Lamley Daily: Matchbox Triumph TR6

Model: Matchbox 1969 Triumph TR6 (MB1405)

Release: Matchbox Collectors 2023 Batch 4

eBay link: Matchbox Collectors TR6

Why I’m featuring it: Not sure how you feel about it, but I’m a little disappointed with the Matchbox Collectors Lexus LFA. For me, the absent rear quarterlight changes its appearance too much. It’s arguably the most distinctive feature of a car that was never a looker to start with, for all its V10 epic-ness and importance in ushering in what has become a golden age of Toyota performance cars.

But never fear! The perfect consolation comes in the very same wave of Collectors – and at two per case, no less.

Behold the 1969 Triumph TR6, surely a contender for Best New Matchbox Model of the Year in the upcoming Lamley Awards. Deeply unfashionable it may be (a British sports car revival is unlikely to supplant JDM or Lamborghinis in the hearts of collectors anytime soon), but in my opinion this thing outshines other 2023 Matchbox highlights like the Creations 911 RSR and the 70th D-Type.

It’s not the first 1:64-ish TR6 from Mattel, of course. The version by former Hot Wheels designer John Violette is a winning rendition of an SCCA-style racer that’s been in the line since 2009. But this new one is what you’d expect from Matchbox – a stock TR6 in all its manly, Karmann-styled glory. It was one of the last Collectors castings designed by Abe Lugo, with that role now passed to fellow designer, Garry Gopinath.

At 70mm in length, it’s about 1:56 scale, and almost identically sized to the Hot Wheels TR6. Abe worked mostly from photos, double-checking the sizing with blueprints and determining the scale using other models that it might sit alongside. “I think I put this in the world of the Austin-Healey 3000,” he says. That world may grow in the future because a Triumph Spitfire is also in the works.

Let’s take a closer look at the TR6, starting with its construction, which tosses the ‘four-part rule’ out the window. Hood, engine, base, body, bumpers, interior and screen…that’s a lot of parts, even without the wheels.

The straight-six engine is its own piece of plated Zamak. Old school! The forward-hinged hood slots perfectly into place and the door-mounted mirrors are perfect, while inside, an opening in the interior piece reveals pedals cast into the base, Morris Minor-style.

The deco by Michael Heralda is thankfully understated – “a clean and classic look” was the goal, he tells me. The tampos for the front lights and grille, rear plate and Union Jack thankfully avoid the inkjet-printing fuzziness that we’ve seen on recent Hot Wheels Premium models in particular. The plate itself, 3L1SS93, is literally a ‘classic’ Heralda Easter Egg. Thanks go to Abe for letting me reproduce the e-sheet here so you can admire Michael’s artwork in detail.

TR6 e-sheet © Mattel

The True Grip wheels are new. Since rubber tires became a feature of the premium lines again a few years ago, Matchbox’s slim wheel catalogue has often left it reliant on Hot Wheels Real Riders – with mixed results. But this new rim, dubbed Matchbox Classic Hub, is a great addition, replicating one of the brand’s most versatile basic wheels in two-piece form. Abe reports that these will be available in two sizes, the larger with more tire profile. They also appear on the Volkswagen T2 Bus that’s in the same Collectors batch as the TR6.

Traditional British Racing Green paint is a safe choice and will doubtless be welcomed by many collectors. The TR6s in my mind are usually brighter hues like yellow, orange or (my favourite) French blue. But never mind – that gives us lots of scope for future editions and I’ll probably buy them all. Unfortunately, the green example I opened has a small paint flaw on the hood. It’s pretty much the only thing I don’t like about this model.

A couple more detail shots to finish – of the base, and of a snippet from the card back. It’s easily forgotten that BMW retains the rights to the Triumph car marque. It was reported at the time that BMW’s then-CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder’s love of classic British brands like Triumph and MG fueled his enthusiasm to buy Rover Group back in 1994. And while the rights to MG ultimately went to SAIC, Triumph – like Mini and Riley – still resides in Munich, with British Motor Heritage granted limited rights to classic Triumph designs like the TR6, hence the two licensors on the e-sheet.

If you haven’t done so already, hunt down the TR6 and (re)awaken your love of hairy-chested British sports cars. A dark horse in the end-of-year Lamley Awards? I wouldn’t bet against it. Lexus? What Lexus?

(find Matchbox Collectors TR6 on eBay)

(follow me on Instagram @diecast215)

11 Replies to “Lamley Daily: Matchbox Triumph TR6”

  1. Splendid write-up! Adding the spec sheet is a nice touch, very much appreciated. For years I had been hoping somebody would do a stock TR6, and then this little gem shows up. I recently was fortunate enough to find one, and it is one of my favorites of the year.

  2. I agree this is the model of the year so far and it will be tough to beat. I think the wheels are what puts it over the top. I hope we see more of them, if only to use on my restorations.

  3. Yes, this is definitely a candidate for model of the year. I found it last month and even paid the ridiculous £9.00 being asked for it by The Entertainer (now reduced to £7.20 but all TR6s gone!). And mine also has a paint blemish on the hood (bonnet? this is a British car) which looks like it’s from the bonnet lid rubbing against the blister pack. Which brings me to the packaging, I find it slightly odd that for a “collectors” series the model can’t be extracted from the packaging without damaging it (the pack, that is) I know that doesn’t bother you, David, but I think most collectors like to keep the packaging mint. On the standard line at $1 it’s to be expected but not at this price level.

    1. I know what you mean but I open just about everything. I like that the Collectors line comes with the boxes. I chuck the rest out and keep the car and the box!

  4. I have never seen this series in stores let alone this Triumph TR6 model. 2023 is the worst year since i’ve started collecting modern Matchbox back in April of 2022, i didn’t realized it’s that hard, i didn’t knew that us collectors are lonely in achieving our diecast dream each year, now i know and i hate this experience that nobody cares about collectors. Another month, even more Matchbox scarcity than before, just old unsold stuff, just one shop received more of the same stuff that didn’t sell, what a nonsense.
    The good news it wont get much worse as it’s very bad already.

    1. I agree 💯… Sadly my local areas in the UK doesn’t stock Matchbox products. Even when they do it’s just the same basic mainlines from early this year keep being put out.
      My local B&M has three stands for Hotwheels and one clipstrip for Matchbox singles basic.
      Just to think all those lovely series and products to offer…. The more the advertisement for Matchbox. Especially as it’s 70 years of the name….
      Matchbox maybe now stocked in UK but it’s not. I think B&M answers the question.
      Entertainer near me doesn’t stock anything special…. Just basic which the good stuff get taken from the newest batch.
      However that Triumph TR6 is a beauty with lovely packaging colours which would be must have.
      I just thought there would be more of a bang in the outlets for Matchbox products.
      Once upon a time every outlet took this brand seriously and it was a loved brand here.
      Playing yo yo from Mattel has kind of sunk this brand somewhat.
      Seeing specific lines elsewhere but not here and using history still….
      But maybe I’m wrong in writing that. Just observations from my part on change and history….

  5. HI i’m collector from S.Korea
    I got this one, so lovely little one.
    What is the meaning of 3L1SS93 ? Bliss?
    Because I’m not from english speking contries, It’s so hard to understand humor. 🤣

    1. Hello! It’s the word ‘classic’ in code – the numbers represent the letter’s position in the Roman alphabet, e.g. 3=C, 1=A etc. Sorry I didn’t make that completely clear!

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