Matchbox Monday takes a convoy trip to the latest creation

Yes, this week there is not a lot in the way of new items for the first part of this report. But this is me we are talking about, and somehow I have managed to find a way to make it longer than normal. You might as well go get a cup of coffee, tea, hard liquor. Whatever will keep you awake for the next, well however long it takes to get through it. You see the first part of this is me talking about the first Convoy batch of 2022. It actually arrived in late 2021, but it has taken me a while to get the 2 sets that were worthwhile getting. I mention 2 sets, as me being in the UK, and these not being sold here, we had 5 sets arrive in this batch.

The first of these sets was worthwhile grabbing again. Number 1 of 8 looks rather familiar at first, as you are initially drawn to the red Skyjacker design on the box trailer.

And yes, well, technically speaking this is a repeat of the 2020 Convoy issue, which was also number 1 of 8. But there has been an update.

Not with the main part. The MB1026 LoneStar Semi Cab is carried forward from the initial 2020 release, and the MBX Box Trailer on the back is the same as it was then too.

But these do come with an additional model, and the MB720 ’72 Ford Bronco 4×4 does look a little different to how it did in 2020. So let’s go in for a closer look to everything.

So I dig out the 2020 release, and line up the 2 LonsStars side by side. Well yes, they are the same.

Although this is me, and I always check these things out. The new production run appears to be in a darker shade of red than it was 2 years ago. It is not massive. But for me, enough for me to add the second one to my collection.

There appears to be just over a year and a half production gap between them, as the older one was dated M47, newer P27.

Funnily enough, the trailer went the other way. the new one appears to be a lighter shade to the one that was made in 2020.

Easy to tell, because you know, date codes.

Now for the Bronco. This was not how it was done in 2020. When we last saw the set appear, the Bronco was in a carry forward design.

It looked like this. However, it was sporting a small difference from its original release.

Or should I say releases. It debuted originally as MB112 in the 2018 basic range, but then carried forward to a Ford Truck Set at Walmart in 2019 in the same design. But when it saw a second carry forward the brown wheel hubs had turned to gold. It was always strange how they kept carrying that one forward.

But never carried the original one forward. That was MB103 in the 2015 basic range, but was actually the same model that had appeared in a plexicase at SEMA 2014. Although that in itself could be classified as a carry forward in a way. And of course, the model was also included in a Turbo Canoe playset later in the year too, so maybe they felt it had enough uses in the space of a year. So is this actually a new model? Not technically, but is an offshoot of one.

Because at SEMA 2021 Skyjacker were there again with a short run exclusive Bronco which this time was more detailed than when they did the 2014 one.

The Convoy release is a cost reduced tampo design of the SEMA show model. Obviously the hood tampo is not included, and the front grille is a simply grey affair. The SEMA one was actually painted on the plastic (I don’t know if it was a similar grey under, I am not chipping it to find out).

But the painted base does give it a very shiny look compared to the Convoy issue.

You can also see from the side, the wheels were a different type for the SEMA model. Cog wheels instead of the dual ring 8-dot the Convoy got. Plus the detailing for SEMA was done with fusion graphics, not tampo printing. So it has a different effect. Fusion graphics are good for covering in dips and gaps in things much better than a tampo does. You notice it best on the front door hinges, where the tampo on the top one has some gaps, particularly running down the door frame casting line. The fusion graphics, smooth straight through. Why don’t they use fusion graphics more often? Money, obviously. It created a better finish, but is more costly. So only tends to see use on higher end models.

But did you also notice that they just touched up the wing mirror ends on that too. The Convoy issue has plain wing mirror ends.

And I don’t know if you caught it, but the Bronco for SEMA in the plexicase was made quite a while before the Convoy one was. N47 was the base date, compared to P27, so the shade of brown is also quite a bit out too. Sadly Skyjacker were unable to showcase the real version at SEMA due to supply chain issues, and simply had the model. Graham Heeps gave us a lovely little review of the event on the blog which you can read here. He was also extremely helpful in getting me the SEMA model too, as that is proving to be quite a toughie. But I am so thankful to Graham for helping me out with this one.

The other Convoy worth pointing out was the number 6 of 8 issue. This is different.

We are getting an MB1202 ’20 Western Star 4900 Cab towing the Tanker Trailer, all in red with a Sriracha livery all over them. In addition we get the MB1041 ’62 Nissan Junior in matching livery.

Of course the Western Star and Tanker Trailer combo is all new. This is the first time we have seen them. In fact, this is the first time we have seen the Western Star.

As we know, there is a gap in the 2020 basic range. This was due to launch as MB4 that year, but hit a snag, followed by a hiccup, then a delay. This, along with a Mazda 3, were in a tight race to see if they could make it. Mattel give them a year. If we hit a hurdle with a model, for whatever reason, sometimes they have to nudged back a batch, 2 batches, maybe even more. Most of the time you are not going to notice it. A model scheduled for batch A turns up eventually in batch F, it was almost a year late, but we didn’t notice as it still made the model year, and was given it’s number. However, a model scheduled for batch F gets a delay, it will immediately be nudged to the following model year. But Mattel will knock off the model number so as not to confuse people by seeing 2 models with the same number in what appears to be the same year’s package. But for a model to make it, they have to cut off at the end of the following year or else things start to get too confusing. So the Mazda just made it. Sadly, the Western Star fractionally missed the deadline, and MB4 for 2020 never got issued. Having it appear in a 2022 assortment is just too far. Nudging it to the following year is one thing, but if you have no cut offs, we could be about to get a missing 2019 model. Maybe a missing 2012. Exactly. There has to be limits. They have to stick to those limits. So when the Western Start just missed the deadline for basic range inclusion, that slot was written off. But it still managed the deadline for Convoy inclusion. So this is the debut.

I can see how this was to have worked as a basic range issue. The window component is part of the rear section and exhausts. The base comes up at the front to create the grille and we achieve a triple axle. So yes, this does fit the standard piece count for a basic range.

It looks decent enough to me. Very realistic, and a great fit to the Convoy range, and as a miniature. A decent size too. I like the Sriracha returning theme, although due to the window being a part of the exhaust system, they couldn’t make it green. But the rest is classic Sriracha, and I see it has D. Tran on the doors. Could this be a certain Debbie Tran who works at Mattel?

So yes, we missed out on getting a 2020 MB4, but at least we didn’t miss out on the casting altogether. It was still working its way through the system and now it is with us I hope we see plenty more of them. I love the big “W” on the rear mud flaps.

And well, it is a new casting, so as per usual, I do a little base shot of the model. And yes, it was copyrighted back in 2019 as this was originally scheduled to be released in 2020, and most models get copyrighted the year before release. I say most, as a couple might just sneak in before the end of the year, if they were copyrighted really early in the year, and some like this, well they get a small delay. It is not a Mattel thing. Does anybody remember a certain Jaguar XJ6 that was copyrighted in 1984 by Universal, scheduled to be released late in the year. Then Jaguar delayed the launch of the real one. Universal held on to the model and eventually got it going in 1986. But they had to re-copyright it as the original copyright had lapsed. So they had to re-engrave the base later on with the new copyright year. Legal stuff has been going on a long time. We don’t see all the internal workings for these models. We just see the end results. Some could be straight forward, some could be causing the teams to pull out their hair. But we don’t see all that. So if you wonder why they didn’t release it in 2020? They will just say legal stuff and leave it at that.

So this joins another new Convoy cab casting that appeared this year too. This one though, the MB1285 ’65 Ford C-900, did arrive as a basic, but I am sure we will be seeing a cool Convoy release later on. I can’t wait.

So the Nissan. First issued as MB89 in the 2019 basic range, it makes a reappearance here to match up with the main model. Great match-up here. I love the matching livery, and just as with the last tanker model casting, matching up with an already existing miniature is a cool way to go, as these are being priced at a price point that is different to other price points. Too many items being sold at one price point, and store owners start picking and choosing. Price things differently, and they take more. Clever marketing. Why do you think Hitch & Haul has accessories? Take the price point away from matching the Moving Parts models.

Is it different to how it looked when it was in the 2019 range?

Well it was exactly 2 years previously my last model was made. M27 vs P27. So the same week of the year.

Well the new run appears to be a more orangey or lighter shade of red to how it was. It is not massive, but it is visible.

The green interior section matches, which I wasn’t too sure if we might have seen a shade to that. But in this case it was just a small shade to the red body.

I do like these recurring themes. This Sriracha one is now on its fourth incarnation. First debuting on the side of the MB999 Food Truck in the 2019 basic range as MB87, shortly before the Nissan was issued too.

We then saw the theme return in 2021 with the release of the MB1188 Subaru Sambar in the Walmart Trucks series. Little and large or what?

I was curious. No the Sambar doesn’t fit on the back of the Western Star. The back wheel (or front wheel, I tried it backwards too) was just too far and it would roll off again. The things that pop in my head to try eh?

This means we now have 4 releases with the Sriracha theme. I am sure the new Chow Mobile II will see the design at some point. But I wonder what else they could put it on? I love recurring themes.

So there were 4 other Convoy releases in this batch. A release of 6 sets out of 8. However, all the other 4 contained only items that had been seen before. The full release is (the 2 that I showed highlighted in red)….

1/8 MB1026 International LoneStar – red/Box Trailer – red (convoy repeat of 2020 1/8)
(NOW comes with MB720 ’72 Ford Bronco 4×4 – brown (cost reduced variation of 2021 SEMA promotional model, with a few differences))

2/8 MB1110 Tesla Semi – black/Box Trailer – silver (convoy repeat of 2020 2/8)
(NOW comes with MB1230 Tesla Roadster – red (repeat of 2021 1-100 issue))
4/8 MB977 ’13 Ford Cargo – blue/Logger Bed Trailer – brown/blue (all repeat of 2020 4/8)
(comes with MB916 Dirt Smasher (repeat of 2014 1-120 issue))
6/8 MB1202 ’20 Western Star 4900 – red/Tanker Trailer – red
(comes with MB1041 ’62 Nissan Junior – red (repeat of 2019 1-100 issue))

7/8 MB1150 MBX Cabover – orange/MBX Auto Transport – grey/orange (convoy repeat of 2020 7/8)
(NOW comes with MB1812 ’68 Ford Mustang GT/CS – green (repeat of 2020 5-pack issue))
8/8 MB1150 MBX Cabover – orange/ Box Trailer – orange (all repeat of 2020 6/8)
(comes with MB988 Power Lift- orange (exclusive))

In short, numbers 1 and 6 were the 2 that I showed. Both had something not seen before. Numbers 2 and 7 have switched the accompanying cars to others that are also ones we have seen, and numbers 4 and 8 were simply the 2020 sets re-produced unchanged. I felt that it wasn’t worth paying a lot to try and get the other 4 sets shipped over to maybe find a small shade somewhere along the way. I know these 2 have found a shade to both the re-issued parts. So the possibility is I could find another shade. But I am happy to just get the 2 known new pieces, and not worry too much as to whether I am missing a small shade. Of course some like packaging, and in this case, all 6 are in a different package to how they were in 2020.

So this bring me to the other half of the “new” section. A certain MB1268 ’72 Custom VW Beetle Dragster. You might have already seen this on the blog. Graham Heeps did a lovely little piece on it a few weeks back. If you haven’t, go read it here. But of course I wanted to show it off too. This is a great piece of Matchbox history being paid homage to by the Matchbox team, so why not give it a few turns in the spotlight. It warrants it. I am sure Graham agrees with me. This is how the Matchbox Mattel Creations items come. Matchbox is the orange brand, as Mattel call it internally. I have no idea what any other Mattel Creations items come. Never seen a non-Matchbox branded one.

As per usual the box has a little blurb on the back of it.

But obviously I am all about the model. A box is a box. It stores whatever is inside until it reaches its owner, who then opens said box and removes the contents. And inside is another box. As we know, these are the plexicases that surround each model, with a lovely velvety liner around them.

And due to the way this model flips open, they decided it was safer to tie the body down on this one. Oh I definitely need to de-tangle this one.

Again, more blurb on the back of the velvety liner. Well actually it’s the same blurb, just with more information about casting history too.

I love the moving picture look to the back of the liner. Once slipped off the plexicase, it is just a blur of motion. Honestly, my hand was steady as I was taking the picture. I know some of my shots have gone a little out of focus. But not this one. Honestly!

Which leaves us with a rather plain looking case. The “floor” to it is quite plain this time. Others have seen patterns, designs and all sorts.

Although you do notice there are edge strips to the “floor” here. And if I was to remove the model (where is my screwdriver….)

It is like a tarmac surface look. Slightly mottled. Not actually plain. You probably cannot see it very well but there is an arrow in the middle pointing away from the camera. I guess that was there to help factory workers put the model in the right way round. One screw point is fractionally higher than the other due to the larger rear wheels on the model and slight downward slant towards the front.

So the model. Ah yes, still tied down. I should have simply grabbed a pair of scissors. I spent about 5 minutes de-tangling it.

Wait a sec. I just spent 5 minutes and there was a second piece? Not fair.

7 minutes later and the model is good to go. Seriously, I should have just gone and grabbed my scissors. They were in another room. You know when you get started and think it will only take a second, and then it just frustrates you. I kept winding it the wrong way around wheels and getting it more tangled. But I never give up. It was going to be free one way or another.

And now it is free, finally. It gets a chance to open up, revealing the funny car look. Why was it called a funny car? It was believed that Fran Hernandez, who was head of Mercury Car’s racing programme in 1964 saw the first of these types of vehicles and said that looks funny. We need to beat those funny cars. And it just stuck.

Now I am quite surprised with how this has been constructed. It contains a metal body, but that interior section is also metal. This is quite a heavy build.

It does sport a plastic base though. Those front wheels are really thin aren’t they. True funny car style. I think this is a pretty impressive little model.

Now I am not sure why the parachute box at the rear is a plastic piece. Maybe modern construction methods have meant that due to safety reasons, they have to build it this way. I don’t know. I know on original castings they were just a part of the body. Maybe this is actually a quicker construction method. I really don’t know.

I don’t think it rally detracts from the model at all. In fact I think it might help to highlight the parachute box at the end. Something I never really gave much thought about on the original casting. But I admit, this is an impressive little casting.

So I wonder how this stacks up against the original. So to do that, I needed an original.

So here is one I bought specifically for this review. That is a minty fresh blister pack isn’t it. Late 1970s era, USA issue I believe. I don’t know for sure. I don’t pay too much attention to them as this doesn’t need 7 minutes to open….

These are pretty simple to take apart.

Yes, 7 seconds! Much better. So I am having a field day cracking open all of these VW Beetle funny cars. One modern, one classic, freed within minutes of each other. So let’s see how much is different.

I am extremely impressed with the overall design ethos for the new one. Pay homage to the original but don’t try and be an exact duplicate. The front end is the most significant difference. Where the original casting had 2 flared edges to the front of the model, the new one is perfectly round. But they have kept the model to the same basic size. Plus, I love that they took the look of the original label and used it to full effect on the model. Draggin’ Wheels, rather than Dragon Wheels. The same style of font, and background effect, although this time extended to the roof too. I wonder if the No.2 moniker is because this is the second casting like this?

As I mentioned, the parachute box at the back was a part of the body originally. Constructing it as a separate piece does make it stand out more. I do think the rear wheel arches flare out more significantly on the new model too.

Both have a similar hook to open them, and the interior sections are both extremely similar. Obviously you notice the metal one doesn’t sport the hole at the top like the plastic one did.

As seen better in this picture. However, one thing I do notice on the new one is the very front end of the interior section is angled. Not straight. I have no idea why it has a cheese wedge front. But you can pull apart all sorts of minor differences between a model from almost half a century ago and another from now.

48 years difference between copyrights. That is a long time and in those many decades a lot has changed in the construction industry. Even down to just constructing toy cars.

So yeah, considering all the changes I think they have done a great job with paying homage to a Lesney classic.

And as I said, I actually prefer the parachute box like this.

So I bet you were wondering why I bought a brand new “classic Lesney” to do a side by side piece with. I am going to pass on a little story. I have been sitting on that for months. I actually got it in February, shortly after ordering the new Mattel Creations model. Not because of the Mattel Creations model, but because I saw it as a variation to my existing Dragon Wheels models. Do you know the pain it has been for somebody like me to have this model for nearly 3 months before ripping it apart? I had to bury it in a storage chest, under a bunch of other items and try to take my mind off of it. It was torture! All for a couple of photos. Was it worth it? I don’t know. I have lost a lot of hair. My health has been suffering. I wake up screaming in the night. What do you mean “overly dramatic”? But for somebody like me, this has been tough. I have been wanting to open it so much. So finally, I can relax, and check out the rest of the batch. Well, this is time for a dive back.

So, as many know, this casting was first introduced by Lesney in 1972 as MB43-B. They simply called it Dragon Wheels. No mention of VW or anything. That was common in those days. You just knew what they were. It ran for 6 years in plain green with a simple Dragon Wheels label on the side of the model. But of course that isn’t the end of that. Time to dive closer.

You see, this was Lesney. Green is, well green. That gives quite a wide scope of possibilities. Some can be very bright. Some can be quite a bit darker in shade.

And of course these were labels. Lesney were good at running out of labels and just letting the production line roll through while they went off in search of a new label sheet. So yes, you can find models without them. Although one thing I have never heard of with this model is using an alternate label. Quite often they would use substitute labels when originals ran out. Not this time. Dragon Wheels or no Dragon Wheels. That was your options.

Now aside from the shade of green changing as time went on, you might find shades of amber to the window, and of course there is a rare unpainted base variant too, as well as black being glossy, flat, charcoal looking, more of a dark grey etc. That is something I will likely not bother trying to get. I only see the base on this by flipping so am ignoring it. But should attempt a window variation. But what I do have is early vs late. In 1976 Lesney were launching new wheels. Dot-dash, 5-arch and 5-crown all came about around this time, replacing the older 4-spoke, 5-spoke and maltese cross. As such in 1976 Dragon Wheels transitioned to all dot-dash wheels from their original 5-spoke front/maltese cross rear style. The new larger dot-dash were a larger diameter to the maltese cross, giving the model a slightly larger lift at the rear. Which is where the new one comes in.

I only had one of the later dot-dash wheel variants, and when I saw that I thought hmm! That looks dark. Sure enough, that is a lot darker. Was it worth a 3 month wait to find out? Probably not. At least my hair has stopped falling out now.

Now after the model was dropped, it did pop up briefly in Japan. In 1979 they re-added it to the Japanese range in the same number 43 slot. It ran for 1 year but there was no known new variant to it, apart from the package obviously. But then, when the brand was split in 2 for 1981, the US market saw quite a few older castings resurface, most of which having been sent over to Hong Kong for production as Lesney were trying to save some money. One of them was this casting, which had the Dragon Wheels name scrubbed off the base, and it was renamed Hot Chocolate. It was added as MB46-D. It was black, with brown tampo over the front and sides, and a white stripe over the roof. It ran for 2 years in this guise, and the only known variant to it was the brown seeing lighter or darker shades. Although if you are lucky, you might find one without the white stripes on the roof. Not sure if it is a legitimate variation or just error.

As Universal took over, they kept the model going, but came up with a new design for it. They even came up with a new name. Beetle Streaker. Again the base was wiped and new name added. It was metallic blue with a Big Blue/39/stripes design, where it ran another 2 years. When Japan extended their range in 1984, they also added this for the one year as well in the number 53 slot alongside the US MB46 slot. It had been given the MAN number MB085 in 1982 after the fuss of the 1981 split. Production began in Hong Kong, but as the year went on, Universal realized they didn’t own the Hong Kong factory, so they closed down production and moved everything to their Macau factory. I have to admit, I still only own the 1. Shades exist on Hong Kong, yet I still don’t have a Hong Kong issue at all. Mine is Macau.

The model was sort of retired after that, but in 1997, as part of the premium items that Matchbox were doing, they came up with a set of 6 retro models for the series 13. One of them was this casting. Still saying Beetle Streaker on the base, but dressed up like the original Dragon Wheels, sporting tampo printed side designs and additional tampo detailing as well.

Which did include the highlighting of the parachute box at the rear.

And as was common at the time, but not really done nowadays, the interior also saw tampo detailing. A red seat, and a few other little highlights on the engine too. After this, the model was retired for good. And now we get the homage to it. Fantastic!

So a great homage, and a classic iconic look for this latest Mattel Creations model. They have been making some fantastic models in this series, and I cannot wait to get the next one.

And with that, I believe my “new” section is done for this week. So time for a little dive back again. And as this got me in a VW mood, I am starting with one.

The MB23-A VW Camper. Oh I loved this as a kid. Still love it now. Does that make me a big kid?

So this model debuted in the 1970 basic range in blue. It sported 5-spoke wheels, an orange interior, as well as a further orange plastic lift up roof section. Of course many children found a way of snapping those flip up roof sections off. I did on my childhood toy. I have seen many for sale/auction without them too, so I know I was not the only one. Now Lesney made a small error when they first launched it. They saw some pictures of German ones, and being based in the UK at the time, decided to flip things around. Make it a RHD drive model, like the English do. It even had a UK numberplate on the back of the model. The only thing is, they flipped the fuel tank to the other side too. Then, as production started, they discovered that fuel tanks for RHD models weren’t flipped. They were still on the same side. So they did what they do best. Wiped it off, and started whistling with their hands behind their backs saying what fuel tank?

So after the initial batch, all future production runs saw the model with no fuel tank at all. Just plain sides. This was literally still fairly early in 1970, and fuel tank cast examples are really hard to come across.

Of course this was Lesney, and light blue is not exactly specific. Therefore it can be found with quite the variety of shade variations.

In 1971, seeing this fairly large empty space (where a fuel tank used to be), they decided to spruce it up with a sailboat label. Now the labels are what is known as sided, which means that they either face towards the front or rear of the vehicle. That is because, depending on which label you applied first, they could appear either way. The usual stance is facing to the front, but you might find one facing back.

I didn’t find one in blue, but I did in orange. In 1972 they switched up from a blue with orange interior into orange with white interior. However, variations actually exist both ways. Orange has been found with an orange interior, and blue with white interior. Again both are very rare, and so far I have been unable to source either. Labels continued on for the orange model, but Lesney being Lesney often forgot to add them (or they slapped them on other models).

And of course shades ran rampant again. Orange has a wide variety of shades, and Lesney tried to use them all.

It ran for 3 years in orange after 2 in blue, although is it me, or do blues seem to pop up for sale more often? After 1974 the model was dropped from the basic range, but in 1978 they returned to the casting as they wanted to add it to twin packs. However, this was as a part of the military section, so it really didn’t need the opening roof. So they altered it. They also altered the base. Technically, although this was forgotten about after Lesney were taken over by Universal, this new casting was given a model frame number MB823, which in later years would normally form a MAN number. But as the model was never used by Universal, that frame number was never continued and subsequently forgotten. Only these twin pack issues from Lesney that continued on with Universal saw the frame number become their MAN number.

Originally it stated Volkswagen Camper, but also had Dormobile on there too. As part of the rebuild, they moved Dormobile to where Volkswagen Camper was and deleted that off. Why? Who knows? It ran for 2 years, and although most have black wheels, you might find one with chrome hubs. They often mixed things up.

After being rush-deleted from twin packs, along with all army related stuff. Plans were underway for a limited edition in USA. This is a prototype sample made using a label that had been in use on the MB41-C Ambulance.

But the model ended up looking like this. These were only sold in USA on long blister as part of a limited edition set. The wheels were almost always dot-dash, and were found with either black hubs or chrome hubs. But there is a rarer 5-arch variant with chrome hubs I am still trying to hunt down. After this release, the model was finally retired by Matchbox. But that still isn’t the end of it.

Because in 1987, Universal set up a deal with a local company in Hungary to make a run of models for local distribution. They had already set up a similar scheme in Bulgaria, which ran for many sets, but in Hungary they did it once, and that was the end of that. Matchbox even sent over the original casting with opening roof.

Although as the base had been altered to say just Dormobile on it, they never changed it back. Just changed the legal stuff on it.

Quite a lot of Hungarian production used tampo designs based on ones that Lesney had used. It might have been that they sent over some tampo templates to help them or something. Because this was pretty much an identical livery to the limited edition from 1980.

After the Hungarian production concluded, so did the casting. It was never seen from again.

So where to next? How about the MB145 Rocket Transport. This was one of 2 models created using the exact same casting, but simply having an alternate piece on the top. So technically, it is called Transporter Vehicle, as it is the same as the plane one (MB146). We just add “with Rocket” to the name to distinguish.

Although this was a Matchbox original design, I believe they were influenced by a rather Unique 1975 Bonneville Boss Transporter. This was a unique 1-off build, designed to carry the “Proud American” hydrogen powered land speed record car at the time. It is 32′ long, and only 5’5″ high so extremely low and long. You can see how the Matchbox team at the time took some inspiration from this in creating their own unique model. Of course they didn’t get all 5 axles. 3 was enough.

This model was created though with a 2-part rocket on the top.

Simply because if it was 1 piece, it would be a little long. Considering this has quite a USA feel to it, it actually debuted exclusively in the ROW market as MB40 in 1985. Early runs actually had a hole at the top of the base section to the rocket, but this was soon filled in. Production moved from Macau to China in 1987 and after having the model all to themselves for 5 years, the model finally went worldwide in 1990. The US range finally added it as MB60 5 years after the ROW range.

In 1992 they moved production again to Thailand, but they decided to give it a small tweak. The US flag was removed, replaced with some red checks, which also were added under NASA on the side too, matching the rocket. This then ran until 1995, meaning that the ROW MB40 ran for 11 years (almost unchanged) with the US market MB60 seeing the last 6 too. The last year also saw production move to Thailand.

Now this is not all we were seeing of the casting. And I do this now, because I actually don’t own the first alternate. In 1989 it was in the Commando series in black with yellow and grey camouflage on it. I know, how have I missed that? This is why I enjoy doing these dives, as it reminds me of random items I am missing too. I do have the next alternate look though. This came in a 1995 Military 5-pack. Tan with a green and brown camouflage.

In 1996 they finally went and gave us a new look for the basic range. After 6 or 11 years of the white NASA model, we saw a military green with a star and T-7871-6 design. This was sold for 1 year as either MB40 for the ROW range or MB60 for the US range. After this they dropped the model from the basic range.

But it was still far from over. A 1996 Military 5-pack was really just the same as the 1995 pack, but in an alternate colour scheme. It was now green with brown and black camouflage.

In 1997, a large multipack was sold in USA that featured a few models in unique looks. 3 of them were actually just 1996 army green basic range models, now turned to tan. So this (along with an Abrams Tank and Jeep with canopy) was sold just in this pack with the same look as the 1996 basic, but on a different colour.

Now I did say the model was dropped from the basic range. But there was an outlier. Australia (I believe New Zealand is included too). There was going to be something happening for that market in 1997, but a slight change of plan meant those unique models ended up being substituted in the Australian basic range instead. One of them was the Rocket Transporter, and this was thrown in the range there as MB44 for 1997. It came in black with a skull and crossbones on the side, and “Danger” on the rear.

We also saw a 5-pack called Tundra Defence Force. A long name that simply hid the fact that this was just the same old Military 5-pack in yet another colour combination. This time, white with green and grey camouflage. Not that I mind, I like these alternate colours.

But they did expand. They did a second military themed pack too. This was called Desert Assault Force, which was basically about as opposite to Tundra Defence as you can get. However, this time, they did provide us with a new design. This was a pale beige with brown camouflage.

In 1998 we were back to one military themed 5-pack and you never guess what? A 4th year in a row of alternating the colour scheme. This was now black with green and brown camouflage. During production, they shipped the casting back to China too.

They also gave us a playset issue too. It was simply called Tundra, and the model was pretty much the 1997 5-pack issue, but now sporting a green rocket instead of grey. This too ran the gauntlet from Thailand production through to China production.

In 1999 they decided to add the model back to the basic range. It was sold as MB63 in the US market or MB58 in the ROW market, with an Intergalactic green look. However, if anybody was to look really carefully, 1999 was such a cool year for US vs ROW stuff.

The bottom model is the ROW release. It sports the British “Defence” spelling with a “C”. The US release on top sports the American “Defense” spelling with an “S”. Yes, seriously. They were that specific with models in different markets.

In 2000 it had another basic range run in yellow with a Mission 1 side design. It was sold as either MB39 in the US range or MB24 in the ROW range. Being 2000, the first 10,000 MB39s in USA saw a Matchbox 2000 logo on the front.

It was also a part of another 5-pack that year, this one called Space Mission. It was a dark red with a Test Mission design on it.

It then took 2001 off before popping up in 2002 in a licensed 5-pack for Nickelodeon, with Jimmy Neutron on the side.

It then took another year off before seeing a Cape Canaveral themed look for the Around the World series in 2004.

We saw just one more issue after that, as with Battle Kings back in the mix in the mid 2000s, they added it to the first 2007 batch of the year (which actually arrived at Christmas 2006) as part of the Swift Strike set, a member of United Alliance, as Battle Kings were split into 2 halves for the years they were running. After this release the model was retired.

So how about a Corvette? Matchbox has had a solid history of Corvettes in the range, since they finally added one in 1979. This was the MB295 ’97 Chevy Corvette. This was the 5th generation (or C5 as they call it) Corvette, and the Matchbox casting came out not long after the real one did. It was launched as a 1997 model in November 1996 with the Inaugural Collection Matchbox model arriving in April 1997. So less than half a year from launch. Now, I am not going to show the premium issues. The Inaugural was a premium issue in blue, paired with an unpainted zamac model in a large pack. This was immediately followed by the release of the basic range model. It was sold as MB4 worldwide in red, with a simple Corvette badge at the front and Corvette sprawled across the window. It was also constructed in a way that the front window also forms the roof, but not the pillars at the back. So there would always be a slight gap there, and the roof would be tampo printed to cover up the plastic piece.

Of course, with this being a 1997 launch, USA saw it also added to the Gold Challenge series as well.

A collection of 6 special Corvette Premiere sets were also sold that year. Same models in each set, but all in different colours. Many bodies were over-produced, and when China began a clearout, a lot of these were simply attached to any other part to make a whole and dumped out on the local market, or later in two-packs. But not only that, the 1997 basic range debut was also thrown in these packs with random parts, usually sporting gold spiral wheels. This one has the window from a CP-2 set.

The 6 premium sets were as follows – CP-1, red. CP-2, white. CP-3, black. CP-4, silver. CP-5, green. CP-6 – maroon. Each one of these ended up in Chinese mash-ups, with spiral wheels, and quite often mixing up the window pieces which means the roof was a different colour to the body. Lots of fun to hunt down.

In 1998 the basic range issue turned blue. But it still has the exact same style of tampo that was used on the 1997 debut. The only thing is it moved to either MB58 in the US range or MB69 in the ROW range. Just an FYI there was a Toys R US Premiere giftset that had a grey one too (not pictured). Plus there was a Corvette Cologne promotional issue in red with Corvette Cologne on the roof, but again being a premium style promotion I don’t have it.

In 1999 it turned burgundy with a silver side design, with the Corvette badge moving to the side with it. I don’t know what it is, but this is still one of my favourite designs of all time. There was just something about it. This time it was MB38 for the US market or MB33 for the ROW market.

And in 2000 it reverted back to red again. However, the rear saw some detailing, as well as a Corvette badge back there. Sold as either MB85 in the US market or MB65 in the ROW market, if you lived in USA the first 10,000 saw a Matchbox 2000 logo on the rear window.

When you put it next to the 1997 debut, you do see it is a different type of red finish, and obviously has a smokey window and different tampos. 2000 also saw a Coca-Cola Collectibles model in black and a Scooby Doo Collectibles model in lavender.

2001 saw a UK exclusive for a basic range model. Yes, UK, not US. It was exclusively sold in the UK market in yellow with a Corvette badge and checkered pattern down the side. This proved to be the last time it was used in the basic range.

It also got an upgrade to a metal base that year too, and the detailing switched it from Matchbox Intl. Ltd to Mattel Inc.

It did see a couple more 2001 uses. Not pictured is the final premium issue, from a Collectibles Then & Now TRU exclusive two-pack in purple. But pictured was a Car Wash playset exclusive, also in yellow like the basic, but this time with black and white squares floating off down the model.

2002 would prove to be the final year for the model though as it was part of the Across America series, promoting Indiana, the 19th state. Although for those who collect code 2s (as they were known then), a plain white was created and sent to ASAP/Color Comp for promotional use and these were used for a number of years for small run promotions. However, so far I am still to get a plain white one.

So let’s go with something I do have all of. The MB669 Ford Shelby Cobra Concept. Ford at the time had been making quite a few concepts of vehicles inspired by classics at NAIAS each year. 2002 had seen a GT Concept that ended up going in to production. 2003 had seen a Mustang GT Concept that ended up going into production. 2004 saw the Shelby Cobra Concept inspired by the classic AC Cobra, which ended, well going nowhere. Third time unlucky. But Matchbox had made the previous Mustang Concept and decided to do this one anyway. It launched as MB42 in the 2005 basic range, and they decided to go with a blue with dual silver stripes theme. That wasn’t the real concept’s look. No, that was being given a special release.

Plus little tiny lights detailed at the back.

As an exclusive model inside a 2005 Superfast Collector Tin exclusively sold at Target stores in USA. The other 5 models in the tin were all models from the 2005 Superfast series, all in alternate (and shiny) colours, but with standard plastic wheels. Each one coming in a regular Superfast style box inside the tin with their number in the range. The Cobra was exclusive, came in a box with no number, and was also upgraded to premium wheels.

In 2006 it moved to the MB8 slot in the basic range, coming in dark red with simple front and rear detailing.

It was also given a dual striped look as this black model was found in the Showroom Cars 5-pack that year too.

2007 would prove to be its final basic range outing though. MB11 was white with dual blue stripes.

Things started to become a lot leaner in the way of outings after this. 2008 saw it added to the Best of US Muscle series in blue with dual silver stripes. That sounds familiar.

Yes, it was similar to the debut. The stripes went all the way over though, including down the front and rear, which they didn’t originally. It was a totally different blue, and the wheels were different. So noticeable when put together.

After that we didn’t see it in 2009. For 2010 it popped up in the “Real” 10-pack in metallic orange, again with dual silver stripes.

And then nothing until 2013, when an Exotic Rides 5-pack saw a random blue issue with side stripes and Cobra down it.

And then it has, as at the time of writing, only seen one more release. 2016 and another random 5-pack entry. This time it was just called Exotic, and this was yellow with black and white striping and Cobra down the sides. And would you believe, that was the one and only time I found a shade variation on the model. It’s last one.

It looks like I went a bit car-heavy on this end bit doesn’t it. Next week, trains, buses, planes, boats and bikes. Ha ha! The MB803 Fisker Karma. Just making it into the 2010s as this was a 2010 release as MB1. It debuted in silver, of which I found 2 shade variations instantly. See, this is what I look for (stupid Cobra only giving me one shade, mutter mutter). However, to do so, Fisker had 2 requests for Matchbox to create a model of it. One, it had to have that roof design. It was very important.

And 2, they wanted a wheel that looked a lot like their wheels on their real cars. So Matchbox created a new wheel style which debuted on this model too.

So as we cross-reference the rest, you will notice how each one has the exact same roof print, and the exact same wheels. In 2011 it was now black. It stayed as MB1, as they attempted to keep any model from 2010’s basic range that was also in 2011’s range under the same number (a nod to the old Lesney way).

It was also given a version 2 later as well. This time in dark red, which again I was able to find a shade to.

It also saw its first non-basic outing, as a Modern Rides 5-pack release in blue. And I was on a roll, as I found a shade there too.

Doh! Spoke too soon. That was the last shade I found. in 2012 it actually moved to a new slot. MB7. This time out it was in charcoal.

2013 though, well that would prove to be it for the model. It had a relatively short 4-year shelf life. It saw a final basic range outing in black (again). However….

Putting the 2 blacks together, you see there are differences. Different wheels and different interior. Not much could be done with the tampo as it was pretty strict.

But it wasn’t the only release, as a white model was also found in the Exotic Rides 5-pack (beside the Shelby Cobra Concept I just previewed). But this proved to be it. After 2013 the casting has not been seen from again.

And that brings me to the end of another report. I hope you enjoyed it. Next week I finally do something I have been wanting to do for a short while. If you have been reading regularly you might guess. Until then, I hope everybody has a good and safe week. See you next Monday for more Matchbox madness.

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