As I mentioned last week, I am back to doing single batches of items at times, and this week I am focusing purely on the 6 models that make up batch C of the 2021 Target Retro series. My title is a continuation of the one I used last week. I liked my title last week so I used the idea again. Now as these are exclusive to Target stores in USA, I am extremely grateful to have a friend in Rory McDonald (who goes by @wyoming_wheels on Instagram) who has secured me a set and sent over. Because these appear to be proving extremely tough to find, as I am hearing stories from many people in USA who say that their Target stores are not stocking them. Which sounds extremely bizarre to me. Ask for an exclusive for your store to sell, then don’t bother selling it in many of them. I would have thought getting this exclusive would have made them more inclined to make sure they would be in more stores. So again, I am extremely grateful for Rory in being able to still secure these for me. So that is why I want to just focus on this batch.
Now as has become the de facto norm now for these additional ranges (and 5-packs now), as a rule a batch of models will likely be half “new” and half “carry forward”. There is a technical reason behind it all which equates to more product visibility at less financial cost which is beneficial to Mattel as well as the stores that are (cough cough) stocking them. But for some of us, particularly me, I enjoy seeing these carry forwards pretty much the same as seeing the “new” models. Because you never know just how different a carry forward will be from when it was first being sold. Case in point, the MB840 Water Hauler. This is a carry forward for this batch, taking the number 6 slot in the series of 24.
It appears in orange and blue with a H20 design on the side, which is the same design that was originally issued back in 2013 when it was MB44 in the basic range.
But oh boy am I loving this one. Considering the era that Mattel were in during 2013, this was one of the less extreme “brighter” designs. I thought it was very realistic at the time and still do. It still works now.
So let’s bring in the 2013 release to compare shall we?
This is a casting that saw some tweaks after its 2015 usage and when it returned in 2017 it was looking slightly different. You can see at the front how the grille along the bottom is different to how it was (newbie on the right).
Well it wasn’t just redesigned, it was also thinned out. In fact the whole of the body section was.
The tank on the back is still the same tank. There was no adjustment made to that.
But as part of the alterations, part of the body was transferred to being part of the base section. So seeing this new production run of the model gives me a huge variation, as the casting is quite a lot different to how it was. Now as I have been talking about it, I guess I should do a quick history lesson.
MB840 is an offshoot of the MB710 Dump Truck, itself an update to the MB209 Dump Truck, which in turn was an update to the original MB58-C Faun Dump Truck. This means it has its roots back in the Lesney era, as it was first released back in 1977. The Water Hauler debuted as MB34 in the 2012 basic range in yellow and grey, and immediately I was on the ball in finding shades.
It then, as we have already well established, moved to the MB44 slot for the 2013 range.
In 2014 it was MB15 in blue and white, and although usually sporting dual ringed 8-dot wheels, a batch turned up with the older cog wheels on the model.
2015 saw one last basic range outing in white and blue as MB32. Oh jeez, my photography skills are failing again. Stupid camera focusing on the wrong model. Typical.
It was also thrown in the Jurassic World series too. It was in the Jurassic World Construction 5-pack in grey and blue. As we know, the license for Jurassic World was obtained by Mattel so late that they had no time to develop things for the first film, so did the best they could by getting some models out in some way to promote it. After 2015 the model took a year out to have that cosmetic surgery I went through earlier.
When it returned leaner, meaner and altogether cleaner, we saw a red and white arrival as MB75 in the 2017 basic range.
Before it was moved to 5-packs for the 2018 Rescue Ranger pack in the awesome ongoing National Parks theme.
It then took 2019 off before seeing another recurring theme (this time the Ranec one) for the 2020 MBX Construction 5-pack. Again I saw shades to this, except this time it was on the orange tank instead of the body. Newbie is the next in the list for the casting.
Next up we have the MB1200 ’76 VW Golf Mk1 GTi. This one is in the number 13 slot for the range, and as people know does sport the 2 parcel shelf variations (with or without items).
It is also a new look for the series too in yellow with a Rompin Racing Team and white stripe/fading bunny design. Plus the front grille is still nicely detailed. It is great to see they can sneak in a few 3 panel tampos at times.
This is a really nice design and if you think it looks familiar well yes it is.
The MB1038 ’90 Golf Country sported the same design earlier this year in the Off Road Rally 5-pack.
Except that time the model was white with yellow on the side, instead of yellow with white on the side. Plus it was number 7, whereas the new one is number 1. I love it! This is awesome stuff. I love these recurring themes. So now we need the MB684 VW Golf V GTi to wear this look too. Plus, there is a new “classic” VW Golf being added in to the Moving Parts series next year with an opening rear. They said it was a Mk2 but showed a picture of a Mk3, so we will have to see which it was. But I am hoping that too sees a Rompin Racing Team design. Did i say i just love stuff like this? Best model of the batch for me.
Next up is another new design. This one is adorning the MB709 Chevy Van, which appears to now be a dated Chevy Van, as the packaging is noting it as a 1975. Again this is a casting that was initially created during the Lesney era as MB709 was an alteration to the MB102 Chevy Van 4×4, which itself had been an alteration to the MB68-C Chevy Van from 1979. So this does mean that 2 castings in this batch are definitely retro purely in the fact they are based on ones from the 1970s.
This model comes in a light blue with a Tiki side design, which is really giving me 2012 vibes. Not the film, but the Matchbox year.
I can’t explain it, but I like the look of this. It has quite a fun vibe to it. But I do notice the windows appear very dark.
And when I check the base I do see a new copyright year of 2020 on there. This is a recent alteration. So you know what that means.
I’m bringing in the last one to see what has changed.
The 2019 5-pack Service Squad issue in gold still sports the earlier 2006 copyrighted base, so this is why we did not see the model in 2020. It was being given cosmetic surgery. And boy did they go to town on this one.
Because what was immediately noticeable was the fact that the new casting is smaller. It has been shrunk down. You can also see that it was a slot in production model, so obviously was seeing a change to the drop method, hence the 2 slots at the back of the older one and the rivet towards the rear of the new one.
Now I have to admit, the way the wheels seem to slot into the wheel arches actually looks better now. I think because the casting was altered from a smaller wheel to larger wheel (the same as is on the Water hauler) meaning enlarging the wheel arches to accommodate, the reduction back down didn’t do justice to the wheel arches. They appear much more finely shaped around the smaller wheels now. And considering the model is a little smaller now, it doesn’t appear to feel like the wheel are now too large. They still suit it just as well. I guess this was a case of shrink or swap. The alternative might have been metal base, plastic body. I think this was definitely the better option for most people.
The front end does now look just a little better defined, but still very true to how it was. Now the other thing to note is that there is no longer an interior. Not east to see as the 2019 had such dark windows you could not see the grey interior inside. But to me, this is harkening back to its roots.
Because when the Chevy Van first debuted back in 1979 it was only a 3-piece build anyway. Body, base, window. It has finally returned to its 1979 piece count.
Obviously that one did have a metal base, with the new one being plastic, but that is the norm nowadays. I am perfectly fine with it.
I thought for a bit of fun, why not remind myself of a few Tiki models. Now this is not necessarily all of them. Just those I could remember off the top of my head. The oldest one I can think of (if you can think of an older one let me know) was the MB575 Jeep Willys Concept from the 2004 Around the World series which first introduced us to the Tiki of Hawaii.
I remember the MB526 Hummer H2 SUV saw a Hawaiian Excursion liveried blue model in the 2008 Vacation 5-pack. It didn’t say Tiki, but it had one pictured on the door.
But as I mentioned, I did have 2012 vibes seeing the new one. Because that year we did get a few. The MB685 ’06 Dune Buggy was one, MB19 in the 2012 basic range.
Just like the Hummer, the MB780 ’63 Cadillac Ambulance did not say Tiki, but there was one on the side of Surf Doc, the 2012 MB11 issue.
And the MB744 ’07 Shelby Cobra GT500 Convertible had a Tiki Wai Surf Shop design towards the back half of the MB16 release that year. It really was the year of the Tiki.
There have been ones since. The 2017 Mb104 release of the MB731 Baja Bandit in orange had a Tiki on the front.
And the MB705 Honda Ridgeline had a Tiki River Cruises side design in the 2017 Explore The River 5-pack release too. Of course it was towing a White Water Raft which I forgot to pull out to picture. There may be others, but I like the Tiki theme.
The MB969 ’93 Ford Mustang LX SSP is next up. This is number 16 in the series and is another of the carry forwards. Well before 2020 we had only ever seen 2 “core” issues of the model (the Best of is a premium so doesn’t count), and with 1 core issue already seeing a carry forward in last year’s Mustang set, well it does mean we get the other one.
This is a repeat of the 2016 MB66 issue in silver. For those who don’t remember it from 5 years ago, it sports a simple black and gold stripe State Police look.
I did think it was a nice look then, but I do wonder if the new one is any different. Because….
When it first debuted, I did find some shade variation to the silver paint. So was curious as to how the new one looked.
Well I see a difference. It is not easy to see in a triple shot in picture, but the new one sits in the middle of these and has a coarser sort of grey to the paint finish. That is the only way I can describe it.
As everything else about the model looked extremely similar. Perhaps just a slight shading to both gold and white in the tampo too. Plus you might notice the writing over the rear wheels does appear to be bolder now.
The last of the carry forwards. The MB610 ’71 Chevy Chevelle. It is nice to see this model getting more uses. It was altered for the 2017 Open Road Cruisers 5-pack released, but until 2021 had not been used a second time. Suddenly this year gets this and (spoiler alert, the report is coming next) a 9-pack release.
So knowing that this was not a carry forward of the 2017 5-pack release I knew this was going to be an instant variation. But just how else was it different?
It does look very familiar in teal with dual white stripes going over the top.
But obviously the copyright 2003, ’16 base is a giveaway of this not being the 2008 MB5 release.
Talking of which, let’s bring it in shall we? 2021 meet 2008.
The first thing I always do is put the models side by side. Have to check out the shades before anything else. Yes, a brighter look to the new 2021 release, as it is on the left. The window piece is more upright since the alteration.
Being just a dual white stripe means there is not too much difference in the tampo.
With the casting lines now being a little deeper you do note how the tampo doesn’t quite fit the gaps as well as it did before. The interior moulding was rebuilt for the updated casting, and all I can say is that it does make the interior look flatter.
Obviously a chrome base is a chrome base, but when they reworked the model, they did make some changes to it.
I don’t know if you can tell, but the rear lights were enlarged for the rebuild too and this does stand out a bit. So yes, I knew things were going to look a little different, but although all the changes were pretty subtle to the casting when it was altered in 2016, when you see a before and after like this, you can really see all the little changes much more clearly.
So as long as we don’t get this as a carry forward I am fine with them re-issuing any of the older releases. Although for core release there is only a 5-pack, 10-pack and 2012 basic to redo.
Which brings us to the last model in the batch. Another VW. This time the MB723 VW Beetle 4×4. A casting that has been around for quite a while.
Considering this casting debuted back in 2007, replacing an older MB582 Beetle 4×4 which had been around since 2003, itself an offshoot of the MB491 from 2001 I was half expecting quite a short shelf life for this too. But here we are, year 15, and still going strong. Plus, it has never been sold in pink before. So they keep coming up with cool new looks for it. I really like this one. With the brown, teal, yellow and orange wavy lines down the side. Plus a Matchbox and a VW logo in addition, this is a simple, yet elegant design.
I have to admit, it is one of my favourite looks for this casting. And can you really have enough Beetle 4x4s?
It’s funny how last year we saw our first pink MB363 VW Beetle, and now a year later, the Beetle 4×4 also goes pink. Yet still no Cadillac One! I still want a pink Cadillac One. I think I might have mentioned it 1 or 2…. hundred times!
I believe that takes me to the end of another batch. 3 carry forwards, all showing something different, from the subtle to the extreme.
As well as 3 brand new designs, all of which I really like. So I am very happy with this batch, and also to Rory who helped me to secure it. I tend to notice how people see the USA Walmart exclusives in other countries in different stores, but Target USA exclusives do appear to be more rigid. They appear at Target in USA. Not all Targets (much to the frustration of many people), but I never seem to hear much talk of any other country seeing this retro stuff.
Talking of retro, is it time to go back and dive into the collection for some oldies, but goodies? I think so. So I will begin with a VW. Well, there were 2 in the current batch, one being a yellow Rabbit, so I had to bring out the classic yellow Rabbit didn’t I!
I have always had a bit of an OCD moment with this casting. What does it clearly say on the side? Rompin Rabbit. Yet the base had it marked as Romping Rabbit, with a “G” on the end. It has always bugged me. Clearly this was the MB099 “VW Golf” Romping Rabbit even though the base never mentioned VW or Golf. It was an offshoot of the MB007 VW Golf LS casting, where they simply created a new base section with which they could add large 4×4 wheels. It debuted in white in the 1982 basic range, but only in the US market. It was sold as MB7 there, and in its debut year it was white.
Now this casting was being made alongside the still standard MB007 Golf, which was being sold in the ROW range as MB7. Due to there being 2 models, they did have a little fun with interiors. Both red and tan are to be found on this one, and it appeared that red was the more common variant to both models. I don’t know if they attempted one to be the US and one to be the ROW. I have a feeling it was supposed to be red on this, and tan on the ROW, but they made so many red interiors they just put them on them all. Because you know, that was what the factory was like at the time. I am actually still hunting down a pair of tan interiors for this (as I said, red was the more common). Why 2?
Because the model came with or without a side stripe. As 1982 was finishing and Lesney went bust, Universal swooped in and decided as an initial move to send all castings that were being sold exclusively in the US market over to Hong Kong while they figured out what they were doing.
When they shipped it over to Hong Kong, they came up with an all new look. Yellow with a Ruff Rabbit design and a blue interior. During 1983 they realized that the factory was not one of theirs, but a sub-contracted one, so they ceased production of all Matchbox stuff and moved them all to their own factory in Macau. By late 1983 the same model was now being made in Macau. Visually, they looked very familiar.
But there was something that the Hong Kong factory had done. They were snipping off tow hooks. But because they had 2 interior moulds, but were only using 1, they shipped both out to Macau. Macau didn’t notice and so used both moulds. From hereon, the casting could be found with or without a tow hook.
But what Macau also didn’t notice was the template for the rabbit. As such the casting can be found with the rabbit running left or right.
The model ran for 3 years in the US range in yellow, although technically, it saw 4 years of action, as the Japanese range in 1984 was enlarged to 100 models and saw a number of US and ROW exclusives added. The Romping Rabbit was thrown in the Japanese range as MB54, but although it was dropped from the US range after 1985, it continued on in 1986 as a Japanese exclusive. People often forget those little anecdotes. Particularly when the only other noticeable changes had already occurred by then. The main one being that in 1984 they decided to go back to a red interior.
Shades of yellow can be found as it ran a few years. I admit both of my red interior models have tow hooks, but as I said, they were using both interior moulds and so they can be found without too.
But they never did notice the rabbit. All through production in Macau (from late 1983 until it was dropped after 1986 in Japan) that rabbit could be running either way.
Which does make for an easy 4-variation hunt. Red or blue interior, rabbit running left or right. After the Japanese range dropped the model after the 1986 year, it was never seen again.
So I am going to move on now to the often forgotten Chevy Van offshoot. As I already mentioned when I previewed the MB709 Chevy Van earlier, this was originally a Lesney made casting back in 1979. A classic that still lives on. Well in 1982 they created the MB102 4×4 version which ran until the mid ’00s, which itself was recast back to the original more stock model as the original MB068 casting itself had gone. But in 1985, they came up with an alternate. The MB150 Chevy Breakdown Van.
Still struggling just a little to get enough new castings together under the Universal ownership, 1983 and 1984 had seen multiple offshoots, but we saw a few stragglers in 1985 too. This one was simply the Chevy Van with the rear chopped, and a boom and tow hook added. The roof also had a hole in it, with a large area attached to the boom which you could press down to lower the boom.
It debuted in the 1985 range as MB21 and ran for 4 years in the same design with the last 2 moving from Macau to China production. Well I say 4 years, the US range dropped it after 1986. The last 2 years were ROW only, but China production started shortly before the 1987 US replacement had arrived, so early production examples were still found there.
Chinese made examples tend to sport a more grey looking base. There is an offshoot which I never picked up. In 1988 an MB-101 multipack saw the model looking very similar, but the “Service and white/blue lines” print were replaced with white chevrons. I never noticed at the time (still young) and nowadays can I find that multipack? Nope!
1989 saw the model added to the Commando series where it ran until 1991. However, the one I picture here is not the Commando series model. This turned up randomly in 1998 as a Chinese error model. It was fitted with 5-crown wheels instead of the usual 8-spoke. This is why I like doing these dive backs, as they help me to remember some of the things I am missing. Note to self, MP-101 and a Commando model to locate.
Also in 1989 they changed the basic range look to this. It ran for 2, no wait, 3, actually no again wait, 5 years! This one is complicated. When it started it was an ROW exclusive. That was 1989. In 1990 they decided to re-add the casting to the US range where it was now allotted the MB53 slot. So in 1990 it was worldwide. In 1991 the model was dropped from the ROW range but continued in the US range for 1 more year. So both the US and ROW range saw it for 2 years, but they were 1 year skewed. So that gives us the 3, so where did the 5 come from? Well, Universal decided to come up with something a little different for the Australian market. There wasn’t anything in the way of exclusives at the time, but during the Universal era, the Australian range was an unusual combination of ROW and US issues. So although it was being sold there as MB21 in the Australian market (where it was following the ROW trend), when the ROW market dropped it, they decided sales were still good in Australia, so they re-added it immediately in to the 1991 as MB66. And even though the US range also dropped it after 1991, they still kept it going in Australia. Guess how long for? Another 2 years. It was only dropped there after 1993. So as I said, it was 2, 3 and 5 years. Things were complicated at times. I didn’t even mention the shade variation.
While all this was happening the Chevy Breakdown Van had another outing that ran a while. It debuted in the My First Matchbox series in 1990. A series where bright reds, blues, yellows and greens were the main focus (along with black and white).
1991 saw the model added to an Action Pack in USA. This was a new series of models that included accessories that were complementary to the playsets in use at the time. Sadly the series did not take off and was cancelled after 1 year, although due to slow sales, people were still finding it well into 1992. The model was orange, but used the same design as was being used on the basic range version.
And back to My First Matchbox. during production they decided to no longer print anything on the wheels, so after 2 years with yellow hubs, the model saw a further year with plain blue.
1992 saw a few outings for the model as it was still getting plenty of action. This was in an EM-82 multipack with an Auto Rescue look.
But if you wanted it plain, that was easy enough too, as it was also a part of Graffic Traffic that year in plain white. As with a lot of Graffic Traffic items, the plastic does tend to go a funny colour over time. At first it was bright white.
1993 saw the advent of Intercom City and the Chevy was added to that too in fluorescent orange with the Intercom City logo on the side.
And if you flipped the model over, there was a new base section with a bar code piece in the middle that would activate certain places on various playsets to initiate sounds and effects.
After all that, and the Australian range finally deciding to drop it too, the model went very quiet. 1994 and 1995 saw nothing at all, but in 1996 a new addition arrived. Black with a 24, arrow and hand holding a car side design. This was in a City Life 5-pack that year. After this the MB150 casting was retired, but not left. It was turned into MB316.
Where it debuted in 1997 in an Adventure Pack. This was appropriately titled Mechanic.
The difference between MB150 and MB316? A slightly redesigned boom section which now sported a dual hook off the back instead of a single hook. Everything else was the same.
The Adventure Pack continued in 1998, but was now known as Roadside Assistance. The model was still the same design, but was now silver, not yellow.
It also was included in the “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” series too. Many castings for the Jurassic Park license that year saw major modifications, but this didn’t. It came as was along with a man and a velociraptor.
It was then added to the Scrapyard 5-pack for 1999 in what I think was such a cool design. Each of the models in the Scrapyard set had a rusty, weathered look to them. But this went a stage further.
They tampo printed cracks in the side windows. Such little details. After this the model took 2000 off before returning for one more outing.
One that I am a bit annoyed with myself with as I appear to have misplaced the hook off the back. It fell off and is likely somewhere in all my stuff. It was in the 2001 Rescue Riders 5-pack. I may have to relent and buy another one if I can’t find my hook. So is it being added to my list of Chevy Breakdown Vans to hunt down? I will have to see. But this was the last time the casting saw action.
I had to go Mustang for my next dive back as there was a Mustang in the range. Being a 1990s era Mustang, I knew I had to do a Mustang casting that debuted in the 1990s. This is the MB322 ’70 Ford Boss Mustang.
Obviously as I mentioned, this debuted in the 1990s. 1998 to be exact. As was the norm at that moment in Matchbox history, new casting would see their very first models run in a premium form. Released as a twin pack, you would see one completely decked out with full tampo prints and 2-part rubber wheels, and the pack would also see a second model left unpainted. Those were the very first ones run and designed so that people could really see the detailing that was going into the casting, without any paint etc covering it up.
I do own an oddity with this one, as some leftover bodies were used up by the Chinese factory and dumped out on to the local market with gold spirals instead of the proper wheels.
Later on that year we saw the basic range debut of the casting. MB37. But that was it. It was done. No sooner had the casting arrived in the basic range, it was dropped from the basic range. Of course it wasn’t the end of the casting, or otherwise this would be a very short dive back segment, but I was always surprised they only ever used it once in the basic range. Of course during that time you would find variations. Mine I have feature the yellow tampo being quite a strong deep yellow (bottom) or quite a light pastel shade (top).
Of course there was this as well. Yes more Chinese dumped stuff, with this model seeing some old 8-spoke wheels used instead of the concave 5-spokes.
Now there are 4 more premium models done, but I own none so cannot show them. On my list to find. 2x blues, 2x greens, so from here on I concentrate on the non-rubber wheeled models. This was a 1999 Real Talking issue. In a Police Chase set with a talking police car and a few additional items too.
It saw absolutely no action at all in 2000 but in 2001 did start getting use again. This was a Coca Cola themed Avon exclusive. Part of the “Decades” twin packs they were selling in 2001. Each twin pack featured 2 models from a particular decade. Although this was from the 1970s decade, it was partnered with a ’70 Chevy El Camino, which meant that they literally just used the first year of the whole decade. It also saw something new.
A metal base. At the start of the 2000s quite a few castings made a temporary switch from plastic to metal bases, before reverting back to plastic later.
Because by the time it was next in action (a pair of 2003 Barrett Jackson releases, again, these are premiums I don’t own) the base was back to plastic again. My next issue was this one. It was part of the 2004 Duracell on-pack promotion in green. That was the period where my stocks of AA batteries skyrocketed!
It was then added to the new Superfast series later on too, in white in the number 28 slot.
2005 saw it continue in the 28 slot for the following year in the Superfast range. 2005 was the year of the split production, with 7,500 reds being made for the ROW market, and 15,000 blues made for the USA market.
Target stores in USA also had their special 6-pack of models, with this recoloured to a spectraflame green.
It never saw a 2006 release, but came back for the Superfast America series. After 3 years of Superfast being a set of 75, 2007 became a smaller set of purely classic American vehicles. This was number 5 in the series.
That proved to be it for a while, but in 2010 they dusted it off for a 10-pack journey. At the time, there were 4 batches of 10-packs released per year. Each batch would contain 1 all-exclusive set that would follow the same 4-scenario theme through the year. Alongside these all-exclusive packs would be 2 further packs with items pulled from the other ranges (as we see now, although packs are 9, not 10). But at the time they would only use 2 castings through the year. Each would see 4 different colours as the year went on. So the Mustang, in one of the packs sold alongside the “Real” pack was green.
When the “Action” pack arrived 3 months later, the Mustang in one of the alternate packs was blue.
Another quarter of a year rolled by and the “Adventure” pack appeared, with a red Mustang in one of the accompanying sets.
Finally, as the year came to a close and the “1st Editions” pack arrived, a yellow Mustang was the exclusive to one of the others alongside it.
Finally, a decade after it was last seen, a metal base returned to the Mustang for a 2011 Lesney Edition release in a darker yellow.
It wasn’t the same metal base as was in use in 2001, as they redid it again. But this proved to be the swansong for the casting, as it has never been seen again. I have a feeling the only way we will see it again now is as a premium release due to the part count.
I would not be opposed to seeing it again. Maybe go orange. It is heading that way….
So why not go funky for my last dive back, inspired by a Water Tanker in the current mix. The early 2000s were a strange era in Matchbox circles. Mattel had not long taken over the Matchbox brand after their takeover of Tyco. Their purchase was late 1996, which meant that 1997 had already been signed off, and the Matchbox R&D guys were busy working on 1998. so Mattel didn’t really have an awful lot of input into 1998 either, except to change the way Matchbox was being numbered. 1999 saw them go nuts with a German exclusive range, a whole variety of US/ROW alternative tampos and a greater number of real vehicles. But they sat down and thought, well we now have these 2 toy car brands, both of which have a good name, and we need to keep them. But we need to be different. So as the 2000s began they decided to position Matchbox as the younger skewing brand, and with it a more utility style feel. More fire engines, more police, more construction etc. This was ultimately leading towards Hero City and then Ultra Heroes. They also went through a lot more of their own original creations too. This was the MB529 Tanker Truck.
It debuted in the 2002 range as MB54, and being a logo year, the first 10,000 examples saw a 50 logo adorning the hood. Now this period is often seen as one of the lower ebbs in Matchbox history, but I always see silver linings in clouds.
As they did with quite a lot of their creations at the time, this had a little play value. It had a hose that you could pull out of the rear. It didn’t detach. I suppose you could snap it off. I have never tried. But this was indicative of many of their original creations of the era. But sadly, this one did not last. Because as soon as the 2002 was done, so was the hose. They sealed it up and turned the casting into MB583. There is a variation of this model without the moving hose too, although I think that only appeared in a playset, which I never got.
The next we saw of the casting was the 2003 basic. Now with a stuck hose, MB48 in white and blue again saw a logo on the first 10,000 hoods.
The casting also saw its first 5-pack appearance that year too. The Fire 5-pack was one of the first of the year, and this model was mainly sporting sawblade wheels. However, there is a late run with dome wheels, which at the time I was not bothering collecting wheel variations too much and never picked it up. Now I never see it. Typical!
It was also included in the Licensed series. During the initial period of licensed sets, we would see different singles and 5-packs, whereas later, the singles were just recoloured 5-pack models, before just being duplicates, and then they just were selling 5-packs (later 3-packs). Rescue Heroes saw a number of single releases, with the Tanker Truck being one of them.
After 2003 the model was dropped from the basic range, but was not going anywhere in 5-packs. This was the Fire Chiefs 5-pack issue earlier in the year.
Fun Park was the final 2004 5-pack and saw a second release in a sort of circus theme. Well, a fun park basically. As the name implies.
But for 2005, the Matchbox brand had closed down their Mt Laurel site (the former Tyco offices) and moved from New Jersey to in house at El Segundo CA. The direction that Matchbox had taken had been a bust. Sales had dipped. Things weren’t good, so they wanted a closer eye and a new direction. The Tanker Truck was not done yet, but for 2005, again in a 5-pack (just called Fire), it saw a nice realistic look. Part of the new move back towards realism that Matchbox had been renown for. 2005 also saw them decide to move production from their China factory back to the one in Thailand that had been used for other items since the late 1990s. This was how the original production looked, while it was made in China.
You might be able to make out a slight shade variation to the one made in Thailand later. If you are not sure which was which, the Thailand made one was at the front.
Mind you, me being me, I only went and found a shade variation to the Thailand made one on top. Yes, I was showing the model some love. Well, somebody had to.
But with this move back to realism, the Tanker Truck was felt to perhaps be a little too out there to really see more action. But 2007 did see a pair of licensed 5-pack issues. One was in a SpongeBob SquarePants pack, the other a Go Diego Go pack. They were both off white though, so I had better explain the SpongeBob pack had grey 6-spoke wheels/chrome base and the Go Diego Go had crown wheels/grey base. Now do you see the difference? I was just having a little fun to finish the report. Because that was it for this casting, and that is it for this latest report.
I hope you enjoyed my little ramble again this week. Be prepared, I went a little long on next week’s report. What? Me? Go long? As if! I know, it’s true though. I overdid things just a touch and there will be precious little back diving at the end. But there is a little bit, and it sort of makes sense. You will understand it all when you see what I did for next week.
Just be prepared to have a warm cup of cocoa, get your slippers on and get comfy. Because I keep going overboard. Until then I hope you all have a happy and safe week.