I am really loving the new 9-pack assortments. 2 exclusives per batch, and 3 semi-exclusives across them both as well, giving us 5 new additions each time they appear. Of course there was a time we would see 3x 10-packs at a time, and 2 would have a single exclusive and 1 would be all-exclusive. So 12 out of 30 is mathematically higher than 5 out of 18. I do miss the all-exclusive packs, but since they were phased out, these larger multi-packs have never been so good. Batch C has given us some cool stuff, and 2 in double-variations too. Let’s dive in.
I will begin with the 2 exclusive models. First up is the MB969 ’93 Ford Mustang LX SSP. It comes in blue with a Matchbox State Police side design on it.
I like the “Drive Safe Stay Safe” detailing on the rear of the model. However, I do worry that the “call 969” at the front might be a little misleading to some kids, who might think that is the emergency number that can be dialed if something was to happen. It is the daft things I notice, but apart from that I think this is a lovely design. Very clean, clear, simple and a pleasure to see the Mustang back again.
Because I am going to remind everybody about where this model has been already. It debuted at the tail end of the 2014 basic range. Batch N in November to be exact in black with a CHP livery. It was MB95 that year.
Sadly, after that, it had a small hiccup. It was supposed to have been a part of the 2015 basic range as MB50 but for some reason it never got issued. Some people used the original black which had rolled over into 2015 and therefore appeared on updated packaging as a placeholder to fill in that gap. But we knew there was not a major issue, as early in 2016 it appeared in blue in the new premium Best of series. This was a Sheriff design with full tampo printing and 2-part rubber wheels.
It then appeared as MB66 in the basic range later on in the year, and I believe this was originally scheduled to be the 2015 release, as it was noted before that it was going to be silver that year. Get approval for a design, a blip causes a delay, use the design later on.
But weirdly, that then caused the model to go into hibernation for a while. It only came back out in 2020. We saw a lovely Boone County Sheriff scheme in the MBX Highway 5-pack in 2020.
Plus it was chosen to be in both the Walmart exclusive Mustang series batches too. The first batch saw an exclusive black and white Texas themed State Trooper design (made to match up with the Texas Rangers 5-pack from 2018.
Although batch B brought us a carry forward issue, as the debut CHP look returned for another run.
The model is almost identical to the original run but the gold tampo printing was a much brighter shade and did not appear to have as big a shadow to it. The white door does also appear a little thicker applied too.Of course you could point out that the “Safety and Service” tagline at the rear has inched forward a bit too. But I have to say, for such a cool vehicle, this hasn’t had a lot of action. I hope we see plenty more of it though.
Which leads us to the other exclusive. The MB1052 ’95 Custom Chevy Van. This model comes in a lovely dark mint with a Forest Ranger design. Another of the recurring themes that Matchbox has, often mixed up with the National Parks theme which is a light mint.
Of course this is one of those castings that has a dual part. Which is the base in this case, which also forms the rear and can either show off a motorcycle or a spare wheel.
It is really nice seeing this casting return as it has not been seen in a few years, and until 2021 only seen 2 releases. Luckily 2021 is doubling that, and I will be showing off the other one in a future report. Now I think at some point it would be nice to do a running look at the Forest Ranger series, but there is another model coming in the next 9-pack assortment and I might attempt a run down there. So something to look forward to. In the meantime let us remind ourselves of the 2 releases we have seen to date.
It debuted as MB87 in the 2017 range. Modeled after “Big Red”, a real converted ambulance that Gerry Cody who worked at Mattel owned. He bought the real vehicle to help transport his bikes around, and painted it red. Matchbox replicated his vehicle for the basic range. More details were mentioned about it at the time of its launch on the blog here.
After that it returned as MB102 in the 2018 basic range, now in brown with black and gold striping and its name sprawled across the sides.
There was some fun with that release, as the brown tended to very quite a lot during production. But since then there has been no sighting of this vehicle until now. So it is nice to see this return too.
I will start with the MB1022 ’71 Nissan Skyline 2000GTX. I have to say, this is a very nice side design on the model. I love the green, and the orange, black and yellow striping with the checkered 2000GTX strip along the bottom. It is a very cool look. Hmm! What is that Japanese writing at the end? Or shall I say Kanji? 五十八 translates to fifty eight. Wait a sec? Fifty eight? 58! Yeah I know who designed this one. Great work Michael Heralda.
And of course I ended up with 2 of them for my collection (well actually 3, one was a spare)….
Because as many will know, this is also a model with a dual part. In this case it is the interior which sees 2 different looks. One has a racing harness seatbelt, the other doesn’t. Of course if you were to drill the model open, you would also find the variation extends to the fact that there is an engine under the bonnet/hood and they are different between the 2 interiors. Even though you can’t see it. The guys at Matchbox do like to throw in a few cool extras.
It is also nice to see this model getting more outings this year, as I felt it was perhaps being a little underused. It debuted back in 2016 as MB5. I think it was one of the biggest debuts of that particular year. It came in silver with simple front and rear printing.
In 2017 it had its final outing in the basic range (hopefully that is a “for now” and not forever) as MB11, where it was now a matte gunmetal grey.
We also saw this model chosen to be the dinner model for the 2017 Albuquerque convention too, and this was in red and white featuring a huge assortment of logos. If you were one of the first 75, these also included an additional ring of logo in the middle of the rear too. Plus….
The early bird model was chrome plated for the base, with the remainder staying black. They also made sure not to mix and match interiors for these. All early birds had one interior, all the others had the alternate. So there were still only the 2 to obtain.
It only saw one use in 2018 in orange. This was as a 9-pack exclusive issue, although some received some additional printing for JCCS that year on the sides. I did not manage to get one of those models though.
After that the model took 2019 off before returning in 2020 as a Superfast issue in red. Another of Michael Heralda designs here, with the A58 being quite noticeable and many nods to former brand Ambassadors associated with the Matchbox brand.
And as recently seen, we also saw a Target Retro batch A release of the Skyline this year too in pink with a blocky side design. Will we see more of this casting? Will it return to the basic range? I hope so in both cases. It has proven to be a very popular casting, and deserves to see many more releases.
Oh look. Unit 58. We know who designed this one (Michael again). The MB885 Renault Master Ambulance makes a long overdue comeback this year too. With a recent pair of Renault castings appearing in the last 2 years, I was curious as to whether this would return too. Renault (and in further cases, other major French car manufacturers like Citroën & Peugeot) seem to get very little action from Matchbox. Before the Master, we had a 17TL (in 1974 under Lesney), a 5LS (in 1978 under Lesney) and an 11 Turbo (1985 Taxi/1986 civilian under Universal). When this arrived in 2013 I was very happy to see finally a new Renault again. It was long overdue. but after 3 years it was gone. When the Trezor popped up in 2019 and then a Kangoo in 2020 I thought to myself surely the Ambulance is due a return. And boy was I right. This is one of 3 issues this year, with more coming in future reports.
I also like the look of this one, as it is the first time it is in silver grey. It has a very nice EMT side design and the red, white and orange checkered look & six pointed star really work well. I am very happy with this one.
Shall I remind us of what came so far? The 2013 MB2 debut. I remember when it first arrived people said it was all plastic. The base in black did not look particularly like a painted metal base, but it was. but I am not overly fussed about plastic bodies/metal bases on some models. I think the plastic cone sometimes make for more sharp and defining detailing. It is all a matter of taste I guess.
The model was also given a higher level of tampo treatment on the special 60th Anniversary set that was offered that year. Not full blown premium, but we did see additional tampo plus a box on the models. This was a personal favourite of mine as it is almost exactly like the ambulances are where I live. I see it as my local ambulance service. Even though it says MBX County on it. They proved very popular around near me too, as Tesco in the UK sold the set, and this one was always one of the first to disappear.
In 2014 the MB80 issue pulled double duty. This was during the short lived era where 5-packs started pulling models from singles, and this also appeared in the Rescue Duty 5-pack too.
2015 was the last year of singles being added to 5-packs and again the Ambulance, in white, was chosen to be one. This time it was either MB58 or in the EMT 5-pack.
Later on it was added to the Supreme Heroes series in red. This was a full blown premium model and as well as full tampo treatment it also saw 2-part rubber wheels too. But after this release we never saw the Renault again until now.
Which brings us to the final semi-exclusive. now don’t get me wrong. I am absolutely loving getting another MB785 ’71 VW-Porsche 914 for my collection, and have to say this model looks absolutely fantastic in silver with a simple Porsche stripe down the side.
But in among a set of models that are all of models not seen in a number of years, it sort of felt weird in a way seeing this as there was a basic range issue a few months back (white) and a second basic range issue coming up in batch E (red). But then I think about it. the Nissan has 2 releases, the Renault Master 3. This is getting 3 releases this year too after not being seen in a while. So yes, I am happy with this. Not just as a Porsche lover seeing it in another really cool look, but also for being a model that is getting a plethora of outings this year after a few years in the doldrums. Excellent stuff. Now I did a full run down of the previous Porsche 914s when the basic range hit a few years back, and as I did a rundown of all the other 4 here, I will not do so for this model.
Except I couldn’t help myself. I love the ones with the Porsche stripe down the side. I love stripey models. The first one we saw was the 2010 Matchbox Convention show model in 2010. The Albuquerque convention used to do a dinner, dealer and show model each year, but phased out the show model as they phased in the early bird dinner special.
It then saw its first basic range stripey look in 2011 as MB16 in orange.
Before as we saw this year, the white MB74 also saw side stripes. The red one coming in batch E is not a stripey model. But what I like about these 2 in particular is that they are the exact same tampo print. I love seeing repeated tampo looks and these are the same. Just in different colours. So yeah, as strange as it is, this is my favourite of the 9-pack. Who would have guessed I would choose a Porsche to be my favourite of a batch of models?
And that brings me to the end of the “new” part of my blog. The batch C 9-packs giving us 5 (or 7 depending on your view) new additions to the collection. But as I now do, I am not finishing there. Nope! Inspired by the vehicles in the mix, I now delve into my collection and pull out 4 classics for a little outing.
And this week, I am really taking the loosely inspired by mantra into full force. Because the first model I chose was the classic Lesney era MB13-B Baja Buggy. Why? Because it is green and was from 1971. The Nissan Skyline is a 1971 depicted vehicle in green. There were other green vehicles in the 1971 basic range, but this was the only one that debuted that year in green. It’s my logic. It works for me.
Plus, when else will I get a chance to show off my really cool prepro? I was a bit of a fan of this model growing up. So when I had an opportunity to obtain a pre-production sample in coppery red, I did not turn it down.
Because this was a model that only ever appeared in green. It ran from 1971 until 1977 and never changed. Well, saying that, this was a Lesney era model. Never changed? Never stayed the same more like.
When the model first debuted, it was one of 2 models using the exact same engine and exhaust piece. The other was a Jeep Hot Rod. At first the engine and exhaust was the same for both models, chrome with black exhausts. But after a while they decided to leave the black on the Jeep but alter the exhausts to the Baja Buggy.
So they turned them red. That was by the end of year one. Amazingly I have never seen a Jeep Hot Rod with red exhausts, so it appears this was a rare occasion where they actually didn’t mix them up.
As a general rule during production the seats were orange. But there was a run or 2 where they were red instead. and if you are really lucky, you might find a rare 2-seat interior as they did accidentally mix it up with the MB47-B Beach Hopper casting. I haven’t found one of those yet though.
But what you also found, Lesney were good at running out of labels. It happened quite a lot, and the Baja Buggy was no exception. As a rule, this casting came with a flower label. Some had a bit more of a red hue, others a bit more of an orange hue. But they don’t come out too well in picture, better in person. But if they ran out, just grab any old label. In this case, the MB55-A Mercury Police Car’s shield label was a good alternate. Although the sun label from the aforementioned Beach Hopper does exist too. I have not seen one of those myself to get yet.
Of course shades of green varied quite a bit, as the model was around for 6 years. However, the final year was a significant change as the green turned much darker.
But you can find quite a lot of shading in general.
And if you are lucky, you may discover they had a habit of forgetting to label them occasionally as well. This was a late 1977 issue in dark green, much later than the time when they were using leftover stock of MB55-A labels (that was circa 1971-72). This model was a fun little one to collect.
This is where my “loosely inspired by” bit really takes a sharp left turn. the Porsche 914 is also a 1971 vehicle. Of all things, they chose 2 different 1971 cars for the packs. It debuted in green itself, but now is seeing a resurgence and the latest one is silver. So I am thinking, something 1970s that was green, saw a resurgence later and turned silver. The MB117 AMX Pro Stocker. Originally an AMX Javelin, it debuted in 1972 in green and run like that in the basic range also until 1977, but was then added to twin packs and saw a Limited Edition US release too. But after 1982, Lesney went bankrupt and Universal took the company over. But sadly with things going bad in later 1982, there was not a lot of R&D going on. When 1983 arrived, they noticed there was not a lot of new stuff to put out. So they did what they do best, and adapted a number of older castings into something new. The AMX was overhauled with larger skirts and a new front end. Exhausts were added to the side of the model and it was turned into the AMX Pro Stocker.
When the model re-debuted in the line, for the ROW market it took the old MB9 slot that the original AMX Javelin had been in, but for the US market it took over the slot that was being used by the Leyland Titan bus, MB17. It ran for 2 years before the US market decided to drop it too. These 2 years were both in silver with a chevron top design and 9 on the side. but even though production was in Macau for this model right from the word go, you still found in 2 years of production quite a shade variation to the silver.
Plus the wheels initially were 5-arch, but as production went on they decided to switch them to dot-dash. Most windows are amber, but a small production run was made with clear windows. It is proving very elusive, as I have never found one come up for sale yet.
After being dropped from the US range, they decided it would continue as an ROW exclusive for 1 more year. They had a plan. Minolta 5 was going to be the look. But it never materialized. They ended up going in a different direction.
Dr Pepper 4 was the production model for the 1985 basic range, now as the MB9 ROW exclusive. But those in the US market were still able to get this model, as it was also enhanced with support and transport vehicles to be included in the Team Convoy series. Sitting on the back of a CY-10 Kenworth Transporter with an MB069 Chevy Van back-up, although the model was dropped from the ROW range after 1985, Team Convoy kept it going worldwide through 1986 too.
Again shade variations could be found with 2 years of production from Macau. But the other alternate was not wheels this time. They were always dot-dash.
no, the other variation for this model was the base. Shortly after they started production on the 1985 issue they decided to change the base from metal to plastic. Plastic based examples tend to be easier to find as they were produced much longer.
After that, this is where the fun began. With the model being dropped from Team Convoy after 1986, there was no use for the model in 1987. Hungary came knocking asking for a set of models to produce for local production due to import/export restrictions at the time in the country. Because they already had an agreement with Bulgaria to do production there, they set up a Hungarian system too. It only ran 1 year. I honestly don’t know whether it was always intended to be a 1-off, or if one of the 2 sides decided it wasn’t working out. But either way, a set of castings were sent to Hungary in 1987 with production scheduled to last no longer than 1 year as they had to be back with Universal 1 year after they were sent. the AMX was one of them. They created a whole array of models, and many saw quite a similar top design to the original 1983/84 basic range vehicle.
A variety of colours and tampo colours were made through that year.
And once done, that was it Hungary saw no more Matchbox castings.
The casting lay dormant for a few years until they were setting up production in China. As it was not being used, it was one of a number of castings they sent over for a test run to make sure the factory were okay to produce Matchbox models. It was a success, and these models were put into various 6-pack assortments, named Super Value Pack (or SVP for short) and were sold off in the US market.
Most of these models were made based on earlier design templates, so this one replicated the original 1983 issue.
But obviously was now made in China.
There were a few other differences, mainly shades, but also the interior section was no longer red. It was now black.
With no further plans for the casting, they then decided, because Bulgaria were still asking for more stuff, to send it their way, where the model still resides. Their original agreement with Universal was for models to be leased for 1 year, but later agreements allowed the Bulgarian factory to keep them. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s we kept seeing more and more Bulgarian made AMX Pro Stocker issues from Bulgaria.
Yeah my inspired by bit is wearing really thin on this one. A 1995 Custom Chevy Van with a forest themed design. A vehicle that was being sold in 1995 with trees on it. Although I am being even more sneaky as this is the 1996 with same design, as it was also green like the Chevy.
The MB211 Utility Truck. This is pretty much a 6th generation Ford Medium Duty F-series commercial truck chassis with an extending boom/bucket rear end. But they never made mention of any real company name. It was just known as Utility Truck. It actually debuted in 1989 (again my plan is to work forward in rough decade/owner scenarios, but as said before there could be crossovers) as MB33 in the US range, or MB74 in the ROW range with only the final year of basic range inclusion (1999) being a US exclusive. So it pretty much was a model of the 1990s.
As I mentioned, this had decent play value with a bucket that could be extended up quite far through a 2-part boom, as well as pivot around. It ran its first 3 years in grey with an orange front end and Energy Inc livery. Its final year it moved from Macau to Thailand, although quite amazingly you can barely tell any difference between the 2, as everything was so similarly matched.
During 1991 Matchbox came out with some Action sets in USA. These sets contained a model in an exclusive colour along with a few various items, many of which were compatible with the playsets that were in use at the time. One of them was the Utility Truck, and although the model was in a different colour, it was actually using the same design as the basic range version.
Now there should be another picture here. It was released in the My First Matchbox series in 1990/91 too. First made in Macau, and then with production moving to China in 1991. But unlike others in the series that ran until 1993, this one was dropped after 1991 as the casting was sent over to Thailand for production and My First Matchbox wasn’t made in China. It was red, but the boom and bucket would change colours quite a bit during production and it moved from Macau to Thailand during production too. Yet, at the moment, I am still to add one to the collection. There are quite a few variations to find too.
So I will simply move on with the next basic range. In 1992 the model turned yellow with a Telephone Co side design. It ran until 1994 like that, but just as it was finishing production, they only went and moved the casting back to Thailand again. The last run Thai made model is very tough to find, and I am still looking for that too. As well as a green intercom City issue from 1993. IC models do seem to command quite a premium on the secondary market nowadays, and as such there are quite a lot of them I am still to obtain. Now you are seeing why I pulled this model out. I have quite a few gaps to fill myself, so wanted to refresh my memory on them.
So 1995 basic range, and the tree model. The one that inspired me to run this casting down now. I could have put this one with the Custom Chevy Van at the start as there is quite a lot of green to it. Actually, I will do that now. Oh wait, I have already posted the article. Rats!
So obviously as you know, in 1996 it turned green with white printing in the basic range after a year in cream with green printing.
In 1997 it changed again into a blue model for the basic range for P&L Co. But as this was 1997, the US basic range also had the Gold Challenge, and this was also found in plain gold that year too.
It also saw its first 5-pack appearance that year too as it was added to the City Streets pack in silver with a Global Electric design.
in 1998, with Mattel having taken over the company, the basic range went through a change, with models no longer continuing each year under their same number. For 1998 it was still a worldwide issue, but was now MB9. As was also the case, with the change from Tyco to Mattel, things did slow down a bit, and as such many liveries were simply carried over in alternate colours. This was one of them. What was blue with yellow and white printing was now orange with blue and white.
However 5-packs sort of told a different story. The model saw 2 different 5-pack releases that year, both in exclusive designs. We had a Fire 5-pack issue in red and a Highway 5-pack issue in black.
After this the model was dropped from the ROW range, but saw 1 more outing in the US range before being dropped from there too. MB15 for 1999 was silver with an Ideal Power side design. After this, the model was pretty much finished.
But there were a few little addendums. In 2000 they made a bunch of blank white issues, known as ASAP blanks for code 2 usage. Early runs had 8-spoke wheels but later on they swapped to sawblades. A 2004 promotional issue was created for York Fair in USA in yellow too (still to add that to my collection) and we had one more random regular issue.
A City Services 5-pack in 2006 saw a lovely swansong for the model in a City Services design. It has never been used since.
So now I move into my last dive back. for this I chose the Renault Ambulance as inspiration. But this time I truly am choosing a Matchbox original design. The Utility Truck was officially classified as an original as it had no brand name, but you could tell it was a Ford. The MB598 was an original Matchbox creation, and to be honest, about as close shape-wise to the Renault as an Matchbox ambulance has ever been. some people like to try and forget that Hero City ever existed, but I do like to try and find the good in things. To be honest, I did not think this was a bad model.
This was launched deep, deep in the Hero City era. 2004, the year that they launched Ultra Heroes was also when this appeared. Of course being red with a rather childish design didn’t help its cause, and as such MB46 did sort of get ignored by quite a lot of people. However, there was a second issue, as part of the Police Boat launcher set. A more traditional white look, and suddenly it didn’t seem quite so bad.
However, as part of a complete overhaul of the range for 2005, it never saw another basic range release. But it was not ignored. For 2005 another launcher set saw this model added. The Fire Truck set had another white model with an Alarm Unit side design. They also threw it in the Mario Kart 64 licensed 5-pack too, depicting Wario on the side of another white model.
In 2006, while another Ambulance was busy debuting in the basic range, this casting saw its first regular 5-pack outing. This red model was a part of the City Service 5-pack that year.
For 2006 it saw 2 licensed 5-pack releases. There was a set for Ice Age 2 that featured Crash & Eddie on the side of a cream ambulance, and there was also a blue ambulance depicting the Elemental Hero Bubbleman from Yu-Gi-Oh.
For 2007 we saw a matte black issue in a Pirates 5-pack, and a bright green model in a licensed 5-pack for Nick Jr. This one had a Go Diego go side design.
And in 2008 they thought they would do the same again. This time the regular 5-pack issue was again matte black, but this time in a Haunted House 5-pack. The licensed 5-pack issue this time was for Nickelodeon, and the red model had The Fairly OddParents depicted on the side. And yes, OddParents was one word.
After 2008 you might have been forgiven to thinking the model was retired. After all it was 2013 before it suddenly popped up out of the blue. It appeared in an EMT 5-pack the same year that the Renault Master debuted in the basic range. Strange how it saw its first 5-pack issue when another Ambulance debuted in the basic range. But it was not its swansong.
No, unless it pops up again, it was also in a 2014 Rescue Duty 5-pack. This proved to be the swansong for the model, and when given a really nice side design, I think it was not a bad little casting. I just looked beyond the initial childish representation of Hero City when I got the first one.
And with that I am now finished for another week. Next week I will be showing off some really classy little models and providing us with some really cool information. I can’t wait to showcase next week’s items. You will not want to miss it. So have a safe and healthy week and see you next Monday for some fantastic items. And soon everybody will know about “Wheyhemes”.