Matchbox Monday finishes 2020 Batch E

It’s that time of the week again. I have simply worked my way straight through the latest batch of basics this time rather than alternate with other items. 11 models down, just these last 6 to finish off. Thanks again to Wheel Collectors who have helped me out by zipping across this batch of models for me to work with.

As I have done with the last 2 reports, I am beginning this latest report with a Jeep. This time it is the MB784 Jeep Willys. Okay I admit, in my lack of caring about packaging, this one didn’t last very well did it? Do I care? Not a bit!

You still get the gist of what it is. As this will be the last picture of the box as it goes bye bye now. So the Jeep Willys is MB68 in the basic range, and for the first time, it comes in blue. During the previous 10 years, we have seen a number of greens and tans, a variety of other colours, but this is a first.

The casting was developed with slightly different sides on it, so we often see the tampo printing differ between the 2. As seen on this side, we simply have the details enhanced and WillyX on the front.

The other side of the model sports a shovel and axe under the open door section, with the blades and top end of the shovel handle also highlighted. The main part of the handles are left non-detailed.

So as I said, we have had a number of greens over the years, and that is how it started. Army green. Because, obviously the Willys was an army vehicle originally. It first debuted in 2010 which was the height of the 3-way brand split between the US market, Latin American market (LAAM) and the rest of the world (ROW). So it saw 3 different numbers. The US saw it as MB96, LAAM saw it as MB65 and ROW saw it as MB61. They also saw it with 2 different shades of wheels. They were found either in cream of grey. The model also saw the window tampo printed to match the body.

Not to be content with a single issue, the casting was one of the ones chosen to sport 2 liveries that year. After 3 batches the model was changed to tan. However, this was also good for shades. This time though, they were on the body section not the wheels. Again the window was tampo printed to match the body.

It still wasn’t finished with the debut year. It was also added to the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year too. This was a pastel vanilla colour, and again could be found in darker or lighter shades. The window tampo matched up pretty well with both.

In 2011 things were a bit easier to follow. It was still in the basic range, and still sold worldwide. In fact, it sported the same MB96/MB65/MB61 numbers that the 2010 had debuted in for the 3 markets. This one was released in a pale matte olive with Anaconda on the side, simple detailing and a black window tampo. It was also included in the Lesney Edition series in grey with a metal base. This saw the window tampo match the body again and full detailing all around, including on the base section bumpers. It was also the first (and so far only) time the model sported wheels that were not cog. However, this was also the last year the window was shown some tampo prints.

In 2012, the basic range was unified worldwide again and the model was released in brown as MB108. Again shades of brown were found throughout production. It was also in the Battle Mission 5-pack too in black.

2013 saw the model dropped from the basic range, and only 1 issue coming in the Desert 5-pack in reddish brown.

Before returning to the basic range as MB94 in 2014. This time the model was yellow, and sporting a life guard theme to it, which is really noticeable when shown the alternate way to the blister. Usually the model would face left, and the axe/shovel side of the casting would be on view. the words “life guard” were small over the front wheel. Shown here facing the other way and they are large down the side of the vehicle. This casting is good for having the 2 sides being tweaked with the livery because of the casting differences. I almost forgot, it was also in the Mission force: Tactical set too in olive again.

2015 saw another Battle Mission 5-pack and another Willys. This time it was dark green with a completely different design to the 2012 Battle Mission pack.

2016 saw a Military Police black model released in the Military 5-pack. We also saw another green issue in the Walmart exclusive Jeep set that year.

The casting then took a year off before popping back up in the basic range in 2018. It was sold as MB121 looking quite familiar.

The casting sported the same side design as the debut release from 2010. However, that original one did have further printing. the hood was detailed as well as a set of headlights depicted. Plus, as mentioned, it saw the window tampo printed too. Something that had been stopped after 2011. After another year out, it is nice to see a new one, and in a colour never seen before.

Which leads us to the next model on the list. A brand new casting. Now sadly, Wheel Collectors only sent over a sample for me to preview this time, which means I only have the 1. But i can tell you that the Matchbox team have created a dual casting on this one. The motorcycle on the rear can be either a scrambler bike (as shown here) or a chopper bike with a large aerial on its rear. I hope to get that one soon and possibly do a little mini post with it or something.

It is being sold as MB99 for 2020 in red with grey bike section. Note how, when at rest, the model is sitting almost straight, and balanced on the little jockey wheel at the front.

It is a rather nice little casting and the detailing on the bike is extremely well done.

As well as the top tampo printing, we do see the rear end highly detailed too.

Being a new casting, MB1215, I show a base shot too. Of course being a Matchbox original design trailer unit there was never going to be a lot of detailing to it. Just a section with written details, including a trademark note to MBX Cycle Trailer. I don’t know if people have noticed, Matchbox have been creating quite a lot of “MBX…” followed be a description of the model, names recently.

Now batch E does not contain a vehicle with a tow hook, so I thought why not utilize another vehicle with a tow hook that was being produced around the same time. This is the MB363 ’62 VW Beetle that was the dealer model from the 2020 Matchbox Gathering. Or would have been had we been there.

I thought it made for a great companion piece to the Cycle Trailer to show off that when in motion the little jockey wheel at the front is lifted off the ground. It’s these little details i tend to notice sometimes. A lot goes into creating a casting, and sometimes the little things can get overlooked.

So being a brand new casting, it does not have a rich history. But what of bike trailers in general? It is currently the third by my reckoning. the first was the MB38-A Honda motorcycle & Trailer which first arrived in 1968 and ran until 1972. It then came back as a twin pack issue in 1977 and ran again until 1982. Twin pack issues tend to sport an orange trailer, like the one here.

Utilizing a classic Lesney to tow, I can also show the that the bike would pop off the back of the trailer and had a little plastic kickstand underneath it that you could pop down to stand it upright on its own. It was quite the casting this one.

Basics were always on yellow trailers during the Superfast years, as the 1968 debut was on an orange trailer too before turning yellow in 1969.

It was not the only trailer unit in the past. As mentioned the new trailer is the third. The second was released in 1980. It was never a part of the basic range and originally was simply known by the twin pack release. TP-21 Motorcycle Trailer. However, after 1981 and the Matchbox factory being totally confused by having 2 models with the same number, they set up a manufacturing list. Twin pack models not in the basic range were given really high numbers. This was MB791. I will explain why. In 1976 when twin packs first began they brought back some older castings that had been dropped from the basic range. To denote them being different (for example the MB59 Mercury Fire Chief became MB859 so as not to confuse with the current MB59 Planet Scout), they simply added an additional number to the front of the model’s number. It was either a 7 or an 8. I don’t know why the Combine Harvester and Mercury fire Chief had an 8, not a 7). But then they created some brand new castings exclusively for the twin pack series and once the MAN system started they decided to give them numbers too. The MAN system was as follows. They took the 1982 ROW basic range and assigned the first 75 numbers. There were 3 castings that should have debuted but were all having issues, and given the next 3 because they weren’t 100% sure when they were coming. They then listed down all the US issues that were not in the ROW range and gave them the next range of numbers. Then they took the twin packs that already had a 3-digit number and simply kept it like that. There were 4 trailer units that were never in the basic range, and until 1984 they simply went by their TP number still. But when they created a new a new trailer unit for 1984, they decided that these older ones also should be given MAN numbers, and so gave them numbers in the 700s again in line with the rest of the twin pack stuff (apart from the 2 in the 800s). Mattel did not duplicate MB791 when the numbers finally reached that point (they did by accident with the first ones up to MB725, but then made sure to skip the rest).

Utilizing another classic Lesney era model, I can showcase that older vehicles can tow the new trailer unit, plus the second trailer had removable bikes too. they were little plastic ones though, and were simply the ones used on the Holden Pick-up. Three would be attached to the trailer unit. It first debuted in TP-21 in 1980 in blue with yellow bikes.

It was also used in TP-31 in red in 1982.

After taking 1983 off (sort of, it returned in 1984 in yellow as TP-106 (now sporting the MB791 number, but I don’t actually have that one). It then turned silver in 1987 which ran until 1988 when the trailer was dropped from twin pack uses. There was a multipack issue in 1991 in tan too which I am missing. Jeez, I didn’t realize just how many of these I didn’t have. Might have to double down on the hunt.

I did get its final issue though. It popped up in the 1999 Mountain Trails 5-pack in black.

It never saw any further issues after that. Of course you can create your own versions. Like this all-black (I simply swapped the bikes with the last one). Early twin packs made in England were often found with unusual coloured bikes on the back, but ones production moved to Macau things became a lot more settled.

So after that debacle I am moving on to a model I can provide a full history to. The MB1088 ’70 Plymouth Cuda. The third generation Plymouth Barracuda was launched for the 1970 model year and shared a chassis with the Dodge Challenger. However, the bodies were completely different. This is the latest Matchbox version of the model.

It is being sold as MB56 for the 2020 year, and comes in a light pastel yellow with simple side and front detailing.

Yes, front detailing. It’s subtle, but it is there. Silver pin striping and white lights.

The sides also seeing simple silver, white and red details. People often forget that as a rule nowadays, Matchbox models tend to sport a 2-sides tampo. However, they can managed to squeeze a few little extras in every once in a while.

The model actually started life as MB616. It was scheduled to be one of the Matchbox premium brand exclusives beginning in the 2004 model year while they were still based out of Mt Laurel in New Jersey. At the time, Hero City was the kid focus, but classic cars were really for the collectible market, and at the time some castings were exclusively used as collectibles only. The Cuda was due to be one of those, but when the Collectibles range was cancelled, they came up with a brand new idea, and launched a 35th anniversary special of Superfast. Many of the collectible exclusive castings were then added to this range, including those that were brand new. This one debuted there in the number 4 slot in silver. It did sport the rather blinged out Superfast wheel that they created for the range.

A new wheel, looking like a retro Lesney era 5-spoke was designed, but it was too late for the debut. They did appear on the 2005 Superfast model. Or models, as the ROW market saw it in purple, but the US market saw it in pink.

A promotional model was created for the 2005 Matchbox Convention in Hershey PA too. This was utilizing the ROW version of the model and added an additional logo for the convention on the trunk.

But by 2005, the model was now looked at as being used across the whole Matchbox field. Collectibles was gone, Hero City was gone, and the Mt Laurel offices closed. The new team at El Segundo were coming up with a whole new direction for the brand which meant that castings could appear across the board. Therefore we saw a blue version appear in the 2005 Burger Zone 5-pack. It did not see retro 5-spoke wheels though, as along with the blinged out Superfast and later Superfast wheels, the retro 5-spoke was only used for premiums. Models may be swapping around between basic and premium ranges, but the wheels did not. At least premium wheels did not. Basic wheels ended up on premiums later.

I have 2 because during 2005, it was decided to move production from China back to Thailand (which it is still and was in the 1990s) and as such the Burger Zone 5-pack started production in China and ended it in Thailand. Chinese models have “China” after the copyright date along the edge, with Thailand models having “Thailand” next to the central exhaust under the Matchbox logo. It is not common for the country names to move like that. Usually one gets wiped and the other put over it.

In 2006 though, the model was only found in the Superfast series. It was still in the number 4 position. That was one of the things with the series. They were keeping numbers throughout their time, akin to how Lesney did. Also like Lesney, this was a Streakers model. Lesney had created Streakers in 1975 when they got their first tampo machine. Mattel thought it would be fun to come up with some Streakers for 2006 too. Some were quite out there with designs, but this one I really liked.

As I mentioned, basic wheels appearing on premiums later before. 2007 saw a Superfast America series with the Cuda taking the number 11 slot and sporting tri-spokes which were usually seen in the basics. Still used now too (newbie has them). This blue version which still featured full tampo printing proved to be the last for a few years.

The model did pop up in 2009 as 10-pack exclusives. Usually as was practice at the time, we would have 4 releases of 10-packs through the year. There would be one, which would feature 10 all-exclusive models. The other 2 packs in the assortment would feature a unique model top right and 9 other models pulled from singles or 5-packs. There would only be 2 exclusive models for the year though, and they would feature 4 different looks through the year. Usually it would be one of each casting across all 4 releases, but in 2009 they doubled up on a single casting in pairs. The Cuda was found in both black or orange alongside the Real 10-pack at the start of the year, and then in either green or purple alongside the Action pack which was the second of the year. The third and fourth releases had both “other” packs alongside the all-exclusive sporting 1 of 4 looks on a different model.

So after receiving 4 different looks over a matter of months, it was another 2 years until we saw the casting again. This time it was back in premium guise for what would be MB616s final outing. The Lesney Edition series, where models sported full tampo printing and metal body + metal base ran for 2 years and in the second year the Cuda was sold in yellow with matte black roof in the number 16 slot. After that, MB616 retired.

MB1088 is just a re-casting of the model. Externally it looks pretty much the same, but I have a feeling that the base was an all new piece. I will get to that in a second. But shall I point out that this was the basic range debut of the Plymouth Cuda! 2004 launch, 2018 debut. 14 years it took for the Cuda to finally hit the basic range. MB19 was released in teal. Target also saw a unique set of sapphire models released in USA to celebrate 65 years of Matchbox and the Cuda was one of them.

More base shots. As I said, I think the base was a different piece. All the details are different. Not just writing, but everything. All of it. It is a completely different piece.

It is nice to see the Cuda start to see some love now. 2019 saw a Blue highways 5-pack issue and this was the first time I really saw a change during production. Earlier issues were definitely much lighter than later ones. Do you notice the front detail on that one too? I like to point out when they can squeeze little extras out of something. There are limits to what they can do. They try and push those limits as far as they can.

But as we dealing with blue, let’s carry on with more blue. The MB778 Ice Cream Van. Or as they are calling it here on the packaging, Ice Cream King.

Hey look, it has my namesake on the side. Definite plus for me. And sweets too. I do enjoy sweets. It’s like it was made for me. Although “taffy” is an American food. In the UK where I am, we have similar items but we just call them “chews”. We are very on the nose with our naming. I don’t believe I have ever eaten any taffy as such. Let alone salt water taffy.

The pink, blue and white look is very nice. I am not sure how real the model is. Dave’s Sweets, since 1921. Doesn’t sound like they are linking to a member of the Matchbox team. But the taffy prices on the right does have Matchbox underneath, so it also sounds like an original design. Lake Okoboji in Iowa does exist, although it tends to be known either as east or west depending on where you are, and the town of Okoboji lies on the western lake. But then there is the Spirit Lake mention too, a large lake just above the pair of Okoboji lakes. If anybody has even been around Okoboji in IA please let me know if this is real or not.

Inquisitive minds need to know. So, shall we do a little dive back into the Ice Cream Van’s past?

It all started in 2009 with MB43. Back in those days I used to run a weekly poll on the internet about castings in the range, and they would receive scores, and feedback would be sent to Mattel. One of the biggest things that was noticed was that the body and front hood (or bonnet) section being made of different materials was causing a rather large gap between them. This was the debut. It was quite noticeable. The design was good though. Cosmic Ice Cream Treats looked good.

Now the base was left unpainted, or zamac plated as they call it. Depending on how it sets, some can come out with a bit of a blue tint, others more of a brown tint (I call it the cool vs burnt look).

But what we also had during the debut year was a fun little promotion. At the time Matchbox would prepare a special model for dream Halloween and they went nuts with them. The model was green with a very clever pun “I Scream” Treats.

In 2010 we saw a blue MB63 with a quite traditional looking ice cream design on the sides, and a cream dotty version in the City Action 5-pack.

In 2011 the model stayed in the MB63 slot in the basic range, but was chosen to be in 2 different designs that year. We saw both a pink and a green issue.

As well as another, albeit paler, pink issue in the City Life 5-pack.

After that the model was dropped from both ranges for 2012. The Action 10-pack that year saw an orange version though, and a translucent yellow was added to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse licensed 5-pack too.

After that the model returned for 1 more outing in the basic range in 2013 before going on a 5 year hiatus. MB32 in purple was the last we would see of that big gap between the hood/bonnet and rest of the body.

because when the model finally returned in 2019, this issue, which had been a bugbear since day 1, was no more. The 2019 MB98 in pale yellow had gone through some cosmetic surgery. However, as is the rule now (chosen after things like the Cuda being given a new number because they re-did the base leaving a gap where the old one was) the older casting of MB778 is no more. So why create a new MAN number and leave gaps all over the place at the factory. I have said before, the MAN system was created to enable the factory to find everything quicker. The fact that it works very well for us is a bonus. But it does mean when the factory wants to tweak it slightly, they are going to tweak it slightly.

So a little surgery was created, in doing so they closed the gap to the hood by turning it into a part of the body. But they also moved the ice cream cones that were molded into the front of the roof. Instead of sticking out forwards, they now stick out sideways.

You can see that better in this picture.

the casting is now also a drop casting, not a slot casting. In production, as a rule, the model would be made upside down. Originally you lay the roof upside down. You drop the window into it, then the interior into that. But then the base section was slotted in through a gap in the rear and riveted down at the front. As part of the rebuild, the rear was sealed up, and an additional rivet created at the back. The base now drops onto the rest. So all components are drop built. It is actually quicker and easier, which is why things have been moving that way. I know it does mean that we will see some rivets running through vehicles now, but I am not fussed about that.

Of course you don’t see the rivets running through this one. the MB1214 ’56 Aston Martin DBR1. It makes its basic range debut only a matter of weeks after first arriving in the top Gun 5-packs.

It is being sold as MB73 in the basic range in metallic green.

Unlike the Top Gun model which was a real design, this one is a Matchbox original tampo design. Of course the detailing is true to real life, but the license plate says 1214 MB. A nod to its manufacturing number.

But, with the front lights being a little more simple, they have managed to create an all-round tampo as the sides do also see a little silver detailing on them too.

You can see that better in the side shot. It is subtle, but it is there.

When you put the basic next to the Top Gun edition, you can see just how different they are. Top Gun was BRG, not metallic. It also sports double 10-spoke wheels instead of 5-spokes.

It also had a grey interior compared to the basic’s black interior. Once you put them together it was definitely a lot more than just having a 3 roundel on the Top Gun model. But as these are all we have for the casting, and the Top Gun report showcasing some classic DB7s alongside, I think there is only one place left to go here.

The MB823 Aston Martin DBS Volante. Just like the DB7 and the DBR1, the DBS started in green. Coincidence? Who knows. The DBS debuted in 2011 as MB5.

But just like the Ice Cream Van (as showcased above), 2011 was a dual release year for the Aston too. Later on it turned red.

In 2012 it became MB23 in silver, which I did see come with a few shades of silver.

However, for some reason, this model was only available in 1 range per year. For 2013 it was in the 60th Anniversary series and not the basic range. This one was dark blue with the 60 logo at the back.

In 2014, it was back in the basics. Back in black! It was sold as MB4 that year.

Before seeing one more outing in the 2015 basic range in champagne as MB18. But that was all there was for that one. 5 years, 4 of which were basics and 1 in the premium series. But all single release issues. No multipack uses. The new one has already seen multipack use. And 2 releases in 1 year in different ranges.

Which brings us to the last model of this batch. Another, alongside the ’33 Ford Coupe shown 2 weeks ago, that is actually a sort of version 2. However, it does come under a different number in the range. We have had a few this year with 2 of the same casting in 2 numbers. The MB738 ’74 VW Type 181.

The VW 181 is known by a number of different names around the world. Kurierwagon was a German saying, Pescaccia in Italy, Safari in latin America and (as seen on the side) VW Thing in USA. Daft fact, right hand drive versions of this model were Type 182. VW differentiated the model between LHD and RHD. The UK sold an RHD Type 182 as Trekker.

The model comes in tan with green base and brown interior. The side design is green and orange, with a definite spooky scenario vibe, with eyes peering through the vegetation.

of course there were some who saw it as a cannabis type of design on the side. I am sure we can weed those out. terrible pun! I’m full of them.

Now I wasn’t doing these blog reports when batch A hit, which is when the first of the 2020s arrived, so I never did a back-catalogue dive on this Thing. So why not finish off this report with a history of the Type 181 casting. For that we go back to 2008. The first year of the 3-way brand split. So it was sold worldwide as either MB76 for the US market or MB16 for the LAAM market & ROW market. It was bright yellow with simple front and rear tampo. the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year brought us a dark green with similar front/rear designs.

In 2009, it was chosen to be a 2-release model that year too. It started off in pale blue with simple front and rear design again, but later turned orange and had a black side stripe stating “The Thing” on it, and front details. This time though, the numbers for the 3 ranges were all different. The US saw it as MB93, LAAM as MB62 and ROW as MB56.

2010 sort of mirrored 2008 for the basic range. It was sold as MB98 in the US, but both LAAM and ROW markets saw it sold as MB69. The model did see some changes through production though. At first the green tampo was very pale, and you could barely see it on the tan background. So a running change was made to darken it up. but the first batch saw tan wheel hubs, which almost immediately turned grey. There is a crossover (grey wheels arrived before dark green tampo), but I have to be honest. I took a picture with all 3 and it didn’t really show the wheels off too well. So i scrapped it and went with a start & end shot.

As well as this, the 181 was also a part of the 2010 Lesney Edition series in red and a metal black painted base. This one also saw “The Thing” on the side, but also rear detailing and side door handles too. Well it is a premium issue. hence also having whitewall tyres.

In 2011 the model went white. Literally. 2 releases, both in white. The basic range (still MB98 US, MB69 LAAM/ROW) saw side printing and “Jungle Thing” on it. An extremely popular VW Classics 5-pack saw another white issue, but this time front and rear detailing instead.

It wasn’t seen in 2012. However, it did return to the basic range in 2013 as MB82. This golden brown issue with gold wheel sported a side design and The Thing returned to the model too.

Again nothing for 2014 but in 2015 it was included in the Jurassic World series. It was included in one of the 5-packs. At first the pack was called Desert, but it was pointed out that Jurassic World never went to a desert, so the pack was itself given a running change to now be called Island. Of course a Type 181 never appeared in the film, and no vehicle looked like that too. due to the license for the film being nabbed last minute, the Matchbox guys just grabbed what they could to get something out. As we have seen, they had a good few years to get things amazing for the second film (or fifth if you also include the Park ones).

In 2016 the model became quite “large animal” related. It was in a Jungle 5-pack with an elephant side design on a light blue car. It was also a part of a licensed Shark Week 5-pack too in USA. This gunmetal grey version featured a mako shark on the side.

After that little hive of activity the model lay dormant for a few years, until it returned in 2019 as MB75. It sported a rather familiar look.

It was reminiscent of the 2010 version 1 in pale blue. A slightly different shade (actually even paler), and a paler orange license plate was noted.

As well as at the back. the rear light cluster was not overly tampoed either.

Which brings us back to 2020 and finishing off with the green MB33 which was a part of batch A. Again, this one sported The Thing down the side.

And that brings us to the end of batch E. Hopefully in a month or so I will be delving in to batch F. I am currently waiting on new items to arrive from Wheel Collectors so next week I am going to take a sideways trip for 2020. Until then, have a fun (and safe) week.

David Tilley

One thought on “Matchbox Monday finishes 2020 Batch E

  1. Don’t get me wrong, some models are nice, jeepster and ’68 dodge pickup comes to mind, but as a whole i find this mix average at best, best part about this mix is that we are one mix closer to the almighty 2021, and that pretty much sums it up.

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