Matchbox Monday is playing Collectors catch-up

Yes, this has been a long time coming. But I didn’t want to ignore them due to the time delay. Okay, so a little back story. It was late last year, Wheel Collectors sent me a box of goodies for doing more Lamley blog reports on, and then started a new box with the final Collectors models. This is how we do it. It is cheaper to send over a box full of items, rather than a single assortment of something. It is how we have been going for years, and we mutually agreed to it, and it worked. Things come in, I prepare a bunch of reports, and by the time I am ready for more, a new box of goodies arrive from them and I do a whole bunch of new blog photos. So the new box was started, the final Collectors models of 2021 (except a certain Nissan GT-R which got nudged into the first 2022 batch) we put in the box ready for more to be added, filled and sent. And then the distribution issues began. And as we know, these are still not completely sorted. Things have been absolutely haywire in the outside world. Not just with Matchbox, or toys, but in general. I often hear stories of other items having issues due to various supply chains. I fear this could go on for a long time yet. So sadly, the guys at Wheel Collectors didn’t get the Matchbox items in for me for months. Well, a few months ago the floodgates began to open. Mattel items were coming in, although a lot are not Matchbox (apparently they do some other brand too). But a few trickled in. Well, we chatted, and decided to still wait to get a decent box full before shipping. I know this does mean that this is pretty much about half a year late because of it. But I didn’t want to just skip over them. I liked these models, and wanted to give them their moment in the Lamley sun. So let’s get on with it. Now, because of a certain Nissan being nudged, the boxes were a model short.

Well, the Matchbox guys inserted an older model back in to the box to fill it up. The number 1 of 20 MB1165 ’65 Land Rover Gen II Pickup in yellow made a reappearance. This is from the new batch, and I checked it side by side with the original one, but could not see anything different in them. I did get an unusual one sent over from Dirk Schleuer in Germany though, which I featured on my Instagram page a short while ago.

So I will just move on to the first of the 5 new additions. the MB1195 ’15 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, which is the number 10 of 20 model. Now the series was being released in number order, so this looks like it was also slightly delayed, as it was due in batch B. the Lamborghini Centenario was delayed from A to B, this from B to D and the Nissan from D to the following year. These things happen. A simple plan of 5 at a time for 4 quarters never works out. The slightest little hiccup can snowball and leave a model nudged back. It happens. We still get them though, so that is good enough for me.

This model comes in gold with a large set of golden wheels too. Very blingy. There is somebody in the UK who drives a Range Rover Evoque in an even more shiny gold than this. So this is not something that is beyond comprehension. Having seen that shiny gold Evoque on the roads near me, my belief is that anything is possible. I can see something like this rocking up in Monte Carlo, or Hollywood. And I like it. Definitely stands out.

And as I often point out, the Collectors series is not an off-shoot of Moving Parts. It is a premium series for the Matchbox brand, so there is no requirement for having anything opening or moving on it. If I was to see this on the road in real life, I know it would stand out. and I think it stands out from the other releases too.

Now when the casting was first created, it was actually as MB1109 ’14 Mercedes-Benz G-Class. It was constructed specifically for use in the Jurassic World series, being an exact replica of the vehicles they were using in the films. We first saw the number 05 model (number 07 was also used in the films too) in 2018 as both a single issue and as a part of the World Island Transport Team 5-pack.

We later saw it in Battle Damage mode too with additional mud and scratches down the side. Due to the additional tampo, they did have to switch the number 05 from white to black though. Tampo machines only do 4 colours at a time, so with brown and grey added to blue and black, that tiny touch of white had to go.

Later on a Land Rescue Convoy 5-pack featured another G-Class, this time in matte black, but using the same sort of tampo design as on the original release. Including the 05 on the back. I am still waiting on 07 to arrive. The original silver release was re-issued again in 2019 both in single and 5-pack form, but the other 2 were 2018 only issues.

There is not a lot of difference between the 2 castings. The body is actually identical. Window components would also match up. The only differences concern the base (where the information is re-written with new number and a later 2015 date) and the interior section. This was created in a way that it forms the front of the model too. So for the Jurassic World release, it is sporting a bullbar on the front, but the standard issue doesn’t.

It also forms the spare wheel on the rear of the model, and as it was re-constructed for the basic issue, this does see a small difference in the way the wheel looks. The innie and outie effect so to speak. But before moving on to the next picture, there is a little tiny detail on here that might surprise you. Or not. Mistakes happen. The model on the base is called a ’15 Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The box artwork has it marked down as a Mercedes-Benz G-550. But do you notice what it says on the back? G500? Oops!

So after the Jurassic World issues, the later casting was first seen as a promotional issue. Second time I am mentioning Dirk Schleuer here, as he runs the Matchbox convention in Leipzig, Germany, every year (all being well), this runs alongside the annual Modell-Hobby-Spiel too. Registration for the 2022 event will begin as soon as June does. So only a matter of weeks away. As is usual the convention takes place at the NH Hotel Messe Leipzig, which is at Fuggerstraße 2, 04158 in Leipzig. you can reserve a room at the hotel by calling +49 341 52510, and if attending the convention, quote the phrase Matchbox for a reduced rate. Dirk will be accepting applications for the event as soon as midnight hits (German time, so UTC+2) on June 1st (which is just over 2 weeks from now), and if you are interested in attending this year’s event, please contact him at his email address at info@moyshop.de for the details and application form. While attending the event in Germany, there will be a convention at the hotel itself, but there will be a number of Matchbox stands within the Modell-Hobby-Spiel event itself. the event is massive. I was there with my friend in 2019 and we spent hours just wandering around all the place. It is huge! Dirk has a stand there, and this yellow promotional issue was created for the show, limited to 300 examples.

But he also has the convention too and on Saturday for the dinner, people are given their convention model. The majority got a 1 of 125 example in green.

But the first 75 people, the early birds, got a silver one instead. This early bird is for applying to attend when registration begins each year, not the first 75 people in the queue for the dinner that night. Just to make that clear.

But that was not all, as there was a 1 of 25 example in pink too, created for those who help Dirk with the convention.

After this the model was due to see a more regular release in the Mercedes-Benz Walmart series. But when the set of 6 models arrived, it was nowhere to be seen. But in early 2019, a 5-pack of the models was created, and this was included in that pack. So it became a 5-pack exclusive.

In 2020 the model finally saw an outing in the basic range. It was sold as MB49 in matte purple. But as you can see, I found shades to that one.

But that wasn’t all, as later on a second basic range outing arrived too. This was MB36 in blue.

We have seen this re-issued as a part of the 2022 Best of Germany series as well. As I noted when I ran down that set, also courtesy of Dirk, was that the 2022 carry forward is a darker shade of blue to the original 2020 release.

So because I am slightly out of order on these releases, this is the order of release. After the quartet for Modell-Hobby-Spiel, we saw red, purple (twice), blue, gold, blue. And as I said at the beginning of this, the gold stands out.

So what’s next? Oh a Mercedes-Benz G-Class. As I said, the gold one was scheduled to be in batch B, but by running late, it gets caught up with the new Cabrio sibling. The MB1257 ’14 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Cabrio to be precise. It takes the mumber 16 slot in the series of 20 and therefore was always planned to be in this assortment.

And yes, this was a newer one, as this was a brand new casting for 2021. This one actually states G500 on the box, so I wonder if this was how the mistake happened on the gold one.

This, being a new casting, was designed with an opening section. This being the hood, or bonnet, depending on your preferred way of calling it. It comes in matte black with simple front and rear detailing. It actually has the same wheels as the gold Merc, but this time they too are black, in keeping with the very minimalistic look of this one. Sometimes I like a simple look. And for some reason, a G-Class in black just seems to go. So to me, this is just about the perfect debut. Well, actually it’s not really the debut. If you saw my report a little while ago, I did a rundown of the last Leipzig convention. You can re-read it here, or as a quick recap, these were the 4 models.

As with the previous G-Class, there was a 300-piece show model. This time it was orange, with a 25 signifying the 25th Modell-Hobby-Spiel.

Lemon was the colour of choice for the convention itself. 125 examples now with a 20 on it to denote it is the 20th Matchbox convention.

But due to various issues surrounding Covid-19 restrictions, the convention had limited places, so what was originally an early bird, became a “Best Buddy” model, which was also in black like the Collector one. But that was about the only thing that was the same. Different tampo, blue windows, different wheels. Well you get the picture.

But we still saw the pink edition, limited to just 25, which were for the people who help out with the convention.

Now these did all appear at around the same time. As I said, this report it just running a little late, but I wanted to do it anyway. So this was the debut. A whole bunch of them! Let’s see them top that.

So this Mercedes-Benz is not actually a Mercedes-Benz. Oh yes, as we carry on through the batch, obviously it wasn’t their plan to release to Mercedes-Benz G-Class models together in the same small batch. It was just unfortunate timing. This is our latest installment of the MB1138 ’64 Pontiac Grand Prix. It arrived in the number 17 slot in white.

I have been loving this model. Every single release has been very plain with just simple detailing front, rear and a touch down the sides. Sometimes that’s all you need.

It comes with the opening doors as usual, but it seems to be an ongoing thing with this casting, in that because the bodies and the doors are sprayed at the factory at different times, when they are put together you can sometimes spot shade variations. And it seems to be quite often with doors, they tend to get more coverage as part of the paint spraying system than bodies do. So they tend to nearly always appear to be a darker shade, due to the thicker coat. I am not sure how that can be remedied, but it does seem to be becoming more and more noticeable. Which is the only thing I can say bad about the model. I love the white look, and chrome base with simple detailing all around is a clear win for me. It looks amazing. And as I said, there hasn’t been a single OTT design yet.

As a reminder, let’s dive into the past of this one. It all began in 2019 with the first series of Moving Parts getting a purple release, as a nod to the classic Lesney issue.

Which was followed up a little later in the year with a blue example.

In 2020 we simply saw the 2019 blue example return for a second outing. But this new production run did give us a slightly lighter model. I notice these things.

2020 also saw the first premium release of the model aswell as it came in red, with the same simple design as seen on the 2021 issue. Every release has looked stunning (except for the darker doors).

I have a feeling we will be seeing another Moving Parts release later this year, with the expanded range of 50 models. So many castings with opening features that have not seen a lot of action I expect to make an appearance in the series. I am keeping my fingers crossed we get another simple look like these 4. It doesn’t need anything else.

We skip from 17 of 20 to 19 of 20 due to the Nissan being bumped to the next batch, and this is the MB1206 ’16 Alfa Romeo Giulia. I have showcased a few of these recently, and each time I kept saying I was going to show this one. I was determined. No matter what.

It comes in grey with a unique roof pattern and simple front and rear detailing too. It looks fantastic.

I am not sure of the reasoning behind the grid pattern roof. Is this an Alfa Romeo optional extra? I have no idea. But it is pretty cool. I know this was a popular choice for a model to be made by Matchbox, and in the few years it has been around we have seen quite a lot of variants of it. This is just one of a number. I am not going to do a full back dive again, as I literally only did one a month or so ago.

But I am pulling out the 2 original issues from the tail end of 2019 for a quick photoshoot again. The 2020 Toy Fair model had a simple black roof, albeit with the Matchbox and Toy Fair detailing added, but the 2019 Christmas Mattel model also sported a grid pattern roof like the new release. It appears that each time we get a premium issue of this casting, we are getting fancy roof work being done on it.

Maybe it is a premium thing. If we get another premium issue of this I will keep an eye on the roof. I like how the majority of the rears of these 3 are pretty much the same. Same light clusters and Alfa badge, as well as the exact same Giulia license plate. I have often said in the past how I love consistency and this is very consistent.

Which brings us to the last model in the set, number 20 of 20, the MB1089 ’55 GMC Scenic Cruiser.

It is the first time we have seen this casting in a couple of years, so it is nice to see it return. This was a nod to the classic Lesney Greyhound Coach when first issued, but we have to be very careful with the naming. You see, this vehicle was made by GMC, and as such they own the rights to the shape, design etc. But when first issued, I know a lot of people kept saying they got the name wrong. It is spelled Scenicruiser. One word, one “c” in the middle. Well Scenicruiser is a trademark from Greyhound Lines in USA, and as such they would then require a second license fee, simply to use the name. the likeness is all GMC. The name is not. Plus, they would have to use liveries related to Greyhound Lines. Of course the real bus will be long out of service, and many have been turned into different vehicles now, but as a model, they would be a lot more limited. So therefore, by splitting the word out, they have bypassed any license fees required to Greyhound Lines which would literally be for a word, not a model. Plus, they can come up with whatever design they like on the model completely unrelated to Greyhound.

Like this one. Cream over chrome with a Roadways design on the side. I think it looks great, and I love the dog dish wheels being used too. They suit it so well.

I’m giving it a few more shots over and above what I did on the other 4. Lashings of chrome, and an amazing livery that looks extremely realistic. I think this may be the nicest design on it yet.

I think this deserves more outings. Perhaps they may be more likely as premiums due to the amount of parts involved in making it. I know triple axle models are not exactly common in the Matchbox ranges nowadays, although I am hoping that a Moving Parts model with 3 axles arrives at some point. So time to remind us of this casting’s history.

We first saw it in the 2018 basic range as MB8. It came in white over orange with a Matchbox Bus Line side design, and disk wheels. Except for that one random production run where they ran out of disk wheels and grabbed some 6-spokes so as not to stop. I wish we still got a lot more of these. They were always fun. Although expensive if they were in 5-packs.

And in 2019 we saw just 1 more basic range outing, as it moved to the MB90 slot in blue over grey with a Western Travelways design.

Plus we also had this lovely premium spec promotional issue that year for the Albuquerque convention. You may just be able to make out the white disk on the side between the wheels with a 17 cut out on it. This was the 17th annual convention, and it had a nod to it in the tampo. But many seem to miss that.

And with nothing in 2020 that has been the entire history of the casting. 4 releases so far. I am sure there will be more. When? That’s another question for another time. Ha ha!

Which I believe finally puts the last of the official 2021 releases behind me. Only 5-6 months late. Better late than never. Of course there is the odd straggler that got bumped to 2022, of which I already showed the basics Lexus. Only a premium GT-R to go there. But for now, I think it is time for the second half of my report, which I bounce back into my collection and dig out a few models to remind myself of what I have (and sometimes what I need to fill in gaps).

To that end, I am starting in 1971 with a model I know I am missing a few for my collection. The MB12-B Setra Coach. Setra are a German company, with the name short for selbsttragend, which is German for self supporting. This was due to the body and chassis being constructed together rather than as separate pieces, which was the norm at the time. The company was, and still is, a part of the Daimler Trucks portfolio (a part of Mercedes-Benz), after they acquired Karl Kässbohrer Fahrzeugwerke GmbH due to it failing. They felt Kässbohrer wasn’t going to work as a worldwide brand, so came up with the new name. This was the second generation of Setra, which in real life first went on sale in 1967. Internally known as the S100 series, each vehicle was officially classified by the number of rows of seats multiplied by 10. However, as with a lot of things, Lesney couldn’t do a proper length at the scale, not without making it too thin, so they created a model with fewer rows of seats than the smallest available. The S80 had 8 rows. This has 5. You might just notice an S80 logo on the side over the front wheel. But, I remember when the GMC Scenic Cruiser (which I just showcased) first arrived, and people said it looked like somebody had took a chunk out of the middle. Well, they did here too. Hence why I am showing it after doing the GMC. It’s a Matchbox tradition. So this arrives in 1971. They painted the lower half gold with a white upper half made of plastic.

The lower half was actually just the base making up half the side. It looks like Lesney were trying to follow Setra’s motto of building body and chassis together. As you can see, they created a front grille as a rivet on extra piece too, and slotted the model in at the rear. Rather an unusual construction method.

Some 1971 issues were to be found with tan upper half sections too.

In 1971 they decided to change it a bit. Instead of metallic gold, it was now painted yellow instead. Again this was just for the 1 year as this model kept getting new looks.

Because in 1973 it turned purple. Or magenta. Or whatever shade they were using at the time. They also switched the window component from clear to green, but crossovers do exist. Yellow is known to exist with a green window, and these can be found with clear ones. However, word of warning, if somebody was careful enough, they may be able to pop open the top from the slots at the back, and although it does bend it, they can stretch the lid up, pop the window component out and switch to the other one. The top can be clicked back down. It has been done, and once finished, you can barely see the damage to the front edge of the upper area due to it being riveted to the front grille under the body section. So as of now, I am still to get one of these alternatives. They are rarer, but not impossible. But I just err on the side of caution with them. If I find one in a blister I think I will be confident enough to get it.

So all of mine are with green windows. As I said, these tended to vary a lot more in shade than anything else. The range went from magenta to purple over the course of 2 years of production.

Although some purples may be almost pink in shade they can be that light. It is a fun little model to get. However, after 1974 this casting was retired from the basic range and never used again. It also stands as the only Setra vehicle ever made by Matchbox. Will we ever see a new one? I want to see a Comfort Class 500 series, they can use the smaller one with 2 axles, but I want to see those space age wing mirrors they have on them in miniature. Those things are cool, like little tentacles hanging off the side. Or perhaps like Mantis from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. I just think they are cool.

So now I move on to a casting that only had a brief life, and as such is really sought after today. Seriously, whenever I see one of these pop up on auction, they go pretty high. This is the MB176 Škoda 130LR. Of course Matchbox never bothered with the caron over the “S”, which signifies that the letter should be prounounced as “sh”. A lot of people miss that little piece of information out when it comes to Škoda. It has the caron over the s and is pronounced “Shkoda”. Anyway, pronunciation aside, this little model still stands as the only Škoda that Matchbox has ever created in miniature, even though the current Škoda Octavia Wagon is an extremely popular police car across the UK and Europe and is an ideal candidate for a model. With a bevy of different US police cars currently in the mix, the non-US is quite sparce, and the Octavia Wagon as a police vehicle I think is about the perfect choice to fill the gap. But anyway, the 130LR. This was during the Universal era when they were really into rallying. I mean it appears every other car in the range at the time was either a rally car, or was dressed up to look like one. This was a rather late addition as a new casting to the mix. It debuted in 1987 as either MB44 in the ROW range, or as MBJ-12 in Japan (during their last year of the 1-100 series before reverting to just taking the ROW mix in 1988). It ran for 3 year unchanged and that was it. After 1989 it was gone, never to be seen again. Or if you lived in a US market, not seen at all. However, 3 years? It wasn’t going to stay consistent.

For starters, the tampo printing did vary a little. On these 2, it is the blue tampo that is darker on one than on the other.

And the bases too. They tend to vary in shade, with both of these being Macau powder blue bases. Some bases go green if exposed to various light or heat sources, and some are so green that they look real. For some reason, the late 1980s blue plastics (both solid blue like these bases, as well as the window see-through blue) often seem to turn green under certain circumstances. I have seen examples actually a pretty dark green now. So for some, these can now be worth picking up as unusual examples. I have other models with oddly coloured plastic parts for that reason, and will likely get a green base now due to it being so different.

What is perhaps a little tougher though, is that during production in Macau, they dropped the Duckhams logo on the side. Considering how much these go for now, I am amazed the non-Duckhams ones don’t go for significantly more.

They were only made in Macau. But weren’t an early run. Perhaps there was a stumbling block with Duckhams that got resolved.

Because during 1988 production moved to China.

And Chinese made models all have Duckhams on the side. So whatever the issue was, it was cleared up by mid 1988.

It soldiered on through 1989 and was dropped at the end of the decade, having only ever seen the one official look. But as a minimum there is the Macau/Duckhams, Macau/no Duckhams and China variants. But if you are like me, and want more, bases and tampos do vary in shade too. I do still get sad over a missed opportunity. A long, LONG time ago, I was offered a pre-production sample. The red was orange, both in striping and the rear engine cover, which does actually lift a fraction of an inch. Just enough for people to see they cast an engine inside. But as it barely lifts, and doesn’t stay up I didn’t show that part. I am not really sure why they bothered, unless it was purely just get the colour break on the model. but the prepro had both tampo and engine cover in orange. I passed at the time, but now regret that decision. I was young. Didn’t have as much funds for prepros, and was hoping to catch something more noticeable at the time. Now I wish I had just said yes.

So why not move on to another model to take my mind off it. The MB233 Airport Fire Truck. Officially this is a generic model, or Matchbox Originals model, as they are retro-actively known as now. But to anybody who knows their stuff, this is pretty much a Gloster-Saro Javelin. During the Universal era, which this just made it into, they were good at creating almost exact replicas of real fire vehicles, but somehow managing to sidestep any license fees. This debuted as either MB8 in the US range or MB24 in the ROW range in 1992. It was dropped after 1993. Yeah, that was it, next model….

I suppose I can pad it out a bit. It was a really cool model. 3 axles, a hose on the front that would spin around, and a ladder on the rear that would lift and rotate too. It also had these weird mis-matched roof lights, where one was higher than the other. It was a deep orange with a Fire and checker pattern that was being used on a number of fire related vehicles at the time.

Those lights varied. And so did the colour.

In fact, I have 3 distinct shades of orange to the model. So after 1993, the model was dropped, although there is a rare Intercom City variant with a different base, but has the IC logo in place of the 5 in the side print. During 1994 nothing else happened.

But it appeared the model was not forgotten. In 1995 it popped up in the Fire 5-pack in white over red with a simple gold and black Fire Dept side design.

1996 and nothing. 1997 arrived and it got another 5-pack issue. Again it was called Fire, but this time was even more simple. Plain red with a simple white side design. You do have to remember though, the mid 1990s were the Tyco era, and this simple and fairly realistic looks were quite a lot different to some of the outlandish and garish designs being given to other vehicles. I guess Tyco felt that the emergency services were not to be trifled with This was also the first model to be made in China, as during the 1996 lull they shipped the tooling over there where it would stay until the casting retired.

1998, and with Mattel not long taken over the brand (they purchased Tyco at the very end of 1996 by which time the 1997 series was set) and with a little internal shuffling, we saw quite a lot of 1998 5-packs simply being the same as 1997 but in alternate colours. So the Fire 5-pack returned for a second year, but the model was now in yellow with red tampo.

But they were able to do some new looks for later in the year too, and a later 5-pack called Airport had another yellow model, but with an all new design on it. I should point out, that this casting also saw 3 premium issues. One in each year from 1997 through 1999 and each one was also in yellow. I haven’t shown them due to not having them all (currently on one).

In 1999 the model returned to the basic range. It was sold in most markets as MB8. It came in blue with a yellow stripe down the side. However, the US market issue also included the text “Runway Rescue 1” too. ROW markets did not see that additional information.

But not all ROW markets saw it. Germany was being treated to an amazing exclusive series, with many unique models just for their market. This was sold as MB13 in that market, and was red with a Feuerwehr side design. It was so good they rolled it over into 2000 and renumbered it as MB14.

But for 1999 5-packs, they were still yellow. This was launched right at the end of 1999 and saw most sales in 2000 as it was sold for about 6 months. It was called Emergency Rescue, and although some of the models in the pack saw unique looks between the US and ROW issues, the Fire Truck was the same worldwide.

For 2000, the model was again dropped from the ROW market (except in Germany where I stated the 1999 model just rolled over). But the US market did a little more than rolling over. Where it was blue with yellow before, it was now white with red instead. It was sold as MB29 there.

And being sold in USA meant that the first 10,000 models had a Matchbox 2000 logo in the front window.

There were plans for a release outside the US and German markets though. In 2000 Mattel decided to really split the range up. The US market saw 100 models (up from 75 in 1999), and ROW markets still saw 75. Many models from the ROW range were also in the US range, but often in different number slots. But outside the US market, as had been the case before, there were a number of ROW exclusives. But they took things further, and set aside 10 slots in the ROW range for further expansion. Numbers 11-15 and 36-40 were split 4 ways. The UK, Germany and Australian markets all received 10 unique models just for their market in those slots. All of the other ROW markets would simply receive a 4th model in that slot. Things went well at first. MB11-15 all appeared in “other” ROW markets as they were busy ordering. But when they were ready to make the MB36-40 slot models for all ROW markets, meaning a production run of up to 4 vehicles in each slot, they got orders from the UK, German and Australian markets. No other market put in a request for a new assortment of models. In fact, they didn’t order a new batch until production of the MB36-40 models had stopped. So that sub-set of 5 models was omitted. However, 3 of the models did randomly turn up elsewhere. 1 was a part of a 10-pack in USA of “ROW” models, being a TV News Van. 2 others were released at the end of the year along with a BMW 328i Police that had been in the first 11-15 sub-set in other ROW markets as a 3-pack. An Ambulance and this Fire Truck, which was in green. The Ford Transit in cream with a taxi logo never appeared at all, and to this day nobody even knows what the final model from that sub-set was supposed to be. Mattel never released the information. All we know are 4 of the models. A cream Ford Transit with taxi livery (unreleased), an Ambulance in silver, a TV News Van in white and this in green. Their allotted numbers are also a mystery.

But with all that going on, we did get another actual 2000 release. Launchers were, well launched that year. One of the sets was known as 5 Alarm (for some reason, I am not seeing it), and this model was included in a rather unusual colour. Yellow! Wait…. It came with red stripes and 5 Alarm (oh there we go with the name) on it.

2001 saw a Fire Drenchers 5-pack issue with yet another yellow Fire Truck.

But what was yellow in 2000 had their colours flipped for 2001 in the 5 Alarm Launcher pack.

In 2002 the model saw 1 final basic range outing. This time it was actually an unusual colour. Orange. It was sold as MB41 and the first 10,000 examples had a 50 logo on the side towards the rear, and could be found in whatever market order them first. It was tough for people worldwide to get them all as some models were packaged up and shipped to all sorts of markets, some large some very small. The 2000 logo collection had been a USA thing, so a large market for all 100. But with 2002 being a first come, first served affair, a few models ended up in such small markets with very little collector base, that they proved almost impossible to obtain. the Airport Fire Truck was easy enough to obtain, and I think (if memory serves me) ROW window boxes tended to sport this one.

Apart from the basic range, oh look, a yellow one! It was another launcher pack. This time it was just known as Fire Truck, as that was the launch vehicle included. And there was no names for anything.

This year also saw a random promotional issue. Part of a small series of basketball and baseball event giveaways of the early 2000s. These were fun to try and track down. Released as a giveaway to one of the 76ers games in a unique blister pack with 76ers on Fire! on the pack (hence the fire truck), unless you were there at the time, you definitely needed to get this on the secondary market.

This proved to be almost it for the casting though. In 2003 they re-issued the 2001 Fire Drenchers 5-pack in alternate colours, and this switched from yellow with red tampo to red with yellow tampo. When the pack was extinguished, so was this model.

Well as we are in the 2000s, let’s do a model from the 2000s. The MB514 Troop Carrier. With Canopy! There is a separate MAN number (MB584) for a canopy-less version. Yes, this may be a Matchbox originals casting, created by the team that was based in Mount Laurel in New Jersey as they were heading towards the Hero City era. So their design ethos at the time was to make these more child-like in their appearance. Maybe I am just a big kid, but I always liked this one. There was something about it. It appealed to me, and I was very happy hunting down every variation I could find for it.

As I said, the canopy on the rear would click off, and was slightly higher on one side than the other. You couldn’t flip it around though.

The feet to slot into the model were offset, so it can only clip in one way. This was the 2001 debut version for it. It arrived as MB52, exclusively in the US market in a blue with tan canopy, with Police livery. The ROW market never saw it.

However, they were not too far behind as they had the 2nd release in 2002. It was sold as MB36 worldwide in grey with orange canopy and a skiing side design. Of course, 2002 was a logo year, and the first 10,000 somewhere around the world saw a 50 logo on the hood of the model.

Later on we saw a switch from dome wheels to lace wheels for a short time too.

It also saw its first playset release too, as a small Fire Station carry along playset was sold with this exclusively added to it. In the early 2000s all playsets saw an exclusive model.

In 2003 it was no longer a part of the basic range. It had 1-2 years there depending on the market, and the Police 5-pack saw a white Metro Police designed model.

It was also really good as a playset exclusive. This time, it went from a small carry along playset to a flagship playset, as it was included in the very big Ice Mountain set.

It was not used in 2004, although Ice Mountain was still being sold in many stores. We saw it resurface in 2005 in a Jungle Adventure 5-pack. This time it was white with a safari and giraffe head themed side design.

However, there was a really rare variation. There is a story behind this. As I mentioned, the early 2000s saw exclusive models added to playsets. Well in 2005, a Jungle Adventure playset was being created. It had actually begun construction during the last few months of the Mount Laurel team’s tenure, before New Jersey’s office was closed down and a new team was set up in house at El Segundo’s HQ in California. It was a lot for the new team to just start from scratch with everything, and as such a lot of items were rolled out for 2005 as was. The Jungle Adventure playset was then released, but as a last minute change, they realized that the costs involved to build it and sell at the current price point (which had already been agreed with stores that were taking it) was slightly out. The only thing they could was take out the exclusive model. Originally this was going to be black with white zebra stripes, featuring a lion head, Animal Safari and various bugs floating over the side. During pre-production stages, they decided to flip it to white with black stripes. But then, as they prepared a final FEP production run just to make sure things were good to go with it, the rug was pulled on the addition to the playset. When the playset arrived, they had switched the model out with a cardboard cut-out of the model. The rear actually showed the original black with white zebra stripe look. But those FEPs? Well there were only a few thousand run, and they didn’t want to waste them. As they ended up being so close to the model that was in the Jungle Adventure 5-pack (which was basically being specifically created to sell alongside the playset anyway), they just inserted them in a few thousand of the 5-packs to clear them out and not waste them. They are very rare. As I said, there were just a couple of thousand made.

As time went on, the new team in El Segundo wanted to move production of all Matchbox products to the one factory in Thailand, and as such, mid run, the whole set was sent to Thailand to continue on.

With the Thailand made model being noticeably due to the darker green plastics used on both base and canopy.

Late in the year, it was also a part of a Military playset, although those were only produced once production had already shifted.

After this the model officially took 2006 off. It returned as part of a Hitch ‘n Haul set for 2007, but as these came out in time for Christmas 2006 some do mark them down as a 2006 issue. The set was called Army Camp.

And it came towing the MB681 Excavator Trailer. However, although the trailer was named after the first item attached to the rear, over the course of a few years, they came up with a variety of top end sections to the unit. They all slotted in by way of a hexagonal slot. This was a unique Mobile Defensive Fighting Position with turret.

Designed to be taken off and used along with the 2 military figures included with the set.

But that wasn’t all, as also in 2006 they prepared another new playset, this one called Mummy’s Gold. Included was yet another Troop Carrier. They hadn’t stopped with the exclusives just yet. Although they were to stop them eventually. This had an Egyptian style side design on a white body with blue canopy.

I mention that as in 2007 it was added to the Battle Kings series in white again, but this time with a tan canopy, and some camouflage down the side. This was in the Rescue Rangers pack, part of the United Alliance team.

And then of course, a playset. Wait a sec. This looks familiar.

Yes. Yes it was familiar. In 2007 they re-produced the old Ice Mountain playset from 2003. However, they kept the exclusive model as was, with 1 minor change. The Matchbox logo had temporarily changed to an oval in the early 2000s, but in the mid 2000s had reverted back to the lozenge we know and love. So they altered the logo to the correct one. However you might notice variations in the tampo printing.

That’s because in 2005 they moved production out of China and over to Thailand, so the model was now being produced in a different factory. This leads to quite a few differences between the 2 purely because of that.

But that proved to the end of MB514. However, the model itself did continue on as MB584, without the canopy in various lines for a short time. A story for another blog report I guess.

Which brings me to something short and sweet to finish. Who remembers this? The MB971 Mountain Mover. It debuted as MB25 in the 2015 basic range in blue with a white dump on the rear.

One of the Matchbox originals castings from the mid ’10s during the temporary sideways step to the range. The Dump went all the way to 90 degrees on the model, which is pretty impressive.

During its debut year the wheels were normally dual ringed 8-dot, but a production run was found featuring the old cog wheels instead.

For 2016 it moved to the MB48 slot in charcoal with a grey dump, but this kept those dual ringed 8-dots through the entire production. And then, that was it. A 2015 and 2016 basic range issue, and has not been seen since. Who knows if it will return? I liked the concept of a massive dump truck like this, but I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of the front end. There was just something about it that didn’t quite gel with me. The rest was decent enough though.

And this I believe brings me to the end of another report. I hope you enjoyed it. Again, apologies for being so late with this batch. I wasn’t going to ignore them though. We had 2 castings with opening parts.

And another 3 without anything opening. Although I did say that isn’t a provision for being in the Collectors series. It’s an added bonus if we get them.

Next week, I am back in the 2022 stuff again. I believe there is just that one loose 2021 end to tie up (the Nissan GT-R) which I will be doing shortly. Not next week though. But soon. Until next week though, I hope everybody has a good week. Catch you next Monday.

4 Replies to “Matchbox Monday is playing Collectors catch-up”

  1. I understand that the Intercom City variation of the Airport Fire Truck is quite sought after now. It was only available as part of the Airport extension to the main Intercom City set and not very well promoted at that.

    Having bought the original set and the all the additional three packs, I must admit it was pretty fun to set up and play with. After the Tyco takeover I later noticed on a trip to my local Woolworths store that the box art to the main set had changed and saw there was some blurb on the revised box about now being able to buy the Airport and Grand Prix Circuit extension sets directly from Matchbox in the UK. I can’t remember now how much these sets cost me, but I don’t think they were that cheap!

    When they arrived I was quite disappointed that they were not only packaged in plain white boxes, but only one of the models offered in the two sets was in an exclusive colour scheme. Well, one that at least had the Intercom City logo on anyway. This was the Airport Fire Truck. The other model with an IC base in the Airport set was the Dodge Caravan in the previously issued British Airways livery. I think there was also a standard issue Skybuster in the set as well (a Boeing 747, if memory serves).

    The Grand Prix set was very disappointing though. While each of the three cars had the special IC bases to interact with the game, all three were in then standard issue colours – Porsche 959 in silver grey, Lamborghini Countach in red and Ferrari F40 in red.

    It was still cool to put all three sets together to see how the whole thing worked though. A lot of fun!

    1. That’s a really cool story. Thanks for sharing with us. Sadly, at that time, I was not in a position to buy all the Intercom City stuff, but managed to get one set. Over the years I have managed to track down a few more of the models, but it is not easy, and it quite costly too. I still have quite a few to obtain.

  2. Excellent story as always, David. Your focus on the minutest of details / variations is invaluable in our hobby. Its not 1982 when a handful of models are released, and variations are easy to catalog. I;m not sure how many brands have me as a regular customer, so I am lucky if I can keep abreast of new models and decos, let alone differences in shades. Your devotion to Matchbox and reports on the latest models are greatly appreciated. Regarding the 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix, I did see a bronze / brownish version in the Moving Parts line that has disc wheels(!!!!)…..I was very happy to see that because Detroit was moving toward minimalism on some of the more luxurious cars after the example set by the 1961 Lincoln Continental…..I’d love to see Matchbox do a tribute to that classic design by a modern interpretation of #31 the 1964 Lincoln Continental, and with the opening trunk! Some of us older folk remember the four-door sedan / saloon and trunks / boots! That and the #65 Jaguar Mark II 3.8 with the opening bonnet / hood would make my decade!!! With the Grand Prix, the VW 1600TL, the VW T1 Transporter, the Mercedes-Benz 220SE and the basics Land-Rover 109 Safari, the Lincoln and Jaguar are two fantastic classic cars that are begging for an update in this millenium (but preferably 2023!)

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