Matchbox Monday “creates” a real collector market

Wheyhemes. I have mentioned that a few times. You will want to keep reading this report to find out why I keep mentioning it. Because, well, this week is a bit of a treat for me. As we know, Matchbox has been upping their game recently. Particularly when it comes to premium products. 2019 saw the return of the Superfast name, as a 50th Anniversary nod to the original launch. It stayed for 2020 but in 2021 they decided to really bring the collector into focus by simply calling the series Matchbox Collectors. Packaging was even more retro than ever, and the enclosed boxes in the blisters had a very “original Matchbox” look to them. But if you thought Collectors was big enough, they are continuing to up their game even more. With Wheyhemes! Yes I said it again. Mattel have been very kind to send me an example to showcase here. But before I get to Wheyhemes, let me run down batch A of the Collector series.

There will be 20 models in the Collectors series for 2021 and the first one is a brand new casting of a classic, that would not be totally out of place in the early days of the company. The MB1165 ’65 Land Rover Gen II Pickup. It comes in a a very classic looking blister that holds a box inside with the model on it.

Once opened the box is a very traditional yellow and blue, evoking the sense of the early years of the Matchbox brand. I like that they have paid attention to the early years as inspiration for the artwork, but of course I am more about the models.

But I do like the little piece of line drawing on the top of the boxes. Just saying…. Okay enough of that, it’s time to talk about the model.

This is a very simple design. Classic Land Rover, made of metal with a chromed plastic base and simple graphics. I also like that they chose to add the spare wheel on the front. I believe this is part of the interior casting to the model, so I guess the interior will always be black on this model. I don’t have a problem with that.

Of course, I mentioned how this would not be out of place with the early Lesney stuff. Lesney created the first Land Rover casting in 1955 as their 12th miniature ever. Obviously it was number 12 in the series, which at the time was simply adding up numbers as more models were created. It only appeared in green in a Pickup style, and was replaced in 1959 in the same slot by 12-b Land Rover Series II, which is much like this model. Now that one only ever appeared in green, so I am hoping that we get a green for this one. But the two things that didn’t have. A spare wheel on the front and opening doors.

But how they match? RHD and a tow hook. These are both reminiscent of the classic 12-b Land Rover Series II that ran from 1959 until 1965. It’s almost like this is a continuation of that model, as Lesney as the time created the Safari instead to replace the pickup. So yes, this is an excellent casting, and I am very happy to see this one in the range. Great work from the team again.

Of course being a new casting, I will show a base shot for those who like to see them. Land Rovers have been a part of the Matchbox brand since, well, 2 years after they first started. If you include the Police Patrol (it was a Range Rover in essence) there have not been many years that we have not had at least one offering of a Land Rover vehicle from Matchbox, so this is definitely a wonderful addition, and perfect for the Collectors line.

Plus being yellow, it did remind me of this. The classic MB180 Land Rover Ninety from the 2007 Best of British series.

Nice simple front and rear graphics, and a clear Land Rover logo.

Plus both have a tow hook. I can see the new Land Rover Gen II Pickup towing quite a few items (I might have to dig out various trailer units for my Instagram page). Can you tell I really like this casting?

Number 2 in the set of 20 is the MB1173 ’69 BMW 2002. Now obviously this is not a moving parts vehicle. As we saw last year with the Superfast series, having moving parts is not a requirement to be in the high end collector series. Some will have them, some will not. Moving Parts is a wholly different series, based towards a different area, as such it is known as a core series. This is a premium series.

Again this comes with one of those box things inside the blister, as I take a quick snapshot of the model on the box before I chuck the box. But before I do, is it me, or does the whole window area look as it is is elongated in the artwork? Or is the body squashed? Something just didn’t quite seem right there.

The line art does appear to be a little better proportioned to me. Not that I really care, as obviously I am all about the model.

And I think this looks really nice. It is always good to see all sides being tampo printed, something you get with premium issues. The red, black and orange on white is a very nice touch. Obviously not Motorsport BMW colours, they tend to be 2x blue and red, but it still sort of gives you that feeling.

Having fun with license plates too, with Flash Back on the it. I like the way it looks. I wonder if we will have more Team Matchbox numbered models in the future?

Having known the first BMW Matchbox made was in orange, they could have gone retro again, but I feel that because this had debuted in orange it wasn’t needed. The direction they went was better for me. The 2019 MB7 was good as it was.

Of course the model saw a 3-sided print later that year as it was used in the Target 50th Anniversary series Superfast models.

And then we have the 2020 MB50/2021 Best of Germany issue in blue too. Small variations can be found if you look hard enough.

Plus of course we had the 2020 dinner models for the Albuquerque Matchbox Gathering. Also white, premium looks and again with a similar-ish vibe to the tampo. Obviously they were orange, yellow and black. But I thought they made for a good companion piece. For those who cannot remember, the early bird special last year for the Gathering was the one with additional roof printing.

There are more 2021 issues. A green one recently appeared in a 5-pack and a black one has just arrived in the basic range as we speak, but as of time of photographing these I did not have either. I will update my back dive when I do my batch E basics.

So number 3 of 20 was another yellow model. the MB1143 ’63 Chevy C10 with a rather familiar Mooneyes side design.

Now I don’t know if it was just me, but for some reason a yellow model on a yellow background doesn’t really stand out too well. But i do think the artwork looks a lot better on this than the BMW. Much more proportional.

I do like a recurring theme, and think when they are real ones too it makes it all the better.

Now I recently showcased a core issue of the Chevy C10 with a plain engine. But for the premium release, boy did they really go to town on it. The high level of tampo detail is just amazing. I am very impressed with it. Although to get that done I wonder if meant sacrificing front and rear detailing.

Because the model again features that beautiful rear wood decking look which I remember speaking about last time the Chevy had a premium release. Truly wonderful. I don’t believe the interior was actually tampo printed. Although it hasn’t got a gazillion colours to it, I think it was a more premium choice of detailing. Ink jet, fusion graphics or something like that. Because that rear deck is also a part of the interior piece that forms the engine bay, so both ends would have been done in 1 go. But the fine detailing on them is much more than regular tampo would give. It helps to enhance the premium-ness of the model.

now where is Mooneyes based? I think it is somewhere in California. Not that the tampo on this one gives it away or anything.

So yes, another winner in my book. Will it see front and rear printing next time it gets a premium release? We will have to wait and see. But even without it I was still amazed with this model.

And as I said. Recurring theme. I believe it had been used by other toy companies before Matchbox started with them, but I only do Matchbox so that is all I know. So therefore to me it started with the MB300 ’56 Ford Pickup which saw the design on its 2018 comeback in the Coffee Cruisers 5-pack. Those wanting it on its own were rewarded in 2019 when it was also added to the Walmart Ford Trucks set. Of course you can find shades on it.

In 2020 it appeared on the MB327 ’33 Ford Coupe which was sold as MB95 that year in the basic range.

This being its third outing to date for Matchbox. I wonder where it will crop up next time?

Now although there are 20 in the series, they should have been released in batches of 5. Sadly the Lamborghini hit a tiny delay and moved to batch B meaning we stop at 4 this time. And this was another BMW. The MB1144 ’16 BMW i8.

Unlike the 2002 shown earlier, this one appears to look a lot better in the artwork.

And of course is the later moving parts casting showcasing the butterfly doors the real vehicle has. Of course to do that, they had to keep the window area dark so as not to see all the work involved in creating the effect in miniature when the model is being viewed.

It is a small shame as the non-opening door variant looks really nice when you can see through into the inside. Plus, it is really tough for them to match up the metal orange body here with the plastic orange doors. There is quite a variation in shade between the 2. I have to be honest, I do prefer the non-opening parts model, which is a shame because that opening part was a really cool feature.

But I do love this orange and black model. It really does look good like that.

I prefer it to the original blue. It stands out a bit more like this.

Now there is a possibility that a later production run of orange got the 2 parts to match up better. I noticed with the blue that early runs had quite a noticeable difference between the door and body shades, but later on they seemed to be able to match them up much better. So if anybody has an orange and feels the doors and body were quite well matched, please let me know.

Of course I did mention the earlier MB1093, so why not show the 2 that are already out. the MB4 debut from 2018 in black.

And just like the 2002, there was a Target special in 2019. It’s funny how these 2 BMWs seem to keep following each other around. This one is going to be in the next Best of Germany batch in white and I cannot wait to get it. The i8 is one of my favourite castings by Matchbox. There was just a part of me that would have preferred the MB1093 casting to be in the Collectors range over the opening parts version. But out of the 4 releases, that was the only thing I could have wished an improvement on. Everything else was great. Fantastic stuff as always. Now I am sure this is what many have been waiting for.

A box. And yes, it sort of gives away what is in it. This has been very kindly handed over to me for review by Mattel in readiness for the launch coming very VERY soon.

There are more details on the box about the model too.

As well as all the legal jargon you associate with well, just about anything nowadays. I couldn’t help but notice in the bottom right, printed in larger letters than the rest. Lesney. I love the little things, and that almost brought a tear to my eye. Lovely little touch.

But you all want to see what was inside. Let me introduce Wheyhemes. This is a small run exclusive limited edition Matchbox model on a plinth inside a plexicase inside a card wrap which i can only describe as velvety.

On the back are even more details about the model, reminding people that this classic design was around in the 1960s and has also been around again as MB694 since 2006.

Again, legal jargon on the underside.

The outer card section, which I mentioned had a velvety touch to it, also features the backdrop to the scene. So if you take it off you are left with….

A Double Decker in a plexiglass case. It still looks good.

Of course you know this is coming out. One lid off.

The model is only held on with 2 screws. Very easy to get off. Where’s the Phillips screwdriver? Daft fact, the Phillips screw head wasn’t design by anybody called Phillips. It was created by John Thompson in 1932. After failing to find anybody interested in it, he gave up and sold the patent to Henry Phillips in 1935. He talked General Motors into using them for their Cadillac range in 1936, and as such sales took off, and the Phillips screw is one of the most commonly used styles nowadays. Linking things back to cars, which is why we are mainly all here. Love of cars in miniature.

So with screws off, it is time to check out the contents better.

There is a bus and a base.

The base has a printed design on it depicting a standard street, with a look right and look left either side. As such this sort of means it is a one-way street depicted.

But the bus? Woowhee! This is an amazing design. No a58? Yes, this was a Michael Heralda design.

The model is full of adverts, although the Wheyhemes one really does stand out. But the model you look at the model, the more details and nod to various items you see. Lyons Bros, is a Michale Heralda design he likes to keep using at times for models.

The front has many nods to classic early Lesney.

As well as more nods to the early days at the rear. Michael really went to town on this model, did some homework and came up with a lovely design that has so many Easter Eggs in it.

But I have to admit, I do love this Wheyhemes. A cure for “diecastitis”, “zamakaloids” and “DLM syndrome”. Oh wait a sec? DLM syndrome? I suffer with that, but don’t want a cure. For those who do not know, DLM was something that was dreamed up in the 2000s. It stands for Diecast Liberation Movement and was all about opening models. Some say it was dreamed up by me, but in all honesty, no it wasn’t. A gentleman called Mark Curtis dreamed it up, sort of in reference to me. So I was sort of the inspiration behind it, but not the person who came up with the name.

This model is basically created using as much detail that they could get. Even the base was chromed.

So you may be wondering where to get one? Well if you are somebody who collects other Mattel products, you may have already heard of Mattel Creations. https://creations.mattel.com/ is the website address (you can click it, it will take you there in a new tab) and this site is shortly to expand to include a number of Mattel department items, with a Matchbox specific page arriving at 9am Pacific Time on July 19th. The bus will be the first offering of what they are aiming to become a monthly roll out of high end exclusive product and should be available starting from 9am Pacific Time on July 29th. Only 10 days after the site goes live. It will be limited so as soon as it is sold out on the Mattel Creations website, it will be done. It will not be available from anywhere else. Just that site. The price is $24.99, and shipping (worldwide) will vary depending on where you order from. If you subscribe, you will receive information on more Matchbox models in the Mattel Creations site, and there is a plan to open up a forum on the site itself for people to register and converse with. Keep an eye on Mattel Creations and follow them at @mattelcreations on Instagram too.

A little blurb from Mattel Creations….

All of the Mattel-owned collector brands will have landing pages under the umbrella of the Mattel Creations parent site. (MBX, HWC, MOTU, Barbie, etc.). The idea is to enable collectors to engage with the broader collector community through a shared platform. At the same time, each individual brand will retain its own page, news articles, forums, membership requirements, etc. so that collectors will still have a unique experience with each brand. Sales will be hosted on the brand site through Shopify – as soon as a product is listed for sale, anyone can purchase it until its sold out.

If there is a product that is not a Matchbox offer, like a Hot Wheels Collector product for example, can I purchase it using my MBX account? Yes! That’s actually one of the best advantages of Mattel Creations. You’ll have expanded purchase power without any additional hassle. Note, however, that for brand exclusive products such as RLC Exclusives, or Barbie Signature, you would need to have that brand membership in order to purchase the item.

I am sure there are some who are wondering if this is Matchbox going down the same route as other departments within Mattel. Yes, it is. I am seeing this as a hugely positive thing though, as Matchbox has often been seen as the little die-cast area of the company, and has always been in the shadow of its brother ever since Mattel took it over. Finally, they are starting to allow Matchbox to step out from that shadow, and start to see just a little more footing. It is a long way from equal footing at the moment, but step by step, they are building the brand back up, and are putting a lot of effort in to making sure it survives the long haul. I honestly don’t mind if some of the things they do can be perceived as being similar to others. If they work in other areas of the company, then yes, apply them to Matchbox too. Generate more buzz. Generate more interest. I am very excited to see that Matchbox finally has a high end product that would normally be coming from a different brand within Mattel. Hopefully I am not alone. I am a Matchbox collector. I don’t do other die-cast brands. It is just like supporting your favourite sports team. You want them to succeed. You want them to get better, improve, be top of the tree. Do you complain if that team was to poach a player from another team to help them win? This is the way I see it. If the Matchbox guys are seeing something that is working elsewhere, why not on occasion use that to help them improve too? This Mattel Creations website is a more centralized site than previous smaller sites were. Hopefully this means there will be a number of people working it and things will play out so much better, faster etc. I will see how it pans out, and hopefully it will be a success, and I will be broke. Oh wait, maybe I should rethink? Nah! Screw it. I’m going for broke. Bring ’em on! I have signed up to Mattel Creations, bookmarked their page and am going to sit and wait for the Matchbox content to arrive. Because if this is the standard we are going to get with the high end items, I am all for it. I love it!

And that is the end of my review on the first Collector Batch of 2021 and first Mattel Creation of 2021. Normally this picture would have started off my report, but I held it back so as not to spoil the surprise of Wheyhemes. I keep saying that don’t I. So with that out of the way, I will finish off with a little collection diving again. Although if you enjoyed Wheyhemes (ha I said it again) you might want to check out the very end of the report too.

I’m starting in the 1970s and Lesney Superfast, with the MB3-B Monteverdi Hai. Obviously the inspiration for this was the orange BMW i8 with opening doors, as this was orange too with opening doors.

Daft fact. I own more pre-production samples of this casting than Peter Monteverdi ever made of the real Hai 450 in real life. He made 2. One in 1970 and one in 1973. The 450 made in 1970 is officially known as 450SS, and the one made in 1973 a 450GTS. The difference was that the GTS had a longer wheelbase and a few different exterior components. This is based on the earlier 450SS. However, 2 examples (one of each style) also sit in the Monteverdi Museum in Basel, Switzerland, made up of spare parts that were never used. They were constructed in the 1990s. So if we include those, I still own more prepros of the 450SS than exist in real life. I am a huge fan of this casting. It was so different and unique. I mean, a manufacturer barely known, a car that only ever had 2 built? From Switzerland? Somebody at Lesney obviously did some homework to come up with that.

It was such a cool model. Sold from 1973 until 1977 in the MB3 slot in the range, it only ever came in orange. I had one as a kid. I pulled the doors off. I was destructive. One of the first things I did as an adult when I decide to go all in on collecting was to upgrade the Hai. Even with no doors it was still one of my favourite castings. I had to get a minty one.

Or a dozen. Because basically, this model may have only been in orange. But 5 years? Yeah this was going to sport a number of variations. Shade of window for example. Windows were always blue, but some came out really dark, others really light. Others were just right. Why am I sounding like Goldilocks?

Labels were also plenty of fun. The correct label for this was a 3 label with an upper and lower strip in yellow, black and orange. When they ran out of labels, they grabbed whatever they thought would go, like the 6 label from the Renault 17TL or 16 label for Formula 1.

Although this one was a bit of a test run that didn’t go too well. They had other 16 labels in their inventory so tried this one out. But because of its length they decided not to go with it.

And if you look hard enough you might find an error too. I have no idea how this black print ended up being half a label out. I guess they started, realized the labels were all wrong and scrapped them.

Of course there is the other obvious difference. Shades of orange. With 5 years of production you know that it was never going to stay consistent between batches.

Plus bases too. Most were unpainted, but some early ones had a silver base (don’t have, not worrying as you have to turn it over to see), and later production runs had a black base (randomly did have because it also sported other differences).

After 1977 the casting was replaced for 1978 with my favourite of all time. The Porsche Turbo. But the model did return for 2 years in the US range. In 1981 they re-launched the model as Rallye Royale in the MB14 slot. in 1981 it was in silver with the appropriate 14 livery. Of course careful hunting yields more variations. Light or dark silver, clear or light amber windows.

And a Made in Hong Kong base. They renamed the base too while they were at it. The reason behind some model production moving to Hong Kong was due to Lesney trying to save some money. After they turned to a Japanese sub-contracted company to create some exclusive castings for the Japanese market, and it failed, they took the castings (it was in the agreement that they would still own them) and set up a deal with another company based in Hong Kong to re-tool the castings as best they could. They did what they could and sold various items in Australia and USA. Lesney seeing how much cheaper it was to ship from there, and planning a brand split decided it would be easier and cheaper to send castings to this factory in Hong Kong to produce for the US market in 1981. So many items for the US market exclusively were now made in Hong Kong. A few were still made in England if the casting itself was being utilized elsewhere beyond being a US exclusive. This agreement ran until Universal took over the company after Lesney’s bankruptcy. The factory in Hong Kong was not owned by Lesney, and Universal had a factory in Macau already, so they terminated the agreement shortly into 1983 and started packaging things up for movement to Macau. Some early 1983 items did see a brief Hong Kong production before things were closed up.

However, the Moneverdi wasn’t one of them. They finished up production after redesigning it for the 1982 range in white with a Gulf 8 design. After that, the casting actually ended up back in England, as it was retooled into a Super GT in 1985 (sealed doors, no interior, black windows, plastic base).

Talking of 1985, that brings me on to my next dive back. The MB151 BMW 323i Cabriolet. Inspired by the BMW 2002, as although this is not the debut look, I sort of thought it has a vague similarity to the latest 2002 design.

Although I do have a prototype from 1985 that was also white. It just has the roof section tampo printed. No other printing.

You can tell it was a prototype as it had one little tiny piece of detailing that was added as production began. The very first models off the production line for the debut MB39 still sported the prototype body.

The last minute addition? They added a BMW badge blob on the front of the bonnet (or hood). Try to find a 1985 MB39 without the blob? These were very short run.

It only ran for 1 year in blue with a 323i tampo on the doors, but as well as a few small shades to the blue itself, the other notable change was with the wheels. Macau production tended to be a little more balanced with their paint mixes than England was in general, but boy did they have fun with wheels instead. For this release, 8-dot or dot-dash wheels were the main variations.

In 1986 they turned the model red. Still keeping the same tampo design, at first wheels were gold hot foil printed 8-dot before turning chrome.

And of course later on they released some with 5-arch wheels too.

They also released the Superfast number 14 that year too, which came with the Starburst wheels and an Alpina livery. Alpina being a company that makes high end BMW performance vehicles.

As 1987 began they were approached to create a set of BP models for the UK. A set of 12 castings were created, and with such a quick turnaround they actually began production on the first 6 before BP signed the final contract. Then BP pulled out and went with another company. This left them with a bunch of models with BP logos all over them. Luckily poroduction had only begun on 6 of the 12, as they were going to be sold in 2 waves through 1987. So they simply overtampoed the BP logo, which in the BMW was on the front now covered up by a large BMW badge and sold them off. 5 of the 6 models ended up being put in multipacks in USA, but the BMW was simply thrown in ROW window boxes in places of the standard red one and sold in regular assortments.

Now the thing is, as they were planning out 1987, they decided that the BMW would make a good towing vehicle. The casting therefore received a slight modification to add a tow hook to the rear and it launched in the TP118 BMW & Glider pack.

But it was still being run elsewhere. Red was still a part of the basic range, but only in ROW markets as US markets dropped it after 1986, so obviously this model now started seeing a tow hook on the rear too.

The Superfast Alpina model also saw the change. But even more unusual was this.

The cancelled BP promotional model in white was also in the midst of its production run and as such can also be found with or without the tow hook.

1987 also saw the launch of the Laser Wheel series. A companion to the Superfast series that was only sold in USA. Laser Wheels though, this was worldwide. However, it launched after the change to the tow hook was made and so only comes with a tow hook. Most Laser Wheel models saw a change to the body colour, but this one stayed identical. The only difference was the wheels.

1988 saw all ranges continue as they were, but there was one little thing. A BP promotion. Yes after all the debacle of the original 1987 promo, there was still one in 1988. The reason? The 1987 promo was being run by the British arm of BP, this was run by the Netherlands arm. They made sure all documents were signed before they made the models though. Again the promotion was being run in 2 halves. The BMW was a part of the second half of the set of 10 models. Weirdly the 5 made for the first half were put in window boxes, the 5 made for the second half in blister packs.

For 1989 the TP-118 twin pack was dropped, and a new TP-123 BMW and Caravan pack created instead. This model was blue with a dark blue side stripe.

In 1990 production moved to Thailand. The Superfast and Laser Wheel series were both being dropped at this point so those models never transferred over. But the basic range issue was also dropped from the ROW market then too. This meant the only model seeing the switch was the TP-123 issue. There was a small change in shade.

As well as the side tampo with Thailand being a little lighter.

However, in 1991, they decided to re-add the model to the ROW range as MB28 for 1 year. Why? I have no idea. They did quite a few returns for the ROW market that year. There was nothing new, but obviously now….

It was made in Thailand.

A second TP pack was created with the BMW too that year. TP-127 featured the BMW towing an Inflatable on trailer. After 1991 the ROW market dropped twin packs.

But the US market continued until 1993, but although TP-127 was immediately dropped, the earlier TP-123 was redesigned with a very era-appropriate design. The caravan also saw a similar design to match. After this finished production in 1993, the model was pretty much done.

Except there was one little extra. In 1993 Matchbox came up with the “Sports Car Collection”. This was a unique set for the UK market where a range of models in blind bags were sold in a counter top display. Most of the models in the blind bags were older models in designs that had been seen before. The BMW was no exception. We saw both the original blue and the later red basic range looks in bags. The red, well this was simply the same as the 1991 issue. But if the model was blue….

Well that was something different. Obviously blue was pre-tow hook. So this was now sporting one.

Plus obviously in 1985 when it was originally made, it was a Macau model. Production was now in Thailand too. At the end of 1993 the casting was retired.

So what to choose next? Actually this was quite tough. I thought it would be making my life easier only doing 4 dive backs loosely linked to the models in the new showcase. It took me a while to deliberate over something 1990s. In the end I plumped with the MB232 Lamborghini Diablo. Because it too had a yellow issue with an opening engine bay displaying the engine. And after all, the new Chevy C10 release has an extremely detailed engine bay. One of its main features. Plus, it also tied in to the BMW just done. Why?

Well the Diablo first debuted in the 1992 basic range in yellow. It was sold as MB22 in the US market or MB49 in the ROW market.

But while running for 2 years unchanged (officially, as production moved from China to Thailand mid way through) in 1993 the model was also added to the Sports Car Collection just like the BMW 323i was. But this one was red! I had mentioned most models was older, or designs already seen. But the Diablo was a unique addition. This red issue was only found in the Sports Car Collection set. See I tie things in more than people realize.

Ignoring the premium issues for now, as a World Class arrived in 1992, for 1993 we also saw a Showstoppers release alongside a green Countach. This one was a bright fluorescent yellow.

In 1994 Tyco had got their hand on the Matchbox brand, after buying the company out of the liquidators when Universal went bust. One of their first ideas was to redo the wheels. Spirals were introduced in 1994, and for the first year they were gold. For the ROW market, they were a little unsure how further changes might affect things, so just stuck with the wheel change.

But in the US market, they went with a radical design too. Many models in the US range saw radical design changes which did not affect the ROW range.

There were some plans to introduce it into the Graffic Traffic series that year too in plain which, so you could create your own designs. But it never got beyond pre-production stages.

In 1995 the design got worse. I mean different. Yes this was a Lamborghini Diablo and that was how they felt it would sell. Fluorescent yellow with a fluorescent pink interior and black blotches over it. And now they decided; they were going worldwide too! Everywhere saw this.

They also saw a pink alternate in the 1995 Super Cars 5-pack too.

Also in 1995, they came up with an idea called Match Caps. Pogs were a bit of a thing at the time, and they created a set of models, all in chrome, with a top tampo print. Each model was put in a blister with a set of pogs too to collect. These were only sold in USA that year, but never took off and the series was dropped after the 1 year/assortment.

Again, there were also plans to add it to another series that didn’t even materialize. They were going to release a series called Chromers, with each model coming in 2 colours all made of coloured chrome bodies with tampo printing on them. But as I said, it never got past the prototype stages.

In 1996 the basic range issue switched to red with a fluorescent yellow interior. Still chock full of black blotches over the body though.

The Super Cars 5-pack following suit, now in purple with a fluorescent orange interior. However, the blotches turned white for this one. I did mention I was skipping the premium items, as I am still picking them up. There were 4 Premiere issues this year. Purple, silver, yellow and blue, all better detailed and with rubber wheels. But as I am still to pick most of them up (still filling in lots of premium issue gaps personally) I haven’t shown them.

1997 arrived, and this is where things got a bit more complicated in the basic range. They decided to go with 2 choices again. Blue was for the US range and black for the ROW range. But for some reason, initial deliveries of the ROW issue saw the blue US version before the black switched in. So technically, the blue is a US and ROW issue, black just ROW issue for 1997.

But being 1997, USA saw the Gold Challenge with each model in the basic range coming in plain gold. I do have a prepro in dark gold as well as the production one in regular gold.

Plus, the first batch was actually made with spiral wheels before they switched to the newer concave 5-spoke wheels for the remainder of the production runs.

The model was dropped from the basic range after 1997, and apart from continuing premium issues for 1997 and finally 1998 (again still filling in so not showing), the model did see another 5-pack issue in 1998. This was Sleek Riders, and actually was formed sort of out of the idea in 1995 for Chromers. Except with 5-packs being sideways viewed in packs, the designs for the models moved from top to sides. The Diablo was gold, but production moved from Thailand to China mid way through. This cause a massive change in the final look of the model, as Thailand is on the left and China on the right. They were so different.

Base shots of the models. Some models saw small differences between factory production, but others were so different. This is definitely one of the more extreme factory change variants.

After taking 1998 off in the basic range, it did pop back in for 1999. But only in the German range. 1999 saw Germany take a whole slew of exclusive liveries (and in some cases, brand new castings just for them). The Diablo was sold as MB28 there in purple for 1999.

In 2000, with a 5-way split now in place (Germany was joined by UK and Australia for exclusives on top of the regular US/ROW split), we actually saw the casting across them all again. MB22 for the US market or MB17 everywhere else in blue. However, if you were in the USA at the time, the first 10,000 saw a Matchbox 2000 logo on the front window.

The 5-way split was still in place for 2001 (before being dropped and reverting back to US/ROW in 2002) and as such both the German market and the UK market saw an exclusive. In Germany it was MB54 in bronze. In the UK it was MB55 in blue. However, for those who lived in the UK at the time there was a small hiccup. After the batch that included the UK exclusive MB51-55 group appeared, there was a hold up in getting the product from the factory. As a temporary solution they shipped over some excess stock from Germany. Suddenly we had the German exclusive MB51-55 grouping for sale in the UK. It was only a short term filler, and before the next UK exclusives arrived they were back to sourcing correctly. So if you lived in the UK you might have actually been able to pick up both Diablos at around the same time.

Back as a 2-way split between US and ROW markets for 2002, and as such the Diablo was now an ROW exclusive for what would be its final outing in the basic range. MB23 was red, and as a worldwide phenomenon now, all models in any basic range saw their first 10,000 issues with a logo. This time a 50 logo. For models sold in both markets, this meant the logo could appear anywhere. For one market only models, it helped to narrow down the possibilities of where they would end up.

After taking 2003 off entirely, they decided the model was a worthy addition to the new Superfast series. It took the number 72 slot in the series in purple.

Before seeing one final outing for the 2005 Superfast series too. This series was split 66.6/33.3 between the USA and ROW market, meaning the USA market saw twice as many number 72s. However, the model was also in different colours between the 2 markets too, with 7,500 dark green being sold everywhere outside of USA and 15,000 yellow being sold in USA. Sadly after the 2005 series, they decided to move it back to being a USA exclusive so we were down to 1 assortment of 75 again. But also, they decided to switch out the Diablo with a Blue Shark for 2006, and as such the model was sent off to retirement.

Which brings me very nicely to my last run down. You may have noticed I never did a dive back with Wheyhemes. I thought I would leave it until the end. And guess when it debuted? 2006! See how I am flowing these from one to the next?

The 2006 debut version of the MB694 Double Decker (as it is officially called, even though we all know it is a Routemaster) was MB56 for the basic range in traditional red with a “The British Invasion Continues” side design. Right from day 1, this model has had various nods to the past of Matchbox on it. This first release had under the main banner in small writing, since 1953 Matchbox has been committed to building the best die-cast vehicles in the world. The 22 route from Putney Common is a real route. It was first set up in 1909, but moved to terminate at Putney Common in 1911. It currently runs between there and Oxford Circus in London.

For 2007 the model took the MB34 slot in the range, and utilized a retro side design giving a look from the early days of the company and also a nod to the fact that in the early days buses were always MB5 in the range.

The model was also added to the Best of British series that year, and actually had a real livery, as the UK Matchbox team used this look as a promotional tool for a real Routemaster to tour to promote the Best of British series.

It was also chosen to be the dealer model for the 2007 Albuquerque convention again based on something real. Real buses were owned by Lesney in the 1970s to take people to and from the factory and they looked like this one did.

For 2008 it was MB53 in the range and saw a 55+ years of Quality & Heritage side design. Sadly, with a 3-way split, if you lived in a LAAM market at the time, you didn’t get it. Only the US and ROW markets did.

It also saw a second outing that year in the second year of Best of British. This time it was green, with a High Wycombe advert on the side.

And later in the year saw another promotional item as this was chosen to be in the Dream Halloween goodie bag in a rather spooky design.

Oh how did that get there? 11 of these exist. Matchbox ran a programme of Matchbox Ambassadors from July to July each year, as a go-between from the collector to the Matchbox team. I was number 3, with my tenure running from the Albuquerque convention in 2007 until the next convention in 2008. At the end of each tenure, the Ambassador would receive a special golden bus. Each one custom made by Matchbox at the factory and each one has a slight difference. And I don’t mean different name/details, I mean shade of gold, wheels etc.

2009. It was still MB53 in the basic range. This time it was olive green with a sightseeing tours side design and Route 694 was a nod to the MAN number. However, LAAM countries did get involved as it was a worldwide issue.

The third series of Best of British saw a third outing for the bus too. The red and white Summer arts Festival design joined the other 2 as BoB issues.

2010 saw the final time it was used in the basic range. Back to red, just like the debut, but now with a “What’s Your Adventure” side design. And it was route 58. Hmm! I wonder who designed this one? However, although sold as MB71, LAAM markets missed out again.

The set of 5 basic range issues line up. We did think at the time that perhaps the model was not going to be seen again as it disappeared after this.

Luckily that was not the case. It popped up again in late 2012 as the 2013 Toy Fair model. This was painted gold chrome with an all-over side design depicting some of the art that was being used in 2013.

And yes, both sides were completely different.

It also had the 60th Anniversary logo on the rear. I guess they had so much they were trying to advertise at the toy fair that they needed a large model with a lot of surface area that could be used.

but it did bring about a mini-resurgence for the model. It was a part of the 60th Anniversary series. A set of 24 models, with this one being red with a huge union flag over the sides.

It was also a chase model for the series too. A nice shiny red with a simple side design and front printing too.

Plus this was chosen to be a repeat casting for the 2013 Gathering. Only this time it was the dinner model, not the dealer model. Mainly produced in white over green, the first 75 who registered got the “early bird” white over zamac issue.

But since then it had been mainly dormant, with only a 2016 outing for the Best of series. This was another of Michael Heralda’s designs celebrating his record of achieving over 5,000 unique and different model designs in his Mattel tenure.

Which means this is the first outing for the casting in 5 years. And as Michael Heralda has been a bit a Routemaster specialist it only seemed fitting he got to design this first issue in the Mattel Creations series.

The casting has seen a number of uses and continues to showcase the best of the brand. I hope people like it.

But you may want to stay tuned for later in the week. Mattel were kind enough to send me 2 of this model. One I opened up here. The other, well as much as I wanted to open it too, I have not touched it. I will be setting up a small raffle with proceeds going to charity. It will go live later this week and will be closing the weekend of the Matchbox convention in Albuquerque. Full details will be explained in a little Matchbox mini moment post later this week so stay tuned.

But for now, I believe my time is up. I hope you enjoyed my romp through the collector stuff that Matchbox is doing.

Quite a lot to take in I think considering there were only 5 models here.

Next week my report will be on more than the average 5 or 6 as I start working through more current items. You will understand why when you see next week’s report.

Plus there will be a mini moment coming later this week with details of the Routemaster raffle too. So until then I hope everybody stays safe.

17 Replies to “Matchbox Monday “creates” a real collector market”

  1. Hello David. Another great posting. I have been unable to locate the Land Rover Pickup locally. Another Ebay purchase (with obligatory shipping charge) for that one! Looks great though.

  2. Some nice models there, especially that Land Rover (Though surely it’s a Series 2n not Gen 2) shame we.re unlikely to see them in the land where \Matchbox was created. slightly cynical about the $25 “Collectors’ edition” it sounds like an attempt to milk the market. Rather than doimg more limited market premium and collectors’ issues, shouldn’t Mattell be getting thr distribution of the basic range in order? I’m sure almost all the collectors are so because they loved Matchbox TOYS when they were kids. If modern kids don’t have access to Matchbox, there won’t be any new collectors in the future. I await nextr week’s announcement with interest

    1. Just as an aside comment Mike, yesterday I found the latest Mix 5 assortment in Tesco. Seems like they’ve finally begun to listen to us and ordering in sensible quantities ie. not over ordering one particular batch.

      1. That is good to hear. Hopefully things will start to improve. I hope they don’t do a massive singles order for Christmas. I think that is what they did both the last 2 years. We were inundated with batch A of both the last 2 years for ages. Singles are not a seasonal item, and as such should continue with the regular ordering all year round.

      2. Yes, definitely good news. I was concerned that with case 4 appearing earlier than expected we’d get more of the same batch, much as we did in 2019 when 2020 case A hit the shelves in September to be followed by another lot of the same case (over-ordered as noted above) in December. The store I visited today still well stocked with mix 4 but doubtless 5 will appear locally soon.

  3. Have to echo MikeG’s coment about basic distribution, the Matchbox part of the small cars hobby will die! The Land rover looks really exciting BUT the box shows the windscreen is split as it should be yet the model has a one-piece screen with no division – doh!! And a Land rover with a chrome bumper, yuc. Could have been so good.

      1. Thanks for the interesting write-up David, and I’m not wanting to be over-critical. The old saying is ‘sunk but for a ha’porth of tar’, in other words, that last bit of expense or care seems to have got lost somewhere, yet the overall aim and the subjects are great. Who could complain at the retro artwork and a LWB Land Rover in yellow! It may not have helped that many (rightly) have complained about grey plastic where a chrome bumper could have been on other models; this time round, grey would have been so much better. I remember the initial images of the recent ‘Safari’ Land Rover (like the old number 12c) also omitted the central windscreen division, but it had been corrected when it was released. Any chance of a correction here I wonder? That central division is ‘iconic’ (sorry) for this type of older LR so not just a pedantic detail. These are ‘premium’ issues, so IMO one piece of unpainted/tampo’d clear plastic for a windscreen is a bit cheap; OK for a basic range jeep but not so good here. Then there’s the colour artwork for the BMW 2002, which as you say is definitely distorted, and just looks wierd, i.e. uncorrected. But I really like the wood-look in the bed and the ‘distressed’ engine in the pick-up, but again, this is a premium, so why no front tampo? As for the BMW i8, I think I’d agree the non-opening doors version is better overall; though the gold one makes it look as if some plastic/painted colours can be matched better than others. Ah, then there’s the bus…on which (again only IMO) the only worse wheels to have chosen were the ones on the 2016 ‘5000’ gold version you show. As you can tell I’m firmly convinced I should be on the R&D team at Mattel!

  4. When is Matchbox bringing back the Lamborghini Diablo? It would be 100 times more exciting than the Centenario.

    1. This would be fantastic actually – but they could do a new casting, maybe of a post-facelift version (with the exposed headlights) or even the GT version. Who says HW has to have all the fun, right?

  5. Broken record mode, engage! As always, the pictures and write-up have me drooling, as this line should prove to be tremendous. But in my heart of hearts I know I’ll be lucky to find a single one of these in the wild. I’ve had decent luck over in the blue aisle with Boulevard and Car Culture, as they seem to restock those enough times per batch that I can usually get what I’m looking for if I’m persistent, but Matchbox is a whole other story. Target’s MBX section is pretty small – its mainline section is completely clogged with two castings – the self driving bus and the Chow Mobile. For premiums, they’ve had the same straggling opening parts models hanging out forever, and they never seem to restock. Don’t even get me started on Walmart. I semi-regularly hit 3 different stores, two near where I live and one near where I work, and they’re almost always cleaned out. In fact the one near where I work hasn’t had a SINGLE Matchbox product on the pegs in over a month. There are pegs for them, just no product. I agree with the above commenter that they really ought to focus on improving their distribution horrors before they jump into stuff like this (as nice as the Routemaster may be).

    I desperately want that Land Rover pickup, so I took a peek on eBay and literally laughed out loud. $20 (when factoring shipping) for one vehicle. Guess I’m going without.

  6. Engaging report as always David. Just a note on the Sports Car Collection MB49 Diablo. A few years after that series ended (sadly only after the one batch) the red Diablo turned up packaged on top of a small box of chocolates amongst other similarly packaged models and sold in Woolworths.

  7. Any idea if the Collector Series will be sold in the U.S. I’d love to get the Landie and BMW 2002. Maybe through hobby dealers only?

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