Matchbox Monday speeds down the highway

At the moment I am between boxes from Wheel Collectors, so usually at this point I would begin going through my collection of models looking for some classic stuff to go through. Believe me, I have solid plans for that next week. But I thought to myself, the recent Highway Speeders 5-pack that Matchbox released was a little too good to ignore. They are appearing at many stores around the world, and me being in the UK, I picked mine up at Tesco. I liked it so much, I decided to do a whole post about it. in my usual way of course.

I am literally just going to go through the models in the order they appear in the pack. Which means first up we have the MB1094 ’56 Jaguar XK140 Roadster.

This model looks fantastic in cream. A classic British vehicle in cream. Quite an iconic colour. Likely second for UK people after British Racing green. After all, the first XK (the 120) won a few rallys in cream.

You know what? Matchbox have made the XK120. Twice. This model has seen 2 basic range issues in the last year, but I thought why not dive straight into the past with the first of the XK120s.

MB138 first debuted, exclusively in the ROW market, as MB22 in 1984. At first, being an ROW only release, the model was made in England. Logistically, it was easier and cheaper to manufacture there than in Macau as most of what was being billed as ROW was Europe.

during 1984, you could often find the window clear or amber.

And the base could be either silver or left unpainted.

but in 1985, Matchbox was in the middle of a Japanese exclusive range of models. a 1-100 consisting of US, ROW and some exclusive editions. In 1985, they decided to add this model to the Japanese range as MB6 too, but this meant shipping things from England. They decided to move it over to Macau in 1985 and run it from there. So Macau issues were a little lighter green, and also the amber window was much more, well amber. Although clear supposedly does exist from there too, I have yet to see one.

But what we did find was that all Macau bases were painted silver.

In 1986, the model was re-coloured to, yes cream. It stayed like that in the ROW/Japanese range until 1987 after which it was dropped.

Again, amber and clear windows can be found. This time it is the amber which is the harder to find, with clear being the norm.

This is where things took a strange turn. After 1987 the casting was retired. But in 1990 Matchbox started to release premium issue models, and pulled the covers off this casting and…. Well, it needed a little work. The sides had been very faintly detailed. A coat of paint later and they were almost smooth. So before it started being made again, they re-worked the detailing, giving the model decent, proper casting lines around doors etc. At this time, they also decided to make some addtional issues for multipack use. In 1990, these multipacks were made in Macau, and in 1991 moved to Thailand. But these were noted for having what is referred to as the deep door lines.

They also blanked out the license plates too, so that they could be tampo printed on. After that, for some strange reason, the model returned to the ROW basic range in 1993, back in its original MB22 slot too for one year. It was still in the 1986/87 design too, albeit with deep door lines, blanked license plate and Thailand base. Its replacement, the Saab 900 Turbo, had been dropped. It only lasted the one year again before MB22 became a Pontiac Grand Prix Stock Car.

But also in 1993, Matchbox were trying to market the brand towards girls a little. A sign of the times. They came up with some 3-packs called Dream Machines, which came in blisters with the rear sporting a “dream scene” which you could cut out and utilize with the models. The Jag was one of the 3 models in the Dream Disco set.

In 1994 things were definitely hotting up for the model. Two different releases! It was a part of the MC-21 Jaguar gift set in red, but was also a part of the Collectors Choice series in black before the casting was packed up and shifted off to China.

I did mention premiums. I am missing a number of premiums still from my collection, as I am only now hunting them down. But one I do have is perfect for this next picture. In 1996, the first Premiere Edition model arrived in dark green. This was the second premium after the white World Class in 1990. Further red and black models would also appear too, but later on the factory in China would have a clear out. Many premium issues would be randomly put together with whatever other pieces they could to create entire models. in this case, the body and interior from the premium model were mated to a standard front grille and gold spiral wheels for dumping on the market.

In 1997 Australia were given their own range, which was mainly the ROW range, but also included some exclusive models on their own. One of them was MB73, which was a rather debut green looking XK120.

Obviously it wasn’t. It was made in China, sported front and rear tampos which the debut didn’t sport. Had 5-arch wheels, not 5-crown. Had a burgundy interior, not bright red. And when putting the 2 side-by-side, you can see it is quite a different shade of green. Plus, you know, deep door lines/blank license plate.

The model again lay dormant for a while. 2005 would be its next issue. Or should I say issues. It was added to the Superfast range for one year, which at the time was seeing a US/ROW split. ROW issues were in black and US issues were in cream.

Finally, the casting saw one more issue. In 2008 it saw another Superfast issue in light blue. At which time the casting was retired for good, and we saw our next classic XK (a story for another time).

Now anybody who has read these may have remembered me stating that I might go a little off-track with some dives. Bring forward the MB759 Dodge Challenger.

Released in green as the second model down in the 5-pack, you may remember only a month or 2 ago me doing a Top Gun rundown. It was in there, and at that point I went through the casting’s history.

So it seems silly to do it again. But then I noticed something.

Doesn’t that shade of green look a lot like the debut of the MB1169 ’18 dodge Charger.

I mean, they are almost identical. The sort of variation you would often see in random cases through production of a model. So why not do the Charger instead. Wait, there’s only 2. Not much of a dive. That’s more a dip your toe in to see if the water is okay.

so I charged right back to Lesney times (get it, terrible pun I know). Did you know that this was the first Dodge car that Matchbox made? They had done trucks (tow truck, cattle truck, dumper truck, crane truck), but until 1970 they had never done a car. That all changed with this, the Charger III. The vehicle was a concept car, first created as a styling exercise by Dodge in 1968. Matchbox were just getting into the fantasy realm of the basic range, and released this as MB52-A in 1970.

It came with a huge opening aircraft style canopy, which was one of the biggest features of the concept car. True to life, the model sported 2 bucket seats inside too. A number of concepts they made had opening features that weren’t exactly correct (cough Datsun 126X for example), but this was spot on.

It was a very low vehicle (42 inches high) in real life, and Matchbox replicated that to a tee.

Between 1970 and 1971 the model was sold in burgundy. Or was that pink? Purple? Red? It varied quite a lot. As did so much of Lesney’s products.

Putting the extremes together you can see it went from quite a pale pinkish shade to quite a deep purple throughout its 2 years.

Even the base saw variations between light and dark green. They were fun times to try and collect things.

You could also find examples with stickers on as part of the G-3 Racing set too.

But what was also found quite rarely, was a basic range issue with an additional sticker on the hood. I have no idea why this appeared. They may have been planning it for all models, but decided with the hood scoops there it was fiddly to line them up well enough and thought easier to just leave off.

In 1972, the model turned green where it ran for 4 more years, being retired after 1975. However, the green issue did pop back up in Japan in 1977 where it ran 3 more years exclusively for that market.

Variations of green were not quite as wild as variations of the original even though production lasted much longer. However, you could still find plenty of variation in green.

The model also saw production in Brazil. In the early 1970s Brazil had a tight restriction on the import of goods. Parts could be sent over and finished in Brazil, but fully completed models could not. The English factory sent over blank models in parts to be finished up in Brazil in the early 1970s. At first in a factory in Rio de Janeiro, and then later on that decade in Manaus. Early examples still had “made in England” on the base, which were sometimes scrubbed off in Brazil, but more often simply had a label stuck over them. Later that became a tab. Often these would fall off. Labels would just leave the original details, whereas tabs left 2 holes. Many models were shipped over, and parts were painted in a number of basic colours. Orange was used on quite a few, and was actually quite consistent on all models. The Charger III was one of them. I have seen the canopy on some in yellow attached to the orange bodies too. As quite often they would just paint everything with whatever paint was being use at the time. If the body and canopy were in 2 different days, they would get 2 different paints. I have tried getting some 1970s era Brazilians, but they are quite tough to get. Even now. This is one of a small number of 1970s Brazilian castings I have managed to obtain over the years.

This brings us to the middle model of the bunch. the “classic” MB995 Ford GT. Or GT40 as the license plate is stating.

Looking very nice in a light silvery blue with front and rear detailing, it is always nice to see this model popping up. So iconic!

Now this is one that I will dive into its past because there is something I spotted with it.

Plus it gives me another opportunity to showcase my original prototype for the 2004 Superfast series. This was during its time when it was under its original MB634 moniker. Initial plans were for the model to debut in a silvery blue, with white stripes and 73 roundel. That was their original plan as they were first formulating the Superfast series. But then they came up with an idea to highlight classic Lesney looks with some of the models.

Although it is a shame it wasn’t released like this. I love this look.

But what they did in the end was put it in the number 41 slot, and recreate the look of the classic Lesney Ford GT in white. A second silver issue was created for Hershey in 2004 as a model in the set of 4 dealer models in alternate silver.

At first the model was only being used in the Superfast series. 2005 saw it stay in the number 41 slot, as the first 3 years all models kept their number if they stayed (reminiscent of how Lesney used to) and with the range opened up worldwide, we saw 2 colours. ROW markets saw a blue with dual white stripes, USA saw white with dual blue stripes.

in 2006 the model was again given a neat throwback to days of old, when they created a “Streakers” look to it, as a nod to the classic Lesney Streakers models of the mid 1970s. Those models were their first attempt at tampo printing after they got their first tampo machine, and some designs were rather out there. Others, a little more reigned in. This one was typical of the more reigned in models. Tanzara perhaps? Siva Spyder? A little red, white and blue with starry design was the look for that year.

After that the Superfast series evolved and the classic GT was not included in 2007. It was then it started being used in more basic lines. The first of which was the 2007 Stars of Cars range in Germany. This was black with gold striping.

Followed up by a random addition in the 2008 Best of British series. A set of 12 vehicles from British manufacturers and a US sports car in it. But it looked cool. I wasn’t too bothered. They sold like hot cakes, so I don’t think it caused an issue.

The casting as was, was retired after 2008. It lay dormant until 2015 when the casting saw some tinkering to it. MB995 was born (side windows and rear exhausts are the most noted changes). It saw its first use in the basic range to. MB22. Although this model was also thrown in the Classic Rides 5-pack too, as this was during the short lived era of not having all 5 models in the pack exclusive. But this is the one I really wanted to note. Notice that it came in shades of yellow. Oh wait that wasn’t the main reason.

Notice any similarity in the rear tampo print?

Or the front? Yep. Used the same tampo print on these 2. Except the rear being silver not black. But that was it. I love when we get consistent tampo printing on models like this. It gives them a real sense of realism when they all look so similar, which is obviously how they would look in real life.I wish more models would see this sort of consistency in them.

Of course I am open to different looks too. This green with 12 roundel is one of my favourites on the casting. What I am saying, if they are thinking of a front/rear print, try to use the same ones. This one was released as MB23 in 2017.

Hello. Does that green look familiar? The Dodge Challenger is back!

We then saw perhaps one of the most iconic looks for the model. The 2018 Globe Trotters issue with full printing, 2-part rubber wheels and the iconic Gulf blue.

From one extreme to another, we have seen another issue this year. The Sweets set at the beginning of the year saw the model sporting a Sugar Daddy design on the side. I wonder when the model will pop up again.

Talking of popping up again, welcome back MB799 ’69 Volvo P1800S. You have been sorely missed.

I was hoping it was not lost forever with the tweak that was made in 2012.

For those who were unaware, Matchbox often tries to come up with small tweaks on occasion (or sometimes huge right turns – cough Ultra Heroes). In 2011 they started making a small tweak to brighten up some of the models. This in turn led to another 2012 tweak that was trying to see certain vehicles from a child’s perspective (hence a fire engine and school bus appearing with oversize wheels). But as part of the 2012 tweak, many of the classic vehicle castings were dropped. Kids were not seeing a lot of classics. We only saw a tiny amount compared the wide range that we were used to. Luckily, the change was not well received, and things started reverting back. More classics started returning, but this one was nowhere to be seen. Until now.

Time to celebrate. I think it looks great in metallic burgundy. I know some may not like the grey base, as earlier examples were chrome, but I don’t really mind it.

So let’s look back at the short history of this model. And it is short, because it only arrived in 2010. And as I mentioned hasn’t been seen since 2011. Of course those 2 years were quite action packed. It started in the basic range as MB17. It was one of the models chosen to be in 2 different versions through the year too so we saw a red and a light blue release.

But also during that debut year we saw 2 different promotions with it. Both in a shiny spectraflame paint job. One for the Diecast Blast convention in USA and another for the Leipzig convention in Germany. One is blue, the other brown. Want to remember which is which?

That was easy. They put them on the license plate.

in 2011 we saw a rather cool MB17 (the only number it has ever been seen in the basic range as) in yellow with a side design noting down various members of the Matchbox team. Also, if you notice, front and rear wheels sported different hot foil prints. Front were gold, rear were red. Notice too how the burgundy tampo print is very similar to the new model’s paint job.

We also saw its first 5-pack issue (the new one being the second) in a rather saintly white. Although strictly speaking, it is an off-white, not bright white. It was a part of the Classic Rides 5-pack.

Finally, it was chosen to be one of the models in the 2011 series of Lesney Edition. This 2-year series from 2010-2011 was the premium of the time, in that models saw full tampo prints and a metal base as well as metal body. It came in a dark green for that release.

And until now we had not seen another. 9 years between releases. I really hope that it is not 2029 before we see it again.

Dies bringt uns zu unserem endgültigen Fahrzeug. Sorry, I saw the Polizei and went German for a second. The last model in the set is the MB751 Subaru Impreza WRX Police.

Many people worldwide will know the German Polizei look to vehicles. But this one has a little added extra. fuß vom gas! Translating into English it means “foot off the gas!” It is something that the German police are really trying to hammer home lately. Excessive speed is the number 1 cause of fatal road accidents in Germany, and as many know, Germany is home to the unlimited Autobahns. But those areas that are unlimited are not the entire autobahn. Only select sections between major built up areas. Once you are in more densely populated areas, speed limits are enforced. Some of them are quite significant. Especially nowadays, hence the tagline fuß vom gas! They are trying to slow people down. I recently read about one man driving too fast, flipping the bird at the speed camera as he went sailing past, and the German courts handing him a huge fine. A fine for the offense of driving too fast, and a huge additional fine for being so flippant about it.

So I can see why this little addendum to the Polizei look on the model is actually quite significant. It fits in very well on the model. I am not sure if Subarus were common for German police, but this does look really nice.

I am glad Subaru agreed to this model. It was a tough sell. They were unconvinced at first but Matchbox convinced them with pictures of real life Impreza WRX models being used as police cars. It was launched in the basic range in 2008 as MB45 in silver, and later was changed to white as a version 2. After this though, Subaru were hopeful of more rally style liveries and as such it lay dormant for a few years.

Returning in 2012 as MB78 in silver again. Except this time, with the Arctic Police side design, the wheels were white with blue hot foil printing. As mentioned, 2012 was a period where they were trying to brighten things up a bit. White wheels appeared on a few vehicles that year.

2013 saw a more traditional looking wheel adorning the black State Police MB94. This model was also added to the Police 5-pack that year during their “pulling models from basics” period.

The model finished up in 2014 as MB93 in blue. After this the casting lay dormant again for a while. Not because of the previous reason, but because Matchbox had come out with a new Subi Police casting for 2015.

It returned last year in a 5-pack. MBX To The Rescue featured 5 models in a quite Australian themed look. The model had seen minor surgery during the 5 year gap too.

As seen in this all-silver picture, the original releases used to sport a separate light bar on the roof. When it returned for 2019 the light bar had gone, and a new light was now showing through as part of the window unit.

And that brings us to the end of the review of the Highway Speeders 5-pack. If you enjoy the 5-packs being reviewed too, I can start to include more of them in my blog reports. Just let me know. Next week will be a blast from the past! Have a good week.

David Tilley

5 thoughts on “Matchbox Monday speeds down the highway

  1. Regarding Dodge cars, yes – the concept Charger was the first in 1/64. However, Matchbox made the 1968 Charger for their King Size line prior to this.

  2. Always enjoy your reviews, David, so I, for one, would really appreciate your thoughts on Matchbox Five Packs, too. Bring ’em on, Sir!

    One thought that I had about your comment that the grey base (and hence, grey bumpers) on the Volvo doesn’t bother you. I am surprised to read this considering your fanaticism regarding color shades on many a model. Personally, I would rather see you more worked up about the grey blobs that are passed off as bumpers than stress out over paint shades. I personally have never seen a car with grey bumpers in real life. With Mattel bending over backward to use grey bases, hence grey bumpers, they are giving us unrealistic examples of cars that one never sees. If chrome is too expensive for a $.99 toy, I’d rather they’d make the base, hence bumper the same color or even black. That would be more realistic in my minds eye. Just a thought.

  3. IRL I had a 1969 P1800 in BRG that was repainted cream. I more or less learned technical driving in that car. I rebuilt the B20. As a result, I am now looking for any Matchbox P1800 from 2010-2012. I would like to find one that has the chrome strip down the side along the character line. Dark green would be nice. Yes, I haunt fleabay.

  4. I’m sorry, but look at the Jag & the Volvo with that cheap gray plastic!… They once wore more ornate chrome bumpers & thelike, but they look pathetic. Sad, very sad!

    Now granted, the Jag has grille & headlamp tampos to offset the chrome, but it’s not the same…
    Now it seems to mostly get chrome treatments then you may get lucky if the mainline model you prefer gets chrome, but…
    you almost have to purchase a premium model to have the glory of shiny bling!

  5. FYKI, this is the Ford GT40, not the Ford GT. And the reason for its inclusion in the Best of British set is because the real car was designed and built in England.

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