Matchbox Monday takes a first look over towards Japan

Matchbox appears to be getting quite a lot of Japanese models lately, and with it, some Japan content. Soon I will be going through a set specific for Japan itself, but before I do, there is the fact that Walmart in USA (as well as a few other select markets in other stores) brought us the first of 2 proposed Japan Origins batches. I am sure the second batch will arrive. But with the year getting close to the end, and 4 more assortments of models due to arrive, it is a bit of a worry. We will see though.

Well, let’s get started on the first batch anyway. Which is nice and easy to follow. They were numbered from 1-6, so I will just run through in number order. Which means number 1 is the MB805 ’85 Toyota 4Runner.

This comes in a brand-new look, just for the Japan Origins series. A tan with red, pink and plum stripes, as well as a few Japanese style motifs on the side.

The front end is also tampo printed. It is nice seeing this model, as since 2016 it has had very sporadic appearances.

Which if people need reminding, began in 2010. It debuted in blue as MB74 worldwide, which during production across 3 batches (as it was at the time) saw a little shading between production runs.

After that run finished, a version 2 arrived in tan too. Again, a little shading was going on between production runs.

If people don’t remember that far back, they were actually right at the end of the 2010 model year, and pretty much as soon as version 2 had stopped production, the 2011 basic range issue arrived in red. Still as MB74. In 2011, they were doing their best to keep as many numbers the same as they could.

A Camping Adventure 5-pack saw another example too. This was in the Park Ranger series, similar to National Parks, but a little different. This was, so far, the last time that the model has appeared in more than 1 line in a year. Daft fact? I am full of them!

In 2012, it moved (finally) from MB74 to the MB92 slot, and this green example had a large nod to Ryu Asada on the sides. The “Asada” islands are fictional, and the 18 25 21 code on the side is also a nod, as switching numbers to letters, they spell out Ryu.

2013 saw a 5-pack release. The set was just called Outdoor. Fairly easy I guess.

2014? Basic range again. MB37 this time in grey with an MBX and steel look side design.

215 was also a single, and to date the last basic range release of the casting. MB117 was white with a significant Toyota style side design of yellow, orange and red.

For 2016, and the last outing before hiatus, the model was a 10-pack exclusive. After this, we did not see it for 4 more years.

Until this retro themed model (with a design reminiscent of the classic ’80s Ford 4×4 Open Back Truck ) appeared in the Target Retro series. So, it appears it went from Target to Walmart. There was nothing in 2021. Except, did anybody notice there has been some tinkering?

The model has lost the front end section being a part of the interior section. The upper half has now been re-cast into the body part, and the lower half re-cast into the base section.

The same at the rear too. Again, the interior section no longer protrudes out of the rear, with the bumper now also being a part of the base. You can also see how they have re-jigged the casting to implement the drop system they use at the factory. When originally cast, they had cleverly concealed the rear rivet post by having the body stretch out underneath the window. Aesthetically, this is a nicer look, but it is a slower process, as the factory workers would be slotting the window section in, sort of scooping it into the body at an angle. The drop method, which is the way forward nowadays, means a slight tweak was necessary. Most castings had been adjusted by now, but as this had not been used since 2016, when they pulled it out in 2020, they realized it was going to need a change too. My guess is that it was too late to do for the 2020 release, so when they finished production, they set about making the adjustment for when it would next be used. and here we are.

Being in an era of drop production, this model is unlikely to see any major tweaks as it has only been around a few years. The MB1209 ’76 Honda Civic CVCC.

Taking the number 2 slot in the set or 12 (or batch of 6, whichever you prefer). This one is a carry forward though. It is a repeat of the debut release of the casting in yellow.

So many will have already been used to this one. It was a very nice debut in 2020, and I remember talking about it at the time. Being a model I was not exactly thrilled to hear it was coming, but when I saw the final article I was blown away. And yes, I do not care about rivet posts running through models. You can see it there, if you look carefully. It is a consequence of the drop method they do nowadays. It is something that doesn’t bother me. I know some are not into them.

So, 2 different shades. Is this the difference between the new release and the original 2020 MB45? No!

Both of these are the same production run in 2022. Both dated R12, yet one came out noticeably lighter than the other. You can never tell when variations might occur.

Now I bring in the 2020s. And as you can see, I had 2 of those. So getting 2 of the new one seemed quite appropriate.

So yes, I was seeing a shade to the 2020 release. In fact, that was not as extreme as the 2 I got for 2022.

And those 2 had a much larger gap between production runs. N02 and N18. That’s a 16-week difference.

But what we are finding is that it is not just the body that shades. The new production run comes with a darker grey base than the 2020 models had. It is not massive, but I see it. If I see it, I keep it.

Am I crazy? Daft question. Of course I am. 4 of the same model.

It’s a lovely little model. The 2021 MB49 had small shades to the white paint, with one coming out a bit more creamy than the other. Both in the collection? Yes please.

The 2022 MB21 had a significant shade to the grey base.

Now that is a big shade. The other base shade was much smaller.

I think it is time to get on with the next one. We move from a Honda Civic to… err… a Honda Civic. This time the MB753 Honda Civic Type R. The CVCC is a classic, but when this first appeared it was the most up to date look for the Civic casting. Nowadays though, this starts to move towards classic again.

It has been 10 years since we last saw this one. A whole decade on the sidelines. I am glad they are not forgetting about vehicles that are in the database. Now officially this is a carry forward again. It was first issued as an MB26 version 2 in 2009.

But as is often the case, things are not that straight forward. A decade out? Yeah, before they brought this back, they did take some time to check it out. I will get to the differences as I get to the previous white one. Because I am doing another dive back.

2009 wasn’t the only year of the 2 version basic range. It debuted in 2008 as MB26 and first arrived in red, before switching to yellow later on.

For 2009 they continued on with the MB26 slot for this model. That was random. It was 2011 when they made an effort to keep numbers the same. After first appearing in silver.

We then saw a version 2 in white. The one that technically they have carried forward to the new run.

But with a copyright of 2008 and ’22, you knew that things were not the same. So let us see what was adjusted.

It was pretty obvious. This was a double slot model. As many know, production is done upside down. Therefore, the body section would be placed upside down and the window piece inserted. But because it is carefully positioned in the rear underneath the spoiler, it would be a case of scooping it in there to allow it to fit. Dropping it in quickly will not allow it to slot in place quickly, and it will get fiddly. So that bit had to go. To do that, they simply blanked out that section under the window and covered it with an additional tampo print to simulate the window piece. And then the base. Again, after dropping an interior piece in, the base was then being slotted into the rear of the model and riveted down at the front. Any slotting pieces are being eliminated, so this had a redesign too. For this, they extended out the base section to cover that whole area.

So now we have 2 rivets going through the base, and not a single one at the front. It may seem pointless to us, but this saves fractions of seconds per model. Make a 100,000 and suddenly we are talking hours of work saved. Many models will be made in their millions, at which time we are talking of saved days. So it may seem a small thing, but this saves them a lot of time and money, and enables them to hold on to more 4-part builds for basics. Costs for raw materials are going up, and we know the price point is being ridiculously held by Walmart. Eventually something has to give, but if they can make adjustments to hold off on that for longer, I am all for it.

The front end was for the most part the same. For this, it is more about the red tampo being different. It was just the rear end that needed an adjustment.

So where was I? Oh yes, 2009. As well as basics, we saw this charcoal and silver look in the 40th Anniversary Superfast series. This was, until now, the only time we have ever seen this model outside the basic range.

2010 saw them move the model to a 1-per year basic release, and a new number. MB29. It was blue. It shaded!

2011, and still MB29 (this time planned), the model turned metallic orange. Again, this was very good for the shade nutters. What? I am not the only 1. I know of 2 others!

And this model was the last we saw of the casting for a decade. MB117 for the 2012 basic range in green, or dark green. Because, you know, shades! It is nice seeing it again. I am sure that with them reworking the model the way they did, it will not be the last we see of it.

Next up is a Mazda. The MB1219 ’19 Mazda 3. The Mazda is the newest vehicle in the batch, and is another carry forward.

Number 4 in the series is a repeat of the 2020 debut look for this one. The same year as the yellow Honda. Except it wasn’t. As we know, the casting saw a serious delay and although it is still classified as a 2020 release, it did not debut until the last batch of 2021 (in an unnumbered blister). Although it was listed down as being MB41 in the 2020 model year, which is what it got assigned.

So we have not had a lot of time since we saw this one. It’s a shame they didn’t do the Mazda 2. I want to see that again. Is this a bit too new for repeating already?

Especially as I found 2 shades when it first appeared. Mind you, that never means anything to somebody like me.

Because the new one is clearly the lightest I have seen for this model. Seriously, that is a notable shade. So I am happy enough. Still would have liked the Mazda 2 though.

This one is new. Not a carry forward. Number 5 in the batch, and the second of only 2 new looks for the batch. The MB945 Subaru Impreza WRX Police.

Just like the Toyota, this model gets a very serious Japanese looking design. A very good nod to the police style look seen in the country, although with a Matchbox twist.

They even managed to sneak in a little front detailing too. Just like with the Toyota. Very impressive. I really like this one. Now, some may be thinking, I am forgetting a certain release.

But they may be confusing this with the MB1049 Subaru WRX STi casting. I am not surprised. It replaced this, ran for 2 years, then they went back to this again. Apart from an Off Road Rally release in 2020, the 2018 MB67 was the second if the 2 basic range releases this got before being dropped. I thought it was a decent enough casting, but it did have a small ride height issue. Some people really took that to heart. I wasn’t overly fussed. But I do admit to preferring this one over that later one anyway.

I have to admit though, these 2 together really do look great.

Not bad considering this model had a troubled beginning. It took a little convincing to run this as a police vehicle. When launched in 2008, the casting was MB751, and featured a separate light bar on the roof. Subaru at first were not keen. But after seeing pictures of real ones, they said okay. 2008 saw the debut in silver and then in white as a version 2 for MB45, and this was the very first Subaru casting that Matchbox ever made. But that was almost it.

We didn’t see it again until 2012. Subaru were still not keen on it being a police vehicle. Mattel wanted this to stay as a police vehicle. Stand-off! A little gentle nudging, and Subaru were again on board. In fact, they embraced it. 4 years after the double debut, 2012 saw this MB78 release. Yes, it had white wheels. This was the beginning of the slight tweak to the range, which did not last.

Luckily, this model did not get much in the way of tweaks. 2013 saw another black release as MB49, and just like the new one, this too has gold wheels. However, another twist was the pulling vehicles from basics for 5-packs, and this was also in a Police 5-pack.

And 2014 saw one more release of the casting. MB93 in blue, which saw some decent shading through production.

The model took some time off. When it returned in 2019, that was when we saw the new look, missing a separate light bar, and now under the MAN number MB945. It was a part of the MBX to the Rescue 5-pack. I had 2, as the tampo printing was different between them. Shades of blue, yellow and white.

2020 saw another 5-pack release, as this time it was a part of the Highway Speeders set in a lovely Polizei theme.

We also saw this blue issue earlier this year as a carry forward in the Japan Tourers 5-pack. Again I am noticing the blue shades on it.

But what was more important for many was that this was indeed a carry forward (some don’t like) but it was of a design that was originally on the earlier casting. So it was important as a different MAN number release.

This brings us to the last model in the set. The MB1022 ’71 Nissan Skyline 2000GTX which takes the number 6 slot in the series.

This model is also a carry forward. It turns out only 2 of the 6 were new. This model was originally the 2nd of only 2 basic range releases for the casting. Yeah I know! This model has only ever been used twice in the basic range. I guess if they are too popular, they remove them and replace them with models that will not sell as fast.

So for anybody who was collecting 5 years ago, they will remember this (or not, as it was a blink and miss it in stores because, you know, they sold immediately). But for those with fuzzy memories, let’s do a quick recap of what we have seen from this casting so far.

It all started in 2016, when this silver release was the debut look as MB5.

Which was followed by MB11 in 2017, which still stands as the final basic range release for this extremely popular casting. However, for nutters like me, you have to put the 2 together.

It turns out the new one is significantly lighter in shade. That is a big difference.

2017 also saw the first we saw of the model in a premium guise. It was chosen to be the Albuquerque Gathering dinner model that year in red with a white roof. Early birds saw a slightly enhanced variant with an additional logo on the rear and a chrome base.

After being dropped from the basics, the next release was as a 9-pack exclusive in 2018 in orange.

It then took 2019 off before getting a second premium offering. This time it was a part of the 2020 Superfast range in red, with a variety of nods to former Matchbox Ambassadors.

2021 saw 2 different releases again. A pink issue with fancy side design was a part of the Target Retro series.

And it got another 9-pack offering in green. This time as a semi-exclusive, which was a thing in 2021, with 3 models appearing in both pack in any particular batch.

So that is the rundown on the Nissan. What I did not mention in this report was the interior variation. As many know, there are 2 different interiors in use for this casting. One has racing seatbelts on the front seats, the other does not. If you were to drill the rivets and dis-assemble the casting, you would discover that the interior section has a sneaky engine, which is also different between the 2 halves. I had made a point of ensuring I got one of each interior variation for each release so far. Luckily, the Gathering promos were deliberately assembled in that the early bird had one interior, the regular issue had the other. So I didn’t need to get alternatives there. By the time of photographing the report, I only had the one carry forward. But seeing how different it was, I was immediately in touch with a friend who has secured me the alternate to add to the collection.

So that brings me to the end of another batch of new issues. You know what that means. Dive back time! Why? Because I like waffling on!

So this week I will begin with the MB39-A Clipper. This model was the first Superfast casting in that slot, even though it arrived in 1973. The first 10 slots were filled in late 1969 with the launch, and the majority of others were switched over in 1970. But a few castings were either not required to switch (the Case Tractor Bulldozer having no wheels) or were deemed too tough to switch over. The number 39 Ford Tractor was one of the 4 that never saw a change. It continued on as a regular wheel model until it was ready to go. With a Mod Tractor launching in 1972, it appears the time was ripe for it to be dropped. So it finished up that year and was dropped. Clipper was one of the many Matchbox originals designs that were being fed into the range at the time. Funnily enough, this was due to trying to fight off Mattel. As we know, it ultimately didn’t work, and Mattel now owns the brand.

The model came in metallic magenta, or purple, or dark pink, depending on the paint being used at the time. It also sported a green base, which also formed the headlights. For added fun, they created a large opening canopy for it, showing off the 2-seat interior.

It also came with 2 large exhausts that stuck out of the rear. This was a Rolamatics model too, which Matchbox had just launched that year. As you rolled it along, those exhausts would bounce up and down.

As I mentioned, paints would vary a lot. They were always switching paint suppliers to get the cheapest deal, so with 6 years of production, that shade would never stay the same for long.

And of course there is also the fact that the usually amber window could also be found clear.

And there is also the fact that some may be found where they didn’t bother painting the base. This was Lesney. They were good like that.

However, this is a model of 2 halves. In 1973, when it was launched, Lesney had applied to the UK patents office for a patent for the Rolamatics function. It took a few years for it to be granted. Once the number was given, they set about changing the bases of all castings that were using the Rolamatics features. This was in 1976. At this time, they also decided to stop painting the tail pipes chrome. There is a crossover. The last of the chrome pipes was being used up as the first of the “pat no” bases was in production, and if you are lucky and are into that sort of thing, you may find a chrome piped “pat no” model. It is not something I personally have worried about. I just decided to do the chrome pipe range, and the white tail pipe range. Because chrome pipes were roughly 3 years, white pipes roughly 3 too. So that means shades.

Hunting around, and you might find a clear window on both pipe styles.

More rummaging, and look at that. Unpainted bases with both chrome or white pipes. Amber windows and green bases are the norm.

One thing I do want to say is, though, I have never heard of both rarer variants appearing together. If a Clipper has a clear window, it will sport a green base. If they didn’t bother painting the base, it will have an amber window. After 1978 the model was dropped from the range, replaced by a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II, as Matchbox was reverting to the realism it was known best for. but this wasn’t quite it.

I do own this Brazilian model. As part of an agreement Lesney set up with a company in Brazil, unassembled parts were shipped out to Brazil and then put together in a factory there. At first this factory was in Rio, but soon after it moved to Manaus. This was due to import laws in Brazil at the time, where toys could not be shipped in from abroad. But parts could be. This ran for many years, and meant that with parts being unpainted before assembly, the Brazilian factory painted in whatever colours they had too. My Clipper is metallic dark red.

It is also a slightly later run too. At first, Brazilian made models simply placed a sticker over the “Made in England” part, but as they would come off quite easily, they changed it to adding a tab. My model had the tab, but it has been broken off. With the Brazilian deal finishing before Lesney went bust, a new deal was set up with Universal for later castings, and they had bases changed beforehand. Many were actually changed to plastic bases from metal, as it was easier to ship.

There was another little addition too. Universal also set up a similar deal in Bulgaria. A local company was sent over a variety of castings, and were given 1 year to make as much as they could and get the castings back to Matchbox. They would then be sent more castings, and after a few more “yearly” sessions, subsequent deals were simply to send castings. No need to send back. Clipper was a part of the very first deal. This was in 1983, and the factory went nuts making as much as they could, cranking out a massive selection of vehicles before shipping the tools back in 1984. During the year of madness, they cranked out models in a variety of green shades, blue shades, gold, bronze, purple, white, red and silver. Phew! Interiors were mainly lemon, but some were made with white interiors. Canopy windows were either a pale yellow or clear. And, although the majority were left plain, some did see a Turbo 44 design added. Although a few early models had a simple 30 or 15 sticker attached to the front of the model.

The only things that stayed consistent were that bases were always silver, pipes were chrome, and wheels were always dot-dash front and 5-crown rear. Note that the rear wheels did not sport any tabs on the inside, so the Rolamatics feature did not function.

So if you wanted more than just the magenta, aside from trying to source a prepro, you can look at alternate country production. Brazil is by far tougher, with Bulgaria being a better source for variety.

Next up in the dive back, we turn to 1984. This was the year that Universal, still struggling to get enough new tooling together, didn’t want to do more of 1983’s “let’s grab a bunch of older castings, alter them and create new stuff”. So what did they do? They said, “hey, look, we make these Kenner castings”. They took 4 Kenner models and altered them into Matchbox ones. Officially, Universal were simply the manufacturer of Fast 111’s for Kenner. Production had started in late 1980 for a 1981 release, and continued through 1983. A total of 38 castings were created and as things were dying down, Universal approached Kenner about buying some tooling, and made a deal for 4 of them. 2 of them are still going. The MB129 Chevy Blazer 4×4 and MB131 (now MB878) Jeep 4×4 still plod along. A third casting, the MB133 Sand Racer broke after 1 year, and they just gave up on it. The final one though, the MB132 Ford Mustang GT, well this was the unusual one. It was the only one that didn’t come with an aerial on the back. Daft fact, that. I told you, I have a ton of useless ones. It also ran for a number of years, before going into retirement, like a regular Matchbox model does. Originally known as King Cobra, it was a part of the Kenner Fast 111’s series from the debut year, 1981, and in 1984, was altered into a Matchbox casting. This was then released exclusively in the US range as MB74. It came in orange with blue and yellow stripes and a GT note.

Production for 1984 and 1985 was in Macau. Of course, 2 years of production meant this was also pretty decent for shade variations.

In 1986 production moved to China and with it, they were planning a new design. Of course, the new design did not appear January 1. So when production started there, they continued the original orange one. Except for 2 small changes. This was a very dark, dull shade. Almost brown. And somebody forgot to send the tooling for the racing slick wheels. Oops! So they just threw on some large dot-dash wheels instead.

So you don’t even need to flip the model over to check the base. The wheels (as well as shade) give it away.

Luckily the wheels were sent over in the next shipment, and at this time, they were ready for the new look. Silver, with a blue and yellow striped design, or purple and yellow. This too ran for 2 years, and the Chinese factory was just as good at coming up with shades. And yes, my blue print one has an amber window. I should also point out, that in the 1980s, Australia was receiving a hybrid range for a short while. Some models were ones that were technically US only and others technically ROW only. The Mustang popped up in Australia as MB20 in 1987.

After 1987, it was dropped. It lay dormant for quite a while until Tyco took over in the 1990s. One of the first things they did was to launch 5-packs. So yeah, Tyco weren’t all bad. In 1995, the Hot Rods 5-pack saw the return of the Mustang casting. It was white, with red scribbling all over it. Yeah, they were quite bad. Designs mainly. Some of the ideas were decent, but final execution did often leave a lot to be desired.

In 1996, they came up with a new Hot Rods 5-pack, and this time the model came in a really nice look. Red with black striping. What? Really? This was a Tyco design? Yes, it was. After white with red scribbles looking terrible, we went completely the other direction. But talk about leaving the best until last. Because after 1996, the casting was never seen again.

Many do think of Tyco and simply remember the ugly designs and/or vehicles. But they actually had a small sub-set that was superb. They got into army stuff. We saw some great little castings released during the era, but we often forget, we know Mattel took over Tyco in late 1996. By the time of the takeover, 1997 models were already in production at the factory and the first of them just starting to appear in stores. So 1997 was actually all Tyco stuff, just under the Mattel banner. It was too late to make changes, so they just let it be. But what we often forget, development begins a long time before production starts. We are in September 2022 at the time of this article. We have not seen 2023 releases, except a few prototypes and also some pre-production samples of the early stuff. But Mattel is already developing the 2024 range. A number of castings have been selected already, and pre-production work at Mattel HQ is already underway. Development is not a 5-minute job. The average time is around 18 months. Some models can get done quicker, if there is either no licence to obtain, or the licensor is happy with what they are doing. A tiny hitch can add months, sometimes years. Just look at the Range Rover Evoque. That took years to finally arrive. The Mazda 3 is a recent example of a tiny blip giving us a 1-year delay. They happen. Not everything is simple and straight forward, and we are not privy to all the inner workings of the team trying to create a new casting. But sometimes, they can get quite a few headaches trying to sort things out. But anyway, I am moving off track here. See how I am looping this back in? It’s a tracked vehicle. Ha! Well, I thought it was a clever segue. This is the MB323 Bradley M2 Fighting Machine. The M2 was first developed in 1981, and it still gets made in the USA. It costs roughly about $5.5million per tank nowadays. It was released as a Matchbox model in the 1998 basic range.

It does sport 4 tiny wheels underneath to roll it along, and has a turret on the top that rotates around. The main gun on the front of the turret is a plastic piece, but doesn’t really move. But although this was a 1998 issue, and sounds like it is a Mattel creation, development began back in 1996, before Mattel took over the company. Many new 1998 issues in the basic range still sported the Matchbox Int’l Ltd moniker on the base. This is because they were being developed during the Tyco period. Some 1998 castings have Mattel Inc on the base. These were mainly CAT models, adapted from tooling they already owned. Basically everything new from 1999 had Mattel Inc on the base, as they were developed entirely in the Mattel era. The 1998 issue was a simple tan with black star and T-0927 on the side.

The casting was immediately dropped from the ROW range after this, but the US market saw one more year. MB83 for the US market was this army green look with simple side graphics.

It was also given a premium issue, as the Collectibles series released a Military themed set in 1999. This was also green, but had a lot of camouflage all over the model, as well as other little detailed. Even the tracked wheels were detailed.

Mattel decided to move in a different direction, so the model started seeing very sporadic usage. It never saw anything in either 2000 or 2001. 2002 saw Target stores in the USA release a True Heroes 4-pack in a premium guise. One of the models was the Bradley. It came in a pale tan with simple detailing and a US flag too.

Well, after that, as a part of Hero City, they came up with what was called a Military 5-pack. The vehicles in the pack did see quite an unusual look, though. One of them was the M2, it was black with a green turret, and green tanks down the side. That was what Hero City was doing with models.

After the disaster of Hero City, a new direction back to realism came with another Military 5-pack in 2005. This time the Bradley saw a much better design. Army green with a camouflage side design.

It then moved over to the Battle Kings series, which had re-launched too. 2006 saw a Sahara Strike pack appear, with the Bradley being in sand (because, you know, Sahara). It also sported a camouflage print over all the model apart from the turret.

Snow Scouts was a 2007 Battle Kings pack that featured this casting in grey with a camouflage side design. When Battle Kings wrapped up, so did the casting. It was never used again.

This is a third generation Ford Transit. Ignoring the German made Taunus Transit from the 1950s, Ford launched the Transit van in 1965 and is currently only in its fourth generation. Matchbox has made castings from each generation over the year, and the second generation facelifted version was really out-doing the real-life counterpart, running way in the 2000s, with the real one replaced in 2000. However, with a facelift arriving in mid 2006 as a 2007 model, it really was time Matchbox updated theirs too. The MB693 ’07 Ford Transit therefore arrived in the 2006, fairly late in the model year as MB28. It came in metallic blue with a Bilstein side design.

In 2007, it moved to the MB37 slot in silver with a Genuine Ford Parts side design. I did notice the silver was actually able to come in shades.

There was also a UK promotional issue made to celebrate Ford’s Dunton facility celebrating its 40th Anniversary. This used the same parts as the basic range, but the side design was totally different. It was also packaged in a unique blistercard for the promotion.

But this was not it. Stars of Cars in Germany saw this really cool off-white release with the Matchbox themed side design.

And we also received a licensed 5-pack release too. Also in off-white, this time featuring Mario and Luigi on the side. Obviously, that was a Super Mario Bros pack.

In 2008 it moved to the MB72 slot in black with a SWAT side design. The paint finish changed during production, with both matte or satin finishes being found. Plus, I notice that matte seems to attract dust particles, which are difficult to get off.

It was also a part of the Best of British series that year, in a metallic greeny silver with Sheffelford’s Bakery & Goods on the side.

Germany also saw a metallic greeny silver issue. Stars of Cars had been renamed Euro Edition for 2008, and the first of 2 Euro Editions series saw this Transporte vehicle. I did find a shade to this one.

We also got a Skybusters release too. The Skybusters Action Packs were exclusive to Target stores in USA and featured a Skybuster with a mat, 2 miniatures and a few accessories. The MBX International Airport set saw this white one with an Airline Food Service side design.

It also got a Superfast release too. I loved this one. Metallic blue with dual white stripes going down the front. It had a plumbing & Electrical side design, and a lovely little note on the doors. Ask for your die-cast discount. Seriously, I have never found a real plumber or electrician offering that sort of incentive yet.

In 2009, the basic range release was MB48, and came with this Visitor Center Service side design on a white model. The design has been used again as a slight recurring theme, although I hope we see it even more. However, this first one came with a change. The V & Visitor part was either pink or red.

We saw another Best of British issue in 2009 too. This was also white, and sported a Collision Investigation Unit design. If you were to Google Collision Investigation Unit, you will see a lot of pictures of UK police vehicles. They are real, in the UK.

And Germany was giving us cool shades again. It was also in the second (and last) Euro Editions series too in tan with a Black Thai Gourmet Catering side design. I think that is a really clever pun as an English person. I do wonder if the cool pun might have been lost on more German speaking people. But what I did notice too was that this came in quite a range of shades.

It also came in a City Services 5-pack. This was in green with a Shady Branch Tree Surgeon side design.

Moving on to 2010, and the basic range release in bright green, with an EMER side design, was released as MB70.

It saw another 5-pack release too. This was in a Service Center 5-pack, and the yellow model sported a JC Body & Paint side design.

It also got a licensed 5-pack release. You might be able to guess this one. SpongeBob SquarePants. You might be able to notice that during production, they switched from using fusion graphics to ink jet printing. Fusion graphics gave the model a smoother look, whereas the ink jet printing is coarser. It also gave it a bit of a paler look.

After 2010, the model was dropped from the basic range. 2011 only saw 1 release. Again, a licensed 5-pack. This time, a Handy Manny pack. It then stopped completely after that.

Except for a 1-off random 10-pack exclusive issue in 2015. Again, just like the Mustang, I think they left the best for last. This black BFGoodrich vehicle is just so cool. I loved it. I would love for Mattel to repeat this livery on something new. Just sayin’.

Last model. The MB827 VW Saveiro Cross. This was a really cool addition. How many vehicles do we get from South America in the Matchbox range? Yes, this is a VW. But this is a Brazilian VW. Although Volkswagen do Brazil does make a couple of the same vehicles that are made in Germany, but they do have numerous unique vehicles that are just made in South America. The VW Gol is their biggest local success. The 3rd generation VW Gol was launched in 2008 and is still being produced, albeit facelifted a few times. However, as they do, only the hatchback variant of the Gol is actually known by that name. The saloon (or sedan) variant goes by the name Voyage, and the coupe utility variant goes by the name Saveiro. In Portuguese, the word “saveiro” translates into English as “sloop”. It doesn’t look like a boat to me. But hey, they have been doing it a long time. And it sells well. So I guess they know what they are doing. So as a way to try and help bolster the South American market, a South American model was added to the basic range in 2011 as MB80 in the US range, but with both LAAM and ROW only receiving 75 out of 100 US models, it was renumbered as MB26 for the LAAM market and MB73 for the ROW market. It was also chosen to sport 2 looks for the debut year. At first, it came in yellow with the DER side design that had been seen on a number of castings around the time. I also noted that this was good for a shade or 2.

Later on it turned black with a Rio X-treme Hang Gliding side design.

Me being me, I managed to get this cool little prepro in plain yellow with an orange window.

MB93 worldwide for 2012 saw the model turned grey with a Shark Tours side design.

In 2013, it moved to the MB89 slot in the range in red, with a WWC and stripes side design. I again noticed some shading though production.

It took 2014 off, but in 2015 returned as MB86. It was also thrown in some blind packs for the launch of Power Grabs. After 2015, Power Grabs switched from blind bags to the box style we see now. But the first year saw just a small selection of models from the basic range added, as well as a couple of exclusives. If you could find them. This model was blue with a snowboarding themed Valle Del Gallo side design.

After that, the model was dropped from the basic range for good, and has only seen one more issue. In 2016 it was in a Desert 5-pack. It came in tan (which I noticed was good for shades too) and had an MBX Tours side design. But that is it. Seriously, we have seen only 6 issues of this casting. Finally they give as a South American vehicle, and it gets such little use. And I am still waiting for them to give it a release with front and rear tampo printing. Every single one got a side design. I would still love to see them do a front/rear printed release. And as I said, it is still being made in Brazil for sale in South America. Apart from Argentina. Even though it was the biggest seller of 2021 there, in 2022 they brought in a law that states all new cars have to be fitted with ESP as standard, and the Gol/Voyage/Saveiro vehicle doesn’t have it. So it is no longer being sold in Argentina.

And on that note, I think I am done again. I started in Japan and ended up in South America. As you do. If only I was physically there. In both places. But anyway, that is it. Japan Origins saw 2 new looks for vehicles.

Along with 4 carry forward, which I ended up keeping as I could see something different with all of them. Plus I will shortly add a 5th as the alternate Skyline will be with me soon.

And 2 of the castings in use saw some cosmetic surgery for their release too.

So I leave Japan now and head to another country for next week. And if you have got this far, and still reading, be prepared. Next week’s report (and the following one) are both going to drop slightly early. And if you have been following my weekly rambles for over a year, you might have an inkling as to why.

Leipzig is coming up! And with it, some auctions. Full details of Auction A will be with next week’s report. Hence, it is arriving slightly early. The first auction will go live late Sunday night, German time. So be prepared for that (and possibly to spend money). In the meantime, enjoy the week and catch you slightly early for my first of 2 reports surrounding Leipzig.

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