It took its time, but you know the old saying, good things come to those who wait. I bided my time and now just a few months later than scheduled, I have batch A of 22 to post. Now I know many countries around the world are still waiting for them to arrive, included lots of places in USA (which is usually one of the best for new stuff). As such, my usual Matchbox provider, Wheel Collectors, being USA based, are still waiting too. Hopefully they should be receiving stock any moment, so keep an eye on their eBay listings here, or their new website here which is up and running and you will start seeing a tonne of new Matchbox product (and others too, I heard there are other manufacturers out there). But luckily, being in the UK, Tesco has brought in batch A. There are 14 models in the assortment, so I have split it into 2 halves, with the first 7 in this report, and the other 7 coming soon in a later one.
So as the UK is in one of the ROW regions, assortments come in boxes of 72, not boxes of 24, and the cards for the models are much shorter. More environmentally friendly. So the pictures of the packages (apart from 1 as I ripped the model out too quick) are the ROW (or International as Mattel call them) short card variety. And first up is number 1. Yes MB1 for 2022 is the MB1190 ’14 Nissan NV Van.
This is its fourth year in the basic range. Daft fact, this is the first Nissan to reach 4 consecutive years as a basic range issue in the Mattel era. Only the MB611 Nissan Z has more in total (5 non-consecutive years, 2 pairs (2004-5, 2007-8), followed by a single (2021). Of course the MB219 Nissan 300ZX from Universal lasted 9, which did spill into the Mattel era briefly, but I am talking Nissan’s created in the Mattel era. So congratulations NV. The others are now “NV”-ous. Get it? Envious? Oh I don’t know why I bother. This year, MB1 is brown with a Matchbox Adventure Tours side design.
Plus a New Zealand Tourist Association and NZTA logo. It’s not a real logo. The TIA (Tourism Industry Aotearoa) serves the New Zealand tourism sector, as it uses its Māori name. But I think it is great that Matchbox has given us a specific country in the design of the logo to make it sound even more authentic. I also like the brown and tan combination too.
So as a reminder, this is what we have had so far. It debuted in 2019 as MB84 in silver with an Ultra MBX Shuttle side design.
For 2020 we saw a Sea Aquatorium side design on the white MB83.
And 2021 saw this black Nissan Courtesy Shuttle model in the MB66 slot.
So this is the line up of the record breaking Mattel era “4 basic range releases in a row” Nissan NV. Amazingly this has not seen any use outside of the basic range yet either. I am quite surprised with that. I would have thought by now it would have appeared somewhere else.
Of course it has a long way to go to beat the Skidster. The MB789 Skidster takes the MB9 slot for 2022 in what is now its 9th non-consecutive year as a basic range model.
I have to admit I really like the metallic green look to this one. It comes with a simple black and white with red detailing stating Skidster, 789 (its MAN number) and in small writing STAND CLEAR MAX LOAD CAPACITY 2000lbs. That’s a ton of weight (or am I just being short). For anybody who knows about weights and measures, that was quite a corny line. Most countries tend to use the metric system for things now, but I am from the UK. We use whatever! Imperial? Metric? Mixed? Old? New? We still use pounds for weighing a lot of things, much like USA does (as they are more imperial in general), but in the UK 14lbs equals 1 stone (st). 8st equals 1 hundredweight (cwt). 20cwt equals 1 ton. Not to be confused with a metric tonne, which is 1,000kg (also has “ne” added to define it as a separate thing). But if you were to add that up, 14lbs x8 = 112lbs x 20 = 2240lbs. But in USA, they skipped the “stone” part, and changed hundredweight into a more literal 100 times a pound. So it is 100lb. A ton is still 20cwt, so equals 2000lb. Ta-dah! The maximum load capacity of this Skidster. To enable some people to tell the difference, the US ton is known as the short ton, and the UK ton is known as the long ton. And now the “ton of weight, or am I just being short” starts to make more sense. And on that bombshell, i hope you enjoyed my report. Oh wait, I had more to go through. For starters, how about another trip through the Skidster timeline.
I know I showed this last year, but what the heck. After all, when it debuted, we saw our first glimpse of the new recurring theme. Ranec. After seeing a Crane in the Working Rigs series in early 2010 arrive with its name simple being Crane jumbled up, when the accompanying Skidster arrived in the basic range as MB39, people loved the matching designs. Mattel took note and a theme was born.
Plus the base had quite large writing at first, and they didn’t have enough room to add the copyright date and MAN number, so shoved them on the bucket. Then made the first batch and forgot to actually put them on said bucket. This was quickly rectified with a second run within a week now stating the details to the bucket too. Of course later on they wiped the base and re-did it again in smaller writing so they could squeeze it all on the base itself.
This was the era of 25 models seeing 2 versions, and MB39 was chosen that year for a version 2. It turned yellow later on, and thus begun my discovery of shades to this one.
Which rolled over into the 2010 1st Editions 10-pack release in red too. Lighter or darker red anyone?
In 2011 it stuck with the MB39 slot, as in 2011 they were trying to use as many of the same numbers as before. The one small difference? They didn’t sell it in the LAAM market, so only the US and ROW markets saw this one. It was a Lyons Bros design, I believe one of Michael Heralda’s.
It was also in a Construction 5-pack too in a dark orange with a King J Construction logo.
In 2012 this was MB1. It was a zamac model and came with a yellow bucket, which appeared to sport shades of yellow during production. They didn’t come out too well in picture.
A City Works 5-pack was also to be found with a Skidster inside. This was metallic orange.
I tried it again with the 2013 MB76, which again saw this purple model sport shades of yellow to the bucket. But again my camera skills are severely lacking.
We then saw its first green release. This was a solid green though in the 2014 Construction Zone 5-pack as the model was no longer in the basic range.
Do I have any better luck with a green bucket shade? Hmm! Not really. Doh! The casting had taken 2015 off before returning to the basic range again in 2016 as MB50 in white.
2017 saw another 5-pack release. Strangely enough, another Construction one. This time it was dark blue with a Toy Box livery.
Then 2018 saw a carry forward for the basic range, where the MB41 sported the same look as the 2010 version 2.
By now the base had been updated (instant variation), but when you put the 2 side by side, you noticed just how much darker the newer one was.
In 2019 it was MB32, and came in yellow with a CarGo logo on it. This is a lesser used recurring theme, but I like that although quite a few are in blue, they can come in a variety of colours.
5-pack time. It wasn’t called Construction, it was called MBX Construction. This was in 2020 and it was purple with an Agrobio Nutrients design and an orangey-brown tampo that saw a nice shade variation to it. This is also a recurring theme too, as it was originally on a 2008 basic range ’06 Utility Truck.
And finally it returned to the basic range again as MB77 in 2021 in red with a Fire theme to it. That’s thinking outside the box. It is a cute little model, and I can see this still appearing for a few years to come.
Next up, as I am doing these in the order they appear in the 2022 basic range, is the MB1218 ’19 VW Beetle Convertible, which takes the MB14 slot in the 1-100 series. This model appears in a lovely metallic orange.
As has been the case with both the 2 previous incarnations of this casting, the tampo is confined to simple front and rear printing, and it looks superb.
Each license plate gives us something new. This year we get a VW Life one. It’s the daft things, but I do enjoy seeing what they are adding to the license plate on this one. I love the colour, and and I love the simple look.
Just like I did for the 2020 MB2 debut look in light blue. Especially when I was able to find a nice shade to the blue paint too.
And what do you know, I was even able to find a nice shade to the off-white of the 2021 MB27 as well. Here’s looking at you orange! Need a cool shade. Hopefully I will be successful as oranges tend to be one of the better colours for shade variations.
And well, I did mention about license plates. In 2020 the license plate had “Sun & Fun” on it. In 2021 it stated “Cali VW”. Now we have “VW Life”. I look forward to seeing what is on the next one….
And as we had one half of VAG, let’s go with the other half too. I decided to include the MB1242 ’20 Audi TT RS in this rundown too. It happens to be next in the list of numbers for 2022. It is MB49 for 2022.
I am extremely happy seeing another Audi in the range, so I am very eager to see any and all incarnations of this one appear. For 2022 it is a light red and again looks amazing. As with the VW, the attention to details lies in the front and rear tampos.
But unlike the VW, it does not add a license plate to the design on this car. However, it is something I do actually feel could benefit it. As you can see, the attention at the rear tends to be more towards the upper half of the rear of the car, and as such the lower half actually does look quite bland without something there. I think adding a license plate into that area would help to break up the blank space. But apart from that minor change, I see nothing else they could do to improve this one. It looks great.
The tampo is the same as was used on the 2021 MB16 debut too.
Which means the rear also had a blank area where the license plate would be. I think it wasn’t quite as noticeable last year because the model being blue meant that the red of the lights was a noticeable colour break. But with this year seeing a red model with red lights, the colour break is much less noticeable and makes the rest of the surface stand out more. Not that it is a bad thing. I love this casting and I think it looks great. But I can always pass on thoughts for just a slight improvement.
Ooh! New casting alert. The MB1292 Mitsubishi 3000GT. The packaging is dating the model as a 1994 year car, but the base of the model does not have a year stated on it. Daft trivia I know, but I do notice a lot of small things.
So let us have a look at this new casting. It debuts in black, and the paint is not thick, which really helps to showcase all of the little details that have been added to the model. The fuel filler cap, doors handles and door edging etc. Everything is extremely well detailed.
And shamelessly grabbing a photo of a real one I think they have done a tremendous job in replicating it. A small nip and tuck here and there to fit the confines of the size requirements as they will do with all models, as they also attempt to work around the stock wheel sizes too. I think this is a fantastic job.
I was also very curious as to how they were planning on doing the headlights. When Matchbox made a 3000GT Convertible back in the 1990s, they kept tampo printing the lights in a very weird way to accommodate the style of the real ones. But I think this is a much better way of doing it. They did away with the idea of trying to tampo print lights by making them a part of the window piece. Which likely means we will get a light smoke or almost clear window for every release of this model. I think I will be fine with that. I have often wondered why they don’t create more models using this method. Not including trucks where the cab is right at the front, and they are regularly done for colour breaks, I can think of the ’93 Mustang LX SSP being done in this way, the VW Concept 1 Cabriolet and 1986 Ford Transit. There are others, those were just random ones off the top of my head. But I have to say that gap for the radiator in the bottom is deep. I like it. They have done a tremendous job with this one Are they 2 washer jets sitting at the top of the hood?
The rear too. There is a lot of detail that has gone into this model, and when enhanced by some tampo printing too, it really makes it pop. This is a tremendous model.
I think this will prove to be a very popular model for many years to come.
Oh and new casting, I always show a base shot for those who like to see the attention to detail that goes into them. So of course, as many a Matchbox collector will know, I have an older model to do a comparison with.
But in actual fact, I have 2. Back at the beginning of the Tyco era, they created the MB264 casting. This was copyrighted in 1994, the same year the Mitsubishi depicts (according to the package), and was going to be used a tie-in with a TV series called Viper. The MB260 Dodge Viper RT/10 was a part of the show as part of it would “morph” into an alternate vehicle, which Matchbox were creating called the MB265 Dodge Viper Morphed. But the show also featured a Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo in quite a prominent role, and as such they decided to create that as well. The Dodge Stealth was simply a re-badged Mitsubishi sold in North America as a “captive import”. However, with the Mitsubishi also sold there under its own name, the Chrysler Group did made a few little tweaks to differentiate the 2 cars. But under the skin they were identical. Sadly, this casting never made it to production. The TV show that it was going to tie in was a failure, and no tie-in was ever sold. The Viper RT/10 was a Viper RT/10. A standard road car, and approved for model production. The Viper Morphed? Well, how could they really sell that as it was specifically designed for the show it was in, and as such was a 1-off creation. So that scrapped. But the Stealth. This one was a little bit more complicated.
The Chrysler Group rejected this first shot as they felt it was not in the best proportions. Specifically when it came to the width. They felt it was too wide. So as Matchbox under Tyco at the time were going back to tweak it, the news broke that they were dropping the Viper TV show tie-in, and so they really went back to the drawing board. If Dodge were being awkward, let’s change it to the Mitsubishi version and approach them for approval anyway. So this MB264 casting only ever got as far as this prototype sample. Luckily, it is black, just like the new 3000GT is. Perfect for a few side by side shots. You can see how wide it is. It was a very wide model.
If I put them like this, you can see just how wide it was.
The rear was actually pretty well defined. Obviously being the Dodge rather than the Mitsubishi, there was a few differences between the 2 anyway. One thing being that the Chrysler Group moved the rear spoiler forward for the Stealth. And the rear layout was tweaked too.
From the side, you can see how they were a fairly similar look. Obviously you don’t notice the width to the Stealthin this view, but you do notice how it is almost the same height.
And when you look from above, you actually notice it is quite a bit larger. So when you think about it, the model was basically flattened out a bit like a pancake, so I can see why Dodge/Chrysler didn’t sign off on it.
I was quite happy to see the new casting in black as I thought this helped to make the comparison better.
Which is why I chose to pull out the black Mitsubishi. The MB270 Mitsubishi 3000GT debuted in 1995 after the switch to seek a Mitsubishi license instead of a Dodge one. This particular issue was from the 1997 Convertibles 5-pack, because you know, it’s black too.
They did thin it down, they also shrunk it down too. Not quite as small as the current one, but it was somewhere in the middle between the 2 castings.
You can see what I was talking about with those headlights here. the earlier incarnation of the 3000GT kept utilizing this tampo look to try and denote the look of the headlights. I definitely feel the new way of doing it is much better. The lower grill section didn’t go in as deep on the old one either, and the grille itself is a part of the body section. The new one has a grille that is a part of the base.
Remember me mentioning what I thought were the window washer jets? Well whatever they are they weren’t on the old one. Smooth on the top. Plus the wing mirrors. This new casting really does knock the old one out of the water.
But you know what I couldn’t help but notice. How the base details are actually very similar. There are a lot of parts to the detailing that are the same on both models. I have never really thought too much about how they get to detailing bases. Sure you can get a lot of pictures of car bodies, but bases? Is somebody going out, crawling underneath cars and taking photos? There is a part of me who wants to actually do that to a Mitsubishi 3000GT just so I can see what it really looks like.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like the old casting. It is one of my favourite castings of the 1990s. I used to enjoy getting new ones all the time. But when you put these side by side and see the little improvements the new one has over the old one, I am blown away by how good the new one really is. Those wing mirros, that grille, the way the lights are fitted.
And the clearly more defined rear end. I can honestly find nothing about the older casting I prefer.
It’s like every time they work on this, they just getting better at it.
Especially with those lights. What was slightly weird in real life was a nightmare in miniature, and has now been avoided. Great job by the current Matchbox team.
Sure the model is slightly smaller now. I was not expecting them to create it at exactly the same size. But I think it is also better for it.
And I am glad they went with a hard top variant as opposed to doing the convertible again.
Yes the new one comes out on top in my comparisons (I mean literally).
I am very much looking forward to seeing a great many of these over the coming years.
So now I move on to my next model. As I said, there was one I forgot to take a photo of in the blister before I ripped it out. The MB1091 eStar Electric Van, or as of the rebuild in 2021, the ’09 International eStar. It is MB76 in the 2022 basic range, and comes in white. Have we had a white one yet? This also sports a great livery on the side in the way of Warn! Warn is, as one of the notes says, well renown in USA for parts for off road vehicles, with winches being one of their main sellers. So this is a Warn delivery vehicle. I have no idea if Warn actually use these for delivery in real life, but I am very happy to see a delivery van in a delivery livery.
Plus it is a real company being used in the livery too. I love getting real companies involved. I did want to point out they did sneak a little Warn logo on the front too. As I often say, you don’t often think of these things, but general rules with Matchbox for core range models are 2 passes through the tampo machine. On a van that would be either side. So they were either extremely clever in manipulating the casting so that they could get a hit to the front while doing the other side, or they managed to sneak in a third pass. Either way, I always applaud these extras that they squeeze into the models.
Dive back time. Oh they did do a white one. Obviously it was the debut look for the model. This was when the casting was created a different way. It was a 4-piece build originally, and even came with 2 different interior configuration. Although difficult to tell in picture, the bodies were metal and they had plastic bases, whereas the new ones have plastic bodies and metal bases. The rear was originally part of the interior piece, but was moved to be a part of the body as part of the rebuild.
And at the front, the interior also formed the front wheel arches and under the window, which has now been transformed into the window piece. It was back in 2018 when it was MB6 with the Matchbox themed side design.
In 2019 this blue Fenski model was a part of the Service Crew 5-pack, as the original look casting was only in the basic range for that 1 year.
We didn’t see the model at all in 2020, although to some, this was a 2020 release. This is because people were able to order it in mid 2020 directly through Mattel to support people who had been working hard during the initial stages of the pandemic, but it was not produced until the beginning of the 2021 model year. It was white again, and saw a Thank You Heroes design on, and was the last time we saw the original casting, as it was altered after this run. But boy did things go nuts in 2021.
The new look casting was back in the basic range. MB59 was in a DCM (Die-Cast Metropolis) look on, what was that, oh a white model.
We also had a 5-pack issue in, wait for it, white! Of course this was a recurring theme of the Speedy X-press look for the City Adventure II 5-pack.
And we also saw a carry forward of the debut look in a Hybrid & Electric carry forward 5-pack. So obviously that too would be white.
It was the best model out of that particular 5-pack, as with all 5 being carry forwards of previously released models, this was the only one that had such a significant difference between the original and new run. Obviously the casting had been altered from 4-piece to 3-piece in the meantime, and they gave us new look wheels too.
Now the thing is, each model on its own is a nice look. I don’t have anything bad to say about any of the looks. The first and last are real companies (love self promotion on models, and also real companies too) so cannot go wrong there. I love recurring themes (Speedy X-press looking at you) and the others are decent designs too. I just really hope that the next one we see will not be white. I thought the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Polizia had a high percentage of white issues. It has nothing on this. I think green would be good. You know, electric van, green, environment, yadda yadda yadda.
Yay! I remembered the package again. It’s tough. Usually I get them home, rip them open, throw package away then think of what happens next. Trying to remember to take photos first is still not something I am used to. So…. The MB1179 ’16 Ford Interceptor Utility. It takes the MB95 slot in the 2022 range in white. Wait? What? It’s okay, this is only its second white issue. It tends to get more black ones does this casting. But what is this I see? The NYPD being mentioned. I love it! I do enjoy seeing real police forces in the liveries, and this casting is giving us a butt load of them.
I am always happy seeing another NYPD model. So this is a great look for this casting.
Plus, as I showed with my last showcase of the Interceptor, this is a real vehicle. The NYPD does use this vehicle in real life, so it’s just even better.
I tell you, I have been really impressed with the looks that this model has received so far. Another recap time?
It debuted as MB42 in the 2019 basic range in red with a Fire Chief design. This in itself, although a Matchbox original design, was great because it was the exact same design that the 2018 release of the Ford Taurus Interceptor had, and I loved the recurring theme.
But then in 2020 they went and gave us a California Highway Patrol look on the MB48.
And then a little later, another real design with the El Segundo Police on the MB78 issue.
2021 began with another of the Thank You Heroes models, so again this was a special tribute model, and a good thing in itself.
But we also saw a San Luis Obispo look to the MB65 that year.
And a white Boone County Sheriff issue in the MBX Rescue (or should I be calling it MBX Recue?) 5-pack later on too.
Which means that this is the 5th real livery that has been applied to this casting out of 7 releases. That is a very good percentage to have. I am impressed. And well, while in New York?
Now back in 2001, under the Matchbox Collectibles banner we did see an NYPD Chevy Impala Police in the Feature Cars series. I do not own it (wasn’t really doing feature cars as they did not sport MAN numbers, although I do have a few), but at the time it was a 1-off NYPD usage. But in 2016, we saw a Police Rescue 5-pack, and wow! Everything in it sported an NYPD look. It was hugely popular.
We had the MB978 Meter Made. Funnily enough I have only ever seen one of these vehicles in real life. Where? Central Park, New York. What did it have on it? NYPD logos. I wish I had taken a photo of it. How was I to know that Matchbox would go on to make a casting of the type of vehicle in question and then go and release an NYPD look to it too.
We also saw, what is standing as the final release of the MB568 Sport SUV. A rather unusual choice, as the Sport SUV had not been used much since 2008 (a 1-off in 2014 was thought to be it, then this also popped up). I actually didn’t mind this casting too much. For a Hero City era Matchbox originals design, I always felt the Sport SUV was quite a realistic looking model. and when you give it a really nice finished look like this one, I actually quite like it.
We also had an MB857 Chevy Suburban too.
Plus the MB188 GMC Wrecker that keeps ticking along nicely. I mean, will this casting ever get old? It has been pottering along since 1987, and I am yet to see a worthy replacement.
And to me, the star of the pack. The MB933 Dodge Charger Pursuit. That was such a cool model. Big fan of the Charger, big fan of the NYPD look. Combine the 2 and Jackpot!
After that, we didn’t see anything for a few years, but in 2019 things changed. The MB1140 ’06 Ford Crown Victoria Police in the Moving Parts series saw the NYPD look on it’s first release. A release that proved quite difficult to find, as it was in batch B and that batch did not appear in a lot of places.
And the MB857 Chevy Suburban popped back up too. It was MB54 in the basic range as a carry forward model.
It is almost identical to the original 2016 release. the only thing I could see different between the 2 was that the smoke window was a slightly different shade, which I can see in person, but when put under the light for the camera to take a photo, got lost.
We then saw the MB1198 ’94 Chevy Caprice Classic Police debut the look when it arrived in the 2020 basic range as MB7. With no new looks for 2021 this is the next NYPD look in the sequence.
A very impressive rundown of models. I do enjoy the NYPD style, and hope to see even more in the future.
Although while all this is going on, there is one thing I can’t help but wonder about.
Whatever happened to FDNY? The fire equivalent to the police. This is it so far. The 2016 MB87 release of the MB796 Hazard Squad. That first year we got the police and the fire depicted in Matchbox miniature, but since then only more police units. No more fire units.
I am just saying. the Fire Department uses this same vehicle too. Sure there is no bull bar on the front, but surely that is not a deal breaker.
And on that note it brings me to the end of another batch of new models. The first half of 2022 batch A in this case. So now, as I do, I am going to attempt a dive back. So I have been thinking. A while ago I did a change to things. I used to do various models mixed in with the newbies, but then came up with a new plan, where I would simply do a model vaguely from the Lesney, Universal, Tyco and Mattel eras at the end. Each of these models would somehow get linked with one from the newbie showcase. Well the thing is. I was looking at these and it was quite tough to do dive backs on models that were tied in without doing silly things like colours or something. So I have tweaked my dive back. As we are firmly in the 2020s now, the 2010s as a decade can sort of be classed as a dive back. So I have decided that from hereon I will actually be doing a decade dive back. Which also means I am upping to 5 models in the dive back from 4. Plus, if it gets round to it, I will include 1969 as a part of the 1970s. But these dive backs will literally have no relation to the models I just showcased. So if anybody has any model in particular they would like for me to attempt, feel free to leave a comment at the end. If I am able to do it, I will do it.
For added fun this week. I was still getting over the 22 thing from the other week. So each of this week’s 5 castings I am looking at debuted in a year that ends in a 2. Which means we are starting in 1972 with a classic Lesney. The MB41-B Siva Spyder. Siva Engineering was a company set up by Michael Saunders in the UK and in 1969 he teamed up with Neville Trickett and Nick Jenke from Neville Trickett Design Ltd to create an Edwardian looking vehicle made out of fibreglass. It was called the Edwardian and they set up Siva Motor Cars Co Ltd to sell it. One of their highest profile sales was to the team behind the TV series Dr Who, who bought a yellow one they called Bessie, and Jon Pertwee (as the 3rd Dr) often was seen driving around in it. Later Doctors occasionally used it too. They digressed from The Edwardian with a few other vehicles too. At a 1971 show they unveiled the S160 Spyder. A slightly futuristic looking vehicle that hod pop up headlights and gullwing doors. In total 12 S160 Spyders were made over the next few years, but it caught the attention of Lesney, who were busy trying to bring in a number of futuristic looking vehicles to the range. In 1972 the Siva Spyder debuted, replacing the Ford G.T.
The model ran until 1977 in the basic range (although in Japan it eked out one more year, renumbered as J-16 for 1978). The first 3 years were in metallic red. This colour can find some shading to it, but beware. I purchased this curio for a few UK£ purely as a showcase of how models can be affected. This is a metallic red, but either the sun or heat has affected the paintwork so much that is has almost turned brown. But it was originally red. Corners, nooks, crevices, they still show the original red paintwork. Things like this do make my hunt for shades all the more difficult as often I need to inspect a vehicle all over to see whether it looks like it has been sun faded or whether it is indeed a different shade.
Early production runs in 1972 saw the strap going over the top chromed, but they did not keep that going, and later in the year it was dropped. The rest were simply black. However, there is a rare crossover (which I am still looking for). When first created the strap lines simply sported 2 lines in the middle of the top section, but shortly after the change to black, they added a row of faint lines either side of the middle ones too. It is proving very tough to find that one I can tell you.
But with 3 years of production, you will actually properly find shades. Both to the body and to the interior. A pale creamy yellow is most common, although ivory ones exist too. There is listed a white interior variation too, but I am yet to see one.
Of course wheels also vary. 5-spokes tend to be a little more common than 4-spokes, but the 4-spoke variant is not exactly rare. Just less common.
Due to the styling of this vehicle being fairly flat over the top, and providing a lot of surface area to print on, when Lesney got their first 2-colour tampo machine, they looked at which models could be rolled under and printed on (they weren’t doing sides, backs, fronts in the early days, just top). The Siva was a perfect candidate and so received one of the first tampo prints on a new blue look. This debuted in 1975 as part of their “Streakers” range, where it stayed for those last 3 years (or 4 in Japan).
Wheels this time tended to flip between the 2 different styles of 5-spokes. One style has a wide slot style look, the other more of a square.
And of course shades do continue. Again ivory and white are both listed variations beyond the standard creamy yellow, but in this case I haven’t seen either.
In USA in 1978, Lesney released a set of limited edition models. Dubbed the Roman Numeral series, due to the fact that each model had a new base with a tab over their original name denoting a new name and a Roman Numeral placing out of the 10 (or should I say X). No VIII in the set was the Black Widow.
Which was the Siva in a light blue and a large spider print over the front. It should sport a black window too, but as I mentioned, production of the standard blue was still ongoing for the Japanese market, and clear windows were found on this one too. We never saw a black window on the regular blue issue though.
Which makes for a nice trio of what could be found in 1978 in a few parts of the world.
So that was it for the model. After 1978 it was dropped. However, in 1985 it did return as a Super GT model in a cost reduced capacity for a few years.
As I said, this week I am looking at models that debuted in a year ending in a “2”. That’s not going to be a recurring theme. It was just a fun way to start my “new” new approach to dive backs. Which means I am on to 1982. This was when the MB69-D (or MB108) ’33 Willys Street Rod arrived. A brand new casting from the Lesney era, but when it arrived it was only sold in the US market as an exclusive (although in the mid 1980s the UK did see some marketed in window boxes as American Editions).
Production was in England for the debut year and the model was sold in white with flames on the side. Of course England, the flames were never going to be consistent. A darker red or lighter orangey red look can be found to them.
Plus they couldn’t decide whether the base needed painting silver or not. Always fun.
In 1983 production moved to Hong Kong. Universal had taken over the company and most US exclusives were shipped to Hong Kong (if they weren’t already there) and a new blue look was given to the model.
However, this is where things get fun when it comes to the base. Because the model was going to be using a lot more information (the 2 words “Lesney England” replaced by the much longer “Matchbox Toys Ltd Made In Hong Kong”), they needed to wipe off the ’33 Willys Street Rod line to move it up to accommodate the extra information. So they wiped it all off and re-wrote it. Except they made a small mistake. The put down Willys STREEY Rod with a “Y” instead of a “T”.
Most models sported a dot-dash rear wheel, but some were found with a rare 5-spoke rear wheel instead.
But then Universal discovered they didn’t own the factory in Hong Kong, shut down production and moved everything over to their “owned” Macau factory. This was later in the year, and the model continued as it was, although Macau made issues are notably darker in shade of blue.
When they moved it to Macau and they took the base to re-word things again, they noticed the error. So they placed a tab over the entire section and re-wrote it all, correcting the word STREEY back to STREET.
That was simple enough. In 1983. 1985 rolled round and a decision was made to cost reduce from a metal to plastic base. So instead of a silver painted metal base, Macau was now going to use a black plastic one.
They decided that this was a good time to rejig the base a bit. Their production was using a large tab going over half of it, but they still had the original Hong Kong base sitting there that had been wiped and re-worded. Why did they put a tab over half the base. Who could remember? It was 2 years ago. So they just wiped off Hong Kong from this base and put Macau in its place. Err. It was done that way because of the STREEY! Nobody noticed. Ever again!
We were back at STREEY. But hey, no tab.
In 1986 production then moved to China, where it remained until 1992. They never noticed it said STREEY. They just wiped off Macau and replaced it with China.
During China production there was not actually whole lot that happened. The red flames on the side can vary a little shade, turning a little more orange on some, but in 1991 there was a black release. This was a promotional issue for Kellogg’s in USA. It dispensed with the top tampo printing, but carried on with the regular flames down the sides, although the white part turned yellow.
Then finally, after sporting the same look throughout the entire Universal era, purely for the US market, when Tyco took over for 1993 they gave it a refresh. Still US only, as the ROW range never saw this casting, it was now white with a pink/yellow/blue side design. But why 2?
Well this look ran through 1995 and after a while they got bored with putting Pro Street on the back so knocked it off.
1996 was the last year for the US MB69 exclusive. They decided it should go out with a bang by giving it another new look for the year. Black with a pink-white squiggle down the sides.
But that wasn’t it. They also decided to add it to a 5-pack too. Appropriately titled Hot Rods, this saw a dark turquoise model also with pink and white down the sides, but in a different design. However, this being a more worldwide release did mean some markets saw the casting for the very first time.
So the model was no longer in the US range. Time to add it to the Australian range instead. Yes that’s right, after a 15 year as a US exclusive, it saw a 1 year run as an Australian exclusive MB60 in 1997 in purple with a Bad to the Bone livery.
And another 5-pack issue arrived too. This one was in the American Street Machines 5-pack and was sea blue with another pink and white side design. After flames, it appeared that Matchbox were using variations of pink and white as a go-to side design for this casting.
That was just about it for the model. It saw 1 final release in 1998 as a part of the Star Cars series, depicting Grease. It was mocked up looking a lot like the vehicle that Danny Zuko was fixing up in the film.
And a final check. Look at the base. Yes, still says STREEY. It never got fixed.
So where to next? Ah 1992. and a casting that was a little bit slow at getting out. It was copyrighted in 1990, and usually a model appears either on the year of copyright, or more often the following. So why the delay? Well this was supposed to have been a Dodge Viper RT/10. The MB227 slot was assigned to it in 1990 and a prototype was prepared. But just like what happened above with the Dodge Stealth, when it was sent to the Chrysler Group for approval they rejected it. So the casting was modified and turned into a Matchbox originals design. They called it Sunburner and finally released it in 1992 after making sure that it was far enough away from the attempted Viper casting to not cause any issue.
This is why if you were to look at the base of the model, right from the word go, you can see the outline of where it was blanked out and re-done. As a Dodge the prototypes were made in Thailand, but when production began of the now generic casting, the name and country of origin were altered. It was sold for 2 years as either MB15 for the US range or MB41 for the ROW range.
The first year was a fluorescent yellow with a flame pattern going over the top. Because you know, Sunburner. Believe it nor not, both of these 2 are slightly different. The yellow paint is slightly different, as well as the sun on the front. It doesn’t come out too well in picture.
What does come out though is the Sam’s Club special. In 1992 they sold a large 30-pack through the Walmart member’s club warehouse. Half of the models in the set sported alternate colours to their regular range counterparts, and this was in white instead of yellow.
While Matchbox were busy re-doing a Dodge Viper RT/10 casting, we had another year of Sunburner. In 1993 it turned blue with dual white stripes. This proved to be it though, as after this release we never saw this casting again.
Because the Chrysler Group had now signed off on the Viper (now as MB260) to debut in the 1994 range. I have no idea if they requested as part of the sign-off that Matchbox stop using the Sunburner casting, or if Matchbox thought why bother with it as it was too similar.
And as we know, that casting is still going. This was the 2020 Retro release, which funnily enough was also blue with dual white stripes.
Ooh! 2002 is next on the board, and what could be classed as the poster child for the 2002 Matchbox range. Or to be more specific the US long card Matchbox range. ROW markets were still mainly using window boxes that year, so the long cars artwork featured this model on all the basic range issues. The MB563 Water Pumper. With the series being 75 that year, this model took the last spot in the range. MB75. It was red with a large helmet design and Eng. 922 printed on a hose on the side.
And this was a logo year. So the first 10,000 examples released had a 50 logo on the side.
Now being the poster child for 2002, and with 2003 leading into Hero City with lots of fire related items, it was pretty obvious this was also chosen to be the Toy Fair model that year advertising the 2003 range.
And when fully detailed like this, I have to say it wasn’t an awful casting. It had some good detailing to it.
In 2003 it moved to the MB62 slot in the range, and again a red release, this time with Hero City included as part of the design. And again with it being a logo year, a Hero City logo was placed on the side (in almost the same spot as 2002) of the first 10,000 made.
2003 was a little busier though. A Rescue heroes licensed 5-pack was issued with Billy Blazes on the side.
We also saw 2 promotional issues. The first though, well this is slightly unusual. It was for Burger King in USA. It was a toy given away as part of their Kid’s meals. As such, there are certain rules surrounding these castings. So this was slightly recast to make it safe for inclusion in these meals. Although honestly, most castings I see what was done to make them food safe, but this one, it looked basically the same to me.
Apart from the obvious, when you flip it over. Could it be that the hole for the rivet was too deep, so a change was required so you couldn’t pour all your ketchup down there? I don’t know. But a change of some sort was needed for this promotion to be allowed.
As part of the promotion the model came in a baggie with a pack of stickers, and a guide to where you should be applying them. Of course these were mainly aimed at children, so stickers could have been applied anywhere. I did my best though to ensure mine were put in the right spots.
The other promotional was from the time of the “we are getting a ton of AA batteries” era. Although in this case I didn’t get as many as I could have done. You see the promotion started in 2003 in USA, with these models (there were 4 in total) added as an on-pack freebie with packs of AA batteries. But Canada wanted in no the action too. By the time they set them up for Canada too, 2003 had passed and we were now in 2004. The daft thing is, they put a date on them. You can see it states 2003 on the roof. I got the full set of USA 2003s. But for the Canadian release, the MB528 Police Car also changed Sheriff to say Police (Canada doesn’t have Sheriff cars so it was altered to be more logical), but the other 3 were simply the same except the 2003 was altered to say 2004 on the roof. My collection of AA batteries at the time were piling up so high, I decided to get the Police Car and leave the rest. I don’t know why. Now I can’t find them. I should have just got them at the time. I am sure I would have still got a use out of the batteries before their use by date.
Also at the end of 2003 saw a special unique 20-pack that Mattel sold directly through their own channels. These turned up just before Christmas leading some market them as 2004s, but each of the 20 models was linked to a 2003 model. For 10 of them, it was simply a case of changing the wheels to gold. Another 7 saw the colour of the model change too, with the final 3 being unique designs exclusive to the pack. This was obviously one of the 7, as the red turned to metallic dark red.
Strangely enough, after being so significant for the 2002 and 2003 model years, the casting was not used in 2004 at all. It popped up in an early 2005 Fire 5-pack. the new team had taken over the Matchbox brand moving everything in-house at El Segundo, and shutting down the Mt Laurel offices, but this was mid way through 2004. They set a plan in motion to return to the realism the brand was known for, and many Hero City type vehicles were culled. Ultra Heroes, looking at you. But some, they did what they could temporarily as they tried to replace them with more realistic castings. the Water Pumper was scheduled to be in an early 2005 5-pack, but although it was too late to really change things, they did tweak the design a little to make it a little less child-like. Give it a bit more of a realistic end look. Luckily being one of their own castings, not a licensed one, it was much easier to do.
However, they were busy working on things in order. Basic range, 5-packs, working down a list. So as this was due to be in a Fire Truck Launcher set that was debuting at the same time, in early 2005, they hadn’t really go that far down the list in tweaking designs. So this did have a bit more of a child-like vibe to it. But Launchers were not actually too child-like in the first place. Some of the designs for them were actually pretty decent.
We saw the casting one more time after that. It was 2006 and again used in the Fire 5-pack. This featured one of the most realistic looks on this casting, which actually helped to highlight again how it was not too bad of a casting. It also saw 1 more thing that no other release of this casting ever saw.
A blue window. In something that is quite unusual, every single release of the casting saw a yellow window. Even the Burger King one (not shown as I was running out of space) had a solid yellow window. But every release of MB563 except that last one had yellow for the window piece. This blue window one was quite unique.
Which brings me on to the last model I am diving back through. As I said, all the 2s. So 2012. And a BMW that people tend to forget. The BMW R1200 R-TP Police Motorcycle. It was originally assigned the MB841 slot in the MAN list, and debuted as MB84 in the 2012 basic range.
In 2013 it moved to the MB114 slot in the range, and was given 2 releases. the first release was grey in a Police blue/yellow check design.
And then later on it was changed to olive with a Military Police theme. It was also found in either a light or dark olive. However, during production of this model the casting broke. They fixed it and it came back a little later on but they knew there was a more serious issue that needed rectifying.
Although a 60th Anniversary special was already finished production before they had to fix it.
So when we saw the 2014 basic range release, this model was now the MB935 casting, and the most noticeable differences were the way the wheels were being held in place. It was MB73 in the basic range that year in white with an orange and black Police design.
And in 2015, by pure chance in this case, it was still MB73. Plus it had what could be its best look. A California Highway Patrol livery. I tell you, when I saw this I had real CHiPs vibes. The TV series that ran from 1977 through 1983 was a bit of a favourite of mine growing up and I knew that Ponch and Baker worked for the CHP. and they mainly rode bikes. So although the look was not the same and the vehicle in question was not the same, I still got that childhood memory of sitting in front of the TV wishing I was in California where these guys were.
in 2016 it saw a blue State Trooper look as MB83.
And a final basic range release in 2017 gave us a Notarzt look, with this German themed bike (something that has been revisited with a BMW X5).
After it was dropped from the basic range, we have seen one more outing. In 2018 it was in the Texas Rangers 5-pack in, well a Texas themed livery.
It’s second real livery from the US. What, bringing back the CHiPs one for another photo? It hasn’t been seen since then, and I have to say, since Jurassic World debuted 2 bike castings in 2018 (Triumph Scrambler) and 2019 (Cagiva Canyon) and we saw a 2018 new Yamaha Bolt casting, bikes appear to have fallen out of favour with Matchbox again. They do tend to come and go.
So this brings me to the end of another report. I hope you enjoyed my small tweak to the format. As I stated, if there are any models from Superfast onwards in the miniature range that you would like to see me have fun with in a dive back, feel free to leave a message. I will then start to dig things out of the collection for future reports. In the meantime, I have something else to do before I tackle the other half of this batch in a few weeks. So until next week with more new stuff, I hope everybody has a safe and enjoyable week.