Well here we are, circa half the way through the 2022 model year, and so far only the first 3 of 8 scheduled batches are out. Although I am seeing early signs of batch D surfacing. As I write this batch D hasn’t arrived at Wheel Collectors, who I am using for many ranges, due to the UK being in such short supply of them. Moving Parts are just not readily available where I am. However, as this goes live, I will be in USA, getting myself in the mood for the latest convention in Albuquerque. Plus I will be hitting various stores and just marveling at the amounts (hopefully) of Matchbox I see. Although as many in USA will testify, it’s hit and miss. But it will be fun to be on a hunt again. In the meantime, let me showcase the latest batch that has hit Wheel Collectors. And this one sees three brand new castings out of the 5 in the mix. That is a significant ratio. So this will be short and sweet. Oh I am sure I can pad it out.
So let us start with the lowest number. The MB1309 ’21 Mazda MX-30. It takes the number 4 slot in the series of 50 models for 2022. In less than a week I (as well as everybody else) will know if this range gets a further boost for 2023. I hope it does. So many people are wanting for this to be the new norm within Matchbox.
The MX-30 is a pretty new vehicle from the Mazda Motor Company, as the compact SUV crossover first arrived in 2020. Part of a whole group of crossover SUVs that Mazda have recently launched. They have really gone in on the crossover thing. So it is about right that Matchbox chose to do one of the crossovers. Out of all of them, I think the MX-30 is about the nicest. Plus, this is an electric car too.
As is usually the case, the Matchbox team have done a lovely job in replicating the model in small scale. The shape is about right, and the way the front grille is depicted really comes across well. I do note though, that because of that the tampo printing for it is a little tough to keep smooth. You can see some gaps around where the badge is.
The model also comes with an opening rear tailgate. The tailgate is metal. When opened on this model, you will notice that inside there are some luggage bags. There is a second variant where once opened you will find a dog curled up in the back. Sadly I was unable to secure this in time for the review (I will be getting one later). But the Mazda is one of those castings with a dual piece, namely interior, for instant variations, if you like that sort of thing. I know I do.
Now the real vehicle has clamshell style doors (Mazda refer to this one as freestyle doors) where once you open the front door, the rear can then be opened suicide style. I did ponder if that was something that they could have attempted. But then I think to myself it might actually be too hard at that sort of scale. So I think the rear opening was a better choice. Sure having a freestyle opening side would have looked really cool, but we usually only see 2 parts opening, and had they only done one side it might have actually looked weird. Plus we get the doggie. Well sometimes!
So I am impressed with this model. I am not overly convinced on this debut colour though. Although if you look at the real one, it doesn’t really have a lot of fun colour choices to choose from. So perhaps it was the best of them. Why is it car manufacturers like to offer us quite bland colours for everything?
Being new, I guess I am due to show a base shot. People do like seeing them. But you know what we also like seeing. A small history component. For this one, it will simply be the recent Mazdas that Matchbox have made. Lesney created an RX500, and 2 different RX-7s, which Universal also turned one into an IMSA model. Tyco created a later gen RX-7 too, but all of those castings are no longer with us.
We have the MB752 Mazda 2. The oldest of the current bunch. It first arrived in 2008 although has not been seen since 2016.
Then we saw the MB1012 MX-5 Miata which popped up in 2016, the year the “2” faded away, and is still keeping us going with new issues.
This was followed up by the MB1077 ’16 Mazda CX-5. Another crossover SUV. This one is one of the earlier crossovers they made, and being a “C” start means it is an ICE engine, with “M” models being electric. That one first arrived in 2018.
With the last arrival being the MB1219 ’19 Mazda 3, which first appeared (officially) in the 2020 basic range, but due to delays never actually turned up until the end of the 2021 year.
But we do appear to be having quite a lot of Mazda castings in the Matchbox ranges nowadays. It’s pretty cool that they seem to be building this particular brand up lately.
Next up we have a Seagrave Fire truck. That is all MB1315 is referred to as. So it is up to you whether you think it could be a Meanstick, Apollo, Force etc. There are a number of options. It takes the number 9 slot in the series of 50 models.
Wait a sec. They never told me there would be some assembly required. Seriously, when you open the package you discover that the internal ladder section is next to the outer section, and these are held together with a plastic band. I don’t know why they were unable to put them together at the factory.
Especially as there does appear to be one small issue with this way of doing it.
Once you have popped off the plastic band, you discover that the internal ladder section is actually bent. Not ridiculously, but it does have a small curve to it. I am sure it it down to the way the package has been put together.
although I also see a second reason why it wasn’t assembled at the factory. Boy it is tough to hook it inside the outer part. And I am a [cough] year old adult. I can’t see a young child being able to do that easily.
Once done, it does look good. It has been a long time since we have seen an extending ladder fire truck in miniature size from Matchbox. And this being a licensed model too does make things even better.
Although I do not know if now that I have put that internal piece inside whether it will start to straighten out, or if it will in turn start warping the outer ladder piece too. But a fullt rotating ladder with an extension is something I am very happy to see return. I was expecting something more like this from the Moving Parts series. That was when they first announced it. That would be back in 2018 as a 2019 debut. All we saw were vehicles with opening doors, hoods and trunks, and I felt that the name itself “Moving Parts” would signify things like this. So it is very well desired by me.
The execution of the rest of the model is extremely well done. I did have to do some Googling to see what Seagraves in general look like, but once I had, I could see how this was a great replica. Obviously when it comes to the ladder mechanism itself there had to be a little creative license to enable it to work well in small scale. The model debuts in an El Segundo design too, which as many know is the home of Mattel. So they didn’t go too far to obtain that license.
Plenty of chrome too. I tell you, vehicles like this are giving us plenty of classic vibes, turning back the clock to how Matchbox used to be, and how had they not been curtailed, could have been now. It has taken the creation of a new range to bring us back to where we were. And I really hope it is proving to be a success. We will know, as I said, in a matter of days.
So for the model itself, I would give this a high grade. As I said, the only thing I was worrying about is the way that the ladder appears to be starting to warp a little.
The rest I see as a great representation of how a real US fire truck is.
I did a base shot, but with lots of chrome, it is not the easiest to see the details.
Of course the Seagrave name has not been used a lot. We had a classic MB843 Seagrave Fire Engine casting debut in 2012. It has been used sporadically, and was last seen in 2020. I can’t see why it will not be used again.
But there was also another 1-off creation of a Seagrave Meanstick made in 2002 for the Matchbox 50th Anniversary. It literally had one run with half being maroon, the other half in gold for the 50th Anniversary itself and was never used again. Except for a literal 1-off model with diamonds for headlights, rubies for tail lights, gold leaf detailing, and all placed in a velvet case in a wooden box that would raise the model up as you opened it. It was sold on auction in 2002 for charity and raised a lot of money. Who bought it, and its current whereabouts I have no idea. But I was always surprised that they went to all that trouble of creating this casting and just use it the one time and forget about it.
It is quite a small casting as well. Pretty intricately detailed as well. Definitely much more fragile than the new one. Especially with the ladder, which although it is straight, is made up of lots of thin sections put together. I do always worry that if I manhandle it too much something will break off. Perhaps that was why they decided not to continue on with it.
I think that this has proven to be quite a popular choice too. The third and final new casting in this batch is the MB1332 ’75 Range Rover. It debuts in the number 19 slot in the set of 50 models.
The Range Rover in its original guise ran from 1970 until 1996. Just over 26 years. This places the model in the top 30 of all time for vehicles for a vehicle built in 1 generation. Way off the upper echelons though. The original VW Beetle and Morgan 4/4 were well over 6 decades.I am not 100% sure as to what designates this as a 1975? Somebody a little more knowledgeable about them than me might be able to shed light on something that happened for the 1975 model year. All I know is that this is a classic first generation Range Rover, and I have been wanting one done by Matchbox since I was a kid.
Was it worth the wait? Oh definitely. This is absolutely spot on. It just screams Range Rover. and I love the large wing mirrors on it too. From a time when they were wing mirrors. Over the years they got moved from the wings to the edge of the window, but they never changed the name. I am absolutely blown away by this casting. I can see this likely being a top 10 model in my end of year countdown. Yes, I plan things out way in advance.
Being in the Moving Parts range tells us something is opening. On this it is the bonnet. It’s British, in the UK we call it a bonnet. Some countries used the term hood. It gives us a lovely view of the engine, which is formed from the interior section. Now we often see engines being detailed in Moving Parts, but with so much tampo details around the model, I just don’t think they were able to get it done. Because Moving Parts are usually able to get in 3, maybe 4 passes through the tampo machine if they are lucky. They just eke out a little over basic range models. But this one? Front and rear. That’s two. The sides are done. Another 2. And do you notice with the bonnet in the up position, it still has Range Rover on it? Usually parts get tampo printed before assembly. If so, that would have been a 5th pass through the tampo machine. I say usually, as this could have been done after assembly so that was added along with the front grille and lights. So back to 4. But even then it is really pushing the boundaries for what they can do within budget. Moving Parts is still classified as a core range, and as such budget limitations do come into play more than with Collectors and Mattel Creations. So with that in mind, I think they have really done a fantastic job with this.
And what a debut. This mustard yellow has a real 1970s vibe to it. Why? That was a real colour at the time. Land Rover called this Sandglow. Even the tan interior is a close facsimile of the real one. At the time they were made of a mix of palomino PVC and bronze velvet velour, which would give off, at a distance, a light tan look. This is so…. well…. done!
This is easily my model of the batch. Now I should point out that the model comes with 2 different interiors too. One has the steering wheel on the right (like mine has in these pictures) but half of them are sporting the steering wheel on the left. Sadly I was unable to get the LHD one here in time for the report, but didn’t want to delay it for the sake of a single photo. Same as the Mazda above. But I do have the alternate coming, and each release (whether they be Moving Parts or Collectors, really hoping for a premium issue), I will be doing my best to get both of each.
One thing I have noticed with this. No mention of Land Rover. Usually all the Range Rover based stuff still has Land Rover on the base, or package (or both) due to legalities with things. But not this one. 1975 Range Rover. Nice and simple. Just the cherry on top of the perfect cake.
I did say I wanted one since I was a kid. The reason? This! The MB020 Police Patrol. To me, this could be the one thing that maybe tells us why they depicted the new casting as a 1975. Because Police Patrol was launched in the Matchbox range in 1975 as MB20-B. Is the new one a nod to this? Because there is a lot of 1975s here.
Both of these have a very familiar looking front end.
And the side profile just works too. I know the old Lesney does appear slightly taller. Of course in those days designers would literally just doodle things on large sheets of paper, whereas nowadays we get CAD and other digital systems to help with things. So you are able to get a little bit more accuracy in things. But the bones were there. It was a Range Rover. But it wasn’t. It made no reference to it, even though it clearly was one. It had been made as a Rolamatics vehicle, with a light in the dome at the top that would spin around as the model rolled along.
I liked the Range Rover as a kid, and so wanted them to just do a civilian Range Rover too. It never happened. Do you want to know a secret? Late 2004. I was chatting with John Coyne, who had just taken over being in charge of the Matchbox brand after the move from El Segundo. We were bouncing ideas off each other about upcoming models. I literally told him this story. Being a kid, wanting a civilian Range Rover instead of the Rolamatics model. He liked it. So he made the new Range Rover Sport, and added it to the 2006 range. So close. In his defense I didn’t specify at the time that I wanted this 1970s Range Rover. I just told him how there was a Police Patrol, but we had never seen a Range Rover in the range. So yeah, anybody who remembers the old Range Rover Sport. That was partly down to me. And John Coyne.
So it only took another nearly 2 decades for my wish to finally come true. I am patient. I do believe that when you put these 2 castings side by side, and you see just how close they are in size and scale, that when this was being created, somebody had a Police Patrol in El Segundo, and were using it as a basis. I swear they were. It is just too similar in size to be a coincidence. Does this model just keep getting better and better?
During the 1970s, Matchbox never really bothered detailing bases in any way. Just write the details, ignore the fact that it was a Range Rover (licenses were not a big deal at the time), and pop the model out. It sold well. It ran until 1981 in the US market, with the ROW market continuing on until 1984. Japan though, eked out another year with a 1985 run of an exclusive look. So it did manage just over a decade (not including later Hungarian made ones). I hope the new one manages a similar time frame, at least!!!! Can you tell I like it?
Oh now we get into the boring stuff. We have seen these castings before. The MB1222 Divco Truck. I love the fact that the packaging literally just has “Divco” on it. Until now they did say Divco Milk Truck, but you could sort of say Divco Model U. Then choose a random year between 1937 and 1986. Because this severely outran the Range Rover for length of service. It lasted 50 years pretty much unchanged, although there are plenty of offshoots.
I do see why they dropped the Milk Truck moniker. Number 26 of the series of 50 for 2022 comes in green with a Skippers Shaved Ice side design. Yeah, that’s nothing to do with milk.
It definitely has a very summery vibe to it, which if you lived in the northern hemisphere is quite timely. Green and orange with orange doors on the rear too.
They even painted the grille orange to match. Quite a novel and unique look for the casting.
I do note the tiki in the design. We have seen a few of these appear again lately. There was a bunch of them around 2012/2013, and these last few years has seen them make a return. It’s funny how things come and go out of favour. Now I will admit, I like the colour choice. Green and orange. I like the recurring tiki feature, but in small scale, the font used in the additional writing is really quite tough to read. The lower line that says Ice Cream, Whipped Ice, Shaved Ice, Matchbox? That is italic, and is readable in a small size. But under where it has Skipper’s Shaved Ice, there is a line that says “Hand Crafted Tiki Drinks”. How do I know? I couldn’t read it on the model when looking up close. The font is so unusual that all I could see was a fancy pattern. But once I had taken a photograph at a large size, then zoomed in on that which gives us a much enlarged picture, I could make out what it said. That’s the thing. When it is something that is going to be small, making them in an unusual style is not going to work. Once shrunk down to fit the model, they need to be in clearer letter to make them readable. It’s not a big thing. It is just one of those little foibles with models that I do think should be pointed out. Had it been written in a similar font as the main logo, they would have been much clearer and readable. Either this or my eyes are starting to go. Dammit! How am I going to check for shades if my eyes are failing?
Well as this one does have a history, let’s remind ourselves of what that history entails. So the milk truck was launched back in 2020 in the Moving Parts series in white, with the Divco logo on the side of it. Very simple. It was how Divco used to advertise it, a great choice for a debut. Perhaps next up will be a milk logo.
Oh that one is not milk related. A Matchbox Speed Shop livery on 2021’s Moving Parts model. As we know, this one was one of Michael Heralda’s, due to the cheeky A58 nods. A lovely look, but I am still waiting on you know, milk.
We didn’t get it with that one either. The 2021 Collectors series saw the first premium guise for the model. With 58 in the logo, we just know it too was one of Michael’s. Again I love this. I am a big fan of anything with the Gulf look. Well anything Matchbox. As most know, I don’t do any other brand of model car. Only Matchbox, so other companies making Gulf models are of no interest to me. But throw it on a Matchbox and watch me drool. So yes, freaking awesome look, but still no milk.
Plus last year saw the 19th annual Matchbox Convention in Albuquerque NM. Sadly I was unable to attend due to Covid rules, but here I am in USA ready to zip down to Albuquerque for the 20th! The dinner model for those who registered (even if you couldn’t attend in person) was this in metallic red over white.
The first 75 who registered also being adorned with additional writing on the roof. A fantastic premium look, really going to town, especially with the dogdish wheels. But, you know what I am going to say….
We are now on our 5th different look for the Divco Milk Truck, and so far we have not seen even a hint of a milk reference. I really want to see a milk livery on this milk truck. Just once. It is just like the Ice Cream Truck that seems to get so much in the way of random liveries, but no ice cream any more.
And now to the final model in the batch. Wow! An MB1161 ’16 Chevy Corvette Stingray. We have not seen this casting in so long. It must be at least a few weeks. But that was a different range, before that it was a good month.
Not that it is exactly a bad thing. It is a really cool model, and I do like it. After debuting back in 2019 it went extremely quiet. I wondered if because it had arrived the year before the next generation of Corvette did, whether the focus on the new one was going to leave this on the sidelines. And for a while, yes it did.
But they are really making up for it this year. This is the third outing in a matter of months, and this blue Moving Parts model, sold as number 35 out of the series of 50 is really nice. They can’t go wrong with the simple front and rear detailing, plus the highly detailed engine too.
The shade of blue is called Laguna Blue Tintcoat. An official 2016 colour option for the Corvette. Coupled with the simple chrome ringed wheels, I think it makes this model pop. So yes, it may be the third in a trio all in one go, but I am happy to see it. The only thing I could have said would be to stagger the releases a little more. With 8 batches of Moving Parts for the year, batches B & C both getting the same was close, and with batch B Collectors arriving the middle too, it was just a lot in one go. I would have simply moved the Corvette to a later batch. Also the first one to the first batch. Just space them out a bit more. Not drop them. I like them all. And as I keep talking about them, I should do a little dive back again.
This was the 2019 Superfast debut. White with dual black stripes. Oh yes, I do love a striped model. Notice too how this has a premium wheel, but the overall look to the wheel is the same.
And as I said, we then had to wait for 3 years before this gaggle of releases hit us at once. Batch B of the Moving Parts series gave us this dark red, which Chevy call Long Beach Red. The tampo details are the same for this number 48 issue as they are for the blue number 35 issue.
And of course this was swiftly followed by the Torch Red Collectors number 19 issue in batch B of that series. Of course that had a lot more tampo printing than the Moving Parts models do.
We have a saying in the UK. It normally refers to buses. You wait ages for 1 and then 3 come along at once. It is very apt when it came to this model. A 2019 debut and then 3 in 2022 all within months of each other. Hopefully it will not be another 3 years before we see any more.
And with that, my “new” section of the report is over. That was Moving Parts batch C. There should have been a 6th, but the Mustang Convertible got nudged back slightly. It will arrive in a future batch. So now I guess it is time for the “old” section of the report, as I bounce back into my collection again.
So why not start with something that can be quite relevant to what is being shown in the first part. Matchbox Moving Parts are what many people see as the brand moving back to where it used to be. But when you think about it, where they used to be always fluctuates. Things come and go. Early Lesney stuff didn’t have opening parts. Many didn’t have windows or interiors. It was literally a body on a base with 2 axles holding up some wheels. Over the years, things improved, and I think to some, the late 1960s and early 1970s were perhaps the pinnacle of the best of the Lesney era. I start with Superfast, so this means that the MB3-A Mercedes-Benz Binz Ambulance models in my collection are only those from when it made a transition. The casting first arrived in 1968. Now many will think of this as a Mercedes-Benz, but many overlook the “Binz” part. Binz is a coachbuilder that has been going since 1936, and takes vehicles (mainly Mercedes-Benz ones) and modifies them for use in the fire, police (transportation) and ambulance sectors. They even modify MAN buses into blood donation vehicles. Matchbox created a model of the first Mercedes-Benz that they modified. They used 200D and 230D models and turned them into the Binz Europ 1100 Long, by stretching the wheelbase, and turning the rear end into something that was suitable for the emergency sector. The model ran from 1968 until 1972, and during that time it was only ever painted in off white with labels on the side with a red cross on them. Very simple.
The model also sported an opening metal rear. Oh look, Moving Parts. And metal too, more commonly they were plastic pieces. But there was even more.
Inside the rear would be a man on a stretcher. Finding mint examples with the man still in them is quite tough. He does fall out very easily as the window in the rear opening section is just a hole, and he is thin enough to fall out of it.
If you were to look in the rear of the model you will see how the left hand side (when viewed at this angle) has a guided track.
The patient would then slot into that guided track for transport. Now I do not have the early regular wheel issues. They were from 1968 through to 1969 and in 1970 the model made the transition to the Superfast wheels.
It ran for 3 more years, and during this time there will be inevitable differences. The paint can be off white, it could be a lot more creamy looking. The windows could be quite a pale blue tint, they could be quite a dark blue.
As with just about everything in the range, once Lesney had got vehicles transitioned to Superfast wheels, they launched a new track in 1971 which the new fast moving vehicles could shoot down, well really fast. Or should I say “super fast”. I mean that was the whole point of the name. But what they were discovering was that those new narrow wheels were not stable. So they fattened them up. A 2mm wheels became a 4mm wheel. But what this also meant was the fattening was down to moving them out to be at the edges. So where originally the creations were carefully built to recreate the look of real vehicles, and thin wheels being inside of wheel wells. Now, as 1971 progressed and into 1972, they were chopping all the wheel arches up so that the new fat wheels didn’t rub against them. To some, that was the beginning of the end. But then people see loads of different periods as the beginning of the end. But they are still going. I don’t see a beginning of an end. I see loads of potential still.
This vehicle was a little unusual in that they did the writing the other way round to normal. When I do a base shot, usually the vehicle would be facing towards me a little. These are facing away. But you can see how the changes were not done to the base itself. As I said, wheels were thickened outwards and wheel arches were the unfortunate culprit to the changes.
After 1972 the model was dropped from the basic range, and this would be the last we would see of the patient.
Because in 1977 they brought the casting back for twin packs. However, as was the case with many twin pack models, vehicles were cost reduced. Many models chosen to be in the twin pack series originally featured some sort of moving or opening feature. The Binz had the opening rear? Not any more. Sealed shut. So technically there was still a gap there to throw a patient in, but it was a bit pointless. He was a goner.
As well as the rear being sealed, they also tinkered with the rest of the model. It was decided that the front lights would be better served being a part of the body. Not the base. So they adjusted.
And as they were adjusting the base anyway, they blanked it off and re-wrote it all the normal way round. This one has the front end closest to me again. It’s a daft thing. I know. But they did it.
It was sold in a TP-10 pack along with a Mercury Fire Chief. It essentially looked the same as the original basic. The shade is classified as more of an ivory, although can come more creamy at times. But being a later 1970s vehicle, the original 5-spokes were also replaced with dot-dash wheels. But this was not it.
Because a second model was also in the TP-14 set with a matching Mercedes-Benz 300SE. Everything was identical except it was now painted olive green. You may also notice that the wheels to the army one were black, compared to the chrome of the regular. That is how they normally look. Both alternatives do exist. I don’t have either of them as both command a hefty price tag with black wheels on ivory being even rarer than chrome wheels on olive. By 1980 these had been dropped and the casting was never used again. Neither has the “Binz” name.
Universal brought us some fun models. One I am particularly fond of is the MB196 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. Or as Matchbox called it (on the base) T-bird Turbo Coupe. Yeah why bother with “Ford” or the full “Thunderbird” name. You just say T-bird and people know what it is. This was a later ninth generation Thunderbird as the 1987/88 model years saw Ford update their looks, with the Turbo Coupe now being distinguished by the lack of a front grille and the addition of air scoops on top instead to direct air into the engine. Matchbox launched the model into the basic range in 1988. It was sold as MB59 in the US range or MB61 in the ROW range. It came in a simple red with a Turbo Coupe and t-bird logo on the doors. However, if you are lucky, you might find one where the t-bird logo sits towards the rear of the doors. I am still hunting.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have something from Macau. Lighter and darker red? This was during the initial 3 years while the model was made in Macau. I will get to the rest shortly.
Because I am not trying to jump ahead of myself. After launching in the basic range, a number of the 1988 new castings were also added to the Laser Wheels series too. These were in addition to the 24 that had been launched in 1987, upping the set to 30 for the next 3 years until being dropped after 1990. Superfast, which Laser Wheels had spun off from, never saw these extra 6 and continued on with the original 24 until 1990. The Ford was LW-29 in gold with a 56 and various logos look.
But that still was not it. 1988 saw Supercolorchangers arrive. The first time that Matchbox dabbled in the colour changing models. The Ford was also thrown in this series, and was now an upper section that changed colour over a silver lower section, and still sporting the same tampo design as the basic. For 1988 the upper was in a pea green, or a browny look. Different batches seemed to come out differently.
For 1989 and the second of 2 years for the SCC series, it switched to purple. the pea green/brown turns a pastel yellow when warm, the purple turns pink.
But what of the basic? Well, late 1990 saw the model move production to Thailand from Macau. This was after Laser Wheels had ceased, so that doesn’t appear with a Thai base. The last few ROWs saw Thai issues, as they dropped it after 1990. The US market ran it exclusively in 1991.
Although I could find a shade to Macau, they are nothing on the bright red shade that a Thailand model gives you. BTW they never messed up the location of the t-bird logo. Always at the front.
They also added it to the World Class series in 1990. This was also done at the very end of Macau production. World Class series 2 number 11 was silver and the strip around the side was in red. But as I mentioned, production moved from Macau to Thailand in late 1990. World Class were not a large production run. Somebody miscalculated how many red edges were needed. The factory was closing. They had ran out. There were still some black ones left as the basic was still being finished off. So they just used those. What did they care? What were they going to do? Sack them? They were already leaving. So the last World Class ones had a black strip.
In 1992, this now US exclusive model was given a new design for the basic range. Blue over pink with a swirly purple and pink side design and the t-bird logo on the hood. It ran for 2 years before the model was dropped from the US range. Production was only in Thailand, but 2 years? Yeah the shade of blue was never going to be consistent for the whole 2 years.
1993 also saw the release of the Showstoppers series (or Motor Show in some markets). The Ford pairing was exclusive to the US market and featured this model in a dark burgundy with t-bird logos top and sides along with an MB212 Ford Thunderbird Stock Car in white. After this the model was semi-retired.
It did come back though. 1996 and Premiere Series saw a rebirth of the casting. I show a red and a gold release, but as I have stated in the past, I am still building my premium collection of the 1990s/2000s. There are a charcoal and a green 1996 Premiere to add as well. Plus, in 1997 a Gold Collection white and in 1998 a black Premiere too. So in total there are 6 late premiums to the model. After the black 1998 issue though, it went into permanent retirement.
Now to have a little fun. This is a Ford Transit with a light bar. This is where things get very nerdy and technical. The year was 1999. Back in 1996 Tyco had released the MB281 Ford Transit. Universal had a lot of success with the original Transit casting that had debuted the same time as the real Mk2 Transit did in 1986, but after a facelift in 1992 that they could get away with, when Ford did a second major facelift to the Mk2 in 1994, the model really started to look dated. So they created a new updated one. After debuting in 1996 and being used in various ranges, for 1999 the first offshoot arrived. It was exclusive to the German market in the MB21 slot, and the Transit was sporting a Triang roof light on this red Feuerwehr model. Because there was something different, Mattel (who were now in charge) assigned this under a new number, MB431.
In 2000 the UK market now saw an exclusive Transit with light release. Again in red, this one saw a London Fire Brigade side design. But wait a sec. That’s not a Triang light.
No this was a Vee light. So they gave it a new MAN number. MB472. But they didn’t like using the Vee light bar on the Transit, so that was it for MB472. Forget about it, it’s done.
Let’s just carry on with the Triang light bar. MB431 was again in action for the 2001 basic range, except this time it wasn’t exclusive to 1 country. No, it was exclusive to the ROW market as a whole. MB31 there was in yellow with a medic side design.
But for the first time, the model was also given a worldwide release, as the SOS 5-pack that year saw this blue issue included.
They also decided to put the Transit in another 5-pack. The pack was called Animal Helpers and the model was in white with a K-9 Patrol side design. Wait a sec. That’s not a Triang roof light. That’s a square roof light. Yes, they went and did another roof light for the model. So, different light? New MAN number. MB554. Are you keeping up?
That one works quite well. Let’s use it again. This one was in a Fire Boat launcher set in 2001 in blue with, well you can see what is on the side. A helmet, wave, hose? Well, yeah I sort of see the connection to a fire boat.
For 2002 the model was still in the ROW range on its own. And it was the original Triang light one. MB16 was sold with a 50 logo on the first 10,000 models produced. Do you see it? Obviously not. What they completely forgot about when creating the logo hunt for the 2002 series was that at the time ROW releases were sold in window boxes. The window gives you a view of the top and one side of the model. The side you see here.
They put the logo on the other side of the model. This Transit has quite a flat side. The way they were packaged actually made it completely impossible, even through manipulation, to see if you had a logo or not. The only way to tell would be to open it. Luckily there was a helpful hint.
Just as they do now, in 2002 models would be batch dated. Production was in China at the time, and batch dating used to be an exact day with the factory (they had 2 factories – EA and BJ). So this logo model was batch dated 2851EA, meaning put together on the 285th day of 2001 at the EA factory. The non-logo was 0332EA, or 33rd day of 2002, same factory. Luckily, said dates were also applied to the package too, so people were checking the boxes to see what date it had. The box was not exactly the same, but production runs were far enough apart that the logo was only in the first one, and any later runs were definitely not. But that first production run was more than 10,000. So if you had a first run issue, it was narrowing your chances of getting a logo. I was lucky. I had a brand new unopened box of new additions at a toy store to go through when I found the batch. It was not the only one with the logo the wrong side, and after grabbing them all, I discovered that a bunch had this error or sorts, and made note of the details to pass on to help others.
For 2003, it was MB14. Worldwide!!!! Yes the US market saw its first single issue of a Transit with lights in the 2003 basic range. Again this was a Triang light edition in white with whatever that is. Hero City stuff started to get a little non-descript with designs. Of course this too was a logo hunt year, and this time they remembered which side to pop the logo on.
After this the model saw very little use. It wasn’t used at all in any of the 3 light bar configurations, but returned for 2005 in a very realistic looking Fire Department red for a Fire Department launcher set. It didn’t get used in 2006, and that may have been down to a brand new casting of a Mk3 Transit debuting in the basic range. Was this it for this? Not quite.
Randomly, out of nowhere, in 2012 of all years, this purple Paramedic Unit designed model was added to the EMT 5-pack. Wait a sec. What light bar is this?
Suddenly a 4th light bar appears. This one was a flat bar. Totally different to anything we had seen before. So you know what that means? A new MAN number again. MB848. And that was it. They created a whole new MAN number, for a new light bar configuration and then retired the casting. We got one each of the MB472 and MB848, 2 uses for MB554, both in the same year, and the original MB431 used for everything else. Sometimes you do think wouldn’t it have been easier giving them all the Triang bar? But where’s the fun in that?
So who remember the MB527 Rescue Crane? An early 2000s Mattel creation. Part of the move towards Hero City that was taking place at the turn of the century. This model debuted as MB72 in the 2001 basic range in red, with an orange operating cab and grey boom.
The operating cab would swivel around and the boom would lift up and extend out.
After debuting in 2001 it was immediately dropped from the basic range, with the only 2002 issue being a white one in a Build ‘n Bash 5-pack.
But for 2003, they brought it back to the basic range. This time in yellow as MB24 with a Hero City logo in the front window for the first 10,000 produced.
At the end of the year, the Mattel store sold an exclusive 20-pack. Each model in the pack had something unique about it. 3 were exclusive designs, 7 had alternate colours, but the rest were simple sporting gold wheels instead of chrome. This was in the pack and was one of the simple gold wheel switches.
For 2004 it was out of the basic range again. Just like 2002 it only appeared in a 5-pack again. This time, Construction. it was red with a simple side design on the operating cab.
For 2005 again the model returned to the basic range. This was part of the new direction for the brand, but with limited castings they still used some of the older originals models. It had a very tasteful side design though.
This particular MB23 has a brown base, but some came with a more reddy base.
But with the model being of a certain age it really wasn’t fitting in too well with the newer direction of the brand. So we just saw the one more appearance, in a 2007 Construction 5-pack. And after this yellow issue, the casting was retired.
Which brings me to my last model. The MB888 International MXT/MVA. This was such a cool model. It debuted in 2013, but sadly did not get a lot of action. MXT/MVA stands for Military eXtreme Truck/Military Version Armored. Why they used the word Military twice? I have no idea. But they did. Now this is where things get fun. This vehicle was designed and created in USA. Navistar International is a US company. The vehicle was unveiled at the 2005 Association of the united States Army show in Washington in October, but it was rejected. They tried again in 2008 with an improved version. Again rejected. So what to do? Have a chat with the British army. They liked it. While the US army opted to go with the Oshkosh M-ATV, the British Army put in an order for 262 of these, later adding another 89. The British Army have nicknamed it Husky, and the vehicle is slowly replacing the Snatch Land Rover they had been using as it was getting dated. So is it American, or is it British? Or does it have a dual nationality? Ha ha! Anyway, the Matchbox model debuted as MB81 in the 2013 basic range in tan with simple detailing of the International badge on the front and a little black detailing on the sides.
In 2014 it became MB86 now in gunmetal blue. During production I noticed it was shading. It was almost the same detail, with just a tiny bit more black to the sides, with a shield and writing in addition to 2013.
Although others did get a little more tampo. The 2014 Battle Mission 5-pack was grey with a bit more detail to the side.
Whereas the Mission Force Tactical set saw the most colours used so far. This dark grey had a lot of red to it.
And then it died down again. In 2015 it saw 1 more basic range release in white as MB68, featuring a highly camouflaged side design.
And in 2016, after only 4 years of use, we had what is currently its final outing. It was in the Military 5-pack in a dark tan with badge on front and black side details again. Since 2016 we have not seen any more of this casting. Such a shame.
Although I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of these ones. Yes, I am at the end of another report. One that featured 3 brand new castings.
And only 2 others that we have seen already.
So next week, expect the unexpected. Or not. Ha ha! I will be in Albuquerque NM attending the latest Matchbox Convention. I cannot wait, as it is the first time I have managed to get over there in 3 years. My plan is to write up on the events of the convention with my own run down of the line preview that they will be showing Saturday night. But honestly, I do not know how quickly I will be able to do it. I don’t think it will be done and ready in time for my usual Monday arrival time. As I will be enjoying festivities of the weekend, and don’t want to be hiding in my room, half way around the world writing up a report. So it may be slightly delayed, it may be a day or 2. I cannot say. It will arrive when I can get it done. But I do plan on making sure it is done at some point within a week of things. So you may just want to check in at times, or keep an eye on my Instagram feed for a heads up. I go by davidjtilley on Instagram. So until then, have a lovely week. I definitely will. I am on vacation!