Model: Matchbox MB078 Toyota Supra
Release: 1987 Dinky
eBay link: Matchbox Toyota Supra on ebay
Why it is in the collection: Being in the right place at the right time
This model has been in my collection since 1987. I was 15 years old at the time when I went on my annual summer trip with the family to the seaside for a week in our caravan. Yes, we were a caravan family. Our summer trips usually took the place of visiting the south coast of the UK. I honestly can’t remember off the top of my head where we went for our 1987 trip. But I do remember the journey home. Well a small part of it.
We were traveling north to get back to our home and as was often the case, we would make many stops on the way. It wasn’t like we were in a rush. My father used to prefer taking A-roads in the UK (single carriageway major roads) rather than the motorway (2-4 lane non-stop roads with on/off ramps, with both being known by different names in other countries) and as such we used to drive through many towns and cities. We would stop for a rest break, and while stopped we would often check out a local store for snacks or something.
Well we went in to this one store. I honestly cannot say which town, city, or anything, just a store, but I remember vividly what I saw. While the rest of the family was looking for snacks to eat, food to drink, I happened to see what I thought were 6 Matchbox cars. But they weren’t. They were clearly packaged up in some red blistercards that had Dinky all over them. But I recognized the castings.
Looking at the bases of the models, sure enough there was a Matchbox logo. I checked the back of the blister, and hidden down the bottom were more references to Matchbox. I knew nothing about them at the time, but all I knew was I wanted them. They were new to me, and were not in the 1987 catalogue that I already had. Plus, I had heard of Dinky, and knew the company had gone bust, but was totally confused as to why there were 6 Matchbox cars in unusual colour schemes in Dinky blisters. I begged my parents to get them for me. Obviously they were in a generous mood at the time, because they did. I never saw them again in a store. Ever!
This is my favourite of the 6. It was close between this and the Pontiac Firebird SE. I almost went with that one instead. The others were Fiat Abarth, Citroen 15CV, ’84 Chevy Corvette and VW Golf. Being 15, I was basically at a stage where I was looking after them more than as a kid. Not a fully blown collector, but careful not to damage them. Which is a good job as these are pretty rare. The story goes that Universal purchased the rights to the Dinky brand name after it had gone bust, but where they just carried Matchbox on with no stop in production after taking over Lesney, the Dinky brand had already stopped and was defunct by the time they purchased the rights. They came up with a plan as to what to do with it. Having already established a Models of Yesteryear series decades earlier as pretty much the first offshoot to the basic range, they thought the majority of basics were modern vehicles. MOY was older vehicles. real classics from the earlier years of the motor industry, just slipping in to the 1950s. There was a gap. The rest of the ’50s, through the ’60s and ’70s. They came up with a plan to market a new range of models using the Dinky brand name to bridge the gap between basics and MOY. Work began, they started getting things sorted, then it was pointed out that their purchase of the Dinky name had a time limit. Something had to be sold by mid-1987 in a store with the Dinky name on it, or their purchase will be canceled and the rights to the brand would be offered up for sale again. Their new toolings weren’t ready. There was still a while to go. So somebody just grabbed half a dozen basics, slapped some new designs on them, threw them in plain red generic Dinky packages, drove down to a random store and talked the owner into purchasing them, giving them a receipt for the purchase of Dinky branded items. It was all legitimate; barely. The packaging was fully legal, with all the proper information on the back as other items would have. But the front was simply bright red with a classic Dinky logo across it. No mention of which model was which or anything. A one package for all deal. As I said, it was a quick turnaround.
But talk about being in the right place at the right time. How fortunate were we? My dad deciding to go main roads, not motorways, deciding at that point that we needed a break. It’s the way things go sometimes. I do enjoy reminiscing over my childhood, and for some reason, a lot of memories seem to involve Matchbox. As I said, I can’t remember where we went, where we stopped on the way back, or anything else, except seeing these unusual red Dinky branded blistercards in a store, discovering they were Matchbox in disguise, and pleading with my parents to get them. I am thankful to my parents, as they have been pretty helpful in my Matchbox collecting over the years.