This batch of Retro models has proven to be extremely difficult to find. Supposedly a Target exclusive in the USA, it appeared that Target weren’t exactly getting many in. The production run actually started appearing elsewhere instead, with Indonesia being the most abundant resource for finding them. Now, 5 of the 6 models I was able to secure thanks to Keith Hoskins in the USA. Keith, of Boone County fame (we have seen a number of Boone County models from Matchbox thanks to Keith) saw them briefly at one Target, and never again. The final model I ended up receiving from Indonesia. So now I finally have all 6, it is time for me to dig in and check them out.
And I am going to work through them in number order. Which means first up we have the MB1174 ’35 Ford Pickup. It takes the number 7 slot in the series of 24, and if you remember from my article about batch A, which I did back in May, those had red and yellow grid blisters. These have a blue grid package. Different batch, different blister style.
Now this is a really cool model for the series. An all new design, but oh so retro. The very epitome of what this series really should have been about.
It comes in dark blue with a Matchbox Speed Shop side design. Which any long time collector will know, is a classic look.
Because this is another nod to the livery of the 1986-88 basic range issue of the MB038 Ford Model A Van. This is just fantastic. I absolutely love these sorts of retro vibes. I am a big fan of repeating themes, and when they dig into the archives for one, I love it even more.
You might be thinking, “didn’t we see this already”? Yes, yes we did. Because they did the same thing in the 2020 Retro series. Except that time they chose the MB327 ’33 Ford Coupe to provide us with the retro look.
This is the 3rd Matchbox Speed Shop look model. Which means it is now officially a recurring theme. And has anybody noticed how all these 3 are of a similar vibe? Classic Fords in dark blue with a rodded out feel and larger rear wheels than front. So when are we going to see the MB1234 ’32 Ford Coupe Model B in this theme? Because I think it would be perfect for it. This is such a cool release. Definitely one of my favourites for the casting. Wait, that means I need to do a recap.
It began its life in 2019 as MB21 in green with a Matchbox Construction Co side design.
And in 2020, it moved to the MB51 slot in a Kingson Pop! theme. Early runs were a sort of bubbly purplish blue hue, but later runs were more of a solid blue.
Although nothing beats the 2021 MB85 in terracotta with a Matchbox Swapmeet Special side design. Especially because, on one side only, the door is matte purplish blue. I just think that is awesome, and it still makes me smile when I see it. This model is right up there with it though, due to the retro recurring theme
We also saw the first non-basic issue that year, as the Walmart Trucks series had a red one with a Ford Genuine Parts side design.
Mind you, when you think about it, this year has been its busiest yet. And it wasn’t even in the basic range. As well as the Retro model we got a premium issue, as this black Mooneyes model is in the Collector series.
And we also got a green release in the Coffee Cruisers III 5-pack. The new one is my 2nd favourite of the 7 released so far. As I said, my top choice is still the 2021 basic, and after this Mooneyes is number 3, Walmart Trucks number 4, Coffee Cruisers number 5, Kingson Pop! number 6 and the debut one is my least favourite. Not that it is bad. But something does have to prop up the order. None of them have been bad so far.
This model frustrated me for so long. Keith was able to find 5, but the batch appeared so briefly that he missed out on the MB990 ’68 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. But after a lot of hunting around, I was able to secure a sample with thanks to Aldy Prayogo, who goes by Matchbox Indonesia on Instagram. This has definitely been one of the hardest models for me to locate. Things may not always be straight forward. Thanks Aldy.
The Toyota takes the number 8 slot in the series. And it was such an awesome release too. National Parks! Another recurring theme! This is why I was determined to get it. Must keep up the streak of getting them all. At some point I might need to do another run down of the National Parks release.
And this one is even more awesome, because on the opposite side they slightly misaligned the tampo print. That makes mine a little more rare. I am a fan of these little quirks. I don’t see it as bad production, but just a lovely little talking point. Which leads me to the next talking point. As many have seen, The 2022 MBX Rally II 5-pack also saw this casting in a National Parks theme.
That model is an entirely different National Parks release. Yes, they decided to give the Land Cruiser 2 totally different National Parks releases in the same year.
As you can see, the Retro release has a white roof, the 5-pack model doesn’t. The tampo printing is all different. The Retro model is a Forest Ranger, the 5-pack one a Supervisor. They even have different door logos, and only the Retro one added in some door handle/hinges printing. Even the wheels were different. Both cogs, but the Retro one only has the rims chromed, with the 5-pack model getting the cogs detailed too.
Even the bases are different. The Retro one has a black base, the 5-pack one a grey base. So this was not a case of not worrying about Retro as it would be in a 5-pack. They are 2 totally different releases, just both on the same theme.
About the only thing that stayed consistent was the interior which was mint, and obviously the paint was mint too, because you know, National Parks.
So again, thanks to Aldy Prayogo, I was not missing out on one of the National Parks models. Even if it is a little wonky. Something I love it even more for. Now this model hasn’t been seen in 5 years, so I haven’t done a dive back. But, it’s coming in a future basic range batch too, and I decided to do a dive back then.
What the? Where’s number 9? Yes, we now jump to number 10 in the series with the MB1200 ’76 VW Golf Mk1 GTi. And, as we know, these series tend to be roughly half new and half carry forward. This one? It’s a carry forward. This is a repeat of the 2020 MB8 debut issue.
Well, I had a good look. It was only 2 years, so I was not sure if there would be something to find. Especially as I only had the one, and for those who remember, the rear parcel shelf on this casting may or may not have items on it. So each new release I aim to get both variants.
Well, as you can tell, it is still in the blister. I was not seeing anything with this to make it worthwhile opening it. These things happen. For anybody who missed it first time around, this is a second chance to try and grab one. But for those of us who look for even the smallest of changes, this is one that is not too important. Next!
Another carry forward. But this is the sort of carry forward I can really get behind. Taking the number 11 slot in the series is the MB342 ’65 Ford Mustang GT.
This one was straight out of the blister, as I knew instantly that this was a keeper. It comes in a light blue with simple front tampo detail.
And just the lights depicted on the rear. A nice little model to carry forward, as the original release was not exactly the cheapest to get originally. Why?
Well, originally, it was exclusively added to a large Metropolis Adventure Set. A very large playset that appeared in 2006 as a tie-in to the Superman Returns film. It was a part of the licence that Matchbox had obtained, and was released along with a pair of 5-packs with Metropolis themed models inside. But the Mustang never actually had any reference to Metropolis or Superman, so why not utilize it again?
As you can see, the original was just light blue with simple front and rear detailing. But was on an older version of the casting before various updates have brought us to where it is now.
And putting the 2 side by side, the shade of blue is actually a lot different too. And you have likely noticed how the interior section now forms the front and rear bumpers, whereas they were a body part.
And the grey base at the time was metal, whereas now it is plastic, so the grey is totally different. But having not done any dive backs since the Ford, I think I am due another.
This model actually traces its roots back to the very first Mustang that Matchbox made. In 1967 they released a white Ford Mustang in the basic range as MB8. It ran for 4 years, seeing a change to Superfast wheels in that final year. The white changed to orangey red as part of the change, but this was Lesney. Until the change to Superfast, they had the model with an Autosteer function, which was a small lever on the side which when slid either way would actually turn the front wheels. Unfortunately they were unable to continue with that function with Superfast wheels, so it was dropped, the lever removed, the hole in the side filled in on the body section. However, as 1970 hit and they were making the change, they accidentally mixed up body sections. Some with the hole were painted orangey red, and some already filled in were painted white. So they just released them as was. The final Austosteer models were orangey red, and the first Superfast were white.
The model was officially orangey red for the Superfast release. A white Superfast is rare (as well as orangey red with Autosteer), but also rare is an orangey red with red interior. As part of the change, they were flipping the red interior for an ivory one. But they had a crossover.
And when it continued on it was good for shades, as some came out very red. After 1970, as part of the direction they were taking, they revamped the model into a Wildcat Dragster, and this ran until 1974, and popped back up in the US market in 1981. The casting sat there, and when Mattel took over, they took a trip to the factory in China (as it was at the time, with Thailand moving away from Matchbox into other Mattel items). They told them to clear out a bunch of excess pieces (we know of the Chinese error models turning up). But I think what they also saw was a Mustang casting which had been modified into a dragster.
So they de-modified it. Wiped out the hole in the front where a huge engine sat, rebuilt the base for a more flat look, re-engraved certain details that had been blanked out for labels, and decided that the rear didn’t need a tow hook, so knocked that off and added a tab to it. It saw a little more tidying up too, and was launched as a US exclusive in the 1999 basic range. It appeared as MB72 in white, but now had dual blue stripes over it.
But after all that, they didn’t really use it too much. It saw a few premium issues. A 1999 Mustang gift set in red, and then in 2003 a Ford Anniversary release in dark blue and green My Classic Car release. For 2004 it was in the final My Classic Car release in red, before the Collectibles series was dropped. It was close to being in a Duracell on-pack promotion. This blue release was mocked up for the 2004 Mustang themed promotion in the USA, but in the end they decided to only use 4 models. The MB298 ’68 Mustang Cobra Jet in yellow, MB322 ’70 Mustang Boss in green, MB347 ’99 Mustang in red and MB609 Mustang GT Concept in silver.
But we did get something. As this was basically the classic Lesney model, the 2005 Superfast launch series saw this casting as one of 4 using their classic liveries from old Lesney models that they happened to have recreated. They even added it to the Superfast series in the number 8 position, which was the same as it was during the Lesney era. They chose the orangey red for this one, with ivory interior. Furthermore, they even created a new 5-spoke wheel for these models.
And the 4 models that had been created (the MB363 ’62 VW Beetle, MB634 Ford GT and MB636 ’68 Mercury Cougar being the others) were packaged together as a 4-pack for the Hershey Toy Show that year. But each one was given an alternate colour. The Mustang was black in this limited edition set.
For 2005, the expended USA and ROW Superfast series saw the model in either blue (15,000 made) for the USA market or silver (7,500 made) for the ROW market.
For 2006, and back to being a USA exclusive, the model was now chosen to be a Streaker model. Something they decided to do for the 2006 Superfast series.
After 2006, the Superfast series saw a dramatic change. It was set up as a series of 75 models, and each model that continued from one year to the next would see the model stay in the same position. The Mustang had ran all 3 years in the number 8 position. But halfway through the 2006 series, Walmart requested that it be exclusive to them. Other stores had been dropping the series, but Walmart said they would commit if it became an exclusive. The last few batches of the 2006 series were then only found at Walmart stores in the USA. But this series had been running out of sync with everything else. Where most model years run from a little before Christmas until just after Halloween (rough guide, not exact), Superfast didn’t actually launch until summer 2004, and therefore was running summer through spring each year. So for 2007, they reworked the Superfast series into a smaller group and synced it back up with everything else. Now called Superfast America, it was a smaller group of 20 models, all classic USA vehicles, and run across a smaller group of batches that finished in line with other 2007 items. The Mustang was again chosen, but was now in dark red in the number 6 slot.
And then, in 2008, something rather shocking happened. It appeared in the basic range. To those in the US market, this was the first time since the 1999 debut of the casting. But for those outside of the US market, this was the first time this MB342 casting was in the basic range. It was actually quite similar to the 1999 debut, although it was now blue with dual white stripes.
And i couldn’t help but notice that MB13 that year was coming up in shades of blue too.
After this, the model was not seen at all in 2009, but for 2010 it popped up in a Classic Rides 5-pack. It came in white with dual red stripes, although some came out very creamy.
During the year off, the model did undergo its first alteration. As I mentioned earlier, it was originally sporting a metal base. But during the gap, they redid the base in plastic.
In 2011, 10-packs were going through a change. For a few years, we had started getting used to a trio of packs appearing quarterly. The first batch of 3 saw 1 pack being all exclusive in a “Real” theme (all showroom cars and similar). The second batch had 1 all exclusive “Action” with the 10 models all being in a utility style (construction, police, fire etc). The third batch had 1 all exclusive “Adventure” pack, with 10 models themed that way. And the final batch had a “1st Editions” pack with all 10 being 10 of the new castings from that year in an alternate look. Alongside each of these all-exclusive packs were a pair of non-exclusives. Except for that 1 exclusive, which we still get now (except in a 9-pack instead of 10-pack). But at the time, they would run all the non-exclusives each year with just 2 castings. So we got each casting in 4 looks. However, 2011 was a transitional year. The first 3 batches did not get an all-exclusive set. They just got the 2 other sets. The final batch only got the 1st Editions 10-pack and did not get the other 2 non-exclusives. So these 2 models were only in 3 batches. Alongside a ’69 Chevy Camaro Convertible was the Mustang. The first batch saw it in blue.
The second batch saw it in gold. And yes, that gold was very good for shades.
The third batch saw it turn up in red. Of course, there was no 4th batch issue, as we only got the 1st Editions pack that time. For 2012, they moved to the system we have now.
After that, the casting took a whopping 8 years off, before returning as one of the 5 holiday themed models in a seasonal 5-pack in green.
At this time, the casting was sort of unchanged, unless you call the fact that the wording was rejigged about as a change.
But things were afoot. In 2020, Matchbox released a Mustang series for Walmart stores in the USA (and random other places around the world). The first batch saw the model in off-white with dual gold stripes.
In the second batch, the model was chosen again to be in an exclusive look. This time it was red with dual silver stripes. But this period between batch A and batch B was when they dropped the updated (again) casting in.
With no releases during 2021, this marks the second time we have seen the latest iteration of this casting. A model that started off as a Lesney, turned into a dragster, returned to normal, altered the base, and then reconfigured to turn the interior into the bumpers. It has come a long way hasn’t it.
The MB1082 Jeep Wagoneer is next. I notice that lately they have been classifying it as a 1988 vehicle. I mean it was made from 1963 until 1991 pretty much unchanged. It is tough to try and pin down a year. This is the third carry forward, but it doesn’t have the history of the Mustang, so is not on a 580th casting style.
Taking the number 12 slot in the series, this is a carry forward of last year’s Off Road Rally 5-pack issue. However, when it comes to single releases, a standard run is about 2 months. A 5-pack run tends to often last a good half a year. More chances for variations. But with this, they also added it to 2 different 9-pack assortments later in the year. It was one of 2 of the first batch of 5-packs, and therefore with late in the year 9-pack production too, was seeing production for the best part of a year. During that time I have managed to accumulate 4 different variations, as the shade of khaki does vary a little.
And yeah, this one wasn’t coming up with anything unique to warrant me adding it to my collection. You win some, you lose some. I had to check.
So this brings me to the last model in the set. Ah there it is. The MB1248 ’79 Chevy Nova. Taking the number 20 slot in the series (as we got a random high number due to number 9 being skipped for now), I was wondering where this casting was. The Chevy Nova (along with the MB1231 ’20 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake) was one of 2 brand new castings that debuted in the 2021 basic range that didn’t continue in the 2022 range. I was wondering where it went. Turns out, here!
It comes in an all new look for this series. Metallic orange with a Nova Dream side design.
Plus they also managed to give us a third print across the front too. Always worth pointing out when they can squeeze a little extra on a model.
With Lugo Engineering and Adlar58 Racing adorning the rear quarter, I have a feeling that Michael Heralda might have been involved with this one. I like his stuff. He comes up with some really fun designs.
As I mentioned, this only debuted last year, and this is only its second release. The first one? I did find a shade to the 2021 MB22 release.
I have a feeling this orange might have a chance for a shade if it was produced more than one time (orange tends to shade well), but amazingly, the production run for the USA that Keith found was dated R02, and the one that Aldy sent me from Indonesia was also R02. So all of these were made at the same time. Was this batch only produced once? I have no idea. But it may be a little tough for me to find a shade to this one. But I have 1, I am happy.
In fact, I am very happy I managed to get all of these. I am very grateful for having friends like Aldy and Keith who help out with things I would not be able to obtain otherwise. Thanks again guys. So with the new stuff done, I think I am due a dive back into the collection again.
So I start with a Ford Mustang. Yes, this is a Mustang. But this was also Lesney. Lesney, who in the 1970s, started coming out with more outlandish offerings to try and compete in the marketplace. They took the MB44-B Ford Boss Mustang, enlarged the engine to astronomic proportions, chopped off the rear end and turned it into a van. Vantastic! Clever pun, because that was its name. It was launched as MB34-B in 1975, where it ran for 6 years. This was a model of 2 halves, as in 1978 it went through a big change.
The first 3 years, with the large engine out the front, came in orange, which was good for a shade or 2, although the green windows were fairly consistent. They are not something that has been known to come in a lot of variety. Quite amazing really for Lesney.
As a rule, the model should sport larger dot-dash rear wheels and smaller 5-arch front wheels. You might find an error model. They were prone to doing them. But there are 2 other things to look for. The first and last runs. The first ones off the production line came with an unpainted base. Shortly after, they decided it would be better in white.
However, as a rule, this model came with a fish style side label. You might find one where they forgot to apply it, but there is a rare crossover as the final ones started using the stripes label that was coming in 1978.
As part of the change to the model. After 3 years with a massive engine, they decided to remove this feature for the last 3 years, and apply a label over the hood instead. The side labels were switched to match the front label, but as I said, they ran out of the fish labels before production began on the non-engined one. I am yet to find one myself though.
The later run though, that had a habit of forgetting labels too. Namely, the side label. It is quite common sporting just the front label. You might even find one with no labels at all.
At this time we did finally start seeing a little window variation too. Some came with a much paler tint to the window.
And there were issues with wrong labels too. The most well known is the sun label leftover from the Beach Hopper casting. That model finished production after 1978, and they had some leftover labels. They weren’t going to waste them. Where do they work? This will do. There is also a rarity I am still to find. Jaffa Cakes in the UK ran a promotion in 1977. You could send away for a special model. For this, the factory made a bunch of Tyre Fryers in orange with the Jaffa label. But as the model was finishing production, they switched to a Soopa Coopa to finish off. But that too was finishing up. Both models were being replaced during the 1977 model year. Well, as the promotion was finishing at the end of the year, Jaffa Cakes realized they didn’t have enough to fulfil all the orders and asked for some more models. Ooh! What did they do with those 2 castings? Err! This one is orange, it will work. One of the first production runs of the flat hood casting was for Jaffa Cakes, as they just slapped some Jaffa labels on the model and sent them over for them to finish their promotion. I have both Soopa Coopa and Tyre Fryer, but Vantastic is proving to be a real tough nut. I am still looking for one. After 1980, the model was dropped from the range, although did see a cost-reduced reappearance in the Super GT range in the 1980s.
So, I go from a Mustang to a Corvette. With the Corvette being such a huge deal in Matchbox circles nowadays, I am amazed that this was only the second one they ever made. After a C3 Corvette appeared in 1979, as part of the split between the US and ROW ranges, a secondary T-top variant of the C3 was made exclusively for the US market (and then overtook the ROW hardtop one later) and a brand-new casting of a C1 Corvette was added just for the US market. MB094 was a 1962 Corvette, and debuted in the US as MB71-D in 1982. It came in blue with a white side flash and trunk.
This was in production at the England factory, so you know variants galore existed. Shades of blue anyone?
How about maltese cross wheels? They usually had 5-arch.
Oh and did they forget to chrome some interiors? Yes, they forgot. Without chrome, they were simple a light blue.
But you know what? They couldn’t be bothered with blue. Part of the way through the year, they just swapped it for white with red flash/trunk. Because, why not?
Of course, they were painting bases the same as the bodies, but had overdone the blue bases, so there is a crossover with the final blue bases being attached to white bodies
And that interior? Seriously, they were still forgetting to chrome it. Luckily, the bumpers/grille section was a different piece to the interior, and they did remember to chrome that at all times.
As 1983 hit, Universal took over the company and shifted production of anything left that was US only to Hong Kong.
But they also decided to change the tampo. Gone were the simple side flash/trunk print, and in came a Blue Flame look. Or should that be “Blue edged Flame”? I think they were aiming to provide a nod to the early Corvettes, that had 6-cylinder engines that were known as “blue flame” engines.
Mind you, saying that, not being all blue did give us shades to the flame. It came in a more orange shade or a more red shade.
The model ran for 3 years in the Blue Flame look, but soon after shifting production to Hong Kong, Universal realized that the factory wasn’t owned by them, and removed everything and relocated them to Macau. By 1984 the Hong Kong factory was no longer making Matchbox.
Talking of 1984, Universal set up a new deal in Japan to increase their range to 100 models. They pretty much set up all the US and ROW issues, but still had some gaps to fill. So they created some unique models. For some reason, they decided not to issue Blue Flame in Japan, and decided that the MB42 for Japan from 1984-87 would be a new design. This is an early prototype of what they were looking at.
Compared to the actual production version. A small change to the logo over the front dual stripes and removal of the 1962 on the rear. Plus, it was a much brighter blue. This model ran for the entire 4 years of the Japanese 1-100 series.
In 1986, they gave the US MB71 a new look. Red with a more racy look to it. It ran for 2 years, and after a short run with gold wheels, the majority ran with regular chrome wheels. Daft fact, after 1987 the model was dropped from the range, but in 1991 a Super Value Pack made in China saw some included. I don’t have a Chinese made one. But an easy way to spot a Chinese one is that they closed the side windows for it.
The model was far from over, though. 1986 saw the USA release a series of Superfast models. SF-8 was the ‘Vette in orange with the starburst wheels that had been developed for it. Another daft fact, as I mentioned, this was a USA only thing. But for an unusual reason, Australia in the late 1980s was seeing a few crossovers between the US and ROW ranges (whereas usually it had been an ROW range). It was a sort of hybrid range. In 1987, they decided to throw this model in as MB54 for a year. But they chose the Superfast issue and not the basic range one in red. I have no idea why. In the USA, the Superfast ran until 1990.
You can find a few unusual ones if you look. I found one with the wrong base.
Yes, it was a leftover white base from the earlier Blue Flame basic. Well, Macau were not ones to waste stuff either.
In 1987, what was Superfast rolled out worldwide as Laser Wheels, with models now sporting disk wheels instead of starburst. Models that were in flat paint were turned into metallics. This also turned the model brown too.
Although LW-8 was switched to green in 1988. It ran the same length as Superfast, as both finished up in 1990.
In 1990, the model saw its first promotional release. Hmm! I wonder which company it might have been for? Apparently, Henry J Heinz was on a train ride in 1896 when he saw an advert for 21 styles of shoes. It stuck in his head. At the time, Heinz was already making more than 57 products, but he thought the number 57 would stick. So he just ran with it. 57 varieties! These were available in USA and came in yellow grid boxes.
In 1991 the model saw its first premium in the way of a World Class model, which came with chrome windows. They closed the windows too, so you couldn’t see inside. So from this point on, all models now came with closed windows. A Graffic Traffic model appeared in 1991 in plain white.
In 1994, they decided to throw it back in the basic range. But wait, the US MB32 was also the ROW MB72. Yes, 12 years after first appearing, the ROW market finally had a basic range ’62 Corvette. And this is how it came. Metallic blue with a pink and white design. Well, this was the Tyco period. Shades of blue exist as well as the pink tampo.
A Corvette 40th Anniversary was also released that year. This model was added in a simple red with white flash and roof. It also still sported the older 5-arch wheels rather than the new spirals that were launched in 1994.
We also got a black with detailing model released as a White Rose Collectors Choice series 1 issue. Sadly, we never got a series 2. Which was a shame, as I loved this set. With the direction Tyco were taking the models, these were so cool.
In 1995 the model saw a slight tweak in the basic range. Apart from more shades, the gold wheels switched to chrome. Gold were only found on 1994 releases.
After 1995 the model was again dropped from the ROW range, leaving it again as a US exclusive. It saw a small change. The top tampo was removed, and the body was now a solid blue. The side tampo was still good for shades.
It was also added to the Racing 5-pack that year in a dark red with a 62 Corvette and checkered flash design. This was also the year that the model started getting premium releases, but as I am still accumulating them, I will just list them. World Class series 3 was a similar red to this, and World Class series 6 was gold.
For 1997, the US had one more refresh before dropping it from their range too. MB32 finished in white with a flame design and blue windows. The model saw the new concave 5-spoke wheels, but oddly, a run later on saw some leftover spirals used. I guess they found some in the factory (now in China) and again didn’t want to waste them.
Being in the US range in 1997 meant we also got a Gold Challenge model too.
And guess what? Australia was back in the mix. 1997 saw another batch of random Australian issues. This year saw quite a selection of models exclusive to the Australian range. One of them was the Corvette in red with dual white stripes and 62 on the side. It was sold as MB7 there. There was also another 5-pack issue that I forgot to photograph. Purple with yellow stripes in an American Street Machines pack. Plus another red promotional issue appeared for Chubby’s Diner in the USA which I am still to find.
There were 6 different Corvette multipacks, all featuring the same castings but in different colours. There was also another 4 premium issues too. In 1998 some of these extras were thrown out of the factory any old how with whatever parts they could muster to make a whole.
There are just too many variations for me to list, and I am still to get a lot of them. But the leftover bodies from many premiums were given plastic wheels, whatever interiors they could find, whatever bases they had at hand, and the front grilles were also what were lying around. So there are possibilities for multiple variations for each body style.
But while all that was happening, there was still the fact that the model was seeing a few more outings too. 1998 saw this Animal House themed Star Cars release. There is also another promotional issue for Hot August Nights in black with a pink roof that I don’t own yet.
After that, they simply ran some blank black issues off in 1999 for ASAP/Color Comp code 2 promotional uses. Over a number of years, we saw a large array of code 2 issues (as they were referred to at the time) based on the initial plain black. But there were no more code 1 issues from Matchbox.
Oh wow! I am really digging deep into the collection for some of these dive backs. Does anybody remember the MB428 Aero Junior? Part of the early plan that Mattel had for the Matchbox brand after they had taken over the Tyco company. They thought that diversifying the brand to include a lot more in the way or sea and air vehicle to the land stuff was a good way to go. As we know, though, sea and air stuff doesn’t tend to sell as well as land stuff. But now and then, they give it another go to see if things have changed. They don’t. The Aero Junior did pre-date the move towards Hero City that began in 2000, as this model arrived in 1999.
It was sold as either MB95 in the US range or MB75 in the ROW range, and came in a simple red and yellow look with NP-20035 on the sides. The model featured wings that would rotate in and out, as well as a propeller in the rear that would spin around.
For 2000’s basic range, they simply gave it a new colour combination. Still the exact same design for the MB70 US or MB50 ROW issue. And being a logo year meant that the first 10,000 sold in the USA sported a Matchbox 2000 logo on the wing.
Those would be the model’s only 2 appearances in the basic range. It did not last very long at all. For 2001, it saw a single outing in the Airspeed 5-pack. This was a yellow over blue model, and for the first time, it was the wings that were getting the majority of the tampo treatment (you may have noticed that each release was getting the cockpit screen detailed).
That would almost prove to be it. The casting was not long-lived at all. Nothing at all happened to it in 2002, but there was a plan for 2003. It was going to be in the second batch of 6 Coca-Cola models in window boxes. The first batch of 6 appeared early in the year, and mock-ups of the second batch of 6 were made with a view to releasing them in the summer. Sadly, there was a delay, and by the time they were ready to be produced, Mattel calculated the timeframe for production, to delivery to stores, and selling them through. Their Coca-Cola licensing was about to expire, and certain clauses meant that products needed to be finished in production and sold through by a certain time. Don’t you just love legal stuff? They worked out that there was not going to be sufficient time to get it all done. So they cancelled the set. Sadly, this meant we never got the last 6, which would have included this Aero Junior. So back into mothballs it went.
Until 2005. The casting was chosen to be a part of a Nickelodeon themed Easter Egg series. 12 models were all made up using various Nick characters, and each were hidden inside plastic eggs, sold in sets of 3. You did not know which character/casting you would find in any egg. So trying to obtain all 12 was no easy task. A number of them were using castings that were not in common use at the time, and the Aero Junior in red featured a Jimmy Neutron theme. After this release, the model was put to bed permanently. 4 releases, almost a 5th. That was it.
You know what? Let’s do another generic, or Matchbox Originals as we now refer to them as. The MB592 City Police Car. One of only 3 times that “City” has ever been used in a Matchbox miniature. The others? The Freeman Inter-City Commuter (early Lesney Superfast) and City Bus (the year after this). Because this was Hero City! The direction that Matchbox had taken at the start of the 21st century was to position the brand between the baby items and the established die-cast brand. So vehicles were getting a lot more cartoony. At first with the tampo designs, but by 2004, it was the castings too. The 2004 new casting toolings were pretty much all generic. As we know, there were 30 Ultra Heroes. And then we also saw other new items sprinkled through too. This was one of them. It wasn’t awful. It had a certain little charm to it. Plus, for some reason, they had one side window open and the other closed.
I had no idea why they came up with that. But it was definitely unique. It arrived as MB66 in the basic range, and had a cartoon-style city depiction on the side, with a Matchbox Police badge.
We also saw a second release that year as an exclusive to a very large playset, called Rocket Park. It had a ferris wheel, rollercoaster, slide, rocket (obviously) and a launcher pad. It was a big set. As we know, Hero City proved to be a bad direction and sales plummeted. So with the closure of the Mount Laurel site and moving Matchbox in-house to El Segundo, a whole new team was tasked with improving its position. Their immediate plan was realism. Ultra Heroes went. As did many of the originals that had been created in the early 2000s. But, when you look at the grander picture, this left them with a little bit of a thin pool of castings to choose from. So a few did carry on.
Like this. However, it was never a part of the basic range again. But when you give it a decent design, it didn’t look that bad, did it? This Fire Chief look was a part of the Fire 5-pack in 2005.
And of course, this did lend itself to the licensed 5-packs. They weren’t actually doing that bad, and were still being requested by stores, so new packs were still being created. This was the first of a yearly licensed 5-pack release for the casting. SpongeBob SquarePants. The 2005 issue.
And, in their defence, the new team were pretty much thrown in at the deep end. There was a lot to change. They concentrated mainly on the singles and 5-packs. This meant that other ranges, like playsets and the launcher sets, were temporarily on the back burner. Obviously, things tend to start development well over a year before we see them. So they had their hands full trying to do what they could with singles and 5-packs. Planned Ultra Hero releases for 2005 were scrapped, leaving holes that needed filling. Other designs were given quick makeovers to try and make them more realistic. But this was being planned for the Fire Truck launcher set, and launchers were not really changed. So this did see more of a Hero City vibe to it than other vehicles (not including the licensed models).
By 2006, they were on top of things, but this was quite well suited to the Licensed 5-packs, so as I said, we were seeing yearly releases. The 2006 issue was in a Nick Jr pack, in green, featuring Danny Phantom on the sides.
And in 2007? Well, we got 2 of them. A Go Diego Go set in purple, and a second Scooby Doo set of the year in black.
2008? Yes, still going. This time in a Kung Fu Panda pack in plum.
For 2009, we had our second SpongeBob SquarePants side design after the 2005 issue. Although the pack itself was a Nickelodeon one, not a specific SpongeBob one. However, the eagle-eyed might be noticing something different.
The roof lights don’t appear to be sticking out of the top any more. There is a reason. They thought that the roof lights were not really necessary on a model like this any more, as it was simply seeing licensed 5-pack issues with characters instead of anything resembling a police theme. So they altered the tooling, and with it the MAN number. It was now MB775.
It was also added to a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse pop-up playset that year too.
2010 would prove to the final licensed design for the model. It finished with a Disney Movie 5-pack release, and featured Winnie the Pooh (along with Tigger) on the side.
But it wasn’t quite done. Although it sort of was. In 2009 Matchbox started phasing out the exclusives to playsets. Apart from a single 2010 issue, playsets were now just seeing regular issues thrown in for play value. Well, they thought it wasn’t a great idea, and for 2011 came up with an idea for some exclusive playset models. Instead of the usual production in Thailand, they would make these models in China at a secondary factory. So they got to work on designs, and the first 3 playsets appeared with Chinese made exclusives. Plans were underway for 2012 for more stuff. And then it just stopped. I had heard that some of these did find their way out to close-out stores in random places around the world, but I could not verify it. This was going to be a part of the Transporter set for 2012. The transporter itself was a large plastic truck that would obviously be able to haul around a lot of models. Included in the set in 2011 was a collection of 4 models, and these were to be refreshed for 2012 with new ones. We saw pictures, and I heard reports that some people in random countries had seen them. But I could never verify them. So I honestly don’t know if this did indeed make production or just fall short.
And yes, it does feature a Made in China base, still stating City Police Car.
And this one definitely didn’t make production. They were going to redo the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse model in China too.
It was going to look quite a bit different, too. Bright white instead of metallic off-white. Disk wheels instead of double 10-spokes.
Red base instead of blue. As well as obviously being China made, not Thailand made. But plans all fell through, and we didn’t get a bunch of planned playset exclusives. After this, the model was never seen again.
So time to finish up with yet another Matchbox originals design. But this one was a casting I really liked. The MB1084 Camo Convoy. Yes, it was designed in-house at Mattel. But I thought they did a wonderful job with this. It was extremely realistic, and I remember when it first appeared, a lot of people were trying to guess the influences behind it.
It arrived as MB58 in the basic range in 2018. It came in blue and featured a tan canopy.
Which could be removed. Now, with a certain MB1111 Mercedes-Benz Unimog U520 debuting in the Jurassic World series that same year, I do wonder if this was sort of seen as a secondary vehicle. It was not licensed. The Unimog was seeing lots of attention and I think this faded a bit into the background. Which is a shame, as it was a great little casting.
I was paying attention to it. The tan canopy in particular was very good for shades. I actually have 4, but lining them all up, the camera really doesn’t show it too well. My eyes see better than a picture does. So I just showed 2 here that definitely showcase the different shade the tan canopy can sport.
In 2019 it was given a second outing. This time it was green with a grey canopy as MB80. This year, I noticed it was the paint that was doing its best at being shady. Well, to date, this is still all we have seen of this. Two releases, and nothing else. Will it resurface? I hope it does. I would like to see it again.
Especially because you can do this with it. I love mixing and matching parts. And I have to admit, switching canopies like this, I have to say that neither alternative is looking out of place on the other vehicle.
And on that note, yes, I do believe another report is over. Retro batch B, as this started out as, featured 2 really cool classic vehicles in awesome recurring themes.
Another 2 classic vehicles, just well worth getting anyway. The Nova was new, but the Mustang was so different, it almost feels new too.
Oh yeah, and there were 2 others. You might have guessed, these are actually my originals. I never opened the 2 new ones.
So I hope you enjoyed the report. Retro batch C has already been photographed and will be coming soon. I say that as a vague timeline, because I have a lot of reports all photographed. I am still busy working on an order to report them all. And I have a feeling I may be starting to drift behind again. I remember last year that I started doubling up on things to play catch up a little. I may end up doing a double report or 2 later this year instead of a report with a dive back. Mind you, I really have to work out where I am with things. Until that time, though, I do plan on doing my regular routine next Monday. Until then, have a lovely week.
17 Replies to “Matchbox Monday remembers there are Retro models at the moment”
Have our one and only Tesco UK got anything new?….. In fact anything special or specific?…..
5/6/7 months of nothing or a same batch keep being put out….
I see some nice products from Matchbox by pictures… Sadly 80/90% or more of anything Matchbox doesn’t make it here.
Retro….. ?!?!……. What year is being celebrated next year?!…….
Hot wheels/Mattel products seems to find their way here in every outlets . Even TJ Adams are marked/printed on Home bargain’s Mattel boxes for stock.
Why is Matchbox products not in the UK?why Matchbox not treated the same as Hot wheels for distribution?
Many more questions to be thrown but there will some kind of excuse……..
At the end of the day Mattel loose money on a product they don’t advertise, or it’s kept in a hush hush club.
Matchbox was a people brand. Sorry to grumble but I would love this brand to be seen again ,
How it used to be in the UK.
This is why I gave up collecting Matchbox over a decade ago, but the distribution problem also affects Hot Wheels as well, so I stopped collecting those models too. My money no longer goes towards a product I have difficulty buying.
It is good to see these reports every week and David’s continued enthusiasm for his hobby though..
Thanks. I still enjoy them so continue on as much as I can.
And now various Tesco branches have dispensed with Matchbox altogether as their toy sections are now being merchandised by The Entertainer. Yet more Hot Wheels!!
I have sent in a request to The Entertainer to stock Matchbox. Maybe others should do that too. They get flooded with requests, they think there is a market for them and start stocking them. The Tesco exclusive deal finishes at the end of the year, so we can get more openings for stocking. Hopefully!
Tesco have, after marking them as discontinued, leaving them empty, removing pegs and wiping them from their website, put out the latest batch of 5-packs. I have no idea on what Tesco is up to. I doubt they know either. Hopefully, after their exclusive deal finishes, we can start to see Matchbox in more places. Especially as they are going bigger for the 70th Anniversary next year. I hope that means the UK will see more too.
I hear rumours that the Tesco exclusivity deal ends in January…
It is. It ends at the end of the year, so come 2023 I hope that Matchbox will be able to spread to other stores. I am thinking what we need is for as many people as we can to email as many different retailers as we can with requests for stocking them. If they see lots of people asking, maybe it will help push them to stock them. I have already started with The Entertainer.
I grumble because this brand is a great brand.
I apologise and thanks for your write ups.
They very interesting and informative. Keep up the great work .
As for Tesco I hope they do keep selling mbx.
Also other outlets too , to even Corner shops…open to all outlets..
Best of… And so on too. Many thanks.
That is the dream. I hope one day for it to be reality.
Retro series is for U.S.A right, but what about rest of the series such as Jrrassic Park ?
So they designed Matchbox version of ‘1979 Chevy Nova just to phased it out after a 2 year period, does that make sense anyway ?
It’s not phased out. It’s just underused. Hopefully 2023 will see more of them.
I have a couple of Corvette variations not mentioned in the piece. The first is a World Class style model in bronze with racing livery and rubber tyres that was one of four Corvette models in a ‘Rally’ set individually boxed. This was the result of a collaboration amongst a number of known Matchbox dealers in the States at the time collectively branded as the WHALES Project.
The other variation is the Australian issue with 62 on the sides, but the number on the roof has been replaced by two white stripes accompanying those on the hood and rear.
Yes, I keep avoiding a lot of the premium stuff. I am starting to add a few premium releases in my dive back talks. But I didn’t when I took these photos a while ago.
The Premiere Collection models became much harder to obtain towards the end. They became far more expensive and difficult to get hold of, being US only, especially if they were store exclusives. For those reasons I still don’t have a few of the very later sets and some of the Corvette specials and a one-off Chrysler version. Still missing the odd Gold Collection model too.
So, where is the last mix for Retro series ?