Matchbox Monday is hitching itself back into the hauling business

This was something that the Matchbox team made no mention of in their 2021 Line Previews at either the Albuquerque Gathering Zoom conference, or at the Leipzig event. So when the first images started appearing of these 2 sets, I almost fell off my chair. Twin packs have been something I was a huge fan of growing up, and the range has come and gone a few times over the years. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this time they can stick around. Early signs are looking promising but who knows for sure until later in the year when numbers start getting crunched. Returning for 2021, the range is now using proper English in the name. Hitch & Haul. It used to be Hitch ‘n Haul. There are 8 sets in the 2021 series, and the first 2 have arrived for batch A. And yes, I am making a whole piece out of 2 sets. There are 2 more batches planned over the year for the other 6 sets so I have a chance for 2 more articles like this one. Be prepared. Expect to see (exact names to be confirmed)….

A wrecked vehicle set (nod to previous HnH with a car smashed into a sign post, although car will not be Jurassic World Explorer Wrecked style)

A fire rescue themed set

An ocean themed set

A camping themed set

A rodeo themed set

A hiking themed set

With thanks to Wheel Collectors in USA for sending over these for my article I will work my way through them.

The first set is number 2 of 8, known as the MBX Construction Zone. It contains the MB1008 Tilt ‘N Tip (shouldn’t that have been altered along with the range name) which is pulling a brand new casting. The MB1259 MBX Cement Trailer. But there’s more.

For those who like variations, they only went and gave us 2 different looks to the Cement Trailer. Grey mixer drum/yellow base, or yellow mixer drum/grey base. All part of the fun, so if you are like me and wanting all the variations, you need to get this pack twice.

It also comes with another returning item. Cotch! That was Mattel speak for the little accessories that accompany these sets. It has been a while since we had these in Matchbox sets. I am a big fan of these little extras. I have a box of them at home.

Included are 2 workmen, one carrying a flag and the other digging a hole. These are both in grey, matching the grey of the bases and/or cement mixer drum. We also have a cordoning off board and a wheelbarrow in yellow matching the other plastic parts of the 2 models.

And of course with 2 variations of MBX Cement Trailer to obtain I now have 4 men, 2 wheelbarrows and 2 boards.

I do want to point out, I have only seen/heard of alternating looks to these models. If the casting has a yellow drum then the base is grey. If it has a grey drum the base is yellow. There is no crossover. And I did check. That drum is stuck in solid. It is not a clip in piece so cannot be simply swapped over to created alternates. But where to start on this?

I am guessing with the front half. The Tilt ‘N Tip. Appearing in the set in the often used INC livery, this casting is making a dual return this year (it was also in a 5-pack in Ranec theme but I have not found that yet). The name sort of gives away what it can do. The rear tilts and tips. Obviously.

But what we also notice on the base is that it has a copyright of 2015 and 2020. What has been changed on the model?

Just one thing. They added a tow hook. I cannot see any other alterations to the model at all. It is amazing how little needed to be done for something to require re-copyrighting.

Well, as I pulled out my other Tilt ‘N Tips I suppose I had better do a rundown. It debuted in the 2016 range as MB35 in green with a grey tipping dump and a City Services design.

After which it moved to the MB50 slot for 2017 in white but still with a grey tipping dump. This contained a SWP-RT City Services side design. I’m not too sure what SWP-RT was supposed to stand for, as sometimes you can see what they were aiming for. But this got me stumped.

In 2018 it was not in the basic range, but was seen in the Ocean Works 5-pack. During production I noticed that the shade of mint did vary a little.

And in 2019 it was back in the basic range in a rather familiar look.

MB34 for 2019 was a carry forward design of 2016s MB35. They were almost identical, and in this case I only saw a small change of shade of green between the 2. There is the 5-pack issue for 2021 as well (white Ranec) but as I already mentioned I haven’t picked up that pack yet so cannot show it.

But before I work through the trailer side, let’s have a little fun. INC fun! Oh yes, I am going to run down every single INC liveried miniature that has been released so far, as this theme is one of the long-lasting ones they have created recently. I specified miniatures, as I believe there were 3 Working Rigs also in INC livery, but I don’t have those. I start with the MB800 Road Roller. This was its 2012 MB86 issue.

And when an MB702 DAF XF95 Space Cab also appeared later in the year as MB88 people couldn’t help talking about the identical looks for the 2 models.

That appeared to be it as in 2013 we never saw any miniatures sporting the livery, but oh were we mistaken. Come 2014 and suddenly we had a whole bunch. The MB886 Ground Grinder arrived as MB13, and was also a part of the Construction Zone 5-pack.

The MB687 International CXT was also in the basic range in what would prove to be its final issue before being altered into MB986 for 2014. This was sold as MB17 in the basic range.

Whereas the MB946 was the opposite, as this was the debut release for the freshly altered casting (it was MB745 until then) Scraper in the MB20 slot for the year. The change was mainly focused on the lower portion of the rear half being moved from body to base part giving us an automatic yellow break in the design there.

The MB918 Drill Digger was a brand new casting that year and debuted in INC colours as MB119.

Finally the MB882 All Terrain Crane was sold as MB38 that year in INC design. A total of 5 different INC models in the 2015 basic range.

2015 was a lot quieter for the theme. We had one release. The MB856 Load Lifter was issued in the blue and yellow as a Construction Zone 5-pack model, and was also slotted into a Power Grabs bag that year too.

In 2016 we saw another couple of models. The MB914 Ground Grabber was sold as MB45 in the basic range.

As well as this we also saw the MB916 Dirt Smasher sold as MB44 too.

2017 saw the return of the MB690 ’06 Cement Truck after a 5 year absence in the MB38 slot.

We also saw the MB931 3-axle Dump Truck being sold as MB3 in the range too. This is a useful model with a tow hook on the back.

Plus the return of the All Terrain Crane. It was originally a part of the 2014 basic range, and was now also in the 2017 basic range.

But this wasn’t a carry forward design. It was slightly different with the main difference being that the interior which was yellow originally was now grey on the 2017 MB41.

We moved on to 2018 now and the MB1018 MBXcavator was given the INC look as MB33.

We also saw them getting a bit more radical as the MB834 Crop Master was sold as MB40 that year.

And we saw the second issue of the MB1042 Glass King sold as MB34 too.

In 2019 as we are getting close to now we saw the MB948 Ground Breaker receive the INC treatment as MB30 in the basic range as well as what felt like 2 returns.

One was a Drill Digger, which was simply a carry forward design from its 2014 debut look and was pretty much identical. But the other, the MB886 Ground Grinder turns out was not. It now had a black roof and yellow base in place of yellow roof and grey base. Plus the logos were in different places. I forgot to take the side by side of the 2, so you will have to scroll back to double check with the other one.

As well as basic range release we also saw the MB032 Excavator arrive in the Construction 5-pack too.

2020 was a little quieter again as only the MB1176 MBX Backhoe was given an INC look as MB92 in the basic range. Whether this turns out to be the only INC release of 2021 is still to be seen, but I love seeing these recurring themes. And INC is really coming along now.

Group shot! Yes, hopefully we will see an INC themed 5-pack in our future, plus there are still some castings that would work very well in this theme not being used yet. For example, MB789 Skidster, MB029 Tractor Shovel, MB950 Tractor Plow, MB913 Mound Mover, MB971 Mountain Mover, MB601 Bulldozer, MB971 Mini Dozer, MB1073 MAN TGS Dump Truck, MB710 Dump Truck and MB840 Water Hauler off the top of my head. I’m sure people will think of others too. Plus, the CXT is the only vehicle that even has a supervisor ring to it. How many pick-up trucks do we have that had the capability of seeing the INC look? Many. This theme has lot more options to continue for many years yet.

So that was a huge rush of INC themed models. Now one did stand out to me as I was doing the rundown. You see the new trailer unit, which appeared in 2 alternative looks in the H&H packs is the MB1259 MBX Cement Trailer. A brand new casting for 2021.

One of the models I pulled out for the rundown was the MB690 ’06 Cement Truck, so I thought why not show off the rest of them too.

This was a Matchbox originals casting that was originally created in late 2005 to be a part of the 2006 range. Initial prototypes saw the vehicle sporting 3-axles with a dual axle rear and it looked really good. Sadly, late in the day, it had to lose an axle. Collectors were upset as the extending out of the side items to fill the gap made the model feel a little less cool. It arrived as MB52 in the basic range in dark yellow.

In 2007 it moved to the MB47 slot in blue, which with this metallic light blue, you do find some shade variation during production.

It also saw its first 5-pack issue as it was a part of that year’s Construction pack in red. Again, this also saw shade differences during production. It also managed to sneak in a little extra tampo as the front lights were also depicted alongside side tampos.

In 2008 they addressed a little problem that the model had. It was released as MB62 that year, but only in the US market, as this was year 1 of the 4-year 3-way split between the US (100 models), ROW (75 out of the 100) and LAAM (a different arrangement of 75 out of the 100) markets.

There was a problem that people kept noticing with the model. The drum was very easy to pop off.

This issue got rectified during production of the 2008 release, with the mount section strengthened and the drum itself was enhanced with ribs going down the sides. Yes, you can still remove the drum on the model, but it takes quite a bit of effort to do it, and is not a simple pop off item.

In 2009 the model was sold as MB68 in the US and ROW ranges. LAAM still did not receive this model. This time it was lime gold, or mustard gold depending on what shade of paint was being used.

It was also in the Action all-exclusive 10-pack that year in blue and white.

And it saw a Euro Edition release exclusive to the German market in blue and yellow. No, not INC blue and yellow, as this was 2009 and INC would not be created for another 3 years.

For 2010 it was finally back in the worldwide range, as all 3 markets were taking the model that year. It arrived at first in black with a yellow rear end, and for those who are crazy like me, we couldn’t help but notice how the drum on the rear changed shades quite a bit (the mount for it staying quite consistent).

Later on it turned brown and white for a version 2 too.

It also saw another multipack release that year as the Construction Trucks 5-pack was issued with a bright yellowy green issue. For this one, if you looked carefully, you would notice that the wheels altered from the smaller 6-spoke with thick surround to the larger 6-spoke with thin surround style.

In 2011, the last year of the 3-way split this model reverted back to being a US exclusive as that was the only market to see this as MB46 in silver.

However, with 2012 came the return of the 1 range for all markets again and therefore everybody found this orange MB40. After that the model went into semi retirement.

With as we know the only issue since being the 2017 MB38 in the INC theme. I am making use of the INC cotch aren’t I!

Now we move to the other pack. Number 4 of 8, MBX Wave Rider. Just like the first set, the trailer unit for this is a new one. The MB1271 Travel Trailer II. Also, just like the other pack, there are 2 alternative sets, but for those who follow Matchbox closely, you would know instantly what this was.

The MB1013 VW Transporter Crew Cab comes with or without items in the rear bed.

I think this is a lovely little set, and I have to admit growing up as somebody who went on caravan holidays I have a soft spot for any set that has a caravan on the back.

Again there are 4 items of cotch included in the set. We get a set of surfboards, a man surfing, a wave and another man chilling in a deck chair.

The surfer is designed to clip into the wave section to give the impression he is about to get barreled. As that is what the surfing term is for this type of maneuver.

So again I start with the front vehicle. The VW Transporter Crew Cab is another that has managed to see 3 strikes with the tampo machine as the front and both sides are seeing details added. I think I need to do a rundown of this casting too.

And yes, everything is doubled up as there are 2 bed variations for each release. It started life as MB95 in the 2016 basic range in a duller, more greyish blue.

2017 though saw a little more action for the model. Again it was MB95 in the basic range, but this time came in a lovely simple green with front and rear detailing.

It was also chosen to be the dealer model for the Albuquerque convention that year too. Even as a limited edition you got both bed variations.

This was also the year that an alternate casting was created (MB1070) for use in Color Changers and the debut release for that was green with a similar look to the 2016 basic range model. It alternated from a light green “clean” look to a darker green “dirty” look.

But for 2018 we only saw the Color Changers model. This time it was orange in its cooler “clean” mode and when warmer it turned yellow showcasing the orange muddy spray down the sides.

Again for 2019 we only saw Color Changers. This was the final year for them and they pretty much hit as the last 2018s did (which included the last model) so many were finding both VW releases in one go. This model started off in blue and turned grey as it warmed again leaving a mud spray (which does look a little strange in blue but not totally out of place).

Finally in 2020 the original casting returned. It was a 9-pack exclusive at the end of the year and as such came in either red or yellow with a 3-tampo printed Feuerwehr design. The red has since reappeared as a Best of Germany model in 2021, of which I am shortly to go through that set too.

The rear though. This is new, but is not an original design. It is based on the older Travel Trailer casting (which came with a twin axle), shortened, adapted and turned into MB1271. Hence the name Travel Trailer II. I honestly do not mind the new shorter look, as my collection of models are kept in carry cases and the old trailer was a little bit big. It was tough to fit it in. The original Travel Trailer debuted back in 2007 also in a twin pack under the MB718 manufacturing number. When Hitch & Haul was still known by it’s slightly different name (Hitch ‘n Haul). It was the rear half of the Vacation Day pack.

However, the original trailer unit was very large as already mentioned, as the main body was metal and the base plastic. So it was also extremely heavy. As Vacation Day was conituning through 2008 unchanged as such, they altered the casting into MB747 which was flipping the upper body and base materials around. It made the model lighter, but still very large. For some reason though, when they made the change, the new updated casting lost the 2 stripes going down the side too. There was no crossover variation. MB718 metal body, plastic base, 2 stripes/MB747 plastic body, metal base, no stripes.

Just for a little fun, I thought I would bring out the vehicle that was towing that Travel Trailer. The MB398 ’99 Chevy Silverado in red with a blue and white “star” striped design.

Well in for a penny, in for a pound, as the saying goes. I know we use it in the UK but I think it has been used elsewhere too. If I am pulling out the Silverado, I may as well bring in the cotch that was in that set too. A deer, and 2 people, one of which is lazing on a deckchair. That sounds familiar.

Yes they brought back the classic person in deckchair piece from the older HnH series. Of course this is unpainted compared to the detailed look of the original, but it appears they were looking at the older series while preparing the new one.

The Vacation Day set saw an update for 2009 and the MB747 Travel Trailer was now grey and green and was now being towed by the MB705 Honda Ridgeline also in grey. The cotch stayed the same for this release too.

Although with 3 years of production of these pieces you will see small shade variations on them too. I see shades on everything.

The Vacation Day HnH pack was dropped after 2009 and the Travel Trailer did not see any further action until being added to the 2011 Camping Adventure 5-pack. This time it was white and teal with stripes returning to the sides. I stopped adding front ends as these were covered in my “Matchbox Monday Hooks up some 5-packs” article which you can read by clicking on it.

The 2012 Outdoor Sights 5-pack saw another white top, this time with an orange lower half and side design. This turned out to be the final MB747 too, as the model went through further changes for its next issue.

When the 2013 Outdoor 5-pack arrived we saw what appeared to be the same model, now in white and blue. But the base mentioned it was MB868. Externally the casting looked the same, but they had reworked it on the inside for ease of assembly. At this time they were handing out new MAN numbers for small alterations, something which is no longer happening.

It only saw 1 more issue before being retired. The 2014 Outdoor Sights 5-pack again with a white upper half, but now a grey lower half with side design. I am hopeful that the new Travel Trailer II casting see plenty of action over coming years, and we see another caravan style rear end too. I would still love to see a teardrop style little caravan created. Especially if the VW Beetle is towing it.

So there we go. Just 2 sets of 2 models which inevitably gives me 6 new additions to my collection. Because as you know, 2+2 does equal 6. Loving it!

I hope you enjoyed my little rundown of the first batch of Hitch & Haul. There are still 6 more sets to come later in the year. Once they are out, I am sure Wheel Collectors will be sending me over samples to provide another rundown on. I just hope this set of 8 will lead to more in future years, in an expanding line up. I am loving these. I can’t wait for batch B. So until next time, have a safe week.

2 Replies to “Matchbox Monday is hitching itself back into the hauling business”

  1. These were a complete surprise to me when I saw them at my local Walmart. I grabbed both, because INC liveries and the Volkswagen Transporter are both things I grab in any form. I pulled up my spreadsheet of vehicles in my collection and was surprised to see that I’m only missing two INC vehicles (I thought I was missing more) which should make this an easy group to complete. I really love the long-running INC series and I hope Mattel realizes how many collectors love it. I’m sure they do.

    The other set is great too, although your thorough run-down of the Travel Trailer’s history makes me a little sad to see the repeated cheapening of the casting. I’m lucky enough to have the final four releases of the original trailer, albeit none with the metal body. These are fun to attach to anything and everything that has the trailer hitch to handle them. I’m really looking forward to more releases of this series. Now we just need people to buy them so they’ll keep doing them!

  2. Good to see twin packs ( hitch and haul) back. So many things can be done. I hope they don’t go too animated, and also use vehicles which dont suit the trailers in question. I hope a descent European” wag and drag ” truck falls into this line also in the future…eg… Also hope UK to receive this line also……

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