Boy that’s a lot of “M”s.
So another week, and the start of my ever so slightly revised way of doing my report. I enjoy doing these reports, showcasing new stuff, and spending some time with my collection diving back into the history and showing off (and reminding myself in the meantime) of some of the cool stuff I have buried in all my cases. This week the report will begin with my rundown of the 2021 Moving Parts batch B. These have been graciously sent over to me by Wheel Collectors for the report (thanks again guys, clicking on their name takes you to their eBay page). But before I dive in, let me explain my new thought process. The new stuff will be at the forefront of the report. So I will simply run down each of the models in the batch at the start. For some models, I will still do a back dive on that casting if I think it is interesting enough, or just as a reminder of what has appeared to date. But I will not be veering off on little side trips mid-report. Some people were not too keen on me showing a brand new release, and then spending 10 minutes talking about something different. But others loved the classic stuff, and reminders of what had appeared in years gone by. So this is my thought. Run down new items, then after that I will choose 4 classic castings to do a run down of afterwards. Each one may be very closely linked to something new, they may be quite a stretch (depends on what is in the new batch). But for each of the 4 classics, I will start with an “inspired by” choice of new release. Oh, and to make things a bit more interesting, I have a rough guideline for the dive backs. Sort of an “era” or “decade” type scenario. Something will be a classic Lesney or 1970s. Then something Universal or 1980s. After that a Tyco model or 1990s. Finishing the dive back will be something Mattel or 2000s. It is not an exact science. There may be some small overlaps and things stretched out a little further as some castings may be longer lasting than others. But it is a rough guide to how I will be doing them. I hope people like it. Hopefully they see this as an improvement. Let me know what you think. But enough of that, show us the models.
I am actually going to start with the 2 carry forwards. Batch B had 2 models from batch A still included in the mix. Daft fact, people may not have realized that batch A had 5 models in the assortment cases of 8. There were 2 models only 1 per case with the other 3 being 2 per case. Those that were 1 per case got a second outing this time out. First up was the number 3 of 20 MB1140 ’06 Ford Crown Victoria (taxi variant).
Me being me, I had to check. Yes, it appears that the new production run is a lighter shade of yellow to the original one. For somebody like me that is a fun second addition to the collection. Others are busy rolling their eyes.
The opening rear doors are pretty much identical, which means that on the newer run they are much better at matching up than they were originally.
Of course some do not worry too much about that, but I thought that being a better match might be preferable to some. I do like a classic US taxi in yellow, and the Crown Vic has often been a good source for them. Happy for it to continue.
The other carry forward was the 13 of 20 MB1137 ’00 Nissan Xterra. I compared the 2 and can not see any variation on the model. Obviously the black paint was going to be very unlikely (although never impossible) but the grey also seemed to be a perfect match. But finding 1 of the 2 carry forwards in a shade variation was very good news for me. So now on to the new additions.
And err, yes! I forgot to take a photo of the MB1253 ’19 Pagani Huayra Roadster in the packaging. Is it that important? I mean it looks like all the other packages except has a picture of the Pagani at the bottom and the Pagani in the blister. I think you can envision it (or Google it if you really must).
This is number 1 of 20 in the series. That is something the box would have told you. Obviously I told you now, so that is done too. I have to say, I am absolutely blown away by seeing this. I remember when Mattel took over the brand when they purchased Tyco in late 1996 and me thinking very little of it at the time. All I felt was Matchbox was in good hands. For the remainder of the decade things improved. Like a lot! We really started seeing some great stuff. But then the new millennium hit and Mattel really started to take notice of what they had in their portfolio. Two distinct toy car die-cast brands competing for the same market space. They needed to differentiate between them. Sadly, this meant that Matchbox started to become more of a child’s brand, seen as a stepping stone between the baby items and their other die-cast brand. Things got a little dumbed down, they then moved into what they called “Hero City” and then the ultimate rock bottom moment. Ultra Heroes! Sales had plummeted and a rapid change around created what was dubbed a “golden age” of Matchbox. More realism, more standard vehicles, more akin to what they were known for. But there was a caveat. They still needed to differentiate from their other brand, and as such vehicles like this were still a no-go.
I still remember some of the talk about trying to make Matchbox slow and cool. There was even a brief moment when they were going to drop “cars” from the range. The whole basic range was to have consisted of construction vehicles, utility vehicles, emergency vehicles etc. No road going standard car vehicles at all. A last minute reprieve saw some added in on that year’s range, but with sales slowing again, they knew that road going cars were still the bread and butter of the brand. Since Abe Lugo has been in charge, he has really pushed the higher ups at Mattel to diversify the Matchbox portfolio. Of course he has a whole team with him to work with, and together they have been coming up with cooler and cooler items. 10 years ago if somebody said about seeing Paganis, McLarens, Bugattis etc in the Matchbox range, the responses would have been along the lines of “never”, “not going to happen”, “if only”, “perhaps if Mattel sold the brand to another company” or other such replies. To see where we are now is a testament to the guys working behind the scenes on the Matchbox brand toiling away and making the brand as good as it now is. Of course we still need more stores to sell them. But you know, stepping stones. Nothing happens overnight. It is a slow process.
And what can I say about this model? Wow! It’s a Matchbox Pagani! OMG! I never thought I would usher those 2 words together, Matchbox and Pagani in the same sentance! Was it worth the wait? I think so. This model looks absolutely stunning in a very dark blue. I wonder if this is perhaps the “Blue Carbon” colour that was sort of being replicated. The model also sports a simple front headlight array and the rear engine is meticulously detailed inside too where the canopy opens up.
It’s really cool having this rear engine bay opening on a model too. Haven’t seen something like this in a long time.
I do notice that when you close the canopy down it doesn’t slot back into place.
You do have to click it down to put it back to normal again. I am not sure if that is a Pagani thing or a Matchbox thing. I am guessing a Matchbox thing, but it is not awful. You just need to click the rear closed whenever you shut it. It takes a fraction of a second and really makes no difference to things. I am absolutely loving this casting.
And as this is a new casting, I tend to show a base shot too. Nothing much on this one, but perhaps that is a Pagani thing too. Some vehicle have very little exposed at the bottom. Particularly sporty cars, as the lack of exposed parts helps with aerodynamics and ground effects. But as this is a new casting, I am done and on to the next one. My overall impressions are still amazing. I think this is a really good representation of the real vehicle, and the opening rear is the icing on the cake too. I hope we see a number of other versions over coming years. Hopefully in a brighter colour next time, as this is quite a dull blue.
So now, no diving back yet. I move straight on to my next model. And look, packaging. I remembered this time to photograph it before ripping the model apart. This is the MB1141 ’62 Jeep Willys Wagon in cream. It takes the number 7 slot out of 20 in the series for 2021.
And now I rip the model out. Sadly my example came with a little tiny chip over the front window, but things like that don’t worry me. The odd scratch or chip is fine. As long as it is still in excellent condition and not playworn I am happy. This model is very nice in a pale cream colour featuring a chrome base too.
Being what is classified as a core range means that tampo printing can be rather limited and in this case means just a simple front and rear print to the model. Only premium models get to see more tampo prints as a general rule, although with the Opening Parts series, I think they are able to squeeze the occasional third pass through the tampo machine on a few models, mainly those seeing an exposed engine.
But as has been seen over the last few years, the Jeep sports opening doors. I like this one. Nice and simple, and I do enjoy the simple models a lot. Plus it is a light, bright colour too. A contrast to the dark colouring of the Pagani.
And as I did mention the last few years, how about a quick run down of what has led to this release. The model first arrived in 2019 in the Moving Parts series in metallic green. Again a simple front and rear tampo, although you do notice that did not get a chrome base.
Later in 2019 we saw another Moving Parts issue. This time it was burgundy and now the front and roof were printed. Again no chrome base though.
In 2020 we saw the debut version return to the Moving Parts series for a second outing. This was good news for some who had struggled to find the original release, due to being in batch B of 2019, that whole batch was short run and most ended up in Australia.
Of course had you got both releases, you would have noticed a difference in the shade of green between the 2019 and 2020 releases. I do love when a model comes back.
Later in 2020 we saw the first premium issue for the model, giving us a full tampo print, the first time a chrome base, and my personal favourite touch, an “I love Camp Arrow Flint” bumper sticker on the back. I am a huge fan of recurring themes, and the Camp Arrow Flint theme is a relative newcomer. But I hope that it continues to see more future issues, and we get the random little nods to it as well, like with this. Totally unexpected. Totally cool. I love stuff like this.
So that is where we are with the Jeep. Four, or five releases (depending on your perspective). I look forward to seeing what is to come in the future.
So the next model is the MB1143 ’63 Chevy C10 Pickup. This is one of 3 releases of the model this year, so I won’t showcase the previous issues just yet.
Just mention about the number 8 of 20 2021 issue here in what Chevrolet refer to as “Glenwood Green”. It is a real colour, and it is one that Chevy used for many years on their trucks, so this is a very cool model for Matchbox to make.
And yet again the detailing on this Moving Parts issue is nice and simple. No major designs, just a simple Chevy badge and door stripe. I really like these C10s and the Glenwood Green with a white base/tan interior is definitely one of the best so far.
Now this model doesn’t have a tampo printed engine. I did mention about some models seeing an engine tampo printed, but I wonder if it is because this one is a plastic engine on display rather than metal. Not so much because it is plastic, but the fact that it is already giving a bit of a colour break when you lift the hood up anyway, it was deemed not too necessary on a core model. I don’t know. Or perhaps they can only receive a third pass through the machine on so many out of the Moving Parts series, so work out which get it, and the Chevy didn’t make the cut. They do work with fine margins on many items and I know whenever we get to see more than expected, they have really pushed to achieve that. We got it with the Pagani, so kudos for going the extra mile. I like this one regardless. And let’s face it, you are not spending most of the time with the hood up. Cue jokes about it being a Chevy from all the Ford/Dodge lovers.
I do like the Range Rover. Or as Matchbox specified on the base of the model, and on the packaging here too, the MB1163 ’18 Land Rover Vogue SE.
Taking the number 10 slot in the 2021 Moving Parts series this model is sporting the Fuji White colour scheme with black exterior accents highlights package. Oh yes, they really do give options for the exterior accents. Atlas is a silver look, shadow is a darker grey, and black is black. No fancy name for that one. Of course you can choose to have a Range Rover with no exterior accents highlights package, but people rarely choose that option. So I am very happy that Matchbox also decides to go down that road. Again, this is a lovely model.
And this is one where you really see them stretching out the budget as far as they can. Because the model has all 4 sides printed. On a core range release!
I don’t know if they have to do this at Land Rover’s request, or if they are just able to eke out that little bit extra for this model, but whatever the reason, I love it! Keep on doing them like this please.
As a reminder, the model debuted back in 2019 in Balmoral Blue with the Atlas exterior accent package as part of the Superfast series.
2020 saw a Moving Parts issue in Santorini Black with the Atlas exterior accent package again.
Which as we saw had 4 tampo surfaces, but it seemed like less tampo colours being used as the time and I thought perhaps a clever flipping action during tampoing that helped to give the illusion of 4 passes. But the new one I really can’t see how they did it with only 3 passes. Either that or the guys at the factory are geniuses.
Then later in 2020 we had another premium issue in Madagascar Orange still with the Atlas exterior accent package.
Which means the latest issue is the first to not have the Atlas exterior accent package. Still no release with a shadow package yet. There is time though. I hope this model stays around for many years yet. Can you tell I really like it?
Which brings me to the final model in the assortment. The brand new MB1263 ’88 Chevy Monte Carlo LS. It is the number 12 of 20 issue.
Now I admit, when it was first announced I wasn’t overly wowed with the prospect of it. I thought it was nice as it was a bit different to those in the range already. But I know there were others who were really keen to see it. I guess it may be partly down to me being in the UK. Growing up I didn’t really know much about the Chevy Monte Carlo. It was never a big thing where I was, but I think in USA it had a little bit of a cult following. Turns out, the model chosen was the final look for the 4th generation Monte Carlo as the vehicle was dropped by GM after the 1988 model year (only to be revived in 1995 for 2 more generations). And now that I have the model in hand, yeah I can see why people in USA might have been clamouring for this one. It is really nice.
Now that I have it, I have had a good look over and I am very impressed. The model is really well done, has a lovely shape, and yes I think it stands out a bit. I can imagine quite a lot of fun with this. Again, the team have done a wonderful job in replicating the real one. It comes with simple front end detailing, but I don’t know if it is just me, or is headlight detailing becoming more and more realistic as they go on? It looks so good.
Again at the rear with just a simple rear end detail, and I believe it should say Monte Carlo on the license plate. It wasn’t too clear. But I am converted. I love it!
I haven’t even mentioned the doors yet. These are just about the smoothest closing doors I have ever found on a Matchbox model. They open and close so easily, so smoothly, so quietly. I don’t know what they did, but I spent a good few minutes just opening and closing them.
So it is actually tough for me to choose a favourite. Ignoring the 2 carry forwards, we had a Pagani, Jeep, C10, Range Rover and Monte Carlo. All of which I really like. I was expecting the Pagani to be my favourite with the Range Rover second, but this Monte Carlo has unexpectedly stolen top spot. With the Range Rover still second, and the Pagani third. But even the C10 was close as I love the colour. That is not to say the Jeep was bad. I really liked it. It was just unfortunate to me to be the worst of a great bunch.
And that concludes my rundown of the new items. Batch B 2021 Moving Parts. But it is not the conclusion of my report. As I said, I am attempting things just a little differently now. So all the new stuff is done. If that was all you were here for, you can click off and do something else instead. But if you do enjoy my collection diving, well I am going to hit you with 4 classics from my collection.
First up is a classic Lesney model from the 1970s. Inspired by the inclusion of the Pagani in the new batch is a 1971 MB66-B Mazda RX500.
This is because both sported an opening rear showing off an engine. See, there is logic to my choices. Well sometimes. I did mention that sometimes the link between a new item and something I pulled out the collection could be quite a stretch. But I am going to say goodbye to the Pagani now. I decided there was no real need to include it in all the photos of these dive backs. This is all about the Mazda. Did you know the real Mazda RX500 was a concept vehicle designed to promote the 50th Anniversary of the Mazda company. Debuting at the 1970 Tokyo Motor show, it was actually orange. Although more of a yellowy orange. Later it was seen in green and then in silver, leading people to believe that there were 3 concept cars. There weren’t. They just repainted it every time they showed it off. After those 3 appearances it was mothballed until it was bought in 2008 by the Hiroshima Transport Museum. It was then they noticed a chip in the silver paint with green under. They chipped that and found orange under that. It turned out there was only the 1 made. Now here is where things got weird. The real vehicle has butterfly doors (much like a Lamborghini Countach) and the rear opening canopy is actually falcon style. the sides open to a bar down the middle of the rear. It was never on a hinge like the Matchbox model sported. Obviously when the guys at Lesney created the model, they had no idea how the real one opened. Likely only had a single photo to work from, showing the concept fully closed. Plus, this thing had a Wankel Rotary Engine. Those things are tiny. When you opened it up, the engine was a small section almost up against the passenger area, and the rest was mainly filled with a spare wheel and pipe work. There was never a massive engine like the model depicts.
but enough of the real vehicle, I am here to talk the model. As mentioned it debuted in 1971 in orange. It had a chrome interior, purple windows and a white base. However, the first run was made with amber windows which blended in too much with the body, so was quickly changed. I am still trying to find an amber window myself. The model did also come occasionally with an unpainted base, and again tough to find meaning I am still looking. but with 4 years of production, one thing I was good at finding was shades. Lighter to darker orange shades were found over the 4 years.
In 1975 the model was chosen to be one that would sport the new Streakers tampo that they were launching that year. It was now red, and came with a white and green top design. I don’t know if anybody noticed, but when tampo printing was first introduced, they were still learning how the process was working. At first a model would be fully assembled before going under the tampo machine. Early tampo machines were 2 colours only and they literally rolled the model underneath to tampo. So every model chosen to be tampo printed was a model that could roll under assembled and receive a single 2-colour top printing, so were all fairly flat topped (namely sporty vehicle). Nowadays, tampo is applied before assembly to individual parts, and these are held in place at whatever angle they need to be to get the correct hit, which is now still only 4 colours, but obviously more than what it was at first. The early Streakers models still had the purple windows as there were loads left to use up. These are much easier to find than amber window oranges, hence me having more than one. That is because I found nice shades to them.
Obviously as the year progressed, they switched over to the amber windows that were originally planned for the model from the offset.
The model ran for 2 years like that, so obviously again shades of red cab be found.
As well as random issues that they forgot to roll under the tampo machine.
Of course you may also find shades to the window too. Amber window is usually quite dark, but lighter runs can be found.
It was dropped after 1976, but in 1978 made a brief re-appearance in Japan as MB19. The model swapped from 5-spokes to 5-arch wheels in 1976, and in 1978 when returning for Japan continued with 5-arch. However, just as it was being dropped from Japan they switched to 5-square. Most of these were actually found in the MP-1 multipacks in 1979 as they were disposing of excess stock.
The model returned in 1981 exclusive to the US range as part of the brand split. Considering it was only around for one year,you can still find small variations. For me, the shade of green on the tampo printing between these 2 were the most noticeable.
It was also the first time it came with a non-white base intentionally. It was now silver, and also made in Hong Kong. A number of castings destined for the US market only in 1981 were shipped out to Hong Kong for cheaper production and shipping costs.
Talking of which, you can also find shades to the base. Lighter or darker silver?
It then stopped production until it was chosen by Universal to be one of the castings to ship off to Bulgaria for a year in 1985. During that year they made a ton of variations. Many were completely plain.
But some were tampo printed with a stripe going over the top. After that Bulgarian year, the casting was retired for good.
Now as I mentioned, my dive backs are a loose guide. Not 100% strict. They just naturally move forward with castings as they go along. So next up, inspired by the new Chevy Monte Carlo LS casting, I bring you Chevy Pro Stocker. This was still a Lesney release, but from the 1980s. Well, 1981 to be exact. MB34-C. Well this is because from 1972 until 1988 Monte Carlos were used in NASCAR racing, and as such, this is basically a Monte Carlo, albeit altered for racing.
When the model was first planned to arrive, they actually used a real vehicle for the design. Darrell Waltrip was a highly respected driver and drove the 88 Gatorade car for DiGard Motorsports quite successfully between 1976 and 1979. Lesney created a model of his car with Gatorade across the front. Early prototypes exist saying Gatorade, and even had Chevy NASCAR written on the base, but this was one of the early instances of licenses becoming a factor. Since George Lucas had set up Star Wars to get paid from merchandising surrounding it, the whole world of toys and licenses changed pretty quick. In the 1970s, you wanted to slap on a Gatorade logo to a toy or use NASCAR for it, just slap on a Gatorade logo, scribble NASCAR. But this was 1980. The model was being planned to debut for 1981 and NASCAR got wind of it. They didn’t allow their name on the model or the 88 Gatorade to be replicated without paying license fees, so it was changed to Lightning and the word NASCAR removed, and Pro Stocker added to the base. Pretty easy really, and when they wiped the word off the front, keeping the lightning bolt, it renamed itself really. So a first test run was made. A few hundred green 88 Lightning models. They even created the artwork for the model and picture boxes exist with it. Suddenly NASCAR were at their door. They still wanted paying for the license to use their look and the name, even without the actual word Gatorade on the front, even without NASCAR on the base. So Lesney did what they did best.
It’s blue and it says 34. To be honest, it was enough to divert paying fees out at the time, but as we know, nowadays you have to pay license fees for literally anything. This was still the early days and it was so much easier to divert paying fees then. So when MB34 arrived in 1981, what was planned to be a green 88 Gatorade model with Chevy NASCAR on the base eventually turned into a blue Lightning 34 model with Chevy Pro Stocker on the base. Still, I loved it, and the model ran for 2 years like that.
Of course 2 years of production in England? You know things would not look the same all the time. Quite a few models appeared without side tampo. A few actually did appear with no tampo at all, although I am still to get one of those.
Plus there were the bases. Red base, silver base, unpainted base. They kept swapping things around.
Of course they do stick out, which is why I have all 3.
And of course, for those who are really crazy (yeah I count as one of those) the lightning bolt does tend to vary in shade too.
As Lesney was in the rear view mirror and Universal were taking over the brand, they looked at refreshing a number of castings. The Chevy was one of them. But compared to some castings which saw major overhauls, this was one was quite minor. The front grille was flattened and larger skirts added. The rear also saw the spoiler made larger.
But apart from that, not much else was done to really change. It was sort of modernizing the model a little to keep it in line with how NASCAR models looked.
This blank model was actually a test mule for the update and was created in the R&D offices in England. It still sports an England base.
These tests then moved to Macau as they prepared for the first release.
This red one sports a Macau base and an unusual way of holding the model together.
MB034 arrived in 1983 as a new Pro Stocker, in almost identical yellow to my England test mule model. It had orange and blue stripes a a 4 on it.
It only ran for 1 year, and even though production had gone to Macau, you could still find a number of variations. The front wheels being either 5-arch or 5-spoke for starters. If you are really lucky you might find an error with a different wheel on the rear. People have reported both front wheel styles being found on the rear too, which wasn’t the plan as the rear wheels are larger.
Or perhaps something a bit more simple like the window being either amber or clear.
Come 1984 and a new look for the model. There is a rare crossover, as the remaining black interiors were used up on the first run, but I am still looking. But as this ran for 3 years, amazingly it had a sort of similar route for the rest. Amber or clear windows. Check.
5-arch or 5-spoke front wheels. Check. Just need to find that early black interior run (which has been reported with both wheels but only clear windows) to finish off these ones.
In 1985 they launched Team Convoy, and TM-2 sported a Super Star model. It was going to be Super Boss but was swapped last second. Prepros exist, and the 1985 catalogue showed it with Boss on the livery. I have had this one since 1985, and it is in need of an upgrade, but I haven’t got around to it yet. Worst still, this release sports the exact same variations as before (2 types of wheel, 2 types of window) and I am still to get any others. Sometimes I do these dive backs as a reminder to myself of what I am looking for. Note to self: more Super Star Chevy Pro Stockers.
There was a plan to utilize the Pro Stocker for TM-4 too, but they created a Team Convoy set based around the Pepsi MB34 issue and has Super Star, so having a third seemed like overkill so they swapped it with a Chevy Corvette.
In 1986 the Pro Stocker was added to the new Superfast series in USA. SF-12 in white and orange.
It ran until 1990 unchanged but also saw a small run at the start (I believe they were found in K-Marts at the time) where 3-packs of models featured an exclusive Halleys Comet design. Each 3-pack was actually 3 regular single carded issues in standard blister, all then slipped inside a special sleeve. If you were to open the sleeve, you would have what would appear to be 3 single issues. Each set of 3 had one of 3 exclusive Halley models.
Of course Superfast moved worldwide for 1987 in addition to staying Superfast, but were now known as Laser Wheels and sported new laser disk wheels. LW-12 ran alongside SF-12 in USA as both series continued.
Team Convoy expanded in 1986, and with it came another Pro Stocker in TM-5. 7-up was the livery this time and again 5-arch or 5-spoke wheels could be found. But this time, windows were always clear and it was the interior that would flip between red or black during production. Again, I had mine in 1986 and am still to expand on it. Are you starting to see why I really wanted to do a run down of the Chevy Pro Stocker. Reminding myself of all that I am still to find.
Of course regular Team Convoy finished in 1989, but in 1992, White Rose were busy creating more Team Convoy models and as such crated TC-63 which had a blue Pro Stocker with white details.
So in essence the model went from white with blue detailing to blue with white detailing over the course of 12 years. I like symmetry.
So this brings me on to my next dive back. To me, this was a perfect model to go back to. Partly because they are both SUVs and in this picture both white, but also because of both having an identity crisis. You see everybody knows that MB1163 is a Range Rover. the Range Rover name is known worldwide and it even has Range Rover written across the front and rear of the model. But the base states it is a Land Rover Vogue SE. You see, Land Rover is the company that make the vehicle. Therefore Land Rover is the name of the company that Mattel deal with to obtain the license for the model. Therefore that name needs to be on the base of the model. But to try and fit in Land Rover Range Rover Vogue SE on to a small area is just too much. So they did away with the Range Rover bit on the base. So you see it, think Range Rover, flip the base over and see Land Rover. Confusing? Well take pity on MB273. It’s name? [BLANK].
The casting debuted at the height of the Tyco era, in 1995. The real vehicle was known by many names, depending on which country in the world it was being sold in. Therefore it was quite tough to pinpoint a name for the model. So they came up with an idea. Don’t give it one. Depending on the market it was being sold in would give it a name, and then they could tampo print it on the base. For the US market, with USA itself being the major selling area, the obvious choice would be to call it an Isuzu Rodeo. Packaging would use that name, and it would get tampo printed on to the base. The ROW market tended to use Frontera as a common vehicle name in many countries, although the R&D offices for Matchbox at the time were in the UK, so they chose the UK manufacturer as a general rule. Vauxhall.
To make things even easier, releases between the 2 markets would be different. Black with pink splashes and a grey base would be for the US market as MB56, and the Isuzu Rodeo name was tampo printed on grey bases. Plain white with no tampo was the ROW MB59 issue and had a black base with Vauxhall Frontera printed on it. Easy enough.
In the US market, this was also one of the 20 models from the range chosen to be collector altered issues too. Tyco came up with an idea to reduce tampo on 20 of the models in the US range that year later on specifically to give something for collectors to hunt down. So later in the year, the hood print was removed.
In 1996 both models saw a slight tweak. The ROW MB59 now had brown splashes added to the side.
The US MB56 turned from black to white too.
In 1997 they both changed again. The US MB56 was now red with a Power Parts design on the model. The ROW MB59 was burgundy with no tampo on it. Note how both still kept their respective base colours which helped to differentiate the market.
In the US market, 1997 saw a Gold Challenge where all models came in plain gold. I do have a pre-production sample in a very dark sold gold, as well as the brighter metallic.
Being a prepro it didn’t have the name printed on the base.
At the beginning on 1998 came the first major change. The model was added to a 5-pack. 5-packs were sold worldwide, and the Dino Riders pack in green with a Brontosaurus skeleton/name on the model was a part of it.
They came up with an easy solution. They just didn’t bother naming it. Easy. Production ran from Thailand initially before moving to China later.
But at the end of the year it was added to another 5-pack. Mountain Trails. Whether this was something to do with General Motors, the licensor, or not, but this time the model did see names on the base.
I only have the Vauxhall base due to being in an ROW market. I have no intention of getting the set again just to have one that says Isuzu Rodeo on the base, as I don’t worry about base variations it it only involves turning the model over to see them.
Now I haven’t mentioned the basic range for 1998 yet. That was because the US market dropped it. ROW still had it for one more year, but the Vauxhall Frontera (as the base put it) was now MB55.
In 1999 the German market saw a wide range of exclusive vehicles, and although this casting had now been dropped from the ROW range too, it still continued exclusive to the German market as MB59.
But if it is only being sold in the German market, they really should make it sound more German. As such they went with how the real vehicle was sold there, as an Opel Frontera.
1999 also saw another 5-pack release. This was the only time that the roof items were not in black (daft fact) but what was more fun was that 1999 also saw the Matchbox brand create a real US/ROW split to models. Many models across both singles and 5-packs saw altered tampo printing between the 2 markets. The US market was mainly an English speaking market, and as such many models had a lot of writing on them. The ROW market being much more multi-lingual saw models sport either various logos in place of writing, or just had writing removed. In this case, the Wilderness Tours printing on the side was removed for the ROW release of the 5-pack. The pack itself also saw additional writing for the US market, as ROW stores sold it as the Wilderness pack, the US market as the Wilderness Road Trip pack.
Again, bases sported the name applicable best to the market it was aimed at.
Late in 1999 something was being planned. It never materialized and as such these Operation Safari 1999 models just ended up somehow in the market.
2000 saw the model turned in to an Australian exclusive. Now as 1999 saw a German exclusive rename it as an Opel Frontera, I guess being an Australian exclusive they would rename it a Holden Frontera.
Wrong. MB40 for Australia in 2000 used the Vauxhall name. I did some research. I think it is because in Australia, it was only sold as a 3-door for this first generation, and as such a 5-door Frontera didn’t exist. But the 2nd generation did and that actually arrived in 1998. So I still believe it would have been better marketing it there as a Holden.
It did eventually turn up in the US market too. Right at the end of the year. MB100 of 100 that year, and being a US issue, the first 10,000 examples off the production line had Matchbox 2000 printed on them. For this model it was on the spare wheel.
In 2001 it was now a UK exclusive. It was sold as MB65 there in blue and if it wasn’t obvious, they were going with the Vauxhall name on this one.
It also appeared in one of the first licensed 5-packs which were launching that year. The Nickelodeon set featured Rugrats on a green “Isuzu Rodeo”.
After 2001 the casting saw an update made to the base. Many models over the early years of the 2000s saw bases altered from including a Matchbox lozenge and Matchbox Intl. Ltd into the Matchbox oval and Mattel Inc. the MB273 was a little later than many, but saw its alteration for 2002. In time for the Across America issue for Arizona.
but what was most important here, was that for the first time, they decided to no longer leave it as a blank named model. They finally decided. It was an Isuzu Rodeo. As part of the base alteration, they added in the Isuzu name to the base too. From hereon out, the model was officially an Isuzu. After 7 years, an identity was chosen for it.
Of course this was the time that were just about to give up on it. Honestly, there were plans in 2003 to include it in a Coke series of window boxed models. A set of 12 was created, the first 6 were released and all 12 were listed on the reverse for the set. The second batch of 6 were coming later in the year. As the year progressed, a few hiccups with things occurred and things got delayed. Sadly, that meant that it was then too late to issue them. The license with Coca-Cola was due to expire, and legally they were unable to put them out. So they never got to production, only seeing a few pre-production samples. This was one of them.
But there was one more. In 2006, it was chosen to be in the Hitch ‘n Haul series. It was a part of the Construction Zone set in yellow with an “Exkvat Construction” theme to it. It was a fun little swansong, as the model did see wheels switching between sawblade and flower during production. After this release, the casting retired.
So I now move on to my last dive back. As I said, I am looking at roughly each decade/owner up to the 2000s, so decided with a Jeep with opening doors being here, why not run through the last Jeep with opening doors.
The MB504 Jeep Liberty. This model was a bit of a rush job for Mattel. Jeep put in a request to create a model to be given away at the launch of the real vehicle at NAIAS in January 2001.
They only had a matter of months to get it all done and prepared, but they made it. It was given away in a special blistercard at the event and featured a copy of the show vehicle.
The thing is, Mattel did not know what it was going to be called at that point. The name was also being unveiled at NAIAS. So the casting just had “Jeep” on the base. Is this a call back to models that have an identity crisis? Another reason to add this here. I like linking things together. But anyway, after the event, there was a small blip with the casting. It was scheduled to arrive late in 2001 in the basic range, and also side added to some 10-packs.
They had run a number of extra silver bodies, so decided to utilize those in the 10-packs while they fix the casting. So silver with Police livery ended up as a 10-pack exclusive in 2001, long before the idea to add exclusives arrived.
By the time they had fixed the casting and run it, we were on the 4th batch of 2002. But it still had a 2001-style package and MB71, as artwork etc for the boxes had already been done.
However, officially for 2002, it only saw 1 release. A part of the Roadside Rescue 5-pack with a monkey holding a wrench on the side.
It really didn’t get a lot of use sadly. Which is a real shame as I absolutely loved the casting. In 2003 it was added to the licensed Looney Tunes Back In Action 5-pack in yellow featuring Taz trying to cook Daffy and Bugs.
And in 2004 it was added to the Around the World series featuring Mt. Rushmore on the side of the white model. After that it took 2005 off.
It returned in 2006 and finally saw a second outing in the basic range that year. MB69 in olive green with a muddy side design and black doors. This was (I believe) the last time a basic range Matchbox had opening doors.
And this really cool red issue arrived in the Superfast series that year too in the number 5 slot. I thought this was the beginning of a resurgence for the casting. How wrong I was. It has never been seen since. I do wonder if this casting is still around, and whether a random appearance in Moving Parts could be in its future? Who knows.
And with that, I am now officially finished with my latest blog report. A couple of carry forward models for batch B Moving Parts.
As well as 3 new looks for previously issued castings.
And a couple of brand new castings too. I hope that people have enjoyed my little rundown of this batch, and my new way of creating a report. Hopefully this new format tweak is deemed better than how I was doing it before. Feel free to leave any comments or constructive criticism. I do like to try and tweak things to make them better. So if anybody has more ideas for little tweaks here and there, please let me know. Until next time, have a safe week.