Matchbox Monday arrives at Batch E of 2021

It’s time for another batch of basics to get the Lamley blog treatment. As always, I am very grateful to Wheel Collectors who were able to send over this batch for me to work on. As I have started to do nowadays, this batch is being split into 2 halves rather than 3 thirds to enable me to start catching back up again. I noticed batch E was out and I hadn’t showcased D which was why I started figuring out the maths (I am British, so it has an “s” at the end) to it all. As the last few batches are slightly larger than the earlier ones, this is actually going to be a set of 19, and split up means I get 9 in this half. So let’s get right in to it shall we.

I decided that when it comes to the basic range, because all the new castings get the first 25 numbers in the 1-100 series, I didn’t want to do them in number order. Because it would always mean I start with new castings. So with this set of 9 models, I am doing things alphabetically. And so I start with this and get the elephant in the room out of the way. Yes, it is the MB1226 ’19 Ford Mustang GT, which sees a second release for 2021 as MB82 this time. And yes, it has no interior and sports a side tampo instead of the usual front/rear deco. A bit of a change to the previous blue one with front and rear prints and an interior.

First off, the side tampo. When you place the model directly on the side without seeing the front and rear, this is not a bad design. I like it. Stripes. Always good. It has the pony in the design and GT, and Brembo is a real company which makes for an even better tampo. I love seeing real companies getting included in the designs. During the 1980s this was quite a big thing with Matchbox, and as time went on, we watched as one by one, these companies started disappearing. So when we can get companies back in the design again I am all for it. Plus I love the little things. Check out the number 19. It has a white diagonal line in it matching that Brembo logo. I think it is brilliant. I think the classic tri-spoke red wheels suit the look too. It is giving this quite the racing look. After seeing a number of traditional road looks, with simple front and rear prints, I honestly don’t mind the occasional out of the box look. It mixes things up and surprises us.

But obviously there is the blacked out windows and no interior issue. Yes it is a little sad. This is the problem we are getting with the big box stores (cough Walmart) refusing to up the sales price. Particularly in USA the $1 price point is still seen as something that they want models to adhere to. Other countries around the world abandoned that ages ago as with credit cards being the main way for paying now the pennies don’t tend to be so noticeable, but USA is still the biggest market, and the biggest stores are Mattel’s main purchasers. So if these stores will not budge on their prices to buy items from Mattel, it leaves Mattel with 2 choices. Make the models at a price to sell to these stores, or abandon those largest stores and deal with smaller stores and make less money. At the end of the day, they are still a business. And no matter what they would like to do, their number one priority has to be to make money. We saw it with Lesney and again with Universal. If you don’t look to make money properly and try to do too much for too little profit or push away from massive revenue streams, you end up going bust. Mattel doesn’t want to go bust, and selling to these stores will still generate them a bigger income than abandoning them and going smaller on distribution, but more expensive. So, as values of everything else around them goes up, from costs for raw materials, shipping costs, production costs, wages for staff etc. Keeping these models at this same fixed price point year after year, decade after decade is sadly causing unfortunate consequences. I am not a fan of the 3-part model, but understand the logic behind why they do it. This is why I am seeing this increase in the Moving Parts series as a significant game changer. If they can build on the Moving Parts series and up it to the same quantity as the basic range, being a higher price point is giving them so much more leeway to do more. Additional tampo at times, those aforementioned moving parts, and still having windows, interiors, metal bodies, and all that we know and love from days gone by. The fact that they have managed to eke out the basic range castings as much as they have done is quite astounding. They are really stretching the limits of what they can get away with, and I don’t think people realize just how tough it is to be there taking things up to the limit time and time again and squeezing every last little bit they can to give us some amazing little models. So the occasional one gets something taken away. It is going to happen. It is something that unfortunately they have to do with vehicles to hold on to an overall price point. This does not mean every Mustang GT coming out now will be a 3-part model. It just means that the tooling is there to create a 3-part release if the budget has been stretched too thin. Yes as costs continue to go up, if they cannot convince stores like Walmart and Target to nudge up prices, there will be more and more cases of budgets being stretched too thin. We will see more of these. As I said, my hope is that the Moving Parts series becomes the de facto main series and we get loads of awesome models with more and more parts to them and a better budget.

The casting is unchanged aside from the no interior and blacked out windows, as the base is still the same base.

Of course if you were to bring in the last one, you will notice the window is actually different. The windows were open on that one, and the new one has a sealed unit so you can’t see inside.

Now don’t get me wrong. To me, the blue is nicer. I am not going to lie. But once in a while I think it is worth trying something a little different as a break from the norm.

Besides, it makes for a nice companion piece to the MB611 Nissan Z from earlier this year. The black window twins. Or BWs for short.

But then you get the opposite too. A police car with no police markings and front/rear lights depicted. How cool is that? I like the fact that the Matchbox guys are coming up with different ideas at times. This is the MB821 Ford Taurus Interceptor, and again this is a version 2 for the year. As with the Mustang switching from one pair of tampos, this also does the same.

This model is released as MB95 in the basic range, and is a dark grey with a detailed front and rear. First time this casting has ever had the front and rear detailed, as since it debuted in 2011 it has never seen any sort of premium use and has always had the sides depicted. So again, very out of the box thinking.

It makes for a really cool undercover vehicle. Well, sort of. I mean there are still lights on the roof. I do applaud the team for trying to come up with different ideas for models from time to time. A model has front and rear prints, put some side deco on instead. A model always has side deco, slap on a front & rear option instead. Mix things up and keep us surprised.

Plus, this Taurus goes really well with a certain MB1021 Ram 1500 Police from the 2018 Texas Rangers 5-pack which was also in a dark grey with simple detailing and no police markings.

Is this a new theme we could be starting to see now? Will there be more police vehicles coming in dark grey with simple detailing? I hope so. I do like recurring themes, and hope this is the makings of a new one.

Yay! New casting. The MB1227 ’20 Honda E. When the real vehicle was announced and shown off to the press, I thought to myself this could make a lovely Matchbox model. But would they go for one? Why yes, and yes!

I really like this model. Perhaps because it is a small hatchback and I find those endearing anyway. I live in the UK, small hatchbacks are extremely common, and seeing these in the Matchbox range too just makes me smile. Ever since I grew up with the Renault 5 and Racing Mini among others, I have always enjoyed seeing small hatchbacks in the range.

Sure the window section is dark because it is also incorporating a section of the roof. But not all of it. To accommodate the rear pillars, a section of the roof is a part of the body, the rest a part of the window. A different approach to creating a model, and this does mean they are giving the roof a tampo hit. I think the way the model is, they can position it so that the roof gets hit at the same time as the rear. Careful positioning in the factory can allow for what is seemingly more surfaces getting a tampo hit together, as they likely still kept to the 2-pass rule through the machine.

Same with the front. Angling the model down when applying the tampo will allow them to catch that hood section at the same time. With the body being pretty smooth too at the front and rear, this makes the tampoing job much easier as there are no weird angles to contend with.

So yes, this may be quite a simple vehicle, and the Matchbox model is following suit, but I do like it. I see that they are really building on the future by incorporating a lot of electric and hybrid vehicles in to the range, as 2022 will see a lot more of them arriving. The Honda is ahead of the curve. And I am very happily looking forward to future releases of this one. This is the way of the future.

Well it was a new casting, so I show the base. What? No exhaust! Oh wait…. Are they battery packs in the middle?

I am all on the electric vehicle train (in miniature at least, still not ready to own a real one yet). But I can’t help but notice something. This model is white this year.

So was the MB1209 ’76 Honda Civic CVCC.

And the MB1090 ’17 Honda Civic! All white, is this a past, present and future look for the Honda brand? Fantastic. I love these little extra things. Was this intentional? Who knows. Well, maybe the guys who designed the models for this year’s range know. But I just love things like this. Yeah I know, I love a lot of stuff. I can’t help it. I am a big Matchbox fan, and am still getting a kick out of the new stuff that arrives.

Okay, hands up who at first sight thought this was a weed wagon? Honestly, I saw a quick glance at the first photos of this one and thought it was a mobile pot dispensary. It was green and that top level of tampo just gave me a different vibe. Obviously it is not. It is the MB778 Ice Cream Van.

Being sold as MB99 this year it turns out it is still not selling Ice Cream. Lemon & lime time, it is selling frozen lemonade. And there is a part of me that wants to try it. I can imagine somebody in real life buying an old Ice Cream Van and re-purposing it like this. Again, thinking outside of the box. Although I do have one little tiny detail I thought perhaps could have been slightly different. No, not the upper level of tampo being a bit different. That makes me chuckle. I like that. I am still going to get a reefer vibe seeing it, and I don’t care. No for me, this is all about the fruit depicted on the side. It says “Lemon Lime” yet either end are what appears to be 2 halves of a lime. Shouldn’t one side have been half a lemon? They had yellow in the tampo, so that piece of fruit could have been coloured yellow. But that to me, was the only thing I would have changed. I love this tampo; 420!

And I think this is about the time I do a dive back to see just what we have had so far from this casting.

This model first arrived in the 2009 basic range as MB43 in a Cosmic livery, and at first was constructed a bit differently to how it is now. It had a metal front bonnet, or hood if you are in USA. Which did mean that there was a noticeable gap in the model at the time, and sometimes matching the front and rear colours with different materials proved to be a headache.

As you can see, the model also sported a very narrow base section at first, with the interior forming quite a lot of it. Plus it was a slot in construction method as the factory while assembling would slot the base section into the rear, than drop a rivet into the front end. As has been the case over recent year, models have been moving away from the slower slot in method into the faster rivet method. The quicker the model gets through, the more models that can be made. Simple mathematics!

As part of the rebuild, the ice cream cones on the roof were moved to the sides instead of being at the front/rear too. That one I can’t explain. It may be better for the casting process. I am not in the factory seeing them in production so cannot say. But with the change from a separate front section to being a part of the overall body, even though it does mean it is plastic rather than metal I do prefer it. I think the details are much better conveyed in plastic than in metal.

Later in 2009 we saw a promotional issue. This was for Dream halloween. and I still love this “I Scream” van. Very clever tinkering and play on words here.

2010 saw a light blue MB63 which if you look carefully, actually didn’t have any sort of overall name to it. But this livery was still a lot of fun. Do you notice a little “58” in there? I wonder if this was a Michael Heralda livery? It had some great touches too. One of my personal favourites is the door writing just above the caution sign. It says “Owned and operated by Sundae Dave”. And next to the open window under the star was “Redeem your popsicle sticks for Matchbox Cars”. Why didn’t they have this when I was growing up? I was having so much fun with this I completely forgot to take a photo of the 5-pack model from 2010. It was in a City Action pack in a cream with dots design.

In 2011 it stayed in the MB63 slot for the basic range, and was chosen this year to see 2 different designs. Hap’s Top Treats in green and Mr Coney’s Coney Van in pink.

Another pink was included in the City Life 5-pack.

2012 saw no basic range issue. This time it was in a 10-pack instead. The Action pack had this orange model with a Matty’s Cones & Scones design.

And we also saw a very unusual one in a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse licensed 5-pack. This one came with a translucent body that you could almost see through. In fact you could see the part number details on the inside of the body through the roof. Yeah I can dig that. What? It said so on the sides….

And in 2013 it made a return to the basic range for one more MB32 release before going on a hiatus and seeing the retooling.

After 5 years of sitting on the sidelines, it got called back into action in 2019 now with an all-in-one body section, a retooled interior and base, rivets in the rear, and cones moved to the side. Yummie! Jr’s Cones was the 2019 MB98, and I did see some variation in the tampo design on the model. The main striping came with either a more significant orange section, or more noticeable yellow markers breaking it up. Yeah I see a variation I go for the variation.

Before seeing another Dave issue in blue. Weird huh! This was a Dave’s Sweets, Saltwater Taffy livery adorning the 2020 MB43, so just like this year’s model, it is not actually selling ice cream. I tell you, they seem to be re-purposing a lot of those old Ice Cream Vans these days!

Ooh! It’s another new casting. This is the MB1233 MBX Rescue Dasher. A Matchbox originals creation of a classic US-style Fire Engine. I am sure there are people who are saying but what about the MB843 Seagrave Fire Engine, or the MB906 Mack Model B? Both are licensed classic US-style Fire Engines. But the Seagrave has been with us a while now. The Mack doesn’t seem to be doing too well, as they created 2 Mack models and used neither since 2016. And to me, a Fire Engine is a fire engine. You see a fire engine and go fire engine. You see a car on the road and go Porsche, Ford, Chevy, Jaguar, VW etc. Whatever that car happens to be. So yes, it is nice having proper licensed fire engines, but i honestly don’t see an issue when they come up with their own design too.

After all, many fire engines will be customized to suit the environment that that serve. There isn’t a fire engine production line cranking out dozens of them a day like they do with cars in a factory. So we get their own creation. now remember the people who create models will still have been in art school, done training and courses just the same as those who design real vehicles. So they know what they are doing. I look at this and think yes, this is just like the Mack or the Seagrave. It is a little wider. I always thought the Seagrave looked a little thin. I think they were keeping the proportions more in line with the real vehicle. The Mack felt a bit chunkier, and this does even more. It looks believable to me.

Taking in the side view, I would not have said this wasn’t a real licensed vehicle. And isn’t that half the job?

Ladder one side, hoses the other. Loads of dials and switches and levers. This looks like a classic US-style fire engine. It works for me.

I believe they have probably seen the likes of the Seagrave and Mack with all that was involved in those and used certain elements to make this vehicle. It has plenty of colour breaks too, as the interior section forms the lower part of the rear half, and also some of the roof segments. I see nothing bad here, and if this is a replacement of sorts for the Mack Model B and Seagrave, I am happy enough. Obviously this is not in any way me saying that they should just ignore all licenses for fire vehicles now. Because as with everything non-car related, only those who really know their stuff will be able to instantly tell one from another, and these are more aimed at children than at collectors. I couldn’t tell you who makes the fire engines in my local town. If I was to see a badge on the front, I might think “oh it was “X” company”, but still wouldn’t get beyond it. We have a Scania P360 recently. Very cool model, love having a Scania. If I saw one, I would have only known it was a Scania if I saw it from the front and saw Scania written on it. I would never have said anything about a P-series. I honestly would not know, until having the Matchbox model and having a nose at what they do. A kid would see this and go “ooh classic fire engine”, they would have seen the Seagrave or Mack and gone “ooh classic fire engine”.

So yes, the model does have that unusual grey base, which does leave a wishy washy line running up the front grille. The interior, although slightly lighter, still has that wishy washy look to it. I don’t know what it is about grey plastic that it does that. Other colurs don’t seem to, or they don’t get noticed as much. But apart from that, which is something we get in any grey plastic, everything else is lovely. It is red, has a light smoke window/light, and features a lovely little Matchbox Fire Dept side design, and details all the instruments, ladders and hoses on the sides. Plus it has a cool white stripe. What? I like stripes! I think this is a lovely little debut. If somebody had asked me which I would prefer, this, the Seagrave or Mack in this look, my answer would be surprise me. Any of the 3. This, to me, is just as good as the Seagrave and Mack. It is a classic US-style fire engine. Until Matchbox released a Seagrave or a Mack, I would not have been able to tell what a Seagrave or Mack was. So i am totally fine with this.

Well it was a new casting, so base shot! Fairly basic, I mean this is a made up design. But I don’t think it needed too much.

And well, I did keep going on about the Seagrave and Mack, so a couple of red ones arrive here. The Seagrave up front is the 2014 MB77 and the Mack in the middle left is the MB100 from the same year. Yes in 2014 they had 2 classic US-style fire engines in the basic range.

All 3 have been made in a fairly similar way with a ladder down one side and hoses on the alternate. Dials, switches etc. Yep all present. I just see 3 fire engines. They all have their own look, but I think much the same to all of them.

Matchbox have put their own spin on a classic fire engine and to me it works. Others may not be quite as happy with it as I am, but I see this as still a representative example of the types of vehicles that they had back in the day.

And will be happy to keep getting future examples.

Next up we have the MB1220 ’62 Mercedes-Benz 220SE. Last year it debuted in a nod to Ewy and this year continues with a bit of a rally theme as MB43.

This looks really cool, with the simple side design. It is the M-B Speed Shop, Venice CA. Number 68 built by Matchbox, with Speed Tours around Laguna Speedway, Mohave Desert and Coney Island. It even has a Bilstein logo at the end. I think I might have mentioned with the Mustang earlier how I love seeing these official brand logos returning nowadays. This takes me back. Plus being a simple design with some additional white accents on the front wings and behind the rear wheels, that it also enabled them to paint the roof white too. Fantastic!

The plain black wheels really suit it too. Yes, I know, grey base, squiggly line going down the grille. I don’t let those worry me. I think this is an absolutely fantastic follow up to Ewy’s car.

Which pops up here. This was the debut as MB100 last year and was a replica of the real one that Ewy Rosqvist drove in 1962 & winning with it too. I think the blue one is a great follow up to this model. I was curious as to how they were going to take this casting, as it has been created with a large spotlight in the front grille, basically depicting it as a rally car.

And white roof too. Is this going to be a staple of this model, seeing a white roof? Recurring theme! No?

Yes! Porsche! Version number 2 for 2021 here. I have always had a soft spot for this model. Huge Porsche fan, as most people know, and I can’t help but think I had a small hand in getting this model in the Matchbox range in the first place, as I was visiting with Felix Holst who was in charge of the brand at the time. We were driving around in his classic Chevy Belair chatting about various things. Not all Matchbox. We were both British in California. We were chatting about things from back home, and other items too. But obviously talk does turn to Matchbox, and I started talking about my desire to see this depicted. Suddenly, the next thing we know, the MB785 ’71 Porsche 914 was going to be added to the range.

I loved it then. Still love it now. First arriving in 2010 it went nuts for 2 years, then went very very quiet. We had a random issue in 2013 and another in 2017, but now in 2021 we have seen 3 in one year. Oh yes, second wind. Hopefully this means we get to more too. I am not done with it. Especially when it comes in a lovely red like this.

Very simple with just front and rear details added as MB45 in the 2021 range. Lovely!

Just as a reminder, these are the other 2 issues this year. The MB74 in white and the silver 9-pack semi-exclusive. Both of those went with the Porsche side stripe detailing and 6-spoke wheels. This was a different look with disk wheels. Has anybody noticed how we have had 3 models this year in 2 looks? Ford Mustang GT, front/rear printing followed by another with side printing. A Ford Taurus Interceptor, opposite, started with side printing, now has a front/rear printed issue. And this one, just like the Taurus following suit. I don’t think people notice things like that. Taking 3 models and releasing them in 2 versions under 2 numbers, but giving each version a completely different look. Not just an alternate design, but completely overhauling the look for the model by switching things up across the board.

And before moving on I had to bring in the other 2 reds too. Do you notice all 3 are completely different reds? Or is that just me and my training in rooting out shades? The original red was a 2011 Lesney Edition with metal base/disk wheels and full on tampo printing, was in a fairly dark red. Then the look returned for the 2017 Best of model now in a more orangey red, and instead of metal base/disk wheels now has a plastic base/2-part rubber wheels. The new one is not an Earl B Comthax model (anagram for real Matchbox), but is now a paler red shade.

As I move on to the penultimate model in this batch, I see the return of the MB1216 Renault Kangoo Express. This is being released as MB30 in the range in a brown locksmith livery.

Oder soll ich es eine braune Schlosserlackierung nennen? This is so cool. You turn the model around and it is in German! The things they come up with. A german and/or English livery on the model depending on which side you view. Why aren’t more done like this? Although I am quite surprised they didn’t go with French. I mean, it is a Renault, and I am sure there will have been at least one occasional when a French person was locked out of their house.

But regardless of which languages were used, I love that they gave this a dual language livery. These are the things that are not always noticed at first. I was so surprised when I went to take a picture of the alternate side and saw it.

So much so, I am taking another shot! Definitely one of the highlights of the 2021 Matchbox year to me.

I did actually find a shade. It is not big, but the brown is coming in a few slightly different shades.

But you know what that means? I can take a shot of both sides together! Woohoo! Well this model does remind me of a few others from recent history.

First of all we had another German inspired locksmith livery on the MB741 VW Caddy when it was in the 2009 Euro Edition series.

But even more than that, the MB709 Chevy Van also sported a fairly similar locksmith livery on another brown model back in the 2010 Action 10-pack. Was this an inspiration for the new one? It is not a theme as the livery is different, but I feel that it definitely was an inspiration.

So the Kangoo is coming along nicely. Debuting last year as MB5 in an Agave Acres design.

I also recently showcased the Best of France (or Best of Global) release too in yellow which arrived recently.

I do enjoy having French vehicles in the range again, as this is really helping to give the range a more worldwide feel.

Finally, a blast from the past. The MB684 VW Golf V GTi returns. This was a bit of a surprise. It is in the MB79 slot for 2021 in a dark charcoal with simple front and rear printing.

This model was last seen in the basic range in 2017 after seeing no action after 2010, but did also pop up in the Best of France series this year.

I think the Golf is a bit of an iconic vehicle nowadays, and as such even a 5th generation would still work in a modern market. It comes with just front and rear detailing and a GTI LIFE license plate. But what is that I see in the rear? That’s new.

Copyright 2005 and 2020? The casting has been changed. But wait, it was just in Best of France?

This is the model in question. A green model, as a carry forward of the 2010 issue.

Check base. Nope! Original. in fact they have changed a lot of the writing on the base too, moving everything around. That was dated P07 and the new one P18, so only 11 weeks between production. So what has changed?

A lot is to do with the rear end. Originally the model was created with the window section forming the rivet for the rear. It has now been replaced as the riveted part by the body. I guess that helps to keep a tighter connection between the body and base. It does look like they might have sharpened up a few details too.

As part of the change, the rivet is now going through the base at a different point, which is why the base was re-done to accommodate the change in rivet position.

Oh there has definitely been some minor cosmetic surgery. It is not major, but the front end detailing has been touched up just a little to better define things as they were working on the model anyway. Best to just tidy a few straggly ends up. The front license plate section does appear to have been reined in a bit too, not as prominent now.

It is just the simple things. The door handle is slightly better defined now. The fuel filler cap is not just an indentation any more. It was only minor things, but they help to enhance the look of the model. After all, it has been around since 2006. With this small revamp, I see this getting a few more outings sporadically too. As I said, it is a bit of an iconic vehicle, and I think any generation can still sell in miniature. So why not?

And that, I believe, brings me to the end of the “what’s new” section of the report. As always, great stuff. These batches just keep ticking all the right boxes for me. I know, I have mentioned how I see the Moving Parts as the new “mainline” in the future, but they keep doing a miraculous job with the basics. Considering the budgetary limitations it is amazing that we still keep getting stuff like this. I am still thoroughly enjoying them, but I also like digging in to the past too, so feel free to continue reading as I bounce back in to the collection for a few classics inspired by the models I just showcased.

Let’s do something a little different shall we? Inspired by the new Honda E we begin our dive back with a classic Honda. But if the E being electric was different, how about a bike? Meet Hondarora!

Hondarora was released in 1974 as a replacement for the Field Car in the MB18 slot in the range. It is officially known as a Honda CB750 Four, or often just CB750. Officially classed as the first “superbike” when Honda first released the real vehicle in 1969, production ran until 2003. Even that was not it as in Japan in 2007 they released a special edition CB750 too. It was, and still is an extremely popular bike. It was made specifically for the USA when Honda realized the potential to increase the size of bikes for the US market. Lesney created the model and introduced it under the name Hondarora. I have no idea where they got that name from, but my thoughts are that with so many fantasy vehicles in the range, they just thought calling a Honda CB750 Four might have sounded a bit boring, so jazzed it up to keep it in line with other vehicles. At first the red bike sported a chrome handlebar section, chrome engine and wire wheels. But one by one these would start to drop off.

The first thing to go was the handlebar section. Chrome only ran for the first year, and in 1975 the front handlebar section turned black. This was not a close run thing between parts changing as the black handlebar, chrome engine and wire wheels ran through the rest of the decade. If anyone was to happen to come across the chrome front end with alternate other parts, it is not real.

The handlebar section pops off quite easily, so theoretically you could switch it around with another rear end to make your own variations. But as I said, there was many years between this change and the rest, so there would never have been a crossover.

Although one thing during those first years you can look out for is the lack of labels. Whenever they finished a label sheet they would just run models through until getting more. It was not like there was a substitute label to use. This one was quite specific. So the no-label variants are fairly easy to find.

But then there is the fun part. In 1975 Matchbox launched a K-6 Motorcycle Transporter. Being in the Superkings range, K-6 featured a larger vehicle on a bigger scale (actually one of their own designs).

But in the back of the transporter was a Hondarora. This, instead of red, was orange. Of course you try telling the people at the factory that. Oranges appeared as singles, reds appeared in the K-6 set. They just did whatever they felt like at the factory. K-6 itself ran until 1982 so there was plenty of mixing and matching going on for a few years before the idea of a different variant in the set was deemed unimportant and the orange was phased out in 1976.

Also in 1976 a third variant appeared. With the launch of twin packs came an olive green model in TP-11. This ran for 2 years as the TP-11 set was dropped after 1977. Apart from an early batch in olive drab (which is a darker shade and I am still to obtain), this was the first instance of seeing a black engine. The TP-11 model does exist with a chrome engine, but this is rare and again I do not own one.

Strangely enough I do not know of the red with wire wheels and black engine (or the orange, but that was being phased out and highly unlikely). Does the red exist? Logic dictates there is likely at least 1 out there. But I have not seen one. You see the next big change happened in 1980. Wire wheels were replaced by mag wheels. By this time they had given up on having an orange variant in K-6 as already noted, and these were also just the red ones, so the orange does not exist with anything other than chrome engine and wire wheels. By now they had also given up on the idea of putting labels on the model too. They too were phased out in 1977. So the model was only being produced in plain red with no labels. Wire wheels were phased out and mag wheels brought in.

But there were some late issue in 1980 that saw a black engine. This was the next step in the evolution of the red model.

In 1981 the model saw its first big change for the basic range. They turned it metallic green. A chrome engine returned at first for the early batches, but by the end of the year they had gone black again.

And in 1982, they only went and changed it again. It was now yellow, and this time they brought back the chrome engine and kept it.

Later in the year,they decided to add a rider to the model. Riders can come in brown or tan shades and the left hand originally was also a complete circle like the right before they cut it to click over rather than have to pull out and slot on. Quicker assembly. These things happened in days gone by, it it not a current thing speeding up production. There is a small run late in 1982 where they did some red bikes again, and another with a dark orange bike, both with a rider on top. I am yet to get either.

The yellow ran until 1984 with production moving to Macau in 1983 as it was still a worldwide issue. In 1984 with Japan getting an enlarged range moving up to 100 models, they incorporated many ROW and US exclusives to bulk up the range, but also had some exclusives too. They saw a unique silver model arrive as MB36 for the Japanese range, which featured Honda tampo printed on the side, and the orange rider had a silver painted helmet and Matchbox written across the back. However, after 1984 the model was dropped entirely from all ranges and retired.

So where to next? Hmm! Why not a Mustang that was modified? inspired by the recent Mustang GT which saw a small modification to it, why not look at a classic that had a big modification. The MB122 IMSA Mustang. This was the 4th and final variation of a model that started life as Boss Mustang. It was first modified into a Piston Popper, then into a Vantastic, and finally into an IMSA Mustang. And at no point did it ever say it was a Ford!!!! Daft fact. Yes, I am full of them.

IMSA Mustang was about as close to the original Boss Mustang as we ever saw. That model had run from 1972 until 1977 as MB44 in yellow with a black hood (popping back in green as a US exclusive limited edition in 1980) and in 1982 returned to the US range exclusively in orange as MB11. But rather than just continue in 1983, Universal were after some “new” items, as Lesney going bust had left a shortfall of new castings to debut in 1983. So the R&D team just went crazy with a bunch of castings altering them into something new by tweaking them in various ways. One was the Boss Mustang, which saw massive skirts and flared wheels arches, along with a new rear end lighting structure into IMSA Mustang for 1983.

It even kept the opening hood part from the original model as this was a quick modification job to make it look like there was something new. It was the only one of the 6 modified models to see the opening part retained (although a few didn’t have them to begin with). MB116 IMSA Mazda lost the opening doors of MB076 Mazda RX7, MB117 AMX Pro Stocker lost the opening doors of MB9-B AMX Javelin (although they had actually been sealed for twin pack usage in the late 1970s so doesn’t really count) , MB118 Porsche 935 Racing lost the opening doors of MB003 Porsche Turbo, MB119 Sand Digger never had any as MB31-B Volks-Dragon and MB121 Ruff Trek also never had any as the old MB60-C Holden Pickup had removable bikes instead which were lost. But these 6 modified castings helped to bolster a low new casting count. Things were still not back to normal in 1984 and they borrowed 4 Kenner castings and retooled into Matchbox too. But after that they were back to how they wanted to be. You couldn’t really count MB115 Corvette Pace Car, even thought it got its own MAN number, because this was exactly the same as MB062. They literally just called it a Pace Car, and thought it was enough to be a 7th “different” model.

But anyway, digressing, this model with its new name and still no mention of being a Ford debuted in the 1983 range, and right from the word go was produced in Macau.

Hey look, it says Ford on the roof. There was an acknowledgement. Confirmation it was a Ford. Yeah this was the only time they ever made mention of this casting being a Ford. It debuted in the 1983 as MB11 in the US range literally just taking over Boss Mustang in the slot. So there was no major change, just a modified casting. However the ROW range had not seen Boss Mustang at all since it was dropped after 1977, so this did feel like something new there when it landed as MB67. It ran for 3 years in the black scheme with red and white striping and its name on the model. At first the wheels were 5-spoke at the front, but in 1985 they switched them to 5-arch on the front. Rears were always dot-dash.

After 1985 the ROW decided to drop the model again, but the US range was still doing well. So they gave it a new design and let it continue there as MB11. It was still black, still had amber windows and a chrome interior, but now the design was a green and yellow flame design with Mach 1 written at the rear. Standard production was still the 5-arch front wheel, but a batch was made with the 5-spokes again during 1986.

In 1987 the model moved production to China and you do tend to see a difference, mainly in the tampo shading between models.

Base shot for the 2 countries. This design then continued on until 1992 in the US range, so some shade variations can be found purely on China made models.

Considering IMSA is a motorsport category, there was only ever 1 release of the model that even remotely had a racing feel to it. In 1991 USA saw a series of Action Packs, which contained a single model in a unique look along with a few accessories, compatible with playsets available at the time. One of them was called Racing, and included an exclusive IMSA Mustang in yellow along with a few other plastic items. Action Packs were dropped after 1991 but some were still found deep in to 1992.

Another unique model was the German exclusive Christmas World Rallye issue from 1991 (which was repeated in 1992). This was one of the 2 different “red” models in the set (the other being an Alfa Romeo SZ), as each of the 4 colours for the models had 2 different castings used (apart from yellow which had 3).

In 1993 they finally decided to give the casting a new design for the basic range. Its first non-black release. This was a bright orange with geometric flames. It only ran 1 year, but there was quite a significant difference in shades to be found on it.

1994 came, and Tyco were settling in with the Matchbox acquisition and decided to make some changes. 1993 had been a transitional year with acquiring the company after Universal went bust, and this was the first full blown Tyco year. Many models saw completely new designs that were just, shall I just say unique? There might be youngsters reading. They also debuted a brand new style of wheel. Known as the 7-spoke spiral (or just spiral for short) the first year of these new spiral wheels were painted gold. They only came in the one size though, and for some like the Mustang, this meant the rear looked a bit unusual with such a gaping hole between wheel and wheel arch.

They also went and cost reduced the metal base to a plastic one too, which might have been in conjunction with with the change of wheel.

The model ran for 2 more years in the US range and finally retired after the 1995 series was finished. Not bad going for a model that essentially began life in 1972. Of course as I mentioned, gold spirals were only used in 1994, so any model continuing on after reverted to standard chrome.

I think my next dive back was quite logical. The Ford Taurus Interceptor has made a random appearance with no police markings on it. Hmm! What else do I remember that had a random issue with no police markings on it? Why a certain ’93 Chevy Camaro Police.

This model was a Tyco model. The casting first debuted in 1994 but as a civilian model. In 1995 they added a roof bar to the casting and this is where things get complicated. For many models, adding a roof bar of any style would warrant a new MAN number. Quite often the MAN number would be a different one for each style of roof bar too. So this “triang” roof bar would have got a new MAN number. Wrong. MB254, civilian or traing roof bar. Even more complicated was its usage. In the US range this triang roof bar model was sold alongside the civilian issue under a different slot in the range, but the ROW range, it replaced the civilian model which was never seen again as a basic range issue there. For ease of purposes, most collectors refer to the civilian model as MB254 and those with the triang roof bar MB254b. As I mentioned, in the US range, this black with white doors/hood model arrived in the MB59 slot (compared to MB43 civilian which was still going), but the ROW range it took over the civilian model’s slot as MB56.

In 1996 the model saw a small change. The door design had a gold background, but they decided to take away the gold tampo in 1996, leaving it with the regular colour underneath.

It also saw its first 5-pack appearance that year, appearing in a Police pack, and you may notice that the design was exactly the same. Instead of black with white tampo, this was white with blue tampo.

In 1997 the basic range design also turned white with blue tampo, although it was a different design. If you were in USA you would also see the gold challenge with a plain gold edition too. As is often the case I am skipping various premium issues as I do not have them, but in 1997 they did start adding the model to the Premiere series too.

In 1998 the model was dropped from the ROW range, but the US range continued on although now was changing numbers each year, and simply reverted back to type. What was white with blue is now black with white on the MB27 US exclusive.

That’s what I call going full circle.

The model might have been dropped from the ROW basic range, but it was still going very strong in 5-packs which were sold worldwide. In fact, it was so strong it had 2x 5-pack outings that year. White was a Crime Patrol pack and blue was that year’s Police pack.

1999 saw things get even more muddied in the basic range. You see MB254b is a Camaro with triang roof light. But in 1999 the MB98 US exclusive had a LoPro light. It is a different light, so has a different MAN number. MB458. So now they decide to change it. Add a roof light, don’t worry about it. Change the light, ooh better do something about that.

You know what else they did? Accidentally print a small production run with Dial slanting the wrong way. you will actually find that almost all of them will have the word Dial slanting towards the front. But a tiny run saw it slanted towards the back and these are very difficult to hunt down. Took me ages to get one.

In 2000 and the original triang light was back as MB89 in the US range. Being a logo year meant that the first 10,000 saw a logo on the front window.

But because this was a late 2000 issue, production actually rolled into early 2001 and as such a new wheel was appearing on everything. So the last production run switched from concave 5-spokes to flower.

Two different red issues also appeared that year. The more extreme livery with many stripes and red/yellow crest was in the Serve & Protect 5-pack that year. The less extreme livery was a part of the 5-Alarm launcher set.

We also saw a range of D.A.R.E. models appear in 2000 and 2 different Camaros were done. Both sported LoPro lights so were the MB458 casting which saw a run of LoPro releases from here. the black was in series 1 depicting Warren County KY. The blue was in series 2 depicting New Rochelle NY. There was one planned for series 4, but that set got cancelled. However, a premium issue was made (I don’t own it) but wanted to mention it. This is because it actually had a vee light. As such it was awarded another MAN number, MB483. I wanted to mention it as it was the only MB483 done, and I am still to get it.

They really went all in on D.A.R.E. at the time though and produced a regular 5-pack of models for 2001. the MB458 variant of the Camaro was included in a generic D.A.R.E. livery and during production could be found in lighter or darker shades of orange.

Also in 2001 the 5-Alarm launcher set was redone, except now the model was blue instead of red and daft fact (told you I was full of them) the logo on the door was a mirror image. Also, because this was 2001, the model now sported the “new at the time” oval Matchbox logo and newer lace wheels.

In 2002 the model was back in the US basic range. It was MB7 that year and the first 10,000 saw a very small 50 logo on the hood. you might need to squint to see it.

It was also in the Across America series that year in white for New Hampshire. Home of the first Presidential Primary. Well apart from that year where Springfield was. What? I saw it on The Simpsons, so it must be true.

2003 proved to be the final year for the model as a basic range issue and look. Triang lights. Yes, MB254b was back for a final basic range outing. MB30 in the US range, and again the first 10,000 had a Hero City logo on the front.

In 2004 the model saw a final 5-pack appearance as MB458 with LoPro lights. This was in the appropriately titled Police pack.

As the model was winding up to finish, it was included in the 2005 Superfast series in the number 30 slot. For the USA release of 15,000 examples it came in black with a white door and Police design. But for the ROw release of 7,500 models it saw that blank look that I showed at the start to begin this model’s showcase. If you remember that far back. Have I been waffling again? As noted these were both MB254b releases too.

After that the model saw one final release. And it was a corker. Again the MB254b release (remember I said the “b” was for us collectors, as the side design did include 254, which is strictly speaking it’s MAN number). Because the final look for the model was the California Highway Patrol look (or CHP as it is often known). A variation exists on the model too. Most tend to sport smoke windows, but some were found with red ones.

So for my last dive back, I thought because we have a Mercedes in the latest batch, I would do a Mercedes-Benz Mattel release that has been gone for quite a while now. The MB673 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG.

I am still waiting for Mattel to come up with a brand new Mercedes-Benz convertible casting, as they have really upped the level of Mercedes-Benz models in the range, but none of the current crop are convertibles. Would this still work if a new release pops up? I don’t know. I would buy it for sure, as I have always really liked this casting, ever since it debuted in the 2005 range as MB48. I own 2 because the first production run was in China before the tooling was sent over to Thailand for the rest of the production runs.

A quick shot of the base to show the 2 countries of manufacture. The China one had its name after Mattel Inc, whereas the Thailand issue rubbed it off and put a new name right in the middle.

But it was such an awesome casting that they immediately put it in the Superfast range. It was number 70 and of course being the 2005 range meant 2 different looks for the USA market (the golden yellow one) and the rest of the world (the white one).

They even managed to wedge one in the Superfast 5-pack too. This was the Autobahn 5-pack and received a black issue.

2006 arrived, and this year it was MB11 in the basic range. I still managed to get 2 like I did with 2005, not because of a change of country, but this time my proverbial favourite, the shade!

It saw a lot of action in 2006. I told you, it was a popular models. Mercedes-Benz convertibles always are. Hence me wanting to see a new one. This burgundy issue was in the Showroom Cars 5-pack.

This teal model was a part of the 2006 Transporter multi-pack. 2006 saw launchers dropped and replaced by larger multipacks with an assortment of models released alongside 10-packs, before they too were dropped and we just had 10-packs (later 9-packs) in those assortments. One of the 2006 packs saw 3 cars, a large transporter vehicle and various accessories. The transporter was a brand new plastic piece that was constructed for this set, and would actually still work as a launcher. So some called this a launcher set anyway, even though strictly speaking it wasn’t.

Of course it continued as a Superfast model, this time the number 70 was in a light silvery blue.

While we saw a darker shade of blue in the German exclusive Stars of Cars series. I told you. That was 5 different releases of the model in this one year.

By comparison 2007 was a lot quieter. We had a lovely red release for the basic range as MB19.

We saw a lovely jet black release in the VIP5 5-pack.

Which when put with the Autobahn Superfast 5-pack release from a few years earlier, you do see it was quite different.

And the model saw a dark metallic green issue in the all exclusive “Real” 10-pack of the year.

Then 2008 came. This was it. MB35 in a greenish silver. No other uses.

In 2009 it saw another basic range issue as MB35 in tan, and again I found some nice shading to the tan on that one.

And we also saw another VIP5 5-pack release, this time in dark blue. But that was it. The 2010s arrived and the convertible was dropped. Okay granted 2010 saw all Mercedes-Benz models dropped as there was a blip with the license. Thankfully the blip was corrected and we have seen a plethora of Mercedes-Benz models again. MB683 CLS500, MB728 Unimog U300 and MB766 SLR McLaren have all seen action since the license was restored, but sadly this one never returned. Which means we have now been over a decade since a Mercedes-Benz convertible casting. Just for reference, they were late at starting but since they did, 230SL (1966-72), 350SL (roof up 1974-81, roof down 1982-83), 500SL (1990-99), CLK (1999-2005), SL55 AMG (2005-2009) has meant that before now the biggest gap was after the 350SL was dropped before the 500SL arrived. 6 years. We are now up to 11 (12 as of 2022 which we know is not getting one). I am still keeping my fingers crossed for 2023. I say that because a brand new SL-Class model is due in 2022 and I am really hoping that Matchbox is able to create a miniature of it for the 2023 range. Notice how many of the convertibles done so far are SL-Class models. It is a bit of a go-to for Matchbox and a brand new real one is coming. And that’s how I finish.

As a reminder this was batch E’s first half featuring 2 brand new castings (Honda E and MBX Rescue Dasher).

Three models making their second appearances in the basic range and all featuring side prints (Renault Kangoo, Ford Mustang GT and Mercedes-Benz 220SE).

Two older models that still keep plugging away (Ice Cream Van and VW Golf V GTi).

And 2 further models that were seen earlier this year with side printing and now being seen again with rear printing (Porsche 914 and Ford Taurus Interceptor).

The other half of Batch E will be along in a few weeks, as next time I look at 2 different smaller series’ later batches than what have been shown already. Because yes, I am doubling up again to help catch up. Until then have a safe and happy week and see you again next Monday.

11 Replies to “Matchbox Monday arrives at Batch E of 2021”

  1. Do we think this batches extremely brief appearance at Tesco was its last? All my stores have been virtually empty of Matchbox singles for nigh on TWO MONTHS!! I had a to buy this Mix 5 assortment from abroad as I can no longer rely on Tesco for anything other than supplying endless amounts of 2019 five packs!!!
    Sorry for the rant David, informative article as ever but getting increasingly frustrating for UK collectors missing out on even the basic Mainline singles.

  2. Great write up as ever. I enjoy. As Craig Tetlow writes. Same in Norfolk. Nothing!!!…………. The dates keep changing” 2nd September” now. .. Tesco’s are having problems with distribution of CERTAIN food products. Drivers shortages… Same with many other outlet’s and chains. That game is played out now. All in all this is what will happen if only ONE shop is supplied with a product!… More lineups missed!… This brand is annoying now tbh. Mattel needs to cut the strings. Shame. Great write up and pictures 👍

  3. When we started seeing new pickup truck castings without interiors, I knew it wouldn’t be long before the same thing happened to the cars.

    Now here we are, with the interiors disappearing from coupes that already had them tooled.

    1. And I love the moving parts series, but it’s extremely difficult to find it in stores. Far more difficult than even the premium lines, in large part because its miniscule cases sell out in minutes, and then an inventory error of one or two pieces prevents it from being reordered, so all the stores around here have dropped it on the basis that it doesn’t sell.

  4. My first issue with the the Rescue Dasher is it answer a question we didn’t have? Do we need a classic fire engine in the line, No we have three to choose from!

    My biggest complaint about the Rescue Dasher the way they did the body with the plastic coming up forming part of the body side. Yes fire rigs are custom built but compare it to the Seagrave or Mack, the painted body of a fire engine of the era came down to the running boards as the licensed models display.

    I not sure what the set up is called but this rescue dasher follows the design of the Mack CF in they plastic part of the body sides as well as the hose bed and top side detail being from the top are the same piece. In all reality the side of the lower body should match the upper, the hose and top details a selected color,is how this should be played out.

    Also the rear of the Rescue Dasher has rectangular tail light, when the 1950 and 60’s trucks all had round.

  5. As some have mentioned, it’s great so see some nice castings despite being plagued my major cost-cutting but what drives me crazy more than anything is the lack of distribution. It’s not all butterflies and rainbows in the United States like a lot of international viewers think it is. The distribution is very selective across our country. For example, you’ll have one Walmart in the mid-west getting tons of new cars whereas on the east coast (where I am) there’s absolutely nothing. And it’s not like the distributors haven’t made their way over here yet. It all depends on each store’s management and whether they care to order cases on a regular basis. And of course in my town, I get stuck with the worst Walmart in history that literally only has two cars on the pegs and has been that way for the last several months. It’s just as bad in certain areas here as it is in the U.K. You guys are not alone! I’ll go three months or more not finding a single Matchbox. I will say I recently acquired some of Mix 5 but not all of it. And this leads to another problem.

    When a store does get a new mix, they are immediately wiped off the pegs. Literally within the first couple of hours if not minutes, anything good is wiped clean. And naturally, the generic crap are the only ones left. And sure enough, when I hit a Walmart last Friday, all of the Toyota Hilux Pickups, Ford Taurus Police Interceptors, Subaru Foresters, VW GTis, ’34 Chevy Master Coupes, and most of the VW Beetle Convertibles were all gone! And I’m sure it was just one person that took them all so they can go home and flip them on ebay or Facebook Marketplace. It’s gotten so competitive to find anything nowadays. It never used to be this bad. Just five years ago, you could find most or all of what you wanted. Now you have to have serious connections to find anything of note. And as a result, people have caved to ordering cases online which is what I had to do for mix 4 just knowing that I’ll NEVER find them in store. And sure enough, I never did. Just like Aaron M said, Mattel: you need to cut the strings! Big time!

  6. Hello David. Thanks for the latest update. The Porsche 914 is beautiful in red. The best color for this toy I believe. I am dismayed by the interior deletion for the Ford Mustang. However, I am not surprised. The wind has been blowing in this direction for some time. However, this business of removing the interior of toys for which the tooling already exists (Cadillac CTS wagon, Mustang, which toy will be next?) is so disappointing. If Toys R Us hadn’t crashed due to greedy and vulture-like shareholders killing the business Mattel might be in a stronger bargaining position vis-a-vis Walmart. But that is not the world in which we live. I won’t buy toys without an interior. For that reason the forthcoming Range Rover 90 won’t end up in my collection (and I am a Range Rover/ Land Rover diehard) unless is it part of a future must-have 5 pack.

    1. Well the good news is I was able to buy the new Defender 90 casting before it went on general sale and can confirm it does have an interior. The bad news is the glazing is so dark it’s only visible by shining a strong light through it! Why do Matchbox make glazing so dark!!!

      1. Hello Craig. Thank you for the new information. I saw the Defender 90 on a recent Lamley YouTube video. Great casting and I am relieved to learn it has an interior. Matchbox has (annoyingly) used the dark tinted windows on the Range Rover Evoque and Fiat 500X. I believe both have an interior but a flashlight is required to realize this fact. I’ve heard complaints in recent years about the gray plastic base, the blue tinted windows, the skimpy tampos — I can live with all of that but not a lack of interior. Matchbox has included interiors in their toys since 1962 or so and that arrangement needs to stand. I am willing to pay $1.50 (1.09 Pounds at the moment) for a mainline toy if necessary to maintain current standards.

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