Can you believe that with this batch, we are now at the half way point of the 2021 model year? It all seems to go so fast. As with batch A of the year, this is a very easy to split into 3; set of 15 models. So I will be focusing on the first third of them in this report. As I did with batch B, there will be gaps between each third as I use weeks in between to talk about other items too. Matchbox is releasing a lot of great stuff this year, and I have to admit, the way things are going I may be looking at all-new stuff on a weekly basis for pretty much every week now. Especially with thanks to Wheels Collectors who are very helpful in keeping my up to date with a number of the core releases. So where shall I start this week?
With a new casting. The MB1248 ’79 Chevy Nova. The Chevy Nova had run for 4 generations and was bowing out after the 1979 model year (only to return as a Toyota knock-off in the mid 1980s which most like to forget) and its final year was the only one that sported squared headlights. Such was the popularity of the Nova that when GM decided to branch the general design out to their sister brands (Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Buick) that they deliberately gave them names that when listed under the Chevy’s name, still spelled out Nova. The Oldsmobile was Omega, the Pontiac was Ventura and the Buick was Apollo. Nova, Omega, Ventura, Apollo – N.O.V.A. True story.
Considering it was such a cool vehicle, I am really quite surprised that it has taken until now for Matchbox to make a model of one. They went with the last one (again ignoring the ’80s Toyota rip-off) which when added to things like the final look of the Audi TT (just been released) and VW Beetle (came out last year) does sort of give them a run of making final edition vehicles. Quite iconic in itself.
It takes the MB22 slot in the basic range in light blue with dual white hood stripes. I love it! Yeah, well, it had me at the stripes. But this is a really nice casting. When announced last July as a casting coming for 2021, I admit this one was not my most anticipated. It wasn’t bottom either. It was somewhere in the middle. But now I have it, my oh my. It is really nice. Already thinking ahead, could this make my top 10 list at the end of the year? It’s a contender.
Being a 1979 Nova also meant that the vehicle had a slightly different tail light configuration to the earlier 1975-78s, which Matchbox replicates to full effect here. They really did do a great job with this one.
And as it is a new casting, I know there are some who like to see what bases look like, so I show that off here. But also being a new casting means no back-diving for this. So what to dive into? Well this is the end of the decade, so why not the start.
With the MB610 ’71 Chevy Chevelle. The Nova was classed as a compact in USA, but there are no other compacts from that era to go to, so I moved up to mid-size. This was not a final look, but was the final look for the 2nd generation Chevelle. It had a new front end for 1971 which ran through 1972 before a 3rd generation model replaced it in 1973. That slowly transformed into Malibu and Chevelle was quietly dropped. Matchbox created a casting of the Chevelle for 2004 to sell exclusively as a collector model with the first one in brown being slated for a 2004 My Classic Car set.
However, sales of Matchbox Collectibles had slowed, and all Collectible offerings were stopped and nothing got released. This model only made it as far as pre-production stages. I also chose it because as you will realize, the model is rather stripey, just like the Nova.
So instead it debuted as a 2004 Superfast exclusive casting as they decided to create a special 35th Anniversary of Superfast series featuring 75 models, all licensed castings, all with a box in a blister, and all featuring premium tampo decoration and new wheels created especially for the Superfast series. Apart from the wheels which didn’t go down too well (a classic retro 5-spoke was designed later on for “classic” cars, but after this arrived), the series was such a success that they decided to do it again for 2005.
And this time, they released the models in 2 different colours as the USA was the only place getting the 2004s. For 2005, they created a run of 15,000 for USA, and all other markets (often Canada will be included with US for basics, but not here, as it was part of the 7,500 ROW markets) each model saw an alternate for the ROW (rest of world) market. By this time, it was sporting the retro 5-spokes, and USA saw a red version and everywhere else a blue one.
They did another set in 2006, and inspired by more things retro, they sprinkled in a few “Streakers” models paying homage to the original tampo covered vehicles of the mid-1970s. The Chevelle was one of the Streakers, coming in metallic orange with a very stripey top.
By late 2006, Superfast had become a Walmart exclusive in USA (after the first 3 batches (32 out of 75) had hit, the last 6 batches (43 models) were only sold there into early 2007), but the daft thing was that each year, because 2004 had started so late, was actually running mid-year to mid-year, and to nudge things back to normal again, 2007 was a smaller year, consisting of 18 models only and dubbed Superfast America. They arrived across 3 batches bringing things back in to line with all other ranges. The Chevelle was in the 2nd batch of the series in black.
After that though, the model was finally given a core release. It turned up in the basic range for the very first time in teal as MB5. It gave me a chance to check things as this was a much bigger production run and I discovered a daft scenario which I call short stripes/long stripes. If you notice, the one at the front has both the front and rear stripes stopping shorter than the one at the rear. Yes I notice the daftest of things.
For 2009 it was a part of the Classics 5-pack in green. No such luck with stripe lengths there.
I suppose this was the logical next step. From single to 5-pack, and now 10-pack for 2010. This yellow model was a part of the Real all-exclusive set.
For 2011 it went back to the premiums. This time as one of the Lesney Edition releases. Lesney Editions were sometimes known as the double-diecast models as both body and base were metal, and you noticed with the weight of them. This also sported a fun variation as half the models sported whitewall tyres, and the other half had BFGoodrich Radial T/A printed on them. Such a cool wheel variation. They should do that more often.
In 2012 it popped back up in the basic range again in burgundy as MB67. This time the major variation was the interior. A lighter and darker butterscotch as I call them.
After that the model has only been seen once again. But boy did I make the most of it. A part of the Open Road Cruisers 5-pack in 2017 I discovered lighter and darker shades of grey.
Plus lighter and darker red interiors. And yes, you may have noticed, every single one of them has has stripes of some sort on them. I told you a part of this being matched with the Nova was down to the stripes. Boy do I love stripes on cars.
So I may as well get the second car done as well, because this is a Porsche! The MB423 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet.
I am so happy seeing this gain a new lease of life again. After returning out of the blue in 2020 after a 7 year absence, I am so happy it was not a 1-off. This black edition is MB54 in the 2021 range.
Now this does feel rather familiar. Black with a grey interior?
Well yes, there was a black with grey interior once before. The 2000 Euro Sports 5-pack sported one.
It is not simply a carry forward of that one. You can see clearly how the tampo printing is completely different on the front, and obviously the new one is metallic black and not solid black like it was 21 years ago.
The rear is admittedly closer in design, but that is because on both occasions they were going for an authentic look. But light detailing has improved since the start of the century, meaning the latest one is more defined.
But as I did a rundown of Carreras when the white one arrived last year, I thought this time I would nudge one 911 back. And remember the MB335 Porsche 911 GT1. The real vehicle did not really have an awful lot to do with 911s of the era, but this was developed as a racing vehicle with 20 examples built as road vehicles for homologation purposes. These were officially called 911 GT1 Straßenversion, and appear to be the one that the Matchbox model was based on. The classic Lesney era Porsche Turbo had finally run its course in 1997 with a last appearance in a Super Cars 5-pack and for 1998 Mattel created a new Porsche casting to replace it. The 911 GT1 debuted in white with simple headlight and name on doors in 1998 as MB68 in the US market or MB58 in the ROW market.
For 1999 though, the US range dropped the model, and with Germany splitting partially out, this MB31 ROW market issue appeared everywhere except Germany.
Because Germany had their own exclusive design. Still silver, but this time carrying the same design as the 1998 debut.
In 2000 all ROW markets saw this MB35 issue in blue, also using the same design as the 1998 debut.
And it returned to the US range, now as MB45, with the same side design (but missing the headlights). Also, as a US issue in 2000, the first 10,000 sported a Matchbox 2000 logo on the front window.
Oh there are the headlights. Yes it was also in the Euro Sports 5-pack that year (the one that had the original black Carrera). There is a wheel variation, but now I am looking I cannot find one. Later runs of the pack saw the model change from concave 5-spokes to flower wheels.
For 2001 we saw another blue in the ROW basic range. Now as MB20 it saw an all-new design on the model.
This same design carried through to the 2002 ROW exclusive basic range in white. MB22 that year also saw a logo release, with the first 10,000 seeing a 50 logo on the front.
And I was very lucky to find an extremely rare first run issue with lace wheels instead of flower. At the time, these were what they did with some FEPs. Final engineering pilots would be basically a tiny test run. It could be anywhere from 20-2000 models just to make sure everything was working fine before proper production began. Occasionally they would check and decide to make a tiny tweak, in this case change the wheels, but the FEPs would still be sent out anyway. Why waste them. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many 911 GT1s with lace wheels were made. Each run was different for each model/release and no proper records exist of exact numbers. But being an already existing casting I would hazard a guess that this would be on the smaller run side of things.
For 2003 the model was very quiet. Only this German exclusive Stars of Germany issue was made in plain silver.
Before it saw one final push for 2004. Returning to the ROW basic range again as MB21, sporting the same design as 2001 & 2002 (except the large Matchbox logo across the front).
With a final issue as number 70 in the first Superfast series. Although officially a 2004 model, as already noted early Superfast years were off-set, and this appeared in early 2005.
Bringing a close to the chapter of the Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion casting, as it has not been seen since.
Next off the block is the MB1091 eStar Electric Van. Although as the packaging now states, it is a 2009 International eStar.
It takes the MB59 slot for the 2021 range in white with a DCM side design. DCM stands for Die Cast Metropolis.
This is a nice little design.
Now before I dive back into the past, I did also want to point out that there is something we no longer need to worry about with this model. When originally created, if you were to peer inside the window on the roof you would discover a choice of 2 interior pieces. But the model has now been cost-reduced from a 4-piece build to a 3-piece build, and as such the interior no longer exists. The window section now forms the area over the front wheels which was occupied by the interior too.
The model has now been re-copyrighted with a 2020 date, but still retains the MB1091 manufacturing number. This is something that they do nowadays rather than creating new numbers and leaving blank areas all over the place.
Bringing in the original 2018 MB6 for some comparison shots here.
As said, originally by peering through the roof would discover either a boxes or disks interior section which no longer exists.
The rear did form the rear of the model originally, and this has now been moved to the body section.
You may have noticed the base is now metal, and the body is plastic. The components have been switched around, as the body was originally metal and base plastic.
And as I mentioned, where the interior stuck out at the sides has also been altered. At the front it is now a part of the window section, at the bottom of the rear it is now a part of the base. So all in all, every component has been significantly altered to change this from a 4-part build to a 3-part build.
While I have the old ones out, the new release is only the second basic range issue. After it debuted in 2018 it only saw a single release in 2019 as a Service Crew 5-pack model.
And the original casting saw 1 final offering at the end of 2020 with a release in the Thank You Heroes promotional charity pack. And yes, I will do a proper run down of that pack at some point. I keep getting sidetracked. This year has also seen 2 more 5-packs recently debut, but so far I have not found them yet, so cannot show. An EV & Hybrid pack sees the original release return, but now on the new body, alongside another new design in the City Adventure II 5-pack.
Was that a bit too short for the eStar? Maybe not, but well I am bouncing back anyway. Why? Because I am being random here. eStar? FJ? two syllables. Does that work? No? Oh well, I won’t bother with the MB282 Holden FJ Panel Van for fun then. I heard two syllables and a van. And I thought why not pull this model out for some fun, as I completely go off-topic. This is a really unusual model. It was created to be a promotional tool for Australia in 1995 and it took a while before it even saw “normal” use. This is a 1996 blank model for the Australian market. Although it did have 2 headlights detailed.
We saw a number of black issues based on that in Australia at the time.
Although other colours were used too. For its first few years, it was used in many Australian promotions.
But after a number of issues (these are not all, just a small selection) we finally saw something a little more normal.
In 1997 the Australian Matchbox range saw some exclusive models, and this True Blue version was sold there as MB37. Now I mention Australia, I do also include New Zealand too and the surrounding small islands which take the Australian range.
And finally, in 1998 this red issue appeared as MB40 in the entire ROW range.
It stayed as and ROW exclusive in 1999 too, as it was now MB12 in green with a Fresh Produce Delivery side design (without wording).
It was here that the US market first saw this casting too. It was added to the Star Cars series with a Laverne & Shirley themed design, including some amazing “dirt details” in the rear.
For 2000 it bounced back to being an Australian exclusive again. It was sold as MB14 there in tan with a surfing side design.
They stuck with a surfing design for 2001 as it was still an Australian exclusive. MB63 there was now black with a Surf Country themed design (something recently replicated on a Ford Pickup).
It was also a part of the Coke themed Avon twin pack that year too in USA. Part of the 1950s Collection twin pack along with a ’57 Chevy Bel Air Convertible.
In 2002 it saw its first licensed 5-pack issue, and also its first issue not sporting the early disk wheel design that was created specifically for the model. This Cocoa Puffs model was a part of the General Mills 5-pack that year.
2003 saw this lovely Collectibles issue for the Coke series. Unusually in place of 2-part rubber wheels that would normally be on Collectibles models, this sported its standard disks.
In 2004 it saw 2 outings in licensed 5-packs, and as was custom at the time, 3 of the models in each 5-pack appeared as a single in an alternate colour, and both times the Holden was chosen to be one of the 3. At first it was in the Looney Tunes licensed 5-pack in olive with Tweety Bird surfing on the side, and later rolled up singularly in red too.
It then rocked up in a Nickelodeon 5-pack in white with Rugrats featured on the sides. This too then saw a single release, now in yellow.
After that the model only officially had one more outing, but this was refreshed later. It was a part of the Haunted House mini playset in 2005 and came in a deep red with skeleton side design. However, as the brand was going through a tweak after the move from Mt Laurel to in-house at El Segundo in mid 2004, they were busy working their way through various items. Playsets were not the first priority to adjust, and so the planned 2005 stuff still went out as planned by Mt Laurel. But sales were decent enough to keep selling for a few years, and mid way through, they refreshed the model to give it a more realistic look in keeping with the rest of the brand. Therefore it turned black with an RIP side design. After that though, the model faded away and we never saw it again.
So what’s next? Skidster! This little MB789 casting just keeps on going. It has had a long and illustrious life in the Matchbox range.
This latest issue is red with a Fire district look to it. Very outside of the box.
Hmm! I think I should take a look at this history of this casting.
The model started as MB39 in the 2010 basic range in white featuring a Ranec design which has gone on to become one of Matchbox’ recurring themes.
However a very tiny run saw a small mistake. Some of the details were added to the underside of the shovel, but the very first run was left blank. This was a very small run and is very hard to find. In fact I found the “with detail” shovel to be found on the same batch date as the first run, so these could have been some FEPs that they didn’t want to waste.
Although later on the writing on the base of the casting was re-sorted and at this time they managed to fit all of the writing on the base itself. It might not be too clear in this picture.
A few batches later and the model turned yellow. Not to be left with just the one this time, I did find that the shade of yellow did vary a little during production.
As did the 10-pack 1st Editions model that arrived at the end of the year.
In 2011 it was sold as MB39 in the basic range, except for the LAAM market, as they were finishing their 4-year stint of a 3-way range split. This mustard yellow featured a Lyons Bros side design, much like the ones that Michael Heralda mentioned in a recent report on the Ridge Raider. If we look carefully we will find it pop up once in a while outside of racing style vehicles.
It was also a part of the Construction 5-pack that year in orange sporting a King J design.
In 2012 it was sold as MB1 in the basic range in raw zamac and featured a yellow shovel on the front. This shovel did see shades of yellow during production.
It was also in the City Works 5-pack, again in orange. However, this time it was a lighter metallic orange, and contained a Skidster themed side design.
Hey look. In 2013 it was MB76. Now a purple model, but again it had a yellow shovel. Again this shovel was good for shades.
In 2014 it was not a part of the basic range and only saw 1 issue in a Construction Zone 5-pack in green.
It then took 2015 off before popping back in to the basic range as MB50 in 2016. Although the shovel was green this time, we still managed to see shades to it, as some came out a darker green than others.
In 2017 it was back in a 5-pack again. Simply called Construction this time, this purple model saw an orange shovel on the front. And again the shovel found shades.
2018 saw it bounce back in to the basic range as MB41, in a rather familiar look.
It was a carry forward of the second 2010 debut year look, although the shade of yellow was noticeably different.
And by this time the base had seen its detailing updated.
2019 saw it as MB32 in the basic range in bright yellow sporting a little CarGo design on the side. Often in blue, CarGo will sometimes appear on models in other colours too.
2020 and it was back in a 5-pack again. MBX Construction II saw this purple with Agrobio Nutrients side design. So apart from 2015, this model has seen at least one issue every year since it debuted in 2010. That is quite a healthy life. It keeps plugging away doesn’t it.
And this brings us to our final model.
Or should I say models? Wheel Collectors know what I like.
The MB1184 ’65 Land Rover Gen II safari. Taking the number 91 slot for the 2021 range this model comes in green.
It also comes with a choice of 2 different roof accessories. I do enjoy these fun little extras that the Matchbox team give us.
So you can have a Land Rover with a partial roof load or full roof load.
Which both can be popped off to mix and match with other rood accessories on Land Rovers and other models. I also like how the look of the model is very simple. No side graphics, just simple front grill and lights, rear lights and badge. Beautiful work on these.
Which is just like the debut version was. That one was blue with the same look.
Although you may notice that the green has now added in just a little more tampo to the front now.
The roof pieces are very similar in colour, but if you pop them off and line them up, you can see that the newer ones are a little darker now.
Of course this isn’t the first green issue of the Land Rover Gen II Safari. That honour goes to the 2019 Leipzig dinner model that Dirk Schleuer created for that year’s event. This too has a similar roof, but in that case only 1 option. A full load. And being a promotional model the roof accessory was glued down so as not to swap it out to create rare variants.
It was the only one of the Leipzig models to sport the roof rack. All the other 3 models from the event had a canoe on the roof. The convention model in white. This was the early bird issue for the first 75 who registered. The rest got the green one.
There was also the super rare blue issue too. This was dubbed the ladies car, and only 25 were made, mainly to pass out to those who helped him with the event.
And the most common yellow issue was the convention model itself which had more examples made than the other 3 combined. But at 300 examples, this is still not a common model.
The only other Land Rover seen so far is the 2020 MB63. This was a tan issue with snakeskin side design and a green roof load.
Hmm! How does green with a green roof load look? Yeah my report is almost over now for another week, so I am going to finish up by having a little fun.
Because you know, as I said, there are a few other castings with removable and interchangeable roof loads. The MB1076 Trailer Trawler for example. I only just did a review on the latest red issue a few weeks back.
Mixing and matching. Make up my own colour combinations.
Or maybe bring in the MB1035 ’59 Chevy Brockwood with canoe for fun too.
Yeah I could be at this all day.
So I hope you enjoyed my first dive into batch C of 2021.
The first 5 (or 6) models are done. There will be a few weeks before I continue with the next group.
I hope you enjoyed my report. Until next time have a safe week.