Okay, I admit, I am a little all over the place when it comes to the Matchbox stuff. But I do try my best to not get too far behind with certain items. I noticed that I had dropped a bit behind with 9-packs. I prepared posts for batches A, B & C. But since that time, we have seen all the 3 remaining batches arrive & I never did any of them. Oops! I did contemplate doing 1 a week, but then decided I would do one grand post for the lot. Sorry about that, because it does mean we have a total of 15 models I am looking at this week, and as such my dive back at the end is sort of non-existent, but not quite due to the length I was already at. You will see when you get to the end. I thought I would do them in their 3 batches order. Which means I begin with batch D.
Each batch contains 2 packs, and each pack has 1 exclusive model to it. Batch D saw the MB610 ’71 Chevy Chevelle as one of these 2 exclusives. This model comes in a light orangey-red with dual black stripes across the top. I do love stripes.
But as well as giving us these stripes they also managed to eke out some additional side detailing on top. With their general rules of 2 passes through a tampo machine for core releases (of which 9-packs are classified as core, because, well to be honest, only the Collectors series and Mattel Creations are classified as premium ones). So I always like it when they can manage to eke out a little something like this. I am sure some will ask about chrome bases. Lack of chrome is not a big thing to me, because I grew up in the 1970s where Lesney used to start chroming various things then just give up. I see it as the norm. Some get chrome, some don’t. Big whoop! Of course this is the funny grey plastic which tends to go a little wishy washy in the manufacturing process at times, but with little on show (unless you were to flip the model over, which I don’t tend to that often), it doesn’t appear to have affected this. I really like it.
I only just did a Retro report talking about the Chevelle too, as it is nice seeing this casting get a little action again.
Because as you might remember, the casting saw some minor cosmetic surgery before returning in the Open Road Cruisers 5-pack in 2017 (it’s first outing since 2012). But that was 4 years ago, and I thought with the work going into revitalizing it, we would see plenty of new issues. But they are coming now. I hope I didn’t just jinx it!
But before I move on to the next one, I just thought I would bring in another classic. This was the 2005 USA exclusive release of the Superfast issue. This was red with dual black stripes. But as I said, the new one is an orangey-red. So when you put an actual red one next to it, the difference is very noticeable. Of course that was a premium issue and as such sees a lot of additional detailing.
Strangely though, I prefer the side tampo detailing to the new one. I think the SS badge behind the front wheels looks better on the more basic issue.
In general seeing all areas of the model sport extra detailing does give the premium model the nod. But for a core issue, I am really impressed with this one.
The other exclusive in this batch was the MB927 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. And I love this one! It is daft though, I have just done a report on a batch of Matchbox Retro models, yet none of the “new” designs were sporting a retro theme. The Golf was linked to another Golf, the Chevy Van had a recurring Tiki theme, and the Beetle had a sort of 70s vibe to the look, but was not based on anything.
But this is a true retro look. As soon as I saw it I knew I would be pulling out a certain model.
The MB102 4×4 Chevy Van. This was the 1983-88 basic range look. It was worldwide as MB44 in the US range or MB68 in the ROW for the first 3 years, but the ROW range dropped it after 1985. The US continued on for a further 3 years though. The Matchbox team have revisited this look for the Raptor and it is brilliant.
I also love how they kept with the automotive theme for additional logos. The Chevy Van had BF Goodrich on the side. This being a tyre manufacturer for vehicles. What does the Raptor have? Brembo, a brakes company, as well as K&N, an air filter company for vehicles. I absolutely love all the thought and attention to what went into this model. My only surprise is that they chose to put it in a 9-pack and not actually add it to the Target Retro series. Not that I mind. I love seeing retro looks on models, and am more than happy to see them everywhere. I just am starting to worry that the Target Retro series is losing its way a little by not focusing too much on actual retro looking models (as well as carry forwards which by default are sort of retro).
Released alongside the exclusive models are 3 semi-exclusives. These 3 models appear in both packs in the batch, but are not found elsewhere. Some of these are castings that have not been seen in a while, like this one. The MB863 Vantom. It was last used in a 2018 5-pack, so has been absent for the last 2 years. I am happy to see it return, and even though it is a Matchbox originals design, I have always liked it.
Plus this is the second outing this year for the recurring Forest Ranger theme. And I do love these recurring themes. I am very happy to see the Forest Ranger theme return again. It sort of faded away a little due to the National Parks one being fairly similar.
If you remember it was also used in batch C as the exclusive MB1052 Custom ’95 Chevy Van also sported the Forest Ranger theme.
This one also gets the little additional flames look that is used for those in the Forest Ranger series that are based on fire vehicles.
A sort of sub-section within the recurring theme. The MB817 Ford F-550 Super Duty is a good example of that, and while I am at it, also a good example of how to differentiate between National Parks and Forest Ranger.
Because the F-550 was sold in both themes in 2012. The basic range MB119 was a National Parks release. It was also in the Brush Fire Rescue 5-pack in the Forest Ranger theme.
The clues are there in the writing. Forest Ranger themed models have an orange shield with Forest Ranger written in it, with a forest underneath in the shield. They also come with green, white and orange striping. National Parks have a different logo in a pale orange with an animal in, and the words National Parks appear tampo printed elsewhere. They also include black and white dotted lines. You can see the difference in the tampo printing, but one of the problems they always had was that the basic colour of the 2 models was quite similar. National Parks is a light mint shade, whereas the Forest Ranger would be a little darker. So bringing the theme back the Matchbox guys have made a small tweak to the Forest Ranger series.
Which you probably noticed already, but can be seen again here. They have made the basic colour of the Forest Ranger series a more olive shade. This really does help to set it apart more from the National Parks theme. It is not a radical change, but this really does bring home better that these are 2 different recurring themes. Not all part of the same overall theme. Some people often try and mix and match the 2 themes as both were a minty shade. Moving to mint and olive helps to split the 2. I applaud this little but significant alteration. I also hope that this means we are going to see plenty more Forest Ranger models in the upcoming years as well.
Now as the Vantom has not been in use for a while, I am going to remind people of its history. This casting debuted in the 2013 range as MB91. It was part of a move within the Matchbox brand to come up with a range of vehicles as seen from a small child’s perspective. This was a part of a range of models, all original designs, that were fairly average vehicles but on huge 4×4 wheels. There was a school bus, a couple of fire engines and garbage truck among the vehicles. We even had a new convoy cab with huge 4×4 wheels, unsuitable really for towing any trailers. But out of all those castings, none really stuck with me, except this one. There was something about this one that I just liked. Plus it had a habit of just being fun to collect. Case in point. The debut look. Grey with simple striping and a Vantom name down the side. It usually came with the ringed 8-spoke wheels, but if you paid attention there was a batch that came with ringed gear wheels instead.
It wasn’t done for 2013 either. It was chosen to sport a 2nd look too, which in this case a nice green model. But no, this wasn’t a case of green shades for me. It was the window component. The level of smoke tinting to it changed during production. Because it also formed a large area of the roof, that is where you really notice the difference in the level of tinting.
After a fun start in 2013, things weren’t ready to slow down yet for the variation nerds like me. 2014. This is during the era of throwing models from the basic range into random 5-packs too, so this model was in both the basic range as MB56 and in the Ice Mountain Mission 5-pack. And boy was it showing off by being in multiple places. It came in blue. That blue varied wildly during production.
It also decided to throw in a random ringed cog wheel production run instead of the usual dual ringed 8-dot wheels it normally sported. So yeah, this was a lot of fun for me that year.
After that though, things did start to settle down. It was MB87 in the 2015 range, and this was the first time I was unable to find a variation to the model.
It also saw a release in the Mission Force set. The Arctic set was one of the final Mission Force sets that they did at the time (not including the 2020 sets that popped up).
It did have a decent run in the basic range. Long after all the other vehicles on large 4×4 wheels had been dropped. 2016 saw this MB103 issue in white with an MBX Explorers Club side design. But for me, they did lave the best design for its final basic range issue.
The 2017 MB114. This was a really cool grey with yellow, red and black side design. But it wasn’t just a cool design.
This was another model that was using an MB102 4×4 Chevy Van as a reference point. In this case it was one of the final issue of the Chevy Van before they turned it into MB709. This was the 2006 Superfast issue in grey, with the same side design. I am waiting for the Custom ’95 Chevy Van to sport at the moment. I thought it was really cool how we actually ended up with 2 links to the classic MB102 in this post.
After that, the model did see one more outing. As I said, it hadn’t been seen since 2018. It was a part of the Ice Voyagers 5-pack which appeared fairly early in the year. It sported an Arctic Transport theme, and had a cheeky little A58 at the top corner (typical Michael Heralda). I do like this casting. Some models just appeal to me. They don’t have to be a licensed model to appeal to me. At the end of the day, a Matchbox designer is still a designer. Just like a real car designer is. And sometimes they create castings that I just like. I do with the Vantom, and am not opposed to still seeing more outings for it in the future. I believe it has legs. Yeah I know, they are large 4×4 wheels, but you know what I mean.
Also included in this batch as one of the semi-exclusive models is the MB1032 Ford Transit. Another casting that has not seen action in a few years, and is good to see back in the rotation. I like the look of this one in white. I have a feeling with it being Channel 58 that somehow Michael Heralda had a hand in this one.
It is a lovely simple design, and the yellow, orange and red side stripes look great. We get a lot of references now to MBX, as often in the past Matchbox would often be shortened to MB, and get confused with Mercedes-Benz.
The casting has not been altered in any way and still sports the little satellite on the roof that you can pop up. I did wonder with the windows being so dark whether the interior had gone.
But no, when I peered in through the wheel wells I could still see a grey interior in there. So it is great to see they can still get these models in use occasionally. I think this is one of those budgetary things. Say you have an overall limit on parts. Say 20 models had to be 3-parts and 20 had to be 4-parts. You make 21 with 3-parts, you can sneak in a 5-part model and still stick to budget. Again, these are things we are not really privy to as collectors and might not even notice. But I know when you work for a company you do have to work within constraints, and sometimes you can wiggle something cool in by popping something else out. Swings and roundabouts is a saying we have in the UK. It applies perfectly here. Unless of course that satellite dish is somehow connected to the interior. Having never opened up a physical model by drilling out the rivets, I cannot say for sure that it is a 5th part, or some clever way they found of making the interior section also work as a satellite dish. In which case that last paragraph was for nothing. But you know me, I ramble on.
Just as a reminder, this is what we have seen so far from this casting. The 2014 Ford Transit News Van first arrived in the 2016 basic range as MB2. It was black and had a maroon base with an El Paso News side design. Notice the interior is yellow and so is the satellite dish on the roof.
After that it was MB9 in the 2017 basic range. This time it was blue with a white base and a News 6 side design. Notice again how the satellite dish matches the interior.
This is only release 3 of this casting. It hasn’t had a lot of use, but each time it has appeared the interior and satellite dish appear the same colour. Coincidence, or is it somehow linked to the interior? If anybody has ever drilled one of these apart and seen inside properly, please let me know. This is one of those random questions I would like to know the answer to. Is is a 5-part build, or a very clever 4-part?
So finally, for batch D we had a muscle car. The MB1226 ’19 Ford Mustang GT. And it looks absolutely gorgeous in dark red. I am a massive fan of this casting, and am so happy to see a third outing this year for it.
This release comes with a simple front and rear tampo design, much like all but the white have received. It looks stunning. Clearly my favourite of this batch. Even the retro looking Raptor couldn’t outdo this look.
I don’t know if anybody noticed, but 2021 saw a red, white and blue release of the Ford Mustang GT. Very patriotic. So that was the first batch, but as I said, I went a bit overboard and did the other 2 too.
So I now move on to batch E. This batch was skipped in the UK, so I am very thankful again to Rory McDonald (@wyoming_wheels on Instagram) who helped me out with these. I definitely did not want to miss out on this batch as another of my favourite castings was in it. But before I get to that one, I will go through the same way again.
By starting with the exclusives. Batch E had one pack with an MB810 ’71 Pontiac Firebird Formula as the exclusive. it comes with this silver edged white flash side design and Firebird 400 Formula down the side. It also has a sneaky little Matchbox at the rear end. They do like to sneak these in occasionally. As long as they don’t become standard on all models again I am fine with it. They tried it in the early 2000s because a certain other Mattel brand was doing it, but faced a huge backlash so knocked it off.
It is a nice dark blue shade. A bit different to how the debut version looked when it arrived.
Which I always like to see. Different ideas and final looks. They may both be blue but they couldn’t be more different.
And as this is the second issue this year after a Target Retro release earlier on where I did a rundown, I won’t bother with doing it again.
The other model though? Well this one has not been seen in a good few years, so I think I might need to do a rundown there. This is the MB832 Jeep Wrangler Superlift.
But before the rundown, I must say I really like this look. Orange with a red, yellow and black striped side design. It even saw a sneaky little hood print too which is impressive. Eking out every little extra they can. I think this is one of the nicest looks I have seen on this model to date.
Although it is not quite as good as the 2011 promotional debut look. After all, this was to advertise the 2012 range at the toy fair that September and was our first glimpse of the casting. But being a toy fair model, this they really went to town on.
Before it arrived very early in the 2012 range as MB51. This was based on the actual Superlift vehicle that they had created for SEMA in 2010 which did in real life sport a Matchbox logo on the side.
It was then MB115 in the 2013 range in white. And the fun starts with variations. Usually it came with ringed 8-spoke wheels, but some were to be found with ringed gear wheels instead.
2013 also saw another SEMA special in miniature form too. Superlift created a new version of the Wrangler Superlift for 2012 in yellow with green and black details, and Matchbox recreated it for the 2013 60th Anniversary line. It was a close collaboration again as the real yellow Superlift had Matchbox 60th Anniversary logos on it too. Mind you, for me, the most fun was the shades. It varied quite a lot as you can see I have 3 distinct shades myself.
In 2014 the model was MB52 in the basic range in tan.
And in 2015 MB97 was released, also in a very similar shade of metallic orange to the latest one. although they are completely different designs. By the way, did anybody else noticed that they have widened the front window a little? A minor tweak to the casting.
In 2016 the model took its final turn in the basic range. Blue was the MB119 that year.
But although this would prove to be the final year the casting would see action until now, they did actually give us 2 that year. This red model was a part of the Walmart exclusive Jeep series. It has now been 5 years since that outing, so it is good to see it return. I wonder with the tiny tweak to the front window, this means they will look to do a few more outings again.
Now we move on to the semi-exclusives from this batch. As you know, for 2021 9-packs have a slightly different way of selling. 2022 will see them reverting back to how they were in 2020 with just an exclusive so I am making the most of these semi-exclusives while I can. First up for batch E was the MB905 Alfa Romeo 4C. Great to see this model return. We have really started to see more action from Alfa Romeo this last year with the launch of the Giulia. It appears that has kickstarted them using more of the other castings in the current toolbank which is great. I really liked the 4C when it arrived and was quite sad to see it get such little love. Always popular. This is a new look in charcoal. Simple front and rear detailing are the name of the game for this one. And it looks excellent.
You can’t go wrong with the simple details. Again I am going to bounce back, as there were precious few to add to this.
It debuted as all Alfas do (with the exception of the first one, the Carabo which later turned to it) in red. Yes, this is standard for Alfa Romeos in the Matchbox range. Granted, to date there have only been 6 (Carabo, SZ, 155, ’65 Giulia Sprint GTA, this and modern Giulia). But each one, apart from that first, has always started in red, with this taking its turn in 2014 as MB99.
in 2015 it turned to a dark charcoal. This is not a carry forward where the shade went a bit funny. You might be able to see the Alfa badge is done differently, and the license plate has details in the new one that the original didn’t have. Plus, wheels! They are similar, but they are not the same. This is different from the 2015 MB21.
In 2016 it turned white as MB26. Lovely. But, that has been it.
Such a great casting. I can’t believe after that 5 year gap we now finally get to only its 4th issue. It deserves so many more.
Second on the list of semi-exclusives is one that I am so happy to see again. The MB629 ’69 Chevy Camaro. I have been patiently waiting since 2013 to see another release of this one. Why it has seen so little use is beyond me. I love this look. A lovely dark red with dual white hood stripes.
Granted it is blank at the rear, but I don’t mind. There appears to be a decent colour break in parts here.
This could be why. I see the base has an updated copyright. 2003 and ’19. I do find it funny when they do that. A full year date, a partial date. I am guessing it is a space thing. But you know what? I think this means we need a more in-depth look at this model.
Or should I say models. The Camaro was created under the old regime based in Mount Laurel in New Jersey. At that time they were based out of the old Tyco offices, and Matchbox was in the midst of the Hero City era. During this time they had a very clear split. Children would be the core audience for the core series. They were aiming at 3-6 year olds with wacky designs, unusual looking vehicles etc. But they were also doing the Matchbox Collectibles series, aimed clearly at adults. For this, they were pulling out plenty of classic vehicle designs that were only for the Collectibles series. These were not going to be used in any core ranges. New toolings were being prepared for the 2004 Collectibles series. But the series was struggling. So they decided to ditch Collectibles and came up with something new. Return of the Superfast series. They were going to be marketed at a lower price point than Collectibles had been. The models were still going to feature a full tampo print, but the rubber wheels and detailed interiors were going away (apart from the chase models). So the ’69 Chevy Camaro, which was originally going to be a part of a “My Classic Car” series that got cancelled ended up making their debut in the 2004 Superfast range. Due to the last minute change, Superfast didn’t actually debut until late spring, rather than winter like other 2004 items, and as such was time shifted to a late spring through early spring yearly release schedule for 3 years. Now this is where things get more complicated. The Mount Laurel team originally devised the MB608 ’69 Camaro RS SS. The grille area had closed headlights, depicted by the 3 lines where they would be. It was later during R&D that they also decided they could make a secondary casting of a regular Camaro too, with just a minor tweak to the grille by swapping to a headlight. This was the MB629. They both ended up debuting in the Superfast series with blingy wheels (something new they created for the range to much criticism). The MB629 casting with headlights was number 7, the MB608 casting was number 55.
But herein lay another problem. Remember I said they just tweaked the grille to the casting to go from the RS SS closed headlights to the standar Camaro open headlights. Well, this did not warrant any changes to the base section itself, so they forgot to make an alteration to the manufacturing number cast into the base. Both releases has MB608 on them.
This immediately caused an issue. Because no sooner had Superfast debuted, the Mount Laurel offices were closed down, Matchbox as a brand was moved in-house to El Segundo, and a new team started mapping out a new future for it. Hero City was a failure and a move back to realism for the core ranges was a priority. One of the first things we actually saw from this was the Chevy Camaro being added to one of the first 2005 5-packs. Burger Zone. A premium only model being added to a core range. Excellent. Except for the fact that the factory in China had jumbled up the casting. So when it was first released both closed and open headlight samples appeared. It appears they had mixed up the models in the 2 slots up a little and both were being run at the same time.
During this period Mattel had decided that Matchbox production should be back in Thailand, so the tooling was all shipped over. Thailand took the casting and sorted them out between the open lights and closed lights before production began, and as this was requested as being the MB629 that was in the set, only the correct open headlight casting was included from Thailand.
But although they flipped the base over and altered the country of original to now say Thailand, nobody noticed that it still said the wrong MAN number on it. So it still had MB608 there.
Now for some reason, I don’t know why, the Mattel team based in El Segundo only ever requested MB629 to be used. It may have been they thought that it was an updated/altered version in line with other updated and altered models, where the new casting was in place of the original. The information coming from Mount Laurel might not have made it clear that they created a secondary casting in addition to not in place of, so they only looked at using this second one. For 2005’s Superfast range (where it was split between US (olive) and ROW (silver) markets in the number 7 slot, the model saw the retro Superfast wheels added. This was something that collectors had requested after they saw minimal use in the 2004 series.
And a special Target gift set tin was also created with a lovely bronze model included too.
In 2006, the final year of the full 1-75 series of the new Superfast range, again in the number slot, but now again as a USA exclusive, the Camaro was blue with a lovely matte black roof section.
For 2007, the range was cut down to a small set of 18 models in a Superfast America series. Only classic US vehicles were included, and this was a Walmart exclusive. The Camaro was given the number 2 slot in the series in white with dual red stripes.
That proved to be its final premium release. But it has not seen much core range action either. After that Burger Zone 5-pack release, 2008 saw another 5-pack issue. Classic Cars saw a lovely yellow model with dual black stripes. This one was definitely a fun one for the nerds out there too. Shades of yellow? Yes please.
Run out of tri-spoke wheels during production and throw on some disk wheels to keep production going? Don’t mind if you do. But after that, it felt like the tumbleweeds were blowing through town. It did not see any action until….
They popped it in a 2013 10-pack in orange. Again, this was good for shades. 2013 saw all 10-pack exclusive models simply sport a single top print with a Matchbox 60th logo on them. They were also all classic vehicles, as 2013 was in the midst of a temporary side step for the range again, with many classics fading out of the basic range.
But until now that had been the last we saw of the model. At that point it was still incorrectly showing MB608 on the base.
Something that they have only now rectified as part of the re-casting of the model. Finally, it correctly states it is MB629. But what else has been done?
The side appears to have a greater depth to the lines coming out from the tops of the wheel arches, and the grooved section just before the rear wheels has been re-defined. You may also notice that the base section is now wrapping up around the front and rear.
Yes, at the front the base section now also includes the front bumber area. But not just that, to create more colour breaks, the interior section has also now been extended out to include the front grille/lights. So it gives us this lovely colour break and I think better defines the grille.
Although weirdly, where they have done the same at the back, bringing the base up to include bumpers, and extending the interior section to form the rear lights, that rear light section has no detailing. It is just a smooth edge to the interior section. That is a shame, as those rear lights are really cool. Had they been depicted I would have 100% said this was a real improvement. But that little loss of detail had detracted a bit from it.
The interior has obviously been reworked, and as such the steering wheel doesn’t look quite as large as it did. I think that is an improvement. It was such a large steering wheel before.
So overall, great work on the casting tweaks. I love the more defined window wipers too. But as I said, that lack of rear light depiction on the model now is the one piece that let down the revamp. Overall though, I do feel it is an improvement over how it was (and I loved how it was). So you know I am really hopeful that now they have taken the time to work on it, that we get to see it more often again.
The last semi-exclusive for batch E is the MB924 ’14 Chevy Silverado 1500. This one sports another recurring theme. INC! I love it!
I can’t really say too much more about it. I love recurring themes and so am extremely happy to get another INC model in the mix. Quite surprisingly this is the first real pickup truck in an INC design.
Unless you include the MB687 International CXT. The 2014 MB17 issue of that was an INC release, but to me this isn’t a regular pickup truck. The Silverado is. Shall I do another dive back?
As I seem to be doing a lot of them. These semi-exclusives are really good for dive backs, as many are castings that haven’t been used in a few years. The 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 debuted in 2014 as MB118. They were right on the ball with this one. It debuted in blue, much like it is blue now. Although that was a nice metallic blue with simple front and rear detailing. Plus the shade of blue on that one varied a lot during production.
In 2015 we saw yet another plain issue. MB40 was red with again just the simple front and rear detailing.
But if that wasn’t enough, they only went and gave it a second outing too, switching the red to charcoal.
2016 was the first time we saw the model sporting a side design. It was also its final outing in the basic range. MB59 was white with a Wazup Elevator Serives design. I actually liked this one. It made me smile with the clever name. And yes I can find shades anywhere if I try hard enough. Shade of white anyone?
As I said, this was dropped from the basic range after 2016 and 2017 saw nothing at all. For 2018 they added it to the Walmart 100 years Chevy Trucks set. It was grey with just front and rear detailing again.
2019 saw the debut of the “carry forward” 5-packs. Although these were not yet mixed in with the general 5-pack releases, Mattel tested the market by creating a few sets of random models that had all been sold before, randomly mashed together in a theme. The MBX Construction 5-pack saw the 2015 version 1 return. Although there was 1 glaring difference.
They didn’t chrome the base for the carry forward. Huge difference.
But what we also saw in 2019 was a Sweets set issue in supermarkets in USA. This model was released in pink with a Laffy Taffy design.
Last year saw this model in the MBX Construction II 5-pack in green with a Native Landscape side design. So this shows that, although it doesn’t feel like it, this casting has only had 2017 off since it first debuted. But it actually doesn’t feel like we have seen much of it. Weird that. But there you go. That is batch E done, and as I am going for it, let’s move on to batch F.
This will be the last batch to see the semi-exclusives. This was a 2021 thing, and will not be continued for 2022. Which to me is a huge shame, as I have absolutely been loving these. 2022 returns to the traditional 2 packs per batch each with 1 exclusive model. So unless I tag team them in to other reports I may not take such a close look at 9-packs after this. If you would like me to tag them into other reports for more things to talk about I will gladly continue. Just let me know.
So where to start? As always, the exclusives. And boy is it good to see this one again. We all know there was a small blip with the Toyota license and it took them out of the rotation for a few years. These things happen, but happily they are all good to go again. But as the Toyotas all started rolling back into the various mixes again, along with some new additions too, I couldn’t help but notice a certain lack of Tacomas. The MB1051 “tent” version has been announced as returning in a 9-pack next year. The “lifeguard” version returned here. This is the first outing of the MB911 since 2016, and this is a lovely return for the model.
The first time it has been sold in white, and this design is really nice. Red and gold, with gold wheels and a red board section. It is a great look. Definitely one of the nicest. Recap?
Well why not. We first saw the model as MB105 in the 2014 basic range in red with a simple lifeguard side design.
Of course with Jim Gallegos, the man behind the Albuquerque convention, being a huge advocate of the Tacoma and asking Mattel to make one on a regular basis, it was a slam dunk that this model was going to appear as a convention exclusive. Sure enough, the 2014 dinner model was blue with a lovely white, yellow and orange striped design. However, if you were one of the 75 early bird attendees, you saw your blue Tacoma with much more white on the model, as the roof and hood both turned white for the early birders.
In 2015 they managed to obtain the rights to use the official San Diego Fire Rescue lifeguard design, as well San Diego uses Tacomas for this very purpose. A great model as MB59.
In 2016 the model took the MB75 slot in the basic range, for what proved to be its final outing there. I found the yellow was a good colour for shades too. Of course this was not supposed to be the end, as the 2017 range saw the debut of the “tent” version and so they thought not to have 2 Tacomas in the basic range. But then 2018 and 2019 saw no Toyotas at all, while a few legalities were tidied up. As they started coming back in 2020 I was hoping the Tacomas would get in the action.
Although I should point out there was actually a second yellow Tacoma in 2016. I was getting ahead of myself a little there in the last picture. They did a special run of models for Shark Week late in the year, and this was an obvious casting to include. We never saw a return to Shark Week after 2016 either. So with the Tacoma now back I wonder if these licensed models could return too? I still enjoy the licensed packs.
The other pack’s exclusive model is the MB1033 Chrysler 300. Although I did hear that some packs were accidentally filled with an Audi R8 in the slot. Somebody wasn’t paying attention. These things happen. But for those of us who got the correct model I am very happy to see this return too. I drove a Chrysler 300 from Washington DC to Las Vegas in 2018 and was mightily impressed with it. So when I see this one it reminds me of that road trip. The car was brand new when I picked it up from the rental place. I was the first person to drive it. When it was dropped off weeks later, it was filthy after being driven through all sorts of weather (the muddy car park of Four Corners really made its mark), and the car had driven over 3,500 miles. You see, I am reminiscing. I completely forgot I am doing a blog.
So where was I? Oh yes, black Chrysler 300. This is lovely. But then whenever any model gets released in black I think it looks great. Black is such a lovely colour to paint these models. The simple front and rear detailing are perfect as they have been on very release so far. I can’t fault it. So happy to see it return.
Okay who didn’t see yet another dive back? We first saw the 300 in 2016 as MB4. A lovely red, which already I was busy finding shades on.
In 2017 it moved to the MB22 in an off-white colour scheme. Yet again I was busy finding lovely shades on it.
Then in 2018 it turned into what I think is the best look. Why? Well, this is the same dark grey that I drove that year on my road trip across USA. The MB9 model was just a perfect reminder of the vehicle I drove. Oh I am trying my hardest not to start reminiscing again.
But that proved to be it at the time. A 2016, 2017 and 2018 basic, followed by this 9-pack exclusive. I do hope we get to see more of it. I am not ready to say goodbye yet. BTW did anybody notice how similar the colours for this and the Alfa Romeo 4C I showed a little earlier are (if you scroll up). Another model that saw 3 basics, a break and then popped up in a 9-pack. Strange how these things coincide.
So which models get to the be the final semi-exclusives? The MB1020 Volvo V60 Wagon did for starters. I do enjoy a wagon, and yet again we have a casting that just doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves. This light orangey red release is a stunner. Simple front and rear tampoing which you can’t go wrong with. I am very happy to see this again.
Volvos do have a bit of a name for themselves in being practical rather than exciting, but many people buy them. You see lots on the roads, so they are still enjoyed by plenty. I have always liked seeing models of vehicles you just happen to see on the roads. So I am very happy to see another outing for this (and secretly hoping they come up with a classic Volvo Wagon as a future casting, perhaps even under the Moving Parts area with an opening rear, perhaps like a 145 Express?)
Again with so few to dive back into I might as well show them off. This model, just like the Chrysler, debuted in 2016. This was in a bright blue though as MB8.
After that though, this only took one more trip through basic range-land. 2017 was a metallic brown MB14 release before it took a year off.
After that gap year we saw the 2019 Autobahn Express 5-pack release in silver. As with all core range issues, the model has simply a front and rear detail.
But for 2020 we saw a premium issue of the Volvo in the Superfast range in white with a full tampo print.
Again this model has been something of a slow burner. It’s funny how some castings just seem to be in constant use, yet others just get a slow trickle of releases.
The second semi-exclusive of this batch is a model I just had to show. As soon as I saw what they had done, I knew I wanted to talk about it. When Matchbox announced at the 2020 Gathering (via zoom) that this was scheduled to be in the last 2021 9-pack, they made sure to note that it was going to be sporting a taxi theme to it. I thought that would be different. But then we saw the first images, and they were like this in the package. It was in a Bosque Security design, and I thought well, it;s not a taxi, but it still is a bit different to the police themes we have seen already (as this only debuted last year).
But then you take the model out of the 9-pack and turn it around. Wow! I obsolutely love this. The Bosque Security name and stripe are “badly” wiped off. The badge on the door has been covered by a makeshift taxi sign stuck on with grey tape and they have added some yellow dashes and a “Cabbies love Matchbox” sticker too.
I did wonder if they were going to create an alternative window element to give a taxi look sticking out of the roof. No they didn’t but obviously it makes sense due to how they have envisioned the casting. I absolutely love this model. It still sports the “Police Auction” sticker at the rear. This is one of the designs of the year for me. I love when they think outside of the box for designs, and especially when they go all out on something that is just so much fun like this one is. This is the sort of stuff I love to see from them. Great imagination and execution on this one.
Which brings me to the last semi-exclusive model. The MB097 Chevy Corvette. This is yet another I knew I would have to be talking about. The classic Corvette casting. First time we have seen it since, well, just like the Camaro I spoke about a bit earlier, it was in the 2013 10-pack set.
Checking the base. Yes, updated. Although sadly, they didn’t do the double dating here. It was originally a copyright year of 1979. I think they could have left it as copyright 1979, 2020. There was space. But I notice how both the Chevrolet and the Corvette names now have a registered copyright logo. There is actually quite a lot to take in just by looking at the base. But you know me, I am not exactly a base person.
I am here for the models. And this looks great in a dark bronzed red with a red flamed side design. This gives me flashbacks to how the model was during its time, even though it didn’t actually have flames. It was close but not quite. And well I am going to finish off with a dive back here. As I mentioned way back at the start there is no proper dive backs at the end for me this week. I went on way too long with all the great content of new arrivals. But this one sort of does them all.
For you see this model stretches through every era. It first debuted back in 1979 as MB62-D. It was the very first Corvette that Matchbox ever made, and I am very happy to see that it does still keep going. A real classic. Back in 1979 they issued it worldwide as a hardtop vehicle in red, with white striping on the front and (sometimes) sides.
You can still see the roots of the current release to that debut here. There have been tweaks and modifications over the years, but the core model is still there as it was.
You can see how over the years the the changes have resulted in the front rivet moving further back, but how the exhausts are still sticking out of the sides. I like that they kept that in there.
So in 1982 Lesney, now doing a US or ROW split to the basic range, decided that the US range needed more Corvettes. They created a new C1 casting of a ’62, and they also created an alternative C3. The T-top. MB62 in the range was now a black with orange and yellow stripes model worldwide, but the US range saw this alternate white model with a black and red 09 design arrive as MB40 too. As was the case, the 1-75 range for the ROW market was assigned the first 75 models in the MAN system, and then they went through and added in all the rest of the castings that were being in the US range only afterwards. This was given the MB097 slot that year, and here we are almost 4 decades later and it is still there, beavering away giving us iconic new issues. I am very happy to see this model continue on.
Of course that 09 wasn’t their initial design. This is a prototype of how they were planning on the model to look. Not drastically different, but it is always nice to see how models go through their design process. Initial concept art to final product.
So 1983 arrived, and Universal had taken over the Matchbox brand and had a few decisions to make. They were a little short on castings, and they created an MB115 Pace Car casting for the US range, giving them 3 models. However, the Pace Car was just the MB062 with a different paint job. MAN numbers were still in their infancy and they were still getting on top of things. But they obviously didn’t think the ROW market would want Corvettes. I know as a kid growing up in the UK I was itching for more of them. I was lapping them up. But no. The ROW market was sticking with 1. But they decided to switch it. Instead of the hardtop MB62 they changed it to the T-top that had debuted the year before in the US range. So for 1983, this was now MB40 (US) or MB62 (ROW). Production moved to Macau for these as they were a worldwide issue. For some reason Macau decided the model needed a red interior and red base. England made models had an ivory interior and a silver or unpainted base.
Which I guess does make it a little easier to distiguish the country of manufacture.
I did say the Corvette was close to a flames design. Is this flames? The sides sort of look like it, but I always felt the top look was more lava lamp than flames. After being sold for 2 years worldwide in white, they mixed things up by releasing this blue model as MB40US/MB62 ROW in 1985. 1985 would prove to be the last year for the ROW range though. The casting was dropped entirely there. The hardtop was also dropped from the US range too, and with the Pace Car also gone (it had lasted only 2 years) the US range was now down to just one C3 Corvette.
Which in 1987 went through what I refer to at the fattening. I believe it was to do with the way they had created the new starburst wheels for an even smoother rolling experience, that they had to ensure that they were not touching the body of the vehicle to slow them down. So they strengthened the axle area around the wheels on the base section and added an additional piece to the inside of the wheels that stopped them from rubbing against the inside.
But what that meant was that the wheels would naturally stick out of the sides of the model more than they used to. Or as I said, the fattening!
Universal had also set up a deal with a company called Trol in Brazil to make models for the Brazilian market there. Unlike deals made in Hungary and Bulgaria, the Brazilian parts were made in the UK factory and then these parts were shipped over to Brazil to be assembled and painted. That way they kept a better control over output. The Brazilian made models were actually pretty decent, once they had discovered how to put the correct wheels on. The Corvette was one of the late castings they used as part of this deal. The first one appeared in 1987 in blue, and looked a little like the US basic range issue.
These bases were plastic though (easier to ship) and were pre-printed with Prod ZF Manaus due to the older Lesney deal having many castings with England scraped off, tabs put over, labels put over, some falling off. It was a right mess. This was much better controlled (as I mentioned).
In 1989, the US MB40 turned yellow. For one more year. The model was dropped in the US range after 1989 too. I guess with a C4 Corvette in use, the C3 seemed a little outdated.
But that year was still fun. During production in Macau you could find shades to various things. The tampo would vary more than anything.
Plus, by the end of the year the model had been cost reduced from a metal base to a plastic one. The late 1980s/early 1990s was the time when most things were switched.
1990 was not a dead year worldwide though. Brazil was still active. After seeing a single issue in 1987 which ran 3 years, 1990 saw the Brazilian market sell 3 themed 4-packs. One of them saw a pale beige Corvette C3 T-top in a unique design.
But you know what? After dropping the model for 1990 because there was a C4 (ignoring the Brazilian issue), they decided it was a bad idea. In 1991 they threw it back in the US range, but now as MB58. But they didn’t bother with a new design. It has been a year. People will have forgotten. Yeah right.
But when it did return, production was no longer in Macau. They had moved it to China. So it did give the geeks plenty of chance for a variation.
1991 also saw the fire premium issue of the model. An orange World Class number 19. World Class was the first premium series and was the first we saw of models with 2-part rubber wheels. But also, for a totally bizarre reason, chromed windows!
In 1992, after throwing the model back in the US range again, they decided it probably was best to give it a new look. So MB58 turned red.
1992 also saw another World Class release. I know I don’t usually bother with premiums, but I actually have both World Class issues, so decided to photograph them anyway.
In 1993 the model in the US basic range continued a second year. But they decided to move production over to Thailand. Yes, the model at the back here (it is a darker red) was made in the same factory as the latest issue.
No elephant on the base though. Elephants (a good luck symbol in Thailand) were only addded to castings in the later 2000s. You might also note how the Thai base was much more grey than the greenish grey of the China one.
1993 also saw the release of a Corvette 40th Anniversary gift set. This set of 5 models were in a large box, and each individual model had its own special box included too. Now I own 2 of each, one is a China made model and the other Thailand.
I believe the China made models are actually pre-production samples. As far as I am aware the casting was only ever prduced for the set in Thailand. The China one here though was a significantly darker grey.
Okay, so now we are moving into the Tyco years. As I said, this model does the lot. 1994. The year of the “WHAT THE %@#&*”. Yes this was MB58 in the US range that year. Teal with a white striped and pink life support sign design. Plus a pink interior.
Of course we were treated to something just a little better. In conjunction with White Rose, a special set called Collectors Choice arrived on the scene in 1994. With Tyco going all weird on us, these Collectors Choice models were a huge sigh of relief. A collector booklet showed all the details of the 24 models in series 1, with a view that more would follow. Sadly, they didn’t. We only ever got the 1 series. But included in the series in the number 7 slot was a lot a lovely dark green Corvette with a high level of detailing. These were mid way between core and premium.
So on to 1995 where it turned white. This model had a black rear and, well just a pink mess. I think they just threw a pot of paint at a sample and what splattered on the model was how they came up with the design.
Of course they did give the collector something to fuss about after the demise of Collectors Choice, as this was one of the 20 models that year to see a deliberate change to the look. They wiped off the black rear printing.
In 1996 they changed the design again to this silver look with, well you can see what it has on it. As the year finished, some new wheel tooling started to become available and a late run was made with concave 5-spokes instead of the spirals that they were initially using.
1997 saw them change from a silver to a green, but the design stayed the same. Okay, it wasn’t the best of designs, but I do like when they use the same design multiple times.
In 1997 the model started seeing premium releases again. Half a dozen Corvette series models, a Premiere Collection model and an Ultra Series issue. Of course I am not showing them all, but boy was this a lot of fun as the Corvette stuff in particular was vastly over-produced. Therefore the factory decided to put together leftover pieces and sell them off cheap to clear out the store room. This was the PC4 release in black along with a Chinese dumped model, which was fairly similar except it now had some leftover gold spirals to make a whole model.
As you can see, there were a lot of Chinese error models.
1998. This was the first year of proper Mattel ownership. Yes, they did own the brand in 1997, but all the 1997 had already been prepared before they took control so they just let it play out. 1998 was the first time they actually inputted what was required. Their thought? Make the model a worldwide release again. Yes, that’s right, after being dropped in 1985, the ROW range saw the casting return. As MB74, the same number it was in the US range too. That is because this was the year they decided (as part of Mattel’s input) to put out a whole new range each year. With all that going on, they just painted it red instead of green or silver. But again, consistent tampo designs is fun for me. I like it.
It was also a part of the Gold Challenge in USA too. Some MB74s came out in plain gold.
But that proved to be the end of things for a while. This Gold Collection premium issue was the last model made for a number of years. Gold Collection is not to be confused with Gold Challenge. The one above.
Then all of a sudden, in 2003, it popped back up. It was a part of a premium series of Justice League models in white, featuring Wonder Woman across the model. This then started a sporadic Mattel usage. We are into the final timeframe now of my dive back.
For in 2005 they decided to give the model a shot in the Superfast series. It was in the number 44 slot worldwide, but the ROW market of 7,500 was in white, the USA market of 15,000 was in yellow.
It stayed for the 2006 series too, which by now was just a USA release. Again in the number 44 slot, as this was a thing with the 3-year 1-75 Superfast series, but for 2006 they released some models as Streakers, a throwback to classic Lesneys. And what better model to do it to than what was a classic Lesney.
After that we only saw the casting one more time, before the new one arrived this year. Again this was a model in the 2013 10-packs. All those were classics with a single tampo print going over the top featuring the 60th logo on it. So it has been 8 years since the last issue. So I will finish off by comparing the 2.
At that time the model was still sporting the original 1979 copyright year, and, well, not much else really. Just the bare minimum of what was needed. Plus they hadn’t updated the logo from the oval that everything was switched to in the early 2000s.
Granted the new base doesn’t have much more detail either. Just the registered trademark signs next to both names, and the elephant (as well as the updated 2020 copyright only). Plus it finally got the original lozenge back. But you can see how the side exhausts were all but gone in the 2013 model. They have been lovingly restored to the new issue.
Precious little has been done to the front of the model. Just the definitions of the details enhanced to stand out better.
Again with the sides, the details have been better defined. The rear of the doors in particular were almost faded away. But what you will notice is that the B-pillar in the window is no longer there. From this angle you can see that the window surround is actually much thicker now.
This goes all over the top and through the T-bar as well. The rear of the roof section has been solidified as well, and as such this has decreased the size of the rear window. The rear lights have been redefined to look much more crisp again, but they did remove the Corvette casting detail across the rear. That is something I have noticed them doing quite a lot nowadays. I am not sure why, but perhaps there is a reason behind it.
The model does appear to still sit at about the same height. This hasn’t changed. But I do notice how the rear rivet appears to sit lower now. So with this I hope we see a new lease of life, and a number of new releases over coming years.
The Corvette has been seen a lot but I always like to see more. Do you remember there were 2 Police issues too? MB473 here sported a LoPro roof light. It was a part of the 2000 D.A.R.E. Series 3 for Suffern Police.
And there was the MB464 with Vee roof light which was also a 2000 D.A.R.E. release. Series 2 here for Moorhead Police. They were the only 2 police issues. 1 per MAN number.
Hey flames! Newbie had flames.
So yes there have been a lot. MB062, to MB097, to MB115, MB464 and MB473 (the last 3 all getting just the 1 release each). But this is a true classic. It was the first Corvette that Matchbox ever made, and I think it can outdo all the rest of them the way it is going.
So there you go. One long run through 3 batches of 9-packs. You can see why I didn’t do my standard dive back. After all, this is a long article, and the Corvette was able to do it all in 1 go. One of those daft things. US muscle (& similar) cars in these batches. 5, 4 of which are various reds, 4 of which are classics. Coincidence? Yes most likely. I am fine with it though. Especially the Camaro and Corvette that have not been seen in ages.
Plus we saw some lovely more regular cars that have not had a lot of love. Always good to see these.
Plus we has security, fire and lifeguards noted.
Or is that taxi, fire and lifeguard? Oh that one could go on, and on, and on….
And the other 4. Well I didn’t want to leave any out.
So now we must bid farewell to the semi-exclusives. These are the last we are going to see of these for now. I am sad to see them go. 2022 does revert back to normal with just the exclusive in the top corner and 8 pulled from elsewhere. So that does mean I will still be picking them all up as they appear. Next week I think I am due to finish off batch F of the basic range. I did the first half, and obviously Wheel Collectors did supply me with a full batch. Until then though, I hope everybody has a happy and safe week.