Matchbox Monday finishes off the 2021 Working Rigs

Yes I am back to my usual routine again. I had my fun with the Top 10s and awards for Matchbox in 2021 last week, but I still have more 2021 goodies to showcase. This week, again with thanks to Wheel Collectors, who sent over the latest batch from USA, I am finishing off the Working Rigs set for the year. So I guess I should dive right in shouldn’t I.

Which means starting with an RW048 GMC 3500 Attenuator Truck. This is number 2 of 16 for the year, and if it sounds familiar, well it is.

This is a carry forward from batch A. I did a showcase of the model at that time, and have had a thorough check between the model as released in batch A and the latest one to see if I can spot any differences.

I couldn’t. It is the same shade of yellow, and the design is an exact match all through. It is a nice model though. I like these Attentuator Trucks, so I am sure it will not be a peg warmer.

So I might as well move on to the second model in the batch. the RW046 Road Scraper. This takes the number 5 slot out of 16 for the year. Wait a sec, this was in batch B.

Yes, there were 2 carry forwards in the batch from previous 2021 assortments. Again I have had a thorough comparison and can see no differences between them.

But again, with this having a Ranec theme to it, I think that it might not be too bad a seller. Although to be honest, I have no idea. They are not sold in my country and so I am reliant on Wheel Collectors sending them over, or otherwise I will not have them at all. So I do not have a clue on how these actually do when they appear for sale.

Now we are into stuff I have not seen before. This one is the RW030 Freightliner M2 106 Satellite Truck in yellow. A brand new design with MBTV on the sides, this one takes the number 13 slot of the 16.

I admit, I like this casting. I know it was cost reduced to have a plastic rear half a few years back, but I like the general look of it. As well as the added fun with the 2 satellites on the roof that lift and pivot.

So you can turn them around to point at whatever they were aiming for.

Plus you can unclip them and re-insert them the other way round with the larger dish at the front and smaller dish at the rear. It’s fun. I am enjoying myself here.

Of course there is the design as well. Yellow. Well that has been seen before as a base, but that was for a Mission Force set with a space shuttle on the side. This one is MBTV with a nice dual blue striped design down the side. I like it.

It almost looks like there is a satellite up in space beaming information down to the houses below. A lovely design, and I have to say one of the nicest. I think we deserve to have a Transit TV News Van in similar colours to this. Hint hint!

And although I don’t have them all, I do have the last issue of this casting, which was a 2020 Mission Force carry forward of the Space set. You can see the completely different designs on the 2 models. I do notice though, that the new one only had side tampos, no front tampo. Not that it is a major issue, as the main focus with these is the sides.

I am impressed with this one. The star of the batch for me.

The RW027 Crop Sprayer is a casting that I have not had the privilege of seeing up close until now. I know it first appeared in 2011 in orangey yellow, saw a green 2012 release, and in 2013 a purple in a Mission Force set. I actually had that set, but as I was not doing Working Rigs, I pulled out the basics, and passed everything else on to somebody else. I only ever kept one Mission Force Working Rig from those sets at that time, and I regret it now. Still, I am not going to dwell on it. It is what it is. This model is a new design taking the number 14 slot of the 16.

So now, for the first time, I actually get a chance to check it out properly. It comes in pieces. A little self assembly required. For anybody who likes Lego, this is nothing. Two sprayers that attach at the back of the model to line up down the sides. Easy peasy.

Lemon squeezy. I have no idea exactly where that phrase comes from. It may be a very British one. But if anybody else in another country uses or knows the term “easy peasy lemon squeezy” please let me know. Anyway, back to the model in hand. It’s all in one piece now. 2 sprayers firmly attached (and I do mean firmly, that was a solid click as they went in place).

It has significant range to it. Look at the breadth on this one. I think it has to be about the widest model I have know from Matchbox. I may have to do a test with a few other castings to see at some point. Watch my Instagram for that at some point in the future.

A little close up of the attaching section. This is a piece attached to the back of the sprayer which as you can see has larger struts towards the bottom than towards the top. The corresponding sprayer arms has smaller and larger clips, so they can only be attached one way up. Well I suppose technically you could put them on each other’s side and have them stretching out backwards, but I think 99% of people will instantly see exactly which way round to put them.

The rear section is also moveable and tilts up and down at 2 points. I have to say, while I have this picture going, it is a good chance to look at the rest of the model too. The front end reminds me of a few other miniature farm related models, and I like the large tank in the middle.A simple Farm Fresh Crop Sprayer design, and in keeping with the modern idealisms, I see that the tank has organic material inside.

As I said, the rear section moves up and down in 2 points, so you have quite a range of motion on the model. This is fun already.

Of course you can actually pop off the rear part, and as such you can then turn it upside down to re-attach, and then the spraying arms will then be upside down. Ha ha!

Of course I do not plan on doing that. I am too sensible. Honestly. What do you mean you don’t believe me? So when fully attached the spraying arms can sit nice and snug down the side of the casting.

Which does sort of make me wonder why it was packaged with them unclipped in the first place. Raised up and pushed in, they are flush with the model and would not cause any unnecessary bulging to the blistercard.

It’s only when you tilt the lower end down that the sprayers then start to stick out more.

As you can see, when tilted fully down, the sprayers really do stick out quite far. Yes, i am having fun with this. But I did mention this reminded me of a few models.

One of them is the MB853 Sowing Machine. I do see a nice family resemblance to the front end of these 2. Which may be part of why I do like it. I have a soft spot for the Sowing Machine casting. Ever since it debuted in 2012 I have lapped up every release of it.

The other casting is of course the MB972 Rain Maker. A mini-me for the Crop Sprayer. you know what? I think I am about due for a little dive back of sorts. I can’t do dive backs on the working Rigs themselves as I don’t own previous ones (apart from that one Satellite Truck), but i can dive back on miniatures linked to them.

I would not be surprised if the same person at Matchbox who created the Crop Sprayer casting also created Sowing Machine. As I said, the front ends of the 2 are remarkably similar. Of course it could be coincidence on them being vaguely based on real vehicles, and these designers will all have similar levels of expertise. But I like to think of these 2 as being from the same brain. This was the debut of Sowing Machine. MB57 in 2012, only 1 year after Crop Sprayer debuted. The timing is right.

In 2013 it moved to MB106 and had some decent fun with shades. Look at the difference between light and dark between these 2. Extremely noticeable.

Also, there was a run where cog wheels replaced the usual dual ring 8-dot wheels.

In 2014 it was in green as MB31, and sadly did not see loads of fun with shades or wheels this time.

But the wheels returned in 2015. Dual ring 8-dot or ringed 8-spoke anyone. This was MB42 in the basic range that year.

It was also the year that this model saw its own Farm Mission Force release as well. That set came with other miniatures and Skybusters (the Skybusters I don’t have either) as by 2015 Working Rigs were temporarily not in use.

Sowing Machine took 2016 off after having 2 releases in 1 year. 2017 saw it return as MB42 in green and orange. Joy Farm Seed Co-Op is to date the last we have seen of the casting. I think farm related stuff tends to be like that. We get an influx for a while, then they peter out and we have nothing, then another batch of farm related stuff for a while. With Crop Sprayer returning, will we be seeing more farm related stuff in the future?

I am going to do the other as well while I am at it. Because, why not? Rain Maker (I still think that is a pretty cool name for it) debuted in 2015. A whole 4 years after the working Rig model arrived, I guess to fill the crop spraying hole that it had left. As I said, by 2015 Working Rigs (at the time called Real Working Rigs, hence the RW… numbering system) had stopped being used. MB24 was orangey yellow. Just like the Sowing Machine when that was orangey yellow, this model too came in nice shades.

And it saw wheel variations. Coincidence or what? I opened up the sprayers, as with this being sold with them being down the sides to begin with, sometimes you might miss the cool design that was actually put on the model. Like this Heralda & Son Farms logo. Hmm! I wonder if this was a Michael Heralda design, or just a nod to him?

The 2016 MB42 tries its best to stretch out like the big one does, but fully stretched it is barely longer than just one sprayer arm outstretched on big brother.

This one had a more simple look. Rain Maker. Yeah they just put the name down the side.

If you were a complete nerd like me, you might have noticed the yellow base could be found in lighter or darker shades.

In 2017 a design out of left field. The MBX Fire & Rescue design on a crop sprayer? It does sort of make sense in a way. If a field caught fire, what would be the easiest way to spray water all over it? Using one of these. So the MB44 might have been a left field design choice, but I do enjoy seeing these oddball looks.

It saw a final basic range outing in 2018 as MB46. This was green with an Amazing Watering side design. The sprayers on this were a light gold, which is a little darker to the tan on the new Crop Sprayer.

We never saw the model in 2019, but the MBX Countryside 5-pack of 2021 did see the model return in blue with a Green Grow side design. Green Grow Farms sounds like another modern, eco friendly moniker that Mattel are currently trying to utilize as much as possible. Will we see it again? Perhaps in a pack with Sowing Machine, and maybe a tractor alongside, a pick up truck of some sort, and maybe the new food truck which is trying to sell the farm fresh produce that was made on a particular farm. See I am coming up with future 5-pack ideas.

Which brings me full circle back to the start again, as we had a second RW048 GMC 3500 Attenuator Truck in the mix. This one was new though as number 15 of 16. Well I say new, I believe this is in fact a carry forward of the debut issue from 2019.

Now if you have been following a while, you will know that I was not doing the Working Rigs reviews in 2019, so to me this is brand spanking new. My only source for getting them is Wheel Collectors as they are not sold in my country, so without them it would be too costly to try and attempt them. So as this is new to me, I am taking a minute to have a good look at it, like I did with the yellow one when it was in the first batch.

The orange is a nice colour for the model, and I do love the colour co-ordination with the arrows on the roof panel also being in orange (the yellow had yellow dots).

And of course being able to pop the sign out and click it back in different directions, or facing front/back depending on the mood is great play value.

The rear has a large white sign on the bumper board, and white/orange dashes below. Nice, simple and clearly showing what it is there for.

The side design on the doors is again very simple, with a Highway Services logo and a small Unit 58 (I know who designed this one) on it. Plus a few small details added as well.

It’s a fun casting, and I think the orange is so far the nicest it has been. Because I can actually show the entire history of this one.

Because obviously there was the yellow earlier this year (and repeated in this batch).

Plus there was a white and blue offering in the 2020 Working Rigs series as well, which was after I began doing these write-ups. I think these have all been very tastefully done, and all look very nice. I don’t know why, but the orange just speaks to me more.

I look forward to seeing more of these. I am not 100% sure on 2022 though. It was shown in the line preview as being in the first batch, with a picture of the yellow one again. But early sample pics are showing the orange one again in batch A. We will have to wait for the batch to hit to see if it is indeed a carry forward or a new design.

Now this does bring a close to the 2021 series. But wait a sec. This is a set of 16 models. Both batches C and D have only had 3 “new” additions in them. Number 12 of 16 and number 16 of 16 are both absent. Sadly, as with a lot of things, a few hiccups occurred in getting them signed off in time and they had to be dropped. Number 12 was originally slated (as of the 2021 line preview shown at the 2020 Gathering) to be the return of the RW008 MAN TGS Flatbed Cargo Hauler in a carry forward design from 2009. It got dropped and they were going to squeeze in another RW005 International WorkStar 7500 Dump Truck carry forward design into this batch in the number 12 slot. But time constraints were against them and it missed the deadline, hence additional carry forwards from earlier this year. Number 16 was supposed to be the RW003 Pierce Quantum Aerial Ladder Truck in another carry forward design, but again time constraints were against them and it missed the deadline. With both slated to be carry forwards anyway, the decision has been made not to pursue getting them into future mixes. So the set is being capped at 14 models. Hopefully there will be no blips with 2022. But nothing is ever set in stone. As I always say, things change, things move. They have to alter plans, adapt plans, do a radical 180 on plans at times. It’s the way it goes behind the scenes nowadays. We don’t see it. But licenses, checks on things, agreements, alterations if required can all run at different paces for each individual model, and it is a real juggling act to try and keep all the balls in the air at once. Sometimes something can run smoothly, and others times, there are obstacles to overcome which can take time. So for now, I think it is high time I did another dive back.

With the Crop Sprayer in the set, I felt I needed to have some sort of farming related model to dive back to. I decided to go with a classic. The Lesney MB51-C Combine Harvester.

This casting debuted in 1978 in the basic range in red, with a yellow plastic chute and rotor. It ran in the MB51 slot officially unchanged for 3 years worldwide, but after being dropped from the US range after 1980 saw an additional year as an ROW only issue in 1981 before being dropped there too.

The chute was just a click in piece that would rotate around, and the rotor was a 2-piece build that slotted together and then riveted in to the front of the casting. Of course it did see some changes if you looked closer.

For starters early examples had a simple disk wheel inserted towards the front, but in 1979 they decided to change to 4-spoke wheels. Usually found with yellow hubs, I am personally still chasing down an example where these hubs were left plain. They are not easy to find.

There was a second change. In 1980 they decided what was the point in putting a base on the model? They didn’t see one, so removed the black base section and all the details were re-written on to the front under the Matchbox logo. Of course not being a base collector I don’t actually own one with no base in red. I may end up getting one, if I discover it also sports a shade of red. I know what I am like. But until then all I can show you is….

After 1981, the model left the basic range but returned during the Universal era. It was given the MAN number MB851 which Mattel skipped when they reached those numbers in the last decade or so. As you can see, the base never returned. They just kept it as a body with a chute, and rotors.

It also returned to the original wheel style from its debut when it came back. The 4-spoke wheel itself was no longer in use, but strangely this older wheel style was. Now when it returned, it was 1987 and it was placed in a CY-205 Convoy triple pack alongside an MB046 Tractor & Harrow which was being duplicated from a TP-108 twin pack (although the harrow was not in the TP pack), and the CY-20 Kenworth Cabover Aerodyne & Tipper which also had a twist. The rear end was from the CY-20 issue, but the cab was actually from a TC-3 Team Convoy set with a Tractor Shovel. They liked mixing and matching. At the time the Combine Harvester was exclusive. In 1989 the CY-205 small set was dropped in favour of a larger MC-7 set. This featured the CY-20 in standard form (correct cab), as well as 3 different twin pack pairings and the Combine. It ran until 1993 which meant that during production it shifted from Macau to Thailand. Thailand issues are known to have maroon plastic parts rather than red, but at the moment I still have not got one. I am trying to find one loose rather than buy the whole MC-7 set for 1 model.

It wasn’t its only outing either. 1990 also saw the model get added to the My First Matchbox series, which was aimed at the very young with the bright mainly primary (alongside green, black and white) colours and child-like designs. These ran for 4 years, and the Comine was a part of the full 4 year stint.

Which meant I was able to find this change of manufacturing country. Much easier to hunt down when they are sold as singles. Left is Macau, right is Thailand. Not too easy to read in the picture.

You notice that the plastic in particular came out in different shades between the 2 countries.

After 1993 though, things went very quiet. We thought that was it, but 1999 saw a different story. It came back to the basic range. It was sold as MB89 in the US range or MB3 in the ROW range that year in blue with a Harvester side design. But this saw another twist. Germany had their own range which featured many unique models in various slots. MB3 though? It was the Combine. Ah same….

Wrong. Still MB3, just like the rest of the ROW issues, but this was green with a simple picture and number side design.

In 2000 it saw one final issue. Again basic range, and this time the same worldwide. However it was MB47 in the US range and MB27 everywhere else. This was a dark green model, but featured almost the identical livery of the 1999 mostly worldwide issue. the only difference? The logo next to the chute disappeared.

And finally with this one, it’s final twist being the standard 2000 one. If it was in the US range that year, the first 10,000 had a Matchbox 2000 logo on the model. In this case it was slapped on the rear. After this 2000 release the casting was retired for good.

I saw MBTV on the side of the new Freightliner, and knew I had 2 choices to bounce back to. A Mercedes-Benz TV News Van or the MB075 Helicopter. Guess which one I went with? That’s right, time for the Merce…. Oh I went with the Helicopter.

Another Matchbox originals design, debuting in 1982 right at the end of the Lesney era. This casting replaced another helicopter casting in the range. It was white with an orange lower section, and featured an MBTV News side design.

Or not. I mean this was still Lesney. They were good at missing things, mixing things etc. So you can find examples with no tampo printing.

You may also discover that shades of base were common too, as the orange varied from quite light to quite dark.

Now this is the fun part, as I am still busy trying to finish off the set. MBTV was the debut look. In 1983 it came out with new designs, and as such, there are crossovers. I have one. Clear windows and grey skis. This was during a final production run which was likely to have occurred around the start of 1983 before the new design actually hit stores. There is also another that has a black base. Still looking. Plus, it was also reported that black skis and black base exists too. Again, still looking.

This is because the 1983 look was a 36 Police design, and now had a black base, clear windows and grey skis. However, this too saw crossovers as amber windows are known to exist. And again, looking, an orange base is also known to be found here too.

The reason for all this is because as they were transitioning the basic range issue, a new CY-11 Convoy release of a Kenworth towing a Helicopter Transporter was also debuting, with yet another look. A silver helicopter with orange base and 600 on the sides. This was to have the amber windows. As you can see, these 2 are all sorts of different. orange (correct) or black (supposed to be the basic) base, and grey (supposed to be the basic) or black (correct) skis. So with all these different combinations, you can find quite a lot of variations here. After all this was still being produced in the England factory. Most basics that were sold worldwide were shipped off to Macau for production, but because this was also now in a Convoy model, Convoys were still made in England until 1984. So they kept this one in England for all production. I bet Macau would have done a better job at keeping the models separate, which in turn would have made our job as variation hunters a lot more boring.

So you can find quite a few variations, and with the Convoy ones being in a larger pack, these are obviously more costly to obtain.

Oh and yeah, you know, who forgets tampos? The English factory. Always a nice surprise.

CY-11 was the first to turn production over to Macau, with a final batch of the silver 600 models being made there at the end of 1984 just before the 1985 redesign hit.

The basic MB75 had turned to another new look for 1984. White and black with a Rescue theme. Again I am busy hunting down one with an orange base and another with grey skis. This was the black base and black skis issue.

Before production moved to Macau for 1985. The rear tip was a much darker orange, and Rescue was larger. Although the first ones actually had orange bases for Macau production too.

1985 saw the casting see more action elsewhere. CY-201 and CY-204 were larger multipacks for Fire Dept and NASA respectively, and each sported a uniquely liveried model. No variations are known to exist with these. They are as they are here. I told you, Macau started more boring production.

And there was the Convoy. As mentioned, CY-11 got a new look for 1985. Now black with an Air Car design. It ran for quite a few years like that and in 1990 production moved to Thailand for a final few years.

After 1985 the model was dropped from the basic range (unless you were in Japan where in 1984 it was moved to MB77 and stayed for the 4-year stint there, and did see a new Japanese look with Japanese writing on the rear for the 1987 issue, but I am still to get that). Besides this, the 2 CY-200s sets continued through 1986 with nothing new. The next new item came in 1987 with the Virgin Atlantic set. The G-6 multipack saw the model sporting the Virgin logos.

Now in 1988 another multipack, the G-3 JCB set was sold only in the UK featuring the Helicopter with the JCB logo.

Plus another multipack, MC-12 was issued, with a red helicopter sporting a Red Rebels Aerobatic Team design. This set ran for a few years and as such production moved to Thailand in 1990.

It wasn’t stopping. 1988 still. Two different Fire Dept models. Red with a yellow tampo was a part of the Skybusters SB-150 multipack and white with red tampo was an MP-103 multipack release. Guess what? These too continued for a number of years with production moving to Thailand.

The next “new” look appeared in 1990. My First Matchbox again, and this saw the Helicopter in white with yellow and blue blades on the top, which, if you were to hunt them down, can be found with both blade types in alternate ways. I only have the one. The smaller yellow blade is inside the larger blue one. But they can be found the other way round too. I am still looking. You can see why I chose this one. Reminding myself of gaps I still need to fill. Oh yeah, production started in Macau and then moved to Thailand just like everything else at the time. They shipped the casting there in late 1990.

Which means anything after 1991 was made in Thailand (for a while). I am missing another. In 1992 a Royal Air Force release in red was sold exclusively in the UK. MC-24 has still eluded me. But the next model was the Intercom City release in 1993. It had an Air Rescue 10 side design and the IC logo on the front. But it didn’t have an unusual base like many Intercom City models did, as a number saw a unique barcode base on them.

The casting took 1994 off. Yeah I know. As of now, it becomes a little easier to follow. 1995 and a 5-pack arrived with this red Fire Dept model. They did a lot of Fire Dept models.

There was also another multipack arriving that year, just for the ROW market, which saw this blue checked model in the EM-75 set. There is actually another I am missing. MC-12 returned, which originally saw a red model with Aerobatic Team on the side and Red Rebels on the front. It was now white with Aerobatic Team on the sides still, but just a simple logo on the front now in place of Red Rebels. Still on my list to get. I am missing a few aren’t I. In my defense, there was a lot to get.

So it took 1996 off. Again. And returned in red with Fire Dept on the side. Again. But this one, it was a basic range issue. I know. After being dropped after 1985 (except Japan which ran until 1987), it suddenly reappeared as MB60 for the US market of MB30 for the ROW market that year.

I found an unusual one. the base appears to have turned, but the skis were still bright white. I thought it looked unusual. But this started a new run of basics for the casting.

The model was also included in an Action Pack that year with a Fire Rescue design.

For 1998 it turned white with, well what do you know, a Fire Dept design. This was the basic range issue again, which was MB29 worldwide.

And you know what being in the 1998 basic range meant? Gold Challenge. USA saw each of the basic range models in that year’s list get a gold makeover.

1998 also saw a spacial multipack exclusive to Sam’s Club in USA, with a number of models altered from the regular basic looks. The Helicopter now had a red body instead of the usual white, but everything else was the same.

We also had an Airport 5-pack with this red with Airways Tours models included.

It also appeared in a Real Talking 2-pack with an additional model that would talk. And guess what? Another pack I am still to find was the 1998 Action/Adventure twin pack with a white model that simply had Police on the back. So many for me to get of this casting.

In 1999 it was issued as MB6 in the basic range, except in Germany where this same exact look was issued as MB11. I don’t know why they didn’t keep it the same for Germany. Most other castings that were worldwide that were also in the German range were just their usual number.

Avon in USA had a good deal with Matchbox in the late 1990s and early to mid 2000s where they would sell some exclusive items. One of those was during the period where Matchbox were selling Star Cars. A range of models inspired by TV shows and films. Avan released some exclusive ones, with this Magnum PI liveried Helicopter being in 1999.

In 2000 things were winding down. There was only 1 issue. This was MB13 in the “other” ROW range. In 2000 we had a US range of 100 models. Then the ROW range was a different set of 75, with many being the same and a number of different issues. But they went further by giving 3 regions exclusives. What were dubbed the UK, German and Australian exclusives were MB11-15 and MB36-40. Each of these markets had their own unique models for those 10 numbers. All other ROW markets ended up with another 10 models. This was in the first set of 5. The other set of 5 actually never arrived, although 2 of the models did turn up in a 3-pack.

This was to be the last issue of the casting. It was in 2001 and again the ROW range was seeing a 4-way split. Although this time all 10 models exclusive to the 4 markets (UK, German, Australian and other ROW) did arrive. But this one was a little unusual. It straddled 2 ranges. In the Australian sub-set of 10 unique models it was MB55. In the “other” ROW markets it was MB64. After this they retired the casting, but it looks like I am a long LONG way from retiring from hunting down the variations. So many blanks to fill.

Hmm? I like coming up with random links to do dive backs. A white and orange vehicle meets another white and orange vehicle? Oh yes, I stuck the landing.

This is the MB207 Ferrari F40. Technically it is still Universal and 1980s, but it was right at the end. Good enough for me as the majority is ’90s stuff. But this was the 1989 debut. Traditional red with the Ferrari logo front and sides.

The model ran as MB24 in the US range or MB70 in the ROW range until 1993 like this. But these always meant changes. the first was quite easy. In 1991 they moved production from Macau to China.

As evidenced by these bases.

Although there was a plan for a different look that year. A TC-14 3-pack was being launched with 3 Ferraris. The Testarossa and 308GTB joined the F40, and all appeared in the same red scheme. But there was a thought to do alternates. The F40 would have been blue.

For those curious, the Testarossa would have been white and 308GTB yellow. But they decided to just do all red. Of course the 308GTB had never been done in that unique look before so was exclusive, but the other 2 were just the ones from the basic range at the time.

This was also the year that they launched their replacement for the Superfast/Laser Wheels series. It was called Lightning Racers, and took things a step further. These are the first batch red and yellow issues. A second batch saw red turn to white and yellow turn to black. I am still to pick them up. I debated these when I saw them. Did, then decided not to bother with the second batch. Now I can’t find them anywhere. They weren’t popular and faded away after a year. There is a wheel variation on the yellow too. Mine has a partial pink section, but some can be a partial peach instead.

As of 1992 the basic range issue had now been moved to Thailand. Literally China production lasted what felt like 2 months and are pretty difficult to come by. Another thing happened in 1992 that I am still to get, where Matchbox launched a series called Triple Heat. Basics, along with a “world’s Smallest Matchbox” and an exclusive mid-size model sold as a triple pack. I do not own those, and the F40 did get a use as one of the models in 3 distinct sizes. It also saw a World Class premium release in yellow, which I do not show as i don’t have a lot of premiums yet.

But apart from the change of country, and small variations in the shade of red, there was precious little to distinguish between all 3.

But then came the first actual change. The little Italian flag style stripes over the front badge were dropped for 1993. Subtle, but noticeable.

1993 started to see more action again from this casting, as it was used as a promotional tool for the 1993 Toy Fair.

Which saw a little additional detailing on the rear. I do like the fun little license plates they used to do in the 1990s. “Be seeing you”.

We also saw the F40 in the Showstoppers series in red.

Well actually, side by side with a regular issue, we note that it was in fact a very light red. Plus the logo on the front was noticeably smaller.

It also saw rear lights added too.

And then 1994 hit. If you lived in the ROW market, it basically meant that the new Tyco designed spiral wheels took over from the lovely concave 8-dots. But apart from that MB70 was still the same.

But the US market? Yes, this is a legitimate release. Bright orange with black blotches all over, and solid yellow windows. I honestly believe in all my collecting years, that this will go down as one of, if not the, worst design of all time for a vehicle. It was hideous. A part of me was glad I was not living in a US market at the time, but then another part was like “gimme gimme gimme” because I am a completeist. Things like this though, they stretch the limits of what we can tolerate. Luckily it was not to last.

Thankfully Graffic Traffic was still around, which would give us plain models. Although for 1994, the standard white look was giving way to a chrome look for a final year.

Although pre-production samples were made in white.

Plus we saw a lovely Collectors Choice model from the 1st (and what turned out to be only) series. These were prepared through White Rose with a plan for further series, but sadly it did not happen.

1995 Tyco was differentiated from 1994 Tyco by virtue of wheels being chrome, not gold. Of course some models changed to new castings, others to new colours too, but some continued on as they were. This meant the ROW MB70 flipped those gold hubs for chrome.

And so did the US MB24 thing. I still can’t believe that they made this, or the fact it got 2 years of production!

We saw our first look at the fade that year too, as the Super Cars 5-pack saw a model in metallic red that faded to black as it went back. The fade was a definite Tyco thing for the mid 1990s.

We also saw the Matchcaps series arrive in USA. This was very similar to the Graffic Traffic model, except now there was a peach to orange to yellow fade design over the top. And for some reason my camera did not want to focus on it.

Perhaps if I show another prepro. Early plans were just a cream pattern, but it did not stand out.

the fade moved to the basic range. But only on the US MB24. ROW markets still continued on with the original red. This one though was a huge improvement over what they had done in 1994/95. Even better the burgundy through purple fade was great for shades too. Although weirdly, all this hunting down shades, I forgot to look for the final run where they swapped the spiral wheels out with the concave 5-spokes.

And that was the year we also saw the white through orange fade, in the Super Cars 5-pack again.

For 1997, Mattel had just taken over the brand, but luckily Tyco had already realized the direction they were going wasn’t working, and a more realistic look was starting to creep back in. The model was re-unified worldwide, with this yellow look with red stripe, Ferrari on the side and a large prancing horse over the front was the MB24 US and MB70 ROW issue.

And there was also the gold challenge for the US market. Gold Challenge actually ran through 2 years, so some came in 1997 and others in 1998. I do have a prepro of this in a dark solid gold, and the Gold Challenge debuted in 1997 but actually rolled into 1998 on this one. There is a wheel variation, as the concave 5-spokes were switched in later. I am still to get one.

The 1997 Sleek Riders 5-pack saw the model in blue chrome with a strange side design.

And the Super Cars 5-pack was also continuing with a 3rd look. This one though, definitely weird. I do feel like 5-packs were a little behind basics when it came to changing the way the models looked. This one I have noticed a shade of purple.

The side design also was different. The darker purple definitely had a duller orange side design.

For 1998 the basic range issue simply turned white. It also moved to MB57 worldwide, meaning for the first time the model was sold under the same number everywhere. During the year they moved production from Thailand to China.

And Mattel were behind in sorting out new looks for 5-packs with many being just alternate looks for 1997 packs. the Sleek Riders pack got an overhaul with the F40 turning burgundy. Although as the year was going on, as mentioned, production moved to China, and these are more reddish.

In 1999 Mattel had really got their act sorted, and this lovely red issue was the basic range release. It was sold as MB19 in all markets except the German one, where it was MB39. Early issues had Pininfarina on the side, but shortly after production started it was removed. Oddly enough, the German release had not started production yet, so all MB39s there did not sport Pininfarina on them.

In 2000 it was MB23 in the US range or MB18 in the ROW range, and again was a simple red look, now with a brown interior and smoke windows. Those in USA stores might have found the Matchbox 2000 logo on the first 10,000 too.

Before the model bowed out in 2001 as a German exclusive MB61 in yellow with simple rear lights and side logo design. After this we never saw the F40 again.

Although you are seeing one right now. Because ’tis the season and all that. I am having a fun segue into my last dive back. So that monstrosity that was the 1995 F40 for the US range. It had solid yellow windows. How it somebody supposed to see out? Surely it was an accident waiting to happen. Sure enough, the Attenuator Truck got hit. Luckily the rear was down which absorbed the crunch. But that does mean the car is going to need a tow.

Hello ABC Towing? Yes I couldn’t see where I was going and drove into a mobile crash barrier. and that was my clever way of moving into the Mattel era with the MB661 ’05 Tow Truck.

It was called the ’05 Tow Truck because, well, it debuted in 2005. It was MB2 in the basic range in black with Steve’s Garage on the side.

But it was not in the 2006 range. However, there were other uses for it. Like this particular design in red with a Hiway Towing Inc side design and a metal grid look which included a nice little code or 2. WR53KS W1NT54 stood for “Wrecks Wanted” and ADLAR EH, yes I know what this is. Michael Heralda’s surname backwards. An earlier design before the 58 number (in place of EH) really took hold. Michael was a great instigator in the numbers for letters coding system that adorned a lot of mid-late 2000s models.

The model was actually in the Hitch ‘n Haul series that year in the Speed Bump set, and was towing the MB537 Limousine in black with a grey/red side stripe.

We also saw a playset release in the Pop Up Auto Center set in blue.

For 2007 the basic range was returned to with this pale blue issue featuring a Holst Towing (a nod to Felix Holst) as MB42.

And Hitch ‘n Haul’s Speed Bump set got a refreshing new look. Another blue one, with a Public Services side design.

Only this time it was towing the MB577 Taxicab in off white.

In 2008 we saw this new look. The Auto Center Pop Up playset was refreshed with this red look.

We also saw this. Nobody knows where it was due to appear, but it was thrown in some 10-packs under the general pulled from elsewhere assortment in the middle. That 10-pack already had an exclusive. But although this was in the assortments that featured the Adventure set, meaning it was the 3rd of 4 during the year, we thought it was likely from an upcoming set of some sort. But as 2009 hit and still nothing more came from it, the question was asked, and it was going to be from a planned playset that never got released. But as the model itself had begun production they decided to just run with it in a 10-pack.

In 2009 it did get a proper 10-pack release. This time in the Action all-exclusive pack in yellow with a Z Towing design (a nod to Christian Zentner who was working for them at the time).

And it did get a playset release. Well actually 2. The Pop Up Auto Center was refreshed again with the ABC Towing orange one.

It was also added to a new Tri-level Garage set in teal with a City tow design.

2010 only saw a 5-pack release. This was in the Service Center pack in black with the Service Center logo on the door (the same one that was recently carried forward on the Chevy Stepside).

Service Center was also the name of a 2011 5-pack, although the models were mostly different, and the designs definitely were. This white model also was found to sport a wheel variation. Usually cog wheels, but a run was made with large 6-spokes instead.

In 2012 Mattel had stopped doing playset exclusives, but decided to roll the dice with some again. But they set them up with production in China rather than their main factory in Thailand. This was exclusive to a Garage playset that year.

A quick shot of the base with Made in China on it.

But the set ran for a few years, and in 2014 decided to bring the castings back to the Thailand factory so a late run in 2014 saw this green issue now made in Thailand.

You might notice the base is a lot lighter too.

And for good measure it was used one more time in the 2014 City Works 5-pack too. Orange is often good for shades, and I found a few on this one. We have not see this casting since.

for good measure it decided to tow away the Attenuator Truck too after that accident with the Ferrari. I told you, I was having fun with these.

I believe this brings to close another report. One that actually had 2 GMC Attenuators in it.

As well as 3 other Working Rig trucks.

I hope you enjoyed it. Next week I am back to the miniatures again with another batch that I was helped out with via a friend in USA. Until then, have a safe and happy week.

Leave a Reply