So, here’s the thing. When I recently sat down to come up with a slight tweak to how I would set out my Matchbox reports, I also took a look at the items that had arrived. I then did a list of upcoming reports I was planning on it dawned on me. By the time I finished everything that was coming in 2021 it would be be March 2022. I realized I was starting to drift further and further behind. I mean, this is the basic range batch D part 1 blog report, but I already have batch E in hand from Wheel Collectors too. There is just so much coming from the Matchbox team at the moment that I am starting to struggle to keep up. So I made a decision that on some reports I will be amalgamating things, or fitting in more in this case. Whereas previous batches of singles I was splitting in to 3 parts, I am now cutting it down to a 2-part split. You will also discover that in future reports you might see various items tagged on to other items as a way of doubling up there too. Just a way to try and keep the reports coming but still be fairly up to date. Although next week you will find a few slightly older items coming , tagged on to another report. So with batch D of 2021 consisting of 17 models, this report will focus on 9 of them. the other 8 will be coming in a few weeks.
Now I decided to run these from the Power Grab boxes. Wheel Collectors do sell both long card and power grabs of these. I don’t think you need to see the same blister thing each time. Mixing it up a bit. As well, I decided to run these 9 in alphabetical order. Which means I start with something that looks extremely familiar. The MB1197 Big Banana Car. Being sold as MB48 in the 2021 series, this is a unique vehicle based on a real 1-off vehicle that travels around USA. So as such this is simply a carry forward from the 2020 series. And to be honest, it is quite difficult to get a lot of differences with it.
For those who did not know, when the model arrives in a power grab box, due to it’s height at the rear, it cannot actually fit in as is. So the body is removed from the interior/base and places alongside it in the box. the box shows simple instructions on how to build it. Obviously you don’t get this on a blister card, because the blister will simply be stretched to go over okay.
I am still wondering if they have plans for a range of fruit as cars.
So as I said, for all intents and purposes the 2021 issue looks just like the 2020 issue.
But with the 2020 issue arriving in the first batch of 2020, and this being the 4th of 2021, this means that there were roughly 18 months between production runs.
So let’s bring in the 2020 MB71 and see whether it is identical or not.
The answer is not identical, if you look carefully enough. The yellow is very close, and the green part of the tampo printing matches too. But the brown is a different shade. It is not much, but you do happen to see it when placed side by side. The new one is a lighter shade of brown to last year’s.
However, if you were to flip the model upside down, this is where you will find the most significant variation. When first released in 2020 the model sported a matte black base. The new release sports a gloss black base. So there is something for people who like variations.
Alphabetically next in the list is the MB1172 ’75 Chevy Caprice. Now on to its third year in the basic range.
This model looks extremely nice in a light metallic green. I think some people have referred to this in the past as celery green. I don’t think that was its real name, but I believe this shade of green was a real choice for the 1975 Caprice. It is a very nice colour choice for the model, and I am so happy to see that this casting always seems to get a very simple pin striping treatment. Nothing fancy, just a simple stripe.
It takes the MB86 slot in the basic range, and again, as with the 2020 issue, the model manages to eke out a chrome base. They do really help to enhance this model.
And well, this is me. I am always on the hunt for shades, and yes I was lucky enough to find one on this model. Lighter and darker shades of green. I love finding this stuff.
So why not do a quick recap of where this models is. 2019, the basic range debut. It was sold as MB6 in the first year,and came in champagne. This one did not see a chrome base, and instead saw a darker base shade to the body.
In 2020 the model did see a chrome base, on a beautiful dark red body with the same sort of side detailing as we always see on this model. I do like the green a lot, but that red was just so lovely. It is still my favourite of the 3 released so far.
Although, weirdly (or in my case, yay cool stuff) the 2019 issue was chosen to be added as an extra into one of the 2021 9-packs. Not the 2020 or the new 2021, but they went back and re-produced the debut version 2 years after it debuted. Of course that had me excited, and I had a very good feeling there could be a variation to it. Well, actually there was 2. The body shade was a different champagne.
And the base was also a lighter shade too. I love when they go back and redo models again.
So we are now up to 3 of this casting. So far they are all basics. I wonder when we are going to start seeing some non-basic range issues. Perhaps in a 5-pack somewhere, or how about one of the Walmart series? Has anybody noticed we currently have quite a few 1970s Chevys? This one, a ’70 El Camino, ’71 Chevelle, ’72 Camaro Z-28, ’75 Stepside and ’79 Nova. That is 6 right there. Plus, if you think about it, the classic Chevy Van and Corvette T-top castings are still going, and both were originally created by Lesney in the 1970s, so therefore are also ’70s vehicles. That brings us up to 8. They have possibilities for new castings on top too, maybe a 1976 Vega Kammback? That’s definitely different too. Plus, it is a wagon, and we need a ’70s Chevy wagon.
Ooh another Chevy. We had a classic, now we have a modern too. The MB1221 ’20 chevy Corvette C8.
Only debuting last year, this was definitely one of the highlights of the year for me. Year 2 and it still does not disappoint. This model is really nice in red as MB40 this year. It works even better than the debut version did at showing off the detailing of the casting.
The license plate on the rear has Stingray on it this time. I am bit of a Corvette fan, and the latest C8 generation is a really nice vehicle. I am so happy that Matchbox got to make one in miniature, and for those who do not know yet, there is a white Super Chase variation coming, with full tampo printing and rubber wheels. It will appear randomly in the next month or 2, both in short and long carded assortments. But will they be late batch E or early batch F? Well what sort of chase are we giving you if we tell you exactly when and where they will hit?
Mind you, will I be lucky enough to find a shade variation in red? I did with blue. Although one was actually from a 9-pack, so run a few months later. It makes for a great starter.
My collection is up to 3. I am going to be hunting down that Super Chase to make 4 for sure. Because I want to see what they put on the back of that one.
I tell you, I am really enjoying these license plates. It’s a whole thing all on its own. Will the Super Chase have Chevy on the plate? C8? Something completely different? Oh the anticipation.
Now this model is cute. The MB1245 ’19 Fiat 500 Turbo. I have always been a fan of the small hatchback. Maybe it is because I come from the UK where small hatchbacks are still very common on the streets. But when Matchbox comes up with these, I always look forward to seeing them. I was a little worried as the MB1037 ’16 Fiat 500X didn’t quite nail it for me. But they got it this time. This really screams perfect to me.
It launches in the MB19 slot for 2021 in a darker red than the Corvette was. I believe they call this passion red in Fiat circles. With simple front and rear tampo printing this model looks lovely.
It really didn’t need much more detailing at all.
I believe they have captured the shape of the real vehicle very well. And that little spoiler on the roof, it perfectly hits the “turbo” nail on the head. As I said, I love the little hatchbacks, and this one is such a cool little addition.
I hope we see a number of these over the coming years. More little hatchbacks please.
And for those who do like a random base shot, as it is a new casting I show off the detailing here. Considering it is a small car, they really managed to cram a lot on to there. Impressive.
Next up alphabetically in this group is the MB1012 Mazda MX-5 Miata. So called because it is often known by either MX-5 or Miata depending on the market it is being sold in. so Matchbox just went and put both names on it. Simple!
This model has been around since 2016, and after a flurry of activity when it first arrived, it fizzled out for a bit, only to see a revitalization last year. And I am so happy it has. I think this is a great casting. I remember using one of the older ones as a model in some Instagram posts I was taking on a journey around USA a few years back. So whenever I see a new one I am instantly reminded of that trip. And this one being black with gold wheels and a simple front and rear tampo scheme is just awesome!
Nothing fancy at all, but it looks so good in black. Taking the MB58 slot for 2021 I think it still has a few more years left in it. I hope so anyway.
Because let us remind ourselves of this one’s past. As I said, it debuted in 2016 in red as MB3.
And was also chosen to be the dinner model at the 2016 Matchbox Gathering in Albuquerque New Mexico that July. Early bird issues saw some additional printing on the rear of the model over the standard dinner model.
After that, we saw the 2017 MB10 in silver, with some fancy striping going down the hood/bonnet. This was the one I was using in my USA road trip, so I guess it was that 2017 visit I get reminded of whenever I get a new MX-5.
After 2017 the model was dropped from the basic range, and in 2018 saw one use as a 9-pack exclusive. This was blue with a side design, although still managed to eke out a little front tampo too.
It then saw no action at all in 2019 before returning to the basic range in 2020 in metallic orange as MB35. Metallic orange is always good for a shade or 2, and this one didn’t disappoint. I found lighter and darker shades to it.
I just hope this is not a pattern. Two years in the basic range, multipack issue, year off. We will see what it does for 2022. I hope we see plenty more.
And now it is the turn of the MB1189 MBX mini Swisher. I have been noticing how large a percentage cars are making up in the range. But they are still giving us some utlity stuff. Which is good. But I admit to preferring the cars as a whole, so this current direction is suiting me perfectly. However, some utility vehicles do appeal to me, and for some reason the Mini swisher is one of them. It is so cute. A Matchbox original as they call them, but this is one I do not mind seeing.
It takes the MB61 slot for 2021 in white and orange with a Sustainable Sweeper side design. I don’t know if people really take the time to look at the designs the team come up with, but this is a really nice modern design. Matchbox Clean City Sidewalks. Sustainable Sweeper. Mini Tank. With various “high range” items and “low range” items. These are nondescript items though. But you can tell some thought went into this. Just think 20-30 years ago we would get random squiggles put on models. Now we get well thought out designs that do actually mean something.
I do like this model. I may be a car person first and foremost, but this still gets to me. So much so that I wanted to pull out the older issues too.
Which aren’t a lot as it did only arrive in 2019. The first release was in white as MB83.
With a base section that formed the rear vacuum pipes being a lighter or darker grey.
And a 2020 MB21 issue in green.
So next up is something a few years back I thought I would never see in the Matchbox range. A McLaren. A while back we received a Mercedes-Benz model that had McLaren as a part of its name, and I honestly thought that would be the closest we would ever get to having a proper McLaren in the range. But how things change. This just goes to show how much the brand has been changing these last few years. This is the MB1246 ’20 McLaren 720S Spider.
And yes, this model does not disappoint. It’s freaking awesome. It comes in a lovely shade of blue, which I believe is based on the McLaren Ludus Blue. Or it could be based on Belize Blue. They have a lot of colour choices at McLaren for the 720S which is great news for us, as it means Matchbox can come up with a whole host of real looks for the models.
There were a couple of things I noticed. For one, it appears the front window is a part of the interior section. A clever way to reduce parts, which in this case it not detracting from the model. I know some enclosed vehicles with black windows do look a little worse for it. But this does not. Well it doesn’t for me. The one little thing I did find surprising though. There should be a little McLaren badge on the front of the model. With it receiving a front print in that way which also goes up and over a little, including the badge should have been a no-brainer. Window? Not fussed. That badge! OMG! But that was my only tiny little quibble. As I said, this thing looks amazing.
I guess with the window being a part of the interior, it will always get a black interior Suits me. You can’t go wrong with a black interior.
They did get the McLaren logo in at the rear though. It might have just been my example that had a slightly offline tampo print though. That is the drawback with these types of vehicles. Quite a thin area to print on. It needs a sensitive hand/machine to line it up perfectly. But that is the way it goes sometimes and for a small vehicle at a low price point, what are you going to expect. I still think they are knocking these things out of the park.
The casting is beautifully done. the shape is spot on. The curves, the details. Yes, this was a fantastic little recreation. As I said, I am so happy that we finally have a McLaren in the range.
Yeah, base shot. It was anew casting, so I show it off for those who like that sort of thing.
Which brings me to the next model in the list. The MB822 Mini Cooper S Cabrio. I don’t know what it is, but this year has seen a whole glut of Minis in the basic range. Which is good, as I do like a nice Mini. And this is especially nice as it has not been in there since 2013.
Taking the MB52 slot for 2021 it is a pale lilac with dual black stripes across the hood/bonnet. I am sucker for stripes, and this really appeals to me.
Maybe even more so because I am already finding it sports nice shade variations on it. Stripes and shades. Oh yes, that’s the way I like it.
I don’t believe this is an official Mini colour, but it could be. It looks very nice, and the model is still looking very fresh for being over a decade old now. Mind you, as I mentioned, it has not been in the basic range since 2013 so has not actually seen too much action over the years. Shall we remind ourselves of what has been so far?
Well before I do, I just wanted to show this pre-production prototype I own. A lovely metallic dark red with a tan interior and chrome base. the windows were left unpolished, giving a frosted look. And obviously being a prototype it had no tampo printing on it. This was simply a first shot painted model to see how the casting was holding up.
Which was obviously good, because it was soon available in red. It debuted in 2011 as MB28 with a simple front/rear tampo print.
It also saw a version 2 later in the year too, simply changing from red to yellow. And yes, I found shades there was well. Lighter and darker yellow. Do I like my shades!
In 2012 it moved to the MB13 slot and turned blue with front detailing and a 6 and checkered side design.
before seeing a final 2013 basic range release in metallic dark green with white stripes down the front. Is it me, or does the new one look almost identical tampo design wise? I love seeing when they take the tampo design and simply transfer it over. These 2 look so good together.
Since then we have only seen one random release of the Mini. In 2017 it was a part of the Globe Trotters series, and was the first time the model saw a premium release. Well it is, at the moment, still the only time it has been sold outside of the basic range too.
So that means we are currently up to 6 issues of this casting. Now that it has returned I hope to see it used a little more often.
Which will bring me to the last new addition for this report. The other half of batch D will be shown in August. This is another new casting. the MB1240 ’84 Toyota MR2.
Now this model launches in the MB14 slot for 2021, and as had been noticed from pre-production samples and pictures, we knew already that there would be something to look for with this one. Lights up versus lights down. The team created a pair of window sections for the model which incorporate the front pop-up headlights as a part of their assembly. So half of the models would see the headlights in the up position, the other half in the down position. But there was something they didn’t tell us.
They also created 2 different interior sections. One being a mirror image of the other, meaning the model would either be in left hand drive or right hand drive mode.
And again, with production being split 50/50 for both interior types, when it comes to final assembly these could be configured in alternate window assembly pieces too. Therefore in total you can accumulate 4 different variations.
Left hand drive can come with lights up or lights down. Right hand drive can come with lights up or lights down. All 4 variations are random. There is no rarity. Model tend to be produced using 2 moulds for each part and as such with each mould being different, the 2 variations are basically a 50/50 split. Mix them up together, random chaos will ensue, and as such by the time production finishes, they will all be roughly close to a 25/25/25/25 split between all 4 variants. So it all depends if you are a person like me who loves finding these and will have to aim for 4 of each MR2 release or not. Now a few weeks back I talked of another model. The MB1207 ’41 Cadillac Series 62. I just thought I would re-clarify things again. That casting has been created with 2 parts that both feature a variation just like the MR2. The window is either in an open position (the top down) or a full cover going all the way over and down the rear of the casting (the top up). Therefore the interior casting also sports 2 variants. One has the rear tonneau in place for the top down, the other removes this and inserts a gap for the window section to slide down behind it and under the rear of the body section. So on this you will not see both appear at one time, because one window section has to be mated to a specific interior section. You can’t mix them up. They are incompatible. So when the Caddy gets produced, it will be made 100% either with a top up or top down. Because if they were to attempt both, they would have to create 2 completely different production runs to ensure that only the correct interior mated to the correct window section gets made. It slows down production, is inefficient and is not practical. So it is not something that they will likely do. The MR2 though, as you can see, both variants can mix and match, which means either window can be mated with either interior, meaning both can be done together, and mixed together with no loss in production speed. I try to make things clear as to why such things may or may not happen.
But back to the MR2. I will continue this with a visitor. The original Matchbox MB163 Toyota MR2. It arrived during the Universal era back in 1986 and ran for 3 years in the basic range (as well as a few other releases). So with 2 totally different teams creating the models, obviously they have come out differently. The original is slightly larger, most of which is taken with the added width. In years gone by models were often fattened/widened a lot to make them more appealing as a miniature. In recent years the “fattening” process has been reined in a little creating a more realistic look. Both sport a large sunroof on the top and have side mirrors. The original had a much larger front air scoop than the new one does.
Also seeing from the side, the old one was much taller too. It looked pretty good to me, but now that I have the new one, I do prefer it. It does really look more like the MR2 I remember from when I was a teenager. The level of detailing to the new casting is definitely higher.
But there is one thing the old one has that is sorely missing from the new one. That little rear window visor. That was a lovely little piece to me, and one of the best parts of the model. Which does make things tough for me. The shape of the new casting I feel is definitely a better crafted shape, but that little visor was such a big part of the MR2. Without it, it’s not the same. I still prefer the new one overall, but had it sported the window visor, it would have been a home run.
I show the bases here for comparison too. The old one was one of those models that had been crafted with an upper and lower body section. Quite a few models during the 1980s started seeing 2-part bodies as with a gap through the middle (usually filled with the interior sticking out for a pin stripe) meaning they could create a colour break instantly. Those types of construction don’t tend to get made any more.
Something you can see with one of the other original MR2s. The Superfast issue. Oh wait, this was another pre-production sample. An early plan for how the Superfast was going to look.
It ended up with a different design, although still blue over white. These was a variation to look for here too as the MR-2 on the door could be in different places. Superfast ran from 1986-1990.
And joining it from 1987 was the Laser Wheels alternate, now in metallic blue. By now the MR-2 on the door was more often to be found towards the back.
But apart from a 3-year basic range issue and a 5-year Superfast/4-year Laser Wheels issue, the only other usage the original casting had was as a 1988 Dragon Racing Team promotional model for the Hong Kong market. This was a set of 12 models, all depicting the various animals from the Chinese zodiac. I hope we see plenty more issues of the new MR2 casting, although I fear I might go broke if they start adding it to larger multipacks.
And that brings me to the end of my review of the first 9 models of batch D. There are another 8 to go, but I have a couple of really cool reports to slot in before I finish it off. But as I do nowadays, I am going to have a little added fun by diving into the history of my collection just a little with a range of 4 vehicles inspired by some of those in the current review.
The first of which is a Corvette. The first Corvette. My first Corvette. It was 1979. I would have been 6, maybe 7 years old. Being born mid-year it could have been either. But strangely enough, I do remember I was with my aunt and uncle when I got this. It was the first time I had seen a Chevy Corvette. I didn’t really know what one was yet, but I thought it was so cool. Just look at the shape. I remember being at my aunt and uncle’s house playing with it. How was I to know at the time I had actually got an error model. I mean, this was Lesney and errors went out all the time. It was supposed to have white stripes. It was plain. To date I have never found another plain red issue and as such I still own the very first Corvette I had as a kid. As I said, it was the first Corvette. Matchbox had never made one before MB062. Of course 1979 it was MB62-D at the time, as MAN numbers were created after the fiasco trying to juggle the 1981 split to better sort the 1982 range. But with the latest Corvette being red, I knew this was the time to pull the first Matchbox corvette out.
As I mentioned, it should have white stripes going over it. Down the sides, over the hood. They were cool.
but this was Lesney, and as the model was made for this as MB62 for 3 years, there were a lot of things that kept changing. For one, the side stripes were often missed. The hood stripe was pretty much always there, except my error picked up as a kid and played with.
The interior would change too. Black, grey or white. Of course this shows off some of the many shades of red the model would sport too, as it kept changing.
A better shot of my darkest versus lightest red shades.
In 1982 the model turned black with stripes. Guess what? I found one of those in mint condition as an adult collector where they forgot to tampo print it.
This is how the model should look. Orange and yellow striping going all the way over the top.
Of course shades of tampo exist, mainly surrounding the yellow printing. Sometimes quite dark, it can get pretty pale, although the orange tends to hold up quite well as a much more consistent shade.
1982 production was in England. Some models still sported the unpainted base of the earlier red issue, but some now came with a silver painted base.
Some late issues from early 1983 saw some glow in the dark window pieces used instead of clear glass.
In 1983 the model was dropped from the ROW range, although as noted, some last minute early 1983s with glow in the dark windows did appear worldwide. But in 1983 they decided that the ROW range would only see 1 Corvette. The US range though, well a new ’62 Corvette was being used exclusively in the US market, and MB097 was also added as an additional model. This was simply this casting with the roof cut off to turn it into a T-bar model. but instead of adding it as an additional model in the ROW range, it replaced it. but MB62 carried in the US unchanged. Officially. As of 1983, production moved to Macau. At first the windows were still sealed, but as the year went on they changed to the window piece being used in the MB097 T-bar offering which had an open side.
Of course a Macau issue has a very easy tell. They had red bases.
Which matched a certain Pace Car. Now this is where things get really complicated. Not content with having a coupe and a T-bar, as well as a classic ’62 in the US range, they only went and created a second coupe Corvette too. They officially called it the Corvette Pace Car and it was put in the MB21 slot, running for 2 years. It was literally the exact same casting as MB062, but this was still the early years of creating manufacturing numbers, and at the time literally everything was handed a new MAN number. So they gave it the MAN number MB115. Just so the factory knew which Corvette they producing at which time. Again, this was when Macau had only just taken over production of various items and were still learning the ropes.
The MB115 casting was finished after 1984, but the original MB062 was still going. In fact it had just received a new design for the 1984 range, exclusively for the US market. This ran until 1985 when this too retired from the basic range.
But the casting itself was still going. In 1985/1986 it was a part of the TM-4 Team Matchbox series, with a support vehicle and a Kenworth Transporter to lug it around.
And in 1986 this was also added to the Superfast series as SF-10 running until 1990.
Which in turn moved also became the LW-10 in the Laser Wheels series in 1987. However, that only ran for 1 year in a matching design.
Because in 1988 that one turned red as a Laser Wheels model, continuing until 1990 when both Superfast and Laser Wheels were retired.
The model still was not done though yet. Now in 1992 there was a special set of 28 White rose Collectibles Major League Baseball series models. I do not own any of them, or a random 1993 MLB model that was produced too. But after those we saw a more regular looking model in the 1993 40th Anniversary Corvette set in white with a red stripe.
Now I have 2. One was made in China, the other Thailand. I believe the China was actually a pre-production sample of the model, as it is officially only listed as coming from Thailand.
After that we next saw one in a random playset. Called Rapid Shot slam! This playset was sold in USA in 1997, and the design on the model was actually the same design as was being used on the MB097 which was still running along in the basic range there. But the playset issue actually had a roof on it. There is actually one more Corvette, one I am still to get, as it saw a swansong in the 2001 Coke Collectibles series in yellow. Being a premium issue at the time I did not get it, and am currently still hunting one down.
So technically I have barely moved forward with my bounce backs as the Corvette was from 1979, and this MB074 Fiat Abarth was from 1982. Both were Lesney castings. But I said I do a rough ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and ’00s things and in that respect, 1979 and 1982 tick that box. Obviously the inspiration is the fact we have a new Fiat in the range. I am amazed at the lack of Fiats from Matchbox. The new 500 Turbo is just the 4th. In over 70 years. The first was the Fiat 1500 in 1966, followed by the Abarth in 1982 and then the 500X in 2017. Daft fact, Matchbox have now created 4 Fiats, and every single one of them has had a plastic base. The 1966 debut of a Fiat 1500 in the basic range was the first time a plastic baseplate was ever put on a Matchbox car. So for those who think that plastic bases is a more modern thing. It wasn’t. Lesney started it in 1966.
But I am sidetracking. Obviously I am not showing the Fiat 1500 as it was from before my time. I only collect from the beginning of the Superfast era onwards, and it was dropped from the range just before the advent of the Superfast era. So I don’t have any. Therefore the oldest Fiat in my collection goes to the only other one before the current crop of 500s. The Fiat 131 Abarth was a pretty successful rallying car in the late 1970s, but by the time Matchbox finally decided to create one, it was being phased out of rallying in favour of Lancias instead. It arrived as MB9 in the US market or MB74 in the ROW market in 1982. Originally the model was to have sported a black interior, but was almost immediately swapped to red, meaning black interiors are pretty rare. I have not been able to source one yet.
Production of the original look lasted for 2 years, but being a worldwide seller, production moved to Macau in 1983. The most obvious different between English made and Macau made models was the amber window on the Macau one.
A quick shot of the 2 plastic bases from the 2 countries.
The model only ran for 4 years in total. After 2 years in a Matchbox liveried design, the last 2 years swapped it for a real rally design. Alitalia was quite a well known rally look and this was a very noticeable look. Although production remained in Macau and ran 2 years, you can still find variations, like the shade of green tampo.
After the model was dropped from the basic range, when Matchbox were busy hurrying through a brand new Dinky trademark, they grabbed 6 random models and created new looks for them in early 1988, threw them in some Dinky branded packaging, and sold them locally in the UK to secure the license. The Fiat was one of them, and again saw a white model, but now with simple red, orange and yellow striping all over it.
As well as this, the next time we saw a Fiat was actually in Brazil. Local trading laws there at the time were not the best. Imported goods were being heavily taxed, and tough to bring in. So, as had been going since the early 1970s, Matchbox were often sending over “parts” to Brazil for them to put together in Brazil for local sales, avoiding huge taxes. Lesney had an arrangement with one company, Universal had an arrangement with a company called Trol. The Fiat Abarth was one of the final models they shipped over, and the first model was launched as a single in 1987. It was white (again), with a Matchbox 11 livery. You might also note the 4-arch wheels. Brazil created their own wheels using Matchbox ones as a guide. They can also be found with 8-spoke wheels, and 8-spoke concave (similar to the off road 8-spoke made in Macau) too.
The base for the model was completely re-written for the Brazilian made models.
OMG! It isn’t white! In 1990 the Fiat Abarth changed from the white issue to a blue one for Brazil, after 1990 it was not made any more. As far as I am aware, these only appeared with the 8-spoke concave wheels.
But that was not the end of the story. Enter our old friend Bulgaria. This was one of the many castings shipped over to Bulgaria for local production in 1991. During the 1980s Bulgarian castings were leased for 1 year. The 2 batches from the 1990s were not leased, and as such were not returned. So we had some very plain issues earlier on during production.
Which over the years grew to create some really cool designs.
As can be seen with these 2 celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Superfast range in 2004, production went on for decades.
So where to next? Oh yes, I am going there. It reminds me of it. The Big Banana Car somehow reminds me of the MB259 Tailgator. This was one of the first 2 of the “animal cars” that Tyco released on to the market in 1994. The other being a Rhino Rod. They were joined by Rott Wheeler and Stinger the following year. The animal cars were not exactly popular, but they ran throughout the Tyco era. Mattel even kept them an additional year in the US range.
If I was to choose a favourite out of the animal cars, Tailgator would be it. For a vehicle that was using an alligator as a source material, I did find the front end of the model to be rather cute. Yeah, I know it is an alligator, and alligators are not exactly cute. But this had a certain charm to it. I can’t explain it. It arrived on the market as MB27 in 1994 in green, and had golden spiral wheels on it.
In 1995 the model was officially unchanged, but all models went from gold wheels to chrome wheels in 1995 regardless of whether they had a new look or not.
In 1996 the model saw a new look. It went from green to green. Only now it was a very dark green. As the model was finishing production late on, new wheels were being phased in across the range, and the spirals were swapped out for the new 5-spoke concave wheels for a final run.
It actually overlapped with the 1997 Gold Challenge release of the model in USA. These were the last ones made with the spirals. The official 1997 release of the model in the basic range saw it turn purple.
After this the model was dropped from the ROW range and with Mattel making a major overhaul to the basic range for 1998, the model moved to the MB45 slot in the US range for one final outing in black.
I tell you, I think this one has a cute face. It looks like it is smiling at you. As I said, I was not a fan in general of the animal cars, but this one just had a little something extra the others didn’t. A big goofy smile! Loving it!
So I am going to finish off with something pretty modern really for a throwback. With a McLaren finally hitting the range, I wanted to bring in that model I mentioned in the McLaren 720S Spider write-up. The MB766 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
And there it is. On the base. McLaren. As I said, when they was released, I thought to myself, wow, Matchbox have managed to get so close to getting an actual McLaren car in the range. I did honestly think it would be as close as we would get. They often used to state at the time that those types of vehicles were more for their other brand. So I had confined myself to never seeing a full-blown McLaren. That’s not to say I didn’t love this one.
I mean, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren was a gorgeous vehicle. It arrived as MB13 in the 2009 basic range in silver. I even managed to discover 2 shades of silver.
Later that year it was given a version 2 as well, this one being in black. So the debut year gave us 2 examples of the model. Which was a really good job because, well, nothing. 2010 was looking at giving us a dark blue model. But sadly, when approaching Mercedes-Benz for final approval, they would only give it if Mattel added a Mercedes-Benz tri-star hologram to the packaging. It was something Mercedes-Benz wanted to do for all merchandising. But holograms are not cheap. On a toy car with a wafer thin profit margin, a hologram would tip the scales too much. They just couldn’t justify doing it, and the model was dropped. Luckily, as time went on, Mercedes-Benz gave up on the whole hologram idea as I guess more and more companies they were dealing with were pulling out for similar reasons. And as the decade rolled along, Mercedes-Benz and Matchbox were back on the same page, and let’s be honest. That page has grown ever bigger now. Mercedes-Benz models have made a huge impact on the Matchbox brand in the last half a decade or so, with 13 brand new castings arriving already and a 14th due to arrive in a few months. They are on a roll.
As such, the SLR McLaren made another appearance in the basic range. 8 years after it debuted in silver, we saw a new release in grey.
I remember when it appeared, as we had seen a few carry forward models already in the basic range, a number of people were asking, was this just another carry forward? No it was not. As you can see when placed next to a bright silver, this is quite a dull grey. But perhaps it is just a shade variation, after all it was 8 years after the original build. But look closely. Do you see the grey one has little orange indicator lights? Had it been a carry forward, the tampo would have been the same.
Further proof was at the back. With the way modern cars are designed in miniature, the tampo printing it not going to vary much between releases anyway. All Merc SLRs have the same basic front and rear print. But having an entirely different license plate was further proof that this was indeed a new look. Not a carry forward.
After this Matchbox created a set of Walmart exclusive Mercedes-Benz models for 2018 and the SLR McLaren was used again This time in matte gold. Oh and this one was so much fun. I actually have 4. But with my 4th being inbetween 2 of these, when I lined all 4 up you really weren’t seeing the changes. Sometimes less is more, they say. Yes this model ran a huge range of shades during production.
It was so much fun. I swear they should do things like this much more often. This is like Lesney throwback painting. Each production run is a different colour. It is one of the most fun parts of the hobby for me, discovering models like this.
And finally (so far, still hoping to see it again) we saw a 5-pack release in the 2019 Blue Highways pack in dark grey.
I mean, there have only ever been 5 releases. And we never did see that blue one.
And thus finishes yet another report from me, which showcased the first half of batch D 2021. Included were 3 of the new castings that debuted.
Three recent castings of American vehicles. And yes I included the Big Banana Car in there, because it is a real vehicle. A 1-off build, but it is an American 1-off build, so the statement rings true.
And 3 others. I couldn’t quite figure out a group name for them. The non-American/non-new castings models seemed a little long-winded.
Well I hope you enjoyed my latest blog report. Next week is a certain Gathering, and you just know there is going to be a big story coming out of it. Who is absolutely dying to know what vehicles will be coming to us in 2022? I know I am. I can’t wait to find out. I am so sad that I am sitting at home for it, due to the USA government not allowing us UK citizens in at the moment. I am already beginning my 52-week countdown to “hopefully” heading over for the 2022 event. But I will still be attempting to do a report on it as best I can. I will also add in a little extra piece at the end I have been meaning to put up for ages, and will also be informing you of whoever won my 2nd Wheyhemes Bus raffle which I showed here on the blog a few days ago. There are still just over 6 days to go as of time of uploading this article for people to enter to win the Wheyhemes Bus. So until next week, have a safe week, and happy travels to those in the USA who are busy making their way to Albuquerque. I am not jealous. My nose is usually 2 feet long.