Model: Matchbox MB769 2008 Mitsubishi L200/TRITON
Release: 2009 MB90
eBay link: Matchbox Mitsubishi Triton
Why is it in the collection: Because I was the ambassador at the time
This is one of those models I was very proud to see in the Matchbox basic range series. As some people may know, during the mid 2000s, Matchbox closed down their R&D facilities in Mt. Laurel in New Jersey and moved in-house at El Segundo. The new team, which was led by John Coyne at the time was just setting themselves up when the 2004 convention in Hershey PA was taking place. John, who was eager to get some collector input, was busy handing out his business card to pretty much everybody at the convention, which led to getting inundated with phone calls and emails from collectors asking the same questions over and over again. So they came up with a plan to instigate a Matchbox ambassador. It would be a rolling yearly position and the first ambassador was set up in mid 2006. The year would roughly run from August to July, and new ambassadors would be ushered in as a part of the Albuquerque Gathering. In 2008, the 2nd ambassador at the time (Jim Gallegos) pulled me aside during festivities and let me in on a secret. I was his successor.
I had a few hours to prepare myself. I am terrible at public speaking. Chat one-on-one, no problem. A small group and having fun, easy. Put me on a stage with hundreds of eyes fixed on me, deer, headlights…. You get the drift. I think I said 3 words. Honestly, I had a year to prepare for the end speech. That was 6 words. I am just no good on a stage. I should have pre-recorded it. Mind you, had that been the case there would have to be a lot of fast forwarding. People may notice I tend to ramble on. What? I’m doing it here?
Anyway, I had become ambassador. Being in the UK and with the guys at Mattel being in El Segundo CA, there was a certain time difference. The 2 previous ambassadors had been from USA, so the time difference was nominal. I was 8 hours out. So obviously we had our emails back and forth. But we set up a monthly phone call. One of the first things I did was to send over some thoughts and ideas from a non-USA perspective as they had been asking about getting more of a worldwide assortment going. So I sent over some pictures of ideas. I think it was one of the first phone calls, Dave Weise, who was one of the people working on the team said that when the email with various pictures came in, this was one that really struck a chord with him. A very European style pickup truck. I made mention of how all the pickup trucks in the range were US ones, and we could do with something non-US.
This one, with its rather unusual rear door curvature, really stood out. This was why I sent over a picture of this as a thought. Mattel’s thought? Yes. They were straight on with Mitsubishi. Their thought? Yes. This was plain sailing, and by the end of 2009 we had our first L200 (or Triton as it is called in some places, not sure why it was capitalized on the base) in the range.
This was that debut issue, and I still remember when I first held it thinking how cool it was that I had a small part in getting it in my own hand.
It was such a cool casting too. Items in the rear (although had it been done now we might have seen a bed variation with another without), and a tow hook too. Plus this debut version in simple black with front and rear detailing was just beautiful.
It might have only had 7 variations over the course of 4 years (2009-2012 basic, plus 2x 5-packs and a 10-pack 1st Editions in the first year) but I always look back on this one proud of what I was able to achieve during my Matchbox ambassadorship.