It’s almost 12 months since I reported on my latest Matchbox casting gap-fillers as I work towards Mission 800. In case you’ve missed previous updates (you can catch up here, here, here and here), Mission 800 refers to my quest to collect one each of the first 800 numbered Matchbox castings, beginning with the MB001 Dodge Challenger of 1982 and ending with the MB800 Road Roller from 2010.
The going is getting slower as I edge towards my goal. There are few easy models left to find, which is why I’ve aggregated my acquisitions from the past 11 months into this single roundup. Let’s get started!
MB081 (VW) Hi-Ho Silver
Late last year, a friend in the UK found two from the list for me at the big Sandown Park toyfair on the outskirts of London. Hi Ho Silver – one of several incarnations of this Beetle casting – is not especially hard to find and I’d missed out on one at auction a few times. It was a US-only release that also turned up in American Editions boxes in Europe. Finally, it joined the others in the cabinet.
MB199 Ford Courier Combi
The other one from that show was this red promotional. This was the only time the Combi (with rear windows) version of the Courier was issued, and it received its own MAN.
Even the van versions aren’t especially easy to find. If anyone has a Jersey Lavender promo, please get in touch!
This was certainly one of the more expensive additions to the 800. I finally took the plunge after missing a few in the past.
MB022 Blaze Buster
My next find of the year corrected a previous mistake. When you’re looking for 800 different castings within some fairly strict parameters, mistakes happen all-too often, unfortunately!
In this case, it was one of my Lamley colleague David Tilley’s fact-packed Matchbox Monday posts that set the alarm bells ringing. In short, because I’d bought my Blaze Buster loose, I couldn’t be sure whether it was a 1982-or-later release, or not. That matters only because that’s the year the MB (MAN) numbers were introduced.
The pale-yellow ladder convinced me it was an older Lesney. Only thing for it was to get another, being sure that I picked up the #22 release from 1983. Fortunately, there was a blue-boxed one on eBay in the UK for not much money, complete with the darker ladder. These are the small margins that I’m down to as I near completion!
MB603 Battering Ram (modified)
Like many of the models that fill out the 800, this one is a variant of a previous casting. The original MB468 Battering Ram has long been in the collection but this updated version, without the extendable bar at the front, had eluded me. I finally picked up a playworn example from the 2007 Dragon five-pack for buttons on eBay. As you can see, a section of the front bar is missing but that’s fine.
Fast-forward a few months to July and I’m at the Matchbox Gathering in Albuquerque. My room is open for trading and David bounds in, excited to have found the epic, 1993 FM-130 Farming Carry Pack for a good price. He’s excited partly because there are some exclusive models within that he needs for his collection (take a look at his Instagram post from August 21st), and partly because he can finally pay his end of a trade with me from earlier in the year with the MB713a Rotavator!
The Rotavator was a short-lived and very niche casting, just like its counterparts the Farm Trailer, Hay Trailer and Seeder. Will I pay it much attention in the future? Probably not. Am I happy to finally have it? Absolutely!
MB709a Boat Trailer
On to another towable addition to the collection. There are many, many examples of Lesney-made Boat Trailers in circulation, but far fewer were produced in the Universal era. What made this hunt trickier is that the Twin Packs where these appeared have now risen steeply in value. Again, I’d missed out a couple of times on eBay.
There were various Twin Packs that featured the trailer, but I ended up with this TP-115, happily including a variation of the Ford Escort Cabriolet that I didn’t already have. I’m indebted to Jason (@toyrific on IG), who did a generous cash + trade deal during the Sunday toy show at the Gathering. A great final purchase of the weekend!
MB604 GMC Bucket Truck (reassigned MB470)
And finally, another addition prompted by new information from David. His knowledge has been invaluable on my journey to 800, but it usually results in additional expenditure! As with the Blaze Buster, I thought I had the bases covered with the MB470 GMC Bucket Truck but after reading his Matchbox Monday from May 1st, I realized that I needed to find this specific version to cover off MB604 – even though the truck was released with MB470 on the base.
After being modified from six wheels to four, the Bucket Truck was mostly reissued as MB470 but this particular one from 2004, the MB26 ROW release in black and orange, officially carried the MB604 MAN. Fortunately, it’s not a desirable model, dating from the mostly despised Hero City era of Matchbox. After a short search for a loose one, this short-carded example turned up on UK eBay so I was able to collect it during my recent visit.
Here it is with the original MB470 six-wheeler.
That’s it for now, but Mission 800 continues. I’m down to six gaps that can realistically be filled, although even two of those are preproduction models that I’m not sure I’ll ever obtain. Look out for another update in, I don’t know, a couple of years perhaps? See you then!
(follow me on Instagram @diecast215 or search the hashtag #MBMission800 for updates)