Model: MB715 ’65 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA
Release: 2008 MB4 (first run)
eBay link: Matchbox Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint
Why it is in the collection: being in the right place at the right time.
This is one of those models that sported a running change during production. It sometimes happens as a model is being prepared for production and goes through various stages. You get the artwork, eSheets, hand painted samples, test runs, FEPs. There are a number of stages a model will go through before actual production takes place. Over the years, those stages have slightly tweaked as things evolve. But, as is often the case, we don’t see all the behind the scenes adventures in getting a model from somebody’s head to the shop floor.
Case in point was this beautiful Alfa. Debuting in 2007, it ran with a red, then a white version in its debut year (as some models had 2 issues a year), plus it had a bronze promotional and a metallic dark red 10-pack edition. For 2008 plans were afoot to produce a green one. But in real life they only came in red or white. Alfa weren’t too keen on other colours. So Matchbox came up with a pearlescent metallic white to differentiate from the previous year’s pure white.
But Alfa still weren’t keen. So they asked for them to turn it pure white. Which of course they did. But production had actually just begun. A few thousand had been made when the call came to the factory to switch it up. But due to the late change, it was classed as a running change, and those few thousand were shipped out anyway. It was Walmart in USA that had just placed the order that had got the factory starting that particular batch. They turned up in batch G which appeared at the very end of June.
I post a comparison between iridescent white and pure white here. It’s not easy to see in picture. It was only a small change turning from metallic to non-metallic and only really gets noticed in person. Looking at random pictures on eBay was not easy. Luckily I was due to head out to USA to attend the Gathering in Albuquerque. I flew out a little early in July and spent a week exploring various stores in USA on the hunt for Matchbox (pre-planned, not because of the Alfa). I had seen the batch at Walmart a couple of times, but they were pure white examples. The running change happened mid production run, which meant that the cases that were shipped out to Walmart had both iridescent and pure white examples mixed in. Getting to the Walmart warehouse and then offloading, then putting on to trucks to go to stores, there was no way of guessing which stores would get these rarer models. All the outer cartons were identical. But I went in to one store, and there it was, on a freshly stocked peg. I had found it. I thought if I had no luck, it was going to be very difficult to get once back home.
So my trip to head to USA for the Matchbox Gathering was quite a success, even before I had arrived in Albuquerque. I love my little USA trips. Sad not to be doing one this year, but am very much looking forward to next year’s trip again.