Matchbox Monday maps out a sustainable future

Today for Matchbox Monday I am not looking at the present with new releases, but instead of looking at the past, I look to the future. Mattel have kindly sent over one of the 200 unique MB1230 ’20 Tesla Roadster castings made out of recycled materials for me to take a look at and see what I think. First impressions, Wow! Second impressions, if this is how they are looking to change things, sign me up. I am all for it.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

The Tesla is basically a test run to see how they are able to move to a sustainable future. These boxes that have been created out of recycled materials are not part of the future plans. This is a promotional tool and therefore has a unique package that was created just for it. As things start moving in the direction they aim for, you will expect packages to remain fairly similar to how they are now. 5-packs and 9-packs will likely see the inserts holding models in to be moving more towards the type of insert this Tesla is in, but regular packages will still be, well fairly regular. Just made from recycled materials.

©2021 Tesla Inc., used with Permission

The model chosen to create the promotional tool is the new Tesla Roadster casting. They worked with Tesla in creating this model and chose to replicate this white Roadster look from the Tesla promotional files. Now before I go nuts in my usual way, I would like to include the Mattel press release and key messages sections which I think in itself is a pretty decent read.

Mattel Unveils First-of-its-Kind, CarbonNeutral®Matchbox® Tesla Roadster Die-cast Vehicle Made from99% Recycled Materials to Serve as Brand BlueprintGoal to Use 100% Recycled, Recyclable or Bio-based Plastic Materials across all Matchbox® Cars, Playsets and Packaging by 2030.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — April 15, 2021 — Today, Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) announced Drive Toward a Better Future, its product roadmap to make all Matchbox die-cast cars, playsets and packaging with 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic by 2030. This is in line with Mattel’s goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all its products and packaging by 2030.

To illustrate these principles, Mattel is unveiling the Matchbox Tesla Roadster, its first die-cast vehicle made from 99% recycled materials and certified CarbonNeutral®*. The Matchbox Tesla Roadster will be available starting in 2022.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

The reimagined broader Matchbox brand includes new product lines and packaging that feature – More environmentally friendly and innovative materials across vehicles, playsets and packaging – Enhanced consumer recycling through product design and packaging labeling – An overall eco-friendly themed approach to play, with more e-vehicle product offerings and e-vehicle chargers in fuel station playsets.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

“Since the inception of the modern-day die-cast car nearly 70 years ago, Matchbox has been using design and innovation to connect kids with the real world around them through play,” said Roberto Stanichi, Global Head of Vehicles at@Mattel. “Matchbox is committing to using 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials to do our part in addressing the environmental issues we face today, and empower the next generation of Matchbox fans to helpsteer us towards a sustainable future.

”Fans will see the Matchbox commitment realized through products with zero-plastic packaging, using Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC)-certified content in the paper and wood fiber materials, on shelf starting now. The first die-cast vehicle to have zero-plastic packaging includes the popular Matchbox Power Grabs® assortment featuring a variety of licensed and original 1:64 scale Matchbox die-cast vehicles, while an EV-themed five-pack is now available with a paper foam inner tray.

In addition to introducing zero-plastic packaging, Matchbox is promoting proper recycling and waste recovery. Designed for recyclability with recyclable parts, electronics in playsets are consolidated into a single, easily removable module to help make the@local e-waste recycling process easier. How2Recycle labeling guides consumers on the proper disposal of packaging materials. Matchbox is also exploring ways to reduce energy use, carbon emissions and waste in operations, while delivering the same standard of excellence across Matchbox products.

For more information on Matchbox sustainability commitments, you can visit:

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

Key Messages

Matchbox® Sustainability Goals – Matchbox unleashes kids’ innate desire for freedom to explore the world so they can discover their independence. The brand delivers realistic vehicles that inspire kids to independently explore the world around them through real-life adventures. This will be fulfilled via three brand pillars: – Real World Storytelling: authentic details, relevant and relatable context, and heroic themes – Encouraging Independence: open-ended choices, self-sufficient play and gratifying achievement – Amplified Discovery: cause and effect, and playful discovery. Matchbox sets itself apart by creating die-casts that are realistic but with fun details, and creating playsets that are rooted in cause-and-effect mechanisms.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

For nearly 70 years, Matchbox has believed in the importance of play as a vehicle to help kids explore and appreciate the real world around them. Matchbox empowers kids through play to one day take the wheel and move us into a greener tomorrow, but it’s on us as a brand to take the first steps. We are seeing great momentum in the Matchbox business. Matchbox is the new “sleeping giant” in Mattel’s Vehicles category, that’s legendary and poised for new relevance and growth. Matchbox was up 21% globally in the fourth quarter of 2020, with its innovative, new real-world inspired vehicles. And this year we’re taking Matchbox to the next level, building on momentum to accelerate growth with new packaging and innovative new products that connect kids to the very first vehicles they know and love. Matchbox is designed to complement but not compete with Hot Wheels®.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

Mattel is committing to making all Matchbox cars, playsets and packaging from 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in the future. Consumers are increasingly aware of growing global waste challenges, and Mattel is working to find ways to use less plastic overall, and more recycled or bio-based content and materials. This is why Matchbox is shifting toward more responsibly sourced materials in its vehicles, playsets and packaging. Matchbox is the first brand at Mattel announcing its sustainability goals and is proud to be at the forefront of children’s sustainability experience through play. At Mattel, we recognize our responsibility to be a good steward of the environment, and creating sustainable products and packaging is an important part of our commitment to the planet. The commitment by Matchbox is part of Mattel’s corporate goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in both our products and packaging by 2030.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

We are at the beginning of our journey and we know we will learn a lot along the way, but it’s important to start with the following steps: Breaking the institutional thinking the brand has operated under for the last 70 years to shift towards a more sustainable-forward model. We are investing in recycled, recyclable and bio-based plastics to incorporate into our products without impacting quality. We are developing zero-plastic packaging for our vehicles beginning with our popular Power Grabs® assortment, using Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC)-certified content in the paper and wood fiber, and replacing the plastic bag that protects the die-cast inside the box with paper tissue. Matchbox Power Grabs assortments in zero-plastic packaging are now available. We are designing for recyclability by identifying recyclable parts and easily removable electronics in our playsets. Starting this year, Matchbox playsets will consolidate the electronics into a single, easily removable module to help make the local e-waste recycling process easier.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

We are continuing our rigorous product and packaging testing process to ensure consumers continue to receive the same high-quality Matchbox products they’ve come to expect from the brand, including in-depth inspections by engineers of each newly developed product and packaging with sustainable material. Putting the materials through drop tests, impact tests and age-chamber tests that simulate real-world conditions during a products lifecycle to ensure there is no degradation in quality. Getting the new products into kid’s hands for real-world play simulation to make sure the materials can withstand any unpredicted behaviors. We are reducing energy use, carbon emissions and waste in operations to make sure our processes reach the same standard of excellence as our end products. We ship 99% of our products by sea* to help manage our carbon emissions.

* According to the World Shipping Council, shipping by sea is the most carbon efficient method of transporting goods.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

We will be sharing more resources and content with consumers on how they can properly recycle our products and adopt other sustainable actions.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

The Matchbox Tesla Roadster die-cast is our first die-cast made from 99% recycled materials and serves as a blueprint for the future of Matchbox products. The Matchbox Tesla Roadster is made from 62.1% recycled zinc, 1% stainless steel and 36.9% recycled plastic. The Matchbox Tesla Roadster packaging is made from recycled and recyclable materials, from the compostable paper tray made from 70% cellulose derived from potato, to the recyclable tape it is sealed with. The Matchbox Tesla Roadsters have been certified carbon neutral by Natural Capital Partners with carbon offset credits going towards preserving grasslands in Colorado and Montana. If asked “what are the carbon credits offsetting”, these credits are used to offset energy at the plants and related transportation. The Tesla Roadster not only “plays well” but encourages environmental consciousness and emulates how Matchbox envisions the future intersection of cars and the future of play: more fun, more educational, more sustainable and better for the environment. We are planning for Matchbox Tesla Roadsters to be available for purchase in 2022.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

Our sustainability goal is a critical and central piece of our Matchbox “Future Drivers” program, which is our larger commitment to empowering kids to take the wheel and move us into a greener tomorrow. Having kids as a part of our journey is critical to ensuring we create real, 360-degree impact. We are expanding our electric vehicle representation five-fold within our best-selling, die-cast assortment to better reflect the expansion of electric vehicles in the real world. As part of our future plans to sell dedicated Matchbox product lines from 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in the future, we plan to sell an EV-themed five-pack with a paper foam inner tray. We’re continuing to be thoughtful when it comes to our playsets, such as renaming gas stations to fuel stations and incorporating electric vehicle chargers. By setting an example with our products, processes and packaging, and promoting sustainable behaviors with our toys, we hope to accelerate positive change with our world’s Future Drivers.

©2021 Mattel Inc., used with Permission

So there we go, some corporate information giving us the background as to why they are looking at moving in this direction. But for me, the proof is in the pudding. It’s a saying, I don’t know if it is used in many countries, but it sure is where I live. So let’s get my Tesla out.

This is my example, generously provided by the guys at Mattel for me to go through.

The packaging has all sorts of information across all sides and edges. They really worked hard to get as much information out there with these as they can. Obviously it is working. I have seen articles on news sites, proper vehicles sites, not just toy or die-cast places.

So it is clear that this is a recycled package.

I cut the tape (which I believe is also recycled)….

Peer inside. More packaging. Well, if it is all recycled materials, I guess having more of it is not exactly a bad thing.

I take out the inner packing sleeve for the Tesla. What is left also has information about what Matchbox is doing.

The inner sleeve is simply a cardboard overlay to the insert inside. Again full of details.

Including on the back.

Sliding out the insert which holds the Tesla and I have to say, everything does feel solid. I checked, and this insert is called PaperFoam®. It is an official carbon neutral product.

This PaperFoam® insert, which states it is home compostable, fits snugly around the car. Quite difficult for it to pop out.

Luckily there is a hole in the back to prod it through.

Out you pop. There we go, 1 loose Tesla Roadster.

First impressions? Stunning. It is, as Matchbox always do, a great little replica of the new Tesla.

The dark smoke window section is just that. There is an interior inside.

Now picking this model up, it feels just as solid and tough as any other Matchbox car in my collection. The use of recycled materials is in no way impacting the overall feel of the model. To the uninitiated this is just like any other model. I picked this up and a number of other vehicles, and this is somewhere in the middle weight-wise. You really would not tell the difference between one being made from recycled materials over one made from regular materials.

The only thing I notice that is even slightly different is the base. This recycled base is not regular plastic. As such, there is none of the wishy washy swirly patterns you often see in bases of this rough colour. But this is the daft thing. It is not easy to explain, but the base feels softer to touch. Not as in the base materials are soft and you are able to mush them up or anything.

No this is a nice sort of soft. Almost as if the base has a very mild velvet touch to it. That is sort of what it reminds me of. I am surprised I haven’t rubbed off the tampo printed detailing on there, as I kept stroking the base. It’s really nice to the touch. I know Abe mentioned both to me, and in the video he did with John Lambert on the Lamley Video channel, that the wheels were the toughest part to get right. But these are nice and solid to me. No cracking, or chipping. They are a harder material than the base is.

This model rolls just as smoothly as any other model in the collection. They have really worked wonders in getting this as close to how a standard production model would be, all while using recycled materials. To most, you would not know the difference. I can’t tell. I only know because of everything that is being done here. Honestly, to the uninitiated this is a normal Matchbox model.

I believe the red basic range version that is coming out at the end of the year will be made of regular materials. That will be a noticeable judge as to how recycling plays a part. But to be honest, I don’t think we are really going to be able to tell much of a difference. Only that the velvety soft (but still solid) base will be regular plastic. I believe that Mattel have done a tremendous job with their recycled efforts here. If this is how they are looking to move things to in the future, I honestly do not have any concerns whatsoever. This is solid! Very VERY well done guys.

Well, I can’t just leave it there can I.

It was in the write-up from Mattel at the start that playsets were also going to be impacted. So I picked up the new Fuel Station set. Okay this next bit was done outside as this is too large for the lightbox where I take most photos. Hence the shadows. It was a nice sunny day in the UK (yes really) when I did this.

So I need to open this box up.

Inside there are a whole bunch of pieces to put together.

But first of all, I believe I should apply some stickers.

Once applied, let the building commence.

Okay, I am really impressed with this too. All of these pieces are really solid, and slot together with a resounding click that you know they are put together well. Playsets appear to have come a long way since I was a kid.

so why was I wanting to set this up? Well it is because this fuel station comes complete with an EV charging station. Very modern. Very NOW!

So the Tesla is good for a recharge when required. I am impressed with this little set. The pumps move up and down to the models. Great fun.

you may have noticed in the Mattel section above a future parking garage is coming soon too, and this also has EV charging stations built into it. The Matchbox guys are really doing a grand job in keeping the brand very in the moment. I am also very happy to see that Tesla is very well represented too.

Talking of which, the first Tesla pops up for a visit. The MB903 Tesla Model S. This was their first Tesla release and it appeared as MB7 in the 2015 basic range.

Before moving to the MB24 slot for 2016 in dark blue. For those who like that sort of thing, the smoke windows do vary in shade too.

In 2017, it was MB26 and this is pretty close to the white that the new one is in.

Before seeing a final basic range run as MB29 in 2018 in grey.

Since then we have seen a second, darker red appear in 2020 in the Convoy series.

That came as part of a set that featured the MB1110 Tesla Semi with Box Trailer too.

The Tesla Semi itself has 2 variants. The black for the debut release, and a second grey issue later that did come with pipes on a trailer. I thought I would just show the cabs here though.

The other Tesla seen so far is the MB1142 Tesla Model X. So far it has debuted in the 2019 Moving Parts series in red.

Featuring the falcon doors (as they are known). Hopefully we will see more of this one too.

Matchbox have stated that as they move forward we will see more electric and hybrid vehicles in the range, and we know that doesn’t just mean Tesla. They appear to be at the forefront of the electric game, but Matchbox has been dabbling in the EV and Hybrid market for a little while now. I guess they were future planning.

Like with the MB774 Toyota Prius. This arrived in 2009 as MB25 in officially 2, but unofficially 3 versions.

Because the debut look was supposed to be a light metallic green, but the first run was a very pale, almost greyish green before a running change turned it into what they were aiming for.

Then, as stated, version 2 arrived later in brown. But to some, this was a 3 version debut release.

In 2010 it nudged up one slot from MB25 to MB26 and was now black.

Before a final red civilian look arrived in 2011. Still MB26, but this time it was not sold in the LAAM market.

It went on hiatus before returning, now as a taxi in 2016 as MB9. But the casting was still in the midst of a revamp when it arrived so it still used the original civilian casting.

But by 2017 the taxi revamp was ready to go and MB1025, as it was now going by was in the 2017 range in yellow as MB15.

It has only seen 2 outings so far, with the 2020 MB58 being the second taxi casting to arrive.

The Prius was joined by the MB790 Honda insight in 2010 too. With the Prius moving to MB26 that year, this model took the MB25 slot and also appeared in 2 versions too. Red at first, and then white coming a few batches later.

It was also chosen to be in the 2010 First Editions 10-pack that year too. Something the Prius was not. This model was either silver or silvery blue. I honestly don’t know which was the correct one and which was the mix up.

Although this was a definite blue. The 2011 MB31 which again was the last we saw of this at the time. Unlike the Prius though this never came back as a taxi. In fact it did not come back at all until this year.

When it popped up as a semi-exclusive model in the first round of 9-packs for 2021. This was a matte black model.

But another hybrid, an extended range electric vehicle as it was known, also debuted in 2010 and this one did carry on after 2011 too. The MB803 Fisker Karma. The wheels were specifically created for this model as Fisker did have 2 requirements to make a model. They had to feature wheels that were pretty close to those that Fisker used on the real vehicle, and they had to showcase the solar panel roof. The roof was easy, tampo print a solar panel on it. The wheels though, well none they had were close enough, so this new 5-spoke wheel was created for the model, and that Fisker were happy with. It still gets used on models now. It was MB1 in the 2010 range.

For 2011 it saw 2 issues in the basic range. At first it was red, but then moved to black a short while later.

It was also in blue in the Modern Rides 5-pack with a license plate that had “Plug In” on it.

But as I said, this did go beyond 2011. in 2012 it was MB7 in dark grey.

Before arriving in a second black issue as MB6 for 2013 (different wheels, different interior to 2011 V2).

This final year for the model also saw a 5-pack issue, as it was in the Exotic Rides 5-pack in off-white. It has not been used since.

We have also seen the MB1039 BMW i3 too. Just like the Fisker, this is a range-extending electric vehicle. It debuted in 2017 as MB5 in black.

Before turning white as MB13 in 2018.

Since then we have only see a pair of 9-pack exclusives in 2019. One in dark grey, the other red.

The MB1039 i3 was joined by the MB1093 BMW i8 the following year. I notice the silly things like the MAN number simply being the i3 with last 2 digits swapped around. Just like the i3 this debuted in black. This was in 2018 as MB4.

But so far it hasn’t followed it up with a white version. in 2019 it saw a gold release as part of the Target exclusive Superfast models in the basic range assortments.

A secondary casting was also created in 2019 for moving parts issues, this one being in the premium Superfast range in blue. Similar to the sealed model, this features the butterfly doors that actually open. a 2021 issue has just arrived, but mine is still on its way to me, so I cannot photograph it yet.

They have moved beyond just cars too. The MB1091 eStar Electric Van was a part of the 2018 basic range. Originally created by a UK company called Modec in 2006, it was originally built in Britain, but the company went bust in 2011. Navistar International in USA had already set up a deal to license and build it locally in USA and once the company had gone bankrupt, Navistar International purchased the rights to continue to make it as their own.

In 2019 it appeared in the Service Crew 5-pack in blue with a Fenski design.

And in 2020/21 saw one more use in its original guise as a part of the Heroes set that Mattel created. I am still to showcase this set. Trust me, I will get to it.

The casting has been altered for 2021 usage, with the interior being removed and the front window now forming the lower front end. MB59 is the first showcase for the evolved model, and a special EV & Hybrid 5-pack is just appearing featuring 5 vehicles I showcased here as carry forwards. One is the eStar, and as such the 2018 debut carry forward is on the revised casting. So instant variation for the variation nerds like me. Another 5-pack is also a part of the same batch release. I do not have either so far as they have not hit my local stores yet.

But one more electric vehicle. The MB1208 LEVC TX Taxi. This one is a British built vehicle, and the current taxis that get used in the UK. Although UK taxis are more often than not in solid black. I don’t think I have ever seen a metallic black one. It arrived as MB6 in later 2020 batches (one of very few models to actually see use in more than one batch as it was in batch E, then again in batch F). It also was carried forward to the UK exclusive Best of UK series for 2021. So it appears that Matchbox have made solid progress on including electric and hybrid vehicles already.

Plus, as well as making playsets more modern with EV charging points etc, even other vehicles in the range are seeing a look to the future with them. The MB970 Ford F-150 Contractor Truck may be a traditional fuel vehicle, but the side design is definitely tying in with the future look. A Suny Solar side design. Solar panels are also a very modern and future piece of technology, and I see they are incorporating things like this in to the models too.

So we may still have vehicles with traditional fuels for now, and I guess delving into the archives for classics to add to the range too will not be stopping for a long time. But they are really starting to look to the future, for our future, for the next generation’s future. I think this is a real turning point.

As the world moves more to hybrids and electrics for transportation, Matchbox looks to them too. Plus they are making them future-proof by using recycled materials soon too. By the end of the decade it will be the norm.

Just like a self-driving bus. They are coming, and Matchbox are in on the ground floor there too.

Vehicles with massive engines in the front were at one time extremely cool. Matchbox had a Big Banger and Pi-Eyed Piper in the range in the 1970s. Both extremely popular. I wonder how many gallons they would do to the mile?

I don’t see Matchbox stopping with the classics though. the Plymouth Savoy and Chevy Nova are both new for 2021 and will not be the last we see of classics being added to the range. But over the next few years I do expect to see more and more hybrid and electric vehicles incorporate the line-up. But you know another thing I like about all this. Mattel have set up a strategy for the Matchbox brand this decade.

To move to sustainable resources, recycled materials and a carbon footprint reduction by 2030. That means we are seeing more Matchbox over the next decade. The brand is safe. The brand will continue for a long time yet. I am looking forward to the future.

So yeah, I am happy. As I said, if this Tesla Roadster is any indication of the quality we are due to see from future models, I am more than happy.

Hybrids, range extenders, full electric. This is how the future looks and Matchbox will be right along for the ride. I look forward to seeing how this goes. Until next week, have a safe and healthy time.

8 Replies to “Matchbox Monday maps out a sustainable future”

  1. The shift to recyclable materials is most welcome, and I’m really glad to see a focus on EVs. I hope part of their plan with the Power Grab boxes is to add closable flaps. For those of us who like to save the packaging, it makes sense + it’s one less part of the product needing to return to the recycling stage. Now the biggest question on my mind – will Hot Wheels follow the carbon zero model as well?

  2. I fail to see how 62.1% Recycled Zinc + 36.9% Recycled Plastic + 1% Recycled Stainless Steel equates to a “Made of 99% Recycled Materials” claim.

    If a third of the car is metal and two thirds of the car is plastic, that’s only 45% Recycled Materials.

  3. Thanks for the lowdown. The proof is in the eating, not the pudding, but we’ll let that slide 😉

  4. I have seen concern expressed elsewhere that the use of recycled zinc might cause problems with intergranular corrosin (aka metal fatigue or diecast pest) in the future. One thing that Matchbox always insisted on was the purithy of the metal they used, even setting up their own supply operation (Eastway Zinc) in the Lesney days. I’d like to think that Mattel’s engineers know enough about the process to avoid that pitfall but recent experience with far-eastern made “collectors” models shows that not everyone in the industry is up to speed.

  5. Those are percentages of the entire car, not of the individual components.

    The steel axles are the 1% of the car that isn’t recycled.

  6. David, I know that you have been doing your bit for years when it comes to recycling and responsibly throwing all that packaging away after freeing the models!

    The statement about “The first die-cast vehicle to have zero-plastic packaging includes the popular Matchbox Power Grabs® assortment” rather made me smile, as it gives the impression this has never been done before. Um, why are they called Matchbox cars?!

    Matchbox cars had recyclable packaging for decades. And just a box without the need to rip it open or cut any tape. There is a certain irony there that the original 1-75 series had less packaging than this promo item!

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