Matchbox Monday is diving back in to batch B 2021

Another week begins and I am back to continue with my run down of the 2021 Batch B Matchbox models, which were kindly sent over to me by Wheel Collectors in USA. So far I have not seen them turn up in the UK. There were 16 models in the batch, and this means as I split the group into 3, this is the one that contains an additional model. The ones I have chosen this week also split into 2 groups very easily. We have the licensed vehicles and the Matchbox originals castings. So this time I will begin with the 3 Matchbox originals and then look at the licensed products at the end.

For this, I am beginning with a trailer unit. With Hitch & Haul returning this year, we are seeing even more emphasis on trailer units than we have in the recent past, and I am very happy for that. As a kid I used to see trailer units in the basic range quite often, and now we are seeing castings return for multiple visits again. I feel like a kid again.

The MB1076 Trailer Trawler is back for its 3rd outing in the basic range in red, white and yellow as MB92. But this is not just any red, white and yellow.

This is a real throwback issue to the 1990s. Red Valley Camp.

The Trailer Trawler with it’s removable boat on the top has brought back a design that was used for a 1-and-done 5-pack issue back in 1997.

The Land, Sea and Air 5-pack contained 2 “pairs” of vehicles to match together, plus a helicopter. One of the “pairs” was an MB180 Land Rover Ninety and MB793 Inflatable On Trailer with the Red Valley Camp design.

So now the Land Rover gets a different rear section to tow, and both feature a watery theme to them too, making them a perfect companion to each other. I am absolutely loving this current philosophy of looking at the past for ideas. Not just with Target retro stuff, but across all ranges. Repeating designs and looks is opening up a whole array of new possibilities and I cannot wait to see more of them.

With the Land, Sea and Air 5-pack moving production from Thailand to China mid way through too, this means I can hook both trailer units up to a pair of Land Rovers at the same time. These are brilliant.

And with a recent recurring Camp Arrow Flint theme starting to make itself known, as we about to see some camp wars in our future? I am really hoping that both of these liveries get to recur for years to come.

We can hook the trailer unit up to a couple of models from the new batch. One of which I am working on now A brand new casting.

The MB1243 MBX Field Car. When first announced last July, it was temporarily going by the name Field Car II. But that was before they trademarked the name.

With my regular base shot for new casting approach, it is very clear at the top that it says MBX Field Car and has the trademark logo after it. No mention of a “II” after it. Just in case anybody remembered the presentation and still refers to it as Field Car II.

It takes the MB17 slot in the range in metallic orange with a Matchbox design on the side. And as pointed out, it also sports a tow hook on the rear, just like the classic Field Car did.

The idea behind this casting was to create a modern interpretation of the classic Lesney vehicle. I think they did a very nice job of updating it for the modern era.

The tow hook (as already mentioned) and spare wheel on the rear really help to hit the point home. So as I am talking about it, i should bring in the classic.

The original Field Car was first launched in 1969 as MB18. It came in yellow and originally had an autosteer function during its first year as well as regular wheels. It made the transition to Superfast wheels in 1970 (losing the autosteer function) but never changed its overall look. Yellow with an orangey-brown roof. A roof that is perhaps not that different in colour to the new model.

I don’t know why, but I decided to take a base shot of the pair. Is that of interest? I have no idea. I’m good like that.

The model ran for 4 years unchanged.But that doesn’t mean it didn’t have a number of variations. The most obvious were the wheels. 4-spoke narrow moved to 4-spoke wide and on to 5-spoke wide.

And if you are like me, you might find small variations in the shade of yellow to the model too. It didn’t vary an awful lot, but there were differences there. However, depending on how far you wanted to take it, you could find more. The body section had a criss-cross upper section that the roof clicked in to, but early issues had these criss-cross lines open giving us 2 triangle holes. Later they filled the triangle holes. But you would have peer inside and look up to find them. I have not bothered. There is an interior variation too. When first issued in 1969 the rear parcel shelf was rear. As they made the transition to Superfast, the interior was altered to include a satchel on the rear. Early Superfast issues may be found without. Late regulars with. This was Lesney. A final smaller variation refers to the base. Usually unpainted, there is a rare issue with a silver painted base. They did one production run with it, thought what was the point and never did it again. I have not got one, as they are rarer and command a premium on the secondary market. After 1973 the casting was dropped from the basic range.

The casting was far from finished though. In 1976 it returned to use in twin packs. At this point, daft fact, it was assigned a much greater number. As they had an MB18 in the range, this was re-numbered MB818 to enable the factory to differentiate between it and Hondarora. But as the casting was not used beyond the Lesney era, any of those models given high MAN numbers were forgotten about. Only models that Universal used from 1984 onwards were kept in the MAN number list. So anybody searching for a Matchbox MB818 will only find a Dune Dog. It debuted in twin pack mode in TP-12. When first launched, twin packs, two-packs, Matchbox 900, or whatever it was called in various markets it was being sold in, were simply 2 vehicles together. They didn’t necessarily need to be a vehicle with trailer. Just 2 models that had something in common was enough. Many were with a trailer on the back, but TP-12 was simply 2 army vehicles. At first the Field Car was paired with the MB23-A VW Camper. Twin packs being what they were, many models were cost-reduced for them, and opening parts were taken away. The VW Camper would usually sport an opening roof section. This was removed and the roof covered over. Because of the change, they renamed it to Dormobile as Camper didn’t really suit the look they were now going for. After a year or so, the VW was swapped out with the MB20-B Police Patrol. This pack ran until 1980 when they abruptly dropped all army related items. Of course other models have been known to be substituted in packs too. The Mercedes-Benz Binz Ambulance has been seen in a TP-12 pack. I remember once years ago seeing a TP-12 pack, unopened, with 2 Police Patrols in it. This was Lesney for you.

Now with 5 years of production this too saw variations. 4-spokes or 5-spokes would randomly appear throughout its life. The major change though happened after the first batch hit stores. Store owners opened up their fresh new boxes of army related Matchbox stuff and called Lesney to say they were way too dark and wouldn’t sell. This led to Lesney immediately brightening up the models. Collectors refer to this first batch of army related stuff as “olive drab”. Due to being such a short run, olive drab army stuff is now pretty rare, and does command a higher price than regular olive green models. At first the model would support a red/blue “A” label on the doors.

Later on the RA391 label was used on the hood of the model instead. Of course you could randomly find odd other labels, missing labels etc. Again, as noted before, 4-spoke and 5-spoke variations were commonplace throughout the RA391 era too.

Shortly after the TP-12 debut, we started seeing the field Car inserted into other packs too.

TP-8 had originally debuted in 1976 as a Transporter set consisting of a bus and hovercraft simply pulled from the basic range and packed together. It was soon dropped and a new TP-8 arrived for 1977. This was a proper trailer set with the field Car in another new look. Orange, with a checkered flag label. Of course this ran until 1981 and during those 5 years the shade of orange did vary quite a bit.

And as with other items, label? What label? You could find random issues with forgotten labels.

The trailer of choice for this was the MB38-A Honda Motorcycle with Trailer. This was another that followed the Field Car’s MAN number/no MAN number path. Assigned MB838 in 1977, because it was not used in the Universal era, the MAN number was forgotten. The trailer was now recoloured orange to match the field Car, and the bike inside was green.

There is a rare variation that came with a white Field Car. This too was a short run and white Field Cars tend to come with a premium.

In 1982 for its final year the model turned yellow. It was supposed to come with a tan roof, but early runs came with a black one.

Matching up to the Field Car again, the trailer for the bike also turned yellow. After 1982 it was dropped and both castings were never used again. Mind you, this was not the only field Car in the twin packs.

Because it was also TP-9. This time it was metallic red with a tan roof and sported a 44 label on the front.

It came with the MB24-B Team Matchbox on the back with the same label on what was perhaps the most simple accessory of all time.

It was literally just a single piece of plastic. But what it did was cradle the Team Matchbox and then hook up on to the back of the Field Car. Genius. It turned a non-trailer unit into a trailer unit, with Team Matchbox own rear wheels still free to be used to roll it along.

Of course anybody hunting around can find all sorts of random match-ups of parts. I mean TP-8, TP-9 and TP-12 all running at the same time using the same basic casting. Roof pieces, wheels, bases, labels, these could all get mixed up. There is a lot of mixing and matching that can be found.

Just like with TP-8, TP-9 also saw a new look for its final year in 1982. The model now turned orange with a tan roof. Of course I do personally have a lighter and darker orange variant.

the label stayed the same though, and just like with TP-8, the rear was also swapped to colour-match still. Therefore Team Matchbox also turned orange. Of course, Field Cars could appear in other packs. TP-3 with a Pony Trailer has been known to be towed by a Field Car. TP-30 with Seafire on a trailer has been known to be towed by a field Car. I could attempt to go further and more technical with all the twin pack appearances, all the variations etc. But i don’t want people to fall asleep.

now then, as well as twin pack use, there was one more little addendum. in 1978 Matchbox created a special set of 10 vehicles for the US market. They were known as Roman Numeral editions, and each casting was renumbered into a Roman Numeral, given a new name and a new design. They were sold exclusively in the US market. Due to the success of these, a second set was requested in 1980. Except this time the blisters did not give the set a name. They were just limited editions. All in new designs, but no model saw a change to its name or anything. the Field Car was one of the 10 and came in a dark orange, and for the first (and last) time, saw tampo printing. It had a 179 and various logos applied to the sides.

Or not if you find one without. You may find it with a tan roof, because would you believe it , the limited edition run got mixed up with some in twin pack use too. Unbelievable right. Although I have to admit I am still looking for a tan roof myself. This to me, is about the closest the classic Field Car look was to the new issue. And with that I think it is time to move on.

To the MB813 Express Delivery. We have not seen this casting in quite some time. What 6 months?

I say that as quite surprisingly since we last saw it, the model has been altered. The first clue was the copyright 2014, 2020 base.

The second clue was that I was unable to get in the rear. Yes, sadly the opening rear door has been sealed shut.

Although this was done specifically due to a change of production method to the model. Most castings have now been moved over to the “drop” method. The idea is, the factory take the upper most section (usually the body), they will drop the window inside, drop the interior into that, and drop the wheels/base on to the model. Close rivets, move on. The Express Delivery was being constructed in a way that required the model to be slotted in at the rear. It is a bit fiddly, slows down production and was too costly. So adjusting the model to the “drop” method sadly did require the rear to be closed off. It wouldn’t have been worth keeping it there with a rivet immediately as you open it.

The model this time is blue with an AMP side design. The tampo is inspired by mobile recording studios.

On the opposite side I do spy a small 58 in the bottom corner circle. I am guessing Michael Heralda had something to do with this. I know he is a musical person and plays in a band in his spare time.

The casting itself has been around since 2010. At first the body was made of metal and the base was plastic. It debuted that year as MB60 in white featuring the first use of the Speedy X-Press design, which has recently started to recur.

It was also included in the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year in green with a WDS design. Something which I found a nice shade to as well.

But that proved to be all we saw of MB787 as the body and base sections were flipped in their construction for 2011. At that time the opening rear was still in play. It stayed as MB60 in the 2011 range though, as that was the year that they decided any model that was sticking around from 2010 would stay where it was.

It also saw its first 5-pack outing that year too, as the Police 5-pack saw the model in a S.W.A.T. theme.

In 2012 it moved to the MB36 slot and featured a Warrior Burritos side design.

The alternate side saw a different design, which looked like this was a food truck in the way they depicted it. Of course this was what prompted them to add a food truck in to the 2013 range.

It was in another 5-pack that year called Airport Ground Crew. This was an ivory finish with Express Delivery on the side, and again I did see that the ivory plastic was prone to shade variations too.

It was also added to the Batman licensed 5-pack that year too in red.

And just like with the Burrito model the previous year, the 2 sides saw completely different designs.

2012 saw a lot of the casting, as this was outing number 4. Mission Force Space Crew. It was orange with an Aerospace themed side design.

For 2013 it appeared again in the basic range as MB28 in a pumpkin orange with K Callahan’s design.

And saw a second consecutive year in Mission Force too. This time in the Airport Crew pack.

In 2014 it was dropped from the basic range, but did appear in the City Works 5-pack. Early runs saw Express Delivery written in white on a silver background. On paper it was clear to see, but when they actually ran the model you could barely read it. So a running change was made to turn the wriring red on the logo. Much clearer.

And look at this. A third consecutive year in Mission Force. This was a Mission Force go-to model for sure. This was a part of the Space set.

2015 only saw a 5-pack release. This red model was included in the EMT 5-pack, and as I found out, the red did vary a little during production.

2016 saw it return to the basic range in black with an Elite side design. This time the wheels were the fun part. Some could be found with additional gold hot foil in the middle of the wheel, whereas others just saw the outer ring hot foil printed.

It took a couple of years off after that, but came back in what I think is its coolest look. A classic NASA design. I still love it now. This was the 2019 MB88.

For 2020 it returned to Mission Force again, this time as a carry forward in the new Lunar Team set.

The design was the same one as was used in its first Mission Force outing back in 2012, except now the base was unpainted and the side design was zoomed out a little.

But that was the last we saw of the opening rear. After this it went through the change of manufacturer although still retains the MB813 moniker.

After the 3 Matchbox originals, I now dive into the 3 Matchbox licensed models. To begin with, I double up on the licenses. Because this is an official Canadian RCMP design.

The MB1198 ’94 Chevy Caprice Classic is now in its second year and this time it is MB32.

For the second year running it also sees a real police livery on the side of the model too, which I think is brilliant. This livery is a returnee, as it did pop up before on….

MB933 Dodge Charger Interceptor when it was in the 2019 basic range as MB49. I love returning liveries. Will we see more RCMP designed models? I hope so.

As stated the Caprice is in its second year in the basic range and on its second real look. It debuted in 2020 with an NYPD livery as MB7.

Which does mean that both of its basic range releases have seen the same design as has been seen on the Dodge Charger. Very cool.

Mind you this was also added to the MBX Marine Rescue 5-pack in late 2020 too, and as such does see a design that the dodge hasn’t.

But am I leaving this there? Nah! This is a 1994 Police car. So I will bounce back and showcase another that was actually around in 1994 itself. I could go with the obvious, a Ford LTD. But I love mixing things up and so I am going with a non-US vehicle, because the Caprice sported a non-US livery. Okay I didn’t have any Canadian cars, so I am going with the MB179 Vauxhall Astra GTE Police (or Opel Kadett GSi Police as it was also referred to shortly after production started). This model was an offshoot of the earlier civilian MB162 Astra GTE where it ran exclusively in the ROW basic range as MB8 from 1987 until 1998 (except the final year where it moved to MB24). It was never sold in the US market. The debut look for 1987 was what we in Britain call the “jam sandwich” police style. It doesn’t translate well into American English as in Britain what we refer to as jam, US people refer to as jelly. We call a different food jelly. but as many police cars of the period were white with a red stripe, it was the look it sort of gave off. It stuck.

You could find variations over time as it did look like that until 1991. Windows were blue, and although green can be found, these are more than likely faded into green over time. But they do still stand out, so I got one anyway.

However, the German and Austrian markets saw a different look. instead of a British style police car, they had a German style Polizei Auto. Due to it being marketed as a Vauxhall Astra GTE over there, people were a little confused, hence why they decided to alter the base to include Opel Kadett GSi too (and added it to the package).

It saw white wheels on both models during its first year.

But in 1988 white wheels turned chrome, where they stayed until 1991.

This was for both variants of the model. The German/Austrian issued Polizei look saw some great shade differences in the green of Polizei too. Of course Police could be found in Germany/Austria and Polizei outside too, as occasionally they sent the wrong boxes to the wrong markets.

The first time we saw a different look was in 1990 when the model was added to the My First Matchbox range. This being a starter model bridging the gap from baby toys to regular diecast saw a very childlike look to the model. Bright primary colours were the main part including wheels.

On the other hand, in 1991 the second time we saw something different was the total opposite. Totally blank. Of course this was a Graffic Traffic model.

Finally in 1992 the model saw its first change to the basic range issue. It now had an orange and yellow side stripe design and PD on the roof. The first production run also saw an orange dot, but this was immediately removed as it was deemed unnecessary.

We also saw a small tweak to the My First Matchbox model that year too as the blue wheels no longer had their hubs hot foil printed. They were now plain blue. They stayed like that until My first Matchbox was dropped in 1993.

The basic range model though, this continued unchanged until 1996. However, for the collector who likes this sort of stuff, in 1995 the orange stripes turned into a light peach stripe. A noticeable difference.

In 1996 the model saw its first 5-pack appearance, as a part of the City Life pack.

And in 1997 saw another new look to the basic range issue. A real livery this time for the Hertfordshire Constabulary. This was a design they used at the time before moving over to the common UK blue/yellow battenberg look.

It saw another new design for its final year in the basic range. Well actually it didn’t. It saw a new colour. You might not have noticed, but every single release of the Astra Police was white. All of them. Basics, 5-pack, Graffic Traffic, My First Matchbox. Whatever design we saw was on a white car. But in its final year it saw a silver police car. But the tampo.

This tampo design was a return of the original’s look.

Of course there was one other “white” issue too. In 1998 the World Cup ’98 5-pack was issued with the Astra as one of the models with a security design.

Finally, before I move on, there are a couple of rarer Chines issues. One was black, with a standard police side design but in green and yellow matching a crest added to the front. This was a model that was going to be in the Commando series, but for some reason never made it. A few reject models appeared on the Chinese market in the 1990s. Another though, even weirder, was white with a very basic blue and black Police design. I have no idea the reason behind its production, but it was a short run and dumped in to the local market in the 1990s too.

So now I move on to another brand new casting. One that for me, is the most anticipated of the year. Thankfully I did not have to wait too long. The MB1244 ’70 Ford Capri. And err, yes, no blister shot. In my enthusiasm for the model the blister was never going to make it back to my house before I got my grubby mitts on the model.

This model debuts as MB18 in the 2021 range in silver. I do notice it is a UK style RHD drive model and only features the wing mirror on that side (as was often the case at the time).

The tampo is all confined to the front end with the grille/lights depicted and dual black stripes going over the bonnet (or hood if you live in USA). I do not mind. This model is lovely, and I am so happy to see it regardless. Plenty of time to do rear tampo prints. Perhaps a Collector edition is required for them to go completely nuts.

And being a new addition I provide the obligatory base shot too.

Well obviously the classic was going to come into play here. As many know, the ford Capri was created by Lesney back in the day. It debuted as MB54-B in 1971 and ran until 1975, then moved to twin packs from 1976-1978 too.

For its 1971 debut it was pink with a black opening bonnet/hood exposing the chromed engine inside.

Although I say pink, this model was absolutely crazy for shades. The pink varied so much during that 1 year of production.

In fact, some were orange. It was crazy. Lesney just used whatever paint they had at the time and this was a model that really varied with every single production run.

The difference between the darkest orange I have and the lightest pink just looks like an entirely different release. This, officially, is just a shade variation. This is the sort of stuff that really got me into shades. Nowadays shades can be rather minor, but back in the Lesney era, a shade was almost as good as a new colour.

I do wonder if the Matchbox team will create an orange with black bonnet/hood as a retro themed model in the future? By the way, if you look carefully you might find a certain unusual element with the classic Capri. Early models had a second arch crease around the rear wheels. The darker orange here has it, the lighter does not. It was fixed before the end of the first year.

Or would they dare go with pink? This too sported the extra arch crease. You can see it better on the darker pink here. Either way if they did a retro looking like one of these lot I would lap it up. Now the thing is, this was all one year. The debut look was 1971 and in 1972 they changed it for the rest of its time in the basic range.

In 1972 the model turned purple. It ran for 4 years, and again paint would change on a production run basis and as such shades of purple do vary quite a bit.

After being dropped from the basic range, the model was moved to twin packs in the TP-5 Weekender pack. This was my first ever twin pack purchase as a kid. Well parents purchasing for me. So it has a special significance for me. The model returned to orange for the TP-5 set, and as this ran for 3 years from 1976 until 1978 you can bet your bottom dollar that this had some good shades too.

Well as this was a special set, I couldn’t help myself. The other part of TP-5 gets hooked up with the dakrer orange Capri.

It is a shame the new Capri casting didn’t come with a tow hook too, as I would have loved to have hooked the new Trailer Trawler to it for a pair of hooked up Capris. But the new MBX Field Car did get a hook as a nod to its older brother, so will have to do instead.

Oh yes, an array of orange Capris and the new one. As you can see original orange was not the same as twin pack orange. Even when you factor in shade variations. I can’t wait to see what they do with the new Capri in the future.

This brings me to the last model in the batch I am focusing on this week. Of course there are still 5 to go, and they will be up in a few weeks. This is the MB1174 ’35 Ford Pick-up.

Taking the MB85 slot in the 2021 basic range it comes in a matte brown with a Matchbox Swapmeet Special side design. But, as somebody who takes things out of packages, I see something that those who left it trapped would not see.

The other side has a matte blue door. How cool is that. I love it. Such a great little touch. Gives us the impression the model has had a replacement door added and has not been matched up yet. I love these little extras they give us.

It is not going to take long to get through the history of this model. It debuted in 2019 as MB21 in green with a Matchbox Construction Co design.

And in 2020 turned blue with a Kingston Pop design as MB51 (although my camera decided to focus on the new one this time). But I am not sure if anybody has noticed a small recurring theme with these.

They are all sporting some wear/mud around the doors. As I said, I love the little extras they put on models. I really like this silly little recurring theme. Although I have probably jinxed it now and the next release will look like new. But I couldn’t leave it at that could I. Classic Ford Pickups?

That’s a classic Ford Pickup. The MB6-A Ford Pickup to be exact. Although originally it was a 6-D when launched in the basic range in 1969, it made a move to Superfast wheels in 1970 which is where I get the MB6-A notation from. Regular wheel issues don’t tend to have the “MB” added before them. Usually they are as I noted, although are sometimes retro-actively marked as “RW” as in RW6-D or more often “LR” for Lesney regular as in LR6-D. Different people choose different ways of defining them. There is no correct way.

The Ford Pickup was around for 3 years as a Superfast issue running from 1970 until 1972 and therefore with 3 years of production I was able to find shades.

Bases do change too, and although I have black and greeny blue here, that was pure coincidence with the shade variation in red.

Later issues stopped chroming the front grille section and these were left plain. Officially white, they are prone to a spot of yellowing.

And of course the model also went through the fattening of wheels in 1971 too. This did not really require any change to the body though, as most models required wheel arches to be expanded to accommodate the new wheels.

Of course the Ford Pickup was a dual release. Alongside the regular pickup with a flareside body and canopy rear they also had a standard body with an alternate rear section being used as a Kennel Truck. It debuted at the same time and went through the same changes moving from its original 50-C from 1969 into MB50-A in 1970 and running through 1972.

However, this did see a change to the green during its time in the Superfast range. The 1970 issue was simply the 1969 metallic dark green carried over, but in 1972 for its final year it turned apple green instead. At the time it was still sporting a chrome grille.

Although this quickly gave way to the white grille of the other Ford Pickup. After all it was the exact same grille piece.

But as the new model is a swapmeet special, I thought it only fair they swap canopies with him for a few shots. Of cource the Pickup’s white canopy is not very good. The new model can’t really see where he is going.

But the Kennel Truck’s canopy being clear means all around vision. Ah, small problem, can somebody catch the dogs?

Yeah so I was having a little fun there to finish off. I do enjoy the models, so I should have fun with them whenever I can. Well I hope you enjoyed the latest report anyway.

As I mentioned the final part of batch B 2021 is a few weeks away. I am busy mixing and matching reports around for variety. Next week I am going to slip back to 2020 again for something I really wanted to do but didn’t get the models for until recently. Until then, stay safe.

2 Replies to “Matchbox Monday is diving back in to batch B 2021”

  1. The field car 2 looks like a Lada Niva. The RCMP livery also looks good. The Ford Capri, just fill the box full of those!…. Something seriously has got to give. Matchbox always pride themselves as the finest diecast, \well in the past \…plastic, hollow and cheapened non opening features is spreading like a disease now. Its not good for this brand IMHO. Raise the dollar point.. Or simply put the lineup to 75. We were paying £2 for a LEVC black hollow cab in dressed up UK packaging….. I shouldn’t grumble, but seriously something got to give. Good write up.

  2. Don’t forget about the “Thank You Frontline Heroes” version of the Express Delivery. I think that one may actually have been the last version to feature the opening rear door, and it got some cool extra rear deco as well.

    Perhaps that’s what you’re referring to when you say you’re going to “slip back to 2020 again” next week?

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