I have received my assortment of batch A from Wheel Collectors in USA (thanks guys) which means I am making a start on the first third of the latest basic range batch. There are only 15 models included in this assortment, so each third is obviously 5 models. I chose my first set of 5 to work on this week and (trying to be different) I am going to work backwards down the numbers.
First up will be the MB1177 ’16 Ram Flatbed which takes the MB100 slot for the year.
For the 2021 model year the model is in blue and black.
The side design is very familiar on this one. CarGo Couriers. Oh we have seen that a few times.
And well, as the model has only been used twice so far (2019 debut as MB24 in silver, 2020 MB73 in green), I think we shall start a dive back on this batch with a livery hunt.
Because this model began life in 2006 as a logo on the side of the MB586 Billboard Truck in the City Service 5-pack. Of course that model was green and white, not blue, and over the years we have seen things switch up a bit with the colours. Just the logo stays the same. Now, there is a possibility I might have missed a model or 2, so if I have please let me know in the comments.
In 2007 we saw 2 different 5-pack releases with models sporting the CarGo theme. The first was the MB695 ’06 Utility Truck in yellow and grey with the logo on it as part of the Garage Works 5-pack.
But then later, the final pack of the year was Construction and we saw the MB536 6-wheel Dump Truck in the pack in the same green and white as the Billboard Truck. However, due to an issue, the MB710 Dump Truck was swapped in later in production, and as such also saw the same rough design.
Now we also saw a pair of Convoy issues too. Full disclosure, I can’t find the crates. I have trailers but no crates for them. They are hidden somewhere. I know I have a few Matchbox items I cannot find, and I am guessing these are in that box (wherever it is). At the start of the year was the MB664 Tractor Cab in black towing a pair of maroon CarGo crates on the silver trailer. At the end of the year another Convoy pack had the MB702 DAF XF95 Space Cab in burgundy towing light blue crates on the silver trailer. The Tractor Cab didn’t have tampo printing, but the DAF did, so I am at least showing the DAF.
2008 saw the CarGo livery finally hit the basic range as the MB61 for the year was the MB728 Mercedes-Benz Unimog U300 casting in a rather familiar blue.
And in 2009 the MB763 MBX moving Truck was also in the basic range in blue, and yellow too, with the featured livery as MB41. A Super Convoy release of an MBX Rig and Box Trailer in all orange also appeared, but I never collected the Super Convoy as they were too large. Although the MBX Rig has now been retooled into the MB1150 MBX Cabover for the 2020 Convoy series, and a part of me is wondering if it is worth going back to look at them again.
But after that things went very quiet. For a decade. As far as I can tell. As I said, if somebody remembers something I missed please let me know. In 2019 the livery snuck back into the basic range as the MB789 Skidster in yellow featured the logo cleverly slipped in at the top. Many might have missed that one.
And in 2020 the MB993 Delivery Service Truck (or MBX Service Truck as it is now called) appeared in the MBX Countryside 5-pack. This model was in the familiar blue design. So we have a number of blue models, but it is not like it is the only one. Ranec and INC are both colour specific. This one isn’t. Mind you, neither is National Parks, strictly. It has seen a few non-mint issues.
Next up is the MB821 Ford Taurus Police Interceptor in red.
It takes the MB81 slot for 2021.
This model looks very familiar. Where have we seen that look before?
Why the MB1179 ’16 Ford Utility Interceptor debuted with that look back in 2019. I am loving that they have created a companion model for the Utility. Now the thing is, I did a rundown of all previous issues of MB821 when the Mission Force stuff arrived a few months back, so I don’t want to do them all again. So let’s go a little different.
The MB859 Mercury Park Lane with lights. Last week I mentioned (in my section on the Honda Ridgeline) about the manufacturing number system. How Lesney first created a forerunner to the system in 1977 when twin packs were first launched. So as not to confuse production of basics and twin packs, as both were originally referred to by their position in the 1-75 series, older castings brought back for twin packs were assigned a larger number which was simply by adding either a 7 or an 8 in front of them. The highest was the Mercury Park Lane Fire Chief which was originally MB59-B in the basic range, but when dropped after 1974, it was brought back to the twin pack series, and they just threw an 8 in front. It became MB858. When MAN numbers were created after the shambles of the 1981 split by taking the 1982 ROW 1-75 series, then basically adding in everything else after, these twin pack numbers were also kept. Universal ignored these high numbers if they didn’t use them themselves, but if they did use a casting, they kept the number. They used this one, so the number stayed. When Mattel reached this in their ownership, they skipped MB859 because it was in use. But let’s go back to the start of the Mercury.
It actually debuted as MB55 in 1969 as a police car. 1969 was the first time that Matchbox had added a Mercury to the range, but there was not just one. They added 3 in one go. A Cougar and Commuter were also added as MB62 and MB73 respectively. Now the first year was sold as a regular wheel model, which I don’t own. Daft fact, the first production run stated the car was a 1968 Mercury, but they dropped the “1968” bit almost immediately by putting a tab over the writing with a new set of writing that just said Mercury which kept it central on the line on the base. That stayed until Macau took over production in the 1980s. The model transitioned to Superfast wheels in 1970 but was dropped after that year. Both red and blue domes can be found on the model, which was through both years. Neither dome is significantly harder to find, although some may have more difficulty finding one over the other. Minor variations occur with smaller or larger diameter wheels in use, or perhaps the interior is more ivory or more creamy depending on which production run it was. The only other item of note was that the MB73 Mercury Commuter used the same base and for the most part it stated MB55 or MB73 but right at the end as it was finishing production the base changed to MB59 or MB73.
This is because in 1971, after dropping the casting as a police car, they re-added it immediately as a fire chief’s vehicle. But instead of updating MB55’s design with a new one, they moved it into the MB59 slot. Until 1971 it had been occupied by a Ford Galaxie which was in a fire chief design, so in effect they were updating “Fire Chief” not “Mercury Park Lane”. MB55 was taken over by a new Mercury Police, which was actually based on the Commuter instead. But for some reason that new MB55 had an all-new base, hence the alteration of the number. But for this they did not put a tab over and write the new details like they had done with 1968 Mercury/Mercury. They just etched out the final 5 and replaced it with a 9. However, in 1974 the Commuter was dropped, and instead of putting a tab over and writing No. 59 in the middle, they just wiped off or No. 73 and left the original part on the left side of that line. The weird things that you can look for if you wanted. Me? I just went with labels. Early 1971 issues used the same labels was were found on the Ford Galaxie, before they came up with new ones for the Mercury. Fire Chief on the top, a shield on the sides. Simple.
As the year progressed they replaced it with a helmet and axes top label and axes side label.
But they did crossovers. As the model transitioned between the 2 types of labels, both crossovers do exist. Newer top label/older side labels, or older top label/newer side labels.
The model ran through 1974 and Lesney being Lesney, labels were not always applied where they should have been. You might find side labels missing (as in this case), you might find the top label missing. You might find no labels at all. You could even find additional labels. The people at the factory were slapping them on any old how. QC (quality control) was not exactly known in the 1970s.
After a few years off the casting returned to action as a twin pack issue in 1977. It started in TP-10 in red again, paired with a Mercedes-Benz Binz Ambulance, but the casting had seen a few changes. The single dome on the roof had been replaced by a light bar. Also the 2 men inside were removed too. Plus it was sporting dot-dash wheels instead of 5-spokes that had been in use during the basic range. There is a crossover. The first run with light bar/no men and dot-dash wheels of the TP-10 pack actually used some leftover labels from the basic range. I haven’t got one yet. I am still looking but it is not easy to find.
After that initial run it then sported a Fire side label only (the same one that was in use on the MB64-C Fire Chief). Over time the Mercedes was swapped out with the Stretcha Fetcha. This is the point where MB859 was born. But that was not its only MAN number. Read on….
In 1978 the model was also added to the TP-2 pack alongside the Merryweather Fire Engine. This time, still classified as MB859, it was white as a police car again.
Although if you are lucky you might find a crossover. More than likely though, you will find one without labels, because you know, Lesney. The white TP-2 issue ran until 1980 but the red TP-10 ran until 1982.
This is where things get even more complicated with this one. Enter MB112. In late 1981, Matchbox created one of their first themed sets. A set of 8 models were created for the TV series in USA called Code Red. Debuting in September 1981 as a pilot episode, a full series was then shown between November 1981 and March 1982. Stores in USA would see these 8 models in exclusive packaging with pictures of the Code Red team on the blister and outer carton sold during the airing of the show. As most of the models were of vehicles not in use, they just threw a set of MAN numbers at them for 1982 as they were still in the midst of production. But they did not think too much, as the Mercury was already assigned a number. There is a clear or blue window variation, I have yet to get both.
The daft thing is, the model was in 2 different looks. the Police Car was MB112, but it was also a Fire Chief and this was assigned MB114. It wasn’t the worst part. One of the models chosen for the Code Red set was a Skybuster (the SB-20 Rescue Helicopter). They only went and gave that a MAN number too (MB109). It was a Skybuster! Completely different range, but crossed over for that series. There were 2 models that didn’t get new numbers. The MB033 Police Motorcycle and MB041 Ambulance were still in use in the basic range, and they remembered those. But the Mercury, completely forgotten, and the Skybuster was just, well, I really can’t explain the logic behind that one. The same window variation appears on this one too, and again I am still to get it.
But 1982 was a weird year. As a basic range collector at the time you might have been happily looking for an MB10 Plymouth Gran Fury Police. You open the package and find…. A Mercury Park Lane! WTF! The story goes that the tooling for the Plymouth broke. It was about the transition between the 1981 more basic look for the Plymouth with just Police on the side and the 1982 more detailed Metro Police look, and as such the Mercury can be found in both styles. You can find crossovers too, although I have not got one yet. Again windows can vary, bases can sometimes be silver rather than left unpainted. There were a lot of variations to this one.
After the Plymouth was back in production a few leftover Mercurys were still floating about. They added them to the G-4 Transporter set in 1983, and they appeared the same as before except now the black sides were no longer black.
In 1986 Universal decided to add the Mercury to the new Superfast series, as SF-1.
A special run was also created for Halley’s Comet too, which was exclusively sold in USA in special packs of 3. Each pack was simply 2 standard Superfast models, both in their regular package, a Halley’s Comet model in another regular blister (1 of 3 different castings), and the 3 blisters simply inserted into a special cardboard sleeve with the Halley’s Comet logo on it.
The 1986 Superfast series saw a side series in 1987 known as Laser Wheels, with most of the models duplicated into metallic colours and now sporting laser disk style wheels. Being white, this did not get a different look, and simply had the new wheels as LW-1. Both series ran until 1990.
The last version of the model though, this was a Roadblasters issue in 1987. It was part of the Turbo force team, known as Turbo Special. Although looking pretty standard in civilian guise.
It does better getting suited up for action.
What do you think about the Taurus as a Roadblaster? Not bad to be honest.
Next up we see the Nissan Z. Still known as MB611 though, it returns after a 13 year absence for 2021 as MB75.
It is white and sporting a side design featuring black, gold and brown stripes.
But the model has seen some tinkering since being off the table after 2008.
But as was pretty obvious with the 13 year gap, and the casting seeing tinkering, we see an updated 2020 marking to the base.
So let us bring in the first issue to show the changes. First up you can see the updated base has also seen a few other changes. Plus the Matchbox logo has reverted back to the lozenge (it never did during production before).
The front sees the removal of the Nissan badge on the front edge of the hood/bonnet.
The rear also sees the badge go, as well as the rear license plate area has been brought out a little making it almost flush with the rear of the car.
But the most obvious is the black window. Yes, this is sporting no interior. This may not mean thast the model will always have no interior. Some models may appear with or without interiors over time depending on the range they are in. We could see another issue with an interior back inside. So now we know what is different, let’s see what is the same. Ah yes, me recapping them all….
The model began as MB62 in 2004. The red issue was how it debuted, but the Matchbox team had just taken over the brand, moving it in-house during 2004, from the satellite office in Mt. Laurel in New Jersey which had closed earlier in the year. One of the first things they did was to attempt a small change to the last of the 2004 batches by releasing two version 2 models, and one was the Nissan in blue. the other was the MB613 Boom Fire Truck which saw a more realistic red version 2 over the initial black with splashy side design.
2004 also saw the debut Superfast issue of the model in the number 34 slot in metallic burnt orange.
2005 saw the model move to the MB29 slot, and although it had debuted in a very realistic look, the early 2005 issues were still mainly ones held over from the Hero City era as setting them up can take time. The model was black with a red window and a large white “Z” side design. Although I was lucky to find an error where they forgot to tampo the side.
It continued in the Superfast series which for 2005 was split between a USA range and ROW range. The US saw a yellow Nissan, and the ROW saw a white Z.
The model was also in the 2005 Auto Carrier Launcher set in green. This issue sported blacked out windows. Was this a sign of what was to come.
In 2006 the model was not in the basic range, but still appeared in the Superfast series. This time it was a golden tan design.
It also had 2 different Licensed 5-pack issues. The first was in the Avatar 5-pack where it was white with Aang and Katara on the side. It then returned only a few packs later for the Shonen Jump 5-pack this time in yellow with Sakura on the side.
In 2007 it returned to the basic range as MB15 in a greeny gold, which if you are like me, you would likely have found shades on.
It also made its first 10-pack appearance that year too in the Real back in burgundy.
However, 2008 proved to be the end (until now). But it went out with a bang. The basic range saw 2 different issues, beginning in charcoal and then a few batches later returning in NISMO silver. But I had fun. I found shades on both.
It also had one more release in the Real 10-pack, this time in blue. And yes, shades a plenty on this one too. I was not expecting it to return, so was very surprised to see it pop up again. Hopefully this is a sign that more classic castings from the 2000s will return too. Now to start a list…. Only kidding, on with the next model.
Which is the MB1169 ’80 Mercedes-Benz W123 Wagon. Or as the packaging says, S123. The base still has W123 on it though.
It takes the MB53 slot for 2021 in a light pastel yellow colour.
It looks very nice like this. Now, again, this model is rather new so I thought instead of going through its previous incarnations, I would look at the previous Wagon. Well the only one.
The MB426 E430 Wagon. Now spoiler alert, I am shortly to do a Target retro rundown which will then see the police version showcased too. This is just the civilian one. Which started as a German exclusive MB68 in 1999 in blue.
In 2000, still as a German exclusive it moved to MB38 in a white Eurotaxi livery.
2001, and still a German only issue. Yes this casting saw its first 3 years only in the German market (which I believe did include Austria, and perhaps some other areas of Europe too that spoke German as a main language). The MB61 release was in plain green.
2002 and weirdly, this went from a German exclusive to a worldwide 5-pack issue, as a part of the Weekend Heroes 5-pack.
Then in 2003 it was an ROW basic range issue in blue. MB55 ROW that year saw the first 10,000 sporting the Hero City logo on the front of the car before it was wiped for the rest of production.
That was almost it for the civilian, except it finally saw a worldwide release in 2006 in black as MB22. Admittedly I only have the flower wheel variant. It also sports lace wheels too, but this was a period shortly before I decided to collect wheel variants and so I didn’t bother. And now I discover that the lace wheel, which was a late run, is actually quite hard to find. I will obtain it one day.
And this brings us to our final model. And this is the first new casting of the year. The MB1238 ’62 Plymouth Savoy.
It takes the MB12 slot for 2021 in black.
Featuring simple side and rear detailing with a chrome base.
Oh you want to see the base? I show the obligatory base shot for new castings. I did find it funny, the only just squeezed Savoy on that top line, and the elephant’t trunk only just made it too. Now obviously there is no history to this model in Matchbox terms, so I will go back into the Matchbox history to the first Plymouth they made. The MB010 Gran Fury. As noted earlier in the report itself, I was doing the Mercury Park Lane, which popped up in 1982 when the Plymouth casting broke, so you might see some familiar looks here.
The Gran Fury was the first casting of a Plymouth that Matchbox ever made. It debuted in 1979 and ran until 1986 in the basic range (apart from a brief period when the casting broke and they swapped in the Mercury). At first the window section was amber and the roof had a solid blue light bar.
But that solid blue light bar quickly turned into regular see-through light bar.
From 1979 – 1980 you could find the shade of amber window would vary quite a bit.
And in 1981, they turned the window blue. Again shades of blue do occur during that year.
In 1982 they slightly altered the design, by changing the door tampo to Metro Police and adding top printing. There is a crossover. I only recently discovered I had missed it and am currently hunting one down. It still sported the original side design on the doors but had already started seeing the Metro Police top print. Again, just like with the Mercedes-Benz E430 lace wheel variant, these are quite a short run and rather elusive.
In 1983 production moved from England to Macau which also started seeing silver bases on top of the almost identical look.
For 1984 the model received its first major change, turning white and blue. This ran unchanged for 2 years.
However, if you hunted around you might find a rarer 8-dot production run from 1985. Nearly all were the standard dot-dash wheels throughout the model’s entire production.
In 1986 the model saw a little tweak for its final year receiving an SFPD star on the door in place of the crest it originally had. This was down to the fact that When Mettoy went bust in 1983, their Corgi brand had been a licensor for James Bond merchandise. Universal swooped in and grabbed the license. Their plan, release some tie in models for the next James Bond film. A View To A Kill arrived in 1985 and with it, Matchbox created new castings of the Renault 11 Taxi and Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud that were in the film. These were packaged up and released as singles. But there were supposed to be 2 more. A gift set, based on the G-8 Action pack style, was going to be issued too in matching James Bond design. the Renault and Rolls were also going to be in the set, but as well as a launcher there was going to be an orange MB075 Helicopter designed like the Soviet coastguard helicopter from the film, and the MB010 Plymouth Gran fury was going to have black instead of blue panels, and an SFPD logo on the door. Sadly the licensor rejected the first proof of the gift set, and by the time they had altered it for approval it was too late to start making it. So it got dropped. There were supposedly a few dozen of the 2 models mocked up in pre-production form. Plus only a couple of the actual gift set itself. But having been to the trouble of obtaining an SFPD license, they just used it in 1986 anyway, swapping in the original crest for an SFPD star. They also added the logo to the Peterbilt Wreck Truck too. As I said, they got the license, they used it.
After being dropped, the design was revived in 1989 for an MC-13 multipack. The 2 SFPD models as well as a Convoy with Helictoper on the back were packaged together. The set ran through 1991 and production ran from Macau to Thailand too. But what else happened was during 1988 they noticed that the faint door detailing that had been on the model from day 1 had faded away to nothing. So they took the tooling and re-crafted the door detailing, making it really stand out now.
Now I am missing a model out. In 1987 a multipack appeared in USA which featured 3 models in red and white “Sheriff” livery. the Chevy Blazer, Mission Helicopter and this Plymouth. I still haven’t found it yet. It ran through 1989 so the Plymouth again features the early “smooth doors” casting and later “deep detailed doors” casting. However, it stopped production before moving to Thailand, so I only have 2 to find. But what I do have is the random final issue. After 1991 the model lay dormant until 1998 when it was popped out of retirement for one final outing. Part of the Star Cars series in an Adam-12 livery. Obviously Matchbox didn’t have any of the real vehicle castings from the TV series, and as was the case with a lot of Star Car models, they just used whatever they thought was about the closest. In this case, the Gran Fury. The TV show ran from 1968-1975, and during its time saw Plymouth Belvederes, Mercury Montegos, Plymouth Satellites and AMC Matadors. So out of 4 real vehicles, 2 were Plymouths. But none were as new as the Gran Fury, as this was the vehicle that replaced the Satellite in real life. But I do think it was about as close as they were going to get, unless that Mercury Park Lane had been used again.
But that is it for another rundown. Plus, I have made a few notes to myself to double down on my hunt for more stuff. It’s half the reason why I do these dives. Checking to see what I missed. I miss a lot don’t I!
Until next time, have a safe week.