Yea, that is a lot of “B”s. That just means this post is buzzing! Oh my puns get worse don’t they. And half the people have already clicked off. I promise no more bad “bee” puns.
This week I am amalgamating 2 sets of Batch B Best of series for one large post. I think I am close to catching up with things again and may start reducing down to 1 batch of items very soon. But as things move forward you might find me doing one batch of something, or amalgamating to 2 batches of things. Depends on how things go. I play it by ear most of the time. So this week, I am very grateful to Dirk Schleuer for also sending me more items along with my little box of Leipzig goodies (which you might have seen on my Instagram page or if you followed @dirk.schleuer on Instagram too). I present you with Best of Germany Batch B. Dirk sells them through his Moyshop.de website, which if you click the link to open in a new page it will be in German, but I think in Matchbox land it is easy enough to navigate for a non-German too. Of course if you were to buy things Dirk speaks good English too. So very easy to deal with.
So for those who are trying to remember, this set of 12 models only saw 5 in the first batch. 1/12 MB363 ’62 VW Beetle in orange, 2/12 MB1013 VW Transporter Crew Cab in red (carry forward 2020 9-pack issue), 3/12 MB966 BMW M5 Police in silver, 8/12 MB1200 ’76 VW Golf Mk1 GTi in red and 9/12 MB1173 ’69 BMW 2002 in blue (carry forward 2020 1-100 issue) which if you want a reminder, you can re-read about them here. But now we have the remaining 7 out for the full set of 12. So let’s fill in the gaps.
The first gap was 4/12, which is the MB1093 BMW i8 in white.
I am very happy to see this one return. I have to be honest, they created this casting, and then with the launch of moving parts in 2019 they created a second version with the opening doors. A great feature in general, but due to the way they had to assemble it, the large section required to hold the door in position was blocking half the window, so they blacked them out. Plus the doors being made of plastic instead of metal has so far meant that each release has seen quite a variance in shade between the doors and the rest of the model. So they sort of stand out a bit.
So this, to me, is a case of less is more. Don’t have the opening doors and the model actually looks better. I prefer it like this. I like the opening doors, but give me the option and I will go for this casting over the MB1144 version. So I am very happy to finally see a new release of the original. This looks stunning in white, with simple front and rear detailing.
Now I do notice there is no blue stripe down the side. Every release so far had seen one, so I guess BMW have allowed them to not do it. It was a thin little line anyway, but was BMW’s way of denoting the hybrid powered model. I wasn’t particularly fussed over having it on the model, so it makes little difference to me.
Just to recap this casting. This is still its one and only basic range release to date. the MB4 debut from 2018 in metallic black, noting the little blue stripe down the side which on this was actually on the base section which sticks out on the side.
Then in 2019 it was used as a Target exclusive in USA as part of their 50th Anniversary Superfast set. Note how the blue side stripe was actually placed on the lower edge of the body to this one, alongside the 50th Superfast logo.
And now this one. Yes this is the entire release history of the MB1093 casting. 3 to date. I really hope there are still more coming. It’s such a cool model.
Oh yes! The first batch contained 3 VWs and 2 BMWs. Zero Porsches! But we have 1 now as number 5 of 12. I am quite surprised we only got the 1 Porsche in the whole set. I mean if I had it my way it would just be a Best of Porsche set. Nothing but Porsches. But I might not be in the majority wanting that. But it is good to see the MB729 Porsche 911GT3 making a return again.
And I definitely cannot complain at seeing a red one. Oh boy, this is sweet!
Beautifully done with front and rear tampo printing. It didn’t need much more than that.
Now there may be some who are wondering if this is a carry forward model. It isn’t. I will bring in the one that they may be thinking of for this next bit.
It was the 2007 MB3 version 2. This is to date the only other time we have seen a red GT3. But as you can see here, it is a slightly lighter shade. Oh wait, that is not the reason why it is not a carry forward. It’s the tampo printing. As you might notice the original has lower side light printing, and if somebody was to look carefully, the detailing in the headlights is different. To be a carry forward, the one thing that would be the same would be the tampo design. We might see a small alteration to it, perhaps an updated logo, or a colour might have altered. But the tampo itself would be recognizable as being the same. With front detailing around grilles and headlights, it is not too east to see.
But it is the other areas. The rear lights are very different. The GT3 logo is a completely different colour. But the main giveaway is the license plate. A carry forward would still be sporting the same R54 815 20 license plate as the original. I always enjoyed those codes. “Red Hot”. So seeing a clearly different tampo design makes sure that we know it is a new release, and not a carry forward.
Now number 6 of 12 is a carry forward. But I still got 2. Thanks Dirk!
For those who might have forgotten, the MB1038 ’90 VW Golf Country is one of those “dual” models, which in this case is all about the rear parcel shelf. The model sports 2 different sets of items in them.
But this being me, I had to take both to be sure, just in case there was a variation between this and the original issue. Talking of which, let’s bring it (them) in.
As you can see, the latest release is a carry forward of the “official” 2017 MB4 debut. I am air quoting official as people may remember when it debuted the first production run was wrong and it was released in green. It was then immediately altered to metallic teal where it ran until being dropped from assortments. I am sure there are those who say why didn’t they redo the original green as it was a much shorter run, well as I mentioned. It was wrong, they had to do a correction to alter it after production began. So they couldn’t do that one again.
Not that I mind because the new production run is a much paler shade of teal. You can see quite clearly the new one at the front (both are the same shade on each pairing) is significantly lighter.
With a gap of close to 4 years between production runs I was hopeful, hence me wanting both interior variants again. I love stuff like this.
Next up is number 7 of 12. This is the MB726 Audi R8. Daft fact, this was the one that was originally scheduled for batch A, but a slight blip nudged it to batch B instead. Somebody doesn’t cross a “t” or dot an “i” fast enough, and a model might need a nudge into a later assortment. These things happen. It’s a big old world out there, with lots of different arrangements all being made at the same time. They work to very tight deadlines on so many items, and the slightest of delays can cause ripples. Missing a deadline by hours could have a much larger knock on effect. It’s a big juggling act, and I for one am amazed in this day and age how they manage to get as many items out on time as they do. So when a model gets nudged back a batch or 2, I am just thankful they are still coming and bide my time.
I think it was worth the wait. I really like this one. A sort of a baby blue shade with blacked out wheels and simple front and rear detailing.
Yes, this is a lovely one. Definitely one of my favourites out of this casting.
I know there used to be a time when the side blades were blacked out too, but I am not bothered. I am sure there is a customizer out there who will black out their side blades. But I got to thinking. Is this the same baby blue as the new MB1242 Audi TT RS?
The answer is no. That was a different shade of blue. This is quite a bit paler in comparison. Matchbox often try to replicate real colours on models. The R8 had a special edition done in what is known as Riviera Blue. That is the colour that Matchbox are replicating here. And bear in mind the black blade was an option on the Riviera Blue, so technically they are still doing the correct look too. The TT RS shade is known as Turbo Blue and is a darker hue direct from Audi. So as you can see, Matchbox have done an awesome job in creating models of real looks too.
So we could have seen 2 identically shaded Audi models this year, but Matchbox have taken things a step further and replicated official Audi colour choices on models of 2 of their cars. That is the level of commitment that Matchbox are doing, and something that we as buyers often overlook.
Hello carry forward. Yes, another one we have actually seen before. This is the MB728 Mercedes-Benz Unimog U300. It takes the number 10 slot in the set of 12.
I do enjoy a Unimog. It’s funny. In the late 1940s, and ex-Mercedes-Benz designer by the name of Albert Friedrich was left unemployed, and decided to create an agricultural vehicle a bit like a tractor but much taller for better off-road capability and 4-wheel drive. After getting approval for construction, he worked closely with another ex-Merc man, Heinrich Rößler in creating this vehicle. The width was 2 potato sacks. That was a specific size due to what they were planning for it. But the engines were not suitable, so both being ex-Mercedes men they approached Daimler Benz and were granted use of their new diesel engine. Production was by hand in 1948 by Boehringer, but in 1950 after only 600 had been made, they knew it needed a faster turnaround, so they sold it to Mercedes-Benz and the rest is history.
I say that because I have grown up loving the Unimog. From the classic Lesney issue which was still (just) around when I was born, and every single issue since, I have always been so happy to see a new Unimog release. Even when it is a carry forward. So let’s bring in the last HDR issue for a comparison.
Wait? Oh yes, this is a random case of alternate colour scheme with the same design. This was something that used to be done a lot, but not so much during the Mattel era. This was another thing I loved about this. After we had a blip with the Mercedes-Benz license after 2009 finished, we never saw any until 2017, and the first one we saw from Unimog? The HDR model now on a tan vehicle in the Explore the River 5-pack. They had simply used the last basic range release from 2009 and changed all the colours for it. And now it is back to the 2009 look again.
Which I bring in now. Sold as MB70 in the 2009 range, the model sports the same HDR design as the 2017 5-pack model and now the new one. But with 12 years between these 2, there are a few differences.
First of all, the shade of sea green is so much lighter. Quite significant on the model on the right.
But also, look at the wheels. Originally sporting 6-spokes, it now sports the notched wheels that have been around for quite a while but rarely used. I wonder if this is the beginning of a resurgence for them?
If you were to get really technical in the interim the base has been re-worded with alternate information added in too. It’s weird how things go. They needed some sort of country information for where to list items legally, so added their Netherlands address because it can be shortened so much. 1186,MJ,1,NL. But that also meant they had to clarify that the model was “made in” Thailand. But in doing so, they also dropped the “Inc” off the end of Mattel, and oddly the scale of 1:84. But apart from making some legal alterations to the base wording, there has been no change to the casting. It is still as it was. They got it right first time.
I did wonder because a number of pick-up trucks had alterations to include a different segment making up the bed of the rear whether this one might end up going down that route. I don’t think it needed it. Keep on Unimogging!
Now this brings us to number 11 of 12. the MB696 Audi RS6 Avant. This one is a carry forward.
It comes in metallic blue with simple front and rear detailing.
A black interior and 5-spoke wheels.
It is actually a carry forward of the 2019 MB16. Considering the model has been around since 2006, it is a shame they didn’t dig back into the archives more for this particular carry forward. But I still found a different shade.
Plus check out the license plate on the rear. The one on the right is the latest Best of Germany issue. That is so much larger than it was just 2 years ago in the basic range. Significantly larger. So it may only be 2 years out from the previous run, but they saw a notable change to the rear.
This was the original release. First appearing back in the 2006 basic range as MB5. A different blue with different wheels and a totally different tampo scheme front and rear.
This too also saw a baby blue paint (again different to the R8) as it was in the 2008 basic range as MB38.
2009 was also MB36, and again was a different metallic blue, and now had a tan interior.
So technically, there are 4 blues it could have carried forward from, but even though they went with the last one, they still managed to eke out a difference. I just love this stuff.
Finally, in the Best of Germany section, we have the MB1056 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6. Another carry forward. This is a repeat of the debut basic range version.
So this means it comes in tan, with black windows and a simple all-round design.
Because both sides as well as front and rear got printed on.
I have to admit, this was the one I was worried about the most. Back in 2017, I found 2 noted shades to the MB91 debut. As you can see in this picture, they are quite different. just how would the new one stack up against them?
Turns out nice enough for me. Newbie is on the right. It is an even paler shade of tan than any 2017 issue I discovered. Every other detail matched. This is literally a case of a shade variation for me. But that is good enough for what I collect. So I am extremely happy with all 7 (or 8 if you include both Golfs) of this batch B of the Germany set.
This now moves me on to the other half of the new additions. Best of UK batch B. Again, this batch was sent over in my box from Dirk. I have to be honest, I was unsure as to when Tesco UK would actually start selling them. Well guess what? They appeared in store the day I got my box. Literally! The actual day. Was I upset? Nope! Because this is me we are talking about, and I am extremely happy I had a set sent over from Dirk which you will see why shortly.
As a reminder, the first batch was reviewed here and consisted of 1/12 MB1086 Scania P360 fire Engine in red, 2/12 MB1167 ’11 Mini Cooper Countryman in grey, 5/12 MB975 ’15 Jaguar F-type in blue, 9/12 MB1213 ’71 MGB GT Coupe in red (carry forward 2020 1-100 issue), 10/12 MB697 ’97 Land Rover Defender 110 in green (carry forward 2016 Land Rover set issue) and 11/12 MB1208 LEVC TX Taxi in black (carry forward 2020 1-100 issue).
Now as we had 6 in the first batch, obviously batch B is the same again for a full set of 12. I will continue running in number order, which means for the UK set we begin with a BMW.
The MB966 BMW M5 Police is the model in question. Yes, the BMW is German, but as I have always stressed with these series, it is not about where the real vehicle comes from. These are about vehicles that would look like they would be seen on the streets of the country in question. Well BMW police cars are a pretty common sight in the UK. So this works well. Perhaps Matchbox would consider a Jaguar police car in the future?
It was mentioned before they were hoping to get the Kent Police look for the model, but sadly it was not to be. So it has a different look, which still looks very British in its design. Plus, this model also sees a lovely front end design as we usually see just the 2 sides. Mind you, that is something we tend to see from this casting all the time. I am not sure if it is a stipulation by BMW for a police variant that it still needs a front end detail (maybe just the BMW badge has to be there) or not, but either way I am very happy to see it.
The model features a Keel District Police look. Totally fictitious, but believable. I love the little taglines running over the battenburg striping. “Serving your community with pride” features at the back ends, and “Official Business – Crime Scene Division” on the doors. I like this one. And I have to be honest, from what I can on the pegs at my local Tesco stores, this is definitely one of the better sellers. But are you thinking perhaps this looks a little familiar? Well there is a reason. As they were going for the Kent Police design, they were not actively creating their own. So when time ran out for the license to be applied, there was a very tiny window to do something else.
So they just went with a design that had already been done. This was originally on the 2017 Best of issue. It was the most “British looking” of all the previous issues. But with that being black, it does look totally different being on white.
That was a premium product so did see a rear print too, which was omitted for this one, but they did also squeeze in one little extra. The new one is unit number 8. The old one, unit number 9. They make for a great pair, and to be honest, I actually really like this. I have mentioned in the past of my love for using the same design in alternate colours. So in lieu of not having a Kent Police official design on the model, this is actually my second best choice. An alternate to a previous issue. Really. I don’t know why they don’t do it more often. Come up with a cool design on a model, and then just run it in an alternate colour too. Plus make a small change like with the 8 instead of 9 and I am all in.
Next up is number 4 of 12. The MB706 Lotus Exige. This was a surprising addition, as we have not seen the Exige in 7 years.
Even more surprising is the fact it is still unaltered. Many models have now lost their unique rear wings, which have been re-cast into the body sections. But no, this one is still original. Great stuff.
It comes in a lovely dark British Racing Green, which at first I thought was a carry forward. Actually it is not.
I honestly thought it was the return of the 2009 basic range issue. How wrong was I? This is new. Sure that was a dark green, but it was metallic. Although front end tampo detailing was similar, that featured the louvres seeing printing and the spoiler was in roughly the same shade of green as the body. The new one in solid green has rear tampos and a black spoiler. Plus the wheels are different. This is an all-new look for the model. Not a carry forward. You know what I just realized too. I haven’t done a dive back into the history of anything here. So I think we are about due.
This model debuted as MB12 in the 2007 basic range in yellow.
Before moving to a light green version 2 later in the year. Ooh shades! Yes, i found shades on that one.
And as part of a busy start to life it was also included in the 1st Editions 10-pack at the end of the year. I like green shades, and on this one the green stripes came in different shades.
2008 saw it in blue as MB15. Again I found shades.
I was on a roll with this one. It was a part of the Best of British series that year too, int a different blue, which again was good for shades. I discovered more of a purple hue to some than others.
It was also in the Superfast series that year and came with this awesome 2-colur striped look. Oh that was really good. One of my favourite looks for this casting.
And obviously we then move to the 2009 issue. Similar, but not the same. The 2009 MB17 has never been carried forward. It was also the only issue that year.
In 2010 it was orange as MB11. Again shades of orange exist as I found lighter and darker hues.
Butth is time we get a second release, as it was a part of the all-exclusive “Real” 10-pack that year.
Ooh 2-colour stripes. Remember me saying the Superfast was one of my favourite looks for this casting. That is because this is the other one. The 2011 MB10. Blue with one yellow and one white stripe, and a 7 roundel on top too. This was so cool.
2012 saw the last time it was sold as a basic range issue. Not bad going, getting 6 years of basics in 1 go. It was also the only time the basic range number didn’t start with a “1”. It was MB45 in red with black stripes.
After it was dropped from the basic range it was almost gone completely. But before this latest addition, there was 1 more. The 2014 MBX Exotics 5-pack issue in blue. Another that was really good for shade variations. I actually have 5. In hand I can see different shades of blue in each, but line them up for a photo and they tend to blur into each other. I am very happy to see this return now.
Next up is the final “new” release for the batch. With 3 new designs and 3 carry forwards, the rest will all have been seen before. But this one, the MB1184 ’65 Land Rover Gen II Safari is all new.
Of course I needed 2, because this features a removable roof section that comes in 2 different looks. Dirk knew that and made sure I got both.
A close up of the 2 different roof elements on the 2 loose models. This is the first time they have been made in grey. The models though, this burgundy looks really nice, although I have to admit it didn’t pop while in the blister.
But loose, ooh I really like it. As has been the case with a lot of the releases so far, this model sports a simple front and rear tampo design. I for one, love the front/rear look.
So I am very happy seeing this continuing that theme.
As a quick reminder, the model debuted in 2019 in blue with front/rear tampos. Mb64 in the basic range that year.
It also got the Leipzig Convention treatment, through Dirk too. Yellow show model, green convention, white early bird and blue helper model. These were unusual in that they sported glued in roof elements. So they cannot be mixed and matched.
2020s MB63 is currently the only issue of the Land Rover that has not seen the front and rear tampo. Leipzig models were promos and so had tampo all over. But these saw simply a snakeskin style side design and Jungle Safari theme.
Before it reverted back to the lovely front and rear look for the 2001 MB91 in green. i am very happy seeing the front and rear look continue.
Plus, with this model sporting removable roof sections, you know I have to have a little fun mixing and matching. How does brown and green look?
Or grey on the models they came from? So much fun.
Hello. Strictly speaking, this is a carry forward. Number 7 of 12 is the MB765 ’64 Austin Mini Cooper 1275S. This is a Mr Bean licensed model that was first issued only last year. But there is one small teddy sized difference.
They went and popped a chair on top.
They could have gone the traditional route and come up with either an empty chair or try to cast Mr Bean himself on to the chair. But they decided to do things just a little different, and put teddy in the chair. That made me smile. So this different creative look has gone down a storm with me. You know it is Mr Bean’s car, but it has teddy on it. So cool!
Of course this is just a simple add-on piece that clips on the roof.Such a great little add-on.
So do you remember me saying how I was still happy to have received Dirk’s set of Best of UK considering Tesco UK had them in? Well look what we have here. Shades! Yes, surely you would have guessed that already. Dirk’s model has much more of a greenish hue to it than the one that was in Tesco.
That is because of the big difference in production dates. Dirk had an assortment dated P14, whereas Tesco UK got an assortment dated P28. Fourteen weeks later. So that caused quite a difference in shade of Mini. So yes, I was very happy.
This was how it looked when it first debuted last year. No chair (obviously).
Also more of a greenier shade to that one.
Of course for those who remember, it was MB117 in the 2017 basic range too, but this was not an official Mr Bean model. Just a light green with black hood, randomly looking a lot like it.
although if you were to put those alongside they were definitely much more green.
Of course, you know what this also means. Musical Chairs! Do you get it? The red Mini at the back looks a bit like it has a record on the side. No? I why do I bother. It was the 2013 MB12. The front red one was the 2009 MB2 debut year issue. One of 2 that year as it was doubled up.
Of course I could have fun with these all day. Especially because you can put teddy on backwards. The 2013 60th Anniversary model shows that the chair slots on either way. And teddy wants to go racing with the 2010 Lesney Edition model at the front. But enough of that, I have more models to go through.
So this is a little unusual. Another carry forward, perfectly fine. It is the MB688 ’61 Jaguar E-type in light blue.
It was originally MB6 in the 2008 basic range. So yeah, a carry forward, and a chance for small variations as I like.
But this is the kicker. This particular loose model is not the Best of UK number 8 of 12. Nor is it the 2008 basic range issue. This is in fact the 2021 MBX Exotic 5-pack model. The MBX Exotic 5-pack is a carry forward 5-pack. Something they have been doing recently in bringing back past liveries for various random models, and lumping them together in themed packs for new sales. Something, again as a variation collector, I am enjoying. But they did the same carry forward for both Best of UK and the 5-pack worldwide. With 19 previous mainline issues of the model to choose from, surely this could have been 2 different carry forwards. If they wanted blue, there were 4 other blue issues to choose from too. I know I am usually very upbeat. Big fan of what they are doing, and the current stuff as a whole I am absolutely loving, whether they be brand new or carry forward models. But once in a while, something does catch me out, and I think “D’oh”! Doing my best Homer Simpson impersonation there.
I did compare to my MBX Exotic model and it was identical, but now I bring in the 2008 basic range issue to compare.
The 2021 issue (or should I say issues as we have 2 of them) is on the left. A slightly different shade of blue, and notice the window is also a lighter smoke tint. The silver pin striping is also not as pronounced either. A lovely model, and as a carry forward I am happy to see it. I would have just preferred it in either the 5-pack of Best of UK, not both. The other range should have had a different carry forward.
Okay after that I move to the last model. Another carry forward, this time the MB761 ’72 Lotus Europa Special.
Only being carried forward to this series, I was happy to see it and find out if this was somehow different to its original release. That was in the 2010 basic range as MB21.
Where it appeared in a very similar all-yellow look with a chrome interior. So let’s dig out my 2010 to find out.
Well actually, I found shading on that to begin with at the time. Darker vs lighter yellow were to be found during production so this could be fairly tough.
It’s sitting on the right here. Again you might notice that the window tint is not as smokey as before. But the yellow itself it fairly close to my lighter shade from 2010.
But then we come to the rear. It is now in the middle, and you may notice how it has Lotus printed out over the rear. the other do too, but they were in a very light silver and you can barely see it on the models. They have significantly darkened the printing so it is more pronounced. So yes, again I am very happy with this new addition to my collection.
Which does bring me to the end of the “new” part of my report. I didn’t do too many dive backs with it as with 13 models I was going through, I felt it would make the report way too long if I was to do many of those and my next part.
Because as people who have been following these know, I not finish my report with my dive back of “inspired by” models. This week I begin with a cool Lesney issue. I did mention long ago in a galaxy far far away. No wait, that was Star Wars. But it did feel like it was that long ago in this report, I do love a Unimog. So with the U300 being in the Best of Germany set, I ad to dig out the first Unimog that Matchbox made. The 406 series.
The model actually arrived back in 1967, still during the regular wheel era, which I don’t collect so cannot show. It was first in tan with a teal base, but in 1968 turned blue with a dark red base. This transferred to Superfast wheels in 1970 to become MB49-A. now this is where things can get quite complicated. You see, when Lesney were changing their vehicles from regular wheels into Superfast wheels, they also wanted to make the paint jobs brighter. So with the Unimog, their plan was to change it from solid blue into metallic blue.
Because metallic are brighter right? Well in this case, not really. At first they still had a lot of the original solid blue paint from the regular wheel model, so they finished that off, then swapped the model to metallic. But it didn’t really make a lot of difference, so in 1971 they went back to solid.
Of course there are differences to be found. They had a habit of highlighting the front of models with a slab of silver paint. Except they often forgot to do it. These are both metallic blues from 1970 featuring silver or no silver on the front.
Plus these new large maltese cross wheels they developed for the more rugged vehicles, well they had 2 different edges. The ones on the left here are the more normal looking “flatter” edged wheels. But the ones on the right were what is known as the balloon wheel, as they are very rounded, as if over-pumped up like a balloon.
It is not always easy to spot the wheel type when viewed from the side.
Of course the solid blue went through the same scenario. With or without silver trim? Check.
Balloon vs flat wheels? Check. I am going to point out, the axle covers on these are black. They can be found in red. I didn’t care. Others might.
but as I mentioned, the early 1970 Superfast were using the leftover blue paint from the regulars, and in 1971 they went back to the solid blue running for 2 more years. So you get plenty of shades.
I believe the one in the middle here is a late run where it was really blue. If you know what I mean. The others are more like a sea-blue shade.
Which really makes it stand out from the metallic. And yes I do believe that is so much brighter.
So in 1973 they replaced the Unimog with a Chop Suey in the basic range, but the model was not gone for ever. In 1978 it was added to the Twin Pack series in the TP-13 slot.
It would usually be paired with a Field Gun (that didn’t come with a diorama).
Some models also came with a free ammunition case included too. But not all of them.
The plan was that the model was to sport a star label on the front, and the majority of them during its 2 year production run did see the label. However, a few didn’t. You might find one with no label at all, but the alternate that did see action was an “A” label.
Which was leftover from the TP-12 Field Car release. After 1979 the model was dropped from twin pack usage and retired.
I next got inspired by a very British yellow car and a British looking police car. This is the MB8-D/MB8-F/MB008 Rover 3500.
The model first arrived in 1981. A number of pre-production examples exist, and I do own one myself. This silver model was an early prototype for what they were looking for.
Although at the time of this model, they still hadn’t quite figured out the opening sunroof. You might notice how the tab used to slide it open is a central nub, whereas the production model had a full length notch. It would also close into a raised window section, but by the time production began that had been cut out and you simply slid it over to the roof.
Then there is the yellow. This was how the model was shown in the catalogue as planned to be released. It was one of the last models coming in 1981 and we were expecting yellow. But at the very last second they switched it to bronze. But they made a small batch. Not wanting to waste them, they threw them in the G-1 Auto Transporter set. Most of these were found in the UK at the time and are pretty rare.
With the basic range issue coming in bronze now. It ran for 2 years, the 1981 year worldwide, but 1982 saw it just in the ROW range, as the US range had swapped the De Tomaso Pantera back in to the slot. During those 2 years we saw a wide range of shades of bronze.
We also saw variations elsewhere too. Shown here are 2 different tan interiors. The darker tan doesn’t tend to pop up as often.
But neither does the white interior. There is also a scarce wheel variation which I almost had, but missed out on. You can find it with maltese cross wheels, but again they are very rare and barely ever pop up for sale. By the end of 1982 the MB8-D version of the model had been assigned the MAN number MB008, but when Universal took over they changed the casting.
As Lesney finished up, new toolings were in short supply, so Universal asked for the R&D guys to do what they could to give the impression of more new tools. One of them was to modify the Rover 3500 into a police car. Which to me was a shame, as my favourite part of the model was the opening sunroof. It is the only Matchbox they have ever done an opening sunroof on, and I was so sad to see it go. The new tooling kept the MB008 manufacturing number, but was assigned a new slot in the range. The De Tomaso Pantera had also been revamped for the US market into Greased Lightning, and so MB8-C became MB8-E and MB8-D became MB8-F. Are you following? Yeah this is all complicated stuff.
The model ran for 3 years in its initial look. With with black stripes and Police on a yellow background. Many variations exist, and it is fairly easy to date them. You see in 1983 when they first issued it, the beacon on the roof was chromed. This was a 1-year deal. As was often the case, anything chromed often got left unchromed later on. It was a common scenario. So these 2 are 1983s. Notice how one is a more creamy white than the other. The interior varied in shades of tan and the window varied in shades of blue.
Of course there is a rare variation with a black interior too. There are 2 other extremely rare variations I am still to obtain. Clear windows. They exist. A tiny batch where they forgot to tint them blue. Plus, the model is known to exist where they forgot to tampo it. I mean, this was still the England factory and they were always good like that.
In 1984 they stopped chroming the beacon. Officially the blank models can be found with both chrome and black beacons, so it wasn’t just a one-off thing. Black interiors exist with black and chrome beacons, but clear windows only with chrome beacons.
In 1985 production moved to Macau. Windows on the Macau models tend to be a little more greenish in their hue, but beware, Macau blue plastics tend to fade to green over time anyway depending on how they are being stored. Heat and light tend to speed up the process.
A base shot between 1984 England and 1985 Macau.
The model ran for one more year in the ROW range in 1986 and saw a nice new design for it. the jam sandwich look as we called it in the UK.
It only ran the 1 year before they replaced the model. However, it did see extra uses in multipacks. In fact so much so that in 1990 production moved to China.
Base shot again with Macau and China. After the 1991 Super Value Pack issue the model was retired once and for all.
So as I continue shuffling through, I reach a later point in the 1990s and a BMW. Well, both the UK and German sets had a BMW in their batches, so I had to do one somewhere.
This was one of the later Tyco creations, first arriving in 1997. The MB297 BMW Z3. Now as per usual I don’t own all the premium issues of this casting yet (1997 premium in silver, 1998 premium in red, 1999 Coke premium in white and 2002 Coke premium in red to get), but I do have the Inaugural one. Because that was the first ones off the production line. This was a time in the Matchbox history where they created a special set of models where they ran the first 10,000 off the line, and painted half of them in highly detailed liveries, leaving the other half completely blank. This was an attempt to show off the handiwork of the castings when they were still fresh, before any wear started showing. They both sported 2-part rubber wheels though. Although you may notice the zamac raw model did actually see the tonneau cover to the interior was painted black. None of the rest was detailed though. That was an unusual thing to see on a completely plain model.
After that the model hit the basic range. But, depending on which market you were in depended on which model you had. As a US release, it was MB25, and came in red and featured a splashy design over the front and sides. But the ROW market released the model as MB61, but instead of the splash, the red model simply had a silver rear light depiction.
The USA market also had their 75 Gold Challenge that year, and 10,000 BMWs were in plain gold randomly mixed in USA releases boxes.
For 1998 the model moved to a single number worldwide, MB5. It also moved to a single design too. But what did split was production. Early models were made in Thailand, but mid way through it was shipped off to China to finish. This does leave the model with a slightly different blue shade.
It also meant that both markets saw the splashy look that had debuted the year before in the US market. I love that they just simply switched the blue and red around. As I keep saying, love these alternate colours for same design models.
And a base shot of the 2 countries if anybody was interested.
1999 again saw the model split designs for different markets. However, the majority saw the dark red with Z3 on the sides. This was MB50 in the US market and MB45 in the majority of ROW markets. However Germany saw a unique range that year. They also saw a unique Z3 as the charcoal with headlights depicted was MB20 there.
For 2000 the US market dropped the model, but it continued as an ROW exclusive. MB3 that year was black with front and rear lights depicted.
We also saw a green Auto Cargo Launcher set model in the debut year of Launchers, and this featured a more detailed light design.
We also saw the model produced as a blank for the ASAP/Color Comp people to use for promotionals. It does look a lot like the debut ROW issue from 1997, but there is a difference.
The blanks are, as the name implies, blank. The 1997 debut had silver rear lights depicted.
For 2001 it was still going in the ROW basic range. This time it was MB61 and came in metallic green with lights depicted again.
What you also discovered was, something that Mattel were doing at the time was switching models from plastic to metal bases, and the Z3 was switched for this release too.
Another thing that appeared in 2001 was an Egg-Mobile model. It looked a lot like the 2000 ROW issue.
But it did sport different shades of rear lights.
And the concave 5-star wheels were an alternate style. They had a much thicker edge to the designs for adding hot foil to. Some do attempt to find models with both styles of wheel, as to some that was a difference. I have to admit, it was not something I actively hunted, and the rear lights was enough for me. After this (and the 2002 Coke premium) the casting was dropped from usage completely due to BMW making a request for a special series of dealer models in 2002. When Matchbox showed them this casting, they deemed it not to be good enough for this promotion that was literally taking place inside German dealerships. One of the major sticking points was the lack of wing mirrors. After an attempted quick fix by simply adding them, it looked off, so Matchbox just went back to the drawing board and created a whole brand new Z3 casting from scratch. MB533 (as well as MB538 for use in standard ranges as MB533 had opening doors, MB538 didn’t). Because of the brand new casting, this was no longer required and never seen again.
So how to finish off? Well, did you find it strange I didn’t take the opportunity to run through the MB729 Porsche 911GT3 when I showcased it earlier on in the blog? I decided as a grand finish I would run through them all. Because, you know it is a Porsche and it deserves to be the headliner. Of course I am not biased.
It begins in 2007. Way early in 2007, as I do own 2 prototypes of the model. One in black and one in olive.
Two different stages of prototype levels too as the black has no details on the base, but the olive does. I do love a prepro.
It debuted as MB3 in the basic range, and this was during the era of doubling up some of the models in the range too, after an initial white release, later on it turned red.
And of course they also added it to the First Editions 10-pack at the end of the year in yellow too.
In 2008 it saw just the one basic range issue, as MB17 in a very dark green.
But did see other uses too. This silver issue was a part of the VIP5 5-pack.
Plus it was a part of the 2008 Superfast series. This whole batch of models was initially run in standard Superfast wheels that were in use at the time, but the entire set of 10 saw a small run at the end where the wheels on them all were switched to standard wheels in use in the basic range. So this reverted from the Superfast 5-spoke into the double 10-spokes we would normally see. They kept the gunmetal grey hot foil printing going for the wheels though.
2009 saw the first appearance of a side stripe. MB20 for the basic range was black and had GT3 striping along the lower sides. Lovely!
We saw another grey 5-pack issue. Modern Rides was a noticeably darker grey than the VIP5 5-pack issue the year before.
Side by side of the 2 for comparison.
2010 and another side striped basic. Even better, MB14 that year was in blue and I found shades were quite noticeable on that one.
This model was a very special exclusive Mattel internal release that I was helped out with by a fellow collector (Shabbir Malik, thanks Shabbir again). I have no idea how many were made, but they were not sold in public. These were given to employees as a congratulations to Bob Eckert for his role as Chairman of the company.
It was to celebrate his 10-year anniversary in the role, which had begun in 2000. A Happy 10th banner down the sides and across the rear license plate (as well as his picture on the roof) adorned this unique special edition 911GT3.
And just in case you were wondering, no they were not originally the 2008 VIP5 5-pack models wiped and re-tampoed or anything. This is a very bright silver, and the rear spoiler is a very pale silver compared to anything else. No, these were an exclusive 1-off production run for this unique offering. As I said, I have no idea how many were actually made. It is a very rare model, and one of the pride and joys of my collection. Hence me also wanting to do a proper rundown of this casting.
So 2011. The year things started to change. As the decade began, Mattel wanted Matchbox to tweak things. Designs started to be a little more avant-garde shall we say before they started bringing in brighter colour schemes and a move towards vehicles as seen from a small child’s perspective. The Porsche was MB12 in the range in green with a Team MBX 2 side design and deep green wheel hubs. It wasn’t a terrible design, but in comparison to what had preceded it, the model was met with a rather mixed reaction. Although not so much from me, because at all the green shades. Yes, I own 5 significantly different shades of green of this model. It varied so much. I was having a field day picking them all up.
Luckily as things started to veer more in one direction, the Porsche 911GT3 actually broke away and began to veer back! Yay! In 2012 it was MB85. It came with an orange stripe down the sides, and wheels to match. Funnily enough they had a few models using that orange hot foil printing to them. However, they received a faulty batch of the chemical used to make the hot foil and they were unable to use it on one production model. So all those models (I know there was a Desert Thunder V16 and Cliff Hanger in production at the time too) temporarily switched to chrome hot foil, until another batch of orange arrived. The chrome ones are definitely much tougher to find.
2013 and it was MB88 in the basic range. White, a lot like the debut offering, but this time it sported a side design and a red rear spoiler. A little more flashy than 2012, but look closely. The same GT3 side stripe, but it simply has MBX over the front and a black and silver strip. Nothing too over the top.