Well after all my escapades in USA I guess I should look to see where I was up to before I left. I remember now. I had one selection from batch C of the basic range left to showcase. As always, these came to me via my friends at Wheel Collectors in USA who sent them over before I went out there myself. Thanks guys. I already showed two thirds of them, which leaves 6 models still to go through to finish the batch off. So time to get stuck in.
I am going to start this off with a brand new casting. There are not many Matchbox Originals left, as they are doing a great job in giving us as much realism as they can. This is the MB1289 Road Roller. Okay before I dig in to it, I have to point something out. They have simply called this Road Roller. No MBX before it or anything. Yet the packaging still has a trademark symbol on it. Have they managed to trademark “Road Roller”? I just thought that was what they are. I have always referred to these vehicles as road rollers, and when I click on Wikipedia, I see it has a page all about road rollers. So it does have me a little confused.
Not the casting though. It is pretty nice. It begins its life as MB4 in the basic range. Obviously there is not an awful lot you can do with a road roller. Of course you can decide whether to make a single drum or dual drum vehicle. They have gone with a single drum at the front. Standard wheels at the rear. Of all the road rollers that have been done by Matchbox over the years, this configuration is the standard. Only 2 have seen a dual drum look. A Caterpillar one in the late 1990s (MB347) and the MB492 of the early 2000s. Apart from that it has been single drum since, well right from the word go. The original number 1 from 1953 was a single drum road roller. It is what they do.
Now I do not own one of those. My collecting begins with the 1969 Superfast issues and the 1953-Superfast period is before my time, but I still know they exist. So I go with what I know, and I have to admit, out of all the Road Rollers so far from my collecting viewpoint, this is about the nicest. We had a Rod Roller in the 1970s, then a Bomag that ran and ran. And after the 2 dual drum rollers, another in the mid 2000s which I wasn’t a fan of. I do admit though, although it is about the nicest I have seen of a Road Roller, I have never been much of a fan in general, so it was never going to become a favourite.
But this does give us another construction vehicle. There are not a lot that can still be used as many of the originals they made during the 2000s/2010s have quite a few moving parts and are tough to keep going in the basic range. And I have a feeling that if they were to move them to Moving Parts, people would not be happy. At least this still fits the parts requirement for basics.
I am not too sure whether the front end really works well enough. I have a feeling this may be safety related, but I do wonder if it is just a little wide. It just felt a little too wide compared to the rest of the model. It does feel just a little out of proportion.
It’s not a big thing. Obviously the model is not too wide. It fitted in my carry case with ease. I just wonder if the rear end could have been fattened a little to keep it in proportion a little better. Or am I just being too cynical with this?
Let’s see how it sells before passing judgment too much. I have not seen too many sitting on pegs, so I guess it is doing okay.
Well it is a new casting, so I always do a base shot, in case there are people interested. It says stuff. Hey look, a trademark on the words “Road Roller” again. Seriously, I want to know how they have managed to trademark this name for this type of vehicle.
Next up is the MB1247 ’21 Ford Bronco. For 2022 it is MB34 in the range and comes in blue. Now, before anybody points out, yes, Matchbox decided to throw a chase vehicle in the mix. It was this vehicle in an alternate colour of white with red and blue detailing and rubber wheels. It came alongside the regular blue in any boxes that had them. Sadly though, none of the boxes that Wheel Collectors opened contained a chase Bronco. Not 1! Doh! I also hoped that maybe my local Tesco stores might stumble upon a chase Bronco on short card? Again no, not lucky with that. I do have one coming from USA soon though. I have had a little help from the other half of Lamley. So I am not showcasing the chase model. Just the regular.
And that chase can’t get here soon enough. I love this model. I am so happy to hear that there are more Bronco castings coming. A shorter one arrives soon in a Moving Parts series, and the smaller “Sport” is coming for 2023 as well. I am really happy about it all. Of course it started with this one. I really liked the vehicle when Ford announced it was coming and previewed it. When Matchbox said they were doing the model I was really happy, and when it arrived last year it did not disappoint. This year is just another reason why I am so happy with it. I love the blue look. I think this is the Ford Velocity Blue choice that you get in real life.
And the model comes with simple front and rear detailing, including the highlighting of the bronco logo on the rear tailgate too. You cannot go wrong with a real look to it. And the blue seems to highlight things even better than last year’s debut did.
The 2021 MB21 in metallic hot pepper red (as Ford would call it). Not that I was disappointed in that either. I love both.
Where is this chase one? Ha ha!
This is a welcome return. The MB1178 International TerraStar Ambulance. The model debuted in the 2019 basic range and this is its second outing there. Yeah it did not appear in either of the last 2 years.
It is MB36 for 2022 and comes in white with a Peel Regional Services Paramedic livery. That sounds very familiar.
I absolutely love when the Matchbox guys are able to obtain real liveries for vehicles. Especially the emergency related ones. Peel is an area in Ontario, Canada, and this is not the first time we have seen their look on an ambulance.
We first saw it in the 2021 Target Retro series when the MB994 ’63 Cadillac Ambulance sported the look.
And then earlier this year the Moving Parts series debuted the MB1310 Ram Ambulance in the same design.
So this gives us a lovely selection of models for them already. I wonder if they are able to get the Ford Interceptor Utility into the mix in the future? I will be keeping an eye out.
As I am hoping that the series does not end with these 3. But in the meantime, the International. As I mentioned this was only the second time it appeared in the basic range. But it does not mean it was its second release. Let’s recap.
Oh look the debut. As I mentioned, this was 2019 when it arrived as MB41 in the basic range. It came with the El Segundo Fire & EMS design in red. But what else did we get in the interim between basic range releases?
Well this model was chosen to be one of Everett Marshall’s golf models. It was the 2019 event and had a metallic red look for the Burns Foundation.
And as we now get with these promotionals, a second pink one was made for Breast Cancer Research. Just as I mentioned last week with his latest golf models, these were a $50 minimum donation. Always worth it in my eyes. Cool models and I am giving $100 to charity each year.
Things went a little quiet for the model after. 2020 was basically a year off, although you were able to order a Thank You Heroes set from Mattel directly that included the casting. However, as these did not ship until after the 2021 series had begun filtering in, some people classify them as 2020, but I classify them as a 2021 actual release. A bit of a grey area there though.
And then later in 2021, the Boone County Fire District was used for the MBX Rescue (although should I call it MBX Recue, as they spelled it wrong) 5-pack. So we have had 3 general issues all in real liveries, and 3 special ones in unique looks. How funny is that?
The opposite of this. Why is it black again? The MB1203 Polaris RZR. It takes the MB39 slot in the 2020 range in, well, black.
Because, you know, we haven’t seen this in black before. I don’t know if this is being specified by Polaris themselves. But when I click on their website, the only option is called “ghost Grey”. Not black.
I mean the Matchbox team are doing a great job in trying to make each one look a little different. This one has white and green accents on it, which does make it stand out a little.
If we were to go back, the model debuted in 2020 in black as MB59, this time with red and grey accents on it.
And the roof was grey on that one, which it is black now.
And for 2021 the model, still black, had blue accents and even some blue trim to the wheels. That made that MB41 one stand out a bit.
Again a grey roof, which means this is the first time the model had a black roof. But the majority is still black. And when the model sits in the blister sideways you don’t really notice the roof. Just a black blog sitting in a blister.
Now I do like the casting. But me, I am somebody who not knowing too much about something, I will do a little Googling. But I do wonder for many kids, they see Polaris RZR, don’t know what it is and ignore it. Especially when it is black. Which is the only thing we have really seen the model in.
I really hope that if we see another of this one, that they can release it in ghost Grey with the lime accents that Polaris themselves are selling it in. That one would stand out.
I love this little model. The MB1188 Subaru Sambar. The little Kei Truck that has been around a while now. Year number 4 in the basic range. It is doing well. This too debuted at the same time as the International above, but unlike that one has never been missing from the basic range since.
For 2022 the model takes the MB43 slot in the range in white with a red and black side design. My Japanese is not good. I think it says Speedy Post. It’s a post vehicle.
Even if I got that wrong, I think it is a cool little look. It’s a nice little design and quite simple too. Nothing overboard and realistic. Is this the first time a basic range issue had a side design? Let us recap.
The 2019 debut. Hmm! It had Subaru and the logo on the side. I don’t think that really counts, as this MB82 to me was still a simple detailing look.
Then there was 2020. It was white, just as it is now. But MB16 that year was definitely just a front and rear printing model. No side details at all.
And then there was 2021. Black. Yes, front and rear detailing to the MB57 that year too. So yes, this is the first time it has seen a side design for the basic range. Not the first side design for the casting though.
Because Walmart in USA (and a few other places around the world) has a unique Truck series too. The Subi appeared there in red with the ongoing Sriracha side design.
So it is slowly evolving as it goes along. Will we see a year 5 in the basic range? We will have to wait and see.
Which brings us to the last model in the batch. Did I save the best until last? I don’t know, but this does appear to be quite a popular addition to the range. The MB1298 Opel Kadett Coupe.
Straight off the bat, Matchbox have given us one of the most iconic variants of the model. Now did they make a small error. You see the Kadett C debuted in 1973 and ran until 1979. The GT/E was launched in 1975 as the sporty version of the vehicle and Matchbox marked down the package as being a 1975 GT/E. But they have made the model in the iconic yellow on white look. But those who know their stuff will tell you that the yellow on white look was produced by Opel between 1977 and 1979. When it debuted in 1975 (as the card states), the car was black on yellow. Is it technically wrong? This is a 1977 look but the GT/E did arrive in 1975. Should they have stated it as a 1977 Opel on the package due to the colour combination used? Had they done the model in yellow with a black side print then yes, 1975 is definitely correct. Again, this could be classified as a grey area to the model.
I am hoping to see the black on yellow look in a future release. I think this could run and run. Debuting as MB56 this model does look fantastic. I have been waiting on them to do another Opel for a long time. This is only the 5th Opel ever modeled from Matchbox. I also think it is a great little model too. I grew up in the UK and knew that Vauxhall vehicles were often simply just badge engineered Opels. Particularly during the 1980s and 1990s when it was literally a case of swapping a radiator grille around to switch between the 2. But when you look back on the 1970s, the Chevette (which my father had) debuted in 1975 as a UK variant of the Opel Kadett, but they never did the coupe. So this particular body style was never done by Vauxhall. So there is no confusion over anything at all. The Kadett C Coupe is a German only look.
And I do love this. Definitely one of the nicest new castings of the year to date. I was very much looking forward to it since it was announced at the 2021 Gathering. It has not disappointed. Casting-wise that is.
Because the one thing that is letting it down a little is the way the yellow tampo printing is not really covering all that it should. You notice the worst of it over the front wheel arch. It is the inherent problem that the factory has when it comes to tampo printing. It’s a pad. It doesn’t like divots, bumps etc. So with the casting being so beautifully created, the crafted detailing in the doors causes issues, and the wheel arches extruding out also cause issues. Such a shame.
Because that is the only negative I can say about it. Iconic vehicle, iconic look. The argument about the package is not really important, especially as I chucked it away about 3 seconds after I ripped out the model. Had that yellow print covered perfectly, the model would have been perfect itself. Of course they can use ink jet printing or fusion graphics (maybe even other ways) for detailing, but this is a core model. Core models are mass produced and will go with the simplest and cheapest method of detailing. The tampo print.
I have accepted that fact long ago, so am not overly averse to it. I still love this. I could see this being a contender in my Top 10 list at the end of the year. I will see how things continue to progress as the year does.
Base shot. Unusually there is not a year date to the model’s age. I was partially expecting it to say ’73 Opel or perhaps ’75 Opel. It never even mentioned it was the Kadett C on the base. I guess Opel were quite happy with them finally doing a model of their vehicles again. I know I am! Bring more on!
Oh is that the end of the report? Well no, I am back home and get back into the swing of things. So I guess I should bring back my dive again. As I haven’t done a dive for a number of weeks now, why not attempt a few models with quite a lot to dive into?
Like the MB27-B Lamborghini Countach. This is a model and a half to dive into. It first debuted in 1973 in the basic range in yellow with a 3 label on the front. Simple enough. Easy to follow. Yellow with a 3 label. It ran for 2 years like that.
They even gave the model an opening engine cover exposing the engine inside which at first they would chrome. It was actually a part of the interior section which meant the whole inside was chromed.
But the model was never going to stay consistent. Shading was obvious. Darker or lighter shades of yellow exist.
Bases would normally be black, but some were left unpainted, or maybe even painted silver. I have not worried too much over bases, but happened to get an unpainted one by getting the yellow shade.
Purple windows would give way to red later on as they kept mixing and matching parts however they felt on the day. This was Lesney, they just used whatever was going.
And yes, red windows would also shade up.
In fact the biggest shade variance I have is with one purple and one red, which as you can see really come up different. Almost a different colour. The darkest one is almost orange.
Talking of which, for 1975 Lesney had their first tampo machine. Oh what fun. They decided to take all of their vehicles that were quite low and flat and roll them under the tampo machine (which at the time only had 2 colour choices for the pads) and print these 2 colours over the top of the models. They came up with a design for the Countach for 1975 and the factory started producing the new orange model. Just one small thing. They weren’t quite ready to start tampo printing yet. It was new. They were still testing. So the first orange ones just had some leftover 3 labels on them and were thrown out in the market anyway. They are pretty rare, but out of them this is the more common. The purple window hadn’t died completely and some were put out with purple windows. I nearly had one. I missed out though. One day!
So let the tampo printing begin. Out of all the tampo printed models they created in 1975, the Countach ran the longest. It was popular. It continued until 1980. Six whole years of production. This is where the real fun begins. I hope you can keep up. They started off by still using red windows. They didn’t really stand out. They were making lots of vivid colours. It was the 1970s. They were…. well you know, it was the 1970s.
So try something else. Hmm! Amber. Does that really work? It looks okay.
Of course how dark an amber would those windows go? You can find shades in amber windows from a deep amber to quite a pale amber.
By 1976 they had come up with a new solution though. Amber still wasn’t sticking out enough. So how about a blue-green window. That does. There we go.
But then there is that interior. As they often did, Lesney would begin by chroming things, and then after a while they just gave up. As 1976 was working its way through the Countach was next on the “we are stopping chroming it” list. This is where things take a real turn. Because they had run loads of interiors in whatever plastic was available. It didn’t matter as they were chroming them. Oh, maybe it does now. Screw it! Just put them in anyway. Dark grey, light grey, white, orangey yellow? Sure! Whatever they had was being thrown in to make the model complete.
Some of the windows started becoming almost clear as the blue-green tint they were using would vary a lot. A very pale one comes out almost like a smoke, and the lightest is almost clear. And of course, I haven’t even mentioned the shades. Because, this model had shades. Orange? That ran the gauntlet from quite a bright orange to an almost reddy orange.
And the tampos too. Black was black. It didn’t really vary much. But green? Well this light lime green did vary quite a lot. Some were noticeably darker than others.
As time went on, they kept forgetting what they were doing. Blue-green windows? They did say purple right? Close enough. Shades of purple window along with more shades of orange. Oh boy.
No it was a blue-green window. What? Bit noisy in the factory. We heard green. Again shades of green window and shades of model’s orange. Again with the green tampo. Just imagine trying to obtain every single crossover shade going.
And don’t forget there are interior variations too. That gives a difference to the overall look too.
At some point during all of this somebody made a small error with the tampo printing. In late 1976/early 1977 a batch appeared with a dark green print instead of the usual light green.
Now this was not a big batch. There is only the 2 variants to the dark green tampo print. The model only comes with a light grey interior and everything else matches (not including slight shades to the orange) except the window. This was during a point where they were doing some with blue-green and some with proper green windows. Early 1977 they were back to light green tampo.
Of course there are always the more random models. Okay who forgot to hot foil print these wheels?
And of course the funniest of the lot. The “oops, we put it through the tampo machine backwards (hiccup)” drunken special. I would have loved to have been at this factory.
Oh yeah, I have not spoken about bases again. Black were the norm. But they were not always done. Unpainted?
Or the “err we have this awful dark brown paint we don’t like” variant. Any paint that came in that they didn’t like for painting model bodies were used to paint bases. Nothing got wasted. There is a funky blueish grey base variant too. I don’t have one, as I have not bothered with bases on this (already mentioned) and so have not pursued getting one. These were just random ones due to other top side noticeable variations.
So in short, many MANY things can vary over the 6 years of production. Windows, bases, shades, interiors, tampo. Many are quite tough to narrow down to a year. The one thing we know, chroming interiors was phased out in 1976, so any chrome is either 1975 or 1976. Anything else interior is 1976 to 1980.
Actually, there is another small variant that can narrow the earlier ones even more. When the Countach was launched, they simply case the name on the rear. But shortly after the Streakers model arrived in 1975 they re-did the rear by making a small recess and casting Countach into that. I don’t know why. So if the word Countach is flush with the rear that means it is one of the earliest Streakers models. Definitely a 1975. The recess name variant was either later 1975 or early 1976 before the chroming stopped.
But with so many variations to get from those 6 years, it is a case of how many dozen will I end up with?
Phew! Now I have that out of the way, let’s go with something simpler. Universal took over after Lesney went bust and moved manufacturing to Macau or China, then on to Thailand when they closed the Macau factory. 1985 saw them release a School Bus. But only in the US market. It was clearly an International. In those days it was a lot easier to make a model of a real vehicle without having to apply for licenses. It debuted as MB47 there in yellow with a School District 2 side design.
Now in their desire to make the model as realistic as possible, the rear door sported 2 windows. An upper and a lower window. There was just one problem.
Due to the construction of the vehicle, this lower door was actually lower than the seats cast inside. It looked a little weird, as it was just a window to a piece of plastic.
So by 1986 they had made an adjustment to the casting, blocking out that lower window and just tampo printing a black lower window instead.
Production was in Macau and this did not mean no shades. They existed there too.
For 1987 though, they decided you know what? Let’s throw it in the ROW range too. And let’s keep it as MB47 there too. So they did. They also decided that it would be easier to make it in China so moved production there.
Production continued until 1995. For some reason in 1993, the Chinese factory decided to no longer add red lights to the front printing.
Or to the rear. Again I have no idea why they decided to take out the red and just leave black printing.
Although that was not the end of it. After 1994 the ROW market stopped selling the model, but it was still going in the US market. For 1995 they decided to stop printing front and rear completely. Now I have one that was even missing the chroming to the grille. There is a crossover, and you can find chrome grille but no other printing front or rear. I am still looking.
And with no rear print, that lack of lower door window is more noticeable. But I am getting ahead of myself. This was the 1985 through 1995 basic range issue. Yes, 11 years in the basic range in an unchanged (side) livery. But while all this was going on, the model did see other uses.
So let us backtrack to 1988. June 18th 1988 to be exact. That was the day that this promotional issue was given out at the 7th Matchbox USA Convention in Connecticut.
1988 also saw a Chef Boyardee promotional issue, which was simply the basic range model with an extra sticker on the hood.
The next time we saw a release outside of the basic range was in 1990 when the model was added to the My First Matchbox range. As it was not made in Macau at the time of debut, it never saw a Macau release, but even with all production in China, we still saw variants. At first the green wheels had a red middle.
They quickly turned blue. They stopped printing the middles in 1993 as the model was finishing production, but I am still to get that one.
In 1991 another promotional issue was made for St Paul Public Schools in USA. This was another simple one where they simply switched out the writing on the side, with all the rest of the tampo print being as it was in the basic range.
So being 1991 did mean it was during the time where the full tampo print was in place.
In 1991 Matchbox launched a series called Action Pack in USA. These were simply a model in a unique look along with a few accessories that were compatible with their playsets of the time. One of the models was the School Bus which came in blue with a Police design. These ran through 1991 and into 1992 unchanged before being phased out as Universal was.
1992 saw Sam’s Club in USA release a special 30-pack, with a number of models in the pack in alternate colours to normal. The School Bus was now in orange instead of yellow. And you may notice that this was also lacking red details. They were a Christmas item and this then rolled into the general production for 1993.
1992 also saw an Australian promotional item for Harvey World Travel.
Hofstra University in USA also had a promotional release. This was in blue. There is another blue too. Penn State had one, but I am still to get a hold of it.
There was nothing new for 1993 outside of the basic getting adjusted, but for 1994 a special Collectors Choice series was launched in USA. This was run through White Rose, with a view that with the direction Tyco were taking, they would release a series of models in more realistic looks. It was a success, but Tyco decided to do their own thing and launch the Premier series instead, negating the need for these. This had a nod to where Matchbox had just moved their R&D too, as with Tyco’s takeover, they closed the UK office and moved to Mount Laurel in New Jersey.
So I believe I am back up to date with these again. 1996. The US market finally saw a new look to the bus. After 11 years with the same design, they switched to a new side design with Carpenter High School on it.
And then they only went and changed it again the following year. For 1997 it was now sporting an Oaklyn Middle School “Go Team Go” design.
And as this was 1997, this also meant a Gold Challenge release mixed in with the basic range for USA.
The model was added to a 5-pack that year too. The Matchbox Elementary design was a part of the City Streets pack.
For 1998, unlike most other vehicles that saw a new look for the year, as this was the first year of the Mattel influence on the range the model was simply moved to the MB12 slot, but came in a lighter yellow. What? You don’t think it was a difference, more of a shade? Well you are right, both of these are 1998s. I found a shade variation to it.
1998 yellow compared to 1997 orangey yellow. Now you see the change.
In 1998 a Chinese promotional issue of various model all in Fanta orange were released. One was the bus, and you may notice that it had the same side design as the 1997 5-pack release. I guess they felt it was weird leaving the side blank.
In 1999 a new look sporting Ridge Elementary School was sold in the US market as MB1.
For 2000 it was the turn of St Thomas Elementary School in Rocky River, Ohio, to be presented on the side. And on the first 10,000 made of MB31, the rear also sported a Matchbox 2000 logo.
2000 also saw a Pleasant Book series model. I loved these little books that came with the model in question in a blister on the side. This book was simply called School.
For 2001 the model was finally dropped from the US range too, but did see one release. A Nickelodeon licensed 5-pack saw the bus with a Hey Arnold themed side design.
For 2002 Mattel decided to give the model one more year in the US basic range, and with it a lot of fun. Or not, if you were the sort to try and find them. It was sold as MB15 in the US range, and being a logo year, they added a 50 logo to the first 10,000 made. The only thing though, they put the logo on the wrong side.
Because that was how they appeared in the blisters. And being such a flat side it was really tough to be able to see down the back to try and gauge whether there was a logo or not. Luckily there was a little help.
Mattel at the time were batch dating models. It became known that 3211EA examples were being found with the logo, so people were checking bases for the date, and if it was the right one, took a change. It still wasn’t a guarantee as more than 10,000 were produced on that date. So some were still not including a logo, but at least it helped.
2002 was the final year for the model. But as well as a final US basic range outing, there was an additional model that was sold in a 20-piece jigsaw puzzle. One of 4 puzzle sets that were released that year. After that the casting retired. Wow! That was a longer dive back on a model than I thought.
I am definitely making up for lost time here. I did contemplate whether to do this when the latest arrives soon, but decided I would do it now. Because, why not? The MB222 Highway Maintenance Truck. I have plans for the new release when it arrives later this year. This casting first debuted in 1990 as either MB45 for the US market or MB69 for the ROW market.
However, if you were to unhook the plow off the front (it is only a clip on) you might notice a certain Chevy bow tie on the grille. Yes it was a Chevy, but again, Universal were very good at not caring. The all yellow ran for 2 years.
Just like the School Bus, the Highway Maintenance Truck was a part of the Action Pack series in USA for 1991/92. This time it was in red and grey.
For 1992 the basic range saw a slight change. The plastic parts of the model changed from yellow to red.
And if you were paying attention you might guess what this was? Yes, Sam’s Club in USA. the yellow was changed to orange here, just like it was with the bus for their Christmas special 30-pack.
Now this time the basic range issue ran 3 years. There is something to look for as a variation.
Production moved from China to Thailand in 1994 which really gave us a variance to the red plastic more than anything (apart from the obvious country change on the base). However, after 1994, they decided to bring the casting back to China again. Well that was really worth it. This was down to the fact that the model was included in a special run Intercom City release in green, which was all being done in Thailand. I am still to find the Intercom City stuff as they are really hard to locate. But here is a daft fact. You notice that the China one pictured is on a raised section for the country? That is because this was actually a late 1994 returnee. Thailand wiped bases and re-worded it. But when it came back to China, they just slapped a tab over it and carried on.
Collectors Choice. I had mentioned that in the School Bus talk. Yes, this was also in that series. 1994 was a fun year. This was after the model had returned to China again.
For 1995 they decided to give the model a new look. White and blue. It ran 2 years in this look, but during 1996 Tyco deliberately removed the hood print, specifically to create something fun for collectors to find. They changed a number of vehicles in the range that year in the same way.
For 1997 we saw another new look. Orange with a Road Crew side design.
This was a basic range model so again if you lived in USA you would find a Gold challenge version too.
And just like the School Bus, 1997 saw the model debut in 5-packs. This was a Construction pack where all the models were pumpkin with a simple Matchbox logo on the side (of some of them).
1998 saw another model get a simple change of colour for the basic range. Moving to the MB11 slot as part of the Mattel change to the system, the model was now red instead of orange.
It also appeared in not one, but two 5-packs that year. The Airport pack saw a white and blue one, the Highway Crew a green one.
In 1999 the model was dropped from the ROW range, but continued as a US exclusive, and was actually still MB11. This time it was orange with a DOT103 livery.
That design was carried over into 2000 but was now on a yellow model. However, this was now also in the ROW range. MB79 for the US also saw Matchbox 2000 printed on the back of the first 10,000 made, but all MB59 ROWs were logo-free.
A picture showing the logo better and putting the 1999 in the picture too in the hope that people are completely oblivious to the fact I do not currently own a certain ASAP blank model. A pumpkin one (very much like the 1997 5-pack) with no tampo at all was created for code 2 usage. I am still trying to find a blank one.
But what I do have from 2000 is this Test Centre launcher pack release in orange.
This model really mirrors the bus well. After 2000 it too was dropped from the basic range. We just saw the one issue. This was a Pleasant Book release alongside the book called Plow.
Oh I shouldn’t have mentioned that should I. This didn’t go back in the basic range. For 2002 it was a part of the Across America series. It was the model representing North Dakota.
Ah there we go, back in the basic range. 2003. One year late. It was MB20 in green, and the first 10,000 (to be found anywhere in the world) saw a Hero City logo on the hood.
And due to a small mistake, the On the Job 5-pack accidentally received the same logo treatment as all the basic range models. The first 10,000 of all 5 models in that set had a Hero City logo too, with this being one of them. Oops!
It was then chosen to be a part of the 2004 Disaster Crew 5-pack in orange with a Centre Action design. This was the height of Hero City. Just as the range was about to see its biggest turnaround in a long time.
Because 2005, and you can see the difference. This was a part of the City Services 5-pack that year, and was in a very realistic design.
Another 5-pack release for 2006. This time it was just the Construction pack. Again in orange, with a lovely realistic look to it.
Target in USA were asking for something unique and were given a small series called Monsters. Each pack contained a model with a monster too. The truck was a part of the series and included a Yeti.
MB222 took a few years off due to a plow-less model being used in the interim. But made a return in 2009 in the basic range again. It even got 2 looks for MB74 in green, then later on in silver with the same side design.
But what I should also point out is that the Chevy Bow tie was removed after 2006. Now it was just a Highway Maintenance Truck.
It was also a part of the Action 10-pack that year in tan.
In 2010 it got another Action 10-pack release too, this time in orange.
It wasn’t seen in 2011, but for 2012 made another basic range appearance. I noticed the blue was good for a shade in my quest for picking up MB75.
2013 would prove to be the final time we would see MB222. But not this model. It was MB26 in the basic range, but when we saw the 2014 model we noticed something.
MB33 in grey had a slight tweak.
The clip in front plow had now been re-cast as part of the base section. This meant a new MAN number. MB954.
It was also a part of the Construction Zone 5-pack too. We saw a wheel variation during production of that model.
It was then MB33 in the 2015 range as well. This time in an orange design.
It took 2016 off before returning in 2017 as MB36 in a Forest Ranger design. After that we have not seen the model again, but it is returning later this year. It’s a good one too. Going to be fun to do a showcase on that one.
Okay I have done 3 really big dive backs, so as we move into the 2000s I am doing shorter ones to finish off, or otherwise people might be falling asleep. Grab a coffee, Red Bull or whatever, and keep going. We are almost done. We are up to the MB556 Pontiac Piranha. in the early 2000s, with the move towards Hero City, there was a bit of a push towards more concepts too. Some really out there vehicles for sure. One was this concept. It debuted as MB73 in the 2002 basic range. the first 10,000 models had a 50 logo on the hood, but those were apparently really tough to find. It was said that most ended up in South America, where there wasn’t a big collector base.
Most came with a plain base.
For 2003 MB59 with a Hero City logo in the side design was much easier to obtain. As well as the non-logo obviously.
It was also a part of the Justice League 5-pack featuring Wonder Woman on the side.
In early 2004 3 of the 5 models in that pack were also sold as singles in alternate colours. Wonder Woman was now found on a gold model.
For 2004 the model was no longer a part of the basic range. But it did get a 5-pack release. Remember, this was Hero City and so the VIP Parking pack had a black model with a lobster on the side for some reason. I mean, the clue was in name. It is a Piranha. They could have put a piranha on the side. But no, they went with a lobster.
With the change for 2005, this model was one that was really affected by it. The basic range was cutting down on fantasy vehicles and concepts, hence it never returning. But being a bit of an oddball vehicle, it pretty much ended up consigned to licensed 5-packs. First up, Sonic-X.
2006, and a pair of licensed 5-packs. Nickelodeon in silver and Yu-Gi-Oh in charcoal.
Wait a sec, this wasn’t a licensed pack. A regular 5-pack release. Aw! Just the one. It was in a Dragon’sLair 5-pack in a matte black finish, which is really good at trapping dust.
Before heading back to the licensed 5-packs again in 2008. This was a DC Super Friends pack, and The Flash can be found in darker or lighter red.
Little Einsteins was next up in 2009 in blue.
And in 2010 it saw its final licensed 5-pack (and final overall) release in a SpongeBob SquarePants pack. After that they retired the casting.
So time to finish in the 2010s with a model from the mid-decade temporary change of direction. The MB909 Rapids Rescue. Yes, realism was proving to be so successful in bringing the brand back up from the abyss that was Hero City that they decided to scrap it and go in a completely new direction. Luckily it didn’t last as sales dipped again. Back to realism. One day they will realize that realism works and won’t bother trying to fix what isn’t broken. It is going pretty well so far. So 2014, MB103.
Now they were being pinned down with the parts in use, so to accommodate the removable raft on the rear, the window was not included. If you were to peer inside the back you would find a life jacket and an anchor. Plus a couple of walkie-talkies. They might be under pressure to stay in budget, but they could still have a little fun. In all honesty, I didn’t mind this one too much. For a Matchbox originals casting (as they now refer to them as) I thought it was one of the nicer ones.
It was not seen in 2015, but returned in 2016 as MB90 in white with a blue raft.
In 2017 it was moved to 5-packs where it was in the Jungle Mission pack. I did find a lighter and darker shade, although it doesn’t come across too well in picture.
And in 2018 saw one more 5-pack release in a Ranger Rescue pack. This was actually the one that most people refer to as the National Parks set, as all the models had a National Parks logo. I picked up 2 due to the orange raft being lighter or darker shades. But wait, aren’t these usually mint?
Yes, they usually are. But not always. This was one of the few non-mint ones, but did actually have a mint interior, seen best if the raft is removed.
For 2019 the model was thrown back in the basic range as MB72. 2019 had a number of “carry forward” models included as this was just the 2016 revisited.
It was almost identical to the 2016 issue. The only difference I could find was that the silver in the tampo printing for the steel parts was a little thicker/darker. It is minor. But just enough to keep it. The model has not been seen since, and I have a feeling it may not. They have really take to the realism direction again, and I think this just doesn’t fit any more. It’s a shame. It wasn’t that bad. Just out of time now.
Talking of which, I think I am too. That was quite a hefty dive back due to not doing any for a few weeks. But if you can remember far enough back, this was a post about the last of batch C basics, which included 2 brand new castings.
And 4 other models too.
I hope people enjoyed it all. Next week, more of the same. Maybe not quite so big on the dive back. That was a big group wasn’t it! I hope everybody has a safe and happy week, and catch you next Monday.