Matchbox Monday finishes 2020 and starts 2021 Batch F

This week, with many thanks to Wheel Collectors who sent over the batch in both long card and power grab form, I am beginning my journey through the final batch of 2021. Batch F contains 17 new additions to the 2021 basic range of 100. However, up to and including batch E, we were up to 82 models released to date. So this does mean there is still one more model to come. I have to make sure that people know that the series is not finished yet.

Because of this. The MB1219 ’19 Mazda 3. Many have correctly marked this down, but some have mistakenly placed it as the MB3 slot in the 2021 range. This is because MB3 is currently empty. It will be filled by the MB1229 ’94 Lexus LS400. That model is due in a future mix. Hopefully it will be batch B of 2022. Don’t hold me to that though, as final “i”s are dotted and “t”s crossed. Sadly, this is another in the case of models getting held up. This has happened for many years, and is not a recent thing. Considering how messed up 2020 was in general, the fact that Matchbox were able to get out 98 out of the 100 models in the 2020 basic range on time was a pretty remarkable feat. There were 2 hold outs. The MB4 slot was slated to debut the MB1202 ’20 Western Star 4900 Cab and the MB41 slot was the MB1219 ’19 Mazda 3. Work continued to progress these 2 models through, and as a general rule, they get the following year’s range to pop up as a late addition. The Mazda made it by the FINAL final deadline. Sadly, the Western Star just missed it. Sure, they could have put it in 2022 batch A as a 2020 late issue, but the thing is, the Mazda does not feature a number. If they had marked the package down as 41/100 like they do with other vehicles, it would be even more confusing for those who were collecting the 2021 series. We already had a 41/100, the MB1213 ’71 MGB GT in British Racing Green. So by leaving the number off, it is Matchbox’ way of telling us that the model was from last year. So you see where the Western Star starts becoming even more difficult. Had they put it out in batch A of 2022, they would leave the packaging blank. But that would make people think it is a late addition for 2021. But it wasn’t. The Lexus is, and will likely see a blank where the number would be when it appears. But by giving themselves the following year to finish a model, that FINAL final deadline has to be the end. The good news is though, the Western Star is done. It is actually now going to debut as a Convoy model in the first batch of 2022. So it was not forgotten. It is just the way it goes sometimes. Some licenses can be sorted quickly, others may have a few stumbling blocks along the way that cause a model to be delayed. There is no guarantee that all that was previewed for 2022 will actually appear in 2022. You may find a model running late. You may find a model may drop out, and another originally planned for an early 2023 release might make an early arrival later on in 2022 to replace it. the Matchbox team do work quite far in advance and have to juggle a lot of licenses through the entire line-up (not just basics, but 5-packs, 9-packs, Moving Parts, Collector, Skybusters, Convoy, Best of etc). Each license works differently, and they all need to come together to make a model. Especially if a model is from a licensed company and features logos also from a licensed company.

So was waiting a whole year for the 2020 MB41 worth it? I think so. It’s a lovely model, and I thoroughly enjoy seeing the regular vehicles that you see out on the roads. Every time I see a real life Mazda 3, I smile, knowing that a Matchbox one was coming. Now I smile, knowing it is here.

I believe Mazda call this Soul Red. The rear window does look a little unusual due to the rear car having a spoiler going over the top end of it in black. It was either build that piece out of the body section which would make the rear window look weird, or make it out of the window piece. I think that was a tough area to deal with, and I believe they went with the better option, given the limited amount of parts they have to work with for a core range model. But that aside, I think the model looks great.

I am so happy that they have figured out how to wrap lights around corners again. For a while we started losing that piece of tampo and it did make models look a little unusual with cut off lights.

I am extremely impressed with this model and am actively looking forward to seeing more of them in the future. Obviously there isn’t one in the 2021 basic range. Because as I said, this is a 2020 basic range release that came out 1 year late. It is nothing new. The Mercedes Benz U300 Unimog 2007 debut arrived in batch B of 2008. In 2011 the Sowing Machine, Load Lifter and Ford Explorer Interceptor all finally debuted in batch C of 2012, with the Sand Shredder coming even later in batch E. The 2014 debut of the Alfa Romeo 4C was in batch C of 2015. The MAN TGS Dump Truck was a 2018 debut that turned up in batch B of 2019. It happens. This is one of those cases. It still got here. I am happy it did.

Oh yeah, it is a new casting itsn’t it. Base shot! Well there are those who like to see bases for some reason. I try not to disappoint.

The Lexus is showing on the poster for the 2021 series alongside another surprise element. The Super Chase. If you click on the Matchbox website, you can download the poster as a .pdf file for yourself. Although if you are anything like me, you might end up clicking the Matchbox Adventures link directly above the link for the poster and spend the next half hour watching various You Tube videos that Matchbox have created. They are fun little videos with Mason James. I also enjoy the little Easter Eggs in the videos for classic Matchbox items (as well as other manufacturers too).

So this was a bit of a surprise. The Matchbox Super Chase. I for one, am happy with it. There are 2 schools of thought behind these. Those who like traditionalism. Matchbox has never been a brand to do this before, so why start now? It is turning them too much into the other Mattel-owned die-cast brand. But to me, we have already seen some of that bleed into the Matchbox range anyway. Until Mattel took over, a model would debut in the Matchbox range under a particular number and would stay as that number for however long it was in the range. A year, 2 years, 10 years, sometimes longer. Mattel inherited the Matchbox brand when they bought out Tyco in late 1996. 1997 was already done and dusted. So in in 1998 they changed the way the Matchbox models would be sold. Each year a whole new set of models with each being in whatever number was assigned that year. You know, like they were used to already elsewhere. Changing the Matchbox way of selling. Ever since I have wondered if we would ever see this. To me, it was a natural progression. I know it does spark a fever-pitch panic in some people. But to me, it generates interest from collectors in to the Matchbox brand. the more interest, the more sales, the more product we will start to get. Help the brand grow. Quite often the Matchbox brand was referred to as the unwanted step-child that ended up being in the Mattel portfolio. But it is not going anywhere. Recently I have seen how Mattel have started to embrace it. Perhaps now that they have had it a few decades they have finally seen that it is something to cherish. So I am all for them attempting these new avenues. Much like the Mattel Creations stuff that they have slotted in to as well, these are, to me, a good thing. It shows to me that Mattel are now taking the Matchbox brand seriously and I see them allowing it to grow further. That can only be a good thing. So bring on the Matchbox Super Chase. And before you ask, yes there will be more. Keep an eye on the @matchboxworld Instagram feed and keep following the Matchbox brand, because you never know when the next one will pop up. It is not going to be an “every batch” thing. They are going to be appearing randomly. Will we get 1? Will we get 2 in 2022? We are going to have to wait and see.

So what of the model itself? This is the MB1221 ’20 Chevy Corvette. This model comes with a premium look for a core range price. Not bad going.

White with a red a blue design, which I believe was one of Michael Heralda’s due to the Adlar58 logo on the rear just below the window.

I like the little extra details. The 21, because this is a ’21 release model, and the Superfast logo on the rear too, which is a nice touch, giving us a nod to the past as well. Especially now that the Superfast moniker has disappeared again due to the Superfast series now being known as the Collector series.

It is great to see that we are now getting stuff like this in the range. Of course it was not awarded a number in the range. There was a 106 on the package. That does not mean there were 5 others planned that didn’t make it. My theory for this is that the model was a part of the 2021 range and in the 6th batch of the year, so was given the code 106. If another appears in batch D of the 2022 range, we will see if that has a 204 on the package. Batch E? Maybe a 205. In 2023 batch A, a 301. And so on. As I said, that is my theory. This is not something that I have been told by the Matchbox team, so if it doesn’t work out like that then I guessed wrong.

Being a premium model in a core range also means that the model sports real riders, or the 2-part rubber wheels as I tend to call them. So yes, I am very happy to see this start, and am actively looking forward to when Mattel surprise us with a second Super Chase.

I love checking the license plates. RD WT BL. Or in other words, red, white and blue. Because you know, that is the vibe that this model gives us. A US vehicle with a very US-looking design. Very nice. Plus….

Because the casting debuted in the 2020 range as MB47 in blue, which was good for a shade or 2.

Then earlier this year it was MB40 in the 2021 range in red.

So apart from the model itself being red, white and blue, the Corvettes released so far are red, white and blue. A great little trio. I can’t wait to see what the next MSC will be. You know MSC = Matchbox Super Chase.

So, well, after all this, I actually haven’t started 2021 batch F yet. It contains 17 models out of the 18 left (as I said, that Lexus is coming in a future batch), so I am going to run down 8 of the models here, with the other 9 in another post shortly. I am going to go alphabetically again. Why do I keep doing that? Well, this year, all the new castings for 2021 were assigned the first numbers in the range. And if you were to list them all down including their manufacturing numbers, you will find that was how Matchbox did it too. It started with MB1227 as MB1, MB1228 as MB2 and so on, until we reached MB1251 as MB25. A nice easy way to list them down. So if I was to go in order in the range I would always start with new castings. Except this time. I have left all the 2021 new castings for my second batch F report. Why? Because I felt like it. So this is number 47 of 100, the MB1205 ’16 Alfa Romeo Giulia.

Wheel Collectors actually sent me batch F both on long card and in power grab boxes, as they sell both in their store, and i have to check these things. Are there differences between the 2?

Why yes, the shade of off-white is different between the 2. One is a more creamy white than the other.

So I get to double up on the 2021 release of this model in white. Great stuff, as I love the look of this. Very similar in its execution as the original 2020 issue in red, with simple front and rear detailing on the model. You really can’t go wrong with that type of detailing on a model like this. Black wheels really suit it too. Although nobody told the person who was doing the box art! Ha ha! I don’t care. Box went bye bye [chucking sound].

For those who were interested, the power grab model was produced first, and is dated P23 and has the more creamy look. The long card was produced 5 weeks later, dated P28, and sports the whiter appearance.

Lots of red and white so far with this model. It first arrived in late 2019 as the 2020 Toy Fair model, and broke with the tradition of being made in bronze. It was a dark red with black roof and premium detailing.

Before arriving in the first batch of 2020 in red as MB12 featuring basically the exact same tampo design as the new one.

But around the same time we also saw a special Mattel dinner model for the 2019 Christmas event. These were in very short supply, given only to Mattel employees at the time. It features both red and white elements to it. I thought it made quite a nice showing. Of course I will soon be showing a Collector model in grey, which takes us away from the reds and whites.

Time to move on to the next model. The MB742 ’08 Garbage Truck. Or actually, to mark it by its current name, Garbage King. I have to admit, Matchbox has had a habit of changing names on models. This is nothing new. Lesney changing Tanzara to Midnight Magic? It has happened throughout the history of the brand, so I tend to not worry. Some were necessary, like the Field Tripper changing to Scholar Hauler, when Mattel discovered what “tripper” was in German. And apologies for anybody in Germany (or a German speaking country) who is reading this. But the way I catalogue things, I usually stick to the original base name. It is just easier for cataloguing. So as this was originally launched as a 2008 Garbage Truck, I will keep calling it that.

I am very happy to see this model continue. As people have likely realized, it first debuted back in 2008, but after a certain MB850 Garbage Grinder arrived in 2012, and then the MB904 Garbage Gulper in 2014, this lovely casting fell by the wayside. Now Garbage Gulper (I recently showcased that) did have the working bucket at the front for playability, but neither casting were really that realistic for me. Both were quite extreme designs. This though, oh this is a lovely casting. Very realistic. A vision of the type of vehicle you would naturally see picking up the garbage. So when they tinkered with it a few years ago and brought it back I was very happy. Sure, it now has a plastic rear section, but I grew up with a truck that had a plastic rear section. Big whoop! Plus, now it has the break between cab and rear,you get this lovely colour break as and when needed with no difficulty in over spraying areas.

I love the design on this one. Another Michael Heralda special I see. You almost miss it this time. Top right on the green section. Garbage King. Underneath in tiny writing it says “Division A58”. It has a great side design with the “Recycling is Responsibility” logo, conveying a very timely message to the kids too. The bottom left logo though. You can barely rear it. I believe it says “Warning, compostable composite materials”. I could be wrong, but it sounds logical. But I think this is again a great, design and another Michael should be very proud of.

And you know what. As I have been mentioning it. I think I should do a bounce back. As I mentioned, the model first arrived back in 2008 as MB47. Unless you lived in Latin America. 2008 was the beginning of the 3-way split for US, ROW and LAAM ranges, and the US 1-100 as well as ROW 1-75 had it, but the LAAM 1-75 did not. Which was a shame for them, as this was an absolute belter of a debut. For starters, we had this model in white with a blue base. Early runs had a very dark blue base before it soon turned into a light blue which carried it through until the end.

And although the model usually sported the notched wheels, there was also a run where 6-spokes were switched in. You can see already they were thinking of the future with a “Recycle” side design.

Which carried on through to a version 2 release later in the year too. This was a tan model with a Think Green side design. This only came with 6-spokes though. Those notched wheels had an issue and were barely used for a decade.

If you lived in Germany you would also see a unique orange issue too as it was also included in the first Euro Editions series, which had replaced Stars of Cars as the German exclusive set. The vehicle has “pur” on the side, which is German for pure, and I did discover a nice shade of orange on it as well.

I couldn’t find a shade to the other orange model from 2008 though. It finished the year as a 10-pack 1st Editions exclusive.

2009 finally arrived, and the fun with this model was not ready to stop. Now worldwide, the basic range MB46 came in red with a Bedolla side design, which was in reference to Mauricio Bedolla, who was working on the Matchbox brand at the time. As you can see, this model did get the notched wheels again and also had a fun little switcheroo mid-run. As you can see, it started off with a grey interior section that also formed the internal rear flap and roof, but part way through they flipped it to black. I have no idea why, but honestly why do they not do things like this any more. Instant variation. Collectors going nuts scooping up more of them.

the casting saw its first 5-pack appearance that year, as the City Services pack saw this blue issue appear.

And again it was part of the second Euro Edition series, exclusive to the German market. However, the writing on the side is in Swedish. Världens Renaste Sopbil translates from Swedish to English as “The World’s Cleanest Garbage Truck”. I see a 58 on the model. I think it was Michael Heralda having some fun.

Ooh! A green garbage truck with a white front cab section. No, this was not an early release of the altered model. In 2008 the model was added to the Superfast series in a Waste Management livery, including full detailing all round, and being a premium series, had the cab painted white to match the real ones on the streets.

In 2011 the model was only released in the basic range. It was MB66 worldwide, but just like with the debut year, it saw 2 releases through the year. At first it was white, but later turned teal.

2011 saw it continue as MB66 for a second year (as any 2010 model in the US range that was also in the 2011 US range stayed in the same position that year). However, it was a US only issue that year, as both the ROW market and LAAM market did not see it. It was green with a Go Green side design, as many of them have been very apt side designs.

Then we had the fun one. The City Life 5-pack issue. White and orange with an E-Waste side design, this model saw quite the wheel turnover during production. 6-spokes, cogs, even the old crown wheels were dug out for a run. People needed to buy 3 different 5-packs to get all 3.

As I mentioned, 2012 saw a new garbage vehicle unveiled for the basic range, and this was sidelined after one more 5-pack issue. The City Works pack saw it in black, and it wasn’t going out quietly. Check the wheels here. In the late ’00s and early ’10s, Matchbox actually had 2 different 6-spoke wheels in action. One had a smaller middle section with a thick rim, the other a much larger middle section with a thin rim. Both are the same size wheel, but they look so much different. And this model saw both during production.

During the Garbage Grinder/Garbage Gulper years this casting sat dormant, but in 2019 it made a triumphant return to the basic range. What’s more, they even gave it the National Parks treatment for its return. It was MB91 that year, but this is where people noticed the changes.

During its downtime, they worked on the casting. The rear section was removed from the cab and turned plastic. The interior section was removed completely. The rear now also forms the interior. The area in the back is now a part of the base section. Quite extensive work really.

This warranted a change to the base too, as this model joins the rest in being constructed using the drop method, seeing 2 rivets on the model. As part of this change, Mattel decided to change the name from ’08 Garbage Truck to Garbage King. Well they have quite a few “King” vehicles, and this brings it more in line with the others. As I said though, I still list it down as ’08 Garbage Truck in my listings, and often still refer to it as such.

Since that issue we have also seen this white and blue 2020 MB20. I did see a nice shade to the blue rear section on that during production.

And at the beginning of the 201 year we saw a Thank You Heroes gift set issue in white and yellow. I think we have room for some more issues before worrying about coming up with a replacement.

Next up we have the MB873 International Armored Car.

I always find it funny being called an armored “CAR”, as this isn’t a car. It’s a van at minimum, or a truck really. It has basically been going since 2000, although was switched from the original MB446 (metal body, plastic base) to the later MB873 (plastic body, metal base) for when it appeared in 2015.

This release as MB80 in the 2021 range looks very nice in a light blue with National Security Transfer Company on the side. I like all the attention to detail with hinges and door handles all picked out in black too. I have to admit, I did not think this model would still be with us at the moment.

The MB1191 MBX Armored Truck (that has the more logical name) debuted in 2019. I thought that was going to be it for the International, but no, it looks like that was it for the MBX Armored Truck, as it has not been seen since, and the International has been in the last 2 years of basics. So you never know what will happen year by year do you.

the MB1210 ’20 Jeep Gladiator. This is the second release for this casting after debuting in 2020.

I always enjoy having a Jeep around. Been a big fan my entire life. I think that was partly due to me loving the MB005 4×4 Jeep growing up. Played with that to death. Had to replace it. Played with the replacement to death. Had to get a third. It is a little playworn. So whenever we get a Matchbox Jeep I am always happy. This takes the MB36 slot for the 2021 range in dark blue. I see a sneaky little Matchbox logo at the rear end of the side panel. I love these little things they pop on models at times.

It appears they are marking this model down as a Rubicon variant. I noticed it was on the original release too last year. You honestly can’t go wrong with these simple looks for these models.

For comparison the 2020 MB60 debut pops in for a brief appearance too. As you can see, they have basically just kept the tampo the same. If it ain’t broke (as they say).

Next up we have the MB1206 ’95 Nissan Hardbody (D21). Just like the Jeep, this too is in its second year as a basic range model.

It takes the MB38 slot in the 2021 range in a lovely teal colour.

Or as Nissan called it at the time, Vivid Teal Pearl. They even matched the decal that would often be seen on the side of the model too. This is the work we often overlook that goes into a model.

It’s a lovely colour, and I think they have outdone themselves yet again with this one. It really stands out on the pegs (or in my case, in the box). I also note that this model is continuing to be a user of the new wheel style that appeared last year.

It was seen on the red MB62 debut in 2020.

And was also seen on the 2021 Walmart Truck series in darker blue too.

I have very much been enjoying this casting so far. Much more than I thought I would. I think that partially open sunroof is working in its favour too. I just think that is a cute touch, along with the tow hook on the rear of the casting. It’s giving this model a certain stand out quality over others.

So what’s next. The MB1186 Polaris Slingshot. It really is a bit of an oddball this one. A 3-wheeled vehicle, which does have a tendency to look a little strange in the package while viewed from the side.

It takes the MB90 slot in the range for 2021 in what is now its third yearly outing. From above, I think it looks really cool. I love the design, with the Polaris logo and Slingshot written down the middle, with red pin striping dotted around it. A cute little window and the 2 seats. It’s a fun vehicle.

But the oddly shaped side to it I think does put some people off. It doesn’t seem to be a big seller. The other Polaris seems to do much better around where I am, as they don’t seem to linger. But the Slingshot does seem to be one of the last to go from the batch.

It debuted back in 2019 in red with black striping over the front and MB66.

And in 2020 moved to the MB57 slot in blue with orange and black striping.

As I mentioned, this marks it’s third outing as a basic range model. It is definitely one of the more unique models that do. I worry sometimes that they try to be too eclectic with a few of the vehicles, and as such confuse the core audience. I doubt kids are really going to understand this vehicle. Hence me noticing how it always seems to lag behind others in sales. As a collector, I know what they were going for. It is a very good rendition of the Slingshot, and they have done a remarkable job with it. But where the RZR is easily recognizable as a side-by-side vehicle, the Slingshot 3-wheeled motorcycle is very unique. So it doesn’t instantly get recognized as the type of vehicle, and often left behind. Still, I like that they have this deal with Polaris now. I wonder if we could get to see the Dagor? I notice how certain more military style vehicles have again fallen out of favour again. They cycle in and out, and with this being a military style vehicle, does it fit in with the current ethos?

Subaru. Did you know that Subaru is 6 days younger than Matchbox? The company was founded on 15th July 1953, the first Matchbox products were put on sale on 9th July 1953. What’s more, the Subaru logo is made up of 6 stars. One for each day they were later than Matchbox. What? What do you mean that wasn’t the reason for the 6 stars. Okay, so it was named after the Pleiades star system, which in Japanese is Subaru. But considering how closely matched to Matchbox history Subaru is, it is amazing that they never made a model of a Subaru until 2008. But over these last few years, the Subaru brand has really taken off in Matchbox-land. This is one of 2 in the latest batch. The MB1188 ’14 Subaru Sambar. A current 8th generation Sambar.

It takes the MB57 slot in the 2021 range in black with simple front and rear tampo printing. I love this little casting. In real life it is known as a Kei Truck, part of the Kei-vehicle system in Japan since 1949. All Japanese car manufacturers (except Isuzu) offer various Kei vehicles, mainly just for Japanese sale, as very few places outside of Japan have had success with any Kei vehicle. I think it is nice that Matchbox has come up with a kei vehicle like this, and am hoping that at some point they will also add a kei car to the mix too. There are some cute ones. Has anybody seen the Daihatsu Copen GR Sport? But anyway, back to the Sambar.

Just like the Slingshot, this is in year 3 in the basic range, and just like the Slingshot is black. I am not sure if the colour is playing a part here, but I have seen quite a few of these languishing too. Such a shame. This is a nice little vehicle, and I love that this is now its third basic range outing, and it still gets simple detailing added to it.

Debuting back in 2019 in blue, the first MB82 issue saw no front design, but instead had Subaru and the logo on the sides.

In 2020 it turned white as MB17 and now featured the front and rear tampo which was very similar to this year’s (although the license plate on the front was detailed on that one).

Of course this model has seen one outing outside of the basic range too. It was in the 2021 Walmart Trucks series in red with a Sriracha side design.

A cute little quartet. But now on to the final model, which I think I saved the best for last.

As I said, there were 2 Subarus in this batch. The other was the MB1171 Subaru SVX in a lovely burgundy. This model is extra special, as it is a tribute to one of Mattel’s very talented designers, Ryu Asada. You may notice the special logo that was created for this model.

The logo is also on the back of the package, with a little note about Ryu next to it. Ryu was officially one of the Matchbox team between 2004 and 2012, although after moving to other departments within the Mattel umbrella, still popped back to create a model or 2 occasionally. The SVX was a bit of a passion project for him, due to his love of the real one. So when Matchbox said they were going to make one, you knew Ryu was going to throw his hat in the ring to design the casting. Sadly this proved to be one of his last Matchbox creations as he passed away recently. but he will be remembered fondly. In fact, a little snippet from Michael Heralda, who worked closely with him throughout his Matchbox tenure.

I thought a Japanese Symbol for Joy would be appropriate since Ryu had a joy for life, family and cars. Another consideration was to select a font with rounded corners – Ryu was soft spoken, kind and approachable so a font that had the feel of those characteristics would be used. And, colors needed to have a calming effect – Ryu always seemed calm and collected.  I also wanted to include the Japanese Matchbox logo. Ryu collected models as a young boy in Japan so he was familiar with that logo as well as the conventional MBX logo.

Those are the considerations that went into creating the added logo honoring Ryu Asada.

It was a joy to work with Ryu.

Thank you Michael. Very touching. I had a chance to meet with Ryu on numerous occasions through my visits to USA and as Michael said, he was always so approachable, so full of happiness. He will be sorely missed. So it was really nice of the Mattel guys to honour him in this way with this model. But just so you know, this is a one-off release. It is not something that Mattel will be doing as an ongoing thing for Ryu. So this logo and artwork will only be on this specific Subaru SVX.

Although the model itself simply has Asada on the rear license plate. A nice little touch, and I am sure Ryu would be so very happy with how this turned out.

A beautiful colour too, this model. It looks very nice in burgundy with simple side and rear detailing. I think, due to the long side area to the rear lights, it is actually quite difficult in this case to do a wraparound rear light print. They have to do a separate side print.

Which does mean a blank front as a core range model. Who thinks we should get a premium release for this one?

Oh and joy of joys for me (pun intended), i did notice that the Power Grab model and the long card model were a little different in their shades too. I think Ryu would be looking down on me and laughing that I managed to get a shade on his model.

It is about time we saw another of these. The first one arrived in the 2019 basic range in white. After MB5 of 2019 we had to wait until now for MB88 of 2021. Hopefully it will not be 2 years between this and the next release.

So with that done, I believe that is me done for another report. Oh wait? Dive backs….

Well, I do enjoy them. So if you want to continue reading, sit back and watch as I take another trip through Matchbox history (well from Superfast onwards). With an Armored Car in the current batch, I am starting with the oldest one in my collection. The classic Lesney MB69-C Armored Truck.

It’s funny. I actually have a memory of getting my first Armored Truck as a kid. The casting debuted in 1978 as MB69 in the range and ran for 4 years worldwide before the US range dropped it after 1981. The ROW range held on to it for one more year before also dropping it after 1982. I would have been around 6 years old at the time. My local Tesco was (and currently still is) THE place where a lot of my stuff came from. My parents still live in the house I grew up in, a mile or so one side of this Tesco store, and I currently live a mile or so the other side of it. So my childhood trip to Tesco looking for Matchbox to this store is still going on. In those days we didn’t have barcodes being read. Things were done the old fashioned way. A pricing gun, which you would wind to the price you wanted, and then label up the package. Oh those were the days. Matchbox at the time cost 49p at Tesco on long blister card. That was how they sold them. But as I was going through the pegs I would rummage through to see what cool models they had. Nothing major in the toy section. At the time Tesco actually had 2 separate checkout areas. The main section with 30 tills, but because it was not enough and there was a great big pillar in the way, you actually had to go around the pillar, and there would be a further 10 tills. But because they were sort of out the way, they always seemed to be quieter. Mainly because the others were naturally towards the end of the store, and these were working back towards the start too. Ah yes, memories. Well there used to be various grab items at the entrance to each checkout line, and a couple of them featured a small group of Matchbox pegs too. We were queuing up to pay, and so obviously I had a nose through these pegs. I saw the Armored Truck, liked it, as I had not seen it before, but also noticed the price. 39p. It was the only one. I looked at the rest of the models on the pegs and they were all priced at 49p. So I asked my parents if we could have this one. Partly because I liked it, and partly because it was priced incorrectly, and as such would be a bargain. They agreed. They bought it for me. I still have it, although it is quite badly playworn. But because it had a memory attached I didn’t want to dispose of it when I got this replacement.

The debut look for the model. In all fairness, this is pretty much the entire look for most people. But there are always variations to be found.

Apart from base variations, as almost all have silver bases, but a small production run appeared with unpainted bases (still to find), there is also the window variation. Shades of blue can be found from very dark to so pale that it is basically clear (I have yet to find one that pale yet either). That was the very first production run. But a short while after production began, there was something that Lesney really needed to do.

One day they received a phone call from a nice lady who lived in USA. Her telephone number was 732 2031. She was being inundated with telephone calls from children asking if she was Matchbox. After her umpteenth telephone call, she found out the reason why. Her telephone number was placed over the front wheel. So she asked ever so nicely if Lesney could do something about it. Obviously they did straight away. They changed the 732 at the start to QZ. These started filtering in by early 1979 and production continued until 1982 like that.

However, if you lived in Germany, 1981 would have seen something different. A green Dresdner Bank liveried model appeared there instead. They may have been in other countries too, and occasionally sent to the wrong place, so I cannot guarantee that 100% of the models were found in Germany in 1981. I mean this was Lesney. The factory were good at doing whatever they felt like. It was a 1-year deal, and in 1982 joined the rest of the ROW market in seeing out the Armored Truck’s time in the range with old red.

However, a rather strange thing happened. In 1987, Germany re-issued the model as part of a promotion. However, MB069, as it was now known, had not been in use since 1982, and as such had never been made anywhere except in England. But this production run was made in Macau, giving us a very different final look for the model. An extremely dark green on this one.

The silver base is quite different too coming from a different country. Nowadays this would be referred to as a carry forward model. But in days gone by this thing used to happen too.

Nissan meet Nissan. I think that makes it quite obvious why I chose the MB167 Nissan 300ZX Turbo as my next dive back.

This model had a very short life. Such a shame, as the minute I saw it I thought it was so cool. It came with an opening bonnet/hood showing off the engine inside. It debuted worldwide as MB24 in 1986. It came in silver with a black base, and gold/black striping with Turbo across the sides and front. There was a 50 logo on the bonnet/hood too, although I am not 100% sure the reasoning behind it. It was 1986. Nissan had formed in 1928. So that wasn’t it. Datsun was formed in 1931 and amalgamated with Nissan in 1934 to give Nissan a car-manufacturing arm. So it was close, but not quite. Were they just being a little slow in getting it out there? I don’t know.

But what I do know is variations! More commonly found with 8-dot wheels, some were found with 5-arch wheels instead.

In 1987 the model turned into a racing car. Because, well Universal were just every car into a racing car in the 1980s. It was their go-to move. Release a new car, change the look to a racing car look. It ran for 2 years in the range in white and green with a Fuji livery. And yes, this is mine from 1987. I have not got around to upgrading it yet. I keep meaning to, but this was still my teenage toy. This is why it has quite a few chips. Of course I might go and find a shade variation first. The green tampo in particular is known to sport a shade or 2. After 1988 the model was dropped from the basic range.

Although it did last longer in the alternate range. In 1986 USA saw the launch of Superfast, and this was extended to include more models in 1987, and SF-21 was the Nissan in red, with starburst wheels and a yellow/orange striped design.

At the same time the Laser Wheels range was being launched worldwide, and for this the LW-20 was a darker metallic red and now had laser wheels.

These 2 models ran side by side until 1990 when both ranges were closed down. There were no real variations to them, although the black base did see a run at one point that had a very mild greenish tint to it.

The casting did see 2 other uses though. In late 1987 into early 1988 BP in The Netherlands ran a promotion where for each gallon of fuel you would use you would receive a stamp. Fill a card and receive a free Matchbox car. The Nissan was part of the first set of 5 available in late 1987, with a second set of 5 coming early 1988.

Finally there was this 1988, release. Another promotion, this time in Hong Kong. This model was one of 12 models released as part of a Chinese Dragon set. Each model sported a sign of the Chinese Zodiac and a number between 1 and 12. The Nissan was number depicting a monkey. But this is the entire history of this casting. It didn’t see an awful lot of use. Such a shame, as it is still one of my favourite Nissan castings.

So where to next? The 1990s/Tyco(ish) era always seems to be the toughest for me to negotiate. So I often need to stretch just a little more when it comes to this one. I found one. So follow me on this. The latest Chevy Corvette, the Super Chase I pictured earlier, it has Superfast written on side. A nod to past Matchbox obviously, and the Superfast name has been used on 4 distinct eras. Originally created by Lesney it was the name given to the new type of wheels created in 1969 and ran through the 1970s, slowly phasing out as the decade drew to a close. Universal brought it back in 1986 as a unique series featuring new wheels that rolled even faster again, before phasing back out at the end of the decade. In 2004 Mattel brought it back a third time as a collector series, moving back towards a tradition from the old Lesney era, although as the decade rolled on it did evolve before fading out again at the end of it. Then in 2019 it was re-launched again as the new collector series before fading back out the following year. What is it about phasing out Superfast at the end of decades? Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the MB342 ’65 Ford Mustang GT that launched in 1998. In 2006 it was used in the Superfast range. So a white muscle car with red and blue tampo, stars and a number. I saw similarities between these 2, and that was a good enough link for me.

So as I said, MB342. This does actually go back a lot further. Because when Mattel launched this as MB72 exclusively in the 1999 US range, it wasn’t actually anew casting.

It was the old Lesney MB8-A. Launched in 1967 as the very first Mustang casting, it had evolved into a Wildcat Dragster which then became G.T. 350. Mattel saw the casting as it had ended up, and decided to overhaul it back to its original look.

After that, Mattel came up with a way to separate the core range from premiums. The core range started moving towards Hero City, aimed primarily at the very young (ages 3-6), whereas Collectibles, as it was known at the time, was targeting adults. As such they felt that the classic cars would work better as collectibles items, and they barely saw any use in core ranges. So this Mustang, until 2004, only saw uses in Collectibles series. These green and red issues were 2003 and 2004 My Classic Car releases. There was also a red 1999 Premiere Mustang set model (which also had additional printing for a Hershey promotional model) and a 2003 Ford Anniversary set model in blue.

But with the direction they had taken Matchbox in proving to be not successful, a complete overhaul of things occurred for 2004. The Matchbox team were moved in-house to El Segundo, and all of the old rules that Mt Laurel had devised were thrown out of the window. Models were now free to be a part of both premium and core ranges. However, the Mustang was a bit slow compared to others. The relaunched Superfast series became the new premium range that replaced Collectibles. As part of this, 4 models were added in the same slot as classic Lesney models, and even painted up the same. The Mustang was one, and came in a dark orange with ivory interior, much like the MB8-A Superfast was back in 1970. As such, it was added to the Superfast range in the number 8 slot too.

Each of the 4 models in this series that were nods to classic Lesneys also saw a second use as a promotional item at the 2004 Hershey Convention, which was hosted by Mattel. This was our first time meeting with many of the El Segundo guys who, at the time, had only just started with the brand, and were still learning a lot of things.

There was going to be a core release. It was actually a planned promotional model. Duracell had asked Mattel for a promotional item, where a model was included free with packs of 8 AA batteries. 4 different Ford Mustang castings were created for the promotional, but a 5th was planned. The ’65 was going to be in light blue with just some side detailing. This model was dropped in the end, and only the other 4 were produced.

In 2005, it was still only a part of the Superfast series, and as this was utilizing classic Lesney moves, any model still in the series from one year to the next would stay in the same slot. So this was still number 8. Mattel had launched in 2004 as a USA only item, but after success they took it worldwide, and in 2005 had a US look (in blue) and an ROW look (in silver) for the model.

ROW sales were not as strong, so in 2006 it was back to being a USA thing. This year, as a further nod to Lesney, they issued some models in Streakers looks. This was reminiscent of the first Streakers models that Lesney created in the mid 1970s when they got their first tampo machine. The Mustang, still in the number 8 slot, was now sporting quite the look.

But 2006 did see the first time the model was issued in a core range. However, this was in a playset. Superman Returns. It came in blue with a simple front end detail.

2007 saw the Superfast series reduce to a smaller set. As it was being sold just in USA, they decided to subtitle it Superfast: America. Each model was a classic model from USA history and the Mustang was in the number 6 slot in burgundy.

Finally, in 2008, it returned to the basic range. MB13 was dark blue with stripes over the top and sides. Of course I had to go and find a shade.

It didn’t see any action in 2009, but in 2010 the Classic Rides 5-pack was awash with an off-white with red stripes version. Again, I found shades. More cream anyone?

In 2011 it became a 10-pack exclusive. In that year they had changed their earlier run of releasing 1 all-exclusive pack alongside 2 others that each had a single exclusive in the corner. This year saw just the 2 “other packs” for the first 3 batches, and the final batch was just the exclusive 1st Editions one. Also, as was the way they did things, the exclusives in these packs would be the same casting in alternate colours through the year. The 2011s were the ’69 Camaro Convertible and ’65 Mustang GT in different colours for each batch. The first batch was blue, and the last was red. Easy enough.

I did find more fun was to be had with the middle batch though. The brown one was very good for shade variations.

After this, the model went on hiatus until returning in 2019 in the Happy Holidays 5-pack in green. I did find a small shade to this one.

And in 2020 we saw a Mustang series exclusive to Walmart in USA. Well, I say exclusive, models did crop up in random other places in USA and in other countries too. the first batch saw the Mustang in off-white with gold striping.

With a red with silver striping turning up in batch B. I am sure we will see it again.

Finally, well I had to do this one. With the Mazda 3 finally reaching us, I had to pull out the Mazda 2 too.

Because the MB752 Mazda 2 had quite the early years fun. It debuted as MB27 in the 2008 basic range. It was green. But it was the wrong green. Mazda had a specific colour they were using on real cars, and Matchbox were supposed to be matching it. So a running change was needed.

Much better Much brighter. Quite a big change. But this wasn’t it. Oh no.

You see the model was also chosen to see a version 2 later on as well. Out it came in blue. Ooh shade. I like shades!

Except it wasn’t supposed to be a solid blue. It was supposed to be metallic. So again, a running change was made. Ooh shades! Yes, I found shades on both types of blue.

It was quite the difference between the metallic and solid blue.

So this was quite the debut year indeed.

2009 saw just the 1 basic range release. It was MB27 again. Matchbox were looking at keeping models as the same number for consecutive years for a short while. This was a light silvery blue, but boy did the shades keep coming!

It was also added to the 40th Anniversary Superfast range in the number 13 slot in yellow.

In 2010 it was, wait for it, MB27! This time it was red, and the first time I didn’t see any variation on a basic range model.

2011 saw the model’s final outing in the basic range. Guess what? It was MB27! Seriously, this casting, in the Mattel era, ran for 4 years in the basic range as MB27. A Mattel-era record. No other casting has seen more than 2 consecutive years under the Mattel umbrella under the same number. And no Mattel model saw the same number for its entire life (not including 1 year releases). In a change to the norm though, as this was during a point where things were being tweaked to see if they worked (they didn’t the tweak reverted back), the model was more brightly coloured with a side design, that was hoped to be more eye-catching on the pegs. the look they came up with saw a nod to various members of the Matchbox team. Under Dave Weise, we do see Ryu Asada’s name again, and Michael Heralda under that too.

After being dropped from the basic range, we did see another issue in 2012. The Kung Fu Panda 2 licensed 5-pack issue in blue, with Po on the side. After this release, the model took some time off.

Before coming back in 2016 for one final (to date) outing in the City 5-pack. It was orange, and again saw a side design. Of course me being me, I did find a shade to the orange.

As well as what more people would likely have gone for. The wheel variation. Usually sporting 6-spokes, there was a batch where they were switched out for disk wheels. I didn’t find a shade on the disk wheel version, as it was just a single run. I do wonder, now with a Mazda 3 out, will we see the 2 make a sporadic re-appearance? I wouldn’t begrudge another outing.

And that is truly the end of another report. A report that was originally about a random 2020 issue running late and Super Chase.

As well as a few really nice utility vehicles that keep plugging away.

Pickup type vehicles.

As well as a few cars and what is officially a bike. I hope you enjoyed it. Next week will be more upmarket. In the meantime I hope everyone has a safe week and see you next time.

13 Replies to “Matchbox Monday finishes 2020 and starts 2021 Batch F”

  1. Hello David. Excellent update. I am happy to see the long delayed Mazda 3. I think Matchbox did an excellent job with this toy. I approve of the way they chose to handle the spoiler issue and it looks great. Interestingly, Tomica replicates this vehicle in the very same color. As to which one is better I judge that outcome to be a tossup. It is great to see the Alfa Romeo Giulia return. I located two of the Collectors Series in gray (it looks fantastic!) but I have yet to find the white version. Also, an excellent tribute to Ryu Asada. His contribution to Matchbox and Hot Wheels is amazing and his efforts greatly enhanced diecast collections worldwide. I’m sure he found it gratifying to be the author of such influence. It remains to be seen if Mattel can hire anyone to approximate his skills.

    1. No, sadly it only appeared on long card. There have been a few teething troubles with it, and Mattel are hoping that the next Super Chase will be more appropriately distributed.

  2. When is this coming out(which month?)

    Finally, another convoy cab. This is a 1979 White Western Star COE. It will feature a tilting cab, as in real life you tilt the whole thing towards the front to get at the engine underneath

      1. The 1979 White Western Star cabover semi. I am hoping it has rubber tires with the flip front.

        Is there a prototype pic that you know of?


      2. Not as yet no. There wasn’t anything at the line preview in Albuquerque. We will have to keep waiting. I think it will be sporting the flip front. The picture Mattel used as an example had the cab flipped open like that. Usually that is an indicator of the function they are going for. And seeing that it will be debuting in the Matchbox Collectors series, that pretty much guarantees it will be sporting the rubber wheels.

  3. Thanks David. Hopefully it is a success and we see a whole line of cabover semis like the Freightliners, Peterbilts etc. I see maybe 1 or 2 cabover semis per year on the highway. Always have been my favorite style of truck.

  4. “Armored car” has been a term since the invention of armored vehicles, even though, yes, they’re more often vans, trucks or even tank-like things with wheels instead of treads.

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