Model: Isuzu Amigo
Line: Matchbox Basics 1-75, 1991
eBay Link: Matchbox Isuzu Amigo
Why I am featuring it: It’s a great casting connecting childhood memories to my current collection.
When was the last time you saw an Isuzu Amigo? Five years? Longer? Maybe there’s a decrepit one banging around your small town. Or one’s been parked up in the back of a gas station since as long as you can remember. It’s been quite some time for me, but since my dad had an ’89 Trooper for nearly 10 years when I was younger, I’ve always been fond of that Japanese marque. I passed on the opportunity to purchase a mint diesel 5-speed years ago and will never forget that. But, as always, I digress.
I’m not aware of any 1/64 versions of the Trooper (attention TLV!) And because I prefer the quirkiness of the Amigo over the utilitarianism of the Rodeo, it’s getting its 15 minutes of fame today.
Matchbox introduced the Amigo in 1991 in the color scheme you see here. But this isn’t the one I remember as a child. That honor belongs to the second issue in red, featuring the Amigo name and silver stripes going diagonally across the door and B-pillar. If anyone is keeping score, I prefer the blue one.
However, a while back, during one of my occasional eBay raids, I happened across a seller with a handful of carded Matchbox from the early 90s, among them this blue Amigo. It sat unopened in a shoebox for quite some time before I decided now would be a good time to liberate it and roll it in front of the camera. The others are still holed up awaiting their time to shine.
I like seeing the old packaging as it instantly brings me back to my childhood. Turning the card over reveals the Matchbox Motors playset. While I never had the pretend dealership, I did have a similar Hot Wheels version. I believe it was called avalanche, or something like that. I can’t recall, but I think it had a giant snowball.
At 1:57, the Amigo is a bit large compared to true 1:64 replicas, but who cares. The fun factor is magnified in this miniature just as it is in the full-size version. I think this is the best version of the casting, setting aside the stowaway hair that got stuck in the chromer. Later versions were kneecapped with unsightly tampos and questionable graphics.
The casting itself is crisp, with many of the 1:1’s details without the sloppiness of sizing them down. The grille is highly detailed, with its signature eggcrate appearance. And despite the chrome base, the interior is gray and includes not only the gear shift, but the stick for the 4×4 system as well. And that steering wheel? Believe it or not, it’s accurate. It also has a trailer hitch, which David Tilley can appreciate, for added play value. The rear license plate, cast into the body, reads EEM III. Perhaps DT himself can decipher that for the larger audience.
The Amigo went by many names depending on where it was titled. I think one of its alter-egos, the MU Wizard, has a nice ring to it, but everyone can appreciate the approachability of Amigo. It’s just so…friendly…and I’m happy to have this one in my collection.