Mmmmm! That’s a lot of “m”s. But I guess you are likely guessing how this week’s blog post is going. With thanks to Wheel Collectors for helping out as always, it is time to delve into a little licensing deal. We all know that recently Matchbox was given the Jurassic World license to create models for. I am very happy that they have been given more licenses too. We know that we will have more Jurassic stuff in the future, but I am hoping that Jurassic World & Top Gun will just be some of the licenses that Matchbox gets to use in coming years.
So as we know, the latest film is a long-awaited sequel to the original Top Gun film that came out in 1986. It was due to be released in July 2019 at first, but Paramount delayed it until June 2020. Matchbox were in on the ground floor creating models to coincide with the release of the film, but as we all know, a certain event occurred this year that caused many cinematic films to be delayed. It was announced that it would move from June to December. However, that was only announced in April, and Matchbox had already produced a load of tie-in models. So they went and released them anyway. The worst part is, now that the Matchbox models are out, Paramount have only gone and moved the release of the film again to July 2021. Basically a whole year after all the tie in merchandise has started to be released. Hopefully we still get enough momentum to keep sales of the models high enough. It was something you could never account for. Obviously we have playsets and Skybuster issues coming too, but I am concentrating on miniature size models only here.
Now this is not the first time that we have seen something Top Gun related in miniature. As part of the Star Cars series in the late 1990s Matchbox created a model of the classic MB027 Swing Wing Jet, which is basically an F-14 Tomcat in all but name. I discovered I never picked one up at the time, so I thought now is the perfect time to rectify that.
It’s as if there was a reason why I did not get it at the time. I must have known that a decade and a half later talk of a sequel would emerge, and then when it finally filmed, Matchbox would be given rights to create tie-ins to it. Obviously!
And look. Maverick! & Goose! R.I.P. Never forgotten! I thought I really needed to have this model to hand because….
What is this at the bottom of each pack? Is that an MB027 Swing Wing Jet? Why yes, yes it is.
Or just Swing Wing as it was noted on the back of the packs.
Now the thing is, the tooling for this casting had not been used since that Star Cars release was issued back in 1999. Luckily the tooling was still there. Many older toolings from the China era and earlier have been lost during the last transition to Thailand. Anything in current use was fine as production shifted in the mid 2000s, and tools that were in recent use at the time were sent over with no issues. But as the crates of older long-term storage stuff were sent, some went missing. Tooling lost. Never to be seen again. It’s hit and miss. More miss than hit sadly.
Now the thing is, even with not so old stuff, Mattel have been making quite a few alterations to castings to facilitate quicker production. The Swing Wing Jet being in storage for 2 decades was definitely not going to be tip-top shape, so there was going to be quite a lot of surgery being done to it. For starters the separate cockpit window section was removed and the section now tampo printed.
The base section has been totally re-worked with non-rolling wheels (this is in line with how Skybusters went) and has been converted to plastic, with a re-copyright year of 2019 on it.
But the basic profile and shape of the model is unchanged.
It’s not bad really, when you consider that the casting first debuted in 1981 as (obviously) MB27 in the basic range. It ran until 1985 basically unchanged. Red upper and white lower/wings. The only real changes were that the wings started off blank, then had Jet Set tampo printed on them, at first in red, then in red and black. By 1983 we were just using the red/black wing combo at which time production moved from England to Macau. After 1985 the model was dropped from the basic range.
It did resurface briefly in 1989 as a part of the Commando series in black and grey with yellow and black camouflage on it.
With the only other issue being in 1999 as a part of the Star Cars series. So although it is a pretty old casting originally, there is not an awful lot of history to it.
I am still shocked we saw it again. I really was not expecting that. Having not seen the film yet I have no idea which plane is which, and what their purposes are. I will be watching next year. Hopefully, if it does get released on time now.
But there are other models too. After all, this was a pair of 5-packs. So let us dive into the other 8 models. There is no marking to determine whether there is an order to the sets, so I am randomly going with pack A and pack B. Pack A I will begin with a new casting.
This is the MB1214 1956 Aston Martin DBR1.
This is a real vehicle. License plate – 900 BH. Aston Martin created the DBR1 in 1956 to compete in the World Endurance Championship. That was the year that prototypes were first introduced and did not have to be based on road vehicles. Until then they had been using a modified DB3S for racing. This vehicle proved hugely successful, and it won the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race and that year’s WEC Championship. You know the Ford GT40 story and how they stopped Ferrari in the mid 1960s. That was after this model stopped the Ferraris at the end of the ’50s. Nobody talks about that though do they. So this is quite an iconic vehicle in a sense.
Although the one registered 900 NH was not the actual winner (there were 5 DBR1s in the 1959 season), Graham Whitehead did get on the podium with this specific car at Eläintarhanajo that year (he had an accident at Le Mans and withdrew after 5 hours). I guess the model is playing a significant part in the movie. We will have to wait and see. I think this is why we have seen the casting arrive for 2020 in general.
Being a new casting, I do tend to do base shots too. Just for those who like to see what the bottom of a vehicle looks like.
Well you know me, I am not moving on to the next model just yet. The thing is though, Matchbox have not exactly done a lot of Aston Martins. In fact, this is only the 5th one ever created. During the early years Lesney created a DB2-4 which ran from 1958-1962 and a DBR5 racing car which ran from 1962-1964. Being from the regular era of the brand they are outside of my collecting parameters. So I will do the third one. The MB261 Aston Martin DB-7. This too started in green. It was sold as MB59 in the US market in 1994 or MB63 in the ROW market.
However, at the request of Aston Martin, the model did see a running change during the year, with the side flash removed and the logo on the front shrunk.
After 1994 though, the casting was dropped from the US range. It continued on in the ROW range for 3 more years, at which time it was changed to blue with the same small logo on the front only. However, another request from Aston Martin meant that the sunroof indentation in the roof was removed. There is actually a rare crossover, as a small batch of green was made right at the end. But they are tough to find and I don’t own one. However, what I do own is a number of shades of blue. During 1995 and 1996 the model sported spiral wheels.
The wheels were changed to concave 5-spoke in 1997 and again shades of blue were found.
Outside of the basic range the castings did see a few outings in premium ranges in 1996 and 1997 too. This blue issue in particular was an Ultra Class model. But after 1997 the model was retired completely.
There was a plan to revive it in the new 2004 Superfast series. The model was mocked up in black and was planned to be sold in the number 73 position. Sadly it was dropped and replaced by the Mercedes-Benz 280GE G-Wagon instead. We never saw it again. If you can’t remember the 4th Aston casting, don’t worry, the basic range release of the DBR1 is hot on the heels of this model and guess what will be joining that when I do a run down?
That brings us to the second model in pack A. The MB759 Dodge Challenger.
It’s amazing how the Challenger has only ever had 3 generations and Matchbox has done them all. This particular one is stating SRT on the grille at the the front, as I guess that was the actual one used in the film. I am not sure which specific SRT was used. Again, 2021 we will see the film. But it is amazing that this vehicle (and casting) has now been around since 2008 (& 2009 respectively).
I do actually have a pre-production sample from 2008. Blank base with no details. Cool shade of blue. But I digress….
The model debuted as MB12 in 2009 in orange. But this was a fun debut.
You see the model sported a running change going from a solid orange into a metallic orange during production.
And that metallic orange came with quite a range of shades to it.
The model was also chosen to be one of the 10 that was included in the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year too, this time in blue.
For 2010 it came in a rather similar grey, albeit slightly darker and metallic (and no hood print) as MB4 in the basic range.
2011 saw 2 issues. Yellow was the MB4 release for the basic range, and again sported some nice shading to it. It also saw its first 5-pack issue in red in the Modern Rides pack.
This is where things start to get complicated though. In 2012, the casting was slated to be in the MB27 slot. However, there was an issue and all the Dodge castings were dropped from the range that year. A new Charger Pursuit was scheduled to debut as MB29 but was just moved to 2013. A Dodge Magnum (utilizing the surfboard again) was due to be MB30 but was just dropped altogether. However the Challenger was dropped as a single at the time, but it actually arrived in 10-packs in a batch before it was due to be in the singles. That batch had just been produced when the singles were halted. So we saw a green Challenger in a 10-pack, but as a random extra, not in the exclusive position.
But because they had already got the slot open for this one (it was the first of the 3 that were dropped), when they got the ball rolling again with the license they backfilled the 2012 MB27 slot. This was in October 2013. Over a year after the model was going to be included. But instead of just rolling with more greens, they came up with a new purple issue instead. Confused? I know I was. But I didn’t care. More stuff to get. Of course this was found with either light smoke or clear windows too making for a fun little variation.
After that though it took a while for us to see another issue. It was 2017 before the light purple issue arrived as MB21, and the first to sport the black hood trim we see on the new issue.
As well as the new issue, there is a new green version floating around in the new Highway Speeders 5-pack too. So since 2012 (well technically 2013) we saw 1 in 2017 and now 2 in 2020.
Next up in pack A is the MB788 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. This one looks awesome in plain black with just simple detailing on the front.
As well as the rear. Now sadly my camera did not get it in focus, but that lozenge shaped logo on the left? That’s the Matchbox logo. I am going to be watching the film carefully when it arrives just to see when the real vehicle passes by whether it has a Matchbox logo on the back. So where did this model begin?
It began with a prepro. Oh I did it again. I am a bit of a fan of this casting, so am loving this little sample that was created before production began in 2010.
This model did have a busy first year though. It arrived as MB85 for the US market, and MB54 for the ROW market, but was also during the period where Latin America (or LAAM as it was known) also saw a different range, and there it was MB45. It was supposed to be a very dark reddish orange, but the first models came out way too light. A quick running change, and these light orange issues are pretty hard to find.
It was also one of the models slated for 2 versions that year, and later on turned blue with the same design. It was then included in the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year too. This was a white model with a Desert Race 3000 side design.
2011 saw it continue in the basic range. The US range (MB85) and ROW range (MB54) were the same as in 2010, but the LAAM range moved it to MB39. This silver model usually sported cog wheels, but there was a batch made with large 6-spokes too.
It was also added to the Off Road Adventure 5-pack. Those all saw cog wheels, but the tyre design running across the side did vary between a pastel yellow and a pale cream.
In 2012 it was still in the basic range, which was now a worldwide range where it was issued as MB77 in white with a cool De-Construction side design. It was also in another 5-pack, this time the Battle Mission pack in green.
In 2013 it continued its run in the basic range, where it moved to the MB120 slot and returned to a black design.
2014 saw another basic range issue only, and MB57 did see some quite considerable changes in the yellow paint, from quite a solid yellow to a very pale pastel yellow.
2015 and the model was still just a part of the basic range. MB118 was orange again, reminiscent of the debut release, but with a completely different side design.
2016 proved to be the final year of a 7-year unbroken run in the range. MB117 was a lovely blue with Lamley’s Leaks side design. A nod to this very blog site.
2017 was the first year that the model was not in the basic range. It did see an outing as a Walmart exclusive Camuflage series model. The most fun was trying to figure out just how many variations you could get. The camouflage appeared in a variety of positions over the model. There is a rotating pattern to it, so it is not completely random. Therefore there is not an infinite number of variations to find. But you could still get quite lost trying to get them all. Plus, throw in a wheel variation as later issues started sporting a lighter brown wheel hub, and you could have had a whole army of them.
In 2018 the model returned to the basic range for possibly one more outing. It was MB96 and featured the iconic Gulf look.
It was also one of the 4 models chosen to be a Target exclusive release mixed in with regulars that year in USA. The sapphire blue version was part of the 65th anniversary releases that year. Could this issue in black be its swansong? We will have to wait and see.
Next up we have another casting that has seen a lot of action over the years. The MB695 ’06 Utility Truck.
This casting is simply being marketed as Petrol Tanker in this set and comes in blue with a white tank with jet fuel in it. A lovely simple design. I think it is really nice.
So obviously it debuted in 2006. It was first released as MB53. Full disclosure, there is a wheel variation I never found. The 6-spokes can be the larger style with a thin tyre section around the edge.
But what I did get was the error version. It had debuted at the end of the 2006 year, and one of the first 2007 5-packs was called Airport and featured the model in green with Aviation Fuel on the chrome tank. But the Phillips 66 design was still being produced. Some tankers from the 5-pack issue were accidentally attached to the basic model. I never saw any the other way round though. I don’t think they exist.
2007 did prove to be quite a hectic year for the model. Aside from the Airport 5-pack release, we saw 2 licensed liveries on the model. The green and white Air Products issue was MB39 that year, and the yellow Jet model was a Stars of Cars model exclusive to the German market.
We also saw 3 other Matchbox originals designs for the model. It was in a Super Mario Bros licensed 5-pack in green with Bowser on the side. It was in a second 5-pack in yellow. Garage Works saw one of the randomly ongoing CarGo liveries. Plus it was in the Action 10-pack in red with Arctic Gas Co side design. In total that was 6 issues that year.
2008 proved to be even more hectic. We had 7 different issues over the year. Two of them were just the basic range releases. MB67 started off in blue with a Milk side design, and then later turned purple with Agrobio Nutrients on it.
We saw a Skybuster Action Pack issue in blue with Airport Gas Tanker on it, and another Action 10-pack release. This silver model with chrome tank simply had Guzzler on the side. It also sported the dome 4-dot wheels that had been in use on utility vehicles in the early part of the decade but had not been seen in a few years.
We saw a Benzin liveried blue model in the Euro Editions series exclusive to Germany (same as Stars of Cars, they just changed the name). The brown Water Works model was one of 2 exclusive models in a Trash Titans DVD set that was made that year.
Finally, the 7th model of the year was in a licensed 5-pack. Go Diego Go saw it come in green with one of the elephants from Safari Rescue on the side. However, I did notice that the elephant could face either way on the tank.
So 6 releases in 2007, 7 in 2008, how many were coming for 2009? 2! Finizza Water Tanker Construction was actually named after one of the Matchbox team at the time. It was sold exclusively in the US range as MB66.
The other release was in the Service Center 5-pack in lime gold, or mustard gold. Again shades varied a bit. Plus the wheels found were either the smaller 6-spoke or larger 6-spoke.
Those wheels continued to cause mayhem through 2010. It was sold as MB48 in the US and ROW markets that year, not in the LAAM market. The green Construction liveried model also saw both types of wheel during production.
I never found the issue with the 5-pack issue though. Again green, but this time with an Eco Fuel Intl design. It was part of the Service Center pack that year.
2011 saw a slight increase in the models, as after 2 years with 2 releases, we did see a third. It was exclusive to the US market as MB48 this year, in yellow and grey with Tan on the side (another Mattel employee). We also saw 2 fire related issues. The Fire 5-pack saw the Fire Tanker liveried model with grey base. But it was also exclusive to a Fire Station playset too, this time with Fire Brigade on the side and white base.
2012 also saw 3 releases. The purple Jettisons liveried model was the MB10 issue in the basic range. The white and red issue here was in the Test Flight Crew Mission Force set.
A different white and red model was a part of the Airport Ground Crew 5-pack and saw the return of the 2 types of 6-spoke wheels.
2013 saw the last of an 8-year run in the basic range, which was also its only issue. It was MB70 in maroon and white with Airport Petrol design.
2014 also saw just the 1 release. It was included in the Space Mission Force set in maroon with a grey rear.
2015 also saw the 1 release, as this time it was in the Construction Zone 5-pack. After this it took a year out.
To pop back up in the basic range in 2017 as MB32 in blue.
2018 saw the casting utilized in the Jurassic World Legacy Collection series. Wheel variations were noted going from quite a dark brown down to almost tan.
For 2019, the model popped back up twice with blasts from the past. First up it was in the basic range as MB93 in blue with a milk design.
The same milk design as it sported in 2008. The shade of blue was slightly different, but the pink striping and logo was a noticeably different shade of pink.
It also revisited the 2008 DVD model as a part of the MBX Construction 5-pack in 2019. This 5-pack was a throwback to older designs on models and each one tended to have something different about it. This was the most noted.
I mean the chrome tank was no longer chromed, and just plain white. Plus the brown cab went so light it turned yellow.
Which brings us to the end of pack A. Which is shown here in its entirety with the Swing Wing Jet too.
So now we move on to pack B. First of all, aside from the Swing Wing, we saw see the MB1167 ’11 Mini Cooper Countryman.
This particular model comes in a forest green with hood stripes look.
Which is a different green to the 2019 MB1 debut model. Plus those stripes.
Of course the roof section is much lighter on the new issue too, and it has black wheels instead of chrome. Quite easy to actually see which is which.
The tampo printing for the rear is the same though. But was there much need to change it? It was great as it was.
As I have only recently done a piece on this Mini (the 2020 MB11 in red) on a batch report, I won’t go into more details now. So I will move on.
To a really cool Mustang. The MB1226 ’19 Mustang GT. I am already a huge fan of this casting which recently debuted in the Walmart series and is now seen here in charcoal.
This thing looks awesome. I believe the Aston arriving this year was mainly down to having a role in the film. I wonder if the Mustang was quite similar. Plans were underway to do a Mustang series, they hear a Mustang is in the Top Gun film, and decide to add that to the Mustang series too. Who knows? Could have been a happy coincidence. I love pondering. Now I could just show the green Mustang that came out a few months ago, but you know what? Why not go with something that this casting reminds me of.
The MB609 Ford Mustang GT Concept. The casting was originally developed by the previous Matchbox team based in Mt Laurel in New Jersey. At the time the Matchbox brand was really divided into 2 halves. One half was the Hero City products, which were aimed at really young children and trying to utilize quite a narrow market. The other half was the Collectibles line which was aimed more towards the collector. Again, quite a narrow market. A number of castings were being created, that at the time, were only going to be used in premium ranges (the Collectibles side). Many classic models were created that were not being seen in the basic range, and the Mustang was one of only a few modern vehicles that were being created for it. It actually debuted in one of the last Collectibles sets in 2004 before the whole thing was being shut down. It was silver, I still don’t have it yet. I will one day. But with Hero City falling apart and Ultra Heroes being a final nail in the coffin, plans were underway to make some changes. One of the last things the old team did was set up a 2004 Superfast series. Many premium models were going to be utilized in that series and so the Mustang was added as number 6 in green.
A second promotional version was also done in blue which was given to attendees of the 2004 Hershey convention.
By now the new team based in El Segundo had taken over, and the Mustang started seeing further action. It was included as one of 4 different models that were included in packs of 8 AA Duracell batteries in USA. This promotion late in 2004 provided people with plenty of spare batteries. Mine lasted years. The model also sported a small variation as the writing on the side appeared at either the beginning of the stripe of in the middle of the door.
Right at the end of the year, Spongebob Squarepants saw a 5-pack release and this was included in silver. At the time 3 models from these 5-packs would appear a short time later in alternate colours, and the Mustang was one of the 3 now in yellow that was sold as a single.
After that it finally debuted in the basic range. The split between premium and basic castings was removed and models from this point on could appear in either basic or premium guise. One of the great things the new team set about doing. Aside from the removal of Hero City, Ultra Hero castings entirely and making designs in general much more realistic.
It continued on in the Superfast series too. 2005 was a split year with all 75 models from the series sporting 1 colour for the ROW market (this was blue) and the other for the USA market (this was silver). Both were in the number 6 slot in the range. The USA issue saw twice as many produced though. ROW were limited to 7,500 examples and USA to 15,000 examples. Although packages did state “up to” and added 500 to the numbers just in case there was a miscount. Legal stuff.
2006 saw the same as 2005. We had a yellow model released in the basic range as MB19 and the gold & black Superfast issue in the number 6 slot was one of the models that was given the Streakers look. A throwback to something that Matchbox used to do in the 1970s. Although compared to some of the others they created, this one was quite subdued.
In 2007 the model was dropped from the Superfast series (it had altered and was doing something a little different) but was still in the basic range. MB16 was in a bright lime with dual silver stripes over the top. But we also saw a rather unusual model appear in a 10-pack. The Real 10-pack which was the first batch sold that year came with 2 additional packs both of which had an exclusive model in the top corner, and then pulled 9 models from other ranges. We knew the Mustang was coming in the basic range, and assumed when it was included as one of the other random 9 models in one of the other 10-packs it was the basic. But then the basic arrived, and it too was also included as one of the random extras in the other packs in the next batch. This one was never seen anywhere else and ended up being exclusive. The Dodge Challenger mentioned above, we knew the background of where it was originally coming from. But this one. Total mystery.
What wasn’t a mystery though was that it was also in the VIP5 5-pack that year too in bronze. Also that bronze was great at shades.
The casting was retired after 2008 where it went out with a Best of US Muscle release in gold with black striping and a final basic range release in plum. MB21 also saw the classic vehicle tri-spoke wheels on it, which was quite the surprise. But somehow it works.
Next up in the second pack is the MB720 ’72 Ford Bronco 4×4. Another casting that has been around a while.
This release is a nice shade of blue with simple side detailing.
As I said, it’s been with us a while. 2007 to be exact. Its very first release was blue with side detailing where it was sold as MB58. A few batches later it turned emerald green as a part of the 55th anniversary celebrations that year.
But that was not it for the debut year. It was also in a Pirates 5-pack in brown. This model could be found in a matte finish or a satin finish which makes for a different shade. For some reason that model really felt like it had a pirate theme with the way the canopy goes over the top.
In 2008 the basic range had split, but this was sold in all 3 markets. The US market saw the yellow version as MB89, whereas both LAAM and ROW markets saw it as MB69. It was also added to the Superfast series in purple too. I can’t help but notice how the side design on the new version is identical to the Superfast issue with the exception of not having the wheel arches black.
The model was also in the Off Road 5-pack that year in orange with a number of Matchbox team members listed on the sides. But during production the usual ringed gear wheels were temporarily swapped out with oval 5-spokes for a short batch.
In 2009 the basic range issue in blue was not sold in the ROW market. The US saw it as MB95 and LAAM saw it as MB66. Croc Zoo was the name of a 5-pack and also the side design on the grey version of the Bronco that appeared in it.
2010 saw its busiest year. The basic range issue again was US (MB90) and LAAM (MB54) only in tan. We also saw a Battle Kings issue in grey in the Canyon Raid pack.
In 5-packs we saw a Camping Adventure pack with the model in yellow, and in the licensed packs a SpongeBob liveried model in the Nickelodeon pack.
Finally, as it had 5 issues throughout the year, it was included in the all exclusive Adventure 10-pack that year in dark red. What I thought was great was the little details. On one side the door had a 22 logo faded on it. The other side the door was matte grey. As if it was a replacement door. I thought that was brilliant. Why don’t they do more stuff like that? Luckily I found lighter and darker shades of red so I am able to show both sides in the one photo. I could have used a mirror I suppose. But this is way cooler.
They really didn’t want to put this model in the ROW range did they. 2011 and the final year of the 4-year 3-way split between US, LAAM and ROW markets, and the 4th time that the model was a part of the US range and LAAM range, but not ROW. The green issue was sold as MB90 in the US range and MB51 in the LAAM range. It also appeared in another licensed 5-pack. Penguins of Madagascar to be exact this time in white.
2012 proved to be it for a few years. However, the basic range merged back into 1, and as such the ROW range finally saw another one. The red model was sold as MB53 worldwide. Penguins of Madagascar saw another 5-pack this year, and with it another Bronco. This time in yellow.
We did also see a 5-pack release before the hiatus. Jungle Adventure saw the Bronco in green, but some ringed gear wheels included green in the middle and some did not.
It finally returned in 2015. The 2014 SEMA show saw Matchbox team up with Skyjacker Suspensions on a special Bronco model and the miniature was created to match and given away to those in attendance. It then arrived in the first batch of the 2015 range to those who could not make it there. We also saw a purple version used as a dealer model at the 2015 Matchbox Gathering in Albuquerque.
In 2016 it was sold as MB118 in green with a nod to Dirk Schleuer, who was the Matchbox Ambassador at the time. It also came in a few shades of green during production.
We didn’t see anything in 2017 but in 2018 we saw 2 releases. One of them was the basic range issue in black Skyjacker themed design. It was sold as MB112, and then returned in 2019 as a part of the Walmart Ford Trucks series. The Wildfire Rescue 5-pack in 2018 also saw a Bronco, this time in brown.
In 2019 the MBX Wild 5-pack saw a white model with a Camp Arrow Flint side design. The start of a new theme methinks as we have a few more of them now too.
Finally, for 2020, we did see a further outing for the 2018 basic range model as it was now included in the first batch of the Convoy series.
But the latest re-issue has seen the wheels turn gold instead of original brown.
Which brings us to the last model in the set. The MB878 Jeep 4×4.
Another one, like the Raptor, that has the Matchbox logo hidden in the tampo detail. This one has it behind the mud after the rear wheel here. I tell you, I will be keeping an eye out during the film when I eventually see it to see if the logo appears.
Now the thing is, this model has been around a very long time. It first appeared as a Matchbox model in 1984 in black as MB37 in the US range only but actually traces its root back even further. It was designed by Kenner Toys and first issued as Gravel Grinder back in 1982. It came in green or white for the next 2 years, but as Universal had recently taken over the Matchbox brand after Lesney went bust, they were struggling to get up to speed with new tooling. So they simply purchased the tooling of the Fast 111s from Kenner Toys and adapted the Gravel Grinder into the Jeep 4×4. But I don’t own the Kenner models, and the original MB131 casting has seen a lot of use. I have a plan to showcase that a little later. So I am going to jump forward a bit.
In 2013, Matchbox altered the MB131 casting into MB878 by changing the spare wheel inside the rear to a part of the interior, removing the external aerial and toughening up the roll cage and base sections. It appeared in the Desert 5-pack that year. During production it did alternate between the 2 types of off road wheel in the database, the dual ring 8-dot or ringed 8s-spoke. But after going to the trouble of altering/updating the casting which had been in use since 1984 we didn’t see it again for quite a while.
2018 to be exact. 5 years after the first issue, we saw the model pop up in the basic range in blue as MB109.
In 2019 it was sold as MB76 in pink with a Cool Mud design on the side. This is a throwback to an older design and so in a way was the other 2019 release. Jeep was a Walmart exclusive set and the model appeared in black with a fairly similar design to the one that it first debuted in back in 1984. I will get more into this model at a later date. I didn’t want to do it all now, when I have plans in my head for a future report.
And that brings us to the end of pack B.
Which is also bringing us to the end of another report. 10 models showcased this time. A pair of classic Lesney era Swing Wing Jets revived and renewed for the modern era.
Four different cars in either grey or green split across 2 packs.
And an additional 4 models included too, featuring off road vehicles and a fuel tanker. I wonder if we will see any more in the run up to the eventual film’s release? Maybe not, although the Skybuster stuff is seeing 3 batches of 5 models at a time, so will continue to refresh as time draws closer. But I like these ones and hope that Matchbox gets to do more licensed 5-packs like these in the future.