Model: Matchbox MB360 Ford Expedition
Release: 2000 MB54 US exclusive
eBay link: Matchbox Ford Expedition
Why it is in the collection: Because Chinese production was in 2 factories
Around the turn of the century, Mattel had Matchbox production in China. In the mid 1990s a factory in Thailand was busy making models, but production moved to China by the end of the decade, only to return to Thailand in the middle of the 2000s. During this time, most of the production was in the one factory, which Mattel dubbed EA, and some were produced in another factory, this one dubbed BJ. Occasionally a model had production runs in both factories, and as such they can look quite different.
Not being from USA, I never saw this model when it first appeared back in 2000. I managed to obtain an example a year or so later at a UK MICA Convention and that was it for a while. Eventually I also obtained a logo version of the model too, which at the time (during 2000) I did not attempt to get, but after completing 2002 and 2003 logo hunts decided I wanted to go back and attempt 2000 too. But both those had what I refer to as the fine mud print. There was a variation with blobby mud print.
This is actually a recent addition of mine, and I would like to thank Wheel Collectors in USA for providing me with this too, as they sell older Matchbox models alongside all the new stuff and this was in a recent box they shipped over to me. The guys have been extremely good to me, helping me to fill in gaps in my collection as well as providing the latest vehicles for me to do my blog reports. Thanks guys.
I did mention about the EA & BJ factories for a reason. That is because I learn things as I go along too. I knew of the variation with fine versus blobby mud, but never put 2 & 2 together until I got my new arrival.
I pulled out my earlier pair of fine mud models and immediately noticed they were a much paler shade of army green. It was instantly noticeable. Then I turned the bases over.
Now it all makes sense. Production in the EA factory gave us a lighter army green with fine mud spray, and when moved to the BJ factory, it was a darker shade of army green and the mud spray was much more blobby. I probably knew it at the time, but it had slipped my mind as I was slow to get going on it. All I knew was I wanted a blobby mud version. Now this begs the question, what other Chinese made Matchbox from the turn of the century were actually made in both factories requiring me to find one of each? That is the thing with collecting. The more I add, the more I realize I need. It’s all part of the fun of the hobby.