Matchbox Monday is taking ’22 to the extreme with a 22 overload

So people may have been noticing a certain lack of new products recently. It is sad to see that Matchbox (as well as other die-cast, and many toys for that matter) have been caught up by this global shipping issue. I knew about car manufacturers saying they couldn’t build cars because of a chip shortage for a while, but I thought to myself, it’s fine. As long as I get the little ones I am good. So I only have myself to blame. I jinxed it. Sorry about that. So this does mean I am not able to showcase much in the way of new products recently. Wheel Collectors have been a great source for me, shipping items over from USA for me to write up on, but sadly, this affects them too. But during their downtime, they have set up a new website at which is always useful. The thing is, I am currently enjoying putting out a fresh Matchbox blog report every Monday. So I didn’t want to just sit around and twiddle my thumbs for a few weeks until I get anything, so I will spend the interim just posting random items to keep my sanity in check. Ha ha!

So where to begin? Well, it is the beginning of ’22. The first Monday of the new year and so I thought why not do a checklist of 22s. No I am not talking about doing a big report on the 2022 line-up. I am talking about MB22. Yes, this is something a bit random. A rundown of MB22 over the years. Now as anyone who has read my reports knows, I only start at the beginning of the Superfast era. This means late 1969 with the first 10 models and everything since. Now those first 10 didn’t include an MB22 so I will begin with 1970. Or shall I just quickly list down what was before then? As many know, the range began in 1953 with the first 3 models. After that they just kept adding new castings each year to increase the variety until hitting 75, realizing old toolings needed replacing and capping the series there. In 1956 they first passed the MB22 mark with the release of a Vauxhall Cresta. Coincidentally this was the first saloon (or sedan) car in the range. This was replaced in 1958 by a new Vauxhall Cresta casting which ran until 1964. For 1965 the model was replaced by a Pontiac Grand Prix in red.

Which leads to me where I come in. In 1970 the Pontiac Grand Prix was converted to Superfast wheels. They also decided to change from the red vehicle that had been sold for 5 years into a purple one. But there is a rare transitional. In fact, there are 2. Red models have open doors. Purple models don’t. They sealed them up for the Superfast era. Except the last few reds were fitted with Superfast wheels. These are extremely rare. I do not own one. But there exists purple with open doors too. I am not sure if this was just a few pre-production samples that were made that they just put out anyway. After all, Lesney were known for not wasting anything. Purple with opening doors may be even rarer than red, which itself is one of the rarest transitionals out there. But purples, sealed doors. They are much more, well, actually, just not as rare.

You see the thing is, the Grand Prix made the transition in early 1970 but by the end of the year it has already been replaced. So purples were only around a matter of months themselves. They still command a hefty price. They were not common. Factor in that there are at least 3 distinct shades of purple to them too, light, medium and dark, and these always tend to fetch a high price on the secondary market.

By the end of the year they had been replaced by something purple. Yes Lesney were liking the colour, but were keen to move on to more outlandish vehicles, and prototypes, concepts etc. Standard road cars were being pushed aside a little. Somehow, somewhere, a Lesney designer had remembered something from a 1965 Weekend Telegraph competition. Although he was not the winner (he came 2nd), Peter Freeman had designed a concept for a futuristic commuter vehicle. With Lesney wanting to create some futuristic stuff they got in touch and asked if they could make a model of his design. He was brought to the factory for a tour, and given a box of the finished models as a thank you. His family still own them, as sadly Peter Freeman did pass away in 1996. The Freeman (named after him obviously) Inter-City Commuter had arrived before 1970 had finished.

As we headed into 1971 the model was in purple and during the course of production this too varied in colour (not to the extreme of the Pontiac that had preceded it), and although usually sporting a yellow and black label on the sides, some were to be found without.

In 1971 they decided to dispense with the purple and turned the model gold. Again shades of gold can be found, and although I have not found one myself yet, you might discover these missing their labels too.

In 1972 they changed it again. It was now magenta. Which is a dark red, but not an awful lot away from the original purple. Labels usually adorned the model but can be found without and again shades do exist.

But with this model running for 3 years (1972 through 1974), they also did a run with a silver painted base instead of the usual unpainted look. It was the only look for the Inter-City Commuter that lasted more than one year.

In 1975, the model was replaced by a new fantasy casting. Blaze Buster. It came in red with amber window, chrome interior and unpainted base. The very first production run had a white ladder. But they decided they didn’t like white so did away with it.

Turned it black. Nope! Still no good. White is very rare, black pretty rare so I guess the second production run was larger than the first.

Because the third production run turned the ladder yellow. There we go. As I said, these were all the first production runs. The yellow ladder is still a 1975 basic range release. Out of all the 1975s, it is easily the most common. I would say at least 85% yellow ladder, maybe about 10% black ladder, and under 5% white ladder that first year. Because in 1976 they changed it.

Not by much. They decided that the base should be black. Unpainted bases are 1975s, 1976 onwards are black. But this still had a chrome interior. But guess what?

As with with a lot of Lesney stuff, the idea of chroming things often got a bit boring, and many models would see things that were originally chromed get left after a while. In 1977 they decided they wouldn’t bother chroming the interior of this one any more. From 1977 onwards the model had a white interior and black base.

In 1978 though, Japan was seeing some exclusive content. In 1977 their first small selection of exclusive models were literally just some older castings revived under the first few numbers in the range. But in 1978 they had come up with something new. Lesney had sub-contracted out the full R&D and build of a set of 4 Japanese models to a local Japanese company using the Matchbox brand name for exclusive use in the Japanese market. One of them was the MB J-22 Galant Eterna. This took the MB22 slot in the Japanese range for 1978 and into 1979 before Lesney back in the UK, being appalled at the models in question closed down the Japanese sub-contractor company, cancelled the Japanese exclusive range, pulled the tooling from where it was sitting and sent it to a new sub-contracted company in Hong Kong to see what they could do with them. During 1978 and 1979 though, Japan did see the Galant Eterna in either red or yellow.

To distinguish between the regular MB22, the bases of these had No. J-22 instead of No. 22 of the Blaze Buster. Although was it really important? I mean the Blaze Buster was being made in England, the Galant in Japan. I don’t think they would have accidentally got them mixed up.

So 1980 arrived. A new decade and well, just the one MB22 again. Blaze Buster. It was still pottering along. But what you did find in 1980 they turned the model into a much darker red.

Of course dark red was good for shades, and what we also discovered was that in 1982 the ladder turned a more orangey yellow compared to the bright yellow it had been since 1975. But only people who lived in the ROW market would know that.

Because the US market decided to drop the casting after the 1981 year. In its place came a new casting, albeit a modified one. The MB098 Ford Mini Pickup with canopy (it was based on the older Wildlife Truck). Debuting in silver with a Big Foot design and white stepped canopy, they decided that the canopy was not good being stepped.

So swiftly changed it to a flat one. Some exist with some of the tampo missing too.

In 1983 Blaze Buster was entering its final year in the ROW range (still unchanged) with the Mini Pickup carrying on as the US exclusive. However, as with a lot of things, Universal had just taken over the company and were starting to look at various sites. They owned their own factory in Macau, had one in England that they had inherited, and were still using a sub-contracted site in Hong Kong. Their early plans were as follows. If something is ROW exclusive, make it in England. Cheaper to ship from there. If US exclusive, make it in Hong Kong. If worldwide, move production to their new factory in Macau. So the Mini Pickup, being a US exclusive, was moved to Hong Kong. As well as being a much brighter silver, Hong Kong models also painted the bases black.

As the year was finishing, so was Blaze Buster. However, as with most things in the England factory, things never work out right. They ran out of Fire labels. Do they go and produce a whole new batch of labels for one final production run? No of course not. They go and find a label that was in use on the K-39 Snorkel Fire Engine, small enough to fit in the spot and use that instead. The Snorkel had a very big County Fire Department and shield label on the main body, but a small No 32 label on the doors. On a Superkings model a small label is actually not that small for a miniature. It was pretty much perfect. So they just finished production off with some no 32 labels instead of the usual Fire ones.

Enter 1984. The US market was still utilizing the MB098 Ford Mini Pickup with Big Foot livery. However, once settled down, Universal realized that they were paying for a sub-contracted company to make models in Hong Kong so closed down the operation. This meant all Hong Kong items (which were mainly items exclusively sold in the US market) were moved to their main factory in Macau. It’s quite funny really, as Universal Toys, the company that had taken over the Matchbox assets in late 1982, were actually based in Hong Kong themselves. But their factory was in Macau, and they were paying another company in Hong Kong to produce models for them. The ROW range though? This got a brand new model. The MB138 Jaguar XK120. 1984 was still seeing production for ROW exclusives in England, and therefore this model debuted with an England base (usually unpainted, but sometimes silver). But there was a twist in 1984.

The Dodge Cattle Truck. Huh? What? Yes, the MB071 Dodge Cattle Truck. This model had been dropped from the US range after 1981 (replaced in 1982 by a 1962 Chevy Corvette) but was still tinkering along in the ROW range as MB71. But in 1984, Universal set up a new agreement with Japan to release an enlarged 1-100 series there. To do this they incorporated pretty much all the US and ROW exclusives alongside all the core models to fill up the range. Not being enough, they also included some exclusive models just for the Japanese market. As such, the Japanese 1-100 series was completely renumbered from the regular ones. The Dodge Cattle Truck, still being in the ROW range, was therefore thrown in the Japanese range too as MB22. It was literally just the same model as the ROW MB71 that year, just in a different package.

In 1985, the US range saw a small update. The Mini Pickup was given a new design. It was now red, with an Aspen Ski Holidays looks.

Universal also made a decision to dedicate all regular miniature production in Macau, and so tooling for the smaller models (Yesteryears were still being made in England, although the English factory did set up some budget range models in small scale based on older castings with all parts sealed, no interiors and blacked out windows) were moved to Macau. The Jaguar for the ROW range therefire got moved to the Macau factory. Apart from being a lighter green, and only coming with a silver base, Macau made Jags also saw the window in amber instead of the clear windows for English ones.

Japan too was seeing a change. The ROW Dodge Cattle Truck was also changing for 1985, and therefore it also changed the Japanese issue too into a yellow one with a brown rear.

1986 saw just a change for the ROW range. A new look for the Jaguar. In fact, some might say it was THE look for the Jaguar XK120. After all, when the casting debuted, they had cast NUB120 into the front and rear of the model, but the real NUB120 was cream. The real vehicle was driven by Ian Appleyard in various rallies in the early 1950s, winning quite a few for him, alongside his navigator, Patricia Lyons (who was the daughter Of Sir William Lyons who founded the company, then known as Swallow Sidecar Company in the 1920s). The number 414 was one of a variety of racing numbers they had while piloting the vehicle. Now the transitional production run saw the amber window from the green model used up.

Before almost immediately going to a clear one. These cream with amber window models are very rare. The US carried on as normal, and Japan? Well the ROW range had dropped the Cattle Truck after 1985 but in Japan they carried on selling it until 1987.

In fact, as far as MB22 went, 1985 through 1987 was a bit of a stalemate. It was all unchanged.

Which brings us to 1988. This was your choice. If you lived in the US market, it was still carrying on as normal. No changes. The mini Pickup in Aspen Ski Holiday design was soldiering on. But the ROW market (which was now incorporating Japan as they dropped the extended 1-100 series after 1987 and they just reverted to the standard ROWs) saw a brand new casting. The MB190 Saab 9000 Turbo. This was the second (and so far last) Saab ever made by Matchbox (after the Sonett III in 1973). It arrived worldwide in red, taking the MB15 slot for the US market, but the MB22 slot for the ROW market.

1989 saw just a small change to the status quo. The Mini Pickup was cost reduced to a plastic base for 1989. Still made in Macau, still the US exclusive MB22, but it was about to reach the end of its life. The Saab was unchanged.

For 1990 the US market replaced the Mini Pickup with a brand new casting. The MB201 Vectra/Cavalier. This was the GM Europe vehicle that in mainland Europe was known as an Opel Vectra, but in the UK was known as a Vauxhall Cavalier. Universal cleverly made the front grille generic (which literally the only difference between the 2 being which manufacturer badge adorned it) so that in both (Europe and UK) markets they would know what it was. Quite clever. So although they added it as MB41 for the ROW range, they decided to add it to the US market too as MB22. The Saab, still in the same colour was going through a change. Macau production was closing down through 1990 and the Saab was an earlier leaver, moving to China for the start of the year. The Vectra/Cavalier though, well this debuted in 1990 and was still made in Macau.

The Vectra/Cavalier was one of the last castings out of the door from Macau and begun China production for the 1991 year. It only ran the 2 years in all markets, and stayed red throughout. However, Chinese models were very good for shades. As to the Saab? The US market had dropped the model after 1990, and so they only ever saw red. But the ROW market carried on, and a new white racy look appeared for 1991. It even had 22 on the front denoting it’s unique ROW slot in the basic range.

The Saab carried on in 1992 for 1 more year as an ROW exclusive, but for some reason they decided to change from a clear window to an amber one. For the US market, as I said, the Vectra/Cavalier was a 2-year deal. A new model arrived in the MB22 slot for there. The MB232 Lamborghini Diablo. It debuted in yellow with a Lamborghini badge on the front and Diablo written down the sides.

In 1993, a very odd thing happened. The ROW market dropped the Saab 9000 Turbo and brought back the previous occupant of the slot. The Jaguar XK120. In the exact same look as it was when it had left in 1987. For the variation nut it was still a good model to get. After being dropped Universal had looked at the casting with a view to adding it to the World Class series. But they noticed it needed some work. Initially the side details around the door and filler cap had been cast quite faint, and over the course of only 4 years (1984-1987) had faded away to nothing. The sides were completely smooth. So they redefined the side detailing back in to the casting, to make them really stand out. Also as a part of the World Class debut, that NUB120 cast front and rear? Gone! The license plates were now blank. Finally, the model had, until 1987, been made in England or Macau. Both factories were now closed, and the tooling for this had ended up in Thailand. So a 1987 Macau made model with NUB120 and smooth sides became a 1993 Thailand made model without NUB120 and detailed side casting. While all that was going on, the US range just carried on as if nothing had happened.

1994 saw the first year of Tyco products. They had purchased Universal late 1992, but 1993 was already set in stone by then so their first changes occurred for 1994. Apart from one of the big changes being the arrival of a brand new wheel design (a 6-spoke spiral design that for the first year was painted gold, before turning chrome in 1995), we also saw a few other things. The US range saw many models in new outlandish designs. The Lamborghini Diablo was one. It was now in metallic blue with a faded into black rear end, and a fluorescent orange/white flash down the side. The ROW market (which was selling it under the MB49 slot) still carried on with the original yellow look, albeit updating the wheels to the new ones. But the ROW market decided to bring in a new MB22 model. Okay I am going to explain this casting(s) history. In 1992 Universal created a new MB216 Pontiac Grand Prix stock car which they gave over to White Rose to make a whole range of models based on the NASCAR series. In 1993 they then created a newer, updated Pontiac Grand Prix casting as MB238. This too was given over to White Rose, but also debuted in the US range that year as MB35 in yellow, and was also added to the Racing 5-pack too in a different yellow with a Pro Auto design. It sported racing slick wheels too. In 1994 White Rose had given the original casting back to Matchbox as they were now using the newer one, so Matchbox decided to switch out the MB238 in the US range with the older MB216 casting, as this would work with the new gold spiral wheels. They also decided to give it the same look as the 1993 5-pack issue too. But they also decided to throw that casting into the ROW range in the MB22 slot too for one year. Again it was still in the same Pro Auto design as that earlier 1993 5-pack’s MB238 casting was too, just on the slightly different casting. The 1993 5-packs are often marked down as being only sold in the US. However, I used to get them from Woolworth stores in the UK.

In 1995 the US range was still doing weird designs, but now they were spreading to the ROW range too. The Lamborghini Diablo in bright yellow with black blotches was now a worldwide release, with the US being the MB22 model. The ROW range was now seeing its fourth different MB22 model in 4 years. The Pontiac was still in the US range, although given a new look for 1995. The ROW range saw the debut of the MB270 Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder. It was sold as MB28 in the US market alongside the MB22 ROW release and through 1995 was one of the models chosen to see a change to the tampo. In this case they literally just wiped it all off. By the end of 1995 it was simply plain blue.

In 1996 both the 2 models from 1995 continued with a slightly different look. The US MB22 was the Diablo, now in red with the same blotches all over it. The ROW MB22 was the Mitsubishi, but the model was now sporting a white interior instead of green.

In 1997 something a little unusual happened. Again these 2 models were continuing. the 1997 release of the Diablo was now dark blue with Diablo and a black/white flash going down the side. The Mitsubishi was turned into a yellow model with Spyder across the window and down the sides, and an attempt to recreate the look of the real car’s headlights. But if you lived in the Australian market, you would have found something a bit different. The Mitsubishi was black with a spider/web and The Red Back written across it.

Which leads us to what was the biggest change to the basic range after Mattel had taken over. Until 1997 a model arrived and was basically kept for however long they felt it would work. Occasionally a model may return (and in the case of the Jag even keep its slot), but for the most part, a model would carry on for many years at times. But in 1998 all that changed. Mattel had bought out Tyco in 1996, too late to make a change for 1997, but in 1998 they changed the format of the Matchbox range into the system we still use now. Each year would see a set of models, and each year they would be different, with any model running year to year being given a new number that year. The MB129 4×4 Chevy Blazer had been a part of the range since 1984 as MB50, and although the ROW market had dropped it after 1987, the US was still plugging away until 1997 in the MB50 slot. But for 1998, it was still a go. They moved it to MB22 that year, and even brought it back to the ROW range for an appearance. It was white with a black rear and Off Road Patrol on the side.

1999 was a great year to be a Matchbox collector. Mattel had come up with an idea for the US and ROW markets to sport liveries that might suit them a bit better. In a lot of cases it was all about whether a model had writing in English (for the US market) or a variety of symbols (for the ROW market), but the MB148 Volvo Container Truck was a little different. It was sold as MB22 worldwide, but the 2 markets had a slightly different look. the US market saw the model sporting an Allied design.

But the ROW market saw Allied Pickfords, as the US company Allied had not long purchased the UK Pickfords company and the name there was the longer one. Funnily, the UK arm has now reverted back to the Pickfords name, has re-coloured the trucks back to blue, but still uses the same road design with a 1 shield on it, signifying its link to the US one.

But this was not all. Germany saw its own range. Some of it was normal. The same models as found in the rest of the world. Some of it was really cool, as they came out with a number of unique looks, and a lot of brand new exclusive castings just for the German market. But for some reason, I think they just got a bit bored in the end. There were a few models that were literally just ones from, mainly 5-packs in 1998, that they just shoved in the German basic range to fill up slots. The MB134 Extending Ladder Fire Truck was one. It was originally a part of the 1998 Fire 5-pack, but for some reason, they just put it in the German range in 1999 as MB22 too.

the year 2000 saw Mattel come up with the most diverse basic range ever. The US market would receive 100 models. All other markets 75. Some would be exclusive to either market, although obviously the US saw a lot more exclusives (an extra 25 obviously). But the ROW market saw a further split. Germany, the UK and Australia were the 3 biggest markets outside USA, and as such each range saw 10 models in the set of 75 exclusive to their market. Those 10 slots would be filled by another 10 for all other ROW markets. However, that part did not involve MB22. No, this was actually filled by a pair of models that were sold worldwide. But with Mattel, they decided that the series would be split into smaller groups of models. In fact, they were put into groups of 5, themed together. At first the numbers aligned, but the US range were busy inserting groups of 5 into the range spreading the numbers further apart as they went. So what was MB22 for the US range, the MB232 Lamborghini Diablo (making a return to its original US spot BTW) in blue was actually MB17 for the ROW range. A sub-set of 5 models had been inserted for the US range already. The ROW MB22 was the MB401 Scissor Truck, which (due to another 2 sub-sections inserted) was actually MB37 for the US market. Of course this was 2000.

Which means that the first 10,000 MB22s in USA saw a Matchbox 2000 logo added to the model somewhere (in the Diablo’s case on the window). Although the Scissor Truck also saw the logo, that was only in USA where it was MB37, so technically does not count in the post.

For 2001 there was still the 5-way split. However, the US range was now 75, in line with the others. Therefore models that were being shared worldwide were under the same number worldwide. The MB442 Jeep Grand Cherokee was slotted into the MB22 place for the year in blue with a yellow raft on top, featuring an Action Canyon design. The first run sported concave 5-spoke wheels but this quickly reverted to sawblade wheels as they were taking over (along with flower wheels).

2002 saw the range move back to the traditional US/ROW split which has been in place since 1981. The sub-sets for the series were a little unusual. Instead of groups of 5 models, they were now groups of 4. But it only went so far into the range, with a large group (mainly of new castings) being lumped together at the end. The US and ROW both saw a different MB22. For the US market we had a purple MB399 Chevy Silverado 4×4 with a Team Quantum side design, and a skier, as this sub-section was all pickups with sports side designs. The first 10,000 saw a large logo on the front.

The ROW market’s exclusive model was the MB335 Porsche 911GT1 in white. This time logos were worldwide, so the ROW issue also had a 50 logo on the first 10,000, which again was on the front, but this time much smaller. I also found one with lace wheels on the 10,000 piece run, as most models sported flower wheels.

2003 was following on from 2002 in terms of the US and ROW split. But this time they were back to sub-sections of 5 models. MB22 that year happened to be a worldwide release. The MB495 Cement Mixer. This year was also the year that they decided to also include the model’s number in the range as a part of the design, and also add the Matchbox logo to the design too (although a few earlier models had already seen the Matchbox logo, did you notice it on the Porsche in the last picture?) Neither went down well and both were soon dropped. But this was all part of the new push by Mattel to really market Matchbox towards the early child ages (3-6) with Hero City, and as such, they did another logo hunt with the first 10,000 models seeing the Hero City logo added too. On this case, the front window.

And in 2004, the Hero City diversion hit the apex. Ultra Heroes. They came up with 30 castings based on animals, or vehicles with hats on, or inanimate objects featuring wheels. The US range saw the entire group of 30 unleashed on the unsuspecting public. However, they reined things in a bit with the ROW range, only releasing a selection of 15 of them. The other 15 slots were filled by ROW exclusive models. For the US market, the MB643 Pound Hound was given the MB22 slot (it was MB5 in the ROW range). The ROW market saw a lovely yellow MB531 Ferrari 360 Spider in that spot instead. This was definitely a year it was favourable being in an ROW market for me. As we know, Ultra Heroes were a huge failure and they were dropped like a lead balloon literally at the last batch of the year. Most models would run a number of batches, but any that arrived in the last batch of the year were gone immediately as 2005 started.

Talking of 2005, this was a transitional year for Matchbox too. One that sometimes gets forgotten. When Mattel purchased Tyco back in 1996, Matchbox had not long moved to the Tyco headquarters in Mt Laurel, New Jersey, after the closure of the UK R&D Centre. Mattel had inherited the building, so just kept it going. But after sales had tanked in 2003 and significantly in 2004 with the changes made, Mattel made the decision to close the Mt Laurel offices and move everything in-house at El Segundo. With this a new team was introduced into the Matchbox brand and given a task to build it back up again. The first thing they did was dispose of the sillier castings (Ultra Heroes as mentioned), but with some things already set out for the 2005 year, they were only able to make some smaller adjustments to a few things. So 2005 was a bit of a transitional year as the new team got up to speed. Their goal was to bring back the realism that Matchbox were known for, and they did as much as they could do in such a short time frame. Although they were also looking at giving up on the US/ROW split too, with only a few models being found in 1 market or the other this year. The 2005 MB22 was the MB441 Audi TT Roadster, which simply had Audi down the side of the silver model.

2006 saw the MB426 Mercedes-Benz E430 Wagon in the MB22 slot for the year in black with a simple front and rear lights look. A sign of the realism that we are now used to. Funnily enough, this was the first (and last) time the model was sold in the basic range worldwide. It had seen 3 German exclusive issues and 1 ROW exclusive. But as i had just mentioned, the US and ROW split was now over. The 2006 1-75 series was a worldwide series.

In 2007 we had the MB630 Chevy Corvette C6 in the slot for the year. Most came with different sized wheels front and rear giving the model a slight downward lean to the front. But I remember finding one at my local Toys R Us that year (in the days when we had TRU stores) which had larger wheels all round. Again, this was sporting a simple front and rear design.

Now 2008 did see a sort of split again. Mattel decided that the US range would now consist of 100 models. Outside of the US range, they would further split between the LAAM (Latin American market) and everything else (ROW – rest of world), but not in the same way. The US range would see 100 models, but the 2 other markets saw a selection of 75 out of those 100 models. Random ones from the first 75 numbers would be removed, and those after 75 would be re-inserted in those slots. Luckily, with this system lasting for 4 years, the MB22 slot was never affected. Whatever was being sold as MB22, was being sold worldwide. In 2008 it happened to be the MB595 TVR Tuscan S. But in addition to “up to” 100 models, 25 of them would sport 2 different looks too giving us a maximum of 125 models. The TVR was one. After arriving in green, a few batches later version 2 arrived in orange.

For 2009 the MB517 Dodge Viper GTSR was given the slot for the year. It arrived in black with dual green stripes.

But this also saw 2 versions, as a little later it popped back up now in lime-gold with dual black stripes. And that version was very good for shades.

In 2010 the MB760 ’69 Type 14 Karmann Ghia Convertible was given the spot and appeared in purple.

We then saw an orangey red look for the Karmann Ghia. Was this a version 2? No! This was the following year, 2011. It was something that Mattel decided to do that year. They were often looking at the past for things to utilize for the future, and an idea that popped in their head for 2011 was to use the classic routine of models staying put. So any model that had been sold in 2010’s basic range, and was to be a part of 2011’s basic range, was left in the same (US model number only) slot for a second year.

However, after 2011, the US/LAAM/ROW triple-range system was dropped, and a decision was made to simply enlarge the core range to 120 models worldwide, although they did sneak in 5 version 2s as well. Therefore logistically it was a little tough to keep models in the same number, so they scrapped that idea. Back to the random number generator. The MB820 Nissan Cube was given the MB22 slot in 2012 in what was its second year in the basic range (and last outing to date, like seriously, where is it?) It came in white with a Record Music side design.

Something which, if you open blisters like I do, you would discover has a completely different design on the alternate side. How “cool & sweet” is that? Literally, it says it on the side. This was also the beginning of another tweak that Matchbox were making, to make the sides pop more on blister. They were worried that having simple front and rear tampos would make the sides a little bland.

As 2013 arrived, the range was still capped at 120 worldwide (with 5 additional version 2s), but further tweaks were seeing random models also inserted into 5-packs. The MB867 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia was a brand new casting that year, but was also added to the Police 5-pack too. Luckily the notion of throwing random models in 5-packs and brightening up sides of models did not last too long. They didn’t lead to an increase in sales, and after a few years we would see them move back to the more realistic front and rear tampo look on many models. Of course we are now seeing a complete 5-pack of carry forwards, which is a slightly different thing. These are older models being given a new lease of life with a new production run. Not something you could buy as a single or in a 5-pack at the same time.

Powering through the 2010s now with the MB704 Power Lift. This was given the MB22 slot in 2014 in white over green. The range was still the same 120 + 5 version 2s that had been around in the last 2 years.

Again a series of 1-120 plus 5 version 2s for 2015, with the modified casting of the MB995 Ford GT40 making its debut. This was the final year of the “pulling a model from basics for 5-packs” and as such the Ford was in the MB22 slot and also a part of the Classic Cars 5-pack. It also was found in lovely shades of yellow.

Another modified casting was seen in the MB22 slot for 2016. This time the MB992 City Bus, which had been switched from metal body/plastic base into plastic body/metal base for a 2015 5-pack and this being its only basic range release after that switch. Since then it has only been seen i further 5-packs. But this was the year that Mattel took the range to its extreme. It was now a 1-125 series, with no recolours.

2017 saw the range stay as a 1-125 series, and the MB1033 ’15 Chrysler 300 was given the MB22 slot in an off-white. Or is that a creamy-white? Again, I found some nice shading.

2018 saw a small tweak to the range. Although still consisting of 125 models, these were now being split into 5 distinct segments within the range. For those who wre paying attention, Target in USA had 4 exclusive additional models too, which means that if you visited a Target store you would have found up to 129 models, the most ever! The MB986 International CXT was another modified casting that was seeing its first showcase as a basic range issue (and to date the last showcase anywhere), where alongside being MB22, it was also being classified as number 1 of 20 in the yellow “Construction” segment.

For 2019 the series was reduced back to 100 again, but still split into 5 segments. Although there was also a special series of 6 additional models exclusive to Target in USA. Again the MB22 slot was a part of the “Construction” segment, and this time number 19 of 20 in that segment was the brand new MB1175 Poop King casting.

I love this casting with the removable porta-potties in the back, and when removed the poop emoji sits where they were.

2020 saw the range capped at 100 again, although this time there were no additional exclusives. The MB22 slot was given to the MB817 Ford F-550 Mini Pumper in a real San Luis Obispo design.

For 2021 they made things quite easy. The range would still be 100 models, although for this year they added in a super chase too. But to make it easier to follow, the first 25 models in the series were all the brand new castings for the year, all in manufacturing number order too. So they started with MB1 being the MB1227 casting, and finished with MB25 being the MB1251 model. So that makes the MB22 slot in the range the MB1248 model in the manufacturing number listing. Simple. MB1248 being the 1979 Chevy Nova, which debuted in blue with dual white hood stripes. And that is all the MB22s to date. What will be ’22’s MB22? We will have to wait and see. We will also wait and see how many models are in the range. The first prototypes shown on long card were stating a range of 102, but the first ones appearing in stores on short card were stating a range of 100. Plus we are looking at continuing with the super chase too. But how many? These are questions that will become known as 2022 continues. I can’t wait to get everything, as it will get here eventually. I just learn to be patient. I wonder what colour the model will be too?


Or white?

Or one of the many shades of grey in between?

Perhaps a nice primary colour, like red.

Although maybe not fire engine red.

Maybe yellow. Quite a popular choice for a model considering yellow is not the most obvious.

Or blue, repeating the colour choice from 2021.

Maybe a secondary colour. Orange is not one that has seen a lot of action.

Only half as much as green.

Or purple!

Maybe a nice tertiary colour. Ish! Brown, or variations on a theme. Just not with fangs at the front.I think that is all of them.

Oops! Where did cream fit in? Is it an off-white? Does it go through the browns? Yellows? Why am I going down a colour route? I have no idea. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my little totally random journey through the MB22 slot in the basic range.

Next week I will be doing something else completely random to pass the time until I start getting new items to showcase again. Until then, have a safe and happy week and catch you next Monday for more Matchbox goodness.

2 Replies to “Matchbox Monday is taking ’22 to the extreme with a 22 overload”

  1. Wow David. Great (and complicated !) history of Matchbox 22. I own quite a few of those castings.. Including the purple Pontiac Grand Prix. I can attest to your observation concerning its expense. The most money I ever paid for a Matchbox toy. But worth it!

    1. Lots of fun models in the #22 slot. The costliest Matchbox for me was also one of these but for me it was the Blaze Buster with the white ladder. I was lucky to get 2 of the purple Grand Prix models when they were still new in the stores.

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