So it is that time of year. December is always a good month to reflect on what happened over the last year, and as usually happens on this site, a slew of Top 10s and awards start happening. We have seen the early stuff for a few different manufacturers so far, but you know me. I am a Matchbox only person, so I have to be honest. A lot of it is going over my head. I do Matchbox. I am a Matchbox fan, and that is my wheel house. So I decided to dedicate this week’s Matchbox Monday post to, well, Matchbox. But this is me we are talking about. Have I ever done anything in a simple manner? No, I go all over the place, completely over the top and seriously go overboard with it all. I enjoy it. So why not have fun with it and roll with it as much as I can. So I decided I wasn’t going to do just the one Top 10. Oh no, I have 2. I decided I wanted to do a Top 10 liveries rundown for the year from Matchbox. But also I have done a Top 10 new castings for 2021. But I have to be specific. I have chosen that these had to be from items that were released during the 2021 model year, not necessarily 2021 vehicles. So this means the Mazda 3 from 2020 does get included as it was running late, but the Lexus GS400 which was supposed to have been here by now will not arrive until the 2022 model year has started, so does not get included. But before I do my 2 different Top 10s, I am doing my “Top 10 awards” too. These 10 awards are for a little added fun too, picking up on things I enjoyed throughout the year which did not necessarily make their way to either Top 10 listing. They are quite ludicrously named awards too. So without further ado, I will start with these awards.
The award for finally giving us something not in red or white goes to…
The MB715 ’65 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA. It’s grey! Wow! This was a big deal back when the MBX City Drivers 5-pack appeared, but to be honest, sort of got glossed over a bit. People will often talk about single issues a lot as they are the main focus, but when a model is buried within a larger multipack it has others to contend with, and this can sometimes take some of the focus away from it.
It was so nice seeing this casting return, and even more thrilling to see a non-white version too. How big a deal is it? I remember when this casting debuted. It was back in 2007. It was during a period where models often saw 2 versions released in 1 year in the basic range. It debuted in red, and then a few batches later it turned white. Both were instant classics, and collectors went nuts over them. Throw in a metallic dark red 10-pack 1st Edition and a special bronze model for the Gathering that year in Albuquerque and this model was off to a stellar start. There were plans for 2008 to release a green issue in the basic range. You know, finish off the colours of the Italian flag. However, forces transpired against Matchbox. It was discovered that the real vehicle was only made in red or white. The “new” legal person at Alfa Romeo who Mattel dealt with noticed this and explained that the model could only be red or white too. So the 2008 basic range, the 2008 Best of International and the 2008 Superfast issues all ended up being red or white. But there is only so much you can do with red and white. So sadly, the casting was dropped. 2017 came around, almost a decade later, and it popped back up again in the new Best of series. It was white. Again! So this, it was a big deal. Something definitely worth celebrating. It didn’t make my Top 10 list for new liveries, but I knew it needed some sort of award for just being not in red or white.
The award for most surprising re-emergence of a casting goes to…
The MB629 ’69 Chevy Camaro. They say a picture paints a thousand words. At the 2020 “virtual” Gathering presentation of the 2021 line preview, Mattel showed us mock-ups of the plans for 2021 9-packs on a slide and among these were loads of greyed out Ford Mustang LX SSP models just there depicting the filler 5 that will also be in the sets. A slide had showed us the proposed 12 exclusive models for the year. 2 models switched batches (Jeep Wrangler Superlift and Toyota Tacoma), and 1 model was switched for a different one (Ford Skyjacker became Ford Raptor). But the semi-exclusives were shown on the second slide along with all these greyed out Mustangs, and well again a few did switch. the Corvette T-top, Rock Shocker and Mustang GT all played round robin and appeared in a different order. But one was a huge surprise to me. Batch E was showing a Camaro coming, but the picture depicted the MB302 ’69 Camaro Convertible. Not the MB629 hardtop.
So when batch E arrived, and this was one of the semi-exclusives, let’s just say my jaw dropped. This was, and still is, one of my favourite castings from Matchbox. I absolutely love it. I admit, I was sitting there seeing the picture of the MB302 wishing they had chosen this instead. But you know the daft fact? They already had. They just used the wrong image for the slide. I re-checked afterwards, and noticed the small print under the image said MB629 Camaro. This was always the plan, they just thought they would see who was paying the most attention. I tell you what, I will be paying even more attention to future previews. Because I cannot believe I missed this little nugget at the time. Which leads me to my next award.
The award for most anticipated return goes to…
The MB097 Chevy Corvette T-bar. A classic Lesney. I was 6 (or 7) when I first saw the Matchbox Corvette casting, and I still have fond memories of my aunt and uncle buying me the original red with white flashes model at the time. I have great memories of me playing with it distinctly at their house in my head. It was such a cool model. That was the hardtop MB062, and the alternate MB097 T-bar version was created in 1982. It saw a great deal of use over a few decades, but after 2005’s Superfast was quietly dropped. But in 2013 a 1-off popped up. I thought ooh they still have it. Hopefully we will see more. 7 years passed before we saw the note it was going to be in the 2021 9-packs as a semi-exclusive.
As I just mentioned, this was going to be in an early batch but played round robin with a few others finally arriving in the last batch. Was it worth the wait? Definitely. Mattel have taken the time to look at the casting, tidy it up, enhance various details that had started to fade away, and give it a cool refreshing new look that I hope is a sign that we could see plenty more of these in years to come. So I am very happy to see this return.
The award for best carry forward goes to…
The MB684 VW Golf V GTi. As we know, Mattel are bringing in a larger quantity of carry forwards nowadays. Some people don’t like them. They are models we have seen before and already had. But me, I love them. I do enjoy being a complete geek and comparing new vs old and seeing how they can be different. This was actually a tough category for me. I love my shades. I could have gone the easy route and chosen something like the Chevy Stepside as the carry forward meant it was now an updated casting. But no, I wanted a model that was still its original casting for this one. There was actually quite a few really cool variants to choose from. The Best of Germany Unimog with a new wheel. The Audi R8 from Best of France in different red. The Lotus Evora from the MBX Exotic 5-pack in different yellow. But I am sucker for green.
So I went with the Best of France variant of the Golf being a completely different green to the original 2008 basic range issue. They were just way out, and I absolutely loved it! Strangely enough, this just about fit my profile as the Golf was altered as soon as this release was made. The Best of France was a swansong for the original casting and just tickled my fancy as they say for being so radically different (in my eyes) to how it was originally.
The award for best nod to the past goes to…
The MB1076 Trailer Trawler. First images came out of the 2021 MB92 and it was red, yellow and white. A-ha! I guess we need to see the back really, as all other releases have simply detailed the rear of the model. So we see it and…. Whoa! OMG! Red Valley Camp? I think my face lit up so much I didn’t need to turn the lights on that night at home. I loved it. This very nearly made my Top 10 liveries in total. It was that cool. But because it didn’t quite make it, I just wanted to say I was so happy to see this. I absolutely love when Mattel look at some of the past stuff and provide a lovely throwback like this.
It just works so well with the 1997 Land, Sea & Air 5-pack release of the MB180 Land Rover Ninety. It originally came with an inflatable on trailer, but this works so well as an alternative. I am really hoping that we get to see more of the Red Valley Camp and Camp Arrow Flint themes moving forward. I love recurring themes, and love having 2 competing camps out there. Which I guess leads me to my next award.
The award for the biggest surprise of the year goes to…
The return of Hitch & Haul! The 2021 Line Preview at the 2020 Gathering made absolutely no mention at all of H&H. I have lobbied for it for years. I always love seeing these twin packs together and seeing recent trends with adding more trailer units again, i was doubling down on my desire for seeing them return. The 2020 Gathering passed and no mention again, and I thought another year of me lamenting the lack of them. Then suddenly out of the blue I heard a report that Wheel Collectors had them. Huh? I know they sell older Matchbox items as well in their store which you can check out here, but I was so unprepared for this. One of my biggest treats of 2021 was seeing the Hitch & Haul line return. It still makes me smile as I write this report.
Of course the first 2 sets both sported a variation (this had the bed variant on the Transporter, the other set a variant to the cement mixer). I don’t know the future of the line, as again it was not mentioned for 2022, but I will take any and all H&H models they make. It is just so much fun having models that link up together, plus the extra little accessories they include too.
The award for the biggest change to what we know as Matchbox collectors goes to…
The MB1221 ’20 Chevy Corvette C8 Super Chase. Yes, we know this is a Mattel system they use elsewhere, but until now had not been done with the Matchbox brand. There used to be threads about this sort of stuff in years gone by on message boards. I even own a “There are no Matchbox Treasure Hunts” Color Comp VW Delivery Van from the early 2000s. I was never bothered, but the more I think of these things, the more I like them. If this is something that generates more interest in certain other areas of the Mattel portfolio, why can’t it be used within the Matchbox brand too, helping to generate more interest. More interest equates to more sales, equates to broadening of the Matchbox brand. Hopefully this will spread to other countries outside of USA too and in a few years the space allocated to Matchbox will be widened in multiple countries and be found in more places.
So yes I am all for this sort of stuff, and I had to include it in my year end list purely because I love the concept of the Super Chase for the Matchbox brand and hope that we get to see more of them.
The award for keeping at it with a model goes to…
The 2020 MB41 ’19 Mazda 3. MB1219 was due to arrive in the 2019 basic range, and as often happens a model might slip into the following year. But as time went on, each batch arrived and still no sign of it. But finally, the last batch of the 2012 model year saw this final 2020 model included. Yes! This was a model that I (and I think quite a few others) were really looking forward to, but Mattel did not give up on it. It may have taken a whole year, but it was worth it.
It looks fantastic, and I am very thankful that they kept at it with this one and did not give up on it. The 2021 hold overs (Nissan GTR in Collector due in 1st batch of 2022, Lexus GS400 in basic due in 2nd batch of 2022) are not looking to be such a long wait. Still, how long did we wait for a Range Rover Evoque?
The award for best colour co-ordinating goes to…
This trio of Cadillacs that all appeared in a pale pastel creamy yellow colour. Maize yellow, Calcutta Cream, Cape Ivory… The list goes on for what Cadillac would officially call this type of colour finish on their classic cars, but in 2021 Mattel really embraced this look. The MB1207 ’41 Series 62 was MB34 in the basic range this year. The MB739 ’69 Sedan DeVille was in the first Cadillac batch of the year and the MB1264 ’75 Eldorado Convertible was in the second Cadillac batch. They make for such an awesome collection I now want to see more Cadillacs done in this pale pastel creamy yellow look.
Because surely these 3 can’t be it. The MB1129 ’55 Fleetwood is a must. Somebody dig out the MB501 ’56 Eldorado and give that another run looking like this. It was done in a similar look in the 2004 Superfast series, but I think it deserves a shot to match these. The MB780 Ambulance was similar in 2012, but had a Surf Doc side design. It has been altered to MB994, but I think we can get a look with this as a base to it. The MB700 Hearse? Why not. Heck, I would give the modern CTS vehicles a look like these too. The Cadillac One? No, I still want it in pink!
The final award goes to the most fun I had during the year, which goes to…
The reveal of the Leipzig models. This was another toss up. I was also involved in the Tesla Roadster in recycled materials and the Wheyhemes Routemaster debut Mattel Creations in a way. But news was already out on them before I got to do my Lamley write-up on them. So I wasn’t directly there at the start. I joined in as the momentum built up. But these? Oh I had these direct from Dirk Schleuer in Germany before the 2021 Leipzig Convention began and we co-ordinated reveals that I was showcasing them pretty much as soon as they were revealed at the convention. The attendees got the first general look, and once they approved I was uploading them on to Instagram. I might not have been able to make either the Gathering in Albuquerque in July (planning on attending 2022) or the Modell-Hobby-Spiel in Leipzig in October, but this was the next best thing. This was just brilliant.
And I do have to thank Dirk because he had to at the last minute throw them in a box and ship them to me as fast as possible. The MB1257 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Cabrio was landing in Germany not long before the convention started and I was in England. So the co-ordination between us both had to be spot on, and we kept in contact to ensure it all ran as well as we could. It was great. These convention models are stunning, especially the show model sporting a diffirent tampo printed number on the side to the rest. It is the little things I like. the effort which goes into creating these little models is not going un-noticed by me. Which leads me on to the main event.
I have prepared 2 different Top 10 lists. As I said, I don’t short cut anything do I. First up will be my rundown of my 10 favourite liveries on returning models. The criteria. This model was in a previous year’s ranges and has returned in the 2021 range.
Returning models top 10 – number 10
The MB1225 ’19 Ford Ranger in blue. This was a part of the Moving Parts series in 2021 arriving as number 14 of 20 in batch C, circa June 2021. Apart from the fact that I love this casting, with both an opening hood and opening tailgate, I just loved this simple blue look. All it had was simple detailing at the front.
This instantly took me back to another pickup casting that has always been a bit of a favourite of mine. The MB485 Ford Explorer Sport Trac. It had debuted in 2001, but easily my favourite look for it was the 2003 Sizzlin’ Style 5-pack issue in, you guessed it, plain blue. Of course that one just had Ford logos on the side doors, not on the front, but it was an instant feel-good factor when I saw this. Sometimes less is more, and after debuting in Skyjacker themes for 2020 and also seeing a Collector model in orange with Matchbox branding on it for 2021 (both of which I like), this simple straight forward blue really did stick with me. So yes, I am placing this model inside my Top 10.
Returning models top 10 – number 9
The MB1226 ’19 Ford Mustang in either red or blue. Funny how this is the next MAN number up from number 10 in the list. But when the Mustang arrived in 2020 I was instantly smitten. Such a cool casting. We saw a couple of Walmart Mustang models and a Top Gun Maverick release, all with simple front and rear prints. The green was nice, the orange really stuck out, and the charcoal was good for shades. But I think the colour choices for 2021 enhanced this even further. Love the blue (matching the Ford Ranger) and the dark red was just freaking awesome.
I guess I should have really chosen just the one for the list, but this is me. I wanted both. I am having both. The blue was MB31 in the basic range, released in batch C this year, circa March 2021. The red, a 9-pack batch D semi-exclusive, released circa June 2021. Besides.
When you add in the white model, with a cost reduced no-interior, blacked out windows and side printing instead of front and rear, it really makes the red and blue models stick out more. There is a difference. I don’t mind the white. Sad to lose an interior for it, and the side detailing is a pretty decent (real logo) livery. Plus those tri-spoke wheels really suit it well. It was not a bad model, but when you put it between the red and blue, it was never going to win the popularity poll.
Returning models top 10 – number 8
The MB765 ’64 Austin Mini Cooper 127S in lime green. Now this one is a bit of a cheat. Technically it is not a new livery. As many will know, the model is a replica of Mr Bean’s Mini from the TV show Mr Bean. It even has his numberplate on the front of the model. So if you want to be specific, this is a carry forward model as such. It arrived in the Best of UK batch B as number 7 of 12, circa August 2021. But there was that twist.
It came with the accessory. Teddy on the chair. Of course this was a nod to the famous episode of Mr Bean, titled Do-It-Yourself Mr Bean, which was first broadcast in the UK on 10th January 1994, and then in many countries around the world. Obviously in the TV show teddy was not on the chair. Mr Bean was, after buying the armchair (plus loads of other items) in the January sales and realizing he could not fit it all in. So he filled the car, tied the armchair to the roof and used it to steer with a broom for the pedals and ropes for the steering wheel. Hilarity ensued when he was diverted down a steep hill, and after breaking the broom, ended up driving the car on to the back of a truck with mattresses in the rear. But the armchair on the roof is so iconic, the fact that Matchbox went to the trouble of creating this new accessory for the model, and bring it back again was just incredible. I loved it, and was so happy to grab another Mr Bean Mini. In fact I ended up with 2 as I found a shade on it. It is just brilliant.
Returning models top 10 – number 7
I did it again didn’t I. Another pair. Two different VW Golfs. The MB1038 ’90 VW Golf Country in white and MB1200 ’76 VW Golf Mk1 GTi in yellow. The Golf Country was in the Off Road Rally 5-pack circa November 2020 (still part of the 2021 model year) and this white model with the ‘Rompin Racing Team side design and the rabbits running down the side on a yellow strip was just amazing. I loved it right from the word go. Plus it had that awesome reminder to me of the classic Romping Rabbit from 1982-85 in the US range. I thought it was brilliant.
But then they only went and doubled up the awesomeness, as the Target Retro batch C, circa June 2021, then gave us the Mk1 GTi in the alternate colour combination. Yellow with white side strip featuring those same bunnies running down the side. This was number 1, compared to number 7 for the Golf Country. I love recurring themes, and this to me is a really cool returning theme. With a VW Golf V GTi already in the toolbank and a new Moving Parts classic Golf coming in 2022, I see potential for 2 more of these. Fingers crossed anyway.
Returning models Top 10 – number 6
The MB1171 Subaru SVX. This to me was a very important model to many of us. Losing Ryu Asada recently was a serious blow to many, those who knew him, those who worked with him, and even just those who were fortunate to meet him. This casting was one of the last models he created and after debuting in late 2019 we didn’t see it in 2020. Great news, it was back for 2021. It arrived in batch F as MB88, circa September 2021. It came in a lovely burgundy shade with simple detailing. Very classy.
But there on the rear was a lovely little nod to Ryu. They had Asada on the rear license plate to honour him. Obviously we are not going to be seeing his name adorning everything he did for years to come. There had to be some sort of finite time to honour his legacy, and this is likely the last time we will see his name on a Matchbox model. We will remember him, and with each new Subi arriving we will still think of Ryu. But I felt this was a lovely little tribute to his legacy as a designer for Mattel and I knew that this would be one of my most prized models of the 2021 year.
Plus of course there was the special logo that Michael Heralda added to the packaging. Obviously I don’t have packaging, so mine left, but I have a copy of the logo. Very apt.
Returning models Top 10 – number 5
The MB1198 ’94 Chevy Caprice Classic Police semi-exclusive from the batch F 9-packs, circa September 2021. When they announced this was going to be a 9-pack semi-exclusive back at the 2020 Gathering, they made mention of it being a taxi model. We saw the first photos and i thought to myself, okay so they didn’t get the taxi look. Instead they went with a security theme. Still a bit different. I like different. But then you take the model out of the box and turn it around….
And BAM! I absolutely loved it! I live for stuff like this. Outside of the box thinking. I can just imagine the person buying this at auction, trying to get rid of the original signage, thinking ah screw it, because they had no more money, and just turned it into a makeshift taxi vehicle. This was just awesome! It’s the little things. The fact it still has the auction sign on the rear. The original striping still being vaguely visible. The taxi sign stuck on with masking tape. This just absolutely tickled me when I saw it. I can just imagine the looks on kids faces when they open the box and discover the same thing. I bet this got a lot of people grinning. Great job from the team here.
Returning models Top 10 – number 4
The MB629 ’69 Chevy Camaro. I know right. I had already discussed this one. But I was so blown away with it, especially due to the way that it has seen a little tinkering on it to improve things, that I couldn’t help but include it in my top 10 list too. I love this colour. I love stripes. I love this car. Now that they have retooled the front end with the front grille being a part of the interior section, it helps to give the model even more of a colour break along the front without the need to tampo anything.
Honestly, this is one of my favourite looks for this casting since it debuted. And that is saying something, which is why I felt it deserved a spot in the Top 10 too. It was a part of the Batch E 9-packs, circa July 2021, as another semi-exclusive issue.
Returning models Top 10 – number 3
The MB1152 ’80 Porsche 911 Turbo. I bet you thought this would be number 1. I mean this is my favourite vehicle. The Porsche 911. Plus, this being the exclusive dealer model for the 2021 Albuquerque Gathering (which sadly I was unable to attend) meant I missed out on the reveal live and in person. But thankfully Jim Gallegos was so kind as to send me an example of not just the regular release in green, but also the extremely rare chrome one too. Of course I was supposed to keep the chrome one in the plexicase. I couldn’t do that. It is a freaking Porsche! I think I might be banned from all future Gatherings because of it. Was it worth it?
Yes! Porsche! I love it. But the thing is, this is a rare promotional issue. Limited edition, issued at the Gathering, July 2021. So it is going to go all in on the detailing. Tampos across every single surface, including the window. It was phenomenal. The thing is, this is the only premium issue that made the Top 10 list. All of the others were core issues.
And because it is a Porsche, I am doing a 3rd photo. I loved that they colour co-ordinated the bases on these too. The green model had a green base, chrome had a grey base. It is these little touches that people often don’t notice. I do. I scrutinize things a lot don’t I. But I think it is worth it, spotting the extra little things that tip models over the edge of awesomeness! So what could have beaten this?
Returning models Top 10 – number 2
The MB423 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. Yes, another Porsche 911. It was a toss up between this and the promo one. Of course the promotional issue, as soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted it. Porsche! Have I said Porsche enough? But this? It was a part of Best of France batch B, circa June 2021. I, as I assume many others did too, thought this was a carry forward model. But when I got it I looked at it and I was stunned. This was no carry forward. I pulled out all of my older blue Carreras and double checked. No, definitely, this was an all-new design. And for that, this gave the blue Best of France issue the edge over the Gathering ones.
The additional surprise that followed after I had got the model. I do love surprises, which actually leads me nicely to the top returning casting.
Returning models Top 10 – number 1
The MB887 Two Story Bus. Unbelievably, this is yet another 9-pack semi-exclusive. Can anybody guess that I am really sad to see them going for 2022? But while they were here, they really left their mark with me. This one, more than any other. And yes, this was a complete surprise. I had literally no idea this was coming. When I saw the first pictures I did fall off my seat. Is there any doubt that this ended up as number 1 in this list? Okay, I may be biased, but this was such a huge honour and privilege for me. When I was a child, I used to get my annual catalogue showing what was coming out that year, and often see some of the favourite cars in the range still, but they would be the same as they already were. Lesney often didn’t bother with new looks for models for years. Some models never got any at all. The Pontiac Firebird. Debuted and finished as MB4 in blue. The Monterverdi Hai. Debuted and finished as MB3 in orange. I used to dream of having a chance to visit the Lesney factory and come up with some of my own colours for models. But later on, as an adult this turned into more of a “love to have my name on a model” scenario. I sort of achieved that in the late ’00s, when as the Matchbox Ambassador, I spoke with Mattel USA and Mattel UK about the possibility of creating a unique model. This was an Austin Minivan in British Racing green. It didn’t have my name on it, just the fact it was the Ambassador vehicle. Spoiler alert, it is still my avatar when I boot up my laptop. I was very proud of it.
I am also extremely proud of this one. I have a few of them. This one here? It is not the one in my main collection. I have this additional one in my bedroom that sits on the side. I also have one that stays in my car and travels around with me. Plus I bought spares of the 9-packs to give to family and friends. My mother says the face on the side is actually quite a decent likeness to be honest. I just knew that this would be my number 1 livery of the year. Regardless of the castings coming, nothing could top this one. Again, so much thanks to the Matchbox guys for doing this model for me. I will be treasuring this for years to come.
Well I guess it is time for my other Top 10 list. I had one that was all about the models that returned in this year’s various line-ups, but what about those nice shiny brand new castings. The ones that had not been seen before 2021. It is time for….
New castings top 10 – number 10
The MB1341 ’65 Land Rover Gen II. One of the latest models, this was the 3rd and final Mattel Creations release for 2021, released circa November 2021. Although it was ordered in October 2021. When I first saw the pictures, I thought it was the regular MB1184 casting, albeit with clear windows and interior (akin to the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6) and featuring a new load. But when I unboxed the model I discovered this was an all-new casting. Wow! I was not expecting that. It turns out they have done it again with the first 2022 Mattel Creations model, as the Chevy C10 is a 1964 longbed rather than the 1963 shortbed we already know. They are really being sneaky with all these new castings. I liked the MB1184, but when I started comparing the 2, I just knew this was an improvement. Just the little things. The higher roofline, the more streamlined front end. Those chunky wing mirrors. Of course the interior being visible also makes a difference, but again, like the Merc, was not a massive thing. The fact that they went and created a new casting for this was a big deal for me, and I was extremely impressed with it. I like the design too. It suited it. Even the tan wheels.
So yes, this makes my Top 10 for new castings. I love this roof element too. A collection of surfboard tied down on top of the model. What is not to love? I look forward to seeing more premium offerings of this model in the coming years, as this will obviously not be seen in core ranges.
New castings top 10 – number 9
The MB1241 ’53 Buick Skylark Convertible. This was a part of batch F of the basic range, circa September 2021. It was one of those castings that really snuck up on me. When it was announced at the Gathering in 2020, I was happy that we were getting another Buick. The Buick brand is severely underused in Matchbox circles, but the choice of a ’53 Skylark was not one that really excited me. I only just did the batch report with this, and made it known there that I was hoping for a 1990s Roadmaster Estate Wagon. Even when I saw the first pictures of this model, I was still not overly wowed with it. But then I got one. I opened up the package and then it hit me. This thing is gorgeous! I love it. I did not think I would so much. But it is one of those things. When you hear of models, you get an image in your hear. This then gets over-written with the images of the first pictures. But there is nothing like having the model in hand to really see what it is all about.
When I was formulating my list for new castings, I was working out the lower ends of the Top 10, but had not opened Batch F up yet. I had to re-write my plans when I did as this suddenly rocketed up the leaderboard. Okay, they have me with this one. Now I can’t wait to see more of them over coming years.
New castings top 10 – number 8
The MB1255 ’20 BMW M4 Cabriolet. I am going to be honest. I prefer hardtops over convertibles. Even if a vehicle is a cabrio, I like to see the “top up” version. So as a rule, cabrios/convertibles (depending on where you are as to which you prefer to use) are not always my favourites. This beats out the Buick to be my highest placed “top down” model in the Top 10 list. From hereon everything has a roof. It was a part of Batch C of the Moving Parts series this year, circa June 2021 in the number 16 slot out of 20. It arrived in a beautiful dark blue with simple detailing front and rear.
And I just felt that this was a tremendous job all round. I love the look, the choice of the ’20 rather than all new ’21 (which I am still unsure of BMW’s new style). This was a great addition. The highlight of that batch for me, and one that really stuck with me through the end of the year.
New castings Top 10 – number 7
The MB1227 ’20 Honda E. Taking the number 1 slot in the 2021 basic range, this arrived as a part of batch E, circa July 2021. It was one I was waiting for. As soon as I saw the real vehicle, I just thought to myself, I hope Matchbox makes a model of this. So when it was announced, I had a big grin on my face. Electric cars are the way of the future, but many are quite avant garde with their designs. This was just a little ball of fun to me. I love the real one, and have to say, love the model just as much. The detailing they managed to include on it was just amazing too. This was a basic range model, so passes through the tampo machine are limited.
Yet they got the front and hood bump detailed, the rear detailed, and because of the wa that this has been constructed, they also covered the remainder of the roof with black too. It is an unusual build. To get the “C” pillar correct, they used it as a part of the body section then also worked it across the top of the model, so this needs to blend in with the rest of the model. I think it is also quite a novel little build. Something quite a bit different, which I think can be utilized on other small hatchbacks in the future. A clever job I think. I just love it.
New castings Top 10 – number 6
The MB1231 ’20 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake. It’s a wagon. Who doesn’t love having wagons in the range. I bet the BMW 3-series Touring coming next year could end up featuring quite highly. This was a really cool model, and great to see another Merc Wagon in the range. After having a classic, it is great getting a modern one too. I know when the first pictures started surfacing people were curious as to whether this was a 3 or 4-part build. It is black and the windows are pretty dark. But with the side window being open, we can see the interior inside too. It was a 4-piece. A great looking one too. Very classy, very elegant.
Highlighted by a lovely front and rear tampo design, you couldn’t go wrong with this one. They didn’t. It ticked all the right boxes. I love it! Of course, even though I just mentioned about not liking convertibles as much, I do hope to see a new Mercedes-Benz convertible soon. They are more than due. I am keeping fingers crossed the R232 SL Roadster is being looked at for 2023. SLs are a Matchbox tradition you know. In the meantime, I think this is one of my favourite Mercedes-Benz castings ever. Have I mentioned I love it?
New castings Top 10 – number 5
The MB1230 ’20 Tesla Roadster. Of course this was helped along with the glorious recycled model that arrived earlier this year. The white recycled model was a special 200-piece promotional tool circa April 2021, and the red was the MB4 debut in batch F, circa September 2021. I do not have any problem with Tesla. For some reason, ICE purists do not seem to like their all-electric, all powerful and very clever vehicles. They have proven extremely popular in real life, and I think the new Roadster is the prettiest Tesla that they have so far created. Although I don’t know if anybody saw, but a clever artist made a rendering of the Tesla 3 as a Shooting Brake (dubbing it the Tesla 3.5). It is not real, but when they uploaded it to the internet, it generated quite the buzz. I think Tesla should seriously think about doing one, as I think it was a really nice look too. But I digress. This is the Roadster. It is a great model, and the white recycled materials one is a testament to how good I think Matchbox will be in years to come as they move all of their production to renewable resources. The quality was still top notch, and the model came out just as good, if not better than regular ones.
Talking of red ones, that red paint was something else. I don’t exactly know the type of paint used, but this seemed to vary quite a bit on the model. Shades of red Teslas were great fun, and I ended up with 3 noticeably different reds to my collection. I think it was perhaps the most fun model for me to hunt down this year. As many know, I do like my shades.
New castings Top 10 – number 4
The MB1248 ’79 Chevy Nova. This model arrived as part of batch C, circa March 2021. It was MB22 in the range and came in a light metallic blue with dual stripes and chrome base/grille. This is another model that when it was announced back in July 2020, I was completely non-plussed about it. I didn’t know much about the Chevy Nova. I am from the UK, and you mention Nova, my mind goes to a small Vauxhall supermini from 1983-92. It was a rebadged Opel Corsa Mk1, when replaced in 1993 by the Mk2, Vauxhall decided to switch to Opel’s name which still stands now (in its 6th generation). As such, I was not really bothered by this new casting. Until I got it! Ooh! This is lovely. Again, until I actually have a model in hand, I always wait for final judgement. My final verdict was that this was a great choice. It may be an average vehicle, but I like average vehicles. And now that I have this, I am really itching for more.
I like that they don’t go for the top end vehicles all the time. It was something about Matchbox that your average vehicle on the street would be replicated in miniature, and this continues to this day.
New castings Top 10 – number 3
The MB1236 ’19 Subaru Forester. This arrived as a part of batch E of the basic range, circa July 2021. Subaru has really started to see a number of castings now. It’s hard to believe that we never saw a single Subi in the Matchbox range until 2008, and now we have 6 different castings. This is the most modern, the most average, but to me, the best. As I literally just mentioned, I like seeing your average vehicles. Stuff you would see on the roads. As soon as it was announced, I knew I would like it. They did not disappoint. Signature green, and lovely front and rear detailing. Perfect.
As it stands, this is my favourite modern vehicle for the year, because with only 2 left, both happen to be classics.
New castings Top 10 – number 2
The MB1263 ’88 Chevy Monte Carlo LS. This was a part of the Moving Parts series, taking the number 12 slot in batch B, circa April 2021. This was another of those models that when it was announced, I was ho hum. Unlike the Chevy Nova, I did know the Monte Carlo, but thought okay, nothing special. It will be another nice little vehicle to add to the collection. And then I got it!
Oh wow! I was completely blown away with this one. So sleek. The black was just perfect for it. And those doors. They open and close so smoothly, so solidly. This model is freaking awesome! I did not expect to love this one quite as much as I did, and honestly, this is now one of my favourite castings of all time. The work behind the crafting of the casting was just amazing. Such a great job by the team. But there was always going to be a number 1 for me.
New castings Top 10 – number 1
The MB1244 Ford Capri. This debuted as a part of batch B circa January 2021 in the MB18 slot. I already knew this would be number 1, as I made that decision while watching Abe do the slide show in July 2020. For years I have been wanting Matchbox to do a new Ford Capri casting. As soon as I saw the sizzle play at the Gathering preview, a flash of a Ford Capri came across the screen and I fell off my chair. Did I really just see one? Then he went through all the castings one by one. And there it was. Coming in 2021, a Ford Capri. Holy wow! My dream came true. Yes, I don’t have big dreams do I. So the wait was on. Luckily I did not have to wait too long. An example was shown and it looked fairly close to being production ready. Not long after, a sneak peek arrived on the Matchboxworld Instagram page, and I knew it was coming soon. Then as the New Year hit, my dream was a reality. A little Matchbox Ford Capri. I had one as a kid. The classic Lesney MB54-B. My first one was actually the twin pack issue from the TP-5 Weekender set, where it was towing a Boat & Trailer. It had been in the basic range from 1971 through 1975, but after being dropped was immediately throwin in twin packs for another 3 years. The twin pack models were plain orange. I have vivid memories of the first time I saw it, in the basement floor of one of the large department stores in my local town. I had never seen twin packs before, and had definitely no memories of the single issues of the Capri. All I saw was this really cool Capri towing a boat. I begged my mother to buy it, and still have it to this day. Lightly played with, I kept it fairly decent as (considering I liked wrecking my models as a kid) I didn’t want to break this one. It holds up now and I have some shades to it, as well as plenty of shades to the single issues. But as soon as I saw that first Capri, I basically fell in love with the car. Every time I would see a Capri on the road I would smile.
So getting a new one now. It is like heaven to me. I see this, I just get a big beam across my face. The Matchbox guys have done a great job (in general, they accidentally duplicated the aerial notch on the bonnet).But I look past that tiny anomoly. The rest. Beautiful. Just perfect. A terrific job from the team, and I am so happy that they chose to do this model. A new yellow issue has just started arriving at my local Tesco stores in the UK, but I am struggling to get it. 1 per box, as soon as the box gets put out, the Capri goes. It appears I am not the only one who likes this model. It is not surprising. Just look at it!
So there you go. This is my Top 10. Or should I say both Top 10s. Both winners were grey. Who said grey is boring. To me it is 50 shades of WOW! Daft fact. Both winners have blue windows too. It’s a grey thing. Ha ha! But that is my rundown of my 10 favourite new Matchbox castings, 10 favourite returnees and also my 10 favourite moments elsewhere. I am good at padding things out aren’t I. As this was a bit of a different post this week, fitting in with the whole Lamley Awards show for the end of the year, I didn’t do a dive back. They return next week when I am back to my usual routine.
All that is left to say is, putting teddy on cars is not going to get old. If anybody follows me on Instagram (under @davidjtilley) when I did the Best of UK batch B showcase I did a German remake Instagram post. I put teddy on the VW Type 3 Fastback. My Sunday night post to remind people of this blog report did a Japanese remake with the Honda E. But look at that. Teddy fits beautifully on the Chevy Nova too. US remake anyone? I tell you, I do enjoy my Matchbox. Now you can carry on with the other stuff that I don’t know anything about. I know Matchbox. Have a safe week and see you next Monday for more Matchbox goodies.