So after a number of weeks of diving in to the collection for some Matchbox Monday goodness, things are starting to return to normal in a sense, and I have now received some new items from Wheel Collectors which means…. New stuff! As I did with the last batch (if you can remember that far back) I am splitting the latest batch of models into thirds. Each third of models I will showcase in a different order. This one I have decided to go by manufacturing number.
That is because I wanted to start with a classic. The only model in the batch that started life in the 20th century. I mean, we do have a number of classics in the range, but this is a classic casting of a classic model. The MB363 ’62 VW Beetle. Wheel Collectors have both blisters and power grab boxes and have kindly sent over both styles for me to go through. I do like how the Power Grabs box has the same picture on 2 sides, but zoomed in to different points. But enough of that, this packaging wasn’t going to last much longer.
As you can see, the 2020 MB86 (it’s slot in this year’s range) is now loose.
This is a really nice look to the model. It’s actually the first time we have ever had a pink issue, and I think it was long overdue. Plus the side design with the flowers and peace sign are a perfect look for the model. But did you know this is a record for this casting? Let me explain.
As I said, this is a casting that first debuted in the 20th century. Just. It first appeared in 1999 as either MB53 in the US market or MB48 in the ROW market. It was black and featured a teal side with a white strip over the top edge. The current model has white side with a silver strip over the top edge. Of course that had Matchbox written across the front window, and this has the design on top of the white side. But they are not that far apart.
It then saw a second outing in 2000 as MB12, but only in the US market. This time a blue side (no top stripe), a black roof, and some cool surfer graphics over the rear adorned the model. But that was it. It was dropped from the basic range after 2 years.
But in 2006, it returned. A second chance at a basic range release. This time, as MB21, it usually sported the original disk wheel design (which got replaced a few years later with the disk wheels we have now), but we did see some come with lace wheels too.
2007, and a second year in a row in the basic range again. This was released as MB29 in orange, and sported tri-spoke wheels throughout production and a simple front and rear design. And that was it again. It was dropped from the basic range after 2 years again.
After what seemed like forever, it popped back up in 2018. Released as MB16 it came in blue with simple front and rear design again.
2019 saw a second yearly release as a new red version appeared as MB12. So this makes the pink version a third year in a row issue. It may have debuted in 1999, but it has taken until 2020 to see 3 years in a row in the basic range. That is quite an unusual feat, and surely not one I see other models making.
Of course the eagle eyed among you might have noticed, or even know already, that when the model came back in 2018 it had been given a small tweak here and there. The front bumper now is a more solid piece, and no longer slots through the body but comes out directly underneath.
The rear is exactly the same. I am showing the last issue of the unaltered castings, as another red was a part of the 60th Anniversary series.
The underside does show that the base was in fact a whole new section.
Of course the Beetle has seen quite a bit of action over the years. It has been in a number of 5-packs. Shown here are the blue Cars Cars Cars 5-pack release from 1999, 2011 Volkswagen 5-pack issue in orange, 2007 Classics in mint and 2019 Happy Holidays 5-pack issue in red. There are more too, but I limited to one picture for 5-packs and didn’t want to cram too many in.
Although licensed 5-packs I classify as a different issue, with the Beetle seeing a number of issues there too, like the red Mickey Mouse Clubhouse issue from 2009, SpongeBob SquarePants issue from 2003 in green and Scooby Doo 5-pack release in lime gold in 2007.
It saw 10-pack uses too, in the days where we would have an all-exclusive pack each year, and the 2007 “Real” pack saw a pale blue issue and 2008 “Real” pack a yellow one. Of course the 2007 went and gave us a wheel variation too, as it came with either original disk or tri-spoke during production.
Premiums. My Classic Car, a Collectibles set from 2004 saw a blue issue with VW dish hubs on it. There is a VW logo in the middle of the wheels. Velma in pale orange was a part of a Scooby Doo Collectibles series in 2001 too.
There were other random issues across multiple platforms too. As I said, it got a lot of use over the years. The green was an ROW only 50th Anniversary single release from 2002, the red a 2001 Avon exclusive Coca Cola twin pack issue, the teal an Around the World issue from 2004 with Lombard St on the side, and the blue was a licensed single issue from a SpongeBob SquarePants issue in 2003.
Who could forget Superfast? It was sold in the number 15 slot in the 2004 series, which was a homage to the classic Lesney VW 1500 in white with 137 side label that was sold as MB15 in the late 1960s, early 1970s. It also saw a green promotional dealer set from the Hershey Convention that year, one of 4 models to see alternates to their Superfast releases. They were looking at bronze, but decided not to go with it. I managed to get a pre-production sample of that one though.
It even saw a use in the Best of series in 2008, as it was a part of the Best of International set.
And because it is German, it was a part of a number of Stars of… sets. The lighter orange at the front was from the 2003 Stars of Germany series, exclusive to the German market. It is also the only other time we have seen flowers and a peace sign on it. The darker orange at the back was the 2002 Stars of Germany issue. The black was a bit unusual. Released in 2006, as a part of Stars of Cars (as it had been renamed to by then), the packaging stated it was the VW Beetle Taxi. We do have an MB578 VW Beetle Taxi casting, which is similar but does sport a taxi sign on the roof. But they used this one. Had it sported any sort of taxi motifs or logo I would have thought it was a casting mix up, but as it was plain black with simple front and rear detailing I would guess the package was the error.
Okay so that was quite a big start to the set. But obviously, it was an older casting celebrating its 21st birthday this year, so there was quite a history just on that one itself. Not so much with what’s next.
As everything else in this third of the batch is relatively new, there is not a big back catalogue to go through. Next up a trailer unit. The MB1045 Speed Trapper makes its second basic range outing in 2020 as MB98.
It comes in a blue, orange and white combination this time out.
It sports all the tampo printing on the rear, with this denoting it is a 25mph limit being a construction zone in California.
In modern times it is not that common to see a trailer unit in the basic range more than once. It used to be common, but nowadays they appear once then get consigned to multi-pack usage. This debuted originally in 2017 as MB56 in silver white and grey with a 45 speed limit. It didn’t denote mph, or kph or anything like that, as it was a generic look, but the new one specifying California gives it the mph note.
Although saying that, it was a part of the Texas Rangers 5-pack in 2018, and with that specifying Texas, it didn’t denote mph. It’s the little things I notice. Now that issue did sport a wheel variation. The normal disk wheels did give way to some 6-spokes for a short while.
Now there was only 1 model in the 5-pack that had a tow hook. The MB574 Jeep Cherokee Police. However, with the tow hook being quite high up, it did lift the trailer unit a little bit. Luckily the rear wasn’t dragging across the floor. It just got away with it. But the new one is doing much better. I will get to that shortly.
But first I am moving on to the next model. The MB1168 ’18 Dodge Charger. This is only its second year in the basic range.
It is being sold as MB15 this year in a lovely shade of blue. I think they call it B5 blue.
With a lovely front and rear tampo design. I love this look.
I liked the debut green too (which I believe Dodge call F8 green), but this blue just seems to pop a little more.
I love how they sport the exact same tampo scheme, except the new one has Dodge on the license plate, the older one Charger. You put the 2 together to get the full name. It’s what I keep saying, it’s the little things.
Well, that is all from this casting. That’s even shorter than the Speed Traper. Wait a sec….
Here we go, previous Dodge Charger civilian casting. As some may know, others may not, the Dodge Charger was a classic US muscle car in the 1960s, but by the time the mid 1970s came along, they were moving it into the luxury segment. It then faded away, to return in the 1980s as a hatchback. After 1987 it went again. It came back for the 2006 model year as a 4-door sedan (or saloon as some people call them, but it is an American car, so I use that terminology) and Matchbox were straight on the ball with a casting. MB676 arrived in 2005 (a vehicle’s model year tends to start mid-late the year before, and the Matchbox model arrived about the same time as the real vehicle was launched. MB61 began production in China, but was swiftly moved to Thailand which is notable for being a lighter shade.
It was also a part of the 2005 Superfast series in the SF75 slot, with the ROW market selling a silver one and the US market a black one. However, it was a part of the last batch of the year, which didn’t arrive until spring 2006. The first 3 years of the Superfast sets were actually about half a year behind the norm.
In 2006, it was on its second year in the basic range, and was blue. Coincidence? Yeah, I think definitely. Or otherwise the new one would have debuted in red. It was also included in the 2006 Cars 5-pack in lemon yellow.
We then had a fun pair of releases. Now bear with me, this one takes a minute to explain. As I mentioned, the first 3 years of Superfast were actually half a year behind the norm. So the year would begin in late spring/early summer. It would then run through until the following spring. Basics, as with most other lines, tend to start late autumn/early winter and finishing the following autumn. So we had the 2007 basic range MB50 arrive shortly before the 2006 Superfast SF75. The basic was black and came with an Auburn Hills Police side design. Something a bit different. A police car with no roof light. But then the Superfast arrived in dark yellow, but if people were to look at the side doors, they could read Auburn Hills Police under the paint. They literally just overpainted the basics. It didn’t go down too well. I don’t believe it has ever happened again.
In 2007 we did also see a pair of oranges. The Real 10-pack saw a plain orange, and the Nick Jr (2) licensed 5-pack saw one with Diego on the side.
2008 saw a green with black hood design released as MB14, and another licensed 5-pack in blue, which this time was a Go Diego Go 5-pack, but featured Baby Jaguar this time. But then we also saw another Police livery. Brazos County, a real police department in Texas used Dodge Chargers, and this one was added to the Police 5-pack. But by now people were questioning why we kept getting police liveries on a civilian model.
Even more so in 2009. The basic range had the model as MB61 in black. But it was one that was chosen to sport 2 liveries during its run. After starting with a Hummelstown police livery (from Pennsylvania), it then saw a Matchbox originals Highway Patrol livery, looking a bit like the CHP ones. We were getting more police liveries and people were asking for the casting to be modified to include a light bar. We also saw another licensed 5-pack release, this time in the same Mickey Mouse Clubhouse set the VW Beetle shown above was in.
Oh look, more Police. Shreveport in Louisiana, the subject of the MB58 issue and the second year in a row we were getting Police liveries on a civilian model. The Real 10-pack saw a purple with black hood release, which was the last civilian release.
Because in 2011, it went all Police. MB58 saw Elk Grove in California chosen for the design of the police vehicle, and the Police 5-pack had a Matchbox originals design in blue.
And then we cheered. The casting was replaced with the 7th generation Charger, but this time, it was from the outset designed as a Police Interceptor. It was supposed to have debuted in 2012, but it got delayed and arrived in 2013 instead. It was sold as MB64 that year, and was the only release to sport a separate light bar on the roof. It was given the manufacturing number MB864, but after its debut in white it was gone.
Replaced by MB933. Same casting, but now the roof light was incorporated into the window section, which also meant adapting the roof of the body section. It saw its first issue as MB84 in the basic range, as one of the long running Boone County Sheriff models, courtesy of Keith Hoskins who works there and is a collector himself. We also saw a promotional release too in Albuquerque New Mexico, at the annual Matchbox Gathering in July. A fully detailed model was created as a dealer model featuring the Albuquerque Police livery.
For 2015 it saw two releases in the basic range as MB64. St Ursula County Metro Police in black was followed by the MBX County State Trooper in blue a few batches later. We also saw a silver K-9 unit in the Police Response Mission Force set that year.
For 2016 we saw two more releases. In the basic range it was dark grey with blue doors and a simply Police livery (it says Adlar 58 on it, I know who made that). But then we saw a Police 5-pack with all NYPD liveries models too, which included the Dodge.
Since then, usage has become a little thinner, because the casting is now a little dated and in real life the 7th generation saw a significant upgrade and new front end which meant getting a new casting. But we did see a 2018 Texas Rangers 5-pack issue (the same pack that sported the Speed Trapper above) and in 2019 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police saw their design on the MB49 issue. But with the newer Charger casting, we may not see much more of this. But will we see the new casting turn into a police car at some point?
Next up is a Police Car. Well officially it’s an SUV. But people are still going to call it a Police Car. The MB1179 ’16 Ford Interceptor Utility. Ford created the real vehicle exclusively for use by law enforcement and other emergency services. It is based on the Ford Explorer, with many modifications for use in the field and is not available to civilians.
This one is being sold as MB48 for 2020 and comes in black. It sports the CHP livery, one of the most well known liveries to those living outside of USA. California Highway Patrol is used in lots of TV shows and films, and along with the NYPD is one of the first looks people outside of USA will come up with when thinking of a USA police car.
Ooh look at that tow hook….
I did say with the Speed Trapper that it was doing better this time out. There are 2 vehicles in batch D that contain tow hooks. The Interceptor Utility and the VW Beetle sport a tow hook. You could have had a bright pink Beetle towing the model, but I think this is a better choice. I think the Speed Trapper’s look was more designed for this, seeing as it has California on the back, and this is a CHP vehicle. But you may also note just how perfectly straight the Speed Trapper looks. A match made in heaven methinks.
As we are going through Man number order, if the Dodge Charger only had one previous issue, this wasn’t going to be much different. It too had arrived in the 2019 basic range, where MB42 was initially a Fire Chief model in red. As I said, the Interceptor Utility was designed for emergency use vehicles, and as such a Fire Chief could theoretically use it too.
So where do I go with this one? I could go back through the history of the MB860 Ford Explorer, as it was sort of the previous casting that this has sort of replaced. It was actually a casting that was semi-created by Matchbox. Obviously we know the Ford Explorer is a Ford, but when Matchbox approached Ford back in 2011 to create the casting, they explained to Ford they wanted a Police version and Ford graciously allowed them to create some artistic license and come up with their own look. Once approved it debuted in 2012. It was last seen in 2019 as MB58 in San Diego Police livery. It looks fairly close to the CHP livery as it is black with a white door. But obviously the livery detailing is different.
But you know what? Let’s do CHP. Now I may have missed one or two out, as I was trying to remember off the top of my head all the CHP models done over the years, so if somebody remembers one I missed please let me know in the comments at the bottom (except the first one which I mention below).
Because, full disclosure, this is not the first ’93 Chevy Camaro Police to sport a CHP livery. That was actually an MB254b Premiere Edition release in 1997. But I don’t actually have that one (never collected premiums in the 1990s and still filling in the gaps), so no need to point that out in the comments. But this MB458 (different manufacturing number – different light bar) was the first time the masses had access to it. It was actually the swansong for the casting, as it was never seen again after being used in the 2006 Police 5-pack. There was even a rare version as normally it sports smoke windows, but a small run was made with red windows instead.
But that wasn’t it for 2006. It was also the debut version of the MB689 ’06 Ford Crown Victoria in the basic range. MB26 again came with a rare issue. It usually has black 6-spoke wheels and a black base, but a tiny run was made with chrome lace wheels and a grey base.
They liked the Crown Vic in CHP so much they did it again the following year. This time as a part of the Police 5-pack. The differences are that this time it only had the front doors in white, and the 6-spoke wheels gave way to tri-spokes. Plus the interior was black instead of grey.
As I said, the Dodge Charger that was released in the 2009 basic range was not actually a CHP, but a Matchbox originals lookalike. The badge in the middle of the door is different and has Matchbox written in it. Some could mistake it for a CHP at a quick glance.
The next CHP (as far as I remember) was the MB762 ’78 Dodge Monaco Police. This arrived in 2011 as MB53 worldwide.
The MB858 ’56 Buick Century Police followed just a year later when the 2012 debut MB69 sported the same livery.
The next model to sport the CHP design was the MB969 ’93 Ford Mustang LX SSP, and again it was the debut release. After appearing in the 2014 series (a year late as it arrived in 2015), it has been re-issued as a part of the second set of Walmart Mustang models this year.
After that, they did a bike. Now this reminds me of CHiPs, the TV series. I was a huge fan of that as a kid. Obviously they never rode BMW R1200 R-TP Police bikes in the show as it was made in the 1970s and R1200 series didn’t arrive until the mid-2000s. They had Kawasakis during their time in the series, but they did return for a 1-off TV film called CHiPs ’99 (although it was shown in October 1998), and rode BMW R1100 R-TPs on that. So close. Had they did that 1-off TV film a decade later, this could have been how they were seen riding bikes. This particular MB935 casting was sold as MB73 in 2015.
After that was the Supreme Heroes version of the MB860 Ford Explorer which came out in late 2015 featuring 2-part rubber wheels and full tampo printing. I decided to show front and rear on this one, as it was really cool. As I said, the 2019 looked a little like it, but was a San Diego Police model. But we did get a CHP version of the casting before.
It went a little quiet after that, as after 2015 we saw nothing until the MB1014 ’15 Chevy Corvette Stingray Police appeared, which was sold as an exclusive in the first batch of 2019 9-packs. It was also the first time we had a CHP police car in all-white. The new Ford Utility has reverted back to the usual black and white scheme.
As I said, if I did miss one (except the 1990s Premiere Camaro) please remind me in the comments below.
And this brings us to the last new addition in this third of the batch. This one is a brand new casting. The MB1216 2018 Renault Kangoo Express (to give the model its full name, as the packages only say Renault Kangoo). It turns up in the MB5 slot in white with an Agave Acres design. More on the design in a short while (stay tuned).
It is really nice to have a Renault again. Renault is a French car manufacturer that has been going since 1899. Louis Renault had been tinkering away creating prototypes during the 1890s, and sold his first vehicle to a friend of his fathers on Christmas Eve 1898. He called it the Renault Voiturette 1CV, and along with his brothers Marcel and Fernand, set up Société Renault Frères in 1899. He built, they managed. Throughout the 20th century this company has worked its way into being one of the largest manufacturers on the planet. They have been in the top 10 for many years now.
Considering how big they are, can you believe this is only the 6th Renault that Matchbox have made. I don’t count the MB246 Formula 1. Its debut stated it was the Williams Renault Formula 1, but technically, that means it is a Williams, that just happened to have a Renault engine in it. But the casting had Williams Renault wiped off the base with no other alteration after that, so I just classify it as a Formula 1 model.
But this is definitely a Renault through and through. Being a new casting, I do the obligatory base shot as there are those who like to see how bases look.
Now obviously there are no older examples, but as I said there wasn’t a lot from Renault, let’s do them all….
First up was the Renault 17TL. It debuted in 1974 as MB62 during the Lesney era and ran until 1978. It only ever came in dark orange with a 6 label, although quite often they put it on upside down, so it looked like a 9. Or they just didn’t even bother. Of course if you are lucky, you may find a random other label too.
Now I said dark orange, but some actually came out cherry red. Not the easiest to find.
Apart from the basic range, there was a short run made with a Fire label on side instead. The story goes that in 1976 they were launching the G-12 Rescue set featuring 6 models. The brand new MB64 Fire Chief car was going to be in the set, but the model wasn’t ready yet. So they threw this in with a random Fire label that would usually be found on the Blaze Buster casting. Out of all the castings they were currently using in red or orange, it was deemed the most logical to use.
This bring us to 1978. The only year that the Matchbox range has ever had 2 Renault vehicles in it. The MB21 Renault 5 debuted in the same year that the 17TL was due to be retired. It arrived in blue with a myriad of variations. You can find shades of blue, but also amber or clear windows, tan or red interior, and silver or black bases. Some were even found without chrome hot foil on the wheels. It went nuts.
In 1979 they had dropped the 17TL from the range, only leaving the Renault 5. So what to do? Re-colour and go nuts. This is where it starts getting complicated. You see we had silver and it sometimes sported an A5 and stripe side design sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes it came with a tan interior, sometimes red. Sometimes it had a grey base, sometimes black. Even black bases can be flat black, gloss black, or sort of a charcoal black.
It was because they were planning on this being different for a USA release. This time it was yellow, and sported Le Car on the side (especially useful for the USA market, as in real life Renault were trying to work their way into the market, and were selling the R5 through AMC dealerships, and had dubbed it Le Car). I think what happened at Lesney though was they had one idea of an interior and base for the USA release, and another for the other countries (remember this was a pre-US/ROW split) and the factory not knowing what was happening just put any old pieces together and sold them all over.
In 1981 they made it a little easier. Keep the Le Car design, but just make the car silver. By now they had settled on a red interior, but shades of base are still known (all dark, but not always black per-se, some being glossy, some flat, some charcoal, some with a hint or grey or brown etc), and the window was normally clear but can be amber too.
In 1982 they came up with a new white with green and racing 4 design. Shades of green tampo vary wildly, the roof was sometimes forgotten about while tampo printing, and interiors were still all over the place ranging from white through to quite a dark brown.
After 1982 the model was dropped from the US range, but in 1984 the ROW market saw a new design, as well as the Japanese market. In Japan MB9 was a new red issue, and ROW markets had a white with red and yellow 21 design. However, things got mixed up again and quite often you would find them in the wrong markets. In 1985 production moved to Macau which decided that both the ROW market and Japanese market would have the same model. Red Turbo was dropped. The white continued now exclusively in the Japanese range until 1987, but the ROW range had also dropped it but added it to the TP-106 twin pack instead. In 1987 they redesigned the pack with a new Scrambler grey look and finished off production in 1988.
That wasn’t the end of it though, as they sent the casting to Bulgaria in 1991 for local production where many variations have been created over the years. Way too many to count.
After that it was a View to a Kill. In May 1985 the James Bond film arrived in cinemas, and Matchbox had a license to create some models from it. There were going to be 4 in total, with 2 older castings planned but cancelled (Plymouth Gran Fury and Helicopter). However, they had tooled up 2 brand new castings exclusively because they were in the film. Alongside a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II was the MB161 Renault 11. These did get released in unique window boxes. The Renault even sported a nice shade variation between light and dark blue. But because these were later castings after 1985 had been finalized, they were not a part of the basic range.
As R&D, tooling and then production was all being done in England for these 2 castings (due to the quick turnaround required for the film release), they both debuted exclusively in the ROW range in 1986, as the England factory was no longer shipping basics to the Americas. All items were made in Macau or China for that market. The Renault debuted as MB33 in the ROW market that year. However, with the factory nearing closure, production did move to Macau at the end of the year and it opened up an avenue to the US market, where it arrived as MB43 in 1987. After 1988 it was dropped from both markets. It only ever came in black, and usually sported a Turbo and silver side stripe design, but some were found without. We also saw the interior change from tan to grey, and wheels would switch between dot-dash and 8-dot throughout its run.
We were pretty close to getting a promotional model though. BP in the UK had set up an agreement with Matchbox Universal to issue a set of 12 promotional models which you would trade tokens for. Universal had mocked up the 12 models, most of which were simply regular issues in an alternate colour, plus the addition of a BP logo. The Renault 11 was going to be red instead of black. Production had actually started on the first 6 when BP pulled out and those 6 were simply sold off in whatever they could put them in, with the BP logo overtampoed with something else (usually the manufacturer’s logo). The Renault though, this was going to be part of the second group of 6 so production never got underway and the pre-production sample is as far as it got.
However, just like the Renault 5, the Renault 11 was sent over to Bulgaria in the same 1991 assortment too, so we do have a 248,512 variations on this one. I will list them below…. Only kidding. I honestly don’t know how many Bulgarian issues there are. Nobody has ever attempted a full list as production ran for decades. I am not sure if they still make them occasionally now.
So Bulgarian production did keep the Renault brand alive in a sense in the Matchbox world, because the next Renault casting did not arrive until 2013. The MB885 Renault Master Ambulance turned up as MB2 in the basic range in red, and was also added to the special 60th Anniversary set of 24 models later in yellow too.
In 2014 it saw uses in the basic range and in 5-packs. However, this was the short lived era of random models from 5-packs being pulled from the basic range. Therefore it was the same Ambulance. MB80 and Rescue Duty 5-packs saw this white version.
After 2014, we did see 2 different issues in 2015. Another white issue and again another single/5-pack issue as it was sold on its own as MB58, or was also a part of the EMT 5-pack. But at the end of the year we did see a nice French liveried release in red as a part of the Supreme Heroes series, sporting a complete livery all round and 2-part rubber wheels. However, we have not seen this casting since. A short 3-year run.
However, last year, we saw a really cool MB1147 Renault Trezor Concept appear as a part of the 2019 Moving Parts series, along with an encore run in the 2020 series.
Deliberately chased after due to the very unusual canopy opening design, which the Matchbox team thought was something extremely different to create for the series. Perhaps chasing this down helped Mattel to create an avenue for more Renault vehicles. Perhaps we may see more Renault castings in the future too. Hopefully, as I said, this is a very large manufacturer that doesn’t see a lot of recreations from Matchbox.
But before I finish, I want to pass over this last section to Michael Heralda. For those who do not know, Michael was a key designer for Mattel for many years, and has created thousands of different liveries for the Matchbox brand and elsewhere. Although he no longer works directly for them, he still freelances various designs for new releases and this is one of his latest, and I think it has a really awesome story behind it. So over to Michael….
It was September of 2019 when Abe Lugo (at Matchbox) asked if I had time to work on a new tool deco – the Renault Kangoo Express. At that time my wife and I were in the middle of sorting and packing up our belongings while staging and hosting open house events. We were selling our home where we have lived for the past 27 years in Montecito Heights – a small hillside community in Los Angeles. We were also researching communities and homes for sale in New Mexico. It was an incredibly hectic time for us, but Abe said something that made me consider taking on this project at that time. He said, “why don’t you pay homage to your home and garden with this deco.”
The first thing that came to mind about our garden was a very specific plant we had planted and had the pleasure to watch and experience as she reached her full maturity. She was an Agave/Century plant. We adopted this plant when she was about 5 years old and lived with us for an additional 10 years. During the course of her life she produced (and I am not kidding) about eighty children! Periodically we dug them up and gifted them to neighbors, friends and even co-workers at Mattel. So, her children are now growing all over southern California!
While we were preparing to sell our home, the Agave started to send up her stalk which excited us because we knew what that meant and what to expect. We were fortunate that before we moved, we would have the opportunity to experience her full potential – her complete life cycle. The height and width of the Agave, not including the stalk, at that time was about 10 feet in circumference. The stalk eventually reached a height of about 50 feet and sent out the most beautiful blooms which lasted for at least a couple of months before she died!
In Mexico the Agave has an ancient and important history for native people. In the Nahuatl language it is known as Mayahuel. I can share a lot of information on the cultural importance of this plant, but this article is about a die cast model’s deco so ask me about Agaves when we have more time to talk if you are interested.
Our Agave meant a lot to both my wife and I and this is why I took a photo of her and digitally redrew her for the main part of the side panel deco. The home we sold we originally purchased in 1992 (hence reference on the door “Since 1992”). The deco idea for us to have a landscape company (like I really need another job!) meant I had to come up with a name for the business and AGAVE ACRES sounded right! I also needed a good tag line and decided that “Bringing to Life Your Drought Tolerant Horticultural Dreams” would be a perfect fit! That’s how my mind works – I enjoy telling stories through my art!
A couple of collectors have asked about the Green Thumb Club and if the thumbprint is actually my own – sorry to say it is not. I just did not want to use my own thumbprint. And the last bit of detail was to add something that some collectors may recognize as a reference to this being one of my deco’s – I added No.58 just under the thumbprint.
A big thanks goes out to Abe Lugo for suggesting the homage to our Montecito Heights home, garden and beautiful Agave!
Final note: Now that we are residents of New Mexico you can expect a few design references to our new community in the near future!
As I said, awesome! Thanks Michael, and thanks to everybody who took the time to read. Until next time.