saw its final basic range issue as MB71. But the LAAM markets did not see it.

Red is the most iconic look for these Double Deckers, and its 2010 release was very similar to its debut. The first release was as MB56 with the side banner being the main difference.

2007 saw a few non-red issues. It was MB34 in the basic range that year in blue with a Matchbox Toys side banner, and was also the dealer model for the 2007 Matchbox Gathering in Albuquerque in a design very much like the real vehicle that Lesney used to use to bring in workers to the factory in the 1970s. There was a Best of British issue in red too, but I forgot to photograph it. Oh well.

2008 saw a trio of models, none of which were red. This Best of British (I remembered to photograph that) was in green, and it was was in the basic range as MB53 in tan. Just like 2010 only the US and ROW ranges saw it. It was also in a scary purple with glow in the dark interior as part of a Dream Halloween promotion.

2009 saw another Best of British issue, this time in red and white. MB53 continued, but this time it was worldwide (LAAM finally saw it) in olive green.

Of course the 2010 basic range issue wasn’t the last we saw of it. After taking 2011 off it returned purely as a premium issue. The first of which was in late 2012 as the 2013 Toy Fair model advertising the upcoming 60th Anniversary. For this it received a full on print. Not tampo, but ink jet printing which means that all surfaces get covered after assembly (tampos are just on single parts before assembly) allowing designs to run through the windows. As seen, both sides of the model sported unique designs.

It then appeared in the 60th Anniversary set of 24 too, in red with a huge Union Flag side design, with a second “chase” model for the series in dark red.

It was also brought back to the Albuquerque Gathering again, but this time as the dinner model. For the first 75 who registered, the body saw a zamac lower half, with the rest of the models being green.

Since then we have only seen one more issue. It was a part of the 2016 Best of… series. The 5000 in the side design was a nod to Michael Heralda, a Mattel designer who had reached the milstone of creating 5,000 different designs on toy cars during his tenure at Mattel.

But before I move on to the next model, I had to throw this in there. In the mid ’00s, Matchbox came up with an Ambassador scheme, and over the next 11 years, we saw 11 collectors who acted as a conduit between the brand and the collector community. It was phased out due to social media being so prevalent nowadays that the Ambassador programme was becoming redundant. I was one of the lucky 11 who worked as an ambassador one year (they started and finished each year at the Matchbox Gathering in Albuquerque), and once finished each ambassador received a unique gold plated bus. Does it count? It is a Mattel made model, produced in the factory in Thailand. But it is a 1 of 1. So I guess not, but I couldn’t resist showing it anyway.

Another brand new casting appears next as the MB788 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor debuted in 2010 in batch D too. Now this was MB85 in the US range, but was being sold worldwide so the LAAM range slotted it in the MB45 position and the ROW range the MB54 position. However, just like the other 2 brand new castings arriving in this batch, this couldn’t just be content with 1 release. Just like the Skidster, this had a very quick running change. Not because something was forgotten. This was because it didn’t come out right.

Its debut release was supposed to a miniature version of the show model that Ford were using for the real vehicle in a very dark orange. But the first ones coming off the line were coming out, well, way too light. A running change quickly corrected it, and it was so fast that both could be found in that first run. The light orange is very tough to find.

Just like Skidster, this followed a similar pattern seeing a version 2 later in the year, in blue, and a white version appearing in the all-exclusive 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year.

2011 saw it continue in the MB85 slot in the US range, as well as the MB54 slot for the ROW range, but moving to the MB39 slot for the LAAM range. Usually sporting cog wheels, a production run did see some large 6-spoke substituted. It was also in the Off Road Adventure 5-pack that year too.

For 2012 it was sold as MB77. It was white with a DeConstruction design. It also appeared in the Battle Mission 5-pack, with this one being dark green.

After that, the next 4 years saw it sold exclusively to the basic range. 2013 saw it in black, 2014 in yellow, 2015 in orange, and 2016 saw the blue Lamleys Leaks design which is a nod to this site.

2017 saw it not appear in the basic range but instead as part of the Walmart exclusive camouflage series. Of course this has a load of variations, as the camouflage cover was found in a variety of different positions, and the wheels even changed from dark brown to light brown later.

It was last seen in 2018 as MB96 in the basic range, in the Gulf blue design. Target stores in USA also had a unique version sold too in sapphire blue as part of the 65th anniversary celebrations.

Next up we have the Ridge Raider. The MB716 casting has been around since 2007 and in 2010 was sold in the US range as MB94 and the LAAM range as MB61. However, it was not included in the ROW range.

It even saw a wheel variation during production as it was found with either cog wheels or small 6-spokes.

It all started in 2007 as MB62 which it debuted in red, then turned teal later for a version 2.

But that wasn’t it. It was in the 2007 1st Editions 1-pack in yellow and also appeared in gold in the seasonal Coal Cars releases, randomly packaged inside lumps of coal. Not an easy one to find as you had to open the coal to find out what was inside.

2008 saw it sold in orange as MB91 in the US range, and because it was worldwide, the LAAM range slotted it in as MB65 and ROW as MB41. It was also in the Off Road 5-pack in silver and the all-exclusive Adventure 10-pack in green.

It was also included in the Battle Kings series in 2008 too. However, this is an unusual one. At the time it sported small 6-spoke wheels. But in 2017, random 5-packs of Battle Kings models turned up in discount stores. Most were identical, although there was an exclusive Hummer to be found, but also this one was found in those packs sporting large 6-spokes instead.

2009 and this time wheel variations were immediate. The Desert Adventure 5-pack issue in white could be found with both small and large 6-spokes at the time.

The 2009 basic range issue in black was found to come in either a satin finish or a matte finish. It was a worldwide issue, being sold as MB88 in the US range or MB38 in both LAAM and ROW ranges. The Adventure 10-pack saw another green issue, but this lighter green could be found in various shades during production.

Aside from the basic range, 2010 also saw a fluorescent yellow Mountain Adventure 5-pack release, and debut in the licensed 5-packs too, in white with Dora on the side as part of the Nickelodeon pack.

2011 saw the model being exclusively sold in the US range as MB94 in dark orange, and another licensed 5-pack issue, this time as a Go Diego Go model in blue. The 2011 Dino Adventure 5-pack saw more wheel variations with the more common cog wheels running out temporarily and some large 6-spokes being swapped in for a short time.

2012 saw it released as MB48 in sand with a Cairo Expeditions livery, as well as a Desert 5-pack in white. Another Desert 5-pack in 2013 saw it in silver.

2014 saw a final Dino Adventure 5-pack issue in blue before it finally took a year off. In 2016 it popped back up as a 9-pack exclusive.

Then in 2017 it returned to the basic range where it has been for the last 3 years. 2017 was green as MB103, 2018 in dull olive as MB125 and looking a lot like the 2008 Adventure 10-pack issue (slightly different shade). Finally 2019 saw a blue issue as MB68.

Of course, just like the GMC Stepside, this too appeared in the Color Changers series, with a plastic body/metal base combo as MB1131. It ranges from purple (cold) to light blue (warm) and only appeared in 1 style, in 2018. The side design is very similar to the 2016 9-pack issue.

This leads us to the next model. Also the last of the new models that arrived in 2010 batch D. The MB764 Toyota Land Cruiser was in black with an Anaconda side design. Just like the Ridge Raider, this was not available in the ROW range. It was MB95 in the US range or MB64 in the LAAM range.

This was only its second year after debuting worldwide in 2009. The yellow was the debut release of MB89 in USA or MB40 LAAM and ROW, which a few batches later turned blue. It was added to the all exclusive 1st Editions 10-pack in red in 2009 too.

2010 was a busy year for the model. An orange version appeared in the Desert Adventure 5-pack and white with zebra stripes in the Adventure 10-pack. It was also included in the first year of the Lesney Editions premium series with full tampos and metal base in green.

2011 saw the basic range issue in dark blue appear back on a worldwide stage. MB95 in US and MB64 in LAAM ranges as 2010 was, but now joined by MB64 in ROW countries too. 2012 looked fairly similar but was now purple as MB68 with a red Mountain Adventure 5-pack version appearing too.

In 2013 we saw a tan release as MB90 and in 2014 a final MB54 issue in brown before the casting saw an alteration.

For 2015 it was altered into MB990. This involved the interior being extended out to encompass the front wheel arches and front grille. It debuted in the 2015 Jurassic World series in white, before appearing in orange as MB11 a short time later.

After that it took 2016 off before making some final appearances in 2017. It was MB120 in the basic range in yellow and was another model chosen to be in the Camouflage series. Just like the Raptor the camouflage appears in different positions on different models. It has not been seen since.

So that’s it. Or is it? You may have noticed a lack of cars in the mix. Well that is because at the time 25 models from the full set of 100 would appear in 2 different versions. Four models that arrived in batch A came back in batch D for a second go-around. All 4 were sold worldwide.

These were the 4 in question.

First up was the MB749 Chevy Corvette ZR-1. Version 2 was a dark blue which replaced the grey issue that was in the earlier mixes of the year.

The casting had debuted in 2008 as MB9 in burgundy and in blue as its debut year was also a 2-version year.

2009 saw it in tan as MB23, and also a premium issue with full tampo printing in the 2009 Superfast and a promotional issue in bronze was made for the Diecast Blast Toy Show and convention in USA. It was the dinner model for the event.

Alongside the basics 2010 also saw it in the Modern Rides 5-pack in orange. It saw quite a change in shade through production too as seen with both of these coming from different production runs of the pack.

2011 saw a white basic range issue as MB6 and it was also added to the Police 5-pack in black.

It saw a final basic range issue in 2012 in red with white wheels as MB55, which was part of a short-lived move to change the look of the models. They reverted back to a more realistic look a few years later. It was also included in the licensed Batman 5-pack too.

Since then we have seen a 2014 MBX Exotics 5-pack issue in yellow and in 2016 it saw 2 black releases. One with a simple hood design for the Exotic 5-pack and another with a side design for the Discovery Shark Week issues in USA. It has not been used since.

The MB750 Lotus Evora arrived in batch D in orange, continuing where the earlier red version 1 had left off.

Just like the ‘Vette the Lotus Evora had debuted in 2008. It was sold as MB10 in silver, which was reminiscent of the show car that it was unveiled in.

We didn’t see a second release until 2009 when it was sold as MB16 in blue. Another blue, this time with a black-edged silver stripe, was a part of the Superfast series, and a green model was included in the Best of British series.

In 2010, alongside the 2 basics, we also saw a British Racing Green version in the Modern Rides 5-pack.

2011 saw a metallic green version as MB8 in the basic range, and a bright yellow version in the Modern Rides 5-pack. However, as seen, some of the bright yellows had a green tinge to them.

Since then it has become a lot quieter. 2012 saw a metallic blue basic range release as MB9. It then wasn’t seen again until 2016 when a dark green with side design popped up in the Exotic 5-pack, and then a final matte black version appeared in the 2017 basic range as MB20.

The MB684 VW Golf V GTi is the final car in the mix. The green came after the yellow that was being sold earlier in the year.

This model had been around a little longer, first debuting as MB1 in the 2006 basic range in red. It was also in the Superfast range that year too, in white.

2007 saw a number of issues. It was sold as MB5 in the basic range, in black or in lime gold. Or was that mustard gold? It varied quite a lot during production.

Outside of the basic range it saw a silver model in the Stars of Cars exclusively in Germany and the dull greenish-grey was in the Real 10-pack.

2008 was fun. The basic range issue was orange, which was actually a limited edition from VW in real life, known as Fahrenheit. Sold as MB28, for some reason, a production run didn’t have the actual Fahrenheit badge under the right rear light cluster.

We also saw a blue issue in the Real 10-pack and another lime gold in the licensed Nickelodeon 5-pack.

2009 was purple as MB30. During production you could find shades of purple and shades of window (well clear or smoke).

The 2009 Real 10-pack was in grey and after the 2 basics for 2010 it was retired. Except for a random 2017 MB118 issue, also in grey. It’s always nice when a model pops back unexpectedly.

Finally, the MB784 Jeep Willys casting had debuted as a brand new model in batch A of 2010 in army green, with batch D seeing a tan version 2. It was worldwide issue as MB96 in the US range, MB65 LAAM and MB61 ROW. Being a new casting, this too was chosen to be in the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year, in pastel lemon.

Since 2010 we have seen a few issues. In 2011 it was still in the basic range under all 3 numbers as the previous year, this time in a lighter matte olive green. It was also in grey in the Lesney Editions with a full tampo print and metal base.

2012 saw it as MB108 in brown and it saw its first 5-pack issue in the Battle Mission 5-pack (alongside the Raptor shown earlier).

Round robin time. Back left is the only 2013 issue, from the Desert 5-pack in brown. Back right is the 2014 MB94 in bright yellow with a lifeguard theme. Front right is the other 2014 issue, from the Tactical Mission Force set in light green. Front left is the only 2015 issue in dark green from the Battle Mission 5-pack.

2016 saw it in the Military 5-pack in black and a part of the Walmart exclusive Jeep set in army green. At the front is the only release since, when it popped back up in the basic range in 2018 as MB121 in a similar design to its debut, but without the hood design (and different colour wheels).

So that’s it for the snapshot. A memory of 10 years ago, and everything associated with it. Next time I might delve a little further into the past.

Until then, stay safe.

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David Tilley

5 thoughts on “Matchbox Monday – snapshot 10 years ago

  1. Super 😎 Matchbox article and Matchboxes Cars. It use to be a time when I saw a car I knew it was a Matchbox. Now adays it is gettting hard to tell at first glance. Matchbox cars today are now starting to look more and more like Hotwheels. I wish MATTEL would re think Matchbox and go back to the old Matchbox line up. Leave the modern day cars to HOTWHEELS. I really like that Matchbox old stuff.
    🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾🀞🏾

  2. Great era and write up. The Lotus and VWs πŸ‘…. Now one shop to buy which is stuck on A…….. Since October last. And UK Haha on Matchbox world!… This brand needs to sought it out for many reasons. MATCHBOX deserves more. Also as for Tesco why open at 8am now?!?… Key workers who don’t get mentioned need food too……. 20β„… our lives and my family are worth……. Best wishes to all.

  3. The Evora and Corvette make me sad. Such great castings but they just don’t use them anymore. I hope Matchbox brings them back and also makes more new cars like those (and less off-roaders and vintage please).

  4. Wow 🀩
    As always, a delightful read…
    I don’t know if you have covered or discussed this before but I am a bit lost on matchbox numbering (i.e. MBxxxx, etc)
    Is it pre-determined? Like for a new car model to be assigned a permanent number? And are they assigned a new number for the current year aside from their permanent number in the MBX database? Does it work that way? Do enlighten me…
    Thanks and best regards from the Philippines! Stay safe.

    1. Here is how the MAN system works. In 1981 they split the range between one for the US market and one for the rest of the world. With 2 models being assigned the same number, things got confusing in the factory. So for the 1982 series, they came up with a new system. They called it the manufacturing number system. They took the 75 models for the ROw range (it was based in England at the time which is why they did ROW first) and simply gave them the first 75 numbers. They had 3 new castings they were hoping to debut in the year (but ended up moved to 1983) which took the next 3 slots, and then everything else that was exclusive to the US range was given the next numbers up. Until that time, a model had been under one number, and that was cast into the underside of the body, or underneath an interior etc. As a model was replaced, the number simply altered with it. For example (just randomly pulling out 2 models) the Renault 5 had MB21/6 hidden on the inside of the opening rear. It took over from Rod Roller, which would have had MB21/5 somewhere. The MB49 Crane Truck has MB49/4 on the underside of the window component where it runs along the inside of the cab roof. When a model was replaced, they just upped the number after the backslash. But just imagine the Pontiac Firebird SE. It was released as MB51 in the ROW market or MB12 in the US market in 1982. It would have had 2 lots of numbering and that would have made things too difficult. So it was given the ROW number. MB051. But Midnight Magic was MB51 in the US range, so this was given a manufacturing number of MB087. After this, every new model being created was simply added to the list, regardless of what it was in the basic range. For exmple, the TV News Truck was given the manufacturing number of MB205 in 1989 as that was where the numbers had reached by then. But it was sold as MB68 in the US range until 1994, and MB73 in the ROW range where it was sold until 1997. Since 1998 model numbers in the basic range flip around each year anyway. The MAN number was a way to keep track of it even more. In addition to new castings, an altered casting was also given a new number. This was due to additions or roof pieces, a change in the manufacturing process or other reasons that warranted a new number. However, with so many being altered in the 2010s, many were only given a new number if the original casting was still around. If the alteration over-writes the old casting, then the model carries on with the same number. The factory were starting to see too many gaps in their tool bank.

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