Matchbox Monday takes a look at the mid ’00s Easter offerings

So, I hope people had a safe and clean Easter. I checked and sadly Wheel Collectors still have nothing new to send me. But they are safe and sound and raring to go as soon as things do pop up. So today, for my dive back, I thought I would check out some of the items that Matchbox used to sell in the mid 2000s as seasonal Easter items. Now I may have missed something out, as there may be a random variation I was not aware of, but I think I got everything.

Now Easter offerings do go back further than where I begin, but it used to be just about packaging. Standard models in uniquely designed packages. It wasn’t until 2004 (as far as I remember) that we saw something specifically designed just for Easter.

There was a tube of 3 uniquely designed models. I happened to be in USA at the time blissfully unaware that they were coming, and stumbled upon them in a supermarket. I was like a little kid. I had to take a second look. Sure enough, 3 castings with a unique Easter design to them. We had the MB320 ’57 Chevy Belair Convertible in yellow, with a bunch of eggs down the side.

The MB561 Smart Cabrio was in blue and had a rabbit stealing an egg on the side. I always liked that design. Makes me laugh.

But the final one, I almost missed at first, and once I noticed it I had to go through everything to make sure it was the only one . As I said, I knew nothing about them when they hit, and so this was a case of real discovery for me. The MB287 VW Concept 1 was either in green or orange, featuring the same trio of eggs tampo design on the side. I am also lucky that my friend who went to USA with me was quite patient with me. She’s good like that.

The tube itself came with a large bunny on the top riding a car. Sadly, I did not keep the 2004 bunny. It was left at a motel in Piscataway NJ.

But I did keep the 2005 one. I had this pack sent over to me from USA to the UK as I was not in USA at the time. Once opened, I liked the look of the bunny so I kept him. The plastic car is stuck to the lid of the tube. It was the same bunny/car combo, but the 2004 bunny was yellow on a blue car (the car was either detailed or not in 2004) compared to whote on green for 2005. If you look closely you can see the Matchbox logo on the side door. I just thought he was cute so I kept him. The random things I keep.

But anyway, the 2005 tube of 3 models were all different. We saw the MB405 VW Delivery Van in blue with a bunny and loads of eggs across the side and roof.

The MB479 Ford Panel Van (civilian version) also utilized the side and roof combo for the bunny and eggs.

Finally we had the MB586 Billboard Truck in purple and yellow with a chick breaking out of an egg.

But that was not it for 2005. They also created some triple packs of “Easter Eggs”. They were called the Egg-Mobile packs and each had 3 large plastic eggs in 3 different colours, and inside each egg would be a Matchbox model in an exclusive Nickelodeon themed livery.

The eggs themselves were very simple. Just plain in a standard egg shape, with the ability to pop them apart around the waist. You may notice a tiny hole at the top. That was to allow them to “breathe”. Changes in air pressure could cause them to squash a little. But the packages had a cardboard cover over the top so you couldn’t see inside the little holes. So you did not know what 3 models you were getting. There were 12 in total across 4 different themes. Spongebob Squarepants, The Fairly OddParents, and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Weirdly though, the package had Danny Phantom across it to advertise the Nick shows, but he never appeared on a model.

So let’s go through the 12 models. I will go in manufacturing number order.

First up was the MB188 GMC Wrecker. The first of the Jimmy Neutron models, in black and blue. It just featured Jimmy on the side.

It was the one casting out of these that I even found a variation on. The tampo was much darker on some than others, which I call the yellow stripe/ orange stripe variation. Although you can see it in Jimmy’s face too. Some just came out much darker than others.

Next up was the MB409 Hydroplane. This too was a Jimmy Neutron themed model. The 2nd of 4 for him. It was a nice simple yellow with Jimmy down the sides.

The MB416 Rescue Chopper had first arrived in 1999, and 2005 was to be its final year in use. Such a shame, as I always preferred this to the MB541/MB984 Rescue Helicopter which turned up in 2002 and is still going. This was the first one of the 4 Fairly OddParents models. This featured Jorgen Von Strangle on the side, one of the fairies from the TV series.

This casting was cleverly constructed with the rear sliding in and out, and the rotor blades on the roof being in 2 halves for ease of packing. It is still my favourite helicopter casting that Matchbox has ever made. This model was also the hardest to find out of all the eggs. It was definitely much less produced.

Next up was the MB428 Aero Junior. This casting had first debuted in 1999 but had not been seen since 2001. This was a random 1-off re-appearance for this model, which again was a Jimmy Neutron model, and just featured Jimmy on it.

It’s one of those castings that had a number of moving parts. The wings would both slot in and the rear propeller would spin around.

The Crimson Chin (along with Timmy Turner) featured on the MB444 Ford Panel Van with roof accessories casting, which was the 2nd of the 4 Fairly OddParents models.

Next up was the MB463 Ford Focus. This was the 3rd of the 4 Fairly OddParents models, and was the only one that had a sort of Easter theme to it. Timmy Turner is dressed as a bunny, and Cosmo and Wanda, the fairies, have been turned into eggs.

Ah yes, there was a 3rd series in the set. Spongebob Squarepants. The MB480 Arctic Track Truck was another model that was finishing off in this set. Although not quite having the gap of the Aero Junior, this casting that had debuted in 2001, was used until 2004 in other ranges, with this Easter 2005 model being it’s swansong. It featured Patrick and Sandy on side.

The 2nd of the 4 Spongebob models. This was the MB518 Rescue Boat. Far from being a final release of a casting (it too had debuted in 2001), this was the first time it had been used as a Spongebob model, and not the last. It was the go-to casting for that series. It just had Spongebob on it.

The final Jimmy Neutron model out of the 4. Not one of them featured any other character than Jimmy in the tampo. Odd fact. This was the MB528 Police Car, which had debuted in 2002, with an opening rear, and was last seen in 2014 in a playset.

Another boat, and another Spongebob model. The MB551 Ice Breaker is the 3rd of 4 of them. It had only arrived in 2002, yet this again was another model in its last outing. What was it with finishing castings off in this series?

The final Fairly OddParents model was the MB614 ’04 School Bus. Obviously being a school bus, it had the teacher Denzel Crocker (as well as Jimmy) featured on the side.

This was a bit of an unusual one. The final model from the Easter Eggs, this was also the final Spongebob Squarepants model. It was the MB631 Dirt Bike. And that was the entire release history of the MB631. It debuted here and finished here. Admittedly, it was the older MB430 Dirt Bike except missing the rider, which warranted the change of MAN number. But even that had not been seen since 2001. It had only run for 3 years.

So out of the 12 models released in the set, 4 of them were castings that were never seen again. Quite a high proportion of farewells there.

2006 saw a fresh idea for the Easter offerings. We did not see any tubes of models in exclusive Easter themed liveries. But we did see more triple-packs of random “eggs”. Called Creature Cars, these eggs had a dino breaking out of them, and the design was now split down the middle from top to bottom to hide the model inside. The looks of the eggs were almost translucent, with bright yellows, oranges and purples being the norm. The dino breaking out the front would be green, although his tail breaking out the back was left plain.

Inside the eggs would be unknown vehicles again. Some would be just pulled from the core ranges that they were selling anyway. But there were some exclusives.

The MB409 was back for a second go around as an Easter exclusive. It didn’t have anything printed on it. It was completely blank. Obviously these were not Nickelodeon related like the 2005 series was. It wasn’t the only blank model either.

The MB482 School Bus was also included in the Easter pack with no tampo printing at all. As with the previous year’s offerings, this was a random choice that had not been used since 2003, and proved to be the final time we ever saw this casting. It has been superseded by the later 2004 School Bus in general, which we had seen in the previous Easter offerings. But this one did have the cool opening door.

But not everything that was unique was blank. The MB418 Snowmobile was found in the eggs too. But just like the School Bus, the casting had not been seen since 2003 and this random appearance proved to be its last too. Its appearance before was in the 2003 Snow Cappers 5-pack, which happened to be an alternate colour scheme to the 2002 Snow Cappers 5-pack.

At the back here is the 2002 version. It was basically the same, except the upper half was now the same colour as the lower half, and the man riding it was in a new unique dark blue. We had seen a lighter blue in the Across America series, but never a darker blue variant. The Matchbox oval was also deleted from the design at the front leading edge, as 2006 was the year they had returned to the lozenge logo design.

We also saw another model that was a slightly altered look to a previous one. The MB481 Wrecker Truck.

It was a modified version of the 2003 MB17. The door design had been taken off and the plastic components were changed from dark red to gold. The one at the back was part of the first 10,000 produced that year so had a Hero City logo on the hood. Obviously they weren’t doing that with the Easter stuff.

The last model that was different to before was a little more subtle. The MB525 Speedboat had not been seen since 2004 and again was the last we ever saw of it. That means out of 5 exclusives seen in the Easter eggs, 3 of them were never seen again. You thought a 33% finish of castings was high. This was a 60% finish. But what was different about this?

As with the other models, it was basically an older design. Just like the Wrecker Truck, this was a repeat of the 2003 issue. MB44 saw a Hero City logo embedded towards the rear end of the side print. But after the first 10,000 were made, it was removed, but the space for it remained. They filled in the gap for the Easter egg.

The other small change was the wheels. In 2003 they started in white before turning red. The Easter egg issue had black wheels.

That was it for 2006. One set of Creature Cars as an Easter offering.

It returned for 2007. Except now the packaging simply called them Dino Eggs, and the colours were more muted. Creams, browns and greys were the norm, although the dinos breaking out were actually in different colours too. Not all the one colour. Still no coloured tails though.

But wait, that brown one feels heavy….

Oh did I forget to take one out? Whoops! Opening it up and we find a model, still in the little baggie waiting to be set free,

Luckily this is the one exclusive for the year too. The MB686 Tractor Plow. Everything else was just pulled from other items to be inserted into the eggs.

So time to rip open the newest additions to my collection, a 2007 Dino Egg exclusive Tractor Plow, from its little baggie.

Well, I was not expecting to be adding a new model to my collection as I was doing this report. Is that a first? I have no idea. I suppose technically not, as the new stuff I would usually get from Wheel Collectors will be for the report and opened as a part of it. But then I was expecting those before the report. This was a literal surprise to me. Not because I don’t have the model.

As you can see, I now own 2 of the 2007 Easter exclusive Tractor Plows.

It’s the fact that the new one on the left has what I call the cold base, compared to the hot base of the one I already had. Being zamac plated bases (which people often call unpainted), the process can quite often leave 2 different hues to the base. One gives it a blueish tint, the other more of a burnt tint (hence me calling them the hot and cold versions). I often look for things like that with these zamac based models. But I didn’t have it on this Tractor Plow…. until now. That is cool – for me.

Now although this was the only exclusive to the 2007 Dino Eggs, you may have been able to find a few small variations. But there was one bigger one.

The MB584 Troop Carrier, without canopy. Officially designated as a different model to the earlier MB514 Troop Carrier, this was in the Easter eggs like this.

It was actually the exclusive from the 2006 Mummy’s Gold playset. But as I said, that was the MB514 casting, and as such it came with the blue canopy on the back. Having no canopy specifically designates it as a different manufacturing number, and as such it is officially a new variation.

But obviously if you took the canopy off the other one, you have created your own MB584. It only clips in. But for the dedicated collector and cataloguing nerd, it was a significant deal.

And that was it for the 2007 Dino Eggs. For 2008 they still continued with Easter offerings, and for many years since we have seen Easter themed assortments from Matchbox. But they have all been with models pulled from other ranges, with perhaps a minor variation to be found, all in exclusive Easter themed packages. 2004-2007 was the pinnacle of the Easter themed Matchbox releases.

From a bunny to a dinosaur, we had some fun with Matchbox at Easter in the mid 2000s. I would love to see eggs return. They were lots of fun. The anticipation of not know what you would find inside. That was so much fun.

So that’s it for another report. Next week I plan on making something smaller from bigger. To understand what I mean by that, you will have to check out my report next Monday.

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