Matchbox Monday goes (mostly) JDM with a look at 1979 onwards

As many people know, Matchbox was first devised in the early 1950s by a company called Lesney Products & Co Ltd in England. Lesney was a post WWII venture by 2 friends called Rodney and Leslie Smith (same surname, unrelated). Lesney was formed from the first half of Leslie’s name and the second half of Rodney’s. Where do you think the inspiration for Lamley came from? John LAMbert, David TilLEY. Not knowing what they were going to make they just came up with a company name that was non-specific. But as time progressed, Rodney was getting disinterested, but with a friend Jack Odell joining, things finally settled down in to the toy business. Over the decades, they faced lots of struggles. You might have seen in my last blog post how I kept mentioning their lack of wanting to waste anything. Paints, labels, you name it, if it was good to be used on something, it would be used on something. But as the 1970s progressed and they kept expanding further and further afield through acquisitions or diversification, profits were tumbling. At the tail end of the 1970s they had created a small unique range of models for the Japanese market. In 1977 they had some older castings revived specifically to be sold there. Some in classic colours, others in new colours. But they still wanted to try new avenues. So they got in touch with a manufacturing company in Japan with an idea. This company designed and created 4 unique models, which could be built at their factory in Japan and sold exclusively in Japan. Outsourcing R&D and production could hopefully lead to cheaper running costs. Saving money, making money.

So this company came up with these 4 castings and they were added to the 1979 Japanese range. Licensed as Matchbox models, but for the first time, not made (or designed) in England. They were….

No.2 Savanna RX-7. That is how the base marks it down as, the box No-2. Most people know it as a Mazda, but when Matasaburo Maeda designed the vehicle in 1976, he created a car that was destined to be a larger replacement for the RX-3, but that was only sold as a Mazda outside of Japan. So when the new vehicle was launched in 1978, it was known as Savanna RX-7 in Japan, and exported as Mazda RX-7 outside. So when the Japanese sub-contracted company were making a model of it, obviously with plans to only sell in Japan they used the Japanese name. Each of the models was run in 2 different colours during the year at the factory, and this was in either green or yellow featuring a black side stripe.

The side doors would open (as would all 4 of the castings).

And the base featured the usual Matchbox Superfast detailing, as well as a nod to Lesney who were still the owners of the brand, with KK being the company itself.

We also saw No.5/No-5 Fairlady Z. Again, just as with the last vehicle, Nissan had created the S130 as a successor to the older S30 vehicle. In Japan the model was still linked to an older Datsun Fairlady roadster from the 1960s which had been changed to the previous S30, coming up with Fairlady Z for Japanese and Australian markets, and Datsun 240Z/260Z/280Z for other markets. So the new one followed suit when launched in 1978. In Japan and Australia it was known as either a Datsun or Nissan Fairlady Z, with other markets seeing either Datsun or Nissan 280ZX, as the Nissan company were starting to phase out the Datsun name for the parent company name.

As I mentioned, models would see 2 colours during the year, and the Fairlady Z was to be found in either silver or red, with opening doors.

And well, I have to do these on occasion. I did find a significant difference in shades on the red version.

The base was very similarly laid out to No-2 Savanna RX-7, with the official branding there, and the Made in Japan detailing at the bottom.

So I hope you are following the numbering system, because it gets more complicated. Both the Savanna RX-7 and Fairlady Z had a “No.” base or “No-” box script. But the other 2, well they followed the older Japanese system from 1977/78. This was J-21 Toyota Celica XX. The “XX” at the end was significant. Apart from the daft fact that when you say it, the official way to say it is “double-x”, not just reading the 2 letters out loud. When Toyota first released the second generation A40 Celica in 1977, it did not have a sporty version. They added a sportier version using the liftback body style and extending the front out to accommodate the larger engine. They simply called it the XX in Japan upon launch in 1978, but when they started exporting it in 1979, they changed it to Celica Supra. Both first and 2nd generation Supras were actually part of the Celica family, with ties only broken for the 3rd generation onwards.

This model was released in either creamy white or in red in 1979.

Oh yeah, more shades. Single cream or double cream. Very creamy!

Okay it didn’t really focus on the base for that shot. I will do better with my last one. But the details were still as they were on the 2 seen already, with the use of the J-number being the only major difference.

Finally, the J-22 Galant Λ Eterna. The oldest of the 4 vehicles being recreated in miniature, the Mitsubishi Galant’s 3rd generation was first sold in Japan in 1976. The Lambda (stylized as Λ, from the Greek Alphabet) denoted the coupe body style of the model, with saloon/sedan and estate/wagon variants known as Σ (Sigma).

Eterna? That was simply the high spec trim level, with one of the most noticeable features being the squared headlights at the front. As with the others, this came in 2 colours, this time red or yellow.

And look, I got a clearer pictures of the base this time. You may have noticed that they just didn’t bother with company names for this model either. This was a Mitsubishi, but they just had Galant Λ Eterna on the base after No. J-22. The Toyota was the only one that included the company name on the base.

But there was a problem. R&D was all done in Japan. Production started in Japan before they had got approval from Lesney back in England. They just got on with it. While busy making these 4 models, they sent over samples to England for the Lesney guys to see what they were doing. Let’s just say they weren’t happy. The tooling was taken away from the factory as part of the agreement that all ownership was to stay with Lesney. The agreement for Japanese exclusive models was terminated. All the other models still in production at the factory back in England for the Japanese market was stopped from being shipped. Most of them later appeared in MP-1 multipacks in 1980 and into early 1981 which were being sold off in various places worldwide (I still remember walking into my local Tesco store at the time and seeing these packs, but I was 7 or 8 and my parents were unable to get me many). As I said, they were not going to waste them. They don’t waste things. In 1980 they set up a new deal with a company in Hong Kong and gave them these 4 castings to see what they could do with them.

Well, not a lot.

The Savanna RX-7 was made in 3 different designs for 1980. The Hong Kong factory had 3 different ways of selling the models. Option 1, a test run extending beyond the usual 1-75 series as things were at the time, exclusively for the Australian market. The Savanna RX-7 was painted in plain green and packaged in a picture box numbered 76. There was a second option, a special 4-pack of models called Speed Sticks. Each of the 4 castings would be included in this set and there would be some stickers included in the pack that you could add to the models. The Mazda was blue for this set.

Finally, option 3 was a limited edition run of models for the US market. After an earlier 1978 limited edition run known as Roman Numerals, the English factory created 6 more additional models in unique designs for the US market, and the Hong Kong factory created 4 of their own. The RX-7 was again blue, but this time featured red and white stripes, and was packaged in a blister that said it was the Boulevard Blaster. Now these are the way they were meant to be. But you can find the models in alternate spots. Mainly the blue Speed Stick version being found in Australian MB76 boxes.

The first tweaks to the base included the removal of the number in the range (obviously no longer needed) as well as a change of the ownership details (Lesney Products & Co Ltd instead of Lesney KK), and obviously the new Hong Kong, not Japan details.

Now there is actually 3 of this too. I realized as I was photographing I am actually missing one. The Australian MB78 is actually an off-white. For some reason I thought I had it, but must have mistaken it for the silver of 1979. The other 2 of the Fairlady Z I do have. The Speed Stick issue in plain black.

And the Limited Edition model for USA which was packaged up as Cam Cracker. Again in black but now with additional stripes and Z tampoing.

Again the bases saw their first tweaks, much in line with the Savanna RX-7, but that was not all.

There was also a tiny tweak to the rear of the body section too. The license plate detail was removed. I have no idea why that was such a priority.

Now this one, there is only 2. And these look a lot like they were before. After being sold in either red or cream in Japan in 1979, the Toyota Celica XX was again sold in red in Australia as MB77, plus it was also a part of the Speed Sticks set in red too. The only difference came with the Limited Edition model, which I am trying to remember the name of. Ah yes, this one they put it on the side printing. Sun Burner. Not to be confused with a certain Maserati Bora which was marketed as Sun Burner in 1981. But it was also red.

Again the base was slightly altered to the new details only.

The final model also saw the same treatment as the Toyota. The Galant Λ Eterna was only made in green. However, green was different to Japanese made models (red or yellow), and both the Australian MB79 and the Speed Stick releases were plain green with the Limited Edition model sporting Hot Points writing on the side. Guess what, that was the name it went by too. Strange how in Japan the Savanna RX-7 and Fairlady Z had one numbering system for the base with the Toyota Celica XX and Galant Λ Eterna receiving a different numbering system. Then when they went to Hong Kong the RX-7 and Fairlady saw multiple colours and random tampos, with the Toyota and Galant a single colour and the limited edition model’s name sprawled down the side. Bizarre coincidence.

Now the green is known to be found in shades between light and dark, but I wanted to be a bit different here. The striping on the Hot Points model coming in either cream or yellow stripes.

And just like the others, the Galant also saw minimal changes to the base to begin with. It appears Hong Kong were still finding their feet with the castings.

One set of limited edition models.

One set of Speed Stick models. By the way, as I mentioned, things were often found mixed up, and in the most part, these Speed Stick models were also found in Australia as well as the usual MB76-79 release colours in those picture boxes.

By 1981 Hong Kong had been working on the castings a little to improve them and further tweaks had been made. The Lesney people back in England had noticed how much cheaper it was to ship things to the US market from Hong Kong than it was from England. So they sent over a number of other castings, which the factory in Hong Kong could see what they were working with better and improve these 4 to those standards. It was not brilliant, but they did make a few small tweaks to improve the models. So now Hong Kong was making a whole range of previously English made models for the US market. This was the beginning of the US/ROW split. Some castings were still being made in England, but a number of older castings returned for the US market that were actually now being made in Hong Kong alongside these 4. Talking of which, these 4 models were also added to the US basic range that year. The RX-7 was added as MB31 to the US range, (often known as MB31-D, as it replaced the MB31-C Caravan for the US range, with the Caravan continuing on as an ROW exclusive). It was white with red stripes and RX-7 on it.

Early on in the run the side stripes were wide and stretched the whole of the side, but later on during the year they became much thinner and only covered between wheels. They could also be found with either maltese cross or 5-spoke wheels (the first run actually still used the 1980 Hong Kong made 5-spokes).

The base also saw a second modification too. Obviously now being sold in the US market, Savanna RX-7 didn’t really mean a lot, as the US market was selling the real vehicle as a Mazda. So the model also saw the change to Mazda. They also changed the Matchbox Superfast printing to just a Matchbox lozenge logo.

Minor tweaks to the bodywork were also noted. The doors now had a noticeable dip at the edge by the door frame and if you look carefully by the front pop up headlight marker towards the front, the original issues used to have a badge marker there. This was removed too. There were other small tweaks to better define certain things, but those are the most notable.

The Fairlady Z was added to the US basic range as MB24-D for 1981. Again it was black as many 1980 issues had been, but this time it sported a new red side design.

The Fairlady Z base name was altered to Datsun 280ZX, to match the tampo design although apart from that, there was very little they did to this casting. They had already made a minor alteration to this in 1980 so they just carried on with it.

The Toyota Celica XX was also added to the US range as MB25-D, and this model saw a few alterations as the year progressed. The original ivory interior was swapped out for a blue interior later on, and the black door post tampo was removed too. There is a crossover, as the interior changed before the tampo was removed. I am currently looking for that one. If you follow me on Instagram (at @davidjtilley) you may discover that I was only just getting models in time for this blog report as I prepare it (with my new addition post later today). There is also a maltese cross wheel variant to look for with this one (again, looking).

You may notice that the 5-spoke wheels were changed during production too. Their early wheels were quite crude, but as they started getting more Lesney castings and items to produce, they had the original Lesney wheels to utilize too. You may also note that I mentioned the black post in the tampo going, it was actually the entire black tampo on the sides. No more 78 shadow, no more thin black line.

Now this one had a rather unusual base change. Sold in Japan as a Celica XX, worldwide sales would see this called Celica Supra. But instead of changing the base to Supra, they changed it to GT, which was the top of the range version of the model.

The rear end was reworked a little to better define the lights and remove the license plate detail.

The profile of the doors was also altered slightly, with the sharp curved nature of the front upper corner smoothed out.

The large badge on the front was also removed too. If you look closely you might find other tiny adjustments too. But this casting did see some work on it. Even more was to come.

Finally, we had the Galant Λ Eterna. Again, this model saw a number of tweaks for 1981, but as the year progressed it continued tweaking. What was initially an ivory interior turned green later, and again some side tampo printing was removed. Except this time, the white turned to black too.

But the change in tampo and interior weren’t the only thing to happen. BTW, I don’t believe there is a crossover this time. Both the interior and tampo switched at the same time. No there was something else that happened too.

The model was no longer called a Galant Λ Eterna. It was no longer a Mitsubishi. As this model was being sold in the US market, USA was importing the little Mitsubishi under a completely different name. The original dodge Challenger muscle car had stopped production in 1974. So with this being a coupe style vehicle, they decided to use the name as a captive import. Early imports were known as Dodge “Colt” Challenger, but Colt was soon dropped and it was simply known as a Dodge Challenger. They also imported under the Plymouth Sapporo name, but the Hong Kong factory decided to use the Dodge Challenger name for the model.

Again a small amount of tweaking went on with the casting, which in this case mainly resulted in the bumpers being larger (as well as again removing details in the license plate).

The thing is though, Lesney were still not keen on these 4 castings. A few little tweaks to them were not enough. They decided to create their own in-house castings back in England. So late in 1981 they got to work on creating new versions of them. From scratch.

Now this is where things start becoming quite complicated. Simultaneously at the end of 1981, they had come to a decision that with a brand split between the US market and the ROW market, differentiating between models using the same number was becoming quite complicated. For example, they mention MB31. Wait, are they talking about the Mazda RX7 or the Caravan? Both are being sold as MB31 in the 2 different markets. So they created a manufacturing number system. Simply put they took the 75 models that were going to be in the ROW range and assigned them the first 75 models. Easy enough. They were busy creating some new castings which was right in the front of their mind. A new Mazda RX-7 casting was being created in the R&D Centre in England. It should be available any time. Okay, let’s put that as the next number in line. MB076. There was just one thing. The casting was not working the way they wanted it to.

The main issue they were finding with this casting was that the rear would not form around the license plate they had envisioned. They kept having to go back and rework the casting to try and get the mould to go.

But as time was going on, they started realizing that this may not make 1982. It didn’t. By the time the casting was eventually sorted and everything working the way it should, Lesney had gone bankrupt and Universal had taken over, moving production to Macau right from the start. Lesney England bases only exist in pre-production form.

Still, let’s move on to the next model. Let’s see, we had MB076 for the Mazda, so let’s give the Datsun 280ZX 2+2 the next number, MB077 and get that one going.

Just one little snag. The casting was not working right! Sound familiar? This time it was the doors that were causing the issues. They would not stay in their housing correctly.

Again, by the time it was fixed and production started, we were in Universal territory and Macau was the only place that was making them. Lesney England models are prepro only.

Next up was the Toyota Celica. Wait, Toyota have just brought out a new Celica, and new Supra in 1981. So they did that instead. Next manufacturing number? MB078. Now sadly, I only have the one prepro of this, and it was after this fault had been rectified. This time the roof would not form correctly and they had issues.

Again, yeah you know the story. Missed the deadline for 1982 and Universal era Macau made production models debuted in 1983.

With the Lesney England bases only on prepros. That was 3 castings out of 4 planned overhauls not working out. At least there is the dodge Challenger.

Wait? What? Dodge Challenger? We already have one. It is MB1 in the 1981 range worldwide. Suddenly, the US market was seeing 2 different castings both being sold under the same name at the same time. That’s confusing. Seriously, they just sorted out one confusion (a whole manufacturing number system to avoid model number confusion), they weren’t going to have another. So they decided not to.

Instead, why not just modify the one they already had in England. That was easy.

This only needed a few tweaks. Raise the rear, add larger wheels. Adjust the hood to a large scoop rather than the nostril pair.

Finish off with some side exhausts slapped on the base. There we go, done in an afternoon. Well maybe not, but it was not a difficult change and was easy to do for the 1982 range.

Of course they still had a number of white roof pieces to use up from the 1981 blue issue, so they were used on the orange Revin Rebel model. Some models came out with no tampo and some with full. I even found one with just the top tampo.

The blue roof was also with or without tampo, although this time I never found a top only variant.

Success! Well Meat Loaf didn’t sing “1 out of 4 ain’t bad” did he. But they took what they could.

We were so close to seeing all of these in 1982 though. But this left them with a few holes to fill. They told the factory in Hong Kong to make more of theirs for another year. However, they almost forgot about the Challenger. The Hong Kong factory made a start on a white issue with Space Raider design and larger wheels all round. They even gave it a manufacturing number; MB090. That was until they realized it was not wanted (no more confusion with doubled up names) and the model was dropped.

Lesney were busy creating manufacturing numbers for each individual casting that was in their database, so after the initial ROW 001 – 075 numbers, they then had the 3 that they were hoping to get going but had issues with. After that they looked at all the models in the 1981 US range that were going to continue into 1982. They were assigned MB079 up to MB089. It was after that they realized these needed to carry on. The Challenger was MB090, but then immediately cancelled before production. The Mazda RX-7 was given MB091 and continued on in the MB31 slot.

It was given a new design in black with bronze tampo printing and Mazda/RX7 in white. This continued for the 1982 year at which time it would no longer be needed as the new casting would be available for 1983.

The next manufacturing number, MB092, was assigned to the Toyots Celica GT (as it was now called). It was redesigned in yellow with a “Yellow Fever” tampo design.

It was also given massive rear wheels too.

Which gave it a different look to how it was before. Weirdly, when they redid the base to accommodate the larger wheels, they changed the copyright year from 1979 to 1981. The other Challenger casting that was also modified was still sporting the original 1975 base.

Finally, the 4th casting out of the ones from Japan originally was given the MB093 manufacturing number, and continued as MB24 for another year.

It didn’t see a new design though. continuing on with the black and red from 1981, although by now the interior had turned red and the windows amber. For those keeping tabs, after MB093, the next set of manufacturing numbers were for new castings that were only going to be in the US range in 1982, and not a part of the ROW range. That took them up to MB108.

but in 1983, finally, those Lesney completely reworked castings were good to go. The MB076 Mazda RX-7 took over from the MB091 “older” RX-7 casting as MB31, and now was available worldwide. After all that effort though, it only ran 3 years in the ROW range, eking out 2 more in the US range. For the 3 worldwide years it was always black. They liked the design for the 1982 casting, so used a very similar one for the 1983 model. Apart from RX7 becoming RX-7, the bronze stripe was turned gold.

Over the course of the 3 years it did see the windows turn clear later on though.

But because there was a lack of new tooling for 1983, due to the bankruptcy of Lesney and things on hold for a while. So a quick fix was to modify some castings. Many older ones were modified (they had seen how easy it was with the Dodge Challenger) but a few newer ones were too. The Mazda RX-7 was modified too into MB116 IMSA Mazda. It was simply a case of adding wide arches, massive skirts and spoilers (and sealing the doors which was a last minute decision, the 1983 catalogue showed it with them open).

Again this only ran 3 years in total, and only in blue. But as time went on, the 5-arch wheels turned to dot-dash, and just as the other RX-7 did, the windows later went clear. It was sold as MB6 in the US range or MB7 in the ROW range those 3 years. But Japan, now dealing with Universal who were unaware of their previous issues with Lesney, set up an extended range exclusive to that country in 1984 taking models from both US and ROW ranges and adding a few exclusives. This was sold as MB80 there in 1984/85.

But the original Mazda. Well, when Japan saw their range change to a 1-100 in 1984, the black issue moved to MB41 there in 1984. The US range (and Japan) both continued with that casting until 1987, and the MB31 (US)/MB41 (Japan) 1986-87 issue changed to white with a red, orange and yellow design. Of course, 2 years of production does warrant some shading, particularly to the front red area which can be found in lighter or darker shades.

But after 1987 they retired the casting from general use. But that wasn’t the end of this one. Oh no, enter Bulgaria. In 1993, the RX-7 was included as the final shipment of casting being sent to Bulgaria for local production. At first, they came up with designs that were a little similar to the 1986/87 basic range issue.

But over numerous years of production they came out with all sorts of designs.

With some of my personal favourites being the stripey ones from the mid to late 2000s. At first plain windowed, but a later batch also adding window stripes with company names on them.

But that still wasn’t it. In the mid 1990s a random Chinese made issue surfaced. Plain blue with a plastic China base, it was not officially sold in any range. I believe this was one of a few test mules that were sent to China to the factory to get them prepared for taking over production from Thailand.

Although why this particular model had a small cut-out piece in the rear window is completely unknown.

These are not east to come by at all. There are supposedly 2 wheel types. Black wheels, or chrome hot foil printed dot-dash. I only have the 1.

The MB077 Datsun 280ZX 2+2 was also ready to go and simply took over the MB24 slot from the previous MB093 casting. This time though, the tampo design was not too similar. Again, black, but this time with gold stripes on it.

Again this was a worldwide release, and again we only saw it for 3 years. Worldwide this time, no US extension. Except one place, which I will get to in a second. But after the 1983 debut, for 1984 the gold detailing was enhanced with even more gold. However, I do have a prepro, which was the 1984 catalogue model, which sported w single (or should I say pair) white stripe over the roof in among all the gold. This ran for 2 years, and at one point, the chrome wheels turned gold too.

But I did say there was one other place. Japan. It was added to the Japanese range as MB34 in 1984 in an exclusive white rally inspired livery, and ran the entirety of the 4-year Japanese 1-100 series (as in 1988 they reverted back to the ROW range). But in addition they also created a unique MB144 casting, which was simply just an additional roof bar stuck to the top. This was ran in a very Japanese style police livery, also for the full 4-year stint as MB44. But the original black one. Also in the Japanese range, and again this ran the full 4-year stint as MB39.

But the Datsun was utilized outside of the basic range too. It was added to the Superfast series as SF9 in 1986 in black with starburst wheels, which in turn became LW9 in the Laser Wheels series too the following year. Although Superfast continued unchanged until 1990 when the series was dropped, the Laser Wheel version did see a change in 1988 to grey, which saw it through to the finish in 1990.

But this too also had one little addendum. It was also sent to China in the mid 1990s. They did a test run in metallic red.

Not officially released in any range, just like the Mazda, this model was just a short run which I believe was just getting the new factory up to speed.

But unlike the Mazda, which had reverted to a plastic base when it was first shipped to Bulgaria, this was still sporting the metal base.

Of course I had to pop this one in too. The recent MB1146 ’82 Datsun 280ZX has been heavily inspired by the previous casting.

And that is a shot I don’t think many people can do. An original Fairlady Z in red from 1979 Japan, a 1982 English made pre-production of the later Datsun 280ZX 2+2 and a 2020 Superfast ’82 Datsun 280ZZ, all in red.

Not everything follows the same pattern though. MB078 was the new Toyota Supra which took over the older Toyota Celica XX/Toyota Celica GT casting, but it did not move into the MB25 slot. The ROW range had just added the Audi Quattro to that point in 1982 so it wasn’t going there anyway. But the US range also didn’t include it as MB25. In a bizarre turn of events, the MB041 (US style very Chevy looking) Ambulance had been dropped from the US range after 1981 (continuing as an ROW exclusive for 1 more year), but returned to the MB25 slot in the US range for 1983. I have no idea why. I am surprised they didn’t put this as MB25 there swapping out the older Celica GT with the newer Supra (much like the RX-7 and 280ZX) and returning the Ambulance to the MB39 slot that this was put in. For the ROW range it was MB60. This design lasted for 2 years, at which time the US range dropped the casting completely, with the ROW receiving a new design for 1985.

In the meantime, back in Japan, the MB60 moved to MB70 for 1984 in their expanded line-up, but they also received a Japanese exclusive red issue as MB62. So they had 2 Supras in their range in 1984 and 1985. The red was dropped after 1985 there, and does exist in 8-dot wheel form too alongside these 5-arch wheels.

The 1985 ROW exclusive was a new design, which also appeared in Japan in their MB70 slot. This one though, after being dropped from the ROW range, it did continue in Japan for 1 more year. Through the 1985 production year, windows cleared up and wheels turned to 8-dots from 5-arch too.

But that wasn’t it for this model. All 3 of these castings saw unusual releases after being dropped. This one though, it wasn’t sent to China. It was sent to Dinky! Oh wait, that’s not a place. It’s a brand. Universal had purchased the rights to the Dinky brand name after it went bust and were busy preparing for the launch of their planned Dinky range. With miniatures mainly being of current vehicles, and Models of Yesteryear being much older vehicles, they came up with a plan to create Dinky models under the Matchbox brand name, using castings of vehicles mainly fro the 1960s and 1970s. A bridge between their 2 ranges. But then somebody pointed out a daft legal point. They had to sell something using the Dinky branding before a certain time or their ownership of the brand name would expire, and it would be up for sale again. So panic stations at Universal. They grabbed 6 miniatures, painted them in unusual colours, put them in plain red blisters with the Dinky logo all over it and sell them to a store. They needed proof of sale to ensure they kept ownership of the brand, which they got and the Dinky name stayed with them. One of the 6 models they grabbed was the Toyota Supra. Therefore, after it had stopped being in the basic range, a 1987 Dinky issue appeared in white with red, yellow and blue striping on it.

And then it went to Bulgaria. Part of the 1991 assortment of castings that went over, it ran and ran and ran.

As with the others, plain issues, simple designs, all sort of random logos etc.

Running for decades, with the stripy mid-late 2000s being some of my favourites again.

Finally, it was the non-JDM now Dodge Challenger (modified). You may have wondered with me not doing any rundown of this particular casting among recaps of various Dodge Challengers, I had this in mind when I was skipping it. So, MB001. Let’s see what there was. Well after the debut English made Revin Rebel model, in 1983 the basic range turned yellow. The Toyman liveried model was a short lived livery. It only last 10 years! That’s right, after arriving in 1983, you could still find this in 1992! Well if you were a part of the US range that is. If you were in the ROW markets, it was sold until 1986 and then dropped. But it returned briefly for one year in 1990, but now as MB34. Early runs saw 5-arch wheels on the front before it turned to dot-dash by 1984.

The only other major change being the move from Macau to China production in 1986. BTW if you were were wondering, it was a different Chinese factory to the one that took over in the mid-1990s. That was a Tyco owned factory. A whole different ball game. This was a Universal owned factory.

As production of the Toyman was getting close to finishing, in 1991 we saw our first unique issues. Graffic Traffic arrived with a plain white model and a Christmas World Rallye set was created for the German market which included a range of models sold in plain yellow, blue, green or red. The Challenger was one of the yellows.

And the final year of Toyman saw an alternate white Toyman as a part of the Walmart owned Sam’s Club set. This 30-pack set was only available for Sam’s club members with a large proportion of the models in slightly different looks. This one was white instead of yellow. Also, that year saw Action Packs arrive exclusive to the US market. The Challenger was one of the models in the series, that came with some accessories in a large blister.

A quick look at the standard basic range alongside the Sam’s Club model.

1993 saw the first unique basic range livery in a decade. But this was only in the US market as the ROW range was not selling it. Blue now with a white striped Hemi Challenger livery. This was to be the final issue with a metal base and small front/large rear wheels, as for 1994 the model underwent a major change. A whole new plastic base was constructed and the new spiral wheels that Tyco (the new owners) had created were applied.

At this point the base was updated with a new copyright year of 1993. Plus the model rejoined the ROW basic range too. It also returned to the MB34 slot it had popped up in, back in 1990.

This strange, very Tyco looking design was the mainstay for its final 3 years in the basic range. In 1994, the wheels were gold. In 1995, they turned chrome. In 1996, the model turned white, and the splatter effect changed from black to blue and interior from pink to purple. There is a late run of the white from the beginning of 1997 before it was replaced where the wheels changed to 5-spoke concave, but I don’t have that.

The model also appeared at the end in some 5-packs. In 1995, the Hot Rods 5-pack was purple, and in 1996, the Hot Rods pack changed to green. There was a plan for another in 1997, and it was going to be yellow, but this was never made. I do have a pre-production sample of it though.

After being dropped, the model was nudged over to the Premiere Series for 3 issues. Sadly I don’t own any of them, as I am still playing catch up with the 1990s premium stuff, but I do have a Chinese error model of one of them. The first of the 3, PC9 in purple, I have with a plain base and 5-spoke concave wheels instead of detailed base and 2-part rubber wheels.

Obviously we have seen a recent MB1193 ’74 Dodge Challenger casting made by Mattel as a nod to the classic Lesney model. Obviously they went with the earlier street version look rather than one of the modifieds.

As classic Dodge Challengers (via a certain Mitsubishi Galant Λ Eterna) have seen quite a lot of action.

Which brings me to the end of another blog report. What started out as a look at some Japanese made exclusive Matchbox models just for the Japanese market really sent us all over the place. There was quite a lot of history to those models wasn’t there.

Something which I can also tie in to the current stuff that Matchbox make. Talking of which, next week I will be right up to date again as I make a start on new 2020 items again.

4 Replies to “Matchbox Monday goes (mostly) JDM with a look at 1979 onwards”

  1. Great read as ever. Just a heads up. My local Tesco has put out the LAST batch of 2020.. Also 5 packs” off road rally “and” coffee cruisers 2″. Shame many more jumped and missed our shore’s.

  2. Great write-up. I just found and bought a packaged Speed Sticks set at a flea market and knew there had to be a weird story about them because of the weird wheels and HK manufacture that was atypical of MB.

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