Matchbox Monday finishes with batch E 2021

Another week, and another batch of Wheel Collectors models for me to delve into. This is the second half of Batch E, although there is 1 small exception. Having decided to work through this batch in power grab boxes, I noticed one model was not included in the power grab assortment after finishing, and so I will be giving the Poop King its own little post later this week on my Instagram page at @davidjtilley so as not to leave it behind completely. As this does mean there are 18 in the batch, but only 17 in power grab boxes. After running through the first 8 the other week, this means I am doing a run of 9 models here. So let’s get stuck in shall we.

Again I am going with an alphabetical rundown of the models, which means I start with B. The MB1173 ’69 BMW 2002.

You can’t really go wrong with this model, which for 2021 takes the MB84 slot in the range. A fantastic casting, and especially in this jet black look. Plus simple front and rear tampo printing. What is not to love.

And yes, one thing that I know some are not keen on, this time it gets a clear window. Not the light blue that often adorns classics. Great job by the Matchbox team.

Plus it even sports a chrome base in the basic range this year. Not including the Target Superfast special from 2019 in gold, this is the first time the model has seen a general release with a chromed base section. I know most collectors would like all classics to see chrome all the time, but as we know, chroming a base does cost money, and with razor thin profit margins, they have to work out which they can squeeze through the chroming machine. Looks like the BMW got the nod this time. Which personally, I think is a fantastic touch to the black body. Black and chrome. Great combination.

Next up, a new casting. The MB1232 ’34 Chevy Master Coupe. This is quite a significant model in the history of Toyota. Wait? What? The story goes that the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works company that had begun in the 1920s wanted to expand into the automobile business. Chevrolet used to send over parts for the Chevy Master to Osaka in Japan for local assembly due to import laws at the time. This gave representatives the perfect opportunity to look at how the cars get built. They then set about creating their own vehicle called the A1, and after 3 prototypes were built in 1935, they set up making the Toyoda AA in 1936, but changed their name to Toyota in 1937 as they felt a “T” at the end worked better than a “D”. The Chevy Master was pretty much stopped from being shipped over to Japan after that too. The Japanese government pretty much stopped all imports even in kit form, as until the mid 1930s pretty much all cars in Japan were either Ford or GM vehicles imported in kit form.

But this is a 1934, so pre-Japan banning them. So this could have been built in USA, Canada, Japan, Argentina, Poland, South Africa or Belgium. The Chevy Master was a big deal in the 1930s. Matchbox have gone with the coupe variation, as they could have gone with a sedan or pickup variant, but after a 1933 Plymouth PC sedan I think going the coupe route was the perfect choice, debuting in the MB6 slot for 2021.

Great attention to detail here. As we know, the team is limited in how many parts they can use to create a model. But it looks like they really managed to get these parts down to a good look. the rear wheel is a part of the interior section, which also forms the wheel arches and running boards.

They also form the front headlights too. The chrome (yes they got chrome in again) base forms the front and rear bumpers for further colour breaks. As we know, general rules nowadays affords only 2 tampo hits on a basic range model. Both of these are at the front though. Tampo is applied to parts before assembly, which means that the front of the body section gets a hit, and then the front of the interior section also gets a hit. Obviously when the parts are then put together it sort of gives the impression that there was only a single tampo print across the front. You see only tampo at the front, but if you were to look closely you notice it is on 2 different parts. I do like to point these things out, as I feel it is important to know that this model is in no means being short changed. 2 tampo prints and a chrome base on a 4-part model is about the maximum they can get away with in the current climate.

So yes there might be no further printing, but that is what premium series (or people who like to customize) are here for. This model also features a large rear section that you think is the trunk (or boot depending on country). Nope. This is what was popular in the early days of motoring. It was called a rumble seat, or dickey seat (sometimes the “mother-in-law” seat). Mostly available with the coupes or convertibles, these seats would open up at the back to afford extra seating area to transport people around, although they were exposed to the elements like that. I believe these were phased out in the late 1930s in USA, although the UK built Triumph 2000 Roadster had one until it finished production in 1949. A part of me now wants Mattel to come up with a model that has one of these rumble seats and create a model for the Moving Parts series that has the rumble seat opening up. There’s a challenge for them.

New casting = base shot. not too much to this one. I have to admit I was not overly wowed with the prospect of the 1934 Chevy Master in the range, but once I got it, I can see the appeal. I like it a lot more than I thought I would. As I said, I want them to attempt a rumble seat moving part on something. Maybe a Triumph Roadster as I mentioned.

Next up on the list, we are moving in to Ford Territory with the latest MB1179 ’16 Ford Interceptor Utility.

It has had a bit of a busy little year this year. But after a double basic range release in 2020 this is the only 2021 issue as MB65. And this is a brilliant design too.

Because this is a real one. For those who did not know, San Luis Obispo in California uses the Ford Interceptor Utility and Matchbox have replicated the real one in miniature for the range. Fantastic stuff. The only major change was swapping out the real vehicle number for an MBX logo. Great work by the Matchbox team as they have been making some excellent “real” variations of this casting.

I have to admit I was very impressed seeing yet another real police department getting the model treatment on this casting. In fact most of them have been of real police vehicles. Shall we recap? I think we should as I am 3 models in and not done one yet.

So the debut. Yes, this was not a real license, but was the first in a new possible recurring them (as the Ford Taurus Interceptor sported the same design this year). It was MB42 in the 2019 range.

But then in 2020, as I already mentioned it was doubled up in the range. At first it was MB48 with a California Highway Patrol look. Love the CHPs!

And then later on it was MB78 with an El Segundo Police design. 2 real liveries from real police forces for 2020 and it continues into 2021.

Of course there is the little “Thank You Heroes” set that arrived at the start of the year. Some call it a 2020 because it was announced in 2020 and you could pre-order it in the mid 2020 year. But because it only became available after the 2021 model year started I do classify it as a 2021 model. It is the complete opposite to say a toy fair model which arrives fairly late in one year but is advertising the following year. A 2019 Toy Fair model I mark down as a 2018 release because that is when it arrived. Of course, exceptions exist too. the Mazda 3 is arriving in batch F (shortly to make a start on that) but it was a 2020 basic range model, and even has no number on the packaging and as such I will be listing it as a 2020 release. It is complicated being a collector. And as I classify something one way, another may look at this release and say it was a 2020. But this one is easily the closest to the latest one as it is black with all white doors as opposed to CHP that only had white front doors.

As recently showcased, we also have a 5-pack release with a Boone County design on the model. I make it 4 out of 6 models released so far being licensed designs. Again great work by the Matchbox team in getting all these additional licenses on top of the manufacturer ones.

So what is number 4 in the list. The MB1176 MBX Backhoe, and out of this little assortment, the only Matchbox originals casting (as they refer to them as) we have here. Granted there is a Poop King which I am not showcasing too in this batch as it was on long card and I had done everything before I realized my little error. Plus I already did my first half of this batch and that had the Ice Cream Truck and Rescue Dasher in it, which means out of 18 models in total, only 4 were non-licensed. Since the beginning of the 1970s when Lesney first started flooding the range with fantasy vehicles, we have not seen such a high percentage of licensed vehicles in the range. Again this is all of the efforts of the Matchbox team in doing as much as they can within budget to give us as good as they can. I applaud all this effort.

This model is currently in year 3 of its tenure in the basic range, taking the MB68 slot. One of very few construction themed vehicles getting a single release. Of course it is nice to see variety, although you do tend to find as a whole cars tend to sell better. They just do. But I have to admit, this is not a bad little vehicle. Yes I know the rear section does not move, but the front bucket does move up and down. Again, this is down to the piece count they have for a basic range model. They are unable to added a 5th element to the body nowadays which is a shame as this frozen price point just makes things leaner and leaner on a yearly basis. One day something will happen that will mean that the price point can rise and we will all rejoice. But sadly Walmart and Target aren’t willing to back down at the moment, and particularly in the USA market, if you were to drop them as clients you would really struggle.

I like this design. An orangey-yellow is quite a common look for a construction vehicle, and the side design blending in to the front moveable bucket is a great little touch. It has a Matchbox City logo on the side too. Not a Hero City. Oh no, I don’t think we will ever return to that era. It bombed. Why would they revisit it?

Just a quick reminder of the 2 we have had so far. In 2019 it debuted as MB23 in a white and orange design. Many thought it was a Ranec look, but no. Just utilizing the same colours.

Although 2020’s MB92 did see one of our popular recurring themes, as it sported the blue and yellow INC design. I wonder if we will see any more basics from this one, or if it will start seeing uses in 5-packs instead.

I did think we would see more of this casting. Last year the MB579 Mini Cooper S turned back up after a 13 year absence. After the red 2020 issue we now have a grey release for 2021.

And this MB73 issue has nice clear windows. I remember seeing some who felt the windows on last year’s model to be a little too dark. I think it is great that they spent some time retooling this model. It was always felt to be a little lacking in places when it first arrived back in 2003. But with the Mini not changing an awful lot since that time, I think it was most logical to simply refresh the casting they had rather than to try and create a brand new one. Let’s be honest, once shrunk down to miniature size, it wouldn’t have looked a lot different.

This grey look is nice too. They went for a front tampo print and then added a black roof section. Shame they didn’t go with black and white checks, as a sort of modern look to the classic Austin Mini that appeared recently too. That could have been fun. It is strange how the classic Austin Mini has often seen something on the roof, but this one either sports a single colour or a Union Flag roof. To date we have still not seen one with anything else. Daft fact, somebody at work has one with a white roof with a black zipper going down it. It looks cool. One of many, MANY designs seen on the roof of this vehicle in real life. I really hope one day to see a fun roof design on the miniature too. But that aside, everything else about it was good.

And as I mentioned last year’s with a dark window, I thought I would pop it in to show off what I was talking about too.

That was the 4th release of the model. One of 2 with a black plain roof, one with a red plain roof and as I mentioned, the debut release of this model was one that had a Union Flag roof.

But grey is not too far behind. This will actually be the third grey issue, although the latest is definitely the lightest to date. The first was a 2005 US only release in the Superfast range. Another in my long list of “camera focusing on wrong model” series.

With the darkest grey being the other release that had the Union Flag roof. The 2007 Best of British issue. Funny coincidence, Union Flag roof models are those on the most commonly used colours. I wonder if we will ever see an orange one?

Now this is nice. When it was announced at the 2020 Gathering’s line preview, I was happy to see a new Subaru casting of a regular SUV. I don’t know why. Just seeing a regular vehicle from Subaru (we had a kei truck, a sporty number twice (as a police car both times) and a classic sporty number) seemed to appeal to me. And boy am I not disappointed!

I love this one! It’s brilliant. The MB1236 ’19 Subaru Forester. It debuts in the 2021 basic range in Jasper Green (that is the official name for this Subaru colour) as MB10. It so looks the part.

The shape of the model compared to the real thing I would say is just about spot on. Amazing attention to detail all round. The shape from the side looks absolutely perfect.

Of course the one I picture here doesn’t have the little rear spoiler. Plus it might be a different version too. But I am really impressed with how the model looks.

The front end just looks spectacular. I think a lot is down to the ornate tampo printing afforded the front of the model too. But I am seriously impressed with how this one has turned out.

They seem to have managed to work some of the corners back into the tampo hits too as this one gets a sneaky little nudge around the edges for the rear lights printing. I am going to admit it, I think this is one of my favourite new castings of the year. I was quite looking forward to it to begin with, but now I have it, I am still blown away by it.

Again with the obligatory base shot for a new casting. The usual level of under body detailing and text.

So yeah, I think this one is going to end up in my year end Top 10 easily. There are still a couple of months left for me to make up my list, but I now think I have 3 for sure. All new castings.

What’s this? Another new casting? The MB1239 ’18 Toyota Hilux. This has been a long time coming. The Hilux was first started in 1968. Built at first by Toyota’s subsidiary Hyno Motors, it was a more upmarket version of the Toyota Stout they were building at their factory, and so the HiLux (with a capital “L” in the middle) name was derived. A more luxurious truck built at Hyno. Hy Lux. It was actually a replacement for the Hyno Briska at the time, with Toyota deciding to rename certain Hyno vehicles as Toyotas. Of course over the years and 8 generations, names have come and gone, with the camper style variant branching off into the 4Runner series, and some markets dropping Hilux for a while and just using Truck as a name. But now on the latest incarnation, Matchbox have finally decided to create a model of one.

Although I am not quite sure why they chose the earlier 8th generation look as the model saw a slight revamp in 2020 with an updated front end.

Mind you, when the model is sitting sideways in the package, is the front end really that important? The differences are not major, so I am not bothered by it. Again, this is another great little casting. Good attention to detail. It’s the little things, like do you notice the way the fuel filler cap cuts into the wheel arch? That’s how Toyota made it. This is what Matchbox paid attention to. Stellar work again. I am impressed.

As with the Subaru I just showed, the tampo printing front and rear are sneaking round the edges too. Something I know many are keen to see on vehicles like this. It has a solid chunky feel to it.

As this model is built using the drop method, it has a standard (now) rear bed that doesn’t stretch all the way to the rear, but comes up short to allow the body section to rivet to the base. So you do get that colour break in the bed itself which you never used to. But this is a compromise they make to keep the model under budget. But that is all that could change. Everything else is fantastic, and these sort of things are not an issue to me.

Well you know this would be coming. New casting = base shot. Just so I can show off all the angles.

This is the second Toyota casting to arrive this year, but unlike the MR2 which saw 2 unique “alternate” parts for a total of 4 combinations of releases, this does not appear to sport any kind of alternate. The most logical would have been items in the rear bed. As far as I am aware, they were all empty. So this does just have the 1 variant and nothing to chase down.

Next up we have the MB1218 ’19 VW Beetle Convertible. Aw nuts! Another picture in my ever increasing line of “I need a new camera because it keeps focusing on the wrong thing” series. There’s a box. That blur in front of it is the new white Beetle. At least you can clearly see it takes the MB27 slot in the 2021 range here. Nice and clear that bit. Son of a…. Next picture.

An improvement. I know if there are people who follow my Instagram page, they would have seen me post on this model already. I have 2 shades. One is an off white shade, the other noticeably more creamy. But they were done after I took these photos for this report so I don’t have them to show here. This model does look good though. I like the fun “Cali VW” license plate on the rear too.

As with the debut version last year this model has a nice simple front and rear tampo print. Something you can’t go wrong with, and just makes this model so cute. I love it.

Just for comparison I bring in last year’s. Basically the same tampo on the front, although the detailing in the headlights is slightly different. Do you notice they went with a different wheel choice? I know the disks are usually used on classics and police vehicles, but they really work here. In fact I think it might suit the model better then the ones used last year, even though they weren’t a bad choice.

That one also sported a fun little license plate on the rear. Literally! It says “Sun & Fun” on it. I like this casting a lot, and both versions released to date have been stellar. I also notice odd things too.

When it appeared last year, I (obviously) did a run down of the MB438 VW Concept 1 Convertible, which was the inspiration behind this model and arrived in Matchbox form in 1999. Well funnily enough year 1 was blue and year 2 was white as a basic range release just like the latest model is. Coincidence? Hmm! What was year 3?

Ah! Let’s not go there. Moving swiftly on….

To the last model in the batch. The MB1196 ’48 Willys Jeepster. It arrives in a lovely dark mint green as MB67 for 2021.

We are now on the third variation of this casting. I have been trying to check, Willys had a “lochinvar green” paint available in the 1940s, but it may be a little dark. I think it may be a 1950s era foam green paint job, which may be slightly mis-dated, but with the ’48 Jeepster not really changing, I don’t think it matters. I just know that this particular look is an official look of a Willys Jeepster. And that is cool.

As has been the case with the others so far, this one simply sports a tampo print on the front and rear of the model, and looks fantastic. I am a fan of this casting, and love what they are doing with it.

Well I did mention it was the third variation, and I noticed I haven’t really been diving back into model histories (granted 3 of the 9 were brand new) so I thought I needed to here. This was the debut. I believe this is called Fiesta yellow? I could be wrong. In 1948 Willys had a Fiesta yellow and Michigan yellow paint they were using, but the Michigan looks a little darker. It did not arrive in the basic range, but as a Walmart exclusive in their 2019 Jeep series. I love that each year, the Walmart exclusives actually include an exclusive casting too.

Last year the model saw its basic range debut in what I believe is called Luzon red. This was a colour choice from Willys for quite a while and is quite a well known colour. It was MB38 last year.

We are now 3 issues in on this model, and all appear to be official Willys Jeepster colour choices. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. I am hopeful for a nice creamy one at some point.

I do believe that brings me to the end of this batch (except for as mentioned a certain Poop King which will pop up in my Instagram feed later this week). But as I do, I now take this opportunity to bounce back and check out a few classics from my collection.

So, I think it is time I tackle this. the curious and complicated case of the Matchbox MB38-C Jeep. Because, well we had a green Willys Jeepster in this batch.

The Jeep was actually a classic Jeep Hot Rod that they decided to put in the twin pack series in 1976 when they decided to throw in a bunch of army related vehicles. Army Jeeps were very well known, and so they they altered their casting of a Jeep Hot Rod by taking out the flared engine at the front and covering that area up. It was added to the TP-11 pack in what is now known as olive drab. The first run was simply the old Jeep Hot Rod casting now with a smooth hood which featured a star label.

But they also had a further plan. They were going to introduce the model into the basic range as well, but for the basic, it would add a gun to the rear. But that gun needed something to rest into, so a divot was put in the middle of the window to accommodate it. But because the basic range issue was coming after the twin pack issue, early twin packs had a smooth roof before seeing this divot added.

The olive drab twin pack issue is in itself quite a short run, as when the first batch arrived at stores, the feedback was that they were too dark and not appealing to children. So they mixed the colour up to make it brighter and by mid 1976 the olive drabs were gone. Usual wheels for this model are 5-crown in black, but as you might have noticed my first issue model sported 4-spoke wheels. Very rare!

As I mentioned, by mid 1976 the factory had switched out the really dark shade, and had brought in a new brighter shade which became their go-to colour for army vehicles after that.

As the year continued, the basic range model arrived, replacing The Stingeroo in the MB38 slot. This version featured a moving gun that would rotate around and lift up and down. As I mentioned too, the window had now been altered too, to incorporate a little divot for the gun to rest on. Daft fact, through the later MB5-C Sleet N Snow, MB005 4×4 Jeep with rollbar, MB095 4×4 Jeep with canopy, MB505 ’60 Jeep with roof and MB570 ’60 Jeep with rollbar, they never bothered to refill that divot in and when the last MB505 was sold in the 2004 Superfast range, it still had the divot to hold the gun. Even through the gun was never used after 1979.

The gun itself sits on a ball which was pushed in to a tube that was sticking up out of the rear of the Jeep.

Another pointless fact. Because the base originally stated No.2 Jeep Hot Rod, when they altered it for the twin pack series, adding it to the basic range was not decided yet, so they wiped the line off the base and just replaced it with Jeep in the middle. After the first production run they had decided to also add it to the basic range, so they just added No.38 before the word “Jeep”. Usually they would centralize each line, but they couldn’t be bothered to wipe off Jeep to put it all back on in the middle again, so from then all models had the No.38 Jeep line over to the left.

But as we know, things at Lesney were always never straight forward. It sounds quite easy. For 2 years, they had 2 Jeeps in army green. One would be in twin packs, would not have a gun in the rear, and would sport a label that just had a star on it. The other would be sold as a single, this would have a gun in the rear, but the label for this one would be slightly different and would have 21 and 11 on either side. Yeah right….

It was never going to work out was it? Apart from finding the wrong castings in each others packages, you would also be able to find both labels adorning the twin pack Jeep issue.

And both labels adorning the basic range issues. Oh yes it was fun. At least they always remember to leave the wheels plain.

Oh! Although I do not ever recall ever hearing of the model with no gun in the rear sporting chromed wheels. Twin packs were shorter runs in general, and that one only lasted 2 years, compared to the 4 years that the basic range issue ran. So always more chances with the basic range model to get further mistakes.

But what Lesney also did in 1978 , after the twin pack issue was no longer being made was to add a tow hook brace to the rear. Later issues of the basic range model saw this on the casting.

In 1978 a different casting was created that had a canopy, and so the rear seats had holes cut into them too. This coincided with the adding of the tow hook brace too, and I don’t believe there are any crossovers. Although never say never! There is a later variant too, that came in 1979, but read on to see what that was, as I have not found one yet.

But because the new Sleet N Snow vehicle was different, as it was added as a US Roman Numeral edition, these different base types also got mixed up. For some, they catalogue the models by what it says on the base. Me, I go with the look of the model, so I marked both of these down as the MB38 model, but with the different bases. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to do this, it is just my preference, as I am more about the main model, not the base.

So backtracking a little here, back in 1977 another Jeep was made too. This was in a different twin pack, the TP-7 Gliding Club pack where it towed a Gliding Transporter. This was yellow with a white base this time, unless they went and put the black base on from the military model.

In 1979 due to finding out that the holes in the plastic seats they created for the different canopy version of the Jeep were not strong enough, they retooled the casting to turn the seats into being a part of the body. A stronger base for the canopy to slot into. This is what I was talking of with the army Jeep with gun, as this too transferred to this configuration of body/seat in 1979, but as the model was dropped very quickly at the end of the year (as all army stuff were) the later tooling is a short run. Another daft fact, yeah I know I am full of them, the tow hook brace was only added to the variant that had a gun in the rear. The “no gun” casting never bothered putting the tow hook brace on it. But they changed the seating section on it. Weird!

And of course bases were now also including a later US Mail Truck base that had also arrived in 1980. This particular Jeep was the last one of this particular issue in my books and ran until 1980 crossing over with both the earlier Jeep, the middle Sleet N Snow and later US Mail Truck castings, but with me not checking bases, I only have what randomly ended up in my lap. Talk of different Jeep looks will be in another blog. I was going for the open back look mid ’70s Jeep.

So on mt my next dive back. This time, the MB206 BMW 5-series. Because it debuted in black, and we had a black BMW in this batch.

This model was first created in 1989 as an ROW exclusive MB31. It ran for 2 years in the basic range like that, but in 1990 they decided, you know what, let’s throw it in the US range too. So in 1990 it popped up as MB26 there. I guess it wasn’t popular, because as soon as they put it in, they took it back out again. 1990 was its only year in the US range.

However, with the move to a worldwide release, there was a change to the model. Production moved from Macau to Thailand. Of course there wasn’t a lot to see between the 2. Macau tan interiors are a little darker than Thailand ones are, but with the model being black with silver headlights and clear windows, there is only 1 way to know which is really which.

And that’s to look at the bases. As I said, after 1990 the US range dropped the model again leaving it as an ROW exclusive yet again.

Where it turned silver. No it didn’t.

It was an option they were looking at at some point, but never got beyond the pre-production stages. Although it might not have been at this point. Tough to say with a prepro sometimes. No, this was Universal and 1991 saw them do something “very Universal”.

That meant they went rally. Seriously. Just about every car in the range was seemingly going rally in those days. This model ran for 4 years in white with this rally theme to it. But things were never the same throughout the 4 years.

It appeared that as time went on, licensing issues started becoming more and more of a factor. Back in the 1970s Matchbox would simply just throw a logo on for any company they thought looked cool. But as time wore on, these companies started taking notice and would then start asking for compensation for using their logos or just putting cease and desist notes out to stop them. Either way, things started changing during the 1980s and into the 1990s, and many logos started fading away. The first thing we noticed happen was that Sachs and Bendix disappeared from the sides of the model. This happened at some point during 1992.

Than, rather oddly, the Michelin logo turned blue. This was pretty late in 1993, and it actually a pretty tough variant to find.

Because in early 1994 it too had vanished, along with the Fina name across the front. Sachs & Bendix went together, as well as Michelin & Fina going at the same time too. There doesn’t exist any partial removals of those. Logos left in pairs. But you also have to remember, as noted the 3rd of these is the toughest, because things didn’t happen at the start of each year. Models would get phased in and out of the range during each year. Changes would occur during the year. So with 4 years of production “officially” this does not mean each of these is 1 year each. The 3rd variant only appeared for a few months being the most significant. I find the final variant to be quite a common one, as I think it perhaps rolled quite far into 1995 before the BMW was replaced in the ROW basic range.

There was another issue during this time too. 1993 saw the BMW aded to the Showstoppers series (or motor Show depending on market). This model was red.

Although I do wonder if the silver BMW I previously showed was actually a planned Showstoppers issue and not a 1991 recolour for the basic range. I did mark it up as a 1991 basic prepro because it had a Thailand base, so know it was not the 1989 prepro. I may never know where it came from. After 1994 the model finished use, but did pop back in 1998 as a Premiere edition. But as I don’t have it, I can’t show it. It was black, just like the debut, but now fully tampo printed and with rubber wheels. After this the model was retired.

Next up was a tough one. What to find from the Tyco or 1990s era (ish). Well I settled on the MB320 ’57 Chevy Bel Air Convertible. Why? Well we had a Beetle Convertible in the batch which is a convertible of a very iconic car, and the Bel Air is also a very iconic car, and this too was a convertible. So it made sense. At least to me.

It arrived in 1998, and as was the norm at that point, the very first models off the production line were premiums. This was a 2-pack called First edition. The first models that were run off the production line were left completely plain, with a second run being in full tampo print. Plus both would sport rubber wheels.

It then arrived in the basic range as MB36 in light blue with a pink and white design on the side as well as the usual silver pin striping. Elsewhere in 1998 there was a Toy Fair edition in black, but I never got it due to the rubber wheels at the time, and it is still on my wants list.

In 1999 it moved to the MB47 position in the US range or the MB42 position in the ROW range in pastel yellow with a black and red side design. A final premium popped up this year in light blue in the Nostalgia Premiere series, but again I am still on the hunt.

After that though, the model went a little quiet. It took 2000 off before returning in 2001. However, this time there were 2 issues, and both were in licensed packs. A new licensed 5-pack routine was set up that year, and the Chevy was an early addition appearing in a Kellogg’s set in purple. It was also added to an Avon exclusive twin pack. At the time Avon in USA would have various exclusive Matchbox models available in their Christmas catalogue. For this Christmas assortment they had a series of Coca-Cola themed “Decades” packs featuring 2 models from a different decade. This was in the ’50s decade set alongside a Holden FJ Panel Van.

One of the things that happened that year too though, Mattel decided to change the base on this model from plastic to metal. It gave the 2001s a very heavy feel.

It didn’t last. The model took 2002 off and when it popped up in a 2003 Convertibles 5-pack, the plastic base had returned. All 5 models in the pack had a similar theme, with the Hero City Sports logo and a different sport. This one was basketball related.

In 2004 Matchbox created an Easter 3-pack tube with 3 models sporting an Easter theme. The Chevy was one of the models in this tube.

And this was the year it finally started seeing realistic designs again as with the launch of the new Superfast series in 2004, the Bel Air Convertible was added in the number 61 slot in dark blue with silver pin striping. This was the first year though, and therefore it did see the blinged out wheels, as they didn’t want to use the retro 5-spokes on many models.

However, for 2005, after serious backlash from collectors over the bling wheels, a new wheel was created for “modern” vehicles, and the retro 5-spokes they created in 2004 for a select few were now added to all classic vehicles. Therefore the Chevy saw them in the 2005 series. As the series was a nod to the original Superfast series, and model still in the series from 2004 stayed in its position. So this was still number 61. But there were 2 looks. One for the ROW market (white) and one for the US market (blue).

In 2006 Mattel started working more closely with other conventions after running their own in Hershey PA before. With a move to El Segundo in CA, getting to Hershey for the 2005 convention proved to be quite difficult, whereas going from Mt Laurel in NJ previously was pretty easy. So they tagged into 2 different conventions, known as the West-East conventions (Charlie Mack’s CT convention and Jim Gallegos’ NM convention). They created 2 models for the event itself. A Jaguar E-type as a dinner model and a Ford Crown Victoria as a dealer model, both sporting the West-East logo on them. But in addition, they had a toy fair model. Although the model was in a box that had West-East logos on it, the model itself was a ’57 Bel Air in yellow with the same level of detailing as the Superfast items, but with no mention itself when loose as being a part of the promotion.

Another thing that happened in 2006 was a change to their larger packs. In the early to mid 2000s there was a routine. Each quarter they would release a launcher pack alongside 2 different assortments of 10-packs. These 10-packs would all be of models from core ranges. But in 2006 they changed the system. Instead of launchers there would be an action pack and the 10-packs would now feature an exclusive model in the upper corner. They only released 3 in 2006 before another tweak so them moving to just 10-packs in 2007. The Chevy was one of the first 2 castings that was the exclusive. Both this and the 1933 Ford Coupe Police were the same 2 castings in each pack, but for each new assortment they changed colour. Orange in the first assortment, pale blue in the second, and purple in the final. They also saw use of the classic disk wheel which was replaced with a newer wheel a few years later which is still in use.

In 2007 the model saw 1 use in a US Classics 5-pack in dark blue. Although if you were like me and looked closely, you would be able to find shades of dark blue.

Although if you weren’t as mad as me, you might have still enjoyed a short run where the tri-spokes were swapped out with that disk wheel again.

2008 saw a single use in the Best of International series, which at the time was a mid-level series placed between core and premium. So models did see just a little extra detailing over and above the core ranges, with this seeing white wall tyres too.

After that the model took 2009 off before popping up in the 2010 “Real” 10-pack in blue, now sporting the newer disk wheels.

After that the model lay quiet again, but has seen one more outing. Rather unusually in a period where many classics models were being dropped from the basic range, this one randomly came back. It was the 2013 MB15 in light blue. I do believe we will see it again. It is too iconic not to pop back up again.

So, now to the final bounce back. With a new Toyota in the range, let’s go with a big fan favourite, the MB764 (later MB990) ’68 Toyota FJ Land Cruiser.

This model was an instant classic when it first arrived in 2009. Definitely one of the most popular models of the year. It debuted in yellow as either MB89 in the US range, or as MB40 in both the LAAM and ROW ranges (due to the 3-way split at the time). Of course me being me, I did find the yellow was good for shade variations (and the white roof good for chipping dammit).

This was one of the models chosen to see 2 looks that year, and so later on it turned blue, and yet again I was finding shades.

They also had a red one appear in the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year.

2010 saw a number of outings for the model. In the basic range we saw this matte black model, with an Anaconda Tours side design appear. But only in the US (MB95) or LAAM (MB64) series. The ROW range did not get this model.

But everybody got the orange one, as it was included in the Desert Adventure 5-pack too.

But this was not all. The Adventure 10-pack also had one, in white with zebra striping and a Safari name.

It was also a part of the 1st year of the Lesney Edition series, which featured premium tampo printing on models plus what was being dubbed double diecast. The body and base of all models were made of metal.

in 2011 the model returned to worldwide release as it was MB95 for the US range or MB64 for both LAAM and now ROW too. It was dark blue, and much like the Chevy Bel Air I just showcased, me being me found shades of dark blue to it.

In 2012, with the range now reverting back to a single worldwide one, the model continued this year as MB68. It was now purple.

Which might not have seemed too different to the previous blue, but when placed side by side they are noticeably different.

It was also in a Mountain Adventure 5-pack that year in red with a Bear Tours theme.

2013 saw a tan model appear as MB90 in the basic range.

And in 2014 a brown model appeared as MB54. This is another of my “ooh I found shades” models. It was also the last time we would see MB764 as the model went through a retooling after this issue.

The retooling saw the kickstep, front wheel arch and grille all move from being a part of the body section to being a part of the interior section. It actually first appeared in the Jurassic World series. MB990 was one of the single releases for the first film, which were quite quickly put together as the license was secured last minute and they had little time to prepare anything.

Before later in the year appearing as MB11 in the basic range. Again, shades were pretty good with this model, and I found quite a variation between lighter and darker orange.

It took 2016 off before making a final appearance twice in 2017 (for now, I am sure it will be seen again). First off as MB120 in yellow.

Plus it was one of the models that appeared in the Walmart exclusive camouflage series too. As many know these models saw their camouflage appear in various configurations on the models, so these can have a number of different patterns. To date we have not seen another issue, but I am sure that will not last much longer.

But that does bring me to the end of yet another report. Another 3 new castings that appeared in batch E.

3 with a more utility feel to to them.

And 3 cars in white, grey and black.

So as I said, this is pretty much batch E done, but my Instagram account will showcase one more addition which was not included in power grab boxes, which is what I was working from with these. So keep an eye out for that in a few days, and next week will begin my 2-week stint of posting my blog reports just a tad early, as we move into the window for Leipzig. So have a good week and see you all back here (slightly earlier) next week.

15 Replies to “Matchbox Monday finishes with batch E 2021”

  1. Hello David. What a good Matchbox mix! This is the best Mini Cooper S to date. The silvery gray with black roof and the gray tinted six spokes really works for this casting. I agree with you about the new Subaru Forrester casting. It reminds me of the Mazda CX-5 in that the real vehicles are unremarkable but Matchbox created stellar versions with superb attention to detail. I fear it will meet the same fate as the CX-5. I’ve noticed this one isn’t flying off the pegs as fast as other toys in this mix. At least that is the case in my geographic region. Thanks for the history lesson with the 1934 Chevy Coupe. I didn’t know about the 1930s relationship between GM and Toyota. Toy collecting has led me to learn a lot about automotive history. Those Lesney toys from long ago exposed American kids to seemingly eccentric European vehicles we wouldn’t have known about otherwise. How else would we have known about an Opel Diplomat, Ford Corsair, or Fiat 1500? And that led to research about the real vehicles. Such a great hobby!

    1. I think they are prioritising food over toys at the moment due to the ongoing HGV driver shortage. Unfortunately it’s just a waiting game as to when they will restock and a guessing game of which batch will arrive.

    2. Your guess is as good as mine at the moment. I have been told “by the end of the month”, but that is not good. I popped by mine on the way to work this morning. A couple of 9-packs and an LEVC Taxi in the Best of section. That was it.

  2. I struggle and struggle and struggle to find batches of Matchbox constantly, and then this mix shows up and I can’t get away from it. Seems like for a solid couple months I’ve been finding this mix just about in its entirety everywhere I go. I hope this remains the case going forward, because I know I’ve missed out on a lot of models due to poor distribution, bad luck or both in the past.

    This is a solid case, and I think there are three highlights for me – one is the Jeepster (can’t get enough of it, and this is another stellar deco), the damn-near flawless BMW (with clear windows and chrome base!!). And finally, I too was absolutely blown away by the Forester, a completely unexpected gem. The tampo on this one is unreal, the casting itself is superb and a factory color is just icing on the cake. Since this mix has been so plentiful, I picked up a couple extras of the Subaru, and I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for real full size Jasper Green examples that I might be able to leave an MBX version tucked under the windshield wiper for. Just a little game to play with myself in parking lots when out shopping and whatnot.

    Anyway, great write-up as always, and my fingers are crossed that future batches remain this easy to find.

  3. I love the Forester. So refreshing to see a normal Subaru and a well done one at that. But, and it’s a but, the grey base and those wheels kind of ruin the whole look for me. Just look at the real car’s picture, a black base and higher profile wheels would’ve made it look perfect. But no, they decided to make it look cheap and plastic-y. That’s my only complaint. Otherwise, the model looks great.

  4. I can attest to Ben’s comment. I went months without finding any new batches and then mix 5 shows up and it’s absolutely everywhere!! Particularly Walmart (and even certain Dollar Trees) Every single one I go to is fully stocked of mix 5 almost in its entirety except for three: the ’34 Chevy Master Coupe, VW Golf GTI, and Toyota Hilux Pickup. Those get snagged immediately. Everything else is plentiful, particularly the ’19 Subaru Forester, ’69 BMW 2002, 2020 Honda E, ’71 Porsche 914, Ice Cream King, etc. It’s great to see full pegs again but I hope it’s not temporary. Hopefully batches going forward will be this plentiful and not just once in a blue moon or after months of drought phases.

    I can agree on the excellence that is the Subaru Forester. It’s nice to see such a common crossover S.U.V. in a factory color get made as a Matchbox because those are the castings that I adore the most and contributed my love towards Matchbox back in the mid-late 2000s. It does remind me of the Mazda CX-5 when it comes to an ordinary casting getting made but is a hidden gem that no one seems to realize. I say that because these are the pegwarmers. Nobody wants them. I guess all the excitement and hype goes towards the hyper cars, sports cars, trucks, JDM, etc. As a result, the common ones get overlooked.

    There is one gripe I have with this casting. Unlike Blackwind’s comment, what doesn’t ruin it for me are the wheels and color of the base. What ruins it for me is that unsightly metal safety post in the very back. Every single tall vehicle from Matchbox such as SUVs, hatchbacks, station wagons, and vans all get this god awful safety post to keep the engineering costs down. I remember 15 years ago when the Audi RS6 Avant came out and they managed to build it without an unsightly safety post. I believe the license plate bracket was holding the body and the base together. Other vehicles that came out at that time such as the Volvo XC90, Lincoln Navigator, Range Rover Sport, and Volvo C30 were all engineered like that. I would kill for those days right now! As nice as new Matchboxes are, they are plagued by severe cost-cutting measure to keep at their $1 price point. This wouldn’t have been the cast 10-15 years ago.

    1. Yeah the post issue is a side effect of the “drop” method they are now employing on models to keep the costs down. That was a big advantage with the slot method as it meant no unsightly posts in models. But it was slower to build and as such being dropped in favour of the more cost effective route.

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