Mail call: Hot Wheels, Tarmac Works and Matchbox emerge from postal lockdown

I’m sure I’m not alone in buying fewer cars since the pandemic began. With travel restrictions, mail delays and border closures, it’s also been harder to obtain some cars that I’d bought and traded before the days of social distancing.

But this week a box came through from the UK after a couple of months in transit. It contained cars from several friends in the UK and Germany that had been assembled into a single package to send to Canada. A box of new Matchbox and Hot Wheels releases that I’d found in Calgary went the other way.

My box contained an eclectic mix of old and new, which makes it representative of my collection I suppose. First up was a Tarmac Works Evo in Nürburgring 24h livery. This one goes into my Falken collection, which I hope to cover in a future article. The Evo looks great and I love an authentic livery on a 1:64 race car. The racetrack display base is a nice touch.

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eBay link: Tarmac Works Falken Evo

Next was a pair of Hot Wheels ’70 Chevelle Deliveries. This is a strange one. The Chevelle was a US mail-in from a GameStop promotion last November but somehow last December some stock ended up in TK Maxx, the UK version of TJ Maxx, for the bargain price of £2.99 (about US$3.60). Not sure how they calculated that ‘recommended retail price’ of £5.99! Fortunately my friend grabbed a couple and one will go to a Chevy-collecting buddy here in Calgary.

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eBay link: Hot Wheels Chevelle Delivery mail in

The rest of the box was all Matchbox. Another collector friend in the UK had picked up the regular wheels No.73 Mercury Commuter and Mr Juicy F 1 Racer for me. The Mercury only lasted for a year on regular wheels before the changeover to Superfast. Matchbox still makes a wagon with dogs in the back!

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Meanwhile the race car is one I’ve been after for a while. It was a promotional made to tie in with Martin Donnelly’s Mr Juicy F3 Ralt, which won the Macau GP in 1987. Unfortunately it arrived just too late to make it into my recent feature on Matchbox F1 cars.

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eBay link: Matchbox Mr Juicy

Two more Matchbox-in-the-box came courtesy of former Matchbox Ambassador, Dirk Schleuer of the MOYShop in Germany. Dirk had several special versions of the new MB1184 1965 Land Rover Gen II Safari made for the Leipzig toy fair and Matchbox convention last year. I bought this striking orange one, of which 300 were made.

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eBay link: Matchbox Leipzig Land Rover

The other model from Dirk is one of his Code 2 ‘Models of the Month’, a customized version of the 1947 Chevy AD pickup with beer cases in the back! I took some pictures of this one before it headed off to a friend.

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For some years I’ve been trying to obtain one of each Matchbox casting/manufacturing number from 1-800. You can read an old article about that here and follow my progress on Instagram (@diecast215) under the hashtag #MBMission800. I’m now down to about 20 models that I can realistically obtain (the missing prepros will be pricey, if I can find them) but this box contains two more to check off my list.

The Tractor Shovel first appeared as a Lesney Superfast model in the 1970s and later had three separate manufacturing numbers attached to it – MB029 (the original), MB237 (two-piece shovel, only available in early-90s Farming sets) and MB312 (version with lever in playsets). I was missing MB237 until I was able to get this Farming set from eBay for a reasonable price. It also comes with the MB710a tipping Farm Trailer, which is another hard-to-find model.

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eBay link: Matchbox Tractor Shovel

The other gap-filler is the cab on this Fire Engine Convoy from about 1990. The cab is a Peterbilt, but the name doesn’t appear on the base. The casting dates from an old Lesney 900-series/twin-pack model, before the first proper Convoys appeared in 1982, but was later given a manufacturing number, MB724a. As David Tilley has explained several times in his posts, the ‘a’ on the number for this casting, the Farm Trailer and other models is just a way of differentiating these Lesney-era castings from the Mattel-designed models in the MB700s that mistakenly used previously allocated casting numbers. I already have ‘MB724b’, the Armor Piercing Tank from 2007.

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eBay link: Matchbox Convoy Fire Engine

And that’s it. It was great to receive a few new models and add them to the display, hope you enjoyed seeing them!

Graham Heeps

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