Yes it’s that time of the week again, and well you might have been noticing a bit recently, the Matchbox team are currently putting out so much cool stuff that I don’t want to miss showcasing things. So yet again I have taken 2 different assortments from 2 ranges, and mashed them together to make one larger post. This week it is all about the CBs. And no we are not talking about Citizen’s Band Radio. For starters we have the second batch of the Walmart USA exclusive Cadillac Series to showcase (Cadillac batch B), which I am grateful for having Rory McDonald in my corner to help out. He is @wyoming_wheels on Instagram and is often out and about hunting down new Matchbox, and when he finds the exclusives, he graciously grabs hold of a set to send my way as these I am unable to source through my usual methods.
As well as these I am also going to go through Collector batch B too. Wheel Collectors in USA do have the Collector batch B assortment in. They don’t sell Cadillac B, but do sell Collector B. I just wanted to make sure that was clear as me mashing things up does create a few crossover links. So with 6 Cadillac and 5 Collector, I thought I would alternate between them for a little fun.
Which means I am starting off with a Cadillac. To be specific, the MB1096 ’15 Cadillac Escalade. The first 6 models released took the first 6 slots in the Cadillac series, and these obviously take the second 6 slots. This is number 7 of 12.
It comes in a rather familiar off-white look with simple front and rear tampos, and a glorious separate chrome grille.
As with the first batch, the Escalade is a carry forward example of a previous release, which in this case (as there are only 2 before this) the 2020 City Adventure II 5-pack, so I guess I should bring that in for the next photo.
Now I know we do get roughly half carry forwards in each of these sets, and I am fine with it. The last Escalade was a carry forward of one from 2018 and saw a nice variation, but what I am a little sad with here is that the Escalade has so far only seen 2 releases, and this year both were given the carry forward treatment. I am so looking forward to another colour on this at some point, and was hoping with 2 releases in the Cadillac set that one would be in something new. They did a really nice dark red at the time in real life, and there is a lovely plum one too. Plus the obvious, black! But hopefully soon it will get another outing and that will be in another colour.
This only saw a 1 year gap between uses and being an off-white was less likely to yield much in the way of a difference. But it still does. I am finding that the new release appears to be a duller white than the brighter look of the original.
Yes it may not be as huge as the previous shade variation was, but I can still see a difference so I am still going to be including both in my collection. Some may not be quite as crazy as I am, and shades may not be their thing. But if it is, you can still have a lot of fun.
So after a Cadillac comes a Collector. Again I am keeping these in order too, and with batch A sporting number 1 through 4 of the set of 20, we will kick things off with number 5. This model is the MB1223 Lamborghini Centenario.
Being part of the Collector series means this model comes with its own box inside the blister, and also sees a full tampo print as well as real rider wheels, or the 2-part rubber as I keep calling them. This one is a very nice look.
A lovely black model with red skirts and trim. Very simple and very elegant. This looks extremely well done.
Especially when you see the attention to the rear (well you could if my camera focused in properly on it). But it was very well detailed.
Plus, bonus, this is a moving parts model (not a requirement for Collector, but great when it does get included) and as such has the opening doors, which if you hadn’t noticed already were a great match to the body colour.
Which was also something I noticed with the debut release last year. When it was a part of the Moving Parts series, I definitely saw how the doors, which are made of plastic as opposed to metal on the rest of the body, really matched up well. I was very impressed.
In fact the difference in tampo printing is not a lot. The Moving Parts model already saw a great level of tampo anyway and as such the new ones simple has some additional pin striping going over the edges of the roof. I think so far this model has had 2 stunning looks and I await to see what they come up for a third outing.
Back to Cadillac I go and number 8 of the set of 12 models is the return of the MB806 CTS Wagon. It has been 7 years since we last saw one of these and for the return it gets a whole new colour. Which in a weird way is a shame, as if they were doing carry forwards, I would have chosen this instead and brought back the 2011 tangerine issue. That one was awesome. Obviously then we could have had a new colour for the Escalade.
For this release the model has turned into a very dark metallic charcoal. The windows also look extremely dark too.
It turns out the model has had some cosmetic surgery to bring it back to the production line again as you might notice it is now copyrighted in 2020.
Now obviously one of these you would think is the fact there is no interior here. It is not strictly true. As with the Ford Mustang we saw in batch E of the basic range (which I showcased last week), the lack of an interior is not necessarily a permanent thing. An issue can still appear with the interior included. It is not gone and forgotten. No the revamp is to change the production methods.
If I was to bring in an earlier issue (well actually this is the 2010 MB31 debut) the one thing you will immediately notice is the rear license plate area. On the casting originally the license plate was formed from the base section of the model and during production they would turn the body upside down, add in window and interior parts, then grab the base section and carefully slot it through the rear of the model and then rivet it down at the front. There are pluses and minuses to this. The plus is the fact that no rivet post will be visible inside the model as it was riveted because the only rivet is situated under the front section which is not visible through the window. But the minus is that it is a slow process compared to the drop method that is currently being employed at the factory. The drop method is a much more efficient method of construction where each segment is literally just dropped on top of the last one and once all complete riveted together. But the down side is you see the rivet inside the vehicle. Obviously Mattel are looking at the most cost-efficient way of doing things and this does mean the drop method, not the slot method.
So this is the reason for the model seeing a re-tool, not as a means to take out the interior. It is what you notice with just about every model being produced nowadays, it sporting a rivet front and rear to hold it together, eliminating slow slotting methods.
The lack of an interior is something that this latest release is seeing, and not necessarily something all future releases will get. Although you don’t know.
But as I mentioned it, I am showing the 2011 tangerine. It was one of two releases of the model in that year’s basic range, as it was also in silver too. Both were MB37.
And as I have started, I might as well show the rest of the releases it has seen to date. After all, I did say it had been 7 years so I don’t think I had already done a rundown. 2011 also saw a 5-pack release for the model, with this off-white example being in the Modern Rides 5-pack.
After those first 2 years it never actually saw anything in 2012. But for 2013 it saw another basic range release. This time in tan as MB52. I did find a nice shade to the tan during its production too.
And then in 2014, we saw what was at the time the last outing for the model. In the Outdoor Sights 5-pack. As you can see, at that time it was still being produced using the slot method, and I also found a nice shade, this time to the blue it came in. And that was it, at the time. A whole 6 releases. The new one makes issue number 7. Which is a shame, as I really liked seeing this Wagon in the range, and am hoping now that they have gone to the effort to retool it, that more outings are in the works.
Henry J Gasser. Back in the late 1930s a US car manufacturer called Graham-Paige was busy making cars for the USA market, but in 1940 they had stalled during the war. Their new chairman Joseph Frazer set up a joint deal with a friend of his, Henry J Kaiser to restart production and they used their 2 names to form a company name, even though Graham-Paige was still going. The newly formed Kaiser-Frazier company carried on where Graham-Paige left off, but started coming up with their own vehicles too. Graham-Paige itself moved off into real estate by buying a controlling share of Madison Square Garden, and the Kaiser-Frazier company became the default car manufacturer. The manufacturing plant for Graham-Paige was sold to the Chrysler Group where they started building DeSoto cars. Sadly, Henry’s idea for an extremely cheap and affordable compact car was not great. It was named after him, the Kaiser Henry J, and was made between 1950 and 1954, but even though it was one of the cheapest vehicles on the market, it was not popular. A lack of any sort of luxury was a bit of a turn off. They had no ventilation, no glove box, not even a trunk lid (you had to scramble through the back of the car to gain access to the storage). With sales dwindling and money tight, Henry Kaiser formed a merger with the Willys Overland company in later 1953 and this new company became Kaiser Jeep (eventually just Jeep). All the Kaiser models were phased out, and final 1954 Henry Js were actually just 1953s with a manufacturing stamp being the only difference. But after they stopped production, their simple construction allowed them to be modified extremely easily. In the 1950s, before the advent of true dragsters and funny cars, USA was in the midst of the “Gasser Wars”. They were named based on the fact that once modified they still ran on regular “gas” instead of proper race fuels. As a rule the front end would be jacked up to allow a heavier stance to the rear “traction” wheels. Front bumpers were removed, and often would see a front mounted moon tank instead, used as an overflow for coolant in the radiators (which were often cut on the modified vehicles). The Henry J was one of a number of really popular conversions and this is the one that Matchbox have recreated here.
Of course, this is a Collector series model (number 6 in the series of 20), so it comes with a box as well.
This particular issue does not have a raised front end, but the wheels are still based on the rear being the traction ones and as such are much larger.
But what I do spy is the little front mounted moon tank. Yes this is a proper gasser, and they have done a wonderful job in creating their own small-scale version. Of course these are modified vehicles, so they could have taken things a number of ways. I think what they came up with was just about right. I actually like this this is not being raised up at the front.
I also like that they have the front tilting hood on this model too.
Which gives you a lovely opportunity to see the engine under the hood too. I tell you, I was not a gasser fan. But then I got this model, and did a little research. The more you read up on them, the more fascinating the whole concept becomes. This model has really grown on me.
And well, should I add in a little something about the design too? I think I can guess who designed this. The little “58” at the front might be a giveaway. This is a Michael Heralda special. I like the fun vibe to it, with the Sunset Rocket and actual rocket on the side. Mention of the vehicle and who has made it in miniature. Yes, very cool. It has J. Arellano written across the roof edge too. Hmm! There is a Jose Arellano who works as a Senior Project Manager at Mattel. Coincidence? I think not!
So yes, I am liking this model. I did not think I would when it was first announced. But I always leave an open mind to see the end product before making a final judgement.
So all I can say is, very good job on this one. I have a feeling in USA it will be extremely popular. Outside USA with the whole gasser thing not being as big, I think it will not be quite as popular, but I like that it is something very different to what they usually do.
Before I move on to the next model, I will just show a little base shot. I notice that it states here it is a 1954 Henry J. This means a very late production model. Did they actually have one in real life they copied in miniature, or was this just an amalgam of various gasser conversions? A question for another time methinks.
Back to Cadillac I go and up to number 9 of 12 now. For this we see another outing for the MB1129 ’55 Cadillac Fleetwood.
This is the third time we have seen this model since it was retooled in the mid 2010s. So it is not being overused at all. It comes in a lighter blue with darker blue roof and looks decent to me. They even managed to keep the chrome on this one. Chroming is quite expensive so tends to me left off if they need to, but we saw it here, and it helps the model to shine.
With front and roof printing you may be thinking was there nothing on the rear? But there was. I have a feeling it may have been clever manipulation of the lining up of the model in the tampo machine to give it 2 passes and actually appear to sport 3. But these are the clever ways they can try and squeeze extra little touches out on models over and above that they should do.
It’s hard to believe that this model was originally created as a casting exclusively to be included in the Elvis Presley Graceland Collectibles series in 2001. Of course at that time it was a different casting, MB500. When Mattel obtained the license to make some Elvis stuff, they realized they basically had no castings that would be suitable, and as such for this series and the following one, they created 8 brand new castings of vehicles in his collection or from his films. One of Elvis’ most famous cars, the real one was actually blue when he bought it. I don’t know if it was the blue of the new 2021 Cadillac series model, but he originally owned a 1954 and wrote a song that mentioned it. The song was called Baby Let’s play House, and had the line “You may have a pink Cadillac” referring to his car at the time. But when it got written off in an accident he went and bought this 1955 model. But it was a different colour. Because he was starting to become well know for his Pink Cadillac song (it was his first country hit in USA reaching number 5), he got one of his neighbours to repaint it for him. It is still in his museum now. Matchbox launched the casting in the Elvis Graceland series in 2001.
In 2002, as was common at the time, Avon in USA had a line of Matchbox items exclusive to their catalogue. As well as other sets, they sold a unique 4-piece Elvis set, which featured four of the 5 models from the Graceland Collection, but instead of being premium vehicles, these were core vehicles. the Fleetwood was one, and as such the level of tampo printing was cut right down. The wheels were switched to general basic wheels of the time, and because it was made at a different time, the shade of pink is really noticeably different.
But we did see another premium that year as Matchbox were celebrating (a year early) their 50th Anniversary. A number of models in premium clothes were painted burgundy with a golden 50 logo on them and high levels of detailing. The Cadillac happened to be one of them.
After 2002, not a lot happened until they launched the new Superfast series in 2004, adding the casting in to the number 25 slot. It was plain black with a high level of tampo, but as was the case in the first year, many classic vehicles ended up sporting some rather blingy wheels, which really didn’t suit them. They had created some retro 5-spoke wheels for use in the series, but decided to limit them to the vehicles that were actually recreations of older Lesney vehicles. When the collector community asked for a rethink, they obliged.
Sadly it was too late for the 2004 release, but the 2005 issue saw the retro 5-spoke wheels on it, which suited it so much better. Being 2005, we saw 2 issues. A green version for USA and a pale blue for everywhere else. And no, the new one is not a carry forward of that. Way different shade, plus white roof not dark blue and a different tampo design.
In 2006, the model saw its first official core range release. I am not including the Avon issue from 2002 as that was a catalogue model, and not something seen in stores. But this wasn’t a basic range, this was a Vintage Classics 5-pack issue in dark pink. During production you might have found either lace wheels or flower wheels on the model.
In 2007 it was back in the Superfast series. Although this was now called Superfast America, and featured only classic US vehicles. It was number 14 in the set in a very dark metallic blue (with whitewall tyres).
After that it was a while before we saw it again. It popped up in 2011 in the Lesney Edition series. This was the 2-year short lived premium series, where the added extra for models was the inclusion of a diecast metal base instead of the usual plastic ones. This was teal and again featured whitewall tyres.
And then, finally, in 2013 it hit the basic range. 12 years after debuting, the model was finally a regular issue. This was red as MB13. But that was it for MB500. The casting was retooled for the next issue.
In 2017 it came back, now as MB1129, in a 9-pack. Or a 10-pack. At the time it depended on which country you were in. This was one of the exclusives and the retooling had incorporated the roof into the body section. The original casting had included a plastic roof piece that would be riveted to the window section which formed the entire upper half. To transform the roof into the body section also warranted the addition of all the pillars to the model too. So quite an extensive rebuild.
It is really difficult to show in picture, but the casting was also shortened just a fraction too. I know though, as the original ones don’t slot in to the carry case segments easily, and I have to put them in diagonally sideways. the new ones pop in perfectly.
The newer updated casting did not have to wait too long to get added to the basic range though, as it was only 2 years after debut (as opposed to 12) as in 2019 another pink, now with a grey roof, was added to the basic range as MB11. Yes I did find shades of pink on that one too. Pink can be pretty good for shades. So this blue issue makes 3 to date, and I am sure it will not be the last.
Number 7 of 20 in the Collector series is the MB1225 ’19 Ford Ranger in orange. This is the first time the casting has seen premium clothes as both the 2 issues so far have been core ones.
So this is also the first time we have seen a box for it too. I do like the little “blueprint” style artwork on the tops of the boxes. Not that it really matters, as I am only after the models inside. Boxes go bye-bye. This is a cool one though, as it has an opening front hood and rear tailgate.
It comes in orange, rather a signature Matchbox colour wouldn’t you say? Oh look, a very Matchbox-y side design too. Although, I bet nobody notices these things, do you notice anything in the Matchbox logo? Apart from the fact it has a black background, I am guessing to help blend in with the design. It is actually lozenge V2. Lozenge V1 was devised by Lesney in the mid 1970s, and the word Matchbox had double quotes (“Matchbox”). When Universal took over in 1983 they slightly altered it to single quotes (‘Matchbox’) which ran until Mattel changed the logo into an oval one at the beginning of the 21st century. After much backlash, they came back to the lozenge style again, but since 2005 when it came back, the logo has had no quotes (Matchbox). In short V1 (1976-1982) – “Matchbox”, V2 (1983-2000) – ‘Matchbox’, V3 (2005 – date) – Matchbox. So the model, which comes in packaging which itself is a nod to the early Lesney days, also has a nod to the past of the Matchbox brand by utilizing an older version of the Matchbox logo.
Plus it has Superlift written on it. I do love the real liveries incorporated on to models. We have seen a number of Superlift vehicles over the years, and I am happy to see these continue on.
I do like this design. Maybe because it is stripey. Can’t go wrong with stripes. But I think this is a cool nod to the brand as a whole, and look forward to seeing more models with a similar look to this in the future.
We do have a lot of Ford Rangers around where I am and I have to admit, many seem to be vaguely in the construction field. That sort of area. So this leads me to hope that maybe an INC or Ranec liveried model could be in the pipeline for the future. I think it will make for a great candidate.
A quick reminder of just what has been seen so far. Last year the Moving Parts saw the debut release, in charcoal with a Skyjacker themed side design.
And shortly before this one we had the second Moving Parts issue in a lovely plain blue.
There is just one thing I can’t help but notice. This is the first premium issue of the casting, but the blue one had a lovely front end tampo print of the Ford badge and highlighting around the front grille. That got lost on the premium issue. Such a shame. Yes that is about as far as I can grumble. It was not a life-changing omission. Had we not had the blue one just arrive before this I likely wouldn’t have even thought about it. But it is one of those daft things, when you pay for a premium, you expect more on top of what was already there. Not items taken away. But it was a minor grumble. I still really like this model.
One day, this is going to come in pink! I really want to see the MB974 Cadillac One in pink. I know strictly speaking, this was a model of the presidential limo, but I see it as a stretched limo. And plenty of stretched limos have been in pink. Plus it’s a Cadillac! Obviously it is acceptable to paint it a different colour, as we have seen a white one too, but for the Cadillac series, the model is a carry forward of the original black one.
Number 10 of the 12 models in the series, this was originally released in 2015 as MB5. It is only a 3-part model, with blacked out windows and a very long body.
I have to admit, I wasn’t sure as to whether there would be anything to write home about with this one. But I always like to check.
So out comes the original 2015 release. The black body, same. The black base, same. The blacked out windows, same. Even the front end tampo printing, same. Yeah I wasn’t expecting too much.
But then I move to the rear. The 2021 issue is on the left here. The original 2015 release on the right. That is pretty clear. The rear lights are totally different shades. The original release was a very light, almost orangey red. The new one sports a very dark set of rear lights. Oh yeah! I love it! Sort of reminds me of the LEVC Taxi I showcased a few weeks back. Nothing changed except the red rear lights. So now I have 2 black ones, which works well.
Because I also have 2 white ones. One is an off white, the other cream. This was the 2016 MB10 issue, and shows that the casting can be sold in non-blacks.
So black and white, black and white. Definitely deserves a bit of pink in the middle. After all, Elvis did sing about a pink Cadillac, which inspired Bruce Springsteen to write a song called Pink Cadillac in 1982. Although it achieved great success when Natalie Cole covered it in 1988. But pink Cadillacs are just so inspired. I really want to see this “One” as a pink “One”.
Let’s move back to the Collector series shall we? The MB1224 Porsche 550 Spyder. Another model, just like the Ford Ranger, that debuted last year as a Moving Parts model. But this time there was no Moving Parts in 2021, just the Collector release. Number 8 in the series of 20 for the year.
Now this car is known for one thing. The death of Dean Martin. He was driving a silver Porsche 550 Spyder in California on his way to race it a week after purchasing it, when he was involved in an accident and killed instantly. I did wonder when the model debuted last year whether we would see a silver one.
Yes we do. It is iconic, in a sad way, but it looks lovely. A very subdued design, I wonder if that was intentional on behalf of the Mattel guys to not overdo a silver Spyder.
The model has simple tampo detailing and a beautiful little stripe going over the rear edges of the model. A very stunning look, even if I do say so myself.
Opening up the engine cover shows off the highly detailed engine underneath.
I think this has really been done well. I don’t know if people have noticed one of the things that the guys have been tinkering with lately. Creating some of the interior parts out of the base section. In this case the gear lever and pedals all come from the base section, which being grey with a black interior, really does help to enhance the different parts.
I am very impressed with this model. Keep up the great work.
Just as a little reminder, this was the previous Porsche. Blue was a 2020 Moving Parts issue.
And did come with the lovely engine detailing that we are seeing on models like this nowadays that have opening features. Has anybody noticed?
I have just done 3 Collector models in a row that all exposed their engines.
Now it is back to the Cadillac models and number 11 of 12 for the series is a second MB1264 1975 Eldorado Convertible.
This model comes in a lovely creamy yellow colour for its second go in the set. I was quite surprised when they appeared as I thought we were getting a carry forward of the MB739 ’69 Sedan DeVille in green, as that was what was originally shown at the 2020 Albuquerque Convention. But as I always say when I do a recap of line previews, they are always subject to change. Case in point, we now have a 4th all new livery in this batch of 6, rather than 3 new and 3 carry forwards. Excellent stuff. They snuck an extra one in.
It does look really nice in this shade. But why do I get the feeling I have seen this shade before?
Why of course, the ’69 Sedan DeVille was in batch A sporting it, and the MB1207 ’41 Series 62 Coupe Convertible in this year’s basic range also sports it. Okay, Cadillac One. Pink, and this!!!! Go on, go for it! And let’s dig out the MB501 ’56 Eldorado too for a creamy yellow paint job.
I am very impressed with this casting, and thoroughly enjoyed getting a second one so soon after the debut. I look forward to seeing many more releases of this one over the coming years. And you know I am going to say it. Pink! I googled 1975 Cadillac Eldorado, and many pink convertibles came up in the images. So they definitely exist.
So now we move on to the last Collector model of the batch. the MB363 ’62 VW Beetle. A classic casting of an even more classic model. This is number 9 in the series of 20 and comes in purple.
This model is definitely sporting some surfer vibes. There are subtle differences between the tampo designs on the 2 sides of the model.
On the side visible in the package, we have Hawaii or Bust written on the side, and one of the logos has “Wax” on it.
The other side foregoes the “Wax” logo for a “Luke boards” logo, and this one doesn’t mention Hawaii. I do enjoy these subtle differences they do on models.
Plus with the detailed front end and tan roof, this makes for a very nice addition to the collection. Beetles are fun cars, and they had a lot of fun with this one. It must be tough to keep coming up with fun new ideas for them all the time, but they keep on arriving at them.
For a little fun, who remembers this purple Beetle? It was in the 2001 Wings ‘n Water 5-pack with the piranha side design.
Whereas the 2008 Best of International purple was a simple affair with just front and rear detailing (plus the roof highlighted).
And daft fact, I notice them, the tan roof is a lighter shade to another tan roof we saw. The 2011 VW 5-pack issue. I could have gone with the 2020 Albuquerque dealer model as that too had a tan roof, but let’s face it, there are so many Beetles, I could have gone a bunch of ways with this one.
I believe this brings us to the last model in this week’s showcase. 6 Cadillac, 5 Collector. Yes, this is it. Number 12 of 12, the MB1207 ’41 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible Coupe. Another casting that saw uses in both batches of the Cadillac series, and this one (just like the ’75 Fleetwood) gets 2 brand new looks for both batches.
This time the model is a really nice metallic dark blue. I believe Cadillac called this Monica Blue Metallic at the time. It was a genuine colour choice across the Cadillac portfolio at the time. And it looks lovely. I really like this particular colour.
As has been seen across all releases of this casting so far, the model is highlighted by front and side detailing in much the same way across them all, and well you can’t go wrong with them. I think this is my favourite look so far on this casting.
Which as a reminder was last year’s green debut in the basic range as MB9.
Followed by a few this year, starting off with the Batch A release of the Cadillac series, which was black and sported the roof “up” for that release. As I mentioned at the time, this casting is created in a way that you will either have the roof “up” or “down” as 2 parts need to be different to sport the variation (interior and window) and on a fast production line you can’t afford to have to think about which part goes with which.
And we have also seen a creamy yellow release in the basic range as MB34 too.
So far we are up to 4 releases of this casting. I look forward to seeing what ideas they have for the future on this one. Maybe a nice red one, or perhaps white. Hmm! Maybe somewhere in the middle….
So that brings me to the end of another rundown of new stuff. Cadillacs, 2 carry forward castings.
Alongside 4 brand new looks on existing castings.
As well as a set of Collector models with a classic Beetle, a Lambo with opening doors.
And as mentioned already, 3 with engines on display. So yes, lots of fun with the new 11 items this time. But as per usual, I will do a little bounce back for those who are interested.
First off, I am heading back to the Lesney era. This is a double inspiraion. With both a Henry J Gasser and a ’62 VW Beetle in the Collector batch, I had to bring out the MB43-B Dragon Wheels didn’t I.
I mean it is a VW Beetle based funny car. I did debate, as I will be bringing this back out next year (obviously) for when the new one hits the 2022 Collector series. But as that will likely form more of a comparison new vs old piece, I thought this time it is pure rundown.
So this casting debuted in 1972 as MB43 replacing the Pony Trailer in the range. It’s funny this is coming back as the Pony Trailer is still going in one form or another. It ran for 6 years in the basic range, and during that time only ever came in green with a Dragon Wheels label on the side. Of course 6 years of production means that things wouldn’t always look the same. The green was the most obvious item to change, as shades varied quite a lot. The window shade does vary too, and bases are usually black but other colours do exist too. Charcoal, blue-grey, grey, yellow and unpainted are all known to exist. The last 3 of which are pretty rare.
Of course Lesney being Lesney had a habit of forgetting the labels at times too. They were good at that. For the first 4 years, the standard wheel configuration was 5-spoke front and maltese cross rear. But other mixes are known to exist. Rare, because they were not planned. Maltese cross wheels have been seen on the front, as well as 4-spokes.
In 1976, in line with an update to the packaging style, the wheels saw a change too. They turned into dot-dash all round. However, there is a crossover, again quite rare. The first batch only swapped the front wheels and still had maltese cross rears. I currently do not have one of those. After 1977 the model was dropped from the range, but in 1979 it saw an additional run in Japan, back in its old MB43 slot.
But the casting itself was not done. In 1981, as part of the brand split between the US and ROW ranges, it was brought back for the US market as MB46-D. However, with a new design, it no longer felt like a Dragon Wheels, so they renamed it Hot Chocolate.
The base saw the original name wiped off and the new name added. Which was easy enough, as Lesney were in a little dire straits at the time, and had set up a deal with a factory in Hong Kong to manufacturer items for the US market. Many US exclusives of the early 1980s were made there instead of in England as it was cheaper to ship out to USA from Hong Kong, saving them some vital funds. However, as we know, it was not enough and by the end of 1982 Lesney was declared bankrupt. This casting, now marked down as MB085, was still a part of the US range and when Universal took over they decided to refresh it with a new look.
It was now blue with a Big Blue design on it. At first production was still in Hong Kong, but Universal was busy moving many other items to their Macau factory and as such by the end of 1983 they had cut ties with the Hong Kong factory and moved production to their Macau base. After 1984 the model was dropped, but there is a rarity. A test run was made in China for a possible continuation, but it never went anywhere and the test run samples were dumped on the Chinese market. Very rare, I have yet to find one.
But with the new look came another change of base name. Personally, I would have guessed Big Blue, due to the tampo, but no they went with Beetle Streaker. I guess by now they were looking longer term in that they can’t keep changing the base name every time they gave it a new look.
Which is what happened (officially) after 1984. Aside from that rare Chinese test run that went nowhere (except the local market) the casting was pretty much retired after the 1984 issue finished production. But in 1997, with the Premiere Series doing a “Retro” set, they pulled the casting back out for one more go. Being a retro model, they gave it the classic Dragon Wheels look. Obviously lots of differences. Different wheels, tampo side design not a label, extra detailing etc.
But this model was now made in China (for real) and still kept the Beetle Streaker name. As I said, they got bored of renaming it constantly.
Until 2022 this is the last we have seen of a model like this. I am looking forward to seeing their recreation debut next year.
So next dive back? Obviously, I have a vague idea of bouncing forward, but this is still a Lesney vehicle. But it was 1980. Inspired by a Porsche, I bring out a Porsche! Who me? Wanting to do more Porsches? Well knock me down with a feather. Yes this is the MB059 Porsche 928. This was only the 3rd Porsche casting ever done by Matchbox, and came shortly after the 911 Turbo casting had arrived, and almost a decade after the 910 made its debut as the first Porsche.
And why not start with a pre-production sample. Of course I had to include a prepro of a Porsche somewhere. This was a red model with an unpainted base that was an early mock-up before production was underway.
Because when the model arrived in 1980 as MB59-D it was brown. Or gold. Or tan. Or sand. Or, or, or….
Yeah this first year for the Porsche 928 was perhaps one of the most wild years ever done for a Matchbox model. They never settled on a shade. It was all over the place.
So were interiors. From cream to brown.
Windows! Clear, amber, dark amber? Whatever.
You name it, there was going to be something different every time they did a production run. It was loads of fun!
Bases too, obviously. In fact the only thing that stayed consistent through the debut year of production on model (apart from the fact it wasn’t tampo printed) was the wheels. Always 5-arch.
I tell you, the permutations of variations are massive with this model. So much to look for. I have a bunch. I am still looking for a bunch more.
In 1981 they changed the look. They turned it blue. Of course this still didn’t calm the model down. Shades of blue, shades of interior, shades of base.
Window changes. Amber or clear. Yes, this model still was going all over the place.
Silver was a new base option.
In 1982 they changed it again, and this was the first time the model saw tampo printing. White stripes and a large white Porsche logo adorned this black model. It still saw a number of variations. At first leftover interiors from the blue run were used up.
Before it moved to a standard red interior.
Of course tampo printing may or may not have been fully applied to the model. I am still trying to hunt down an example with no printing at all.
But unlike other releases, this model ran for 2 years. Year 2 saw a noticeable difference. the amber window being the main part.
That is because they moved production to Macau for 1983 as the model was still in the worldwide basic range. Many US exclusives were still being made in Hong Kong, and ROW exclusives carried on in England. Only the core releases were moved initially (US issues following for 1984 and ROW for 1985).
There were plans to add it to the 1984 Matchmates series and a model was mocked up alongside a Porsche Turbo and even put in a prototype blister. Yeah that blister no longer exists. The models do though. Sadly it never got beyond prototype stages.
In 1984 the model changed its look for the basic range though. At first the models kept the same amber window as the 1983 Macau made model had.
And if you were in Japan, you saw a second variant as number 64 in that range was a Martini Racing liveried silver model.
As 1986 rolled around they decided to clear the window up.
And if you are lucky you might be able to find one that has gold wheels instead of chrome too.
The model also saw its first multipack appearance too, as the G-10 Lufthansa set included one in a plain orange with just Lufthansa on the doors.
And it was added to the Superfast range as SF-3 too.
In 1987 Laser Wheels joined in with many model seeing a more metallic look, but as the Porsche was already metallic the Laser model was identical apart from the wheels.
Production of both models ran through 1990 and in 1988 moved from Macau to China for production, and shortly after removed Gale Jenkins from the roof of the car.
In 1989 a new idea was launched. Premium Matchbox. The first series was called World Class and involved full tampo printing for the first time, 2 part rubber wheels for the first time, and for some strange reason chrome windows. The Porsche was the very first World Class model. Number 1.
When World Class and Superfast/Laser Wheels finished production the model sort of faded away. But there was a surprise issue as a pair in the 1993 Smash N Crash playset. This playset was short lived only running the one year, and these models are not the easiest to find. After this the model was pretty much done, except for one more premium issue in 1997 in silver. I do not have that one yet, as I am still busy working my way through premiums.
Yes I play fast and loose with my dive backs. Being owner or decade related is only a rough guide as my next dive back is inspired by the return of Cadillac One. The MB197 Lincoln Town Car.
Because this model arrived in 1989. Still Universal, still the ’80s. Just! It was sold as either MB43 in the US range or MB24 in the ROW range. It arrived in white and ran until 1991 like that at which time the ROW range dropped it.
In 1990 this model also saw a use in the World Class series as WC-14 in black.
And in 1991 the basic range moved production to Thailand from Macau, at which time they also changed the base from metal to plastic. I am unaware of any crossover. It appears to be metal/Macau, plastic/Thailand. There is very little else different in the models except the rear light stripe is a little darker from Thailand.
Base shot for those who care.
After being dropped from the ROW range, the US range saw the model change to a lovely burgundy for 1992 featuring a brown roof element.
Although the ROW market was not completely devoid of the casting as in 1992 it was added to the My First Matchbox series in bright yellow with primary colour looks.
But what was a US exclusive was a set called Dream Machines. This was during an era where toys were sterotypically aimed at one gender or another, and Matchbox being deemed a boys toy at the time, they created a Dream Machines 3-pack in a special box that had cutouts on it, and aimed it at a girl’s market. Try and tap into something else, as Universal were falling apart and about to go bust. It didn’t exactly work and Dream Machines quietly went away.
1993 proved to be the last year in the basic range in the US market too, and the burgundy model continued there for a second year, but now they stopped tampo printing the brown roof. After 1993 it was dropped from the US range too.
There was one more official issue though. In 1997 they decided to give it the Ultra treatment with the Ultra Matchbox range issue. This was about the most detailed any model would ever be. Everything was detailed. Tampo across all surfaces, including interior and base. They even screwed the bases instead of riveting them as a way of allowing people to unscrew the models to see up close all the detailing inside. There was another non-official issue. There was a plan to add it to the Gold Collection too in silver, but this was aborted. But a number had been made so were dumped on the local market. I have not been able to obtain one of those yet. After that though, the model was retired.
And now I make a big jump as I move from 1989 to 2012. I finish off with the MB860 Ford Explorer, inspired by the Ford Ranger in orange being similar to one of those ones.
It debuted in the 2012 basic range as MB118 in a white Forest Ranger design.
Before seeing two outings in the 2013 range as either MB36 in black or MB72 in white. As was the deal at the time, some models from the basic range were pulled across in to 5-packs (so happy they don’t do that now) and the white one was also in the EMT 5-pack.
Plus we also saw this lovely 60th Anniversary issue which featured a full wrap around tampo print with an MBX Construction theme to it. I still wonder why we have not seen more like this. It is still one of my favourite construction designs.
2014 saw no basic range issue. There was a reason. The MB36 for 2013 was actually a 2014 planned issue that got bumped forward due to the loss of another model and wanting to fill the gap. This meant we only saw the one release, a Police Mission Force model.
In 2015 it was back in the basic range as MB76 and back to being pulled into a 5-pack too, as the Police Squad 5-pack also included it.
It was also given the premium treatment in the Supreme Heroes series too, featuring a CHP design and full tampo/real rider 2-part rubber wheels.
In 2016 it saw just a basic range issue in blue as MB80. This was the first time I managed to find a variation as I found shades to the blue paint.
Since then it has only seen one more issue. After taking 2017 and 2018 off it popped up in the 2019 basic range as MB58 in a San Diego police design. We may see it again, but with the Interceptor Utility now in play, it is not going to the see the attention it used to.
And that truly is the end for another week. What started as a rundown of 2 different batch Bs ended up with another dive into the collection. I hope you enjoyed it.
As I will be back next week with more stuff to run down in Matchbox land. Until then, have a safe week and see you next Monday.