Matchbox Monday finishes off the 2020 Retro

Yes I know, again I am bouncing back quite a way. Busy working through a bunch of 2021 items and suddenly I throw a random 2020 item in the mix. I was a little late in receiving these, but I really wanted to spend some time with them and do a report because they were so cool. So, rather late to the table is my rundown on the second batch of 2020 Target (USA) exclusive Retro models. The series contained 12 in total and these were the second set of 6 released. So let’s dive right in. And as I did with the first batch, I had these sent already package free so no packaging shots in sight.

First up, I am going to work my way through a sub-set of 3 models that have taken their inspiration from classic Matchbox designs of the past. I think that in itself is really cool. The first of them is the MB805 ’85 Toyota 4Runner which is numbered 9 of the 12 models in the series. It is really good to see this model return as it has not been seen since 2016, meaning a 4 year gap between releases (because you know, this was 2020).

It comes in a very familiar looking white with 2-tone blue and red detailing on the side, as well as the 85 on the door signalling its year of (real car) manufacture. So why is this one familiar?

Because they have taken inspiration from a classic from the Universal era for this one. The MB063 Ford 4×4 Open Back Truck. This was the model’s longest running livery. It debuted in 1986 as MB13 in the US range or MB63 in the ROW range taking over from the previous yellow look.

The design just kept on going though. The ROW range dropped the model after 1990 but the US range kept plugging away with it. It continued on there until 1994 before turning into a bat themed model for its final year.

Which does mean the model went through some changes. It started production in Macau with a metal base, and at the end of the decade was cost reduced to a plastic base. After then it was moved to Thailand to continue production for the US market.

Now back to the Toyota itself, as I mentioned it was good seeing it return. This model has not been used in a short while due to a hiccup with the Toyota license (thankfully fixed). It first arrived as MB74 in the 2010 basic range and at first the model was blue with a chrome interior/front grille area and a simple side design. Of course me being me, I did find that the light metallic blue is good for a shade or 2.

Later on, this model was chosen to be one that sported 2 looks that year, and a version 2 arrived in tan. The chrome was now gone, but in its place the front grille (which remember is a part of the interior section) saw some tampo treatment along with the 2 sides again. Also, I was having fun that year, and found that tan was also good for a shade or 2.

In 2011, as part of the Mattel idea of keeping models in the same slot that year, MB74 continued with a red model. The chrome interior/grille returned and again we saw a simple side design.

It also saw its first taste of use outside of the basic range. It appeared in the 2011 Camping Adventure 5-pack in the recurring Park Range design. Not to be confused with the other recurring National Parks theme that is made using a paler mint. Oh look, I found a shade again.

For 2012 this model was “brightened up” for the basic range, as was the idea going around at the time. The chrome interior/grille was used once more, and this model saw a lovely side design depicting Asada Islands. This is a lovely little nod to Ryu Asada, a designer who worked on the Matchbox brand and across the Mattel ranges. Sadly he passed away the other week but leaves a great legacy behind him in the model collecting community. You can find a lovely article written by John on the blog, but I wanted to do a little bit here too.

Ryu created a number of castings as one of the original Matchbox members when they moved in-house to El Segundo in 2004 before moving on to other Mattel teams. I got to meet him a number of times at the Matchbox Conventions. I still remember this little scenario from 2007.

Somebody asked for a doodle. He grabbed a pen and did this quick drawing from scratch. It literally took him 2 minutes to do this.

That was the kind of artist he was, and the legacy he leaves behind in the die-cast community is massive. He will have a lasting reminder in the models he created and the designs that have honoured him over the years.

Back to the model in hand now. For 2013, the model was not in the basic range, and made just the 1 appearance in the outdoor 5-pack that year, in yellow with an MBX Park side design.

Another chrome grilled model on the return the basic range for 2014. It was MB37 in dark grey.

Again more chrome for what currently stands as its last basic range outing. The 2015 MB117 in white with simple red/orange/yellow stripes sides.

Before it was chosen to be one of the 2016 9/10-pack exclusives. This was until the Retro return the last we had seen of the model. I am happy to see it return and hope we see plenty more of it over the coming years.

The second of the trio of retro design models is the MB327 ’33 Ford Coupe in blue. This too has an extremely familiar design in its number 8 slot of the 12 models.

This is not the first time we have seen a Matchbox Speed Shop livery.

Because this one was originally a part of the MB038 Ford Model A Van, and oddly enough also comes from 1986. However, this one did not last as long as it only mustered a paltry 3 years compared to the Open Back Truck’s 9.

I love all these retro inspired liveries and hope they keep doing more like these. So shall I do a run down of all the MB038s? I mean, there is something like 500-600 of them. Err no! For starters I don’t own them all. I currently have about 150, which I think is perhaps still a bit too much for this article.

So just a quick recap of versions of the MB327 since it was retooled back in 2018. It first saw use in the Dirty Mudders 5-pack that year in metallic dark red with a 79c side design, and strangely enough; mud!

Small shade variations could be found with the model as the red did vary a bit.

Plus, if you looked carefully, the tiny window section was also found to sport shades. It was blue, but varied between a pale shade and much deeper shade.

2019 saw it added to a 9-pack as an exclusive in blue with flames down the side. This pack did not appear for very long and I only ever saw the 1 production run myself, so no chance in finding shades on this one.

It finally arrived in the basic range in 2020 for the first of 3 issues (the last of which is the Retro model). MB16 was brown and again had a muddy look to the sides. This too I found shades to.

The second 2020 issue was also in the basic range. Yellow and sporting a Mooneyes inspired side design, this model was now MB95. It is still to see more action I am sure of it.

The final model taking its retro look from something old is the MB1185 ’85 Porsche 911 Rally. This was in the number 7 slot of the 12 retro models for the year.

This brown with a D.E.R. side design is definitely not originally from a model from 1986.

No this one came from 2009. The MB723 VW Beetle 4×4 to be exact. This was its basic range issue that year where it was sold as MB82 in the US range, MB24 in the LAAM range or MB31 in the ROW range.

Of course this matte brown look was bound to throw up some shade variations.

But you may remember it was also carried forward to the 2020 Off Road Rally series, which was supposedly exclusive to Walmart (but has been seen elsewhere). This time it was a more metallic brown and closer to the metallic brown of the Porsche.

But I couldn’t do a Porsche and not pull out more Porsches too could I? Say hello to the MB118 Racing Porsche 935. Well, I had one racing inspired Porsche, I needed another racing inspired one to go with it. The MB118 was a simple model, basically an offshoot of the MB003 tooling Porsche Turbo which Universal hurried together to increase the amount of new tooling after the collapse of Lesney. It debuted as MB55 in the US range or MB41 in the ROW range in 1983 in blue with an Elf livery. This ran for 3 years unchanged.

In 1985 there was a promotional issue created in the UK. In 1985 window boxes turned gold to celebrate 100 years of motoring for the UK market and all models sold that year had the promotion written on the front. You cut off the headers and mailed away so many you would receive a free exclusive Porsche model. There were 2 available, the 935 Racing and the Turbo.

1986 saw the basic range model finally see a new look. Now white with a black edged, red/orange/yellow 10 scheme. It usually sported chrome wheels, but some early 1986 issues were seen with gold wheels instead. This look ran until 1988, although for its final year it was an ROW exclusive as the US range dropped it after 1987.

The model was also added to the US only Superfast series in 1986 which as a rule would sport new Starburst wheels. But I did find a SF-6 issue with the standard 8-dot wheels instead. It was mint in card, but I opened it.

Superfast spawned a sister series in Laser Wheels in 1987 with both ranges continuing on until 1990 and LW-6 was the same, except the sold light red was now metallic dark red, and the new wheel type had a CD-style side instead of the Starburst of SF.

In 1988 an MP-106 3-pack appeared in certain ROW markets, and included in the Porsche set was the same model as the basic range, except the white was now yellow.

1988 also saw a Hong Kong promotional issue for the 12 astrological signs, the Porsche being chosen to depict the Ox. All 12 models were numbered up as a racing team too, and Ox was Racing Team number 11.

For 1989, the model ran for one more year in the ROW range in a new colour. Red. The tampo design was eerily similar to the previous one.

But aside from changing the choice of colours used for it, they did make one more change. The number 10 was now a number 41.

There was nothing new coming in 1990, with the MP-106 multipack and Superfast/Lasers still being produced, but in 1991 we did see something new. After Superfast/Lasers were dropped, they came up with something new to replace them. Lightning! The Starburst/CD wheel had evolved in to the next step, which now had a lightning bolt tampo printed through it to match the look of the models. Windows were all chromes with shadow effects running through them and the models were all in very bright colour schemes. The Porsche 935 was one of the models chosen for the series, and each came in 2 colours in unique “pods”.

It was also added to the MC-23 Porsche multipack that year too, in a design that was in keeping with the rest in the pack.

It was also added to the World Class series too as number 22. This model was yellow, and featured a high level of tampo printing and again chromed windows. It also sported the first style of 2-part rubber wheels that Matchbox had created.

In 1992, Matchbox was in the midst of a deal with a Brazilian company called Trol to create some Matchbox models exclusive to the Brazilian market locally. This was down to certain import laws that were stopping Matchbox from being sold there at the time. This was near the end of their time and in 1992 they received the Porsche casting and sort of replicated the original look.

Although it was a little more basic, and much paler.

The model had an alternate base created for Brazilian production too. Quite often during early Brazilian production in the 1970s the bases were simply the regular ones with England written on the them. Some saw Made in England etched out and tabs or stickers put over. Some just stuck a sticker over the Made in England wording. By the 1980s though, the bases were being custom made for the Brazilian market.

Also in 1992 we saw another World Class issue. Numbered as 29 in the series, this was now an off-white colour, still highly detailed. This proved to be the last official release for the worldwide market.

But Brazil still had 1 more trick to play. In 1993 production was coming to a close there as Tyco were not carrying on like Universal did. The end of production saw various models in new designs sold in 4-packs. This was part of the Racing themed pack, sold alongside a Fiat Abarth, Formula 5000 and Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 all in exclusive designs. Once this was made that was it, the model was officially retired.

Now we focus on the other sub-set of 3 models. carry forwards. But not recent carry forwards. Oh no, these are definitely from at least the 2000s, but the first one is from the 1990s. In the number 11 slot of the 12 models is the MB260 Dodge Viper RT/10.

This model is in a dark blue with 2 white stripes going over the top and the Dodge and Viper details on the sides. Something we have seen before. Well, to show that one I think I should show them all. Well, all the non-premium ones that is (I don’t have some rubber wheeled examples yet).

The model debuted back in 1994 with gold wheels on it. However, you may be wondering what this is. It is a pre-production sample colour trial model from before they started production. No tampo or anything, just a plain metallic dark red. I thought it was a very nice shade, but they went more traditional for its debut.

Bright red. The front lights were depicted in black on the model, but being a 1994 release, did mean it sported those gold spiral wheels. The US range saw it as MB10, but the ROW range had it as MB12 instead.

I said I wasn’t going to do all the premiums, but I do have some, so why not show them too. Because shortly after debuting as a basic, a more detailed variation (still on a red body and sporting black front lights) was this World Class number 40 model.

They were sticking with their bright red scheme that year. The premium model did have a grey interior in place of black and obviously rubber wheels and those chromed windows that for some reason they thought would look good on World Class models.

In 1995 the model was red. Yeah it rolled through unchanged for the basic range, but as they did with all models, the gold spiral wheels that had debuted in 1994 across the Matchbox brand turned chrome.

In 1996 they still weren’t prepared to do much with the basic range issue. But for some reason the lower spotlights were removed from tampo printing and the window section turned smokey. Until then it had been clear.

It finally arrived in something other than red though that year, as the Super Cars 5-pack saw it in black.

And it started an array of premium issues (I have a bunch to get still) and although we did see a red one, we also saw yellow, green (both pictured), as well as black and charcoal. There was a second red, with dual yellow stripes in a gold Collection set too.

But now the floodgates had opened and a variety of colours was on the cards. For 1997 the basic range issue finally saw a change, as it turned green. In USA a special 75 Challenge model was also found randomly mixed in the boxes too in gold. During production of the green issue the casting was altered to fill in the front grille area as the gaps were starting to become too rough. But this was immediately after the first production run which was only available on US long card (MB10) and all ROW short cards (MB12) come with the closed grille variant, with most US long card MB10 also sporting the closed grille. The Gold Challenge model had already finished production by the time they made the change.

It also happened with the 5-pack issue, but oddly this was as a result of the model moving countries. It started in Thailand in the Convertibles 5-pack in red with yellow stripes and wheels, but later moved to China. When this occurred the grille closed too. I am still to get the China one.

In 1998, with Mattel taking over, the numbering system was overhauled with models moving each year. So the 1998 basic range issue moved to MB56 for the US range or MB67 for the ROW range. It was now yellow with the same front headlight tampo that had been lurking since it debuted. The lower spotlights receiving a tampo print seemed to come and go with every release.

And in 1999 it moved to MB37 in the US range or MB23 in the ROW range in blue. With dual white stripes and the Dodge and Viper details on the side.

Yes, this was the release that Matchbox re-issued for the Retro series. With 21 years between production runs there is so much different. Obviously the model went through some minor surgery, mainly involving re-doing the interior section. The shade of blue is a bit darker, the white stripes are not quite as long, the wheels are different, and the side tampo is a different size (plus didn’t have dodge written at the very bottom). But I am a big fan of doing carry forwards like this. If a casting is still going after all these years, go for a real classic look.

We also saw another 5-pack issue that year. Sort of the opposite as this was white with dual blue stripes. It was a part of the Open Road 5-pack.

In 2000 the model returned to its red roots as MB43 in the US range or MB66 in the ROW range. For the US issue the model saw a Matchbox 2000 logo in the window for the first 10,000 produced before it went away.

But a weird twist to the tale, the US issue sported a black base, with the ROW issue a grey base. I have no idea why. That was the only difference. Why they decided to do that is totally beyond me.

In 2001 it was dropped from the US range, and also from most of the ROW range too. This was 1 of the 2 years where the ROW range was split further with Germany, Australia and UK also seeing 10 exclusive models for their ranges. Both the German range and UK range had a Viper as an exclusive. The German was silver as MB55 and the UK red as MB53.

There was another red though. This was completely plain and created for use as a promotional tool for companies like Color Comp and ASAP. It also saw flower wheels for the first time too.

After that though, the model was almost done. It took a few years off before seeing 1 more release in the 2004 Superfast series. This was a very dark blue with silver stripes and higher spec detailing.

And until the Coffee Cruisers 5-pack for 2018 turned up sporting a slightly updated (as I mentioned mainly interior) version of the model in dark red, I did not think we would see the casting again. It was a surprise, and glad to see it will still make occasional appearances. I think it went from being a dated model to being a classic model during its hiatus.

Next up we have the MB901 ’06 Ford Crown Victoria with roof bar. I specify that as the model has 2 different window components that form the light bar. One has a 3-box light depicting a style of police light, and the other has a moulded “Taxi” sign built in to it. But both are the same MAN number and as such interchangeable. The plan is to use the specific window section depending on the type of vehicle in use. The ’94 Chevy Caprice will also be receiving a second window section as it too will turn into a taxi in a late 9-pack. It is a good idea, although as was seen in the 2019 Moving Parts series, they may accidentally use the wrong window section for a production run. Something to always keep an eye on. You never know if it might happen again.

But this one clearly had the taxi sign on the roof and the Spot On Taxi design on the side. It takes the number 10 slot out of the 12 models in the 2020 series.

This is one of those carry forward designs, and as such was originally on the model when it was released as MB51 in the 2009 basic range. Unless you happened to be in an ROW short card country as the model was not included in that range (only US and LAAM). This also was at a time when the model was under its original MAN number of MB689, sporting a separate roof piece.

But for a carry forward model, wow do we see a lot of difference between the 2. Apart from the obvious roof difference, what a difference in shade. The original one was quite a dark yellow. This is a pale pastel yellow. You may notice they did tweak the design ever so slightly, as the MAN number was incorporated into it just after the front wheel.

Plus they decided to colour match the base this time, as the previous issue was a grey base.

Of course we did not get the variations on the new one that we did on the original. For example the shade of yellow did vary between lighter and darker shades. Nowhere near the pastel shade of the new one, but they were noticeable shades.

Plus the model saw 2 different types of wheels during production. You could find it with a black 6-spoke wheel or with a chromed tri-spoke wheel.

And yes the tri-spoke also saw shading too.

So 4 of the original, only 1 of the new. Burt that’s fine. I am just seeing it as a 5th variant.

Spot On happened to be the first issue of a taxi variant of the model. Until then it had always been a police vehicle. After 2009 it continued in the basic range in 2010 as MB68, except now it was a US and ROW release, with LAAM missing out. This time it was green, which again I did find shades to. No more wheel variations though.

It was also added to the Action 10-pack in silver too. This was a fun little livery. Z2A instead of A-Z, and the Riders Wanted note too. They were having fun with this one.

In 2011 it finally saw a worldwide basic range release. MB68 turned up in blue.

But then turned gold a few batches later too. So this was a 2-version issue that year. Again I did find a shade, although not quite as extreme as before. I did actually find a shade on the blue, but I couldn’t get a good photo of it. This wasn’t all that good.

Hmm! Can you see the shade of green to the next taxi release? No longer in the basic range, it was now in the Airport Ground Crew 5-pack in green. I did find a shade.

It wasn’t a good picture, here is a single model with a yellow window section. This was during the period of “brightening” that Mattel went through.

2013 saw another 5-pack release. This time it was just Airport. It proved to be the last time we ever saw that roof piece as the next time it saw a taxi look….

The casting had been modified. But just as the first taxi issue gave us a wheel variation, the first taxi version of the updated casting did too. Tri-spoke or disk this time for the 2015 City Adventure 5-pack issue.

The City 5-pack of 2016 saw the model in a blue colour, and again shades of blue could be found.

This was also released in 2016, and although it doesn’t show a taxi livery, it is sporting the taxi window section, so gets classified under the taxi half of MB901. It was a Monster Week 5-pack issue in red.

Until Retro, the last “official” MB901 as a taxi was the 2018 Metro Transit 5-pack issue, again in yellow. And just as the first issue did, this too saw shades of yellow.

Finally I move on to the ’75 Chevy Stepside. This is under the MB991 manufacturing number, and is a really cool carry forward as far as I am concerned.

Taking the number 12 slot in the series it arrives in black with a red/silver tampo design. But I will explain in a minute why I absolutely love this carry forward design. Because I am going to go all Stepside here.

It was originally assigned the manufacturing number MB736 when it arrived in the 2008 basic range. It was available in all 3 ranges as this was the year they split between US, LAAM and ROW for 3 different ranges. In the US it was MB79, for LAAM MB29 and ROW saw it as MB8. I even found a nice shade of green in it too.

It was immediately given a version 2, well I say immediately it was a few batches later, and the same 3 positions for the 3 markets later saw this purple model.

They also included in the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year in a lovely yellow with Diecast Salvage Yard side design. I would love to see this look return at some point too. Perhaps on another model?

In 2009 it was not a part of the ROW range. The US saw it as MB92 and LAAM as MB57, whhere it appeared in orange. Again I did manage to obtain a nice shade on it. Tough to do when I live in an ROW area, but I try to get stuff as best I can.

It was also a part of the Service Center 5-pack that year too, and again I did source a nice shade to the teal body.

Which brings me to the point of where it carried forward from. This was a Superfast issue back in 2019. As such it sported a lot of additional tampo printing over and above the regular 2 sides we normally see on basics. Of course the retro model did manage to sneak in the top print along with the 2 sides, but additional printing did go. For instance the front grille was highly detailed. The new one is simply chromed, but the original saw a dark grey “chrome” effect with details added on top.

That was a tremendous thing. The model almost looks like it had a metal base. It wasn’t. That came later. But this dark chrome really enhanced the additional printing. Plus, it may not be totally obvious, but the original had a matte black finish and the new one a gloss black.

Of course the new model also did not receive the additional rear printing that the Superfast issue saw. Plus, as I have noted already, the new one is MB991, the original was still MB736 at that point. The changes were mainly due to rear bed structure. But this just wants me to see Matchbox now make many more older Superfast models into carry forwards, without some of the tampos that were originally supplied. There is so much that can be tapped into there. Particularly if we use some of the classic car castings that would not appear dated at all now.

Anyway, back to the models, and in 2010 the model was still only available in the US and LAAM markets for the basic range issue. A champagne colour scheme on the MB76 US or MB20 LAAM issue.

However, it did see a worldwide release in the Farm 5-pack with a simple Bros Farms side design. Another look I feel could return.

It also appeared in a Handy Manny licensed 5-pack in USA too. Orange is often good for a shade or 2, and this did not disappoint.

It was also used in the first series of Lesney Edition. With the tagline “double die-cast” the Lesney Edition models that year saw vehicles with a metal body and metal base. You can feel the weight difference between the models when lifting up a Lesney Edition (apart from in 2011 when they did the Ford Ambulance and kept the plastic body section). This model was blue with a white roof, and again I discovered a nice shade on it.

In what turned out to be the casting’s busiest year, it was also chosen to be the dinner model for the Albuqeurque Matchbox convention in July. Bronze or lime, depending on whether you were an early bird or not.

For 2011 the model went basic. Very basic. Literally. One release, in the basic range as MB76 (US) or MB20 (LAAM), as the ROW market was still being ignored with this casting. But as it arrived in purple, people couldn’t help but notice there was no tampo printing on it at all. Painted purple; sent out. At first the buzz was that it was an error. People snapped them up quick, until the next production run saw it, then the next. And people realized it was deliberately left plain. Occasionally it works. Cars tend to need front and rear details more often than not, but a pick-up truck will often forego the front/rear for side detailing. Or vice versa. So having them without completely does not really detract.

A-ha! For the first time since its debut year of 2008, the ROW market saw this model again as a single. Okay this was down to the 3-way split of the range ending and all markets getting the entire set, but we did see MB66 that year everywhere. I also found another nice shade of blue on it.

To make things even better, this model was chosen (for the second time) to see 2 versions in the range, and the MB66 release later turned yellow.

The model took a few years off after that, and when it returned in the 2015 Farm 5-pack, people immediately noticed it had been tinkered with. The rear bed no longer went all the way to the rear as the body section curves in a little for the rivet section. Originally it was hidden underneath but it was causing stress to the plastic bed section, so was altered. A number of pick-ups went through a similar process.

It took another few years off again though, before making its return to the basic range. The first time under the new MAN number. It was MB28 in blue.

It was also added to the Walmart exclusive Chevy Trucks series in brown.

A final release before the Retro one was this 2019 MBX Construction issue. The MC Construction theme has recurred a few times, and appeared here on this brown model.

And with that, I have finished another report. So, yes I know this was a little late. But I just did not want to miss doing these. I thought it was a great idea, and this batch B of Retro in 2020 was just incredible. The 3 models being inspired by classics from before.

And the 3 carry forwards that are pretty much anything but. I loved this set of models. Hopefully I will get to work on the 2021 Retro series at a much faster pace. Next week I am back to 2021 again and oh boy am I happy with the set I am going through next week.

5 Replies to “Matchbox Monday finishes off the 2020 Retro”

  1. Sorry to read of the sad loss of Ryu Asada. His work, his joy spread all over the world to all age’s. Rip.

    The Retro line as above. UK needs a line too…. Many throw backs of the Lesney, Universal era… Blue square or box packaging. I know various have been done. Not available to UK for normal sale as was then… Is the Rottweeler and Hero city re releases just an April fools gag?!….. 👍😀… I hope… Lol… Good write up.

    1. Yes it was sad to hear about Ryu. But he will be remembered for all time in the creations he made, and the models adorning nods to him.

      And don’t worry, they were April Fool’s day pranks. Very good ones though. They almost get you don’t they.

      1. Thank you 👍😀….. LoL….. Very good prank!!!….I’m not on Instagram so just pictures show… Hero city era and rottweelers etc…should be never made again. I know children will probably like them. But then again….. I remember how they never sold and clutter ,when almost all shops/outlets stocked here.

        A Ryu Asada best of set would be a good nod. With special packaging.

  2. Isn’t funny how history repeats itself??!!
    I picked the 1975 Chevy Stepside Pickup yesterday from the new Truck Series. I see it looks almost exactly like the casting offered in 2009.
    The major difference between the two is obviously no chrome chassis & the addition of more plastic with less metal (common situation lately w/mainline MBX releases)… but man, that drab dull grey plastic & no chrome!

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