Matchbox Monday is “Target”ing the exclusive

Sadly I am currently not showcasing anything new from Wheel Collectors this week, but a box is on its way. Perhaps next week? So for now I am going to talk a little about Target. The USA company, not the entirely different and totally unrelated Australian one. Founded by George Dayton in 1902 as Goodfellow Dry Goods, they soon changed their name to Dayton after the founder. In 1962, they decided to branch out with a discount store, and called it Target. In 2000 the parent company changed its name to Target where it currently runs as the 122nd largest company in the world (according to Forbes). Now it does pale in comparison to Walmart (the largest company in the world), but they still like to bring in exclusive items to bring people in to the store.

Now the Matchbox team has shown us a sneak peek of the latest Target exclusive which should be hitting in a month or so and Abe from Mattel has graciously passed on some more exclusive photos for me to show. The new set is called “Retro” (the first pic is shown above here). I can’t wait to get a hold of them. So to whet our appetites I thought I would do a quick recap of the recent Target exclusives.

Now I could dive in with the 2018 and 2019 stuff, but Target exclusives are nothing new. They have been getting items in on and off for many years. 2008 was a fun year. Target asked for something unique from the Matchbox brand and they gave them a set of 5 Skybuster multipacks (it was going to be 6 but the Secret Mission set was cancelled). Now anybody who knows me knows I only collect miniatures, so the 5 Skybusters that came in these sets are long gone. But I thought I would have fun with everything else in them.

We had the Amazon Adventure set. Included with an SB69 Hydro Prop (that propped off) were 2 cars. The first was the MB486 Jeep Wrangler with luggage in a desert theme.

The other was the MB705 Honda Ridgeline in matte black with an Island Adventure Tours design. But these sets were not just a Skybuster and 2 miniatures. The packaging had a big sign on it stating there were 6 pieces in each pack.

And in this set, we saw 3 accessories in khaki. There were 2 explorers and a partially open tent. Now I say accessories, but in Matchbox-land, these are called cotch. I believe it originated as a Jamaican slang word about props. I don’t know. I was told many years ago by Gerardo Lopez, who was working for them in the mid to late ’00s the meaning of cotch, but I forget now. All I know is when Hitch ‘n Haul was relaunched in the mid ’00s cotch was added and these were also parts of other ranges too. They were phased out in the early-mid ’10s.

We also had an “action mat” as they called them for each set. They came folded in half, and you simply unfolded and used it as a play area. But I was always confused with the “6 pieces” sign, as there are 6 pieces here. A mat, 2 cars and 3 cotch. But as you may recall, there was a Skybuster too. That’s 7 pieces. Or was the mat not included? Or did they know that I would only keep 6 and were targeting it (pun intended) purely at me.

We next had the Blizzard Expedition set which contained the MB697 ’97 Land Rover Defender 110 in orange.

As well as the MB712 Desert Thunder V16 in blue. They did also include an SB74 Tilt Wing too but that flew off many years ago.

The cotch for this set featured another 2 people and a sled, this time in orange.

And the action mat had a nice wintery snow theme to it.

Set number 3 was called Highway Rescue and had 2 red vehicles. The first being the MB566 Highway Rescue Fire Truck.

In addition the MB679 Ambulance was also in the set in red. There was an SB44 Rescue Helicopter too, but it went off to rescue somebody else.

The cotch here was yellow. We had 2 firefighters trying to put out the blaze as well as a stretcher for the ambulance.

The action mat for this featured an overturned Convoy style truck that had been carrying barrels of fuel which were now on fire.

Next up was the MBX International Airport. Obviously making sure to note that it was a Matchbox airport, and not a real one replicated in miniature. We saw the MB662 City Bus included in the set in iridescent off-white.

The MB693 ’07 Ford Transit was also included, with this being a solid white paint job. There was an SB68 Boeing 747-400 originally too, but it was never “Boeing” to stay with me.

The cotch this time was dark blue. It consisted of a pilot, a marshaller and a runway sign.

They came on a themed airport style action mat.

Finally there was the Test Flight set. Included alongside an SB70 Hypersonic Jet that is now hyper”gone”ic was the MB594 Airport Fire Tanker in fluorescent yellow.

As well as the MB695 ’06 Utility Truck. I always liked the simple side design for these 2. Very straight to the point with their matching designs.

The included cotch for this set were in grey, and featured a man with binoculars, a mobile radar station and another man at a permanent radar station.

The play mat for this set was another runway themed one, with a different look to it than the other one.

So why did I show those? Because I felt like it. Target has done some great little exclusives over the years, and just wanted to remind people that this is not a new thing. Plus, it gave me an excuse to pull out all these extra little bits that I did keep for some questionable reason. Skybusters? Nope! A plastic tent? Yes please! Yes, that’s how my mind works. But now I get on with the more current offerings.

As we know, in 2018 Matchbox celebrated their 65th anniversary. It wasn’t a huge event like the 50th Anniversary celebrations were (I did cover a bit of that last week), but there were a few subtle nods. The most significant happened to be exclusive to Target in USA. Target had asked Matchbox for something unique so they gave them a set of 4 uniquely designed 65th Anniversary models which were mixed in with the basic range in exclusive packages. Each of the models was painted int he same blue sapphire look with mainly white tampo designs. Blue sapphire being the traditional 65th anniversary look. Sapphires can come in many colours, although blue is the most common. Sapphires in general are seen as a 45th anniversary, but 65 year specifies blue sapphire. The first arrived as a part of batch E in April 2018.

The MB1088 ’70 Plymouth Cuda had debuted earlier in the year in batch B in worldwide assortments as MB19 in teal. It was nice seeing the Cuda return as it had not been seen since 2011. However, I used debut and return in the last 2 sentences and technically I was right. MB1088 had debuted in 2018. But the Cuda was a returnee.

The model started life in 2004 as MB616. Originally designed to be a premium exclusive casting during the Hero City era. Matchbox at the time were marketing the basics purely to ages 3-6, but they had the Collectibles banner too, and that needed more classic vehicles in it. So they were creating castings just for use in the Collectibles ranges. However, 2004 saw the Collectibles series dropped alongside the thought of aiming Matchbox at such a young demographic. So the Cuda started life in the newly rush released Superfast series for 2004 (which actually started mid 2004 and ran until mid 2005, due to the late change) in silver. It still veered towards the more premium side of the Matchbox banner as time went on, but we did see some more basic looks to it. The green was a 10-pack exclusive in 2009. It last saw use as MB616 in yellow as part of the Lesney Edition series before going on hiatus.

There is not a massive change in the 2 castings. You notice the biggest change from underneath. The rivets are now coming through at a different point. In both cases they are slightly further forward than they were originally. To do this, the interior section and base section were re-worked to facilitate the change.

The body is tougher to explain. Visually it looks identical. But across the bottom edge between the wheels was a row of slats. On the original MB616 they just had a slight rough feel to them. When the model was re-worked these slats were enhanced and are now very noticeable on the touch test. Go on, touch the screen. I dare you….

Next up was the MB1038 ’90 VW Golf Country. It arrived in batch H in June. Strictly speaking, this was penciled in as a Toys R Us exclusive initially. Original plans were that Target and Toys R Us stores in USA were going to share the exclusives and have 2 each. Sadly, TRU went bust and Target came forward and said they would do all 4.

Of course this is one of those sneaky little models that Matchbox like to make. The parcel shelf inside the rear has 2 different assortments of items inside. It’s what I refer to as the chainsaw or fuel can variation, as those are the easier to make out items when peering inside, although not in this photograph as those are under the wiper blade.

The model had been selling as MB99 as a part of batch E in red. It was only on its second year after debuting in 2017. The original issue appeared at the time of the Cuda’s Target exclusive.

But it did mean if you were nuts and needed them all, you would be looking at 4 different ones to complete a 2018 set of Golf County models.

Next up was the MB777 ’71 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. The sapphire blue arrived in batch K in August 2018.

However, the earlier lavender worldwide released didn’t arrive in the basic range at the time of the Golf Target model. It was supposed to. The model was due in batch H and due to run for 2 batches, but it missed H and only ran in 1 batch. So it was a little tougher to find.

This casting had just been re-worked too, but was not given a new manufacturing number. Earlier issues were easier to spot with the 2 dogs in the rear pointing inwards towards each other.

But part of the reworking was to bring in the rear rivet point for easier assembly, which meant some other work needed to be done including moving the dogs apart a little.

It does mean that the rivet comes from the roof of the model now rather than underneath the rear of the interior.

As you can see, the dogs are now further apart. Are they practicing social distancing?

Finally for batch M in October we saw the last of the 4 Target exclusives (because it was a TRU originally, but Target took it instead). The MB788 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.

The regular basic range issue as MB96 had been when the Target Vista Cruiser arrived in batch K. It was also blue but this time in baby blue with the popular Gulf livery on it.

The casting had originally debuted in 2010 in reddish orange, although the first production run was way too light and was quickly altered. However, this Target exclusive is currently the last we have seen of the casting.

Now the Matchbox team did want to do something for everybody. Not everybody is in USA and can visit a Target store. So they created a 5th non-exclusive model in the same type of style and added it to the Coffee Cruisers 5-pack worldwide that year too. It was the MB688 ’61 Jaguar E-type.

It was the first time it had been seen since another 5-pack outing in orange as part of the 2011 Classic Rides set. It was nice to see it return.

It was the oldest casting as the first one had debuted in 2006 in red. But such a classic, it still looks great now. And no modification.

So that was 2018. A Target exclusive set of 4x 65th Anniversary sapphire blue models.

Or if you are nerdy (like me) and needed the variations, a set of 5 with both Golf interiors included.

Or if you are thinking of the wider picture, a set of 6 65th Anniversary sapphire blue models were made.

Which brings us to 2019. And another set of 6. They liked what was being done for 2018, so asked for more. This time Matchbox obliged with a set of Superfast 50th Anniversary models in gold. As they were celebrating another anniversary last year it was great that they created a set of exclusive models themed for it. Now they were going to be spaced out a little more over the year, but due to a small error, they ended up being in 2 batches of 3 over the last 2 assortments.

First up for the first assortment was the MB1036 ’16 Chevy Camaro Convertible.

This model was not originally a part of the 2019 basic range, and the only 2019 release we saw was the Blue Highways 5-pack release with the model in orange.

Which gives us (at the moment of writing) 5 releases in total. It debuted in the 2017 basic range as MB2 in red, before turning blue as MB11 in 2018. As well as the Target exclusive and 5-pack issue in 2019 it has also recently seen another 5-pack issue in silver in the 2020 MBX Highway 5-pack.

The MB1056 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6 was a cool one. The model has been cleverly created from the get-go as a dual purpose casting. Limits in place for basic range issues require that because it has 3 axles it can only have 3 other parts. Body, base and window. Therefore windows are blacked out. But for premium ranges, an interior section can be popped in allowing for the additional part to show off the model even better. But somehow, they managed to sneak this particular release, which was being sold as a regular piece in Target stores, as an interior-added model. A look that is usually reserved for higher end models.

Now this model was a part of the basic range, as it was MB79 in red. However, as you can see, it was the more traditional core level look with blacked out window and no interior. The team do work hard to try and squeeze every little thing out of the brand as they can.

It was first seen in late 2016 as the 2017 Toy Fair model in a bronzed premium guise, then the 2017 basic range in cream and by the end of the year had also seen a Leipzig Modell Hobby Spiel later in 2017.

We have also seen it used in the Jurassic World series, where it came in either clean or muddy mode. Both being marketed as core ranges meant they came with blacked out windows. So this Target exclusive really was exclusive for a core range model.

The final model from the first trio that appeared was the MB1173 ’69 BMW 2002. Very era appropriate as it was also celebrating its 50th anniversary (the casting, as a 1969 version, not the BMW 02 series vehicle). This was only the second time we saw this casting….

As it had not long debuted in the basic range as MB7 in orange.

Since then we have had one new issue in blue as the 2020 MB50.

The second batch brought us the oldest casting of the current sextet. The MB843 Seagrave Fire Engine.

This too was in the basic range, where it was being sold in red as MB55. Which oddly enough….

Was a throwback to its debut in 2012. The most noticeable difference between the 2019 and the 2012 MB70 was it originally sported red wheels, but they were now gold, just like the golden exclusive. Coincidence?

I bring up Modell Hobby Spiel again, as this too, just like the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6, was also used as a promotional model in gold, in the year of its debut; 2012.

Next up we had the MB1046 ’51 Hudson Hornet Police. A very sleek side design on that one which does look really era appropriate to me.

Of course this too was also in the basic range, where the blue issue was being sold as MB57.

As with the Camaro, including the gold Target exclusive and also a 2020 5-pack issue means we are up to 5 releases so far of this casting. After debuting as MB57 in black in 2017, we saw a red Fire Chief version as MB64 in 2018, with the white one being the 2020 MBX Countryside 5-pack issue.

Finally, the MB1093 BMW i8. The only modern casting of the current trio, and also the only non-emergency themed model.

Weirdly though, this model had only debuted in 2018 but was not a part of the basic range in 2019. But MB1144, featuring the opening butterfly doors, was a part of the Superfast range.

So this is the entire model history of the BMW i8 so far from Matchbox. 1 basic, 1 Target exclusive and 1 Superfast. Hopefully more are on their way.

But just like they did in 2018, the Matchbox team wanted to do a little something worldwide, and an additional model was created and added to worldwide 5-packs. This was in the Service Squad 5-pack.

The MB709 Chevy Van was a very appropriate choice too, as this sported a side livery that stated “From Lesney to Mattel: Celebrating 50 years of Superfast”. And this was, originally, a Lesney casting.

The casting first arrived as MB068 in 1979 while the company was still under Lesney leadership. The first 2 years it was orange with a side stripe design which had a habit of changing colours.

The casting was used for many years, and even saw a retro Premiere issue in 1997. When Mattel re-tooled the casting giving it the new MAN number of MB709, they also decided to give it a retro look as a nod to the debut.

Which sort of brings us to the crux of this blog. You see recently we have seen a number of nods to the past on models. A number have been brought back from recent years (like the Seagrave above), but we have had a few great retro throwbacks.

The 2016 MB71 International Armored Car was a terrific throwback to the 2000 debut release, except it was now the MB873 modified casting compared to the MB446 debut.

And the 2019 MB76 went even further back to before Mattel even owned the brand, to bring back the look of the 1996 MB73 (US) or MB25 (ROW) release. Again, the casting had been modified in between from the original MB131 to MB878.

Target were keen to still receive something unique, so more akin to the Walmart series of exclusives, Target are now going to have their own unique standalone set. Taking the idea of the retro and taking it in a new direction. And with many thanks to Abe at Mattel, I can show a few more pictures of the first set of 6 models (yes a second set will be coming later in the year too).

Now some liveries may instantly be recognized, and others not. The idea of retro is to give us a classic vibe. Either take some classic vehicles and give them a cool coat of paint that fits in with the feel, or actually take some models and give us a retro livery from years gone by. In this particular batch we have 3 of each.

The MB811 ’68 Lamborghini Miura P400S is a classic vehicle sporting a new design.

The MB129 Chevy Blazer 4×4 is bringing back a look from the 1980s.

The MB812 ’68 Ford Mustang GT/CS is a cool classic with a new look.

The MB878 Jeep 4×4 is going retro with a classic late ’90s livery revisited.

The MB1169 ’80 Mercedes-Benz W123 Wagon gives us a classic look with an official “pure orange” colour choice that was available in 1980.

Finally, the MB180 Land Rover Ninety will be revisiting the early ’90s again with its new release.

As I said, these are not all current castings bringing back old liveries from the past. Retro is, by default, something that is inspired by the past.

So the Matchbox team are giving us a mix to enjoy. I for one am really looking forward to getting these. As well as the second set that will come later in the year.

I will do a full blog post about them when I get them hopefully soon. They should be in Target stores in USA in around a month or so. And again, many thanks to Abe for passing on some unique pictures here to showcase on the blog.

So are you all ready to go retro? I am!

So that is it for now. Until next time.

David Tilley

7 thoughts on “Matchbox Monday is “Target”ing the exclusive

  1. First off great artical, 2nd congrats on your move to Lamley. As in your IG posts your knowledge of Matchbox will be a great asset to The Lamley Group. Again great artical and congrats.

  2. The purple Chevy Blazer is missing the missile launch on top!… I had the Road Blasters as a kid. Nice write up and pictures. It would be good if sets like these were to Target Tesco or something unique. As for Tesco uk. B case was stocked and newly put out on the weekend and very good line up.

      1. What still?!…… Only been 6 and a bit months!!!. Lol. B case was a total surprise to me Tbh. The journey was for “essential” good’s….of cause 🙂 . and a 35 minute wait. Strange times and weirdness… Hope you get what you need in due cause. Take care.

  3. Great article. My Target put out what looked like a whole case of red Mazda CX-5’s right after Christmas, and there they sit. Only 3 pegs devoted to them.

  4. I at least want the Miura for my Miura collection. Sadly Canada doesn’t have Target anymore although some of those gold cars from last year did show up at Canadian Walmarts so it’s possible we’ll get those here.

    The Mercedes-Benz wagon desperately needs either a chrome chassis or, if they can’t put headlight tampos over chrome, at least they could make the plastic charcoal grey or black. Ideally, they’d make a premium model with a metal chassis and grille. I know why mainlines have plastic chassis but I frankly don’t understand why the higher tier Matchbox cars don’t have metal chassis when most retail premium Hot Wheels lines do except for ID where they have a semi-valid excuse for using a plastic chassis (so the embedded microchip is readable).

  5. So, why is it that I cannot find nor can I order the New Matchbox 2020 Target Exclusive Retro Series directly from Target at a reasonable price? Ebay and other similar auction sites only have these sets available at extremely inflated prices.

Leave a Reply to John P Nilsson Cancel reply