Model: Matchbox MB334 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Release: 2002 MB8 ROW exclusive
eBay link: Matchbox Mercedes E Class
Why is in the collection: the surprise of the “50” logo.
The year was 2002. In 2000 Matchbox had created a logo hunt. They called it the “millennium bug hunt” where the first 10,000 models produced of the basic range sported a Matchbox 2000 print on them. However, this was only done in the US market (as at the time, they also had UK, German, Australian and other ROW markets, now of which saw them), but Mattel had deemed it to have been successful. So they decided, as they were celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2002 (a year early, but we won’t get into that), that they would do another logo hunt. Except this time they would do it with the entire basic range, whether it was a US, ROW or core release. The UK, German and Australian exclusives were being dropped for 2002, so the 2 markets were easier to manage. So they ran a “50” logo on the first 10,000 examples of all releases across both markets. This led to some complications as this meant that logos for models could be found in different places around the world across the core releases, meaning some trading or eBay purchases would be in order to try and complete a set. I did manage it myself (I did a post showing the entire set earlier this year, which you can click here to read (or re-read) on the blog).
But the one that I remember the most was the Mercedes-Benz. You see, for 2002, they were releasing the models in small groups in multiple assortments throughout the year. They were being done in order, from MB1 through to MB75. Each new assortment would feature either 4 or 8 new additions at a time (except the one batch getting 7 to equal 75). I was unsure at the time whether to go for them. I had not attempted the 2000 logo set yet, as trying to source them all from USA was a little costly. The first batch arrived. All core models, MB1-4. The first ones I saw in the UK did not sport a logo. I was hearing reports of them appearing in USA already and people finding both with and without logo. So it appeared that an order was placed from USA which took up the entire run. I made a decision not to bother again.
This is how the model appeared in the window box (that is how we were receiving them in the UK at the time). The window covered the front and top of the box, and no way of seeing the other side. In store I just saw this. MB5-8 were all ROW exclusives, and a quick look at the models in those window boxes had seen a Porsche Boxster with a logo on the front window, and a BMW 3-series Coupe with a logo on the boot (or trunk if you are in USA). Easy to see. But the Ford Focus and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class had no signs.
I remember opening the Merc first and happened to look at the other side, seeing this. The logo was on the opposite side. Wait… what? I then opened the ford Focus to find the same. Putting them back in the boxes I had a look knowing now what I did not know only moments before.
With careful manipulation of the window box giving it a little twist here and there, and straining eyes, you could just make out the upper edge of the circle. I was intrigued.
I then wanted to get another one without the logo too. Suddenly the whole thing became interesting. I was hooked.
That was it, I started grabbing as many as I could see in the UK for trade fodder, and set up numerous deals with other collectors around the world, and the hunt was on. I did get the entire set. It took a bit of work and well over the year, as I believe my final one was picked up in 2004, but I achieved it.
It may have only been a small 50 in a circle, but that little logo drove me batty for a while. It wasn’t the last we saw of models sporting the logo on the wrong side either. We really had our work cut out to try and get them. But this was the one that got me hooked.
Strange the small things that can be so significant.