Matchbox Monday powers through some 9-packs

Another week arrives, and with it another Matchbox Monday. Usually my report will be based on a batch of something, or in the case of basic range models, a partial batch. But last year I started doing the 9-packs due to having those semi-exclusives in each batch. Even though the semi-exclusives have been dropped again (boo), the exclusives are still pretty cool models, and to be honest, I didn’t want to ignore them. So thinking that just doing a single batch wasn’t going to be enough, I decided to double up and do a post about batches B & C of 2022. Now as we know, Mattel are back to the standard release pattern again with these. There are 6 batches due through the year, each batch consisting of 2 different assortments. Those assortments pull models from either the basic range or 5-packs (perhaps another range too) but do include a single model in the top corner that is exclusive. It can only be found in that particular pack. Now batch A did have a semi-exclusive anomaly. The Ford F-100 Panel Van was snuck in the mix, but moving forward we are just getting the exclusives (unless something else random pops up, it can happen at times). Batches B & C though, no anomalies. So let us check out the exclusives. I start with batch B

First up is the MB1194 ’61 Ford Falcon Ranchero in orange. This is the fourth release of this casting, and the first time that it has 1, been outside of the basic range and 2, had a side design. So this was definitely way out of what we are used to for this model.

It is a nice look. A rather simple pin stripe affair with an MB Construction logo on the doors. As is often the case, we see blue tinted windows on a classic car. This seems to be quite the in thing nowadays. I don’t dislike it. I suppose growing up in the 1970s, Matchbox used to colour windows in all sorts of hues. So I am used to it, and these sort of things don’t detract from the look in my eyes. But I like this design. Why?

Well…. Recurring theme! The same door logo featured on the debut version of the MB920 Ford F-350 Stake Truck back in 2014.

And anybody who follows me on either the blog or on my Instagram will know I do enjoy a bit of a recurring theme. So when you come up with a look that has been seen before elsewhere, you know I am going to like it. Purely for the nostalgia. So yes, this has a big thumbs up from me.

But obviously I will still do my rundown of previous issues. As we know, the model debuted in the final batch of 2018. It was scheduled to be a 2019 batch A model, and was not announced as a part of the 2018 line-up when the 2018 stuff was made known. It was going to be announced at the 2018 Gathering as a new for 2019 issue, but occasionally a planned model does not make it. A gap opened up in the 2018 series, and it was early enough that they could change plans. Sometimes these gaps appear too late to do anything about. So the model being one ready to go for 2019 already got bumped up to a 2018 release. If anybody follows MAN numbers, MB1194 is after the majority of other 2019 debut issues. It was well, whatever colour you call that. Well whatever it was, it does do good for shades.

So obviously getting a last minute bump to the 2018 range, meant that there was no release in 2019. The next version appeared in the 2020 range. And boy was this one fun. It was released as MB75 in white. Or creamy white as this too sported shading to white. Love it!

And it got even better , as after debuting with disk wheels, we found a later run with 6-spokes instead. And yes, the same white vs creamy white look was found there too. Why are there such a lack of wheel variations lately? Honestly, this is the quickest and easiest way to create buzz around a model, and when nutty collectors are around, wheel variants are one of the major things that pique their interests. They honestly should be doing more random wheel variations and causing a frenzy.

After this, for 2021 we had a blue MB96. I think it was a little boring (not the look, as I thought this blue with brown interior and white base with added side and rear highlights was lovely), but this was the only blue look I found. No variants! Boo! I am doing a lot of that in this report.

The other model in the assortment was the MB706 Lotus Exige. I have a feeling that this was likely a last minute replacement, as they were due to be putting a Bugatti Divo in the other pack, but likely missed a deadline or something. We don’t see all the workings behind the scenes on getting everything aligned and in place, and with such a short deadline to do something, maybe spoke with Lotus over a quick change to something that was already out.

Because this British Racing Green look is extremely familiar.

Step forward the 2021 Best of UK issue. Yes, something is extremely familiar.

Now when you put the 2 side by side, the new one is actually a slightly lighter shade of green. There is not much in it, but that could just be a standard shade variation that I talk about. The front tampo print is also identical. But not everything is.

Now the wheels are obviously different. The 2022 9-pack release has gunmetal 5-spokes, whereas the 2021 Best of UK had black double 10-spokes. Okay you could still argue the point using the white Falcon Ranchero I literally just showed. Wheels can switch occasionally. But there is one small but subtle difference I have not showed yet.

At the rear, the word Lotus is printed in white on the new model. On the 2021 Best of UK it was printed in black. So there you go. Technically it is different. Small changes they may be, but changes there are, which does mean yes this is a new issue in an exclusive design. Just! It’s the little things that count.

They do like green on this one. Hmm! I know I only did a dive back last year when the Best of UK arrived, but I am going to do another.

2007! 15 years ago it debuted as MB12 in the basic range in yellow with the louvres over the top being detailed as well as front lights.

After which a version 2 later in the year gave us our first green. A much lighter green it was, but the seeds were there. This was cool for shading too.

We even saw a little bit of green on the First Editions 10-pack release that debut year too. Black with dual green stripes going over the top. And yes, if you look closely you do see the green stripes did vary.

2008 saw another 3 issues of the model, but this time there was no green involved. A lot of blue. The basic range saw this blue MB15, which again was good for a shade or 2.

The model was also added to the Best of British series that year in a greyish blue, which at times had a bit of a purple tint to it.

There was a non-blue release too that year. It was a part of the Superfast series as number 15 in the set of 20, and sported a yellow and a grey stripe which went over the top and down the back too.

After 2 years with 3 releases, 2009 was a little boring only getting the 1. It was a basic range issue again, this time in metallic dark green with black louvre detailing and gold wheels as MB17.

In 2010 it was still in the basic range, this time in orange as MB1 featuring silver edged yellow stripes.

But we did see an additional release in the Real 10-pack that year in white.

I love how the rear end is still pretty consistent even after all these years. Random things I pick up on.

In 2011 it was MB10 in the basic range, with this really cool blue issue featuring one yellow and one white stripe and a 7 roundel. That is still my favourite look for this casting. I can’t help it, I love stripes.

And even with red being my favourite colour, that last issue just had something about it. This was right up there too. The 2012 MB45. Sadly, this proved to be the last outing as a basic range model. Unless it returns. Who knows?

After taking 2013 off, the model did pop up in a 5-pack for the first time. Yes, as shocking as it may seem, the 2014 MBX Exotics 5-pack is the only time we have seen the Lotus Exige in a 5-pack. It was blue again, and during production did vary quite a bit. After this it was on quite the hiatus.

Until 7 years later the 2021 Best of UK series brought it back in British Racing Green for the first time, and now we have al alternate British Racing Green with subtle differences for batch B 9-packs in 2022.

Which brings us on to batch C. This is why I doubled up. That was quite short. Unless something unique crops up, I may triple up later this year (or early 2023 if it turns out that is when I do them) and showcase batches D-F all together. Or not. I don’t know yet. Lots of stuff coming, I may start mixing them up with certain other items instead. I will see how things play out. Oh hello MB1204 ’56 Powell Sport Wagon. I was wondering where you were?

I was a little curious. I am a bit of a nerd. Has anyone picked up on that? This model debuted in the 2020 basic range and then promptly disappeared. I made a checklist of 2021’s basic range and cross-referenced all the new 2020 castings that had debuted. 2 of them were missing from the 2021 series. This one and the MB1215 MBX Cycle Trailer. Okay I could see with the Cycle Trailer that being a trailer and Hitch & Haul returning in 2021 perhaps it was being moved there. I haven’t seen it there. But it is looking like returning to the basic range this year. But I wondered why the Powell was not there? It seemed to garner quite a lot of positive attention when it arrived. I don’t think it will be in the 2022 basic range if it is exclusive here. Most exclusives tend to be castings not in that year’s basic range. Not all. Some do appear in both. But I have a feeling this will be it for this year? I love the red. And I love the extra detail. This model is “Straight Outta Compton”. Yes, I put in an N.W.A. reference After all Compton is often thought of as a bit of a Hip-Hop Mecca. Although I am not starting an East Coast/West Coast thing here. But Compton is know for a lot more, like the Williams sisters tennis players, and Kevin Costner the actor. But the Powell Manufacturing Company, which began in 1926, was also based in Compton for a long time. It was only in the mid 1960s that they moved into South Gate (literally a few miles up the road) where they continued until closing down in 1979. So the Sport Pickup was always made in Compton. So very topical with the choice of license plate. I actually prefer this one to the debut. It may be because it is red.

The 2020 MB90 pops up for a few photos too. Again I love the consistency here. The detailing on the 2 models is pretty much identical. I do believe when you line a bunch of the same models up that their detailing being the same makes them even more believable.

Of course the rear end has the license plate with different details. I love reading what they put on the plates. Again; geek! I am also curious. The yellow has a red interior. Then we get red. This has a grey interior. Is the next release going to be in grey? If it is I am going to laugh. Because you know, do I really need to say it again????

So as I said, not all 9-pack exclusives will be of castings not in the basic range. You do get the odd ones, and the MB1198 ’94 Chevy Caprice Classic Police I believe will be in the 2022 basic range later this year in a different design. But this one is seriously cool. A real look. This sports the look of the San Luis Obispo Police Department. Funnily enough, Compton is in California, and San Luis Obispo is also in California. So batch C has a definite California theme to it, and not a surfboard in sight.

So admittedly this is a fairly modern police car look assigned to a 1994 vehicle. Although some say this should really be a 1992 due to the skirted rear wheel wells, but I go with the date written on the base and signed off by General Motors. But I don’t mind it being a little more modern, as the vehicle is not a vintage classic. I think it is great, and am happy to see the recurring theme. Mind you, San Luis Obispo has quite the theme on models in general across a wide array of vehicles.

Because if you check back there are a number of non-police ones too. The Fire Department got in on the act first. It all started back in 2010 when this MB771 ’09 Ford E-350 Ambulance appeared exclusively in the US range as MB54.

It was actually followed up in 2011 by a Super Convoy release of the Mega Ton Fire Truck, but as I don’t collect Super Convoys I can’t show it. So I move on to the next release. In 2015 Matchbox released a series of Supreme Heroes models as premiums, and the MB796 Hazard Squad was one of them in an SLO scheme.

After which we saw our first police themed model. Now as I said, the Caprice isn’t a vintage classic, but the MB1046 ’51 Hudson Hornet Police is. It has over 40 years on the Caprice. So that does feature a more retro looking police theme when it was a part of the 2020 MBX Countryside 5-pack.

The fire theme wasn’t done yet, but this time the MB817 Ford F-550 Super Duty from the 2020 basic range, where it was sold as MB22, was the first to see the new SLO logo on the door. Something that every release since has seen.

Because the MB1179 ’16 Ford Interceptor utility in a police theme also sported the logo on the door, matching the look of the Caprice, when it was sold as MB65 in the 2021 basic range. So I am loving this Caprice, mainly due to the recurring theme shared with this Interceptor.

And the fact that it continues a little tradition from the last decade or so of having some San Luis Obispo themed models. But while I am here, why not do a little recap of this casting to date.

It debuted as MB7 in the 2020 basic range as MB7 in white with an NYPD livery. So right off the bat, this was giving us some licensed liveries.

We then saw a 5-pack release later that year too as it was a part of the MBX Marine Rescue 5-pack in blue. A blue that I did find was good for a bit of shade.

In 2021 it moved to the MB32 slot with another real livery. This time for the Canadian Royal Mounted Police.

And then we had one of the coolest looks I have ever seen on a Matchbox. The 2021 9-pack semi-exclusive with a police auction livery. Oh wait, this is the Bosque Security side.

The other side was the cool one. This still makes me smile when I see it. It is just brilliant. I am waiting for them to do another livery like this.

So considering it has not been around for long, literally debuting the same year as the Powell, this is already up to 5 different designs, with possibly a 6th coming soon. So batch C of the 9-packs features 2 castings that originally debuted in 2020. One on its second outing, the other its fifth. It’s funny how things go at different paces isn’t it.

So with the run down of the 2x 9-pack batches done, I think I am about due another dive back.

So this week I am going to start with a Matchbox Originals design, as they now want them referred to. Which means retroactively calling the classic ones Originals rather than generic. This was indeed their own creation. It was 1975, and Lesney came up with unique take on a fire engine. They called it Blaze Buster, and it debuted as MB22-C. The model ran until 1981 worldwide, but after the US range dropped it, the ROW range continued until 1983. The whole time it was red with a Fire label on the side and amber windows. As you delve deeper into it though, you start to see it did change quite a bit.

The first production run is one of the rarest. When it first entered production in 1975 it had a white ladder. But they felt it was not standing out enough against the rest of the model and immediately changed it.

So they turned it black. That was really noticeable. Yes, you can see the black ladder. But does it suit the model? Hmm! Maybe not. Only a few months of production and they decided to come up with a new plan.

How about yellow? Hmm! Much better. Suits it much more than black or white does. So yellow it was. By the end of the year we were on the yellow ladder which continued on until the end.

But what about that base? Was an unpainted base the way to go? Maybe not. So in 1976 they started painting it black.

Usually it is a gloss black, which ran until the end. But some production runs would come out with “off-black” colours. A dark blueish-grey shade, a brownish shade, maybe flat black or charcoal. But I have not particularly pursued those for my collection.

So they got the ladder right. They got the base right. But what about the interior? At first they were chroming it, but as is often the case, chroming stuff tends to get a little boring, and in 1977 they gave up. From that point on, interiors were white. So over the course of 3 years we saw them changing the ladder, base and then interior of the model. But that was not the end of things.

Aside from a short run during the transition from chrome to white interiors where they used up some 4-spoke wheels (I haven’t got either of them, both chrome and white interiors exist), they were soon back to 5-spokes again. This carried on until the end of the 1970s. But in 1980 they felt that the red itself was perhaps too light. So in 198o it turned dark red.

Oh look, turns out I do have a base shade variation. Bases are always dark. Some just come out with a slightly unusual shade. Not proper black. Because this was Lesney, and they used whatever paint close to where they were aiming for all the time. “We need black!” shouts one. “Hmm, got this” says another. “Close enough”. Oh to have been at the factory.

Now red does shade. The interior looks like it has too, but I think in this case, the white plastic has just yellowed a little with age on the one at the front.

Of course as the model was nearing the end of its existence, circa 1982, the yellow ladder did see a change. It went much darker in shade after the model had become an ROW exclusive, although you can get random long card issues of the Blaze Buster from 1983. I am not sure where they came from, but I have seen a few ROW exclusives on US long grid card. There must have been a small run for something made in 1983 with each model sporting no number and their name over the blister on a small white strip. So you may actually find a dark yellow ladder in the US market.

Of course one thing I have not talked about too much is the window tint. Always amber, but this too car vary from quite a dark shade to a much lighter one. These 2 loo like different yellow interiors. But obviously the interior was white. It is the window that is causing the variant.

Perhaps a side on view showing different ladder shades, different body shades and different window shades.

The model was dropped from the ROW range after 1983. Sadly they ran out of labels before the final production finished. They didn’t want to go to the trouble of making a whole new batch of Fire labels just to finish off the last run. Luckily a Superkings K-39 Snorkel Fire Engine was also in production. That had a small (for a Superkings model) No 32 label which was being stuck on the side doors. It was the same size. It was red and yellow. So they just grabbed a bunch of sheets of them and applied them to the final Blaze Busters. Job done. And so was the Blaze Buster. Except not quite.

In 1986, as part of a deal with a Bulgarian company, they leased the casting (along with the Seasprite) for 1 year and the Bulgarian factory went nuts. They painted it red, red, red or red. Yes that’s right. This model never was painted in any other colour than red (not including pre-production samples). Of course Bulgarian reds are in 4 significant shades. Well 3 shades and 1 metallic. These tended to sport 5-arch wheels in place of the English 5-spokes. They always had clear windows. But the rest?

Well the base would be painted either black or silver. But something unusual occurred with the rest. You see interiors and ladders are 2 separate entities. They created a load of yellow ones of each, and a bunch of whites. But they never mixed and matched. I have no idea why. But if they put in a yellow interior, it would have a yellow ladder. If they put in a white interior, it would have a white ladder. I do not know of any crossovers. Very unusual. But that is the way they did things. After this finished, the model was retired once and for all.

So where to next? The MB141 Jaguar XJ6. That’s where. This model had a fun start to its existence. Universal had set up a deal to bring the brand new Jaguar XJ40 (the code name for the new vehicle) in small scale alongside the launch of the real vehicle in 1984. The older XJ-series had been going since 1968 and was due a new look. Plans were underway in the late 1970s and in 1981 an £80million budget was set aside to create the all new Jag for a 1984 debut. Things were going along well until British Leyland (it’s parent company) starting seeing difficulties. In 1984 Jaguar split from British Leyland before its eventual collapse (they call it a de-merger) and the CEO of the Jaguar brand saw the opportunity to delay the real vehicle for 2 years and fine tune it. The old XJ was still selling pretty well, particularly in North America so it got delayed. Therefore, so did the Matchbox model.

Anybody who had a 1984 Matchbox catalogue might have seen a certain “hidden” model in the “new” section. A 1984 new model from a leading UK manufacturer. Yeah, this one. The Jaguar XJ6. But by the time Jaguar finally unveiled the model on 8th October 1986 with production starting almost immediately as a 1987 model, this also meant that the Matchbox model did not arrive until the 1987 range either. It was pretty quick out in 1987, selling as either MB1 in the ROW range or MB41 in the US range, as the model had been sitting there for a few years waiting to be launched. the delays were more about fine tuning the engine, certain other parts. the shape of the vehicle was already in place. So the Matchbox model did not need alterations. Except one.

You see they copyrighted the model in 1984. But with the delays in actually getting it out on to the market, the copyright had expired and they had to re-copyright it again. An initial batch used up some 1984 bases that they didn’t want to waste, but literally only a month or so later, we were seeing updated bases.

It had been re-copyrighted in late 1986, so the 4 was blanked out and a 6 put there instead. If you look closely you will see that the 6 was not quite lined up with the rest of the numbers. It is slightly low.

You will find differences in shade of the 1987 issue because it ran until 1989 unchanged from Macau. So with 3 years, small variances in either body or interior can be found.

During that time we did see a few promotional issues too. The first was in late 1988 as a promotional tool for Whyte & Mackay. Whyte & Mackay is a Scottish distiller of Scotch Whiskey. for Christmas 1988 they had a UK on-pack competition to be won. the winner would be sent on a trip for 2 to Miami in USA. They called it a “fly-drive” holiday and the picture of the model chosen was a Jaguar XJ6. As such in these special packs would be a box containing the flyer with details, and a little Matchbox model in black with their logo on the front.

In 1989 a worldwide Pharmaceutical company called Roche released a set of 4 promotional vehicles in exclusive window boxes in Hong Kong. They were advertising Redoxon, a vitamin C supplement that had been created in the 1930s, and the 4 models were a Ferrari Testarossa, Mercedes-Benz 50SEC, Porsche 959 and this green Jaguar XJ6.

Launched for Christmas 1989 and running into 1990 was a Woolworth exclusive promotional Superkings series. They had some Matchbox Superkings models packaged together with smaller miniature size versions in the same colour packaged together. One was the K-146 Jaguar XJ6 which was sold in white along a unique smaller version too.

During 1990 Universal closed the Macau factory moving all remaining production to either China or Thailand. This model happened to go to Thailand. Later 1990s runs were made there. Visually it still looks the same, although interiors are a lighter tan shade.

Obviously the base will tell you where it was made, so if you find a Thailand one they are tougher to find than Macau ones. After 1990 though, the model was dropped from the basic range and MB141 was finished.

The Jaguar XJ6 wasn’t though. As part of a retooling and cost reduction, they turned the civilian model that had a metal base and opening doors into a police vehicle with a plastic base and sealed doors. The end of the 1980s/beginning of the 1990s saw a large cost reduction exercise for the brand due to Universal starting to struggle. The model was no longer a part of the US range at all, but this new police version simply took over the MB1 slot for the ROW range. However, due to the changes to the casting, it was reassigned as MB231. For 1991 it was white with a Police and yellow/blue side stripe design.

In 1992 the design changed to a new one, with Police on the front and rear and a new blue checks and orange side stripe design. However, some models did come out with a more peachy side stripe instead. But then there was a small mistake.

You see, in mid 1993 a set of Showstoppers (or Motor Show depending on market) series was launched. 2 models on a plinth from the same manufacturer, with each plinth able to lock together to form a hexagon. But they didn’t want to use a police XJ6, so they altered the casting to remove the roof element and turn it into MB244. This was issued in the set in solid blue with front and rear detailing. A metallic blue was also sold as a World Class model, but I don’t have one so can’t show it.

Now I have no idea exactly what happened, but it appears that the factory inadvertently threw away the original casting or accidentally broke it while making the new variant. Because as the blue model was debuting, suddenly basic range models started appearing without roof lights. It ran until 1998 as a police car, and yet those lights never re-appeared. The MB231 casting was gone. From this point, only the MB244 variant was used.

In 1994 the model was nearly added to the Graffic Traffic series when they were launching their chrome sets. Mock-ups were made, but in the end it did not make the cut.

But it was added to a multipack of Jaguar models. The MC-21 set saw this and 3 other Jags in a set with a Convoy truck. These were only sold in ROW markets.

Now I don’t tend to show a lot of the premium stuff, and in 1997 a charcoal model was sold in a JC Penney gift set, but also we saw this metallic green Ultra Class model. Ultra Class were the highest level that Matchbox ever made to detailing, and as well as that, they also had a little fun.

Because on top of detailing the bases, they also screwed models together instead of riveting them. This was deliberate, as they wanted you to take the models apart so you could see all the interior detailing up close too.

So one handy screwdriver job later, and the model is now in pieces for us to marvel at the extreme level of detailing that was being given to the models.

As 1997 was finishing, so was this model’s run of being MB1 in the ROW range. Now there is a rare issue. And it came from USA, of which I haven’t got it yet. In USA a 25-pack was made with a few unique models included. The package was being advertised as including 8 unique models, but not all of them were. Some were just ROW issues in the set. At first glance, the Jag in the set was just the ROW issue, but if the package was checked carefully, you would discover that the usually tan interior was white in the set. I didn’t find that out until long after I had hunted down all the exclusives loose. So I am still struggling to either find it loose, or just go for it and get a 25-pack. But in 1998 the model did change. As part of Mattel’s new look for the series, all models were now given new numbers. This moved to MB27. They also had, for the most part, new designs. Although the Jag still used the same tampo design, they did change all the other parts. the tan interior turned blue, the blue windows turned clear and the black base turned grey. During the year production moved from Thailand to China too. After 1998 the model was dropped.

It did return in 2000, but only in the UK market. It was sold as MB14 and came in blue with the British flag on the side.

It saw one more basic range outing. Now as many know, in 2000 the basic range was split 5 ways. The US and ROW split was the norm, but for 2000 UK, Germany and Australia saw 10 different unique models. Other ROW markets saw a 4th set of 10, but due to these markets not always getting assortments, the second set of 5 ended up being skipped. So in 2001, Mattel came up with a solution. The 3 specific markets (UK, Germany and Australia) saw 10 models exclusive to the their markets as such. But the other ROW markets took a selection of these 10 models for their market. The Jaguar was given an MB51 slot for the German market, but was one of the chosen 10 to be also a part of the “other” ROW range as MB52. It was not a part of the UK or Australian ranges. This green look proved to be the final basic range outing entirely. But there was 1 more outing.

It had a swansong in the way of a 2005 Superfast release. It was an early batch as seen by the fact the models have the original Superfast bling wheels. It was number 57 in the series, and 7,500 black models were made for the ROW market, and 15,000 dark green were made for the US market. After this, the model was retired for good.

Next up in my dive back is the MB372 Chevy Transport Bus. It debuted in 1999. It was sold as MB24 worldwide in green with a National livery on it. National being a proper company based out of USA.

Later in the year it was also added to the Wilderness 5-pack in blue with a red and yellow design on the sides.

For 2000 it was moved to the MB73 slot for the US range or MB53 slot for the ROW range in tan with a Metro Motel Shuttle side design. If you lived in USA and were getting long car issues, you might have found a Matchbox 2000 logo over the front window of the first 10,000 made. After this, the model was retired from the basic range. Yes, that was the entire life of this casting as a basic range issue. But it had a lot of life in it yet.

Now there is a plain white ASAP blank out there somewhere. I have not been able to locate one as yet, but I keep looking. Plus, 2000 also saw a red Coca Cola themed Collectibles premium model, which again I am still hunting down the 1 premium release of the casting. So this means next up for me is the 2001 School Spirit 5-pack issue. Yes, this green with a science themed side design was part of the kiddifying of the range which ultimately led to Ultra Heroes.

It then took 2002 off before getting a Coca Cola single pack release in 2003. This was red, much like the premium I had mentioned but not shown, although the side design was different, and it didn’t sport additional detailing a premium model would have, or the premium wheels.

After this the model was a part of the Around the World series, depicting Niagara Falls. After this the model then became a multipack exclusive.

It started in 2006 when it was a part of the Fire 5-pack. Most commonly found with sawblade wheels, I am currently hunting the rarer 6-spoke wheel variant.

It was also in a licensed 5-pack as well. Matchbox had a tie in for the Superman Returns film that year, and it was in 1 of the 2x 5-packs that were issued alongside the movie. It came in white with a Metropolis Tours side design.

In 2007 it was issued on what was the final outing in its original configuration. A metal body with a plastic base. Again it was a 5-pack, and this one was called Airport. It is sort of obvious when you see the design.

For 2009 the parts had been flipped. It now had a plastic body and metal base. It first appeared in the 2009 Police 5-pack in white with a Prisoner Transport side design.

You may or may not have noticed a minor change that was made when they flipped the 2 parts around. The new plastic body casting now sports an indent over the driver’s door. that was never there for the metal casting. I have no idea why it was added? Perhaps Chevy requested it. Who knows.

It was then in the 2010 Blaze Busters 5-pack in red with a Forest Fire Control side design. And yes I discovered shades to the plastic red body.

And oh, we had a 10-pack issue too. I said after 2004 it was multipack exclusive. This was the only non-5-pack release after that time. It was a part of the Action all exclusive pack that year in blue with a Courtesy Shuttle design.

For some reason, blue then became the go-to colour of choice. Literally! It was becoming multipack exclusive and blue exclusive? The Airport Ground Crew 5-pack release for 2012 sported one of these with an Airport Shuttle side design.

Unpainted bases, or zamac plated as they are officially known, have a habit of not always looking the same. Depending on the temperature at the time of creation some can sport a blue hue, others a burnt hue. I am not a base collector but….

It is very noticeable at the front too.

After that we had one more release. 2013’s Airport 5-pack saw yet another blue with a simple Airport side design (which has been seen recurring since). Since the 2013 release, we have not seen this casting any more. Whether it is retired, you cannot tell for sure. We just sit and wait to see if another one will randomly pop up.

So now I move into the 2000s with the MB565 Opel Speedster. The third official Opel casting (not including the Vauxhall Astra, Vectra and Isuzu Rodeo castings that were sort of Opels too) that Matchbox ever made. It debuted in 2003 as MB6 in silver. This was both a year with a logo hunt (the first 10,000 had a Hero City logo on the driver’s door) and also the year where they were putting the number the model was in the basic range somewhere on the model too. That was the last of the logos, and after much complaining about copying other toy brands, the number on the model system was dropped too.

A second model also appeared in 2003 too. But only in Germany, as it was also added to the 2003 Stars of Germany series, exclusive to the German market.

And then it vanished. Not to be seen at all in 2004. Luckily that wasn’t too long though, as in 2005 it was back again. Tan with a black upper area for the 2005 MB46. Examples have been found without the word Matchbox printed at the rear of the black, but I never found one.

It was also a part of a VIP Parking 5-pack. As 2005 was beginning, the new team in El Segundo were trying to wipe out all traces of Hero City, but basic range models were the priority, and 5-packs were initially still a little as they were before catching up by the end of the year. They honestly couldn’t do everything in 1 go. They had to prioritize.

We also saw a pair of Speedsters in the 2005 Superfast series as well. The ROW market issue is on the left in dark orange and the US issue on the right in yellow. These were later 2005 release issues with the updated and much improved Superfast wheels (call back to the last Jag XJ6 I just showcased).

Still not done with 2005. Germany had another exclusive issue. In the “now named” Stars of Cars series, we saw this blue model with simple front and rear detailing. It did vary during production. This wasn’t just a shade though.

During production it shifted from China to Thailand. And yes, the German exclusives had a habit of putting Dinky on the bases. This was simply a way to keep a hold of the Dinky license. Packages also had Dinky printed on the backs too. It was a legal thing.

No still not done. The 2005 Superfast series was really the epitome of how good things were at the time. Two complete sets of 75 models, one for the US market, another for the ROW market. All 75 vehicles were licensed, and were the same worldwide, but in different colours. But they also did a few Superfast 5-packs too (and a Target exclusive 6-pack tin). One was called Autobahn, and the 5 models were all German vehicles in exclusive looks. The Opel was one of the models and came in teal with black over the top.

After that huge 2005 influx, things got a lot quieter. One release a year if we were lucky. For 2006, that release was in the basic range. It was MB16 in yellow, and I did see shading to that one.

For 2007, its one and only issue was in the Autobahn 5-pack in red. And no this was not another Superfast. This was a core range 5-pack.

2008 and this time it had progressed to being in a 10-pack. The Real pack that year in green also managed to see some shading to the model.

But then in 2009 something unusual happened. It got 2 releases again. A Modern Rides 5-pack release was in dark blue.

The Real 10-pack of the year saw it in blue. Wait? What? Are these just the same?

Nope. When you put the 2 side by side, that’s when you notice they are actually quite a lot different. Different interior shades and a significant different type of blue. Much more than you would normally get in shade variations.

Plus they did sport different bases too. So yes, 2 different releases, but on their own you might be wondering which was which.

That proved to be a little too much, so it needed a break. 2013 came along and suddenly this purple issue popped up as MB104. That was a little random and out of the blue. One of a few surprises we had during the 2013 model year.

It quietly shuffled off again for another sit down. That was until 2017 and the Open Road Cruisers 5-pack came along, and we saw this solid green release. Again shades of green could be found to this one. However, since 2017 we have not seen anything from this casting. Although I don’t discount it popping back up again, especially as a new Opel is finally out for 2022.

Which brings me to the last model I will dive back to this week. From the 2010s comes the MB833 Terrain Trouncer. The first of 3 castings in a very short space of time to use the word Terrain in their name. This debuted in the 2012 basic range as MB102. There was a 2-part reason for introducing this, and a number of other models like it. For starters, the range was being tweaked to come at things from a slightly different perspective. More colourful vehicles, more original designs, and a way to position things more from a child’s perspective. Secondly, these models were being made with a view that they could again be added to playsets as exclusives. Neither venture lasted. Sales of the tweaked range went down and thankfully it has reverted back to the more successful way of selling Matchbox. Realism! Sadly though, bringing back exclusives for playsets did not last either, and we are back to just having models pulled from elsewhere to throw in the set.

This one did last a few years though. In 2013 a purple model was sold as MB74 with a Team MBX theme. During production you might have spotted a shade to the purple.

Or you might have found a batch where the window came out a rather milky colour rather than opaque red.

A second issue was made as the year progressed. This time it was in zamac with a simple striped side design. Still as MB74. It was a version 2.

For 2014 the basic range issue was MB46 in black and red with a compass designed roof and side stripes.

And we also got our playset exclusive. It was a part of a Marine Rescue Shark Ship playset, and was 1 of 3 exclusive models included in the set.

2015 would prove to be its final basic range outing. This matte orange MB93 issue did sport a wheel change mid way through production. Therefore you could find it with either cog wheels or 6-spoke wheels. So it actually had a 4 year stint in the basic range.

But there was 1 last outing for the model. Although dropped as a basic range issue, for 2016 it was included in the Desert 5-pack in red. This proved to be the last we would see of the casting, as we know the brand has corrected course and moved away from vehicles like this.

And with that, I believe another report is over. So that was batch B of the 2022 9-packs….

And batch C of the 2022 9-packs all covered. Well actually I should say the exclusives from the packs covered. As of now each batch contains 2 packs with 1 exclusive in it.

Next week I dig into some models sent over to me from Wheel Collectors as they are not available in the UK. They are getting a bunch of Matchbox items in now, and I am getting stuff sent over again. Woohoo! I love it! Until then, I hope people enjoyed the report and have a good week. See you next Monday.

5 Replies to “Matchbox Monday powers through some 9-packs”

  1. Great trip down memory lane. I had forgotten about that odd looking fire truck (Blaze Buster) from 1975. Not a fan of generics (excuse me, Originals!) but those Lesney creations from the 70s can be so wacky looking I can’t help but feel affection for them. The Opel Speedster is my favorite of the old castings. The teal Superfast release from 2005 is the best despite those iffy-looking wheels Matchbox used 2004-2006. The 5 spoke, 6 spoke, and 10 spoke wheels all look better. But the teal really makes this casting pop! And, of course, the Lotus Exige is one of the best ever Matchbox castings. Matchbox has a long and glorious history with Lotus. The 1st generation Lotus Europa was my first every Superfast. Awesome toys.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing them again. I agree those Superfast wheels of the mid 2000s weren’t exactly the best. The original blingy ones were really bad. Thankfully they switched to a better one, but it was still not as good as the ones used in the mainline. Of course classics started getting retro wheels, which really suited them. Sadly the Speedster wasn’t a classic. I know what you mean with Blaze Buster. Hated it as a kid being so unrealistic. But now I enjoy hunting down variations on it.

      1. Hello David. Thank you for y our reply. I have an additional question concerning the Opel Speedster — more specifically the blue one sold in Germany with DINKY stamped on the base. I purchased a Range Rover Sport (German edition, dark blue, MB691, 2005 casting date) and it also has the DINKY brand stamped on the base. Could you elaborate a bit more on this? I know Matchbox had a relationship with Dinky in the late 1980s when it issued a series of 1/43 scale toys. Adding more complexity to the mix is the resurrection of Dinky in Europe (again 1/43 scale) by a (Swiss?) toy company called Atlas. Mattel also has a financial stake in the Atlas/Dinky toys. I ask because I am curious about all of the twists and turns Matchbox has made over the decades from Lesney to Mattel. If you can’t shed any additional light on the matter I can ask elsewhere. Thanks!

      2. Ah! You must be talking about the Stars of Cars 2007 issues of the Range Rover Sport. Yes, Universal purchased the rights to the Dinky name back in the mid 1980s. They were planning on their own Dinky series, but due to legal issues had to do something very fast, so issued 6 miniatures in unique designs in traditional Dinky branded blisterpacks in 1987 in a local store to legally say it is out there and keep the trademark. They then created their own Dinky series. It ran until 1995 as the series was phased out during the Tyco era. But the Dinky trademark is still with Mattel. Once Mattel had taken over, it was sparingly used on random models in their 1/43 scale Collectibles series for odd models until 2006, and in the early 2000s they started adding the name to the Stars of Cars models too as a way of holding the license in Europe. I 2008 they set up a deal with Norev to market “classic” Dinky models in replica packaging under their Atlas brand. They ran from 2009 until 2014 and had both Norev and Mattel trademarks on them. I believe the license is still currently with Mattel, but if they don’t do something with it soon they may lose it.

  2. Okay, that is quite a legal odyssey! Thanks for the response and for being such a treasure trove of toy knowledge. 🙂 By the way, I have quite a few of the Dinky/Norev/Atlas/Mattel (a mouthful!) 1/43 reproductions. The 1st generation Chevy Corvair and the Panhard CT 24 constitute my two favorites. I won’t share how much money I’ve spent on European shipping. A problem which has only gotten much worse thanks to Vlad upending the world.

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