When you translate Monday in to French and get Lundi, does the whole Matchbox Monday thing lose its significance? I ask, as when I ran down some Best of Germany models I used Matchbox Montag. “M” “M”, worked perfectly. But “M” “L”? Not really. But Lundi does rhyme with Monday (depending on how you say it). Does it work? I’m asking for a friend. What? You don’t believe me, knowing there is an Italian set coming soon and Italian for Monday is lunedì. Moving further away. Yeah, okay it was my own personal thought processes working overboard. So I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog report. Ah nuts! I was so focused on the Monday/Lundi thing I forgot to write it. I suppose I had better do it then.
As I mentioned last week, there was a group of 12 this week to run down. And that is because I decided to go absolutely nuts and run down the entire series of Best of France. Luckily the numbering system of the French set was nice and simple. 12 models. Batch A were numbered 1 through 6, batch B numbered 7 through 12. As a second clue, the first picture was batch A lined up, the second batch B lined up. Now as with all of the “Best of” series, these consist of some carry forward models and some brand new designs mixed in together. So let’s dive in and see what there was.
Obviously I am doing batch A first, and starting at the beginning. Number 1 of 12 is the MB885 Renault Master Ambulance in white with a French themed side design. For those who may not know, We have these “Best of” series for different countries, but there is also a sub-series called “Best of Global” which is sold in USA. What that series has done is taken some of the models from these various series and created a different series. This model is one of the ones that is also in the Best of Global series. It is number 7 of 14 in the first set over there, packaged in a different blister. Wheel Collectors in USA sell the Best of Global and I will be showing some of those shortly too.
So let’s have a good look at the model. It’s a Renault, so a French vehicle to begin with. Always useful. Ambulance is still Ambulance in French, and on this occasion it has “Urgences” on the side too, which means Emergency Room. It is a Matchbox originals design, as in France ambulances fall under 3 main categories. The SAMU (Service d’Aide Médicale Urgente), which means Urgent Medical Aid Service (weirdly translated the letters are backwards) and SMUR (Service Mobile d’Urgence et Réanimation) translating to Mobile Emergency and Resuscitation Service, which is MERS. Ah that one doesn’t work. These are main official ambulance related services, and would usually have SAMU or SMUR on them. Then there are the ambulances provided by the fire services too. Not as well equipped for emergencies as SAMU or SMUR, these vehicles called VSAV (véhicule de secours et d’assistance aux victimes) or rescue and casualty assistance vehicle in English provide a much needed support too. Then there are the private ambulances. These provide the more basic functions and would rarely be sent to an emergency.
So although not totally realistic, I think it is a really nice design. The blue window helps to break up the white with the rest of the blue design. It is a simple design but works effectively. I like the look of this one a lot. And as I am here, does anybody remember this Renault Master?
It was a part of the 2015 Supreme Heroes series and this too had a nice simple, but definitely French vibe-giving design.
Obviously it was a premium issue so had full tampo printing, but I think these 2 ambulances in French looking themes make for a great pair of models. I am impressed with this model.
Number 2 of 12, and still a part of batch A is the return of the MB735 ’68 Citroën DS. Again this was also in the Best of Global series in USA as number 8 of 14 there.
This is the first of the carry forwards in the series. But it is really good to see the casting return. After debuting in 2008 it disappeared after 2011. This means it has been a decade since it was last seen. I was a bit worried it would never be seen again as it was due to make a comeback in the 2017 Best of premium series in pea green with a grey roof and 2-part rubber wheels but was pulled last minute. So the series of 12 models ended up being a series of 11. but I am very happy to see the model is back. This is a very iconic French design and in a French series, obviously having this in there was a no-brainer.
As I have mentioned, some models are carry forwards, and this one is a carry forward of the original 2008 MB1 debut version. Black, front and rear details, chrome base. I wasn’t expecting too much in the way of variations to it.
So I bring in the original to compare. At first glance, yes it is the same.
But if you are somebody who likes bases you may be interested to know there was a slight tweak made to it. I am not 100% sure on why they moved the Thailand line down to between the MAN number and model name to insert the 1186 MJ, 1, NL legal info that has to be put on now. I don’t know why they just didn’t insert the legal info line into that gap between MAN number and model name itself. It would have been easier. But it does mean the base is slightly different now.
Now this could be purely my example or it could be how the model is being done now. But the rear license plate has Citroën on it. but the font for the word Citroën looks different between the 2 models. The earlier one is a tall font, the new one a lower, wider font.
The front was still the same. So apart from the minor alteration to the base, my major reason for being happy with the model is all down to rear license plate font usage. How’s that for being happy over a variation?
Well as I am here. I haven’t done a rundown of this model before, so let’s remind ourselves of what else there was. Obviously when it debuted in black, 3 batches later it turned metallic green. I still remember back at the time people were not too keen on this one. But I didn’t mind it. Sure the metalflake was quite large, but it wasn’t too far away from a metallic green that the DS came in back in the day.
It was also in the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year in a dark metallic burgundy too.
Plus a Best of International series too. It had a busy start.
2009 came and lots more fun with it. MB6 for the basic range was olive green, which if you hunted around you could find shades on.
But due to a mix up at the factory you could also find the rear license plate stating either Citroën or 1968 DS.
It was also in the Classic Cars 5-pack that year in tan, which again if you hunted you could find shades.
It was also added to the 2009 Superfast series too in red with a white roof and silver door frames.
After that things quietened down. 2010 saw just a basic range issue. MB23 in blue with a white roof. Again a little hunting could turn up a shade or 2.
And then 2011 saw MB23 continue a second year now in pale yellow instead.
But after that nothing. That was it. And yes, just checking that at that point the base still had none of the NL legal info on it. It was definitely a new addition for this release.
So number 3 of 12, which is also number 9 of 14 in the Best of global range is an MB1086 Scania P360 Fire Truck. Now I have already mentioned that the vehicles in question in these “Best of” ranges don’t have to be from the country they are being sold in. Scania is a Swedish vehicle, and has already been seen in the Best of UK series too.
Obviously Matchbox doesn’t have a French fire vehicle in its database, and there are not too many they could look to add. Perhaps a Renault Midium Fire Truck. That one has a 4×4 configuration that would look a bit different. A higher stance on still pretty regular wheels, and quite short too. Anyway, digressing, so they had the Scania. Obviously this comes in a very French looking side design. Which is all you really need for this one. To me this is a French Fire Engine.
It’s the first time I have seen a plain front end though. Wait does that mean all these previous ones they have managed to sneak in a 3rd tampo pass each time? Impressive. Again, I notice the small things. I think this was a lovely little addition to the Best of France series.
So now we are on to number 4 of 12. The MB726 Audi R8. This model is a carry forward. This model is not in the global series, only to be found here in the actual Best of France set. And yes, the car is German. In a Best of France. Now obviously they do not have 12 French vehicles tooled up ready to go. Just as with the Scania, these are vehicles that people in France would see and know. Audi R8s are sold in France. Audi R8s are known by French people. Vehicles we would not see in the Best of France series would be US pickups. They don’t tend to be seen much in France. An odd import yes, but they are not something you generally see on the streets. The Holden Ute is a rare sight in France and as such would not be something chosen to be included. Vehicles included are vehicles that are seen on the roads in France in general day to day travel. Not specifically vehicles that are made in France. Yes, the French inventory is slowly building as we have a new Renault and Citroën coming in 2022 too. Still no Peugeots, but hopefully soon. Of course we have a Bugatti now, which may be seen in a future series. The whole point is that Mattel want to make inroads back into the French market. It is working. I am hearing that stores in France are starting to stock more and more Matchbox product. So it is working.
Now on to the model itself. This is a carry forward of the 2011 basic range issue. In that year it was sold as either MB13 in the US and LAAM markets, or as MB10 in the ROW market. So this is not something we haven’t seen before. But it is also one of the models from an era where we had lots of coded messages on models. The cars in particular saw a lot of codes on license plates.
This one being 12149 R8. That actually stands for 1 (A), 21 (U), 4 (D), 9 (I), or Audi R8. One of the more simple codes where they simply swapped letters for their respective number in the alphabet. I always enjoyed them. So, with this being a 10 year old model, I was curious as to how it looked compared to the original.
Which I have to admit I was a little bit worried with. I mean when it originally appeared I found a really decent shade of red. Noticeable light and dark shades. I thought this was not going to be much.
Holy wow! Was I wrong. It is almost an entirely different colour. The front tampo printing too. No silver trim around the edge of grille on the new run, and the lights going across the top have a bit more white in them now. Yeah this was supposed to be a carry forward. Oh yes, I am very happy with this one.
So now I have light, dark and so very dark it is almost a new colour variations on this red Audi now.
Next up number 5 of 12. Again this is only coming in the Best of France series as it was not a part of the Global one. The MB363 ’62 VW Beetle.
Now this is a carry forward and only from 2020. It was MB86 in last year’s basic range. Out of the vast library of older Beetles they went with the last year one. At the time I found 2 shades of pink on it. So I was really not expecting much here.
but I do like surprises. the model is loose, it gets added to my collection.
Because, and trust me when I do photos like this with a bunch of shades all lined up the camera seems to blur them all into one, it is a different shade again. I tried a few times, but gave up. I can see it in hand. That is good enough for me.
The last one in batch A, number 6 of 12 is another carry forward. And for those keeping track, that did mean 4 carry forwards in this batch and only 2 new liveries. Again this was only in the Best of France, and not also added to Best of Global for the US market. It was the MB896 Range Rover Evoque.
Where did this come from originally? The 2018 Ice Voyagers 5-pack. And yes, back in 2018 I found a lighter and darker shade of blue on that model, so was nervous this was a duplicate.
Hello, the model is out again. I love significant breaks in production. Of all things, it turned out the shade of blue for this one is in the middle of the shades I had originally.
I think I managed to capture this a little better, with the new addition being in the middle. Perhaps not, it is leaning towards the darker side here. But again, in person I can see the shade and I am happy with it. So 4 carry forwards in this batch along with the 2 new additions, and all 6 end up being added to my collection. Of course the Audi was the star for me. Wow! That thing was such a huge difference.
So now I am moving on to batch B. Unlike A which only had 2 new and 4 carry forwards, this one is evenly split. 3 and 3. A new addition takes the number 7 slot in the series, and this one was a part of the Best of Global in USA too, taking the number 10 of 14 slot there.
This looks extremely official. It is not. The design is one made up by the Matchbox team themselves, but it has a very French feel to it. French post vehicles are indeed yellow, although they are usually delivered by La Poste. But I love how this is still giving off extreme French vibes, with the writing on the side having a very French feel to it, with the French writing and the fact it is the MB1216 Renault Kangoo too. A French van with a French themed livery on the side. I love it!
Now I am not in France so I couldn’t say just how well the vehicles are selling there, but I think that something like this could be one of the best selling ones. A very French vehicle, and definitely a great addition to the set.
Number 8 of 12 in the Best of France series is the MB684 VW Golf V GTi, which I do notice on the package they snuck a little VR6 to the end of the name.
Again this is a carry forward model and again this is not also a part of Best of Global. Just like with the Audi R8 shown already this originally came from the 2010 basic range. It was one of 2 different MB28s that year (it was version 2 to be exact). I admit again I was a little dubious as when it first arrived back in the day, I picked up 2 shades.
So I was a little unsure how this would stack up against them. Ooh look, more codes. Yes, 2010 was full of ’em! 7T9 V186. Well what do you know? GTi VR6. The packaging starts to make sense. Where is it? Oh it’s already gone.
So let’s bring in my 2 shades from 2010 and see how the new one compares.
Okay so I place it on the left of the other 2 and well, it is a totally different green altogether. It’s almost like a spearmint green compared to the forest green of the others. Huge shade! This is fantastic. Has anybody gathered yet that I am thoroughly enjoying this Best of France series?
I just can’t believe I never noticed they were sneakily calling it a GTi VR6 back in the day and I completely missed it. Another thing you might notice. Look how bright those tail lights are! Massive difference. I think I am going to start a petition to repeat the rest of the entire 2010 basic range. Do you think they will?
So after that I am almost disappointed to see a brand new livery on this MB867 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia. At least that is what the model says on the base. The card just says it is the Gallardo Police. It also says it is number 9 of the 12 models in the set. And for those keeping tabs, this was the last of 5 Best of France models that were also in the US best of Global, where it was 11 of 14. Also, for those keeping tabs, Best of Global took 4 of the 5 new designs for their 5 “French” models and 1 carry forward.
Yes it is an Italian vehicle, but it has a very French looking police design. In fact this almost looks spot on for the real Police Nationale vehicles in France. White with thick blue and thin red stripes, Police Nationale written on them and the front with a blue edged design.
although I don’t think it is an actual replica because the logo is not quite the same. the Lambo has a shield, whereas the real Police Nationale have the 3 colours in a J-shape, each colour looping around the last. But for a generic deign, wow this is so close and believable. Again, absolute terrific job by the Matchbox team in creating such a realistic look to the model. I have to admit I have been very impressed with the designs on the “new” models in the set.
And, because I haven’t been doing a lot of these so far, let’s do a quick run down of the Gallardos seen to date. It all started in 2013 when the model arrived as MB22 in the basic range (oh and was added to the Police 5-pack during the short-lived “throw a model from the basic range in a 5-pack” era).
It also got a really cool Polizia look later on too that year as a part of the 60th anniversary set.
In 2014 it was MB81 in the basic range, an this saw a blue, black and yellow checkered design of sorts on a white car.
2015 saw another white issue, as white does appear to be the default colour for this car. This time it was not in the basic range, but a part of the first Power Grab series. That first year they took some models from the basic range and literally threw them in sealed bags, but slipped in a couple of exclusives for people to hunt down. This was one of them.
2016 saw it back in the basic range in black as MB92. Two things. This was the last time the front of the model was left blank, and the last time it was in a colour other than white.
Because after taking a year off in 2017, it was added to the Globe Travelers series in 2018. Full tampo printing and 2-part rubber wheels. Plus a nod to being the 65th anniversary too and this white model again.
In 2019 it was a 9-pack exclusive and saw a Follow Me airport security themed look, on another white model.
And last year saw a return to the basic range as MB87 with a blue and red design on another white vehicle. Adding that up, makes it 9 releases to date. 1 in blue, 2 in black and 6 in white. As I said, default colour.
So now we move to number 10 in the set of 12. This is the MB765 ’64 Austin Mini Cooper 1275S in white.
This is another carry forward model, originally released back in 2010. Seriously, they really went all in on the 2010 issues with this set. I love it! 11 year gaps, you never know what could occur with them. Again, I had 2 shades already. An off-white shade and a very creamy shade of the Mini. These were not too easy for me to obtain either as this was the model that was a bit of an oddball. Back in 2010 Matchbox created the first Walmart exclusives. At that point they simply chose 4 models from the basic range, and where the rest of the stores had 1 look, Walmart in USA only had an exclusive look just to themselves. Three of the models went perfectly. A Dodge Monaco Police, Cadillac Ambulance and GMC Pickup. But the Mini had a slight hiccup. It wasn’t with USA though. It was the fact that this was a model that was actually in the worldwide range. The other 3 were US exclusive issue. Only issued on long card in certain markets. Give Walmart 1 design, the others a different design. Easy. The Mini though, Walmart were given an exclusive blue with white roof and the other stores a white with black roof. Long card, US market easy. ROW short card, they went and put the Walmart exclusive in them. So the white was only in non-Walmart US long cards. I still managed to get 2 shades though.
Turns out, neither were this shade. But on this occasion, newbie is the front model. It is white. The original was off-white, and as I said quite creamy on another I picked up. The new one does stand out quite a bit as i can clearly see, even in this picture, just how white it is compared to the other 2.
Plus, even the chrome base is more, shall we say, chromey. Is that even a word? Am I making things up now?
So yes, yet again I am extremely happy with this carry forward model as it definitely gets added to the collection as something new. I am really doing well with these carry forwards. I was expecting a number to have been duplicates.
Oh number 11 of 12. The MB1037 ’16 Fiat 500X. This is a carry forward of the 2018 basic range issue. Shame they didn’t carry forward the 2017 and lightened the windows. They were so dark when it debuted people thought there was no interior. Except the interior is also the lower area under the body.
So yeah, as I said, this was the 2018 basic range issue, and at the time I found 3 significant shades of orange. This colour is always really good for shade variations. So this time I really was not expecting to find anything new.
But then I forgot about the interior didn’t I. The orange, yeah it is sort of average. Roughly the same as one of the ones I had already, but the interior is a noticeably lighter shade of grey. As I said, it forms the lower part of the car too, so it is really noticeable anyway. And when you put the 2 side by side, medium grey/light grey. Woohoo! 7 carry forwards; 7 variations! Am I happy, or am I happy?
I just can’t believe every single one of the models in the set is being added to the collection. I was sure something would end up in my duplicates box.
Well, as I mentioned it, this was the debut version. The 2017 MB3 in green. As you can see the windows were extremely dark. With the model being quite dark anyway, it did give it quite a menacing look. And yes, I did find shades there too.
After the 2018 MB12 came a blue model in the 2020 MBX Highway 5-pack, which again was very good for shades.
Leading us to the 2021 Off Road Rally 5-pack issue in red, which so far I have not been able to spot a shade or anything on yet.
And now for the pièce de résistance, as they say in France, and actually sometimes do in English speaking countries as well. Leaving the best ’til last I am. A Porsche! Yes, what’s the best thing in France? A Porsche obviously. For this we get the MB423 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet taking the number 12 of 12 position in the series.
The thing is, this model is exclusive. It is not a carry forward model. It is also not in the Best of Global series (unless it turns up in a later batch, as there is a second series coming of that). As it stands, this model can only be found if you get it in the Best of France series.
It’s blue, and yes we have seen a number of blues, but none have been like this one. A medium metallic with a lovely detailed front end. I love it! Of course I would, it’s a Porsche. I am not biased. So as I finish this set off, let’s bring in the other blue Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolets for a little show and tell.
The first one was a 2001 MB50 ROW exclusive. It was a darker blue, featured a tan interior, and as was the norm at the time, the front and rear detailing was very basic. Simple 1 colour headlight and taillight tampos. No Porsche badge, although this did get a blue edging to the window piece, and as it was that time in Matchbox history, an oval Matchbox logo on it too.
As you can see at the rear, no Carrera badging either and as I said, just a red taillight. No multi-colour, and also no middle 3rd light.
We then saw another blue in the 2005 basic range. Again this was a darker blue, and again just a simple 1-colour headlight tampo. It had a grey interior and by now window edging was not a thing they did any more.
rear lights were starting to become more distinct, as now it was a red and white dual colour light cluster. Still no middle light, still no Carrera badge.
The next blue was also in 2005, and this was a Superfast issue. It was for the ROW market, and being a premium did get a window edging treatment, but even at that time, there was no Porsche badge on the front. It still only had a 1-colour headlight print. the interior was now black, so getting closer there, although the shade of blue is way lighter. Almost a silvery blue.
But look at that. A middle rear light has been printed. First time there. Still no Carrera badge though.
Now we up to 2008 and the model returned to the basic range as MB19. Oh look, black interior again, and look at the headlights. Almost identical. Still no Porsche badge though, and obviously this is a really dark blue, much different to the latest issue.
But what we do now have is a Carrera badge printed on the rear. Still just a simple 2-colour rear light print along with the middle light.
Finally, 2010. Wait, 2010, we have been getting a lot of those as carry forwards. But not this. No, this model is definitely not like that one. Again a much darker blue, and a tan interior with the detailed front headlights. Still no Porsche badge. This is the first time a blue Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet has had a Porsche badge.
And the rear was much like it was in 2008. Not as detailed, but all the elements there.
So just to clarify, this is not a carry forward. This is a brand new issue created for the Best of France series. Exclusive to the Best of France series.
Plus, as I have mentioned in previous blog reports, the MB423 casting was refreshed the other year, and so the model now sports wing mirrors. Among other nips and tucks.
And with that, my review of the entire Best of France series is done. Both batches, 12 models. All added to my collection (bonus). I hope you enjoyed it. Of course if you want to read on as I do a little collection diving, I will carry on a little longer.
Because I had to throw back to something French didn’t I. inspired by there being a Renault in the Best of France series, I bounce back to the very first Renault that Matchbox made. The MB62-C Renault 17TL.
And how do I start this one? Why by showing off a prepro. It only came in orange during its time in use, and this is still one of my favourite castings of all time. So I knew I needed to grab a prepro of it. And this off-white was absolutely brilliant.
I do actually own 2 prepros. I have this one as well. What? It looks like a regular issue?
A quick look at the base might give us a clue. A copyright of 197[blank] (should be 1974) and the fact that the base never sported the dashed upper and lower edges either side of the writing is further indication.
And placing it next to a regular issue you suddenly realize, it is a much lighter orange. And the label on the front was also a preproduction, with a dark olive middle section along with number. It was actually because of this that leads me to believe the original plan was that the model was going to have a “9” label.
Because when production started, the factory would put the label on either way around. Some would be a 6, some a 9. Both label directions seem about as common as each other, so I guess nobody at the factory really knew, and each person applying the labels just did them whichever way round they felt was best.
The model ran for 5 years in the MB62 slot. 1974 until 1978. So you just know that the shade of orange was never going to be consistent. It ran from quite a lighter shade, to an almost red shade on examples I have found with the “6” label.
Although I went one better with the “9” label, as a small run came in cherry red. I believe the cherry red was the very first run of the model in 1974, and only came with “9” labels. After that first batch, the model turned a more orangey red where it stayed for 5 years, varying in degrees of orange-ness.
The difference between the lightest shade I have (on a “6” model) and darkest (the cherry red “9”) is quite significant.
And of course Lesney being Lesney, quite often they would forget to put labels on completely. Being totally random, these do appear across quite a broad range of shades too.
Now there is a rare “3” label variant too. They randomly put some labels from the Monteverdi Hai on there during a label shortage in late 1974, but to date I have still not been able to get one. But I have managed to get this one. It was also a short run, coming from a G-12 Rescue set. This multipack launched in 1976 bringing us 6 models pulled from the basic range from various emergency and safety backgrounds (fire engine, tow truck, Badger radar truck, Ambulance etc) and the plan was that the brand new MB64-C Fire Chief casting was also going to be included in the set. The packaging was all created, and the slots in to the compartments to the inner plastic section was crafted to accommodate the models. And then they had a small issue with the Fire Chief delaying its production. So they needed a quick switch with something that would fit the slot and work in the setting. Luckily the Renault fitted the criteria shade and colour-wise, but the 6/9 label didn’t scream rescue. So they just slapped on some spare labels from the MB22-C Blaze Buster. Yeah that works. It was only a short run for a few months as the Fire Chief issue was soon resolved and it took its rightful place in the set for the remainder of the time it was sold. After 1978 the model was discontinued from the basic range and never seen again.
Well I thought I would keep a French theme going for my next throwback. Because we had the return of a Citroën to the Matchbox portfolio, I should bring in another too. I move into the 1980s with the MB12-F (or MB012) Citroën CX with roof lights.
Until 1982, the Citroën CX was a regular civilian vehicle. Released as MB12-D in 1979 it ran 2 years worldwide but was dropped from the US range after 1981 becoming an ROW exclusive in 1982. But when Universal took over the brand, they decided it needed an overhaul. It continued using the MB012 MAN number it had been assigned (it was still early days, there were lots of things about MAN numbers that have changed over the years). But now they filled in the rear windows on the side and added roof lights to the model. As I already mentioned, the model had already been dropped from the US range, so this was now an ROW exclusive MB12. It ran for 2 years in white with an Ambulance theme.
Bases did vary during that time. Silver and black are the most common, although unpainted bases do exist too. I have to admit, I have had opportunities to get the rarer unpainted base, but not being a base collector and it being similar to silver at a quick glance, I have relented so far.
But I do still note shades. The whites here are a brighter or more creamy shade. You can also find small shade variations in the blue window and on the red interior too. The model ran for these 2 years and being an ROW exclusive, they kept the production in England. It was never made in Macau.
However, tooling did eventually go over there. Because in 1984 a second variant was also released in a TP-109 twin pack along with an MB709 Boat & Trailer (this was the earlier MB709 that had been assigned but was re-assigned when Mattel later hit the 700s as they forgot some numbers were already in use). This Marine division model was also added on its own to the Japanese basic range as MB4. Or J-4 as it was sometimes known to distinguish it from the other MB4s. The Japanese single issue in yellow window box sports no variation from the twin pack issue.
But with the ROW basic range issue finishing after 1984, they decided to ship the casting over to Macau and continue producing it there in 1985. The twin pack ran until 1986, and the Japanese range, which was a unique 100 model range taking vehicles from US and ROW range along with a few exclusives, ran the model until 1987 as a single. So Macau issues do tend to be easier to find that England ones.
Of course the difference between England and Macau made models was very significant.
But Macau production did give us shades too, most notably in the blue tampo. The window piece though, tougher to gauge, as you can see with the one on the right, time has turned this one a little bit green. This is a known phenomenon with many Matchbox models, particularly Macau made ones. After the Japanese range was dropped and they reverted to just taking the ROW range in 1988, this casting was retired.
Okay so I wasn’t going to do all-French throwbacks. Particularly as in the 1990s there was precious little to choose from in the way of French vehicles. So with the Best of France series having a range of vehicles, I decided to do one inspired by my favourite of the bunch. The Porsche obviously. For this I chose the MB270 Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder. Why? Because I got inspired by seeing there is a new Mitsubishi 3000GT coming next year, and also this shade of blue reminded me a lot of this particular Mitsubishi’s.
Wait? What’s this? Back in the mid 1990s Matchbox had a deal to create a series of tie-in models to a TV series called Viper. The show was launched to great fanfare in January 1994, and the producers worked exclusively with Chrysler on the vehicles being depicted in this sci-fi show set in the near future. The main car was a Dodge Viper RT-10 and as part of the show it would “morph” into the Defender. Matchbox had already created the Viper RT-10 casting, and the morphed vehicle was actually created by Chrysler themselves for the TV series. But another prominent vehicle was the Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo. So as Matchbox were busy rushing through versions of the Dodge Viper Morphed and Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo, the TV show, well it failed. NBC cancelled it after 13 episodes and with it, the plan to release a Matchbox tie-in also failed. The funny thing is, after a few years of repeats, it started getting a cult following and Paramount Television decided to run a second series anyway, planning it for syndication purposes. In late 1996 it made a second season, then a third, and a fourth. In 1999 it finally finished with 78 episodes in the can. But by then any thoughts of Matchbox revisiting their models for release were long forgotten. However, what they did do was look at what they had done.
The MB265 Viper Morphed was too much of a niche vehicle to do anything with. The tooling was just scrapped. but the MB264 Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo? Well it was a real vehicle. A few prototypes had been made, but at the time The Chrysler Group were not happy with the look.
One of the main concerns was that the casting was too wide. It needed a spot of narrowing. So they decided to tinker with it. But the thing is, the name Dodge Stealth was really only known in USA. It was what was referred to as a captive import. The real vehicle was a Mitsubishi. In Japan it was known as GTO, outside 3000GT. So while tinkering they decided it would be best to go with the more worldly name, and tweaked the model to be more Mitsubbishi based. They also decided once they were getting so far, to switch from a hardtop to a convertible.
And in 1995 the MB270 Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder was born. It took the MB28 slot in the US market and the MB22 slot in the ROW market in blue, with a green and white design over the top and sides, which was the norm for Tyco in those days.
However as the year progressed Tyco decided to mix things up by creating 20 “alterations” to models in the range. Most of it was simply removing some tampo, although in the case of the 3000GT , it took it all off.
In 1996 the model continued basically unchanged, but they felt the green interior wasn’t working too well as the model now had no tampo, so switched to a white interior.
The model also started seeing a number of premium issues over the next 3 years, of which I show 3 of the 1996s here. I am still picking up premiums due to not collecting them at the time, and so far these are all I have. There are 7 premiums in total, so I am almost half way there. So ignoring them again (it’s what I do).
1996 also had a 5-pack issue. This one was just plain red. Again no tampo printing on this Convertibles 5-pack release.
1997 saw a brand new look for the basic range. It was yellow with Spyder written down the sides and across the window. Plus they tried their best to highlight the unusual looking headlight structure. However, if you were in the Australian market (I think it is just Australia and New Zealand, but if anybody knows any other country please let me know), you would have discovered a unique look, as it was black with a spider and web themed design and The Red Back down the sides. It even had “The Red Back” on the window box it was sold in rather than the normal name.
And of course, if you were in USA, you would have been a part of the Gold Challenge set, where all 75 models were produced in plain gold. This one is another I picked up a pre-production sample of. The one on the left is much darker and more of a solid gold than the standard production issue.
It was also in the Convertibles 5-pack again. This time it was black and featured the same tampo design as the yellow basic range issue. You can find a minor variation with it. You might not see looking at this picture too much.
Probably more from this angle. in late 1997 5-pack production moved from Thailand to China as part of a change via Mattel’s acquisition of the company.
Basic range production moved the following year, which means this did the same. I don’t need to do the same pics again. MB69 US/MB42 ROW began in Thailand and ended in China.
Weirdly, so did the 1998 Dino Riders 5-pack. The first batch was actually made in Thailand and the majority were China produced. Of course this one I show both as I liked the tampo design, showing bones across the front and down one side, but the other side getting the name of the dinosaur in question.The Mitsubishi had a Raptor as its dino.
in 1999 the model had one final outing. It started where it finished, in the basic range in blue. Except now it was a darker non-metallic shade, and simply had Spyder sprawled down the side. For the US market it was MB49, and the ROW market MB44. After it finished this run the casting was retired. Next year we get a new 3000GT arrive. I can’t wait.
So this brings me to my last dive back, and a model I was very happy to see, a few others were too, but sadly didn’t seem to set the world alight. The MB711 Volvo C30. This is inspired by the Fiat 500X. Why? Well that too didn’t seem to be the most popular basic range issue when it arrived either, and both are Euro vehicles with the interior forming the lower body and wheel arch area. I thought they made for a good match up. Yes, I am really heading off in wild directions on my links now.
I remember when this casting first appeared in the 2007 basic range as MB4. It was extremely well done, and some collectors were talking about how good it was. But others were a little “meh”. Shame really. I think the debut looks did not really go in its favour either. It started off in silver and 3 batches later turned tan. I still remember a year later seeing both still hanging on pegs. It was the licensed peg-warmer of the time. I say licensed as we were still struggling to get over the Radar Truck!
But the 10-pack version? Wow! This was popular. I remember thinking this should have been sold as a single. It was striking, and I think had this been the debut MB4 it would not have hung on pegs. As it was, it was a part of the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year. The colour scheme was based on the original concept vehicle’s look.
In 2008 it became MB38 in the basic range (unless you lived in the LAAM market as they did not put it in the range there). It was black, but a number of them were produced without the silver tampo on the front grille, for a cheeky little variation. I don’t think that was the cause of it, but this particular release did not seem to be a peg warmer like the 2007s were. They came, they went, the 2007s were still hanging there. I used to dust the ones at my local Toys R Us at the time.
It was also added to the Modern Rides 5-pack in blue. This was a fun one to collect for me. You see I discovered a nice shade of blue to the model during its time in production.
Plus there was also a short run where the standard 6-spoke wheels were swapped out for the double 10-spoke wheels. Of course being a short run, I did not see a shade on that one, as it appeared to be 1 batch, then they were back at the 6-spokes again.
The model was also included in the 2008 Superfast series too. At first it was sporting the standard Superfast 5-spoke wheels that had been created in 2005 for the series (after the initial bling wheels were deemed too much), but the last production run (of the entire batch) stopped using the wheels that were in use in the Superfast series and all reverted to more standard wheels. In this case it was the double 10s again.
For 2009 it saw one more use in the basic range. Except this time it was only for the US market. The ROW market had joined LAAM in dropping it. MB31 was a lovely burgundy colour.
And a bright red issue was included in the “Real” all-exclusive 10-pack that year too. After this the model was dropped from the basic range, but after taking 2010 off did pop up for 1 more random issue.
It was the only one out of all the Volvo C30s that didn’t get the same front and rear tampo treatment. This was a part of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse licensed 5-pack that year in white. This is the view that was seen in the package. Plain front and rear, and an ink jet printed (notice it goes over the window, as tampos don’t) Minnie Mouse and Best Friend livery. But if you opened the pack and turned the model around.
You would discover Daisy Duck on the alternate side with a “Look at that sparkle” side design. I do enjoy vehicles with alternative designs on the alternate sides. A nice surprise for those of us who open things up. But that proved to be it. Unless a miracle happens and they dig the model out for another go (I am looking at future 9-packs, maybe in yellow or metallic bronze) this casting has not been seen since that Minnie and Daisy themed model.
And that is it for me for this report. I hope you enjoyed my rundown of the Best of France series. 5 new designs.
7 carry forward designs, all somehow different to how they were originally (loving it!)
I think 12 models might be about as big as I go for a single report. Give or take. Next week, with thank to Wheel Collectors in USA, I will be beginning my dive into batch E of the basic range. Until then, I hope everybody has a good week.
3 Replies to “Matchbox Lundi en direction de la France”
Super bummed to hear that most of the carry-forward models aren’t coming to the US; was hoping we would have the opportunity to get our hands on those (particularly that R8 and Evoque) in the Global series (although, I have yet to see it anywhere besides eBay). It is nice to see a bunch of nice older releases make a comeback though. Great read as always.
P.S.: Any idea about which cars from the newer Germany/UK mixes might be coming to the US Global series? Been trying to get more info on a few cars like that Exige, Land Rover Series III, blue R8, Porsche 911, white BMW i8 etc., but had very little luck thus far (though, I did see that the UK set is showing up in Canada). Regardless, looking forward to articles on those mixes in the future.
Hello David. One of your best reports ever! It is so good to see the Citroen DS return. The only one I lacked was the light blue Best of International version. It is difficult to find on Ebay but I finally got lucky. However, I paid a premium price. Also wonderful to read the shout out for the Volvo C30. One of my all-time favorites and it should have received MUCH more love from the collectors. I distinctly recall eventually buying all of the leftover silver issues from a (now out of business) K-Mart circa 2009. The car on which it is based is one of the best looking Volvos ever. Matchbox needs to reissue this one. Perhaps in a European themed 5 pack should they fear it would be a peg warmer as a single.
“Bonnet de douch!”…. As delboy would say… Triffic!. Hope they come to TK maxx. They sometimes sneak in” out of area diecast”. Fingers crossed 🤞. Tesco’s nothing at the moment.