Matchbox Monday finishes up 2021 Batch A

Well I am sure that people were expecting this post to hit at any point. After all I had done 2/3rds of the batch already so you knew these last 5 were not far away. Was I leaving the best until last? Who knows. I just took a look at them and made a decision as to how to split them. So let’s get on with it shall we. I will do this set of 5 in the order they are in the 2021 basic range.

Which means we start with a new casting. The first model we hit is the brand new for 2021 Chow Mobile II casting which takes the MB24 slot for the year.

Chow Mobile II is a brand new Matchbox originals casting. MB1250 for those who follow MAN numbers. Now the first thing you see on the side (if you read from left to right) is A58. Something tells me this is a Michael Heralda design. More on that in a second….

I do love that on the counter side, they have highlighted various food items too. This really helps to bring out the model more than leaving them blank.

It may not be a licensed casting, but I think it does look very realistic. I can imagine a food truck looking a lot like this. Very well executed and I definitely prefer it over the last casting.

And for those who like base shots for new castings, I added that in here too. But before I carry on, I did get in touch with Michael who confirmed it was indeed his. He told me about the inspiration behind the design. I will let him tell it in his words…

The fact that Sandy and I relocated to New Mexico, a little over a year ago, is one of the reasons for the Southwest food theme.  

Our favorite Bakery in Albuquerque is known as BOSQUE BAKERY – they produce THE BEST Green Chile Sourdough Bread in ALL of ABQ!!!  Legally I could not use their name, or logo, so I created a new logo and the list of Bakery Specialties in the deco are a homage to Bosque Bakery.  

When the Chow Wagon with my new deco first appeared at retail I bought a few, signed one and gifted it to Jim – the owner of the Bakery.  In addition to all the fine breads and empanadas he produces Jim also makes the best Red Chile Chocolate chip cookies you will ever experience. I will bring a dozen, or more, to the Gathering in July!

I had a lot of fun listing all the specialty items in the deco and if you cannot read them all I am attaching a close-up of the artwork taken directly from the e-sheet – see below.

Since many people use the app YELP to read reviews before heading out to a new eatery I gave Bay-Ke-Ree a 5 Star rating – you will find the 5 Stars in the design (in the e-sheet the 5 stars were just above the drivers side window.  I think because of production limitations it was relocated).

Lately I have been adding more details to a number of my deco models – adding chrome, headlamps and tail lights and other small detailed enhancements. I will bring a  few of them to the Gathering in July!

Thank you very much for the additional information Michael. I love hearing about the inspiration behind designs sometimes, and felt this was a deserving design to add more to. Plus, all the more reason for me to want to get to Albuquerque in July. I’m booked in. I hope the event goes as planned.

But back to the model. Why did they come up with a new casting when we had the MB889 (later MB999) Food Truck in the database anyway.

This was the MB4 debut version of MB889 from 2013. Mr Lugo’s.

Well the new casting is a little thinner, giving it a longer feel, although when sat on their ends you can see it is barely any longer. You also see that the roof window is set much further forward too.

Plus the grille not being formed from the interior makes the model less of an off-road style look. Plus it does not feature flared wheel arches. Again, less of an off-road look. So obviously the original truck was created during the short-lived “from a child’s perspective” era of the early to mid 2010s. This was a small beef-up compared to vehicles like the Blaze Blaster (fire truck on 4×4 wheels), Flame Smasher (tanker on 4×4 wheels), Vantom (van on 4×4 wheels) or Field Tripper (school bus on 4×4 wheels). Vehicles at that point were imagined as if you were a small child looking up at the vehicle in question and imagining the lower items being much larger in ratio to the tops of the vehicles. But there was also another important detail.

Matchbox models naturally face left in a package. This is a Mattel rule for the packaging of Matchbox products. It is a little known rule, but it is there. As you can see, the majority of the design to this model consists of the blank side of the casting receiving a full tampo print, and Chow Mobile II has this on the side facing the front of the blister when facing left. The older casting would have to face right.

Facing left, it tends to lose some of the tampo printing to accommodate the shelves. So you tend to miss some of the fun of the design. So the new tooling was actually created to cover quite a few things that they were looking at addressing with the old tool. It was easier to start from scratch than try to adjust what was already there.

But the old casting did have quite a good run. After debuting in 2013, it was sold as MB8 in the 2014 basic range in purple featuring The Caramel Club side design.

Which you really notice gets lost on the side facing outwards in the blister. I see why they wanted a do-over.

Now this is where things get complicated. As I mentioned the Food Truck was originally MB889, but was later turned into MB999. This was in time for the MB9 for 2015 issue in yellow, which was also thrown in the City Adventure 5-pack as a non-exclusive. The alteration mainly consisted of moving the shelves from being a part of the interior section to a part of the body section. There were a few minor other tweaks too, but this was the most noticeable part.

But there was one small thing that Fun-Fun! Sushi forgot. The base section itself was unchanged, so they forgot to alter the number.

It still stated MB889 on it. It wasn’t, it was MB999, it just had the wrong details on the base. Some people still catalogue it under MB889 because that was what it said. It is all a matter of personal preference, as I don’t think there is really a wrong way.

It got corrected for the next issue, which unfortunately you can’t really read on this photo. But it is there. MB999.

This was the 2016 MB11.

In 2017 it moved to MB53 in blue with a Worksite Food Truck design.

And what many believe is just the best detailing for the snacks on the shelves ever done for this casting. I mean this was a basic range issue, but just look at all that detailing.

In 2018 it was MB25 in yellow. A prime example of why pointing left doesn’t work very well.

Because of those details all being on the other side.

And 2019’s MB87 came with a Sriracha tampo design.

Which also appeared on the MB1041 ’62 Nissan Junior too. I am hoping we see more Sriracha in the future too.

2019 also was the first year that we saw a second issue on the casting too. Aside from the 2015 issue also being thrown in a 5-pack too as a non-exclusive, each year had only see the one issue. This time though, the Sweets series saw the model featuring Rainbow Nerds.

Which I have to admit, did look pretty good across the shelves in a rainbow way.

After 2019 came 2020 and even more. Three different issues. MB18 for the basic range was black featuring The Lobster Cage side design.

The City Adventure II pack had a different design. City Adventure in 2015 was just the basic model again, but this time pack II had a white Tacos model.

But as I said, there were 3, as 2020 also had a Sweets set, and this time it was pink with a Charms design.

Again, a lot of detailing went into the items on the shelves here. But with a new casting now available, I wonder how many more we will see of the older Food Truck.

After this we get the MB1200 ’76 VW Mk1 Golf GTi. Although the packaging does states Volkswagen Golf Mk1.

But that’s enough from me about packaging. Phew! How I managed to talk for that long about it I do not know. MB33 for the 2021 range is a really cool Polizei vehicle.

I see they managed to sneak in a little Rabbit reference too as the Mk1 was known as a Rabbit in USA.

Notruf 110 is German for Emergency call 110. 110 is the official Police telephone number in Germany, although because of EU directives, 112 (which they use for fire and rescue) will also work for police too. However, that was only from 1991, and this is a 1976 Golf, so definitely 110 was correct here. BTW don’t forget if you look in the rear window you can sometimes find items on the parcel shelf, other times not.

This time I am not going to do a VW bounce back, because in 1976 Lesney released a BMW 3.0CSL in the basic range, and in 1977 that model saw a German exclusive Polizei look. So I thought I would mix things up a bit and go BMW.

Of course, as I said, the model actually debuted in 1976. It was MB45 in the basic range replacing the Ford Group 6. It came with opening doors and a BMW sticker down the front of the orange body.

That was, for the most part, how it ran until 1981. With 6 years of production shades of orange can be found (and yes, the label on this darker orange one was badly lined up).

You can also find a lot of variance in the shade of green window. Most came with a standard light green tint. Some came out extremely dark and some just non-existent. The clear window was around 1980.

Of course you could also find some with no labels at all, and again shades of window and orange paint can be found.

But in 1977, the German market received a unique Polizei liveried model. Early runs sported a blue dome on the roof, which later turned amber. However, after Germany reverted back to the standard orange for 1978, Lesney decided to sell the amber light variant in the Japanese marked as MB11 too.

But this was Lesney. They had created a second body casting for the Polizei issue which featured a small hole in the roof which they could put the dome in. However, they accidentally painted up a small run using the casting without the hole in the roof. After applying the green tampo print front and rear, they realized and did not apply any labels. They threw them in some multipacks to get rid of them.

This was because at the same time, they had painted some regular bodies white for an Austrian promotional issue. These featured the standard BMW label on the front, and a second label on the rear with the signature of Sepp Manhalter, who was a European sports car racer during the 1970s and early 1980s. He always drove BMWs, starting in a 2002 in 1970, and in 1976 won a few races in a BMW 3.0CSL. So in 1977 they sold a special model celebrating him in Austria, but with a white Polizei with a light hole and a white promo without, you can see how easy it would be to mix them up.

After being dropped from the range after 1981 finished, the model saw one more outing in red as a part of the G-1 Car Transporter set. As these were usually models pulled from the basic range, the red one is a bit of a mystery. Was it again a case of “we painted it wrong” and just threw them in to get rid of them?

Who knows, but this was a huge difference to the regular orange paint the model had. Again, the red is not an easy one to find.

But the casting was not done. Oh no, this model ended up in Bulgaria. In 1985, as a part of the second batch of models that at the time had to be returned within one year, the Bulgarian factory received the casting and went nuts. A whole host of body and interior variations.

Bases were nearly always silver. A black base does exist, although I have not seen one. A light blue tinted window also exists too, but all the ones I have are clear.

After initially running the models with no tampo, later on they added the BMW logo, at first small, then much larger later.

But it still wasn’t done. Hungary put in a request for a deal much like Bulgaria, and although Bulgaria kept coming back for more, Hungary only did the one run from 1987 to 1988 and that was it for them. The BMW was shipped off as part of the Hungarian assortment too and they too went nuts, going everywhere from black to white and in between.

Black or silver bases can be found, and Hungarian issues sported 8-dot wheels instead of the usual 5-arch.

Once Hungary was finished with the casting, so was Matchbox in general. It was not seen again.

The MB1211 Bugatti Divo. This was a surprise. It only debuted as a new casting in the previous batch (the last of 2020) and we get another release in the very next batch.

Is anybody complaining? I very much doubt it. I think this was definitely one of the stars of the 2020 range, and I think will continue to be one of the stars for whatever release they can get out of it. For 2021 it takes the MB39 slot in the basic range.

This time it comes in satin black with a grey base and blue interior which doubles as some of the external areas.

As I said, this is coming only 1 batch after the debut issue for 2020. So what colour will batch B be? Ha ha! Only joking, I think this may be the only issue for 2021.

I am loving the fact that Matchbox finally have some cool supercars in the Matchbox brand again. The Bugatti, as well as the Lamborghini Centenario in Moving Parts, and for 2021 we will be seeing a McLaren 720S Spider for basics and a Pagani Huayra (pronounced “Why-ra”) in Moving Parts too. An exciting time to be a Matchbox collector for sure!

So yeah, I am bouncing back into older vehicles here. No recent supercar history to speak of, I went with an iconic brand that sadly does not get made by Matchbox any more. Ferrari. In this case, the Redhead. Oh sorry, it’s Italian, the Testarossa. It was known as “Red Head” due to the cam covers being red, not that the whole car had to be red. Although when Matchbox first created MB172, adding it to the basic range as MB75 in 1986, they did go with the signature red. After all, it is the colour Ferrari is best known for.

But it was also added to the Superfast range in 1986 too as SF-24, and this one was black with silver striping.

In 1987 Superfast also became Laser Wheels too, and many models simply were metallic versions of the Superfast release. However, black didn’t metallic-ize too well, so they changed the car to silver. The silver striping therefore turned gold.

But there was something else that occurred in 1987. Matchbox created a RoadBlasters series, with 2 competing sides. Motor Lords and Turbo Force. Models were based on vehicles in the basic range, although some needed a few adaptations to allow the extra parts to clip on. The Ferrari Testarossa saw a new window piece with a small additional section sticking out the front of it.

This allowed it to become Speedking. Speedking was a part of the Turbo Force tribe, and was the 3rd highest ranking officer in the Turbo Force Team, classed as a rear guard racer. Speedking sported 2 retro-rocket boosters and 2 heat seeking torpedoes.

The story goes (as it was in Eagle Comics in 1988-1989 in the UK starting in issue 320) that in the year 2587 a great race was staged on the planet Okreb. The cars were controlled by drivers in an orbiting satellite and the races were beamed across the galaxy. An initial 24 comic story arc was in Eagle from issue 320 to 342 with a finale in 344 (343 was skipped) whereas issue 345 began a secondary story as part of a longer arc of the Computer Warrior series. This ran until issue 353.

But anyway, back to the Ferrari, in 1988 the Laser Wheel issue received a new colour. It turned metallic red with silver stripes.

Same design as before, but now closer to the regular Ferrari look. But the Superfast variant wasn’t ready to change yet and was still sold in black.

In Hong Kong, a set of 12 promotional models depicting the animals of the Chinese Zodiac as members of racing teams. Rabbit, Racing Team number 9 adorned a yellow Testarossa.

We also saw this. Wait, does it look familiar?

Perhaps if I was to show the new addition comparing it to a standard issue you can see the difference. Black base, obviously. But there is more….

When it got warmer it turned tan. Yes, this was a Supercolorchanger model. Supercolorchangers were launched in 1988 and the models sported the same designs as ones found in the basic range. Most were in noticeably different colours, but the Testarossa was red when cold. So it looked a lot like a basic range issue. It was only as it warmed up that it went through orange into tan.

In 1989 Hong Kong had another promotion, for Redoxon Vitamin C tablets. It was a free gift with purchase and came in a window box.

1989 was also the year that premium issues debuted. The first set of premium issues were called World Class, and the Ferrari was one of the first set of models. Released as WC-6, it featured a higher level of tampo printing, chromed windows and 2-part rubber wheels. I have to admit I was not a big fan of these. The chrome windows looked terrible, especially as you could no longer see inside, and the 2-part rubber wheels were created in such a strange way that they stuck out the sides of the models quite a lot. This was the reason I just switched off to premium releases for so long, and why you will discover I don’t have all these ones yet.

1990 saw Matchbox release the “My First Matchbox” series which was known by other names in different markets. These models were basically made up of the primary colours, along with green, black and white. Most models ran through the entire 4-years of production, the Testarossa beginning with a Macau made model like the others, but when they shipped castings off elsewhere, this one was dropped. So it was only around a year or so.

But 1990 was also the year that the Superfast issue finally saw a second version, right at the end before the Superfast/Laser Wheels finished.

Basically they just swapped the black and red components around.

Giving us a full quartet of models during the Superfast and Laser Wheels era.

You might have noticed how I have not mentioned the basic range. Well, this is because nothing happened with the model, bar a few tiny casting alterations until 1991. Although the My First Matchbox never carried on production elsewhere, the Testarossa did. This is because the My First Matchbox castings were all shipped off to China. The Ferrari ended up in Thailand instead. As they weren’t making My First Matchbox in Thailand, that model got dropped. But basic range issues continued. But then they decided to ship it off to China anyway later in the year. The 1991 Thailand issues are pretty tough to find. The most noticeable difference is the shade of red between these Thai and China issues.

As well as the obvious change to country on the base.

Late in the year though, after the casting was shoved over to China, they didn’t resume the My First Matchbox issue, but did start making some blank white issues for Graffic Traffic there.

And a second World Class issue, again in white. Obviously this was the complete opposite, fully detailed and rubber 2-part wheels.

Now firmly made in China, the basic range continued full steam and another promotion was done based off it. For Christmas 1992 a special aftershave pack was sold in Lloyds Chemists in the UK. There were a few different assortments of promotional models, with one of the promotional packs containing the Ferrari alongside a Lloyds liveried Porsche 959 together with a bottle of fern and wild oak aftershave.

For 1993 they made a small tweak to the basic range issue. The Italian flag was removed from the top of the Ferrari logo.

And then they decided to move production back to Thailand. Are you keeping up?

However, this time the China issue was a short run at the start of the year and is tougher to find than the more common 1993 Thailand made issue when it comes to finding them with no Italian flag on the Ferrari logo.

1993 also saw Showstoppers debut. Made in Thailand, they went with a red model. Because, you know, we hadn’t seen much in the way of red ones since it debuted in 1986.

However, when placed next to a regular issue, you do notice it was a lot more different than you think. The Showstoppers issue was a much paler, almost orange-red, and the Ferrari logo on the front much smaller. It also sported some additional front tampo.

1994. This was where the fun started. Tyco had taken over, and the US/ROW split to the basic range was going to become even more extreme. US issues of many models started to show up in wild colour schemes. The MB75 US release of the Testarossa sported a fluorescent yellow paint job with black zebra stripes and a pink front splash. It also sported the new 6-spoke spiral wheels that were debuting that year in gold.

Although the catalogue was showing a different look which in preproduction form was black with a fluorescent yellow interior/base and green/red design.

The ROW market? Nope. No wild design. All that happened to the ROW MB75 was that the gold spiral wheels debuting for 1994 took over the traditional 8-dot concave wheels.

Late in the year, in collaboration with White Rose, a selection of 24 models were chosen to be in a Collectors Choice series. This was planned to be an ongoing series with a yearly release, but sadly was dropped after series 1. The Ferrari was number 22 in the series in blue with a more detailed standard design. It was also the first we would see of the later chrome version of the spiral wheels which would replace gold in 1995.

There were also plans for a revamped Graffic traffic series, and the Ferrari was created with gold wheels in white. However it never made production. There is a chrome prepro version too, which again never entered production.

But as we rolled into 1995, the only thing that changed was that the wheels would swap from gold (1994) to chrome (1995 onwards). Therefore the US MB75 in fluorescent yellow swapped.

As did the ROW issue in standard red. The model was dropped after 1995, although some leftover US issues were thrown in some packages in early 1996 and sold as MB78 just to clear overstocks off.

It wasn’t the end of the casting though. 1995 saw a Super Cars 5-pack issue in dark metallic red with no tampo printing at all.

And in 1996-1998 we saw a selection of 4 different Premiere issues. As I already mentioned, I was ignoring premiums at the time, and at the moment have only picked up the 1997 ROW PC-2 issue in yellow. There is also a 1996 Gold Collection in silver, and 2 further USA PC issues, PC-10 in black (1997) and PC-19 in red (1998).

But as the Collectibles series started getting close, in 1998 we saw a Star Cars collection in blisters with boxes. One of them was for Miami Vice, and featured Crockett’s car. One of the few Star Car models that had the correct vehicle, as they actually made his. Of course his didn’t actually have the Miami Vice logo across the front. But this was a premium release, and although it did only have plastic wheels, it did sport a painted interior. The black interior had the seats painted tan.

In 1999 we saw a basic range issue again. Well I say we, it only actually works if you are in Germany. It was a part of the German exclusive basic range as MB27 in yellow.

And in 2000 the model saw one final release. This time in the US range as MB25 or the ROW range as MB20 in black. I hope being black for a final issue is not something that will befall the Bugatti. It needs more outings. Of course, if you lived in the US market you could actually find a logo. The first 10,000 MB25s sported a Matchbox 2000 logo on the window.

But before I move on to the next model, I did want to add this one little extra. This particular Ferrari Testarossa appeared in 1993. It came with blacked out windows for a reason.

Because if you lifted up the rear part of the roof, you could flick that whole interior/roof section.

And turn the car into a convertible. Of course this was what they called a Swop Tops model. It was a short lived series that featured 8 vehicles. The last 2 of which were only released in small numbers in a later production run (Ford Mustang and Porsche 968).

Right so where does that take us next? The MB784 1948 Jeep Willys, according to the package. Which is unusual as previous packages have stated it to be a 1943 Jeep Willys, even though the base doesn’t have a production date for the real vehicle. This is why I don’t like packaging.

Let that be a “Warn”ing to you. get it? There are some “Warn” logos on this one, which I saw were on the MBX 4×4 in 2019. I had a feeling we would see them again, and we do for the 2021 MB76.

Apart from that, the model is red this time and has a very similar look to the previous year’s blue issue with WillyX on the side too. Now this is the thing with this one. I have been waiting for something like this for a long time.

My very first Matchbox Jeep was a Jeep Hot Rod as a kid. Although mine was a pink one, and we still haven’t see the new casting released in pink yet. The fact that the Hot Rod was later turned red gave me hope as I thought the new one would appear in red sooner or later. Later it is, because it is 2021 and this casting debuted back in 2010. 11 years to finally give us a red one. About time too, as the older Jeep casting inspired the new one. That shovel on the side? Why do you think it was there? Because it paid homage to the classic Lesney Jeeps that ran through until the beginning of the Mattel era, and the first one that started it all was the Jeep Hot Rod. All the others were offshoots of this casting.

Although I doubt we will ever see a pink one. Unless they come up with some way of creating a retro model with something related to “Hot Rod” on it. You never know. Although if you were to Google, you can actually find pink Jeeps in the real world (aside from Elvis Presley’s). So never say never. But as I have got talking about the Jeep Hot rod, I might as well run it through.

Debuting as MB-2B in 1971 the model ran in pink for the majority of its time in the basic range. It only turned red for its final year in 1975. During 4 years of pink production you could find quite a lot of variation. for starters the pink paint used would change on a regular basis.

But the green base would also vary quite a bit from a very light lime to a darker green.

Interiors too. The model would usually sport an ivory or cream interior throughout production. However, there is a rare yellow interior which I am yet to get. There is also a rare 5-spoke wheel issue too, as all mine have 4-spokes.

As I said, for 1975 and its final year in the basic range, the model would finally see a new colour. Red.

However, this was Lesney. The plan was for the red issue to sport a white base after pink having a green base. But somehow the white base ended up on a final run of pinks as they obviously started production of them before they finished the pinks off.

Then they realized they already had some green bases for those pinks, but had already put white bases on them, so put the green bases on the first bunch of reds. Well this was Lesney. Again there is a rare 5-spoke version which I have not picked up yet. The majority still sported the 4-spokes. Now for me, this is where the Jeep Hot Rod finishes. But I don’t go by bases. When the casting was dropped, a new MB38-C Jeep casting was created for 1976 with no huge engine at the front, and a gun sticking out the rear. They also created a new Jeep with no gun in the rear to add to twin packs. The First TP-11s saw the Jeep Hot Rod base name in use as they forgot to alter the details straight away. When they noticed this they simply wiped out No.2 from the start of the line and Hot Rod from the end of it, leaving Jeep offset to one side. I have not even attempted to find one that says Jeep Hot Rod on the base as I do not worry for these things.

But I did attempt a full set of 4 base variations to the regular Jeep Hot Rod because it is visible out of the front and back of the model, therefore being of interest to me. That was my rule, ignore bases unless I can see them without flipping a model over. The exception for me is for a change of country of manufacture.

And this brings me to my final model, and a funny realization. This is the MB1094 ’56 Jaguar XK140 Roadster.

It slots in to the MB83 slot in the basic range for 2021.

It arrives in a nice metallic light blue, which is a paint scheme that has been utilized many times over the years, and this one is good for shades.

And again, this light metallic blue does not disappoint. It can be found in a very silvery looking shade, or much deeper blue shade.

The casting has been with us a few years now, first debuting back in 2018 as MB3 in metallic dark charcoal.

In 2019 it moved to the MB9 slot in British Racing Green.

And in 2020 was not a part of the basic range, but appeared in the Highway Speeders 5-pack instead. So what was this funny realization?

It started when I thought of the Jag being very similar to this particular MB1083 ’63 Austin Healey 3000 Mk2. It was the 2019 MB78 issue. Then it reminded me of 2020 and the whole both Austin Healey and Jaguar were in cream and people thought it was the same model, so I pulled out my Austin Healeys.

From front to back on the left is the line-up of Jaguars in order from first to last. From back to front on the right is the line-up of Austin Healeys in order from first to last (2018 MB87 – red, 2019 MB78 – blue, 2020 MB42 – cream, 2020 MB55 – British Racing Green). It’s as if they are alternating. I tell you, if the Jaguar’s next colour is red, and the Austin Healey turns up in metallic charcoal I am going to laugh. I also hope that doesn’t mean that they will only appear in 5 colours each and will both be retired afterwards. But the fact that 2 vehicles, both quite similar to each other, both being classic British Roadsters, and both appearing around the same time seem to be working opposite each other like this has not escaped my sight.

And on that bombshell, I think I am about done for another week. This concludes my rundown of batch A, and before I start on batch B, I do have some plans for the next month or so with new 2021 stuff/older 2020 stuff as I work along. I still have 3 or 4x 2020 releases I plan on writing up, with 2 definitely in the pipeline for coming weeks because I just couldn’t leave them. So beware, I will be nudging back into last year a few more times.

But I have to say, if this is anything to go by, I think 2021 is off to a flying start. I can’t wait to see what else there is for the year. So until next time, have a great, fun and most of all safe week.

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