This week for my Matchbox Monday post I delve into the first batch of a second “Best of” series that is already out. We have more series to come, as well as a second batch of both UK and Germany arriving later in the year. Keep an eye out for Best of Russia (6 models), Best of France (12 models in 2 batches) and Best of Italy (12 models in 2 batches) coming later in the year. I will be working my way through these other countries as and when I can obtain them. The German set I obtained through Dirk Schleuer, who runs the MOYShop website. You may remember Dirk as he also runs the Leipzig European Convention each year, which I made a few blogs about last October too. Next week I will be returning to my usual Wheel Collectors haul as I am still working my way through Batch B of 2021 too. But I am busy mixing and matching things as I go along. Try and do different lines each week so to speak. So without further ado, let’s crack on with Best of Germany Batch A.
I am doing these is number order from what it tells me on the card, which means I am starting with number 1 of 12. It is a classic start. The MB363 ’62 VW Beetle.
Orange has been a repeat colour used for the model. Well it has been around since the late 20th century, so I am amazed we haven’t seen multiples of every colour by now.
But although it is orange like others have been, the tampo detailing and final look is unique on this one. We have never seen a very German Käfer 62 license plate before. The VW Type 1 was often known as “der Käfer” in Germany, which then translated out into “The Beetle” in English. But as I have done quite a lot of diving back into Beetles recently, I thought I would go a different way.
Dive back into VW orange. Okay how far shall I dive back? Do I do a complete history including such Lesney masterpieces as this MB23-A VW Camper from 1972? Maybe not this time. I think I will limit myself to items from the Mattel era.
Which I believe would start me with, a VW Beetle. Actually not really. This is the MB287 VW Concept 1. It was the original concept vehicle that brought us the “new” Beetle later. It was created by Matchbox in 1996 and saw use until 2009. Its first orange issue in 1998 as a part of the basic range with a black roof and VW & light tampo front/rear. Of course for those who looked carefully they were able to notice that some VW logos were tampo printed upside down.
Then we get to a Beetle. The MB363 saw its first foray into being an orange car back in 2000 when it was included in the Storm trackers 5-pack. All models in the pack were sporting the “X-Treme Mission” side tampo.
After that we saw…. A Beetle. The following year, 2001, saw the Matchbox Collectibles series release a Scooby Doo themed set, and Velma saw a lighter pumpkin orange Beetle to match her jumper.
After that the next orange VW was a Beetle. Wait, I swear there are more castings that were made in orange. This was part of the first Stars of Germany series in 2002 and was quite a simple affair with no rear tampo (the roof was instead). Same shade of grey base (although the new one is a modified one).
After that we saw, oh yeah another Beetle. 2003 and Stars of Germany series 2 saw the Beetle return in orange with a definite flower power vibe to it.
2004 saw the Concept 1 (Beetle) again. It was a part of an Easter 3-pack promotional set, although only half the sets saw it in orange (the other half it was green).
It wasn’t the only Concept 1 orange issue that year either. Licensed packs saw a Periwinkle liveried model in the Blues Clues set, this one being a single pack release as 3 of the models from 5-packs would be sold as singles in alternate colours at the time and the 5-pack version was yellow.
But we also saw a different casting in 2004 in orange. This one was a Beetle. No wait! Son of a ….! Technically a Concept 1 again, this was a convertible version of the earlier Concept 1, and MB438 was created in 1999 and ran until 2011, seeing its one and only orange release in the 2004 Superfast series.
Whoa! That’s not a Beetle! What the? I mean I told you, not all orange VWs in the Matchbox range were Beetles. The MB549 VW W12 Concept Car was created by VW in 1997 with the premise of being a mid-engined sports car that could accommodate their W12 engine. Matchbox created a model of the concept and added it to the 2002 ROW range where it only saw a worldwide release for its final year in the basic range (2005). However, it did see uses outside of ROW markets, as licensed 5-packs tended to be found in USA and this orange issue featuring Daffy Duck was in the 2004 Looney Tunes 5-pack. The casting was last seen in 2014. This was its only orange issue, even though the fastest variant of the real W12, known as the Nardò, was created in 2001 in orange.
It was a few years before we saw an orange VW again. And look, this is a Type 2, not a Type 1. Classic! The MB390 VW Transporter was a part of the 2007 Stars of Cars series exclusive to the German market. Have you noticed, quite a few oranges have been for the German market.
We saw another Beetle in the basic range that year too. MB29. Although the front was fairly similar, you can see that the rear sported a different tampo design. Plus the 2007 was a metallic paint job compared to solid paint on the 2021.
Okay this is the reason I went orange. 2008 saw the debut of the MB734 ’70 VW T2 Bus. One of the first things we saw was this awesome 2008 Toy Fair promotional models, chock full of various logos. This is one of my favourite designs on a Matchbox model. It always makes me smile.
Particularly as both sides saw different looks. I love it!
It was a part of the basic range too. But only in North America and ROW markets. South America, known as Latin America or LAAM saw a sub-set of 75 models of the 100 sold in the North American market (usually referred to as US even though it is sold elsewhere too). The US range saw it as MB79. Other markets, Europe etc (which are known as ROW, rest of world) did include it as their sub-set of 75 models, and as they only went up to 75, this was moved to the MB55 slot there. And look. Shades! I haven’t done that yet. It was about time I got started with variations too.
But 2008 was a bit of an orange year for the VW manufacturer in Matchbox-land as the MB684 VW Golf V GTi was also orange in the basic range. This was a real life limited edition variant of the car known as Fahrenheit. The eagle eyed did find a small variation though, as some examples did not add the Fahrenheit logo underneath the rear right light cluster.
Still 2008. I told you, this was the year of the orange. Another different casting as the MB723 VW Beetle 4×4 got in on the act too. This was the debut of a certain look which has been revived and turned into an ongoing thing recently. The Team Matchbox look was on version 1 of the 2008 MB91 (US market), MB63 (LAAM market) and MB31 (ROW market) as this casting was given 2 looks that year in the basic range and sold worldwide. During production the usual 4×4 cog wheels were swapped out with some oval 5-spokes for a short production run too.
We did have a returning casting that year too, as the VW Concept 1 saw one more Licensed 5-pack issue. No prizes for guessing what the pack was this time. SpongeBob SquarePants.
But after all that 2008 orange goodness, since then things have been a littler more spaced out. 2009 saw 1 orange model. The MB738 ’74 VW Type 181. Commonly known as The Thing in a number of countries, this model used that in the design of the 2009 worldwide basic range issue. Again this was one of 2 issues that year, and therefore sold in all 3 markets at the time under different numbers. MB93 in the US market, MB62 in the LAAM market or MB56 in the ROW market.
After seeing nothing in 2010, we saw a pair of 2011 issues. Both with the same casting. The ’70 VW T2 Bus. It was in the Camping Adventure 5-pack with a World Camping Tours side design, and this one saw quite a radical shade variation to it.
It was also in a Go Diego Go licensed 5-pack too. This one I only found in dark orange. Note this saw an ink jet printed design as it runs through the body and window components. That is an advantage of fusion graphics and/or ink jet printing over tampo printing, in that they are applied after assembly and can run through multiple surfaces. However, they are more expensive to do so don’t tend to see action on core range models.
Again this model was a dual printed affair. One side saw a more Spanish vibe with the writing, with the other a more English vibe with a different side design.
2011 also saw what was the final release of the MB363 casting before it went on hiatus and saw a small retooling. It was in the VW 5-pack that year, and did see a small shade variation to the metallic orange with tan roof design. But after that there was no orange VW at all until 2020 when a certain VW Golf debuted in it. Glad to see orange VWs are making a comeback. I didn’t photograph the Golf here, as that one is coming later.
Next up in the set is number 2 of 12. The MB1013 ’90 VW Transporter Crew Cab. Mind you it doesn’t say 1990 on the vehicle, just this pack.
It appears in red with a Feuerwehr design.
And detailing down the sides.
Plus, as those who follow this casting know, models come with or without items on the inside. Of course, this model does look extremely familiar. As is the case, a number of models in this series are what are referred to as carry forward designs. This is not carried forward very far as it was originally part of the final 2020 9-pack exclusives.
Now the models I have are dated N33 and N44, which means they were produced 11 weeks apart. As such I have looked closely and can see no differences at all between them.
They are identical. As I just did a rundown of the Transporter Crew Cab last week, I would have personally preferred for them to go with one of the first 2 looks again. I know the fact that it is a German design on the model made it a more logical choice, but I know what I am like. The more time between production the more of a chance of a variation. Four or five years could have been a good chance for something different, but 11 weeks sadly no. Although I had to check. A variation can pop up at any time. So there was always a possibility.
This brings us to the next model in the list. Number 3 of 12, the MB966 BMW M5 Police. Although they should have put BMW M5 Polizei. It was right there on the design. Still, it’s a package. You know I am ripping it apart and ignoring it after this random photo.
That’s better. One loose BMW M5 Polizei in silver and blue.
Again, I always notice when they are able to get these done, this model is sporting a 3-tampo print. Both sides and the front. It looks really good, and is a very welcome return too.
Why you ask? Well let me tell you. It debuted as MB53 in the 2015 basic range in silver Polizei theme again. Although this is a different green theme.
In 2016 it moved to MB68 in the basic range in a white Police theme.
Plus Dirk (who I already mentioned sent me these new models) commissioned an exclusive Notarzt liveried model for the 2016 Modell Hobby Spiel & convention in Leipzig that October. Its first premium look.
Its second premium look was not too long after as it was chosen to be in the 2017 Best of The World series in black with a Police theme and 2-part rubber wheels. It was not in the basic range that year.
But did come back for the 2018 basic range for what was until now, its final release. Again a 3-sided tampo in red with a Fire theme. I do wonder if BMW are specifying that it has to have the BMW logo on the front as it has appeared on all releases to date. This model will continue on, as Best of Russia will see an alternate version of it as well as another in Best of UK batch B. I look forward to previewing those when they arrive too.
But before I move on to the next model I couldn’t help myself. Blue liveried Polizei on a silver car? We have had a few of these over recent years. The first one was also a BMW. The MB439 BMW 328i Police. It was a part of the 2004 Stars of Cars series, exclusive to the German market.
The MB149 Mercedes-Benz 280GE also saw silver and blue in the 2009 Euro Edition series. This was the final release for the casting which had originally debuted back in 1984.
Finally, the MB1014 ’15 Chevy Corvette Stingray Police saw a silver and blue Polizei release as MB64 in the 2017 basic range. This is a real vehicle. It was designed to help promote a German “Tune It! Safe!” safety campaign. So yes, I see a theme.
Silver and blue Polizei. How many more models can we get like this?
Mind you, as 3 of the 4 have seen other Polizei looks, I could be asking for Polizei in general (I mean a VW Golf had a Polizei theme this year).
But I think doing this for Germany and not having a Polizei liveried model would have been disastrous. I am glad they got one in there.
Next up is the number 7 of 12 MB726 Audi R8. Wait, this is not an Audi R8. Sadly, the Audi R8 missed the deadline for batch A. Just! Rather than try to alter things for a later run, the Audi R8 has been moved back to batch B. So when batch B arrives, expect 7 models to obtain. The Audi R8 and….
MB696 Audi RS6 Avant
MB728 Mercedes-Benz Unimog U300
MB729 Porsche 911GT3
MB1056 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6
MB1093 BMW i8
MB1109 ’90 VW Golf Country
As before, some models will be carry forward decos and some will be exclusive.
So we are actually with the 8 of 12 MB1200 ’76 VW Mk1 GTi Golf. Again with the 3 passes through the tampo machine I see. Great stuff from the team in squeezing these in whenever they can.
It comes with a very nice black and white side striped design and the fuel filler cap cog picked out. I love the little touches.
And of course I made sure to get 2 of them. For those who may not know, this model has a dual interior.
When you peer in through the rear window you will discover that there may or may not be items sitting on the parcel shelf. Something us nerdy collectors go a little nuts over. I made sure that I got both. Thanks Dirk.
Now obviously this model has not been around very long. It debuted as MB8 in 2020 in orange, so is only on its second year.
Of which that arrived in batch A as MB33 in white with a Polizei theme to it. As I mentioned just a moment ago in the BMW M5 section, I love seeing country specific police themes, and Polizei from Germany is a big one to go for. Mind you, the BMW is getting a Russian themed police livery for Best of Russia, so now I am starting to think worldwide. How many country looks can we get. Hmm! Might need more police cars.
So that is it for the VW portion of this report. Nah! It was too short (for me).
Hello original Golf release. Yes, time for a classic Lesney to make an appearance. The VW Golf debuted in May 1974 supposedly as a successor to the long-lived Beetle. But people still wanted Beetles so it ended up being built alongside too. That is not to say it wasn’t a huge success. It may be now on to its 8th generation, but the VW Golf has become a bit of a classic in its own right. And Matchbox released their first one as MB7-C in 1976 in green. For fun they added a pair or surfboards to the roof.
Surfboards that were pretty easy to slide off. In fact early issues saw them just fall off at times. They got lost pretty easily.
Which is why in 1977 the roof rack that held the surfboard saw a slight tweak, most notable in the middle notch, which was allowing the surfboards to stay put better.
And yes, you may have noticed, the model did sport quite a few shade variations to the green paint, from quite light to pretty dark over the course of 5 years in the range in green.
And if you really looked hard, you could also find the amber window would also sport shades too.
In 1977, exclusively for the Germany market, an alternate version was created where the original 4-hole roof piece was removed and a single hole antenna piece added instead, and a separate light dome in another hole. They tried covering the holes up with a label, but most of them tend to suffer with bleed through exposing the 2 holes that were left. It was advertising ADAC, the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club. After 1977 Germany went back to the standard green, but with Japan seeing their own releases, they added it to the Japanese range in 1978 for a year too as MBJ-10.
In 1979 the VW Golf was added to the twin pack series too, in which it was red towing a Seafire. Strictly speaking this was released in red with a lemon interior and clear windows. Shades of red exist.
But this was Lesney. Basic with a dark yellow interior and amber windows. Twin pack with lemon interior and clear windows? Variations would usually be more towards the twin pack models. Not being as large a run, it was often a case of “we have run out of stuff, oh we will just grab some basics parts instead” and interiors and windows on the red twin pack issue could often be found the same as the basic. Lemon interior and clear windows on a green model does exist. Although personally I have never seen both in one go. But having one alternate is pretty rare on the green model, and I do not own either. As I said, twin packs mixed and matched a lot more than basics.
In 1981 the basic range issue turned yellow. At this time the interior also turned red and the windows cleared up.
But as with a lot of things Lesney, things didn’t happen all at the same time. In fact they started producing the red interior before finishing the final build on green models, so the last batch of greens had a red interior. Again, with twin packs already using clear windows, there is a variation with red interior and clear windows, which is extremely rare and again I do not have.
But what I do have is a twin pack model from 1981. TP-18 ran through until 1981 as was, and so there was the inevitable running out of lemon interiors again and grabbing some from basic range production. But there is another tiny twist. I mentioned interiors switching first. Amber windows were over run and early yellow models have it. A tiny batch, pretty rare. I do not have. Even worse, there is a full crossover with the red twin pack issue, and examples have been reported that had the red interior and amber window. Oh jeez there are some rarities to find. Hopefully one day.
After 1981 the model was dropped from the US range. But it continued in the ROW range 1 more year. Because the US range was seeing an off-shoot in the way of Romping Rabbit (a Golf on large 4×4 wheels), it warranted sealing up the roof as it was strange to have surfboard on a big vehicle. So the general one for the ROW range also got sealed. It turned silver with a green side stripe and Golf. At first the interior was still red, but later in the year it turned tan. A final batch saw a blue interior too, but again very rare and I do not own one.
The model was dropped from the ROW range too after 1982 but returned in 1984 originally as a Japanese exclusive. When Japan requested an extended range from Universal, they upped them to 100 models. They utilized pretty much all models from both ROW and US ranges, and gave them a few exclusive designs too. This was sold as MB5 there from 1984 until 1987. But they decided in 1985 to also add it to the twin pack series too as TP-114 towing the Pony Trailer. Now there is an alternate variation to this. The amber windows can be clear too. This is actually not too rare, but I just have not picked it up yet. On my list to hunt down. The TP set ran until 1987 too, at which time the model was dropped from regular production.
But there was one tiny addendum. In 1988 due to an expiring Dinky trademark, Matchbox rushed out a set of 6 random models in unique looks in special Dinky blisters. One of those 6 was the Golf. Again black with red interior, but now with a stripes and arrowed “9” tampo design. This was a short run of models that allowed Universal to keep a hold of the Dinky trademark that they had picked up a few years prior.
One final twist to its tale. The final batch of Bulgarian models included the Golf. This was sent over 1993 for local production and the tooling still sits there. By that time the factory did not have to send tooling back after 1 year and the Golf has seen many MANY variations over the years. Some quite plain, like these green and burgundy ones.
Some in a rather 1982-ROW style with side stripe and Golf (albeit only 1 colour, not 2 like the English made one).
And as time went on all sorts of different ideas. Some being rather bizarre, like the Police one. Others being ones that were recognizing events going on, like when Matchbox celebrated the 35th Anniversary of Superfast, they got in on the action too.
Well I am pretty much at the end of my trip through this now, as the final model is another carry forward. Number 9 of 12 MB1173 ’69 BMW 2002.
This model is in blue with simple front and rear end tampo treatment.
A carry forward of the 2020 MB50 issue. Although unlike the VW Transporter, the BMW was in an early batch of 2020 so is being re-manufactured around a year later.
Which means the new issue is a slightly lighter blue than before, and the tint on the windows is fractionally paler too. You might also notice the tampo printing around the front grille area is a little duller too. A year out of production and things can be just a little different. It’s good enough for me. But then I am a bit nuts for variations.
But as the casting only arrived in 2019, there wasn’t an awful lot to choose from. Obviously the gold Superfast issue wouldn’t really work, as this was a special 2019 thing, and releasing a model in 2021 with a 50th Anniversary Superfast logo sprawled across it is a bit silly. Even for me. But the 2019 debut orange? Could they have gone with that?
Perhaps if the VW Beetle hadn’t been orange. As it is, 2 orange vehicles is a bit much. Considering there were only 5 in total. Obviously with only 5 models, you do want to try and get a variety of colours. Too much of one and things get a little too samey and they already had 2 reds. It’s a fine line figuring out mixes.
But that brings us to the end of another report. The 5 new additions to the Best of Germany release. As already mentioned next time we will see 7 to finish off.
Not 7 if you factor in interior/bed variations. Also, not like the UK which is 6 and 6. Oh and if you were wondering, here are the other 6 for Best of UK as I mentioned the BMW coming there….
MB688 ’61 Jaguar E-type
MB706 Lotus Exige (unchanged casting with separate rear spoiler)
MB761 ’72 Lotus Europa Special
MB765 ’64 Austin Mini Cooper 1275S (Mr Bean re-release, now with added roof chair)
MB966 BMW M5 Police (official Kent Police livery)
MB1184 ’65 Land Rover Gen II Safari
I hope you enjoyed the report, and caught the little tidbits of information about upcoming releases too.
Next week I believe I am back to working my way through batch B of the basic range. I am trying my best to mix and match my reports so as not to do all of one item too much together. Is it working? I don’t know. After all, it is all Matchbox. But it keeps me occupied. Until next week, have a safe time everyone.