It’s that time of the week again when I take you through another small selection of Matchbox models, which inevitably ends up with a large selection in my own special way. As has been the case with singles, these have been supplied to me by Wheel Collectors in USA, which is extremely useful as the UK where I am based has skipped the batch (as well as batch B) and jumped from A to D. So I am extremely grateful that these guys are helping me out with these and ensuring I do not miss a thing. With a nice and easy batch of 15 models to play with, it was very easy to split into 3 groups of 5 vehicles. I showcased the first third 3 weeks ago, so guess when the final third will be showcased? Oh yes I have different items to showcase for the next 2 weeks.
So let’s dive in with the cute little MB1209 ’76 Honda CVCC. As we know this is a first generation Honda Civic, but the CVCC moniker was important as the 1976 Civic was the first to use the brand new (at the time) Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion engine that Honda had developed. So the ’76 is a very significant Civic.
I really do love this little casting. I honestly didn’t think I would like it as much as I do, but it is so lovely. It is being sold as MB49 in the 2021 basic range in plain white with a simple front and rear detail.
Well as this is still a fairly new casting (this is only version 2 after last year’s yellow debut) I guess I need to find something else small and cute to dive back to.
Something like a Renault 5TL perhaps? I grew up in the 1970s and as such the Renault 5 was my first little Matchbox hatchback, and yes it was a bit of a favourite of mine. I think this could be partly why the Honda is really appealing to me.
Now I am going to get into the nitty gritty here. You see the Renault 5 was launched in the Matchbox range in 1978 as MB21 replacing a Rod Roller. The base did make mention of “TL” which was originally the higher spec variation, but a later GTL was an upgrade. But as a general rule, the Renault 5 was traditionally a European seller. In USA a licensing agreement was set up with AMC to market the vehicle there, and it was marketed as “Le Car”. So the guys at Lesney came up with an idea. Remember this was pre-range split and as such the factory were not used to models being sold in specific markets. So they came up with a plan. For markets outside the US the model would be sold in blue with a tan interior and a silver base. For the US market they would create a replica of the bright yellow Le Car that was the most common one sold there with a red interior and black base. The guys at the factory were like what?
They created blue bodies, yellow bodies, black base, silver bases, tan interiors and red interiors.
They then put them together in any configuration and put them out all over the world. Clever idea, absolutely atrocious execution.
Factor in that some windows were made in amber too and you have an absolute smorgasbord of combinations that could be found.
And if you want to get really specific, how about shades too? Like the blue coming in lighter or darker variants.
Yes this particular issue was an absolute blast from a collector standpoint.
Hey look, black bases coming out dark grey. Yeah this was a logistical nightmare, but oh so much fun to find them.
In 1979 they thought that perhaps the ROW version should change from blue to silver. Perhaps that would help. Nope! Factory was just slapping things together any old how.
They even created an alternate tampo print for ROW issues later on too. A red pin stripe with A5 at the end. Yeah that wasn’t doing too much, but what they did do was give up on the tan interior. Perhaps only having a red interior would save some headaches. So by now the only variations we were seeing were silver or black bases being put the wrong way round.
So in 1981 they came up with a rather clever idea. Amalgamate the 2. Keep the silver from the ROW issue and the Le Car tampo from the US issue. Of course they still gave us variants. Bases would still vary as they were using up old stocks of paint they didn’t want to waste (colours fairly close to black that weren’t actually black), and again they randomly made a batch of windows in amber. So that too does give us a waft a variations to hunt down.
In 1982 it saw it’s first non-Le Car outing for the US market (officially, I mean stuff was sent out all over the place, they had all sorts unofficially) and what was now the 5th new official version for the ROW market. A rally version. White with green and black tampo on it. Sounds easy enough until you discover that they were testing out all sorts of interiors. Like white, which was rather plain on a white vehicle.
Maybe tan. Of course the green tampo print would vary hugely across each run too.
But the roof seems rather plain as most models would actually have Renault on the roof too.
Oh look more interiors. Dark tan, light tan, cream. The model actually ran for 2 years, but after 1982 it was dropped from the US range meaning only ROW markets saw it in 1983.
In 1984, now as an ROW exclusive the model changed the design. Another rally inspired look. It was also a part of the TP-106 twin pack mated to a Motorcycle Trailer (although the first twin packs released used up the last of the previous green/black liveried ones).
Again they really couldn’t decide on an interior for the model.
Plus, they also found a few with orange bases. Wait? What? Orange bases?
Yes, it was 1984. Universal had taken over the brand and had set up an agreement to market an extended range in Japan. Instead of the 75 being sold in ROW markets or US markets, Japan would see a series of 100 models. The east part was they just threw in all the US/ROW different models, but it was still a bit short. So they came up with a few extras. The 1984 Japanese MB9 was a red Renault 5 with an orange interior and orange base. It also had Turbo on the side, giving the market a rally and a civilian model. Easy enough. Yes factory workers don’t understand easy enough. Amazingly nobody has ever seen an orange interior on a white model, but the bases. Yes they got swapped. Although red with black base is rare and as such I am still to get it. Plus, tan interiors on a red model are also very rare. And you can find one or both mixed up (the interiors and bases on a red car). But when it came to the white one, only the base got mixed up.
In 1985 the model was dropped from the basic range, but continued in the TP-106 twin pack. As 1985 progressed the casting was shipped off to Macau with the model on the right being the Macau issue. It ran until 1986 in the twin pack like that.
Strangely enough, with no alternate builds of a Renault 5 hindering things, the Macau made R5 never strayed from the original look. You might find a slight shade variation but nothing of note.
The TP-106 pack saw a recolour for 1987 where it continued for 2 more years until being dropped. This was silver with a Scrambler design on it.
After 1988 it was retired from regular work. But as part of an agreement with a Bulgarian company, in 1991 the casting was one of a shipments that was sent over for local production. During the 1980s, these agreements with Bulgaria (and a single agreement with Hungary) dictated that the castings would only be used for 1 year. They had to be back at Universal exactly 12 months to the day that they were shipped out. So by the time they got there, set up and produced, packaged back up and sent back, the factory had about 11 and a half months to go nuts with as much as they could. But in 1991 (and again with 1 more agreement in 1993) the castings shipped out did not need to be shipped back. Bulgaria likely still has them. So 1990s Bulgarian production was massive. So many different looks.
Which spilled over into the 2000s (these 2004 production runs were Bulgaria celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Superfast name), and into the early 2010s. I don’t know when they were last made, but I haven’t seen anything new for a while now. But never say never.
So yeah, I am doing this lot randomly, just to be different. Which means next on the list is the MB1190 Nissan NV Van. It takes the MB66 slot in the 2021 range.
This model is black with a Nissan Courtesy shuttle side design and red tinted windows.
I do prefer having tinted windows on models that have no interior rather than black windows. I just think it looks better like that.
Case in point, it debuted in silver in the 2019 range as MB84 with plain black windows. I think smoke windows would have been a much better choice on that one.
Whereas the 2020 MB83 in white has a nice blue window section which works with the side design too.
Well that is it so far for the NV Van. It has a tow hook so I am hoping it gets used in a Hitch & Haul set or 5-pack with a trailer unit to tow too. But I can’t leave this one at 3 models. But strangely enough, there is another Nissan that only saw 3 models recently and so I am going to bring that in too.
The MB820 Nissan Cube. Such a cute little thing this was, I was so sad to see it fade away so quickly.
This was the debut. The 2011 MB30 in blue with a simple front and rear tampo print.
It was chosen to be one of the models to see a 2 version release in its debut year too, and later on the blue gave way to this funky green design. Or should I say designs.
As both sides of the model had totally different designs, albeit based on the same theme.
Which strangely enough carried over to the next year, where the 2012 MB22 in white saw this vinyl record themed side design.
Which was completely different on the 2 sides again.
But that was it. It debuted in 2011 in 2 versions and retired in 2012. I am still hoping for another random issue. And I am looking at future 9-packs as a possible outlet. Mind you, do we have enough for a Nissan series? Nissan Z, Nissan Skyline, Nissan Cube, Nissan NV Van, Nissan Junior, Nissan Xterra., Nissan Leaf, Nissan (D21) Hardbody, Nissan Titan Warrior. I count 9 Nissans in the current Matchbox database. The older Nissan castings being no longer available. Could we include the Datsun 510 Rally too for a 10th? Of course I am discounting the Datsun 280ZX as it is a Moving Parts model and is in a different line. But I think there is cause for looking at a Nissan themed series.
But I seem to be sidetracking, so on with the next model. Rotate the drum, and out pops the MB817 Ford F-550 Super Duty. This is a model that keeps plugging away in the basic range. I did a rundown on it when the 2020 basic range issue arrived.
It has been with us since 2011 and apart from 2015 has been a part of the basic range ever since. Yet strangely enough, very little else. It saw a 10-pack 1st Editions release in year 1, a 5-pack issue the following year, and in 2013 a promotional model. Apart from those it has been basic range all the way. This one is in red as MB29. The first time we have seen an all-red issue.
It sports a Matchbox Fire Rescue side design. I have to admit, I do like the Ford F-series, and enjoy seeing the various incarnations of it.
Like the MB920 ford F-350 Stake truck. Yes, I know I did only mention a short while ago about black windows, but this one does sort of need them as they form the section that the stake clips into and the rear of the model. So having them in bright colours might make the models look weirder. It is a tough line trying to gauge one thing from another. This model hasn’t seen anywhere near as much action. It debuted as MB114 in 2014 in yellow with a white rear.
Before turning cream with a brown rear in 2015 as MB48.
The last time we saw it in the basic range was 2016 when it was sold as MB51in yellow and grey.
Since then we have only seen one more outing. A 2019 MBX Construction 5-pack in blue and black. This is actually one of my favourites of the current crop of Ford F-series models (even with the black windows).
And I am really hoping that we get more issues of this one in the future as 4 is not enough.
Of course because you can pop the stake bed rear section off, you can create your own combinations of models as the cream and brown model becomes either cream and grey or cream and black here (always useful as I had 2 shades of this one so I can do 2 at once). Hmm! That’s 2 short dive backs in a row. Must elongate….
And I know just the vehicle. The MB593 4×4 Fire Truck. Because, well, when else am I going to be able to bring this one back out to showcase, plus I had this awesome preproduction sample of it. Memories of my very first trip to USA and vising the New York City Matchbox Convention held at Chelsea Pier that year. That was where I won this model.
A completely plain prototype sample of the MB593 casting which hadn’t actually arrived in stores yet. It was due in the 2004 basic range so this was the first we saw of it. I thought the rear end reminded me a little of the Ford’s rear end.
And when I said plain, I meant completely plain. There was no writing on the base yet. This was still quite an early prototype of the model.
It arrived in one of the first 2004 batches as MB32 in metallic dark red with an Alarm Unit side design, plus a reminder that this was during the Hero City era.
Later in 2004 it saw its first 5-pack release too. It was in the Fire Patrol set in green,
It was immediately dropped from the basic range, as 2005 saw a move towards more realism. But it survived the multipacks with multiple issues. The 2005 Fire 5-pack moved production from China to Thailand mid way through which means instant variation. A different shade of fluorescent yellow.
Plus it appeared in not 1, but 2 launcher sets that year. The white issue was from the Fire set, and the burnt orange from the Rescue set.
In 2006 it was again a part of the Fire 5-pack.
It was actually the same as the 2005 one, but now red instead of yellow. I do like when we see the same theme used with different colours.
It was also a part of a Nick Jr licensed 5-pack too, featuring SpongeBob SquarePants on the sides.
2007 saw it appear in a Pirates 5-pack in tan. although the first production run came out a shiny gold colour. This saw a running change into the corrected golden tan shade.
It also saw another licensed 5-pack issue, this time for a Scooby Doo set. This one was red with a water themed side design.
After that the model started phasing out. It saw nothing in 2008 and in 2009 just a licensed 5-pack offering. This green issue was in a Handy Manny 5-pack.
After that it was pretty much retired, but popped up briefly in 2014 in a Rescue Duty 5-pack. It does actually sport 3 wheel variations, although the other 2 are proving tough to find. I never saw them. A single run had no silver to the cogs in the middle, and another small run saw the dual ringed 8-dot wheel used instead. One day I will get them as I do have a bit of a soft spot for this model. It may stem from being the first person to own one. You know, because I got the prototype months before the model made its debut.
Okay so I am moving on to my next model. I may have had a soft spot for the 4×4 Fire Truck, but I absolutely love this MB1226 ’19 Ford Mustang. So much so that I ripped the model out of the package before I even had a chance to photograph it in there. Way too eager! It is being sold as MB31 in the basic range, and I believe may be one of 2 releases of the casting this year as a basic range model. Of course things change so don’t hold me to that one. But i am hopeful for seeing another one later in the year too.
It looks absolutely gorgeous in blue. This is officially its basic range debut though. Considering it has seen a number of issues already, this is quite a shock.
As we know the model was originally an all new casting in the first batch of the 2020 Walmart Mustang series in metallic green.
It then appeared in one of the Top Gun Maverick 5-packs later on too in charcoal. And if you are anything like me, you would have likely noticed that the charcoal did vary in shade during production too.
It was then a part of the second batch of the Mustang series too, this time in orange. But again, this has been a very short recap of a casting, as there are many newer castings in the basic range, so I need to bounce back. The Mustang is blue. You know what reminded me of?
Piston Popper! This model was sold between 1973 and 1978 in the basic range as MB10, and during that time it was always blue.
Created as an offshoot to the earlier MB44 Boss Mustang, this was a Rolamatics model. It actually helped me to understand a little about how engines work. As you rolled the model along 2 of the pistons would pop up.
And then the other 2 would pop up after. A really ingenious piece of work here.
Of course 6 years of production would inevitably lead to some variations. For me, the most obvious was the shade. Darker or lighter shades of blue can be found.
The windows do vary too, although finding a light amber is not an easy task. Most do tend to be of the darker amber variety. You might be able to find a random unusual wheel variant, and bases have been known top be painted silver on some, although the usual is unpainted. You may also find a rare model that has the Superfast logo. They forgot to put Rolamatics on the base on prepros, and some were just put on production ones anyway and shipped out. Waste not, want not.
Although after the model was dropped, a rare MP1 multipack issue was found in white. Was this a planned recolour that was dropped last minute? They are not too east to find.
Although perhaps not as rare as this. Yes, I had to another pre-production shot. This is my prepro in black I have had for many years.
In 1980 the casting was utilized in the USA market in a special set of Limited Edition models. It was marketed as Hot Popper and came in yellow with flames. Shades of window, shades of yellow, shades of flames. Yes you might find a variety of looks to it.
In 1982 they decided to bring the model back to the US market. It was relaunched as MB60 with early examples using up some leftover yellow interiors before the redinterior took over. This model also saw a number of variants.
Often involving the level of tampo print. Top and hood at the front, adding sides to the middle and adding rear to the rear model here. Of course on mine there is a random wheel variation too, as my minimal tampo has maltese cross front wheels instead of the usual 5-spoke.
Although I still don’t exactly know what this one is I found. The tampo printing on the sides and rear are much larger than normal.
The model ran until 1984, but for 1983 it was turned into an orange Sunkist model. Production was moved to Hong Kong initially, although that only lasted a few months. Hong Kong issues are known for being unpainted bases and Macau swiftly took over and painted their bases black.
Random base shot of the 2 models showing the countries of manufacture (if you can read them).
Macau carried on production until the end of 1984 (roughly 1 and a half years) and during that time it altered from quite a light orange to quite a dark one. After this, the Rolamatics casting was finished for good.
So now to the finale. A brand new casting. And oh boy am I having fun with this.
Road Stripe King. A Matchbox originals casting debuting as MB25 in the 2021 range.
It comes in a lovely realistic yellow with a Road Maintenance side design.
And quite a lot of detailing for various items.
Being a new casting I show off the base and the fact that this is MB1251. Although because it has a big hole in the middle, they didn’t manage to fit the model’s name on it.
So what is this hole for?
It is for you to insert a pencil or a crayon into the model for added fun. I said I was having fun with it.
Sadly I didn’t have any crayons on me, so I went with a pencil.
As you roll the model along you can press on the pencil and it will actually mark out the road for you. A crayon may not need to be pressed.
You can be artful, or just go nuts and scribble away to your heart’s content. Okay I think I am going to need more paper.
Fresh sheet required because the MB1175 Poop King joins in now.
Because the Road Stripe King is the latest in a string of castings that have been shot off from the same casting.
They even keep the same spare wheel underneath the model. These are some of the models that have been spun off from the original….
MB828 Pit King! So you could say the cab has been around since 2011.
Where it debuted as MB45 in the basic range in green with an orange dump on the rear. You may notice subtle differences in the way the parts are put together between different variations of the cab style, but you can also see how they are all based on the same idea.
In 2012 the Pit King was yellow with a white dump this time as MB15.
Plus it also saw its first multipack usage as the City Works 5-pack saw an example in burgundy and blue. Of course for those who like it, the wheels used that year were both variations of the 6-spoke. A larger middle with thin surround or smaller middle with thick surround.
In 2013 it was back to just basic range usage, as MB79 was white with a blue rear.
The 2014 MB21 was another fun model for the variation hunter as the window could be found in either light smoke or dark smoke. Most noticeable as to whether you can see the rivet post or not.
In 2015 it started a 2-year run of purple issues. The first year was MB41 with a silver rear, black base and a City design.
In 2016 another purple was issued as MB55, this time with a black rear, silver base and M. McCarthy Haulers design.
Before the only non-basic range issue actually became a basic range issue, as the 2012 City Works 5-pack model turned up as MB81 in the 2017 range. This also was included in a playset later too, but that has been all we have seen of this original “King” casting. How long with Road Stripe King keep going? We will just have to wait and scribble. I mean see.
And on that note, I believe I have reached the end of another report. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed scribbling it.
There is one more part to batch C to go, but that will not appear for a few weeks. I divert into a few other series for the next 2 weeks. Until then, have a safe week.