With a brief trip back to 2021 last week, this week I am taking a trip back with a few models in the first of the 2022 Retro series models. Of course not all are, but some of these are really cool for their retro vibes. One in particular. So I guess I should dive right in with these.
And let’s just get this out of the way. Number 1 in the series is just one cool retro model. The MB1001 ’70 Chevy El Camino. With a new Camino casting arriving this year, I am happy that it does not mean we have to lose the old one. They can co-exist very easily alongside each other, so I am hoping that this is not going to end up as a swansong for the model.
And what a cool livery they made for it. I can see this coming back out for some photos at Halloween. I love when Matchbox dig in to their archives for something old, that just stands out.
And this one really does. This is what the Retro series should be about. I know half the models tend to be carry forwards, which in itself is a bit retro. Especially if they dug out a casting not in current use and re-used a livery from quite a while ago. But for those models that are not carry forwards, this is what I think they should be looking like.
Because this is a new model sporting a classic livery from the 1990s. This was originally the look of the 1996 MB2 US exclusive release of the MB200 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport.
Now 1996 does pre-date Mattel’s ownership of the brand. Just! They purchased Tyco Inc in November 1996. 1997 was already set, and 1998 was the first year that Mattel had their fingerprints over the looks of the basic range models. At the time, R&D was still being run out of the Mount Laurel offices in New Jersey. Tyco had closed the UK R&D offices after taking over from Universal and moved things over to USA. So as much as this is a retro look, it is not an identical look. You can see the spider is a little different. And the web is only on the front on the Corvette, whereas the El Camino has some additional webbing on the sides.
The door logo is a pretty similar look, but again not identical. This is a homage to that original design, and I think it looks amazing. Even down to having red windows. Mind you, the El Camino takes things just that tiny bit further by also including red wheels too. This is (almost) my favourite of the batch. Purely down to the livery chosen.
Of course that particular Corvette was a late run of the 1996 release. For the most part it sported the spiral wheels that Tyco had originally developed and launched in 1994. They didn’t really last as they were not popular, and the new concave 5-spoke wheels started coming in for 1997, with certain models from 1996 still in production switching over to them (like this one).
Of course the black was a switched look, as originally when it arrived in 1995, it was the other way around. White with black webbing. That one though, it was also found in the ROW range as MB15, as the Corvette ran there until 1995 too.
Although early 1995s did see a slight difference. The Widow on the doors were filled in. It got altered as the year went on. It was a part of the 1995 “let’s alter 20 models during the year for variation hunters to chase down” experiment.
But what we do have though is a little loop. You see when the model started off as The Widow, production was in Thailand. It then moved to China late in the year (technically after the switch to an outlined name), then turned black in 1996, with all production in China. The newest El Camino release is from Thailand, so in a sense The Widow came home. Yeah I point out all the stupid stuff don’t I.
So yeah, I said it was almost my favourite. Had it not been for the fact they threw in a Ford Capri in the mix, it would have been my favourite. But number 2 in the series is the MB1244 ’70 Ford Capri, and so by default (unless a Porsche 911 got in there somewhere) this was always going to be my favourite.
And I absolutely love this one! It is so nice. A lovely simple metallic green. This is a proper Capri colour choice from that period. It is called Fern Green, and was quite popular at the time. And it looks stunning. Very plain, with simple front headlights and grille detailing.
And, you might have missed it as it doesn’t stick out too much, the sides have been meticulously detailed too. The badge behind the front wheels, the silver pin stripe along the lower edge. Silver door handles and side vent detailing. It is stunning!
Sure there was no rear detailing again. In fact this casting has not had a rear print yet. But, considering how much I love this casting, this is easily my favourite release to date. I even love the matching interior section too. but the thing is, I am hearing reports of how this is proving to be a slow seller in USA. Which is such a shame. The debut silver wasn’t exactly slow to hang around over there. Is it down to the colour choice? Stunning as it is, when it sits alone, it looks fantastic, but sitting in a blister alongside various other models, was it somehow slinking into the background? Not enough pop? I have no idea. A quick reminder of what came before it I think.
As we know, last year was the debut. Silver with dual black stripes and front detailing. It was MB18 in the basic range, although the UK itself skipped the batch, which I know did upset many people.
And then earlier this year, we saw another release. This time a UK release in yellow as a part of the Best of UK series, with a front grille and this time black bonnet print.
But as I said, this green release is easily my favourite of the 3 releases to date. I can’t wait for the blue one to arrive next!
Now for the last of the “new” models. Number 3 in the series is the MB1240 ’84 Toyota MR2. For the Retro series it is now in a blue design.
Which features simple front and rear tampos, much like the 2021 basic range debut in white did. So again, as I said at that time, there is nothing really that can be improved on. Especially as the lights are a part of the window section on this model. Talking of which….
This isn’t alone. Oh this is where the variation hunter starts getting headaches.
Because as many will remember, this tooling has been specifically designed with a dual window piece. When slotted in to the body those front lights appear in either the down position or the up position. So instant, and very noticeable variation.
But then of course that is not the end of it. Oh no. The Matchbox guys had a LOT of fun with this casting. Both of these are RHD.
Yep! Another 2.
Two more models, both LHD, and again with the headlights up and down. This variation is not as noticeable due to the need to peer inside to check, and so attempting to get all 4 variations can be a bit of a nightmare. They do like to challenge us.
But if you are like me, you will be attempting to find all 4 of them. I tell you, this was especially tough for me being in the UK and these being sold in USA. But I managed to get all 4. LHD or RHD with lights up and lights down.
And i have been hearing that even in USA, Target stores are proving to be very hit and miss with these. I guess it is all about being in the right place at the right time.
So with the 2021 MB14 debut issue in white joining the mix, that means after only 2 releases, the variation hunter will already be up to 8 different models of this one.
Which is a lot already. When the red one arrives in the basic range later this year, we will already be in double digits on this. And if the Walmart carry forward later on shows a variation somewhere from the 2021 issue, we could be up to 16. Jeez! This thing is breeding like rabbits. And I love it!
So as I mentioned, this batch has 3 “new” issues. The other 3 in the batch are all carry forwards. This one though, it is the most disappointing of them. The MB765 ’64 Austin Mini Cooper 1275S in white.
It’s not the model itself, or the look. The Mini is a cool model, and fits the retro theme perfectly. The white look with front detailing and a black roof is a fantastic look. Nothing wrong with it.
The fact that this is a carry forward, to me is not an issue. I do enjoy checking out carry forwards for variations. I understand the need for carry forwards, and have nothing against them.
It is just that this model up front in this picture was a carry forward from the 2021 Best of France series. With all the different looks that the Mini has been released in so far (I checked, there are 15 but some are premium), they are using the exact same carry forward again. There were other choices, and I know this may be controversial, but I think the 2013 MB12 in red with records on the side looked retro anyway, and could have been so cool carried forward to here. It was a missed opportunity. And there was no red model in the batch, so it would have stood out too. I am not a fan of using the same model to carry forward over and over. It doesn’t matter that one was officially for France and the USA for USA, a lot of people will have been able to get both anyway. If a model has a good selection of releases to carry forward, use them. Don’t just grab one and continue it again and again.
I mean, for me, I am actually lucking out. The Best of France issue is on the right and the Target Retro on the left. I can actually see a difference. Therefore this is staying in my collection. But I really want to see carry forwards of other releases of the Mini, not the same one numerous times. There is only so much white Minis I am going to find before they all blur into one.
I’m not too sure, but there might be a tiny nuance to the window.
But anyway, as I did a short while ago, I have pulled out the 2010 basic range issue which was supposedly available worldwide except USA Walmarts, but due to an error, ended up only on long card, with short cards getting the USA Walmart issue instead.
I did manage to get 2 shades on the MB19 that year too.
And somehow, through all these releases, I have managed to keep all 4. I can see a difference between each one.
Although for some, the base writing alteration a few years back does also add to the variations. Newer ones now have the NL details, and Thailand was moved to the bottom with “Made in” added. Plus the Mattel name lost the “Inc” at the end. So yes, I did manage to keep this, but I am so hoping if they ever do another carry forward of this casting, that it appears in anything but this look. It’s played out.
Now this is more like it. This is the second time that the MB363 ’62 VW Beetle has appeared as a carry forward, and just like the Mini, this too was first used as a carry forward in the 2021 Best of France series. Number 5 in the Target retro series is a model brought back from many years ago for the first time. Totally different to the one that was carried forward to the Best of France series.
It comes in teal with front detailing and a detailed roof.
Classic! I have always been a bit of a fan of this colour anyway, and am more than happy to see it get another outing. Especially as it was from quite a while back now. This means that the casting has seen a few tweaks between then and now and this gives us an instant variation.
So shall I bring in the 2007 Classics 5-pack model to compare? I should say models, as per usual I found shades at the time.
You should be able to guess which the newest one is. That’s right it is in the middle. Not only is it a different shade, but the clear windows have now been lightly tinted too. The tampo print is the same, although I swear the headlights look bigger now. But you might also notice the slight difference to the casting. A while ago they tweaked the base so that is was a more solid piece. This also meant that it did not poke through the body any more either, and was now properly underneath.
While doing that, they decided to redo the base with more detailing than we were used to. This did involve re-copyrighting it again. You may notice the 1998, ’17 detailing to it.
At the rear, again the base doesn’t poke out through the body, but rather sits underneath it. It is not a massive change, but carrying forward any model that before the change to after it is going to give us an instant variation. Even without any shades or window tints. And you know what, time to do a little diving, as I haven’t really done one yet.
Where to start? 1999. Yes, this casting first arrived in the 20th century, and being so iconic, I think shows no signs of slowing down. Although if they were to redo this, perhaps an early split rear window issue, or maybe a 1970s Super Beetle alternative. But there’s no reason to stop this one. It arrived as MB53 in the US range or MB48 in the ROW range in black with Matchbox written across the front window.
And almost immediately saw a 5-pack release that year too, appearing in the Cars, Cars, Cars 5-pack in blue with detailed roof.
It was then dropped from the ROW range. Yeah, I know. But in the US market it saw one more basic range outing as MB12 in white with blue sides and a black roof again. This also saw Matchbox 2000 across the window on the first 10,000 produced.
It did see 2 different 5-pack issues that year as well. A Sun & Fun II (in some markets known as More Cars, Cars, Cars) 5-pack saw a nice red issue but this was not always the way. Some packs were found with the MB287 VW Concept 1 in its place, also in red, instead. However, a Storm Trackers pack saw an orange model throughout production.
But the direction Matchbox were taking didn’t seem to want the Beetle around much. We saw a 5-pack release for Wings ‘n Water, which because it was sporting a tow hook, was included due to towing an MB373 Watercraft & Trailer.
It did see a Scooby Doo release as well, in pumpkin with Velma on it. Now as such I am avoiding premium issues, but I did get that due to the Scooby Doo stuff having regular plastic wheels, and not rubber ones. But there were 8 premium issues with rubber wheels made around the time (1999 through 2004) that were done, and I am not showing. JC Penney Coke set in white, Target Coke set in red (1999), Collectibles in yellow (2000), Toys R Us then & now in blue (2001), 50th Anniversary in burgundy (2002), My Classic Car in white (2003), again My Classic Car in blue and also Barrett Jackson in black (2004). I have so far picked up the 50th Anniversary in burgundy and My Classic Car in blue. So if you are reading this and think that if I have odd ones, then show odd ones, please let me know in the comments at the end. I keep ignoring unless I have them all. And there are currently very few I have them all of so far.
Now Avon were very good at giving us some really cool releases exclusively through their catalogue, and a 1960s Coke twin pack featured this model along with the MB405 VW Delivery Van also appeared in 2001.
For 2002 the basic range itself officially did not get a model, but for the markets outside USA, which does include other long card markets, a series of 4x 50th Anniversary specials were made and sprinkled in to the basic range. One of them was the Beetle in green with 50 splashed all over it. I do have a pre-production sample which was roughly from that time period. Difficult to know exactly where to place it, but I have often thought perhaps it was for this.
The reason for those was that in USA itself an Across America series was created, with a model for each state. They felt that other markets should have something. Massachusetts saw a blue model for the Patriot Tea Co in a regular spot. But there were bonus models for each quarter of the country and the “East” quarter saw another Beetle again with Massachusetts on it as an official parade car in white.
Not to be outdone, the German branch of Mattel requested a series of models exclusive to their market. They got the Stars of Germany, which was a set of 12 German models in exclusive looks for the German market. The Beetle was one, this time in orange. The series was so successful they brought it back the following year, and it became a yearly event, although by adding more non-German vehicles in 2004 it became Stars of Cars, and in 2007 with more non-cars included they changed it to Euro Edition. By the end of the decade it was no more though.
We did see some more action too. a 2002 Weekend Heroes 5-pack had the Beetle in red with a fishing themed side design. So it might not have been a basic range, but it still saw quite a bit of use.
2003 saw the model in a SpongeBob SquarePants licensed 5-pack in green with SpongeBob on the side. Later on it was one of the 3 chosen to also be sold as a single in an alternate colour, which this turned blue for.
And as I mentioned with Germany doing their yearly set of exclusives at the time, the second (and final before the name change) set of Stars of Germany saw the Beetle in orange again, but this time with a very hippy looking flower power side design. Hint to Mattel, if they ever want to bring a classic design back, bring this one back. It was so cool. Like yeah man, real cool.
In 2004 another USA series was created. After the success of Across America, they decided to do something similar, in that they released Around the World. There were 4 different sub-sets to the series (Mysterious Journies, Postcard Places, International Cities and Natural Wonders), and each sub-set had a bonus model that you could send off for. The Beetle was the bonus model in the Postcard Places sub-set, depicting Lombard Street in San Francisco.
they also added the model to the first 2004 Superfast series. It was 1 of 4 models created and specifically slotted in to places in the series that classic Lesney models of the same type of vehicle had held. The Beetle was placed in the number 15 slot, which in 1970 was held by the VW 1500 casting. And yes, that was white with a 137 label on the side (as well as a Rally Monte Carlo sign on the front, which was squeezed on to the bumper on this).
There was a thought to do it in bronze though. Bronze was the later Lesney issue from 1971 that ran until the model was dropped, but they went with the earlier look.
All 4 of those models were also done in an alternate colour for a Hershey convention dealer set. The 4 boxes were wrapped together as one and sold as a set. Each of the 4 “classics” were in a colour that was not one that Lesney had done before making them totally unique.
In 2005 it only saw 1 issue. A Burger Zone 5-pack in white with the theme as the side design.
Production moved from China to Thailand mid way through giving us small variations due to the different factories.
And then in 2006, it finally came back to the basic range. It was sold as MB21 and came in a very simple red look with fine detailing. It was due to sport the older disk wheels that had been created in the late 1990s, but during a time when they ran out, lace wheels were swapped in.
The model was also included in the 2006 Stars of Cars (as it was now called) series, exclusive to the German market. It came in plain black with simple detailing, but the package for it stated it was a VW Beetle Taxi. That was MB578, and is a similar model with a taxi sign cast into the roof. It got people talking. Was the package an error? Was the model an error? Many waited to see if MB363 would switch out with MB578. Or if the package would get an update. Neither happened. It was just one of those things.
In 2007 it saw another basic range outing. Orange again, which I found a shade of orange to the MB29.
I also found shades on the 5-pack issue (as already noted as this is the carry forward from here), and on the licensed 5-pack issue for Scooby Doo. The lime gold with Scooby on the side model varied quite a bit during production.
And on the… Oh wait, the “Real” 10-pack release I found a wheel variation on instead. Disk wheels again were switched out for the tri-spoke which was coming in as the new “classic” wheel of choice. These particular disks were being phased out, although a new disk (smaller disk with additional outer ring) was in development for future issues. Not of this model per se, but in general.
In 2008 things were a little quieter. A Best of International issue in purple arrived.
And a Real 10-pack again saw the Beetle, this time in yellow.
For 2009, hello new disk wheels. Their Beetle debut was this year on the only release it had. A Mickey Mouse Clubhouse licensed 5-pack in burgundy.
After that things started getting a little spotty. 2010 had no action for the casting, but a VW themed 5-pack was released to great success in 2011 and had a metallic orange Beetle in it. Again I did see some shading during production.
And with the temporary change of direction going on, classic cars were being phased out. Because you know, they were popular. The Beetle did pop up in the 60th Anniversary series in 2013 in red though. After that it looked like it was going into retirement. But that was not to be.
With the direction of Matchbox put back on track, the Beetle made its return in 2018 as MB16 in the basic range. This was the point where we had the updates to the casting, so any models shown prior to this being brought back could be cool for a future carry forward.
In 2019 it was MB12 in red, and yes I found it was good for a little shading again.
We also had another red issue in a seasonal 5-pack simply called Happy Holidays.
In 2020 it saw its first pink outing, again with a slight hippy/groovy design to it. Again I was seeing shades to the MB86 that year.
It was also chosen to be the dealer model for the Matchbox convention in Albuquerque that year. sadly the 2020 convention did not take place due to, well you know. but we had a virtual meeting and saw the new items. And those who were due to attend were still sent the models that were being prepared.
In 2021 the basic range saw a 4th Beetle release in a row. A record. This time it was MB97 in green, with a taxi themed side design. Still no sign of the MB578 casting though, which would have been much better for this look.
2021 also saw a Coffee Cruisers II 5-pack issue in light blue as well.
And we also saw 2 different releases in the “Best of” sets. For Germany they saw a unique orange issue exclusive to the market.
But the France series only saw a carry forward. But they only carried forward the 2020 issue from the basic range, which was a little disappointing. I mean this is a repeat from 15 years ago. Lots of little things about it were cool. But one from only a matter of months prior meant just a tiny shade to the 2 I already owned. There are a load to choose from.
And we also saw a Collectors release too in purple. Which brings us up to date on this casting. Phew! I am sure it’s not over for this one yet.
Which brings us to the final model in the batch. Number 6 in the series is the MB784 Jeep Willys. This too was a carry forward model, but just like the Beetle, this carried forward from a decent length of time ago. 2012! So; 10 years ago.
It comes in brown with a tan interior and a Swamp Crew side design.
Which on the alternate side you don’t usually see, has a piece of corrugated metal on it. I love these little things they add to models.
So the 2012 issue. It was sold as MB108 in the basic range that year, and during production I did manage to find 3 distinct variations to it.
Now during that period this casting has not changed 1 bit. The way it was created is still the exact same way it is made. So this is all about how they get the colours going. And well, the new one on the right is a much lighter and brighter brown than any I had before. It really stands out.
Everything else was very close. The grey base almost matches, the tan interior almost matches, the clear window err, well it’s clear. But this was all about the shade of brown. And I loved it!
I think the tampo is a bit brighter too. So yeah I am happy with this one. Now as I just did a massive rundown of Beetles, this too has a long and thorough history, which I delved into twice recently, so am not going to do that again. Just get on with the classics.
So yeah, it was a fun little mix. The 3 newbies were all great. Capri (gorgeous), El Camino (fantastic look) and MR2 (so tough to obtain all 4 but worth it) and the Jeep and Beetle carry forwards great due to being new runs on classic looks, but the Mini just not my preferred due to just being brought forward already). So 5 out of 6 wins (or 8 out of 9 depending on how you look at it), and had the Mini been a different carry forward, I would have given a full set of wins. As I said, I know some don’t like carry forwards. I do. So I am good. Enjoy them. I just like to see, as I always say, something carried forward that has been years out of production. Not months. Right, with no further ado, time to do a little of diving back into my collection. And I begin with something that for me is a little unique.
This is the MB17-A Horse Box. It was not around for very long. In the 1960s Lesney had created a casting of the Leyland Ergomatic Cab. It debuted in 1966 on a Site Hut truck, and in 1967 a Pipe Truck was added too. Same cab design. Then in 1968 another was thrown in to the mix too. A Petrol Tanker. Funnily enough the only one of 5 Ergomatic cabs to have the manufacturer name included in the model name. But this is the thing. Leyland launched the Ergomatic cab in 1964, with production running until 1981. But the Leyland Group had by then bought a number of UK truck companies. In 1962 AEC had joined their ranks, and so when the Leyland Ergomatic was launched, sister models (identical except a different name on the front) were created and built by other Leyland subsidiaries, Albion and AEC. So when a 4th and 5th Ergomatic cab were created in 1969, they decided rather than keep using the Leyland name, just to be a bit different, the 8-wheel Tipper and Horse Box had AEC on the front. That was the only place you found the AEC name. Bases didn’t use it, and packaging didn’t either. It was common in those days to not bother. So the Horse Box was launched. In 1970 it transferred over to Superfast wheels in its original combination of red cab, along with a green box and a grey ramp.
However, as an added bonus, when you open the ramp, you would find 2 horses inside. Now these horses were not brand news for the casting. They had been created in 1967 for a king size model. The K-18 Dodge Kew Fargo Articulated Horse Box. The exact same horses were then incorporated into the 1968 MB43 (now known as MB743) Pony Trailer for use as a miniature. But when they came up with this, the horses were too big. So they created a smaller version of the horses that would fit inside. At the time they only ever made them in white. Lesney never changed the colour of horses, even when this casting was dropped, and a new Bedford casting with same rear was created in the late 1970s. Made in England? Horses are white.
I did say there was something a little unique from me. A regular wheels model. That’s right. This is my one and only regular wheels model. I had it gifted to me when I was young, and for some reason I cannot get rid of it, even though it is technically outside of my collecting parameters. As you can see, apart from the Superfast being a brighter shade of red, the rest was the same. Except the wheels.
And the base. Obviously. It had to be adjusted to accommodate Superfast wheels. Red was technically the regular wheels version though, and shortly after the model turned into a Superfast model they changed the cab.
It became mustard coloured. The box and the ramp did not change.
In 1971 they changed it up again. The cab became orangey red and the box turned into a pale greyish brown colour. The ramp turned light brown. However, crossover variations exist. The most common is the ramp. Grey ramps were found on early orangey red cab/greyish brown boxes and light brown ramps can be found on green boxes with the mustard cab. Much rarer is the orangey brown cab with green box, which again can be found with both ramp styles. Now the boxes are riveted in place and as such don’t exactly move.
But ramps? They click on and off pretty easily. Therefore, unless the model is in a sealed blister pack, they don’t warrant any additional value as such because they can be switched around as easily as you want. They are known variations, and are rare in a way, but because of this, not expensive to obtain. And please be aware that the later Bedford casting uses the exact same box/ramp combination and as such their ramps can also be unclicked and switched with these. But the Bedford was launched in 1977 and this finished production after 1971 (yes only 3 years in total for this model) and with a 5 year gap between them, it is impossible for a later Bedford ramp to be a part of an earlier AEC release. So if you see one, they have just been switched and as such it can be classified as a custom. Not an original release.
From there, I am going to keep along similar lines with my next model. The MB030 Articulated Truck. And if you thought the AEC was tough to follow, prepare to get totally confused with this one. I wanted to tackle it at some point, so let’s go. This casting debuted in the basic range as MB30-D in 1981. It had a blue cab and a silver dump section on the rear.
That dump section was attached with a ball and joint socket method to the model, so can be removed for 2 unique parts. The thing is, when they created this casting as a replacement for the older MB50-B Articulated Truck, they used the Leyland T45 (often known as the Roadtrain) design for the cab. Although it never mentioned it.
Until it did. Shortly after production began, they altered the cab to have LEYLAND cast into the front of it. This was during 1981, and there is a further variation that I have not worried about. You see the base of the cab had No.30 cast on it due to being in this slot in the range, but in 1982 the ROW market saw a second cab combination arrive in the MB14 slot, now with a fuel tanker rear section, so in 1982 they wiped No.30 from the base. But because you have to flip over for it, I have not pursued it.
But what I did pursue was the window variation. Both blank front and Leyland front cabs are known to exist with orange or red windows. Orange was an early run, and they transitioned around the time of the switch to the named cab. But both alternate combinations do exist. But the blank fronted red windowed variant is extremely rare. I have not found one yet.
Now this is where things get complicated. Firstly, after 1981, the US range dropped the casting, as from hereon in, it became an ROW exclusive. Plus, as I said, in 1982 an alternate fuel tanker model was issued as an ROW exclusive MB14. That fuel tanker had a red cab. This was Lesney. They made a load of red cabs. Too many for the trailer units. So what to do? They work with this rear, so they just threw some in the Articulated truck packs anyway. This was late 1982, and in fact most are found in 1983 window boxes. Because this was basically at the end, and they were doing a bit of a clear out. But obviously Universal were taking over and were busy trying to figure out how best to do things. But please remember, a blue cab being found with a fuel tanker rear (which was in red and white) is not a known variation. But because they pop off and can be switched, somebody can just switch them around so there is no value to having one of those. But red cabs mated with a silver dump was found in stores in fairly decent quantities so is a legitimate variation.
But things get even more complicated. Plans were afoot for a new look for the 1983 ROW market. A new yellow rear design was underway, but due to it sporting a tampo print, they had to alter the rear to accommodate it by adding a flat side panel. It was a bit slow to arrive, and they thought it would be good to put the base for the cab in yellow to match too. The yellow base pokes through the front to make the grille. These started early. And the factory in England being the way it was, they made a load of yellow base pieces. They just put them on whatever was coming through. Red cabs? Sure why not. Was it on the fuel tanker rear or dump rear? Don’t know, haven’t got to that stage yet. You see they were continuing on with white bases too, because the MB14 itself was still sporting the same red and white rear, and the white base was still to be used there. The factory workers didn’t care. Therefore combinations appear across the board. Red cabs with both white or yellow bases can be found with a silver dump. They were also found on the red and white fuel tanker too.
And obviously the blue “correct” cab was back in action too, and so also saw the yellow base while still being mated to a silver dump. As I said, the yellow dump was running late due to the extra work in altering it.
And later in 1983, it arrived. The International logo wasn’t working on the grooved side, so the casting was flattened across that area to allow for a smooth tampo print.
But they also decided to change from a metallic blue cab to a solid blue cab. Again, this was all happening around the same time, and as such, yet again, the cabs/dumps are known to exist the opposite way round. I show here a metallic and non-metallic blue with yellow dump, but the non-metallic can be found with a silver dump.
As can the red cab. Are you keeping up? I told you this was a totally ridiculous one to do.
During production between the latter half of 1983 and through 1984, the yellow base did change. It went from a dark yellow to a lemon yellow too.
Towards the end of 1984 a promotional issue was created for Pauls Agriculture, a company from the UK that had been around since the 19th century selling animal feed, fertilizers and brewing products (malt, barley etc). They amalgamated with BOCM in 1992 and later with ForFarmers which still trades now. But these arrived just as the newer lemon bases were being used. There is a darker yellow base variant, but it is harder to find. And yes, the white base exists because the fuel tanker was still in production and they were still mixing things up. After 1984 the Fuel Tanker was dropped, but the Articulated Truck was still to go one more year. But Universal were clearing out basic range and twin pack production from the England factory, so the tooling was sent to Macau.
In 1985 it looked like that. That’s it. There was no alternate cab running alongside to mix things up with. And they were pretty consistent with the colours on the model, so there was just the one variant. It ran a year, and then the model was dropped.
A clever tip if you were looking for a Macau one, is that Macau production has amber windows. England had red.
It saves you having to try and see the base. there is a small caveat. In 1990, as part of a test for a new factory in China, they sent some castings over for some dummy runs. Many later appeared in multipacks, a few in single blisters on the local market (particularly if they were smaller runs). This was one of the models and was found in singles on the local market in China in 1990. It looks identical, except it has a China base, but it does sport dot-dash wheels. Not 5-arch that the model always has. I currently am still looking. It is proving impossible to find. But after that, the casting was retired for good.
Let’s get a bit easier shall we? 1998. The MB322 ’70 Boss Mustang. And yes, at first, they didn’t put Ford on this one too. Although this was 1998, pre-production actually began before Mattel took over, and this was classified as a Matchbox Int’l Ltd base model. 1999s were the first year models that were purely Mattel created (not including the older CAT stuff that was already in the Mattel toolbank and re-branded as a Matchbox product). Wait, did I just say this was easier? Maybe if I didn’t waffle too much. I don’t usually show premiums, but this was how it debuted. At the time they would create First Edition twin packs featuring the first 10,000 models rolling off the production line. Half would be highly detailed and the other half left blank to highlight the detailing that went into the castings. The Mustang was yellow with black striping on the half that was painted.
Although I think they overdid it. Because some of the yellow bodies ended up left in the store room at the back of the factory, and Mattel came in and told them to clear out the room. So they just constructed models any old how and dumped them out on the local market, or in two-packs later.
The model then arrived in the basic range in purple with a yellow side design and Boss 302. During production of the 1998 MB37, the yellow would vary from quite a deep yellow to a fairly pale one. After 1998 the model was dropped from the basic range, never to be put there again. Seriously, this was the entire basic range run.
But it appeared they overdid this too. Because the local Chinese market also found some with 8-spoke off road wheels on them.
After being dropped from the basic range, we did see some further action. There are 4 more premiums. In 1999 a Mustang gift set gave us a blue one, and in 2001 a Toys R Us Then & Now twin pack gave us a pea green one. Plus 2003 had a pair of Barrett Jackson models in green and metallic blue. So far I have picked up the Mustang one (as I said, if people want me to show those too, just the random ones I have got so far I can, just leave a message at the end to say to do it), but outside of premiums we did get more. One of my personal favourites is this one. It was in the “Real Talking” twin pack in 1999 and came with a police car that would speak (in English or Spanish depending on the market).
There was nothing at all in 2000. Aside from the TRU premium, Avon also gave us a unique model in their 2001 Coca-Cola twin packs. That year, each twin pack was themed by decade. This was from the 1970s themed set. It came with a 1970 Chevy El Camino. They didn’t get very far into the 1970s with it, did they….
But what they did get into was changing bases. A number of castings saw their original plastic bases changed to metal. During the change they altered it to Mattel Inc in place of Matchbox Intl Ltd too. It didn’t last. After 2001 they reverted it back to plastic.
And for anybody interested, this is the Avon model next to the First Edition. A pretty similar yellow, and design (apart from the added Coke related stuff), but on a more “core” printing rather than premium level printing.
2002? Again nothing. As I mentioned 2003 did give us 2 Barrett Jackson models, neither of which I have found yet, but we next saw the casting in 2004. It was part of a Duracell on-pack promotion in USA featuring an array of exclusive Mustang castings packaged alongside a set of AA batteries.
And then it popped up in the Superfast series. Number 28 that year in white.
It continued into the 2005 Superfast series too, and with each model sporting 2 colours due to the USA vs ROW release ranges, the ROW market saw it in red, the USA market in blue.
It was also included in a Unique Target exclusive Superfast tin pack in a lovely shiny green.
In 2006 it was dropped from Superfast and saw no action, but 2007 it returned in the new Superfast America series, which was just a smaller group of USA vehicles. It was in the number 5 slot in mustard gold.
After that it went quiet again. 2008? 2009? No? Is it the end? No, not quite. 2010 was a fun one. At the time, Mattel would release a series of 4 batches of 10-packs through the year. Each batch would consist of 1 pack that was all exclusive. Alongside these packs were 2 other packs that had 1 exclusive in the top corner and 9 pulled from basics and 5-packs (mainly). For 2010, those 2 alternate packs actually contained the same 2 exclusive models. But for each batch they would change colour. When the “Real” batch arrived at the start of the year, one of the alternative packs had the Mustang in green.
When the “Action” batch arrived 3 months later, the Mustang alternative pack had a blue one.
Another quarter year later and the “Adventure” batch arrived with a red Mustang in one of the others packs.
And finally, the “1st Editions” batch at the end of the year saw a yellow Mustang in one of those other 2 packs.
Another yellow. Another comparison. This one was a much darker shade of yellow than the First Edition was.
After this, we saw a Lesney Edition model in 2011. Another change of base too. This had an all-new metal base (not the 2001 one) created for a final swansong (unless it ever returns). This was a mustard yellow model with a lot of additional logos and a 28 roundel to the norm. This was based on the look of the car that won the 1970 Trans-Am Championship. Which was a pretty cool and pretty realistic look.
And as I said, this was a mustard yellow and so was a lot darker than other yellows (I went with the Coke one for a change). After this release though, we have not seen the casting at all.
Whoa! Digging this out of the archives. The MB497 Radar Plane. This was the start of the 2000s. Matchbox had been given a direction by Mattel to work along. With their other brand doing lots and lots of cars, Matchbox were given the task of coming out with a lot of other types of vehicles. But not just road vehicles. No, flying vehicles, floating vehicles? You know, think out of the box. Something unique. And well, this was pretty unique.
There was a body with a click in radar on the top. 2 wings that would close in tight for packaging and storage, but could open up for play value.
And the base did have 2 small wheels sticking out the bottom that could allow it to be rolled (if required). It debuted as MB41 in the basic range in 2001.
Although due to a small blip, some came out without all of the roof printing. It was technically an error, but numerous examples were found to officially classify it as a variation.
It also appeared in an Airspeed 5-pack that year as well, in yellow with red wings and a globe/checks design.
For 2002 it was moved to the MB40 slot in a dark green with glow in the dark wings and radar. Being 2002 this meant that the first 10,000 had a 50 logo on the roof. But also, for this year, something I don’t often mention, is that the series was split into numerous sections. The first 52 slots in the range were all small sub-sets of 4 models at a time, and the MB37-40 sub-set was known as Nite Glow. And yes, this meant that all 4 from that particular sub-set had plastic parts on them that would glow in the dark.
In 2003 the model moved to the MB34 slot in yellow with orange wings, featuring a non-descript side design. Again, this was a logo year, so the first 10,000 yet again had a logo on the roof.
At the end of the year, Mattel had a unique 20-pack created and sold direct through the Mattel store. Standard 20-packs just had regular models in them, but this pack, which was packaged in a metallic silver cardboard style, and as I said exclusive to their store had every single model with a twist. 3 were actually in unique designs. The rest all saw something different compared to the regular issue. Some were literally just sporting gold wheel hubs in place of silver, but a number of them had a different colour to one of the parts. This model was included, and the body was now metallic gold instead of yellow, although everything else about it was identical.
After that the model was dropped from the basic range. 2004 saw this dark blue with orange wings issue sold in an Air Control 5-pack. As 2004 was finishing, and with the direction Matchbox was taking nosediving, they closed Mount Laurel, moved everything in-house to El Segundo and many models were immediately scrapped. All of the Ultra Heroes for starters were gone immediately, but with them went a lot of other vehicles that were not likely to fit in with the new direction the brand was taking. This was one of them, and was quietly retired (as opposed to the massive party surrounding Ultra Heroes going).
The MB892 BMW R1200GS. Yes, I finish with a bike. One of 2 different BMW bikes that were created in the 2010s, although this was the lesser used version. It debuted in the 2013 range as MB112 in yellow. No wait, this isn’t yellow. Oh that’s right, it didn’t debut. Something happened. I have no idea what, but the debut version of the casting ended up being canceled. One of 2 brand new castings that were canceled that year. The other being the Range Rover Evoque. This one fared better than the Evoque though, as they re-planned it for a 2014 release and it made it. Yes the Evoque didn’t make that either, with its third time in 2015 being the lucky one. This though, 2014 and an MB38 release in blue and there it is. Phew!
In 2015 it moved to the MB101 slot in red.
And in 2016 we saw another issue as MB120 in olive green. although funnily enough this had a police theme to it, even though this was a civilian bike and they also had a police bike too.
The casting was also added to the new Best of series that was just arriving that year as well in chrome and black, with chrome added to the wheels, because this was a more premium product. And then….
Nothing. That’s it. After 2016 and a brief 3-year stint, the casting was gone. Maybe never to be seen again. Who knows.
And that is the end of another report. A report that featured 4 different Toyota MR2s….
As well as 2 other unique vehicles in the Retro series.
And as is the norm with these side series, we had 3 carry forwards making up the batch of 6.
But that is it for this week and I hope people have enjoyed reading it. Hopefully everyone will have a nice week ahead, and I will be back for more next Monday. Same Matchbox time, same Matchbox channel.