History of the Changes
15-Apr-2014 Ambassadors Report 33
14-Apr-2014 Ambassadors Report 32
13-Apr-2014 Ambassadors Report 31 Updated History

April Report 33

I was pleasantly surprised to receive so many snippets of information regarding the Dodge Stealth and Morphed together with the Ford GT-90. We have a much better picture of what happened and this could only come about through collectors willing to share their knowledge so thank you to all the contributors.

1. Shouldn't #78 SWAT truck be MB830 instead of MB824?

This is a very good question. Tool MB830 was intended to have a different body molding process from the current version. This process however has not been implemented yet, so we will continue to use MB824.

2. The original Land Rover Defender was MB697 with its exhaust on the left, the new one is MB838 with a new roof design & the exhaust on the right (hence the new number) so why is the orange 60th version with the exhaust on the right & new roof design MB697?

The 60th Anniversary version is MB838 (new one). If you are referring to the chassis markings only, it is possible that the plant had used surplus 697 chassis’ on your sample to use up inventory. The 838 chassis would also include the Netherlands address. Since both chassis will fit the new body, you may have the older chassis. Send us a picture. Thanks.

3. I have a question about licensed new models. The Tacoma pre-pro was made from a 3D printer, by a computer. I am assuming the 3D file in the computer was a perfect format of the truck, or was that the part that Miguel designed? Or, once the perfect file is printed, does the designer use that as a basis for their casting? Or do they just modify the 3D printed resin model? Can anyone clarify

Sorry that information is confidential. 

4.  I quite like the Tacoma, but it's a shame that the HiLux wasn't done as that's what the rest of the world gets. Did you consider making the HiLux? What made you decide on the Tacoma?

Yes we considered the HiLux version. The Tacoma is more widely known on this side of the globe where we live and we have better access to the actual truck making it easier to replicate. This does not mean that we wouldn’t consider the HiLux in the future.

5. I can find no mention of the Tacoma's scale anywhere. Is it shown on the chassis?

The scale is 1:64th.

6. The Toyota is great. With front lights it would be even greater, and, if we could get a set of Baywatch figurines with the model, Pamela perhaps, it would be perfect. Would the team please give this some consideration?

We thought about it. It would increase the cost.

7. I am wondering if the Infiniti G37 and '70 El Camino will make a return to the MB line-up at some point. It is truly a shame that the Infiniti has only been released once, and it'd be great to add another example of the '70 El Camino to my El Camino collection. Any answer from the Matchbox team would be appreciated. I heard that the Infiniti G37 is coming out in 2014 as a gift pack exclusive. Can you give us any further information on this, please?

Both the G37 & 70 El Camino will return to the line at some point in the future.

8. Casting 256 Hummer - The data base shows this casting as being the correct number, because it has the roof turret. The base plate on the casting in the five pack still reads 522 however. Can you explain, please?

Yes: #256 Hummer has the gun. The #522 version has no gun but the chassis is interchangeable. It is not always practical or cost effective to swap out multiple variations of chassis markings when the vehicle itself has not changed. For 2015 we will be modifying the body again. This time the hatch will not open and it will be part of the die cast body. The gun will also be removed and the chassis name will be updated to HUMVEE instead of Hummer since Hummer is Civilian. When this is done the MB number will change again.

Casting 606 Armored Response Vehicle -. The database and livery show this as 606, but the base has number 510 on it. What is the right casting? And what is the casting difference between 510 and 606.

The current model is 606 but the chassis marking has not been updated. The 510 number originally was used for the China casting. 606 denotes that the casting is duplicate tool and is from Thailand. Both 510& 606 are visually identical but 606 indicates a different country of origin.

9. I've just been reading the ambassador's reports, and I noticed someone suggesting that Matchbox should make regional fire vehicles and worldwide rural fire vehicles.  I would like to voice my support for their idea.  Australia probably has more bushfires (that's what they're called there) than any other area.  If the design team is looking for inspiration, then the site is a good place to look.  It's a New Zealand site, but the city and rural fire appliances here are very similar to the ones used in oz.  Here are links from that site to two rural brigades near where I live, Motueka/Tasman Rural Fire Force -- -- and Ngatimoti RFF -- -- which are part of the Waimea Rural Fire Authority.  I have also taken pictures of these vehicles myself.  I think it would be a good idea for the design team to look at this site for inspiration; there's plenty of it here. I recommend starting at Region 4, Area 17 (Tasman/Marlborough); which is where I live.

Thank you for your suggestions and interest in Brush fire vehicles. Thanks also for sending the links to some of the vehicles from your region of the world. We will definitely give them a look.

10. The "blue" side of Mattel produces "Final Run" models which at least indicates to collectors that a model has been totally deleted from the range. Would Matchbox consider doing this ..... or at least publishing an annual list of models that you have decided never to use again.

Interesting suggestion.

Here are five more new images of models which will be included in the 1-120 range. The Superlift will be found in the 9/10 packs as an exclusive model.

I was so pleased to have so many responses linked to the Viper Morphed, Stealth and Ford GT-90. As these cars led to so much interest, I have tried to pool the knowledge and pull the comments together. If I have missed your name or comment, I apologise.

Joseph Schuman - The last picture is the Ford GT90, and if I'm right the reason why it was cancelled was the Mattel merger in 1997 for Hot Wheels had their own version for the 1998 First Editions series. Also I think it would be tough to mould the spoiler on the metal body in the up position.

Sirentoys - Thanks for the update. The resin model is the Ford GT90 concept. It was done by Ford in the late 80s as an updated version of the classic Ford GT. I have seen a painted resin version that eluded me a couple of times in auctions. There was also a 1999 Thunderbird show car and a 1965 Pontiac GTO that never made it around the time Black Beauty was tooled, and you can blame (or thank) Johnny Lightning for making the Black Beauty.

Mark Chan - The last photo isn't a Bugatti. It is the concept Ford GT40 from the 1990s. And yes, the car never went into production until 2005, when it changed totally...

Mbx 64 - As far as the pre-pro you have pictured at the end, it was a concept car made by Ford in 1995 and called the GT90. The GT90 took Ford 6 months to build and develop, and cost around $3 million, debuting at the 1995 Detroit Auto Show. It had an amazing V12 engine that packed a punch; top speed is said to have reached over 225 MPH, but no solid number was ever recorded

NZ - The Ford is the GT90 Prototype and Big Blue themselves must have taken the Matchbox work as they released it in original debut factory white (as was the show car) as a 1999 or was it 1998 Hot Wheels First Edition - It was a hard one to find and I brought one at swap meet in 2005 still mint on card. Another car they were going to do was the ill fated Ford Rally weapon the RS1700 based on the Ford Escort Mk3. It appears in real life that 2 groups within Ford work were working on a separate Rally Weapons - one group was working on the Ford RS1700 and another on the mid-engined Ford RS200. Matchbox must have been working in secret with Ford in developing its RS1700 as the pre production model was planned to be white like the one off prototype. It was almost ready to go but at the eleveth hour Ford Pulled the plug and the RS200 was given the green light. Of course Matchbox went on to release in 1987 the RS200 as part of its range. In addition A Bugatti Eb was under development and canned perhaps when the firm went out of business. (I think this was the model I was thinking about originally – Nigel).
Another car they were going to do was the ill fated Ford Rally weapon the RS1700 based on the Ford Escort Mk3. It appears in real life that 2 groups within Ford work were working on a separate Rally Weapons - one group was working on the Ford RS1700 and another on the mid-engined Ford RS200.
Matchbox must have been working in secret with Ford in developing its RS1700 as the pre production model was planned to be white like the one off prototype. It was almost ready to go but at the eleveth hour Ford Pulled the plug and the RS200 was given the green light. Of course Matchbox went on to release in 1987 the RS200 as part of its range. In addition A Bugatti Eb was under development and canned perhaps when the firm went out of business. (I think this was the model I was thinking about originally – Nigel).
Joe - The Viper tv show did happen. It ran for 4 seasons, in fact the first Hot Wheels Viper model was supposed to cross promote the show. The deco on the "Morphed" (Actual name in the show was the Viper Defender) in the back isn't bullet holes. It was supposed to evoke the ablative armor and the transformation process between the Viper RT/10 star car and its Defender alternate form. for a clip and access to other clips. Finally, the only version of the Stealth Viper to make it in production is the "Get in the Fast Lane" artwork for the 1994-1997 packages.

Mack - Footnote on Dodge Stealth. I was told for hurry-up purposes on the marketing dept.'s end that the model be designed and tooled based on the Tyco slot car version of the same piece. The slot cars didn't need to hold up to the accuracy as much as the diecast. However the model ended up too flat and wide. The model was condemned by Dodge as misrepresenting their vehicle and not approved. The model was to retooled properly but only got to resin development and not tooling. Too much $$$ was already invested into a failed TV project so the model including the Morph Viper was dropped. I think the show was on less than 6 episodes. The flat-wide Dodge still looks like a real car. Too bad it can't be resurrected as a Matchbox generic with a new name!

I remember (vaguely) the pilot TV program involving the Dodge Stealth and Morphed concepts. It was interesting how they depicted the car morphing into its Viper-like state. As for Tyco's decision to not make the cars as MBs, could that have had anything to do with Tyco offering them as slot cars? Bert has seen both slot car versions...
The Matchbox Ford Pick Up and its many transitions
In 1968 Lesney received its second Queen’s Award to Industry, but the company was not resting on its laurels. In the miniature range there was constant innovation. Scale and thus size had increased over the years and by 1968 it had, for the most part, reached a level that would remain constant from then until now. Glazing, interiors, and opening parts were gradually introduced and wheels which had been originally metal were now plastic. However this was not enough, and over the next year Lesney introduced two new innovations: Autosteer and disc wheels, both for added realism.
One of the first models to include Autosteer was the #6 Ford Pick Up, introduced in September of 1968. This model had a red body, clear windows and a removable white plastic canopy.
By use of gentle pressure on the front wings, the front wheels would turn left or right. For such a small vehicle this was quite a coup and a design achievement of no small merit. In March 1969 the #50 Ford Kennel Truck was introduced. This also featured the Autosteer mechanism. It was painted metallic green which often varied in shade and was fitted with green windows.
Play value for this model was enhanced by the addition of four white plastic dogs in the rear which was covered in a clear or pale blue plastic canopy. Although not named a Ford on the base or packaging, this was in fact a slightly revamped Ford Pick Up, with the name “Ford” clearly visible at the rear of the body. So started Lesney’s love affair with this particular casting. The yellow and blue versions are pre-production.
The Autosteer tenure was short lived as the transition to Superfast wheels in 1969/70 meant it was no longer feasible to include it and both models were converted in 1970.
Initially both models were fitted with thin Superfast wheels, but in 1972 wide Superfast slicks were fitted instead. Unusually this body casting needed no alteration to accommodate these wider wheels. Both models could be found with chrome or white plastic radiators and both had a variety of base colours including black, pale green, primrose and yellow, although by far the rarest variation in both cases is an unpainted metal base.
Such examples have been known to fetch around £500 each. The reason for these base variations was essentially down to cost.
If the base was not immediately visible when the model was placed on the floor or a track, it was thought that it would not matter which base colour was used. Spare paint was thus used to save cost. Possibly the white plastic grille was also a case of economics as this avoided plating the grille.

Early in 1973 Lesney created Rolamatics, which some would argue were even more ingenious than Autosteer five years earlier.

The Superfast wheels on these models had pegs moulded on to the inside edge. This would connect with a plastic part within the body of the model which, when rolled along, caused it to revolve, rock or jump each time the peg struck it.

This added great play value to each model.
Of the six Rolamatics models introduced during 1973, no fewer than five were based on existing models and the Rolamatics #57 Wild Life Truck used the same body as the #6 and #50! Again the fact it was a Ford was not acknowledged in the name itself, but it was still boldly retained at the rear of the vehicle.

Originally sprayed yellow with a “Ranger” label on the bonnet and the windows now coloured red, this model had a yellow turntable at the rear, with a tan or brown model lion connected to it by two small pegs, with the see-through canopy retained from the Kennel Truck. As the rear wheels turned so the turntable revolved, making it look as though the lion were stalking round within!

The canopy could be found in amber, clear, light blue or smoke, whilst the metal base of the model was unpainted except for a short run in silver. With this introduction, for a few months during 1973 Lesney had three models with the same body casting in the range at the same time! Regular wheel collectors will remember the #25 Dunlop Van, 29 Bedford Milk Float and #42 Evening News Van.
In late 1973 the #6 was deleted from the range in favour of a Mercedes 350SL. However, the #50 continued for a few more months into 1974 and the body colour was changed to a bright lime green shade. This colour scheme did not last very long before the Articulated Truck replaced the Kennel Truck in the range, and thus the short run lime shade has always been quite desirable.
The Wild Life Truck had a very long nine year run in the miniatures range and in 1981 the colour was changed to white. The label was removed and instead a zebra stripe tampo print ran along each side of the body. However in France this colour scheme had the very rare “Climat” labels applied to the bonnet instead, which can be found on models with the standard red glazing or the less common purple windows and are worth around £150 each.
Standard examples can also be found with amber glazing and a small quantity of yellow models can also be found with the amber windows. Although quite rare, this variant seems to command no premium.
In 1982 Lesney decided to replace the #57 with a Carmichael Rescue vehicle, and if the 1982 UK catalogue is studied, it would appear that the long running mould was now obsolete. However, a glance through the 1982 US catalogue, shows an avalanche of new models and two of those new models were particularly relevant to this article. The new #22 in silver was a Toyota Mini Pick Up and an unnumbered and unnamed red model (in fact #57) was clearly using the same Toyota mould. However neither of these Toyota models would ever be released.

Lesney decided instead to revamp the Wild Life Truck, and probably the same mould was used again, but now it was fitted with large maltese X wheels, to represent the #22 Mini Pick Up in silver and the #57 Pick Up Camper in red. Perhaps for licensing reasons the name Ford was finally removed from the rear of the body, but otherwise it was exactly the same casting, and of course one retained exactly the same model number!

Both models were available only in the USA, and both could be found with unpainted or rarer silver painted metal Lesney bases. The #22 could be found with a white plastic canopy, which originally had a step but this was later removed to make it smooth, and thus was not dissimilar to the canopy of the Ford Pick Up first released fourteen years earlier! The #57 had a black plastic roll bar, which was also fitted to the #22 in error and is very hard to find. The #22 has two other very rare variations: it can be found as standard with tampo print to the sides of the body and the bonnet “Big Foot”, but examples with no side print, or no tampo print whatsoever in plain silver, do exist in very small numbers.
In 1983 these models started to be made in Macau following an extremely short run in Hong Kong and the bases were now painted in gloss black. In 1986 the #22 was changed to a red colour and the #57 to light blue, both with alternate tampo print. That same year the #22 finally became available as a UK issue, though as #35, with the red body advertising Aspen Ski Holidays.
A UK only promotional version in white was released with SLD Pumps tampo, which is not common but attracts no particular premium. Another promotional fitted with large wheels was produced just for the UK company called McVities and promoting Wagon Wheels.

The #22 was finally replaced in the USA range in 1990.
The #57 in blue with Mountain Man tampo print fared just slightly better and was replaced in the USA in 1991. After 23 years of continuous service, this long running mould was finally allowed to retire, but it had a very impressive run and produced many desirable and attractive variations along the way!

Grateful thanks to Graham Tomlinson for his contribution to this article.

April Report 32

Marcel Bakker sent me a photo of the latest Toys R Us display. This appears to be a regular event in this chain store though I believe that other stores may do the same thing. How things have changed over the years.  
I think that Matchbox models and boxes always look best in their original environment.

There are no answers this week. I hope to have more next week. Please keep your questions coming in.

There are just three new images available to show this week. The Dirt Smasher is a new model for 2014. I hope to have more in my next report. I believe that the 2014 Disney Bus has been released though I have heard that there may be some supply difficulties.

I am very grateful to several collectors who were able to update me with some facts about the Citroens I looked at in the previous two articles. The word Safari was probably erased from the base because the name CX Safari was only used by Citroën in the UK, and Matchbox, with export sales in mind, thought it would be simpler to just call the car CX.

Safari was Citroen UK's designation for the station wagons (there were also Citroen DS/ID Safaris from Husky/Corgi Juniors and Corgi Toys) but these were not used elsewhere and in France it was called The Break. As the CX model was aimed at the European market (LHD steering wheel) Matchbox just deleted the Safari name from the baseplate. The BBC use two DS cars and then a CX Safari. Perhaps Matchbox might have considered modifying a model to the BBC colours.
I now believe the 15 CV and 16 CV are the same car. Citroen called it a 15 but it actually fell in the 16 CV (CV = horsepower calculated from engine size) class. The only Traction Avant longer than the 15/6 CV was the scarce V8-powered 22 CV. There was never a Citroën officially called the 16CV, just the 7, 11 and 15CV (plus the elusive 22CV).
Citroën never introduced annual facelifts on its cars. It now appears that this was a first draft of the car, incorrectly named and too big for a standard Matchbox box, so the tooling department decided to start again with a smaller, and more correct, prototype of the same Citroën model. I think that collectors are generally interested in actual models and colour schemes on models that were not eventually chosen. Last week I looked at the Citroen Safari and the Citroen 15.

This week I will consider some more models that reached various stages of production before they were dropped. If you are able to provide any further information on these models, I would be pleased to relay it to others. The Pontiac Grand Prix was planned to be blue.
The decision to suddenly change this to red must have been taken very late in the day as the boxes had already been ordered depicting blue models. It was always Odell who had the final say but there is no evidence to explain his change of heart except maybe the fact that there were already a good number of blue models in the range. An even stranger decision must have been taken when the first batch of models, with NEW MODEL, on the end flaps had been exhausted. The second batch of boxes also showed a blue box, but with the NEW MODEL no longer being shown.

The three pre-production models shown are from different eras of the model, though they have all been played with or used for test purposes. The blue car with opening doors is one of the few that the artist used originally for this box design. When the model was converted to Superfast wheels, it was not possible to continue with the opening doors and so they were sealed shut. The mauve model shows sealed doors but still with black plastic wheels. As no interior or windows were fitted, it is presumed that it was just made to see what the Pontiac looked like with closed doors.

A decision had been taken to ensure that the whole range had bright colours in 1970. The Pontiac was eventually painted in various shades of metallic purple. One wonders why this staid pea green version was even painted up.

The model continued to interest collectors. The red cross-over version is very rare and commands high prices as does the final regular wheel box.
This model shown below was called Black Beauty and was driven by a character called Green Hornet. I seem to remember that it was often the case that licensing could take several months or even longer and this has been echoed even today. Design was carried out in great secrecy in case a competitor got wind of it and fast tracked production to steal a march.
One way to speed up releases was to assume that licensing approval would be given. This was the case with this model. However, another company had already secured the licence and Matchbox stopped development immediately. extent of the manufacturing process. I think the model was to have been linked to a radio and television programme.
There is no interior and no decoration for this model and I believe this was the The Green Hornet was the alter ego of Britt Reid, a wealthy young publisher of the Daily Sentinel newspaper by day. But by night Reid wore the long green overcoat, green fedora hat and green mask of the mysterious "Green Hornet" to fight crime as a vigilante. Reid was accompanied by his loyal and similarly masked partner and confidant, Kato, who drove their technologically advanced car, the "Black Beauty". Though both the police and the general public believe the Hornet to be a criminal, Reid capitalizes on that perception to help him infiltrate the underworld, leaving behind criminals and any incriminating evidence found for the police. What a pity this model did not proceed, though of course the model could only appear in black and that would have restricted variations.

The Mitsubishi GTO was a sports car built in Japan between 1990 and 2001. In most export markets it was rebadged as a Mitsubishi 3000GT. However, it was also imported and sold by Chrysler in North America as a Dodge Stealth from 1991 to 1996, with only minor detail differences. Mechanically, the two cars were identical. The Mitsubishi GTO, the Mitsubishi 3000GT and the Dodge Stealth designs were the result of the collaborative effort between Chrysler and its Japanese partner.

There were plans for a Viper television programme featuring the Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo, a Viper Morphed and a Dodge Viper in 1994. There must have been a tie-up with Matchbox as Tyco, the then owners, decided to produce several models for the show. Although in the event the show was cancelled, it must have been close to release. Several models were produced with a complete base showing 1994, a proper die-cast body, interior and windows. The Stealth model shown has an unpainted body with a blue interior and a white plastic base. The second was painted plain black with tinted windows and a grey interior with lights picked out front and rear and a black plastic base. A third version had green stripes without any further decoration.

I believe that the Dodge Morphed was also produced for the same series. These cars were complete down to the full date, a detailed black plastic base showing a scale of 1:60 and traditional rivets. One was painted in plain silver and the other had decoration that was supposed to represent bullet holes.

I have no idea why either car could not have been released as a standard vehicle, though it has been suggested that that the Stealth model looked too wide and possibly the Morphed would only be recognised if the TV show was running. In the event, only the Dodge Viper joined the Matchbox miniature range.
David Tilley has suggested that perhaps the Stealth was to some extent retooled into the Mitsubishi 3000GT Spider as per its origins. He suggested that Matchbox looked at the casting, re-evaluated what they wanted to do with it and worked on a top down version instead. I guess we will never know the whole story. The final model evades my memory. It may be based on a Bugatti or a Ford GT40. I will leave it to the experts to enlighten me. This model was stopped at the resin stage because licensing was presumably refused, unless the real vehicle did not proceed.

March Report 31

The long-awaited Toyota Tacoma Lifeguard Truck is shown here by kind permission of Mattel. It is bound to be popular. The History section is devoted to Twin Packs following requests to consider this range. If you have an interest in a particular year or themed group of models, please let me know and I will do my best to cover them.

1. Will 2015 see a different type of segmentation than we have seen in 2013 and 2014? If so, can we be enlightened on the plans as of now?

Cannot discuss the 2015 line at this time.

2. Please find a way to keep the licensed models appearing in the series "decently above" 50%. If you go back to a 1-100 model lineup, please aim for a minimum of 60-65 licensed vehicles. I'd like 100 out of 100, but I know it can't happen and just asking that would devalue any point I'm trying to make here.

Thanks for your suggestion.

3. Although I can understand retiring models that have passed the mark of time, why on earrth retire a model like the KG or A100 which has only been out one season? How can development costs be justified by such a short model run? Or is there a sinister plot powering the retirement of great licensed models and replacing them with generic trash?

Please refer to the Ambassadors latest report regarding the A100. Also note that have never used the word retire when referring to these two castings which would imply that they will never return again. These models will return.

4. Would there be any licensing issues with John Deere if Matchbox made the Acre Maker with a green cab, green body, and yellow wheel? I'd like to see a version like that. While there may be some color schemes that may seem synonymous with certain brands there are some colors that are universal.

We try to be creative in that regard.

5. The report states that there is no school bus at all, but I wonder if the Field Tripper is the production name for the Mega School Bus. From what I remember, Mega School Bus was just a placeholder name. Can you please enlighten us as to the fate of the Mega Bus. Were you able to listen to the voices of collectors?

You are correct that the Field Tripper™ is the final name for the Mega School bus. It is #96 on the list.

6. Mattel has owned the Matchbox brand for several years now. Are there any plans for a book to be written on these years with sponsorship from Mattel?

Not at this time.

7. The Citroen DS Mattel came up with a few years ago is a stunning replica. Not many manufactures get the shape of the car that spot-on. I'm still surprised we never got a Lesney Edition version of it. I'd still love to see a dark burgundy version with a cream roof. Please assure me that you have not consigned the Citroen to the Garbage Grinder!

Rest assured, the Citroen DS has not been sent to the Garbage Grinder. It will appear again sometime in the near future.

8. I'd like to see the Mercury Cougar casting back into the line up. One of my faves - any chance??

It will appear again sometime in the future. We like this model as well.

9. Does Mattel keep records of sales as I was wondering what has been the best seller during the Mattel era?

That’s a good question.

10. Is there any reason why the new castings for 2014 are all the final MAN numbers?

Not sure what you mean by the final MAN numbers. Can you elaborate?

(I think the collector meant that the latest Manufacturing numbers are grouped at the end of the 2014 range between numbers 100 and 120.)

11. When choosing a color for a model, do you have all of the other 119 models out in front of you so that for instance you don't have too many yellow models in the range and not enough red ones?

Yes, we do this for every SKU we make. It does get complicated sometimes because we also have to include carryover models as well. It’s very challenging for the team.

12. It does seem that Hot Wheels sometimes make models which come under the Matchbox category. Are there meetings to decide who makes what or are you independent?

Yes we meet with the team on the blue side. Sometimes a cross over is allowed to happen.

13. Does one person make up the names for the non-licensed models and is that his or her only job?

We do have such a person(persons). They are called copywriters and they create names and written copy. They help us with names and vice versa. It is a fulltime occupation to do just that. Many companies have copywriters. Their job is very important since they deal not only creating names but they must create copy for anything written or published.

There are more new images available to show this week. The much anticipated Toyota Tacoma Life Guard truck that was first previewed at The Gathering in New Mexico last year is finally here. It will be in the Heroic Rescue segment. Last week I showed some photos of a real truck upon which this Torque Titan could be based. The blue colour scheme may well prove to be the most popular yet.
There are new colour schemes for two more Skybusters.

The Two Packs Range
By 1975 Lesney had almost recovered from the three day working week, shortages of materials, strikes, fire and the flood of 1973/4, although the reintroduction of Models of Yesteryear was still a year away. There were two initiatives in regard to the miniatures range this year: Streakers and Two Packs.
Whilst the Streakers were available early in the year, the latter were not produced until the closing months. They were an inspired initiative, pairing two associated models from the miniature range in a single, large and brightly decorated blister package to create, at least theoretically, twice the interest.
Many of these models were re-coloured and around half of them were re-releases of models which had been deleted over the previous five years. Two sets included models in their standard colours, but these were deleted after a year and replaced with different re-coloured models.
At the start of 1976 there were eight sets available, but this increased to sixteen later in the year with the introduction of eight military themed sets, which again included some revived obsolete models.
These were originally painted in an unattractive very dark green or “olive drab” colour, but this was altered after a few months to a lighter olive green shade, known as military green, to increase appeal. All of these military models had black hubcaps. The TP-12 was of interest because it initially comprised of a #18 Field Car and #20 Police Patrol, which only months after the switch to military green had the #20 replaced by a revamped #23 VW Camper with a new base-plate stating “Dormobile” and with the opening roof and interior removed.
Indeed in the 1977 Matchbox catalogue, printed in late 1976, this model change has already taken place. It is surprising therefore that sets with the #20 enclosed are nonetheless still plentiful and command no premium almost forty years after initial release.

Rare TP-12 sets include the Dormobile with chrome hubs and a few other military models can also, very rarely, be found with chromed hubs, including the #20, #3 Mercedes Ambulance, #71 Wreck Truck and extremely rarely the #1 Mercedes Truck and #18 Field Car.
The 1977 catalogue also shows the TP-7 Jeep and Glider Trailer (a model created exclusively for Two Packs) in silver, but alas this colour was never used, and they were released in a less inspiring yellow.

What really created interest amongst collectors was the fact that frequently a wrong model was included in the set, and many very rare models were available in the sets, often exclusively in these Two Packs. For example some sets include standard colour issues of Two Packs models such as the #9 AMX Javelin in light green rather than blue, #40 Guildsman in pink rather than red, the #74 Toe Joe in green rather than yellow. The #9 was later changed so that the opening doors were cast shut, the blue model exists both ways and the colour was then changed to a rare dark green and then even rarer red, which comes in two shades and can have unpainted or silver base-plates on most variants.

The #40 also came with unpainted or silver bases and the Streaker version was sometimes found.

The TP-5 included a #54 Ford Capri in orange, though rarely the #67 Hot Rocker was enclosed by mistake. This set included the #9 Boat and Trailer and the Boat would over the years be included in different sets and altered many times. Many of these variations are rare, especially one with a black deck, or the all white variant. The TP-8 could be found with the #18 in white and this has long been considered one of the rarest and most desirable variants, and it has been found with both black and chrome hubs and even bizarrely Wildcat labels from the #8.
In 1979 the range was varied and expanded to include large Long Haul vehicles, as a result the name was changed to 900. These Long Haul vehicles have never created the same interest as the Two Pack models, except on very rare occasions such as where the TP-22 Double Container Truck had unusual containers fitted.

This year saw some more rare and desirable sets released. The TP-4 now included a #32 Maserati Bora in gold, which though supposedly available for over two years is very hard to find. The TP-13 now included the #49 Unimog with or without an ammo box and with two different labels, all are desirable.

The TP-16 included a #61 Alvis Stalwart without the canopy and the previously mentioned #71. This set was only available for a year so is highly collectable.
In 1980 the TP-1 Mercedes Container Truck and Trailer was changed from red to powder blue with different advertising, and is another set which has always created interest. A new TP-16 Articulated Truck (#50) and Trailer (another trailer made exclusively for these sets) is illustrated in a striking two-tone metallic deep green and lime green.
However like the silver TP-7 three years earlier it was never released, but was to be found disappointingly in the original blue and yellow, although the yellow was now a lemon shade. Later it was released with the same red cab from the #63 Freeway Gas Tanker and a silver dump. 
However this disappointing non-materialisation of an impressive colour scheme pales by comparison to the let-downs of 1981. The TP-4 Maserati is illustrated in a dark blue colour but was never released, the TP-7 was shown in a very impressive red shade, but it was decided to revert back to the original yellow. This seems a curious decision as the red colour was an improvement and it seems unlikely it would have cost any more to produce. This set has always been almost impossible to track down and though rumours persist that it was issued in Holland, I believe that it did not appear outside of the factory.
In fact most of the colour changes this year appear to have been made in relatively small quantities, the TP-5 with the #9 Ford Escort with Phantom labels in blue or even rarer white, the TP-8 Field Car and Honda in yellow, and especially the TP-9 Field Car and #24 Team Matchbox in orange, which is another very hard set to locate, yet despite its limited run can be found with the #18 with a black or white interior and the #24 with white, lemon or tan drivers and occasionally with 5 spoke front wheels. All these variants are extremely desirable.

Strangely however the new release #TP-27 Steam Loco and Caboose in an attractive green colour appears to have been produced in large numbers and commands very little enthusiasm. A pre-production example of this set is shown here.
By 1982 the Matchbox catalogue shows a very sparse range of just four original sets, now called Two Packs once more, with many sets seemingly no longer available, though despite this with five new editions now available. In fact in the USA edition of the 1982 catalogue the Two Packs range is completely absent, although they were in fact available in stores in the USA now called Hitch and Haul, a title that continued to be used into the Mattel era!

It is often considered that the new TP-32 with the #74 Toe Joe in dark yellow with Hitch Hiker labels and the #1 Revin Rebel is one of the very rarest sets, but although it commands a good premium it is in fact easier to find than many of the other rare sets discussed here. In truth the Toe Joe in red is far harder to locate. It only came with a black base, but can be found with green or red booms, and red or black hooks, making it very tough to collect all four variants, especially in mint condition.
With Lesney being bought out in 1982, during 1983 the Two Packs range seems to have been placed in hibernation, though it reappears in 1984 and now with another name change to “Twin Pack”. Although many of these sets are of little interest to collectors, several were, for a couple of years, still made in England and these are considered very collectable.
This includes the TP-109 with the #12 Citroen CX and #9 Boat & Trailer and the TP-110 #37 Matra Rancho & Inflatable which both have several rare variations, and even more so the TP-111 which includes a #55 Ford Cortina 1600GL now with fixed doors and in non-metallic red. All red variants are desirable, especially that with a black base with clear or opaque windows, both of which are extremely rare.
1984 followed a previous trend by illustrating a model never to see the light of day in stores: the TP-106 with #21 Renault 5TL in black with Celtic tampo. In fact it was released in a far less impressive white body with the same tampo design, though a few of the black pre-production models were produced in England with Lesney bases and an example is illustrated here.
After 1985 these Twin Packs continued to be made into the 1990s, but they were now made exclusively outside of England and thus created far less interest, although some very nice sets were made. Two sets that did not make it into the range are shown below.

March Report 30

Matchbox Mega Bus There were some comments following the publication of the 1-120 USA list that as the Mega School Bus was not included on that list it was assumed that it had been dropped from the line. This is incorrect on both counts. It is included on the list but has a new name. It is now called Field Tripper and will be # 96 on the list with a MAN number of MB902. It will be available for everyone to enjoy.
It is sometimes mooted that Matchbox do not heed the comments of collectors. I have mentioned several times that decisions cannot be taken in a vacuum and there are many influences on the Matchbox team and the line of models. In response to comments and requests in previous reports and on message boards, I am delighted to announce that the Matchbox team have listened to the concerns from collectors indicating that they were disappointed that the 1966 Dodge A100 was not included this year in the 1-120 mainline list. They have decided to rectify this. Since the Land Rover LR4 has been moved to 2015, the A100 will be moved to fill this slot this year. It will now be #97 on the list. Furthermore it will also be included as one of the 5 recolour models for this year as well. So that’s two examples that we had not anticipated. These will roll out at the end of the year. Moreover, it is planned for use in the 2015 Mainline and so there should be no shortage of this model this year or the next. I would like to thank all those collectors who took the trouble to post their concerns on boards or to me directly and also to Matchbox for recognizing the depth of feeling for this model and doing something about it.

1. Although I can understand retiring models that have passed the mark of time, why on earth retire a model like the KG or A100 which has only been out one season? How can development costs be justified by such a short model run? Or is there a sinister plot powering the retirement of great licensed models and replacing them with generic trash?

Please refer to the Ambassadors latest report regarding the A100. Also note that have never used the word retire when referring to these two castings which would imply that they will never return again. These models will return.

2. Can you ask Matchbox to consider doing some Caterpillar-licensed deco's on their existing construction models? They did this 10+ years ago and have some great construction models out now that would look good in a Caterpillar theme. Thanks!

Matchbox did do this in the past but it is a bit more complicated today to do this.

3. We see that the new castings are numbered from MB902 through MB926, with the new Mustang Police added in as MB969. It took the place of the VW Bulli which was dropped, but was that given a MAN # (possibly MB901) before it was dropped? We had up to MB900 to finish off 2013.

Very soon we will exceed the 3 digit MB number milestone as we develop new models in 2015. This means the MB numbers will soon be 4 digits. Should we celebrate?

The Mustang SSP was in the works for 2015 but was ahead in development so it was moved to the 2014 slot hence the MB number.

4. The 3-axle Dump Truck does not show a MAN #. Is this an oversight as it is still MB536 or is it being retooled and will be receiving a new MAN #?

The 3 axle dump truck is in the process of being retooled. A new number has not been assigned yet. So it is left blank at the moment.

5. I was delighted to receive my Brush Truck. I think it was fabulously decorated proving to the doubters that real talent exists within the Matchbox team. Are there any plans to repeat this sort of thing, hopefully without the complications ..... though the model certainly was worth waiting for.

We are glad that you like our efforts on the Brush Truck. Much love went into creating it even though it had a rocky start. If this program is successful we would consider doing another special item.

6. Many of the models that have been dropped for 2014 are licensed vehicles. If you bring these back in 2015, do you still have to pay licensing fees?

Yes on certain models.

A note to all collectors. If a certain licensed model drops out of the line, it is not retired unless the team feels it has outlived its usefulness. We will simply bring the model back the following year or it will find its way into 5 packs or exclusive models in the 9/10 packs so don’t panic or be distressed. Unless a tool is damaged or completely worn out it will return.

7. There are hundreds if not thousands of collectors who read the message boards. Is there any chance of having an exclusive for collectors? I am sure they would pay a little more so that Mattel would not lose out and I am sure they could be distributed through the clubs.

The International Brush Truck is an exclusive for collectors this year. How well it does will determine if we do more. In terms of making Club Models this is not possible at the moment.

8. Can I have a 5 pack where all the models are in black?

I love black vehicles. Thanks for the suggestion but we prefer to have a variety of color in our 5 packs.

9. Can anyone be an Ambassador and do they keep the models they show? I would like to be boss of Matchbox as well.

Wow you are asking for a lot. Ambassadors do not receive samples of the models they show except pictures for their own collections. Sneak peek photo images are forwarded to the Ambassador by the Matchbox team. At the end of the Ambassador’s term, they do receive a gold finished London Bus. Someday you could possibly be a boss at Matchbox if you work very hard and have a passion for die cast cars.

10. Do you have any information on retooled vehicles filling in the gaps?

MB901 (this may just be the canceled VW Bulli) MB927 - 968

This is a long list that can’t be answered this week. Check back next week.

11. Since 2010 collectors have regularly asked for a list of issued Skybuster planes by Matchbox. Although it was promised that Matchbox would work on it, the list still has not been forthcoming.

2013 poses even more problems for Skybuster collectors because W-numbers (2012) are mixed up with Y-numbers (2013) and some planes have been issued with their recolour in the same wave. Previously we could buy a couple of planes in Europe and we could more or less guess what was issued in Wave A and Wave B. Wave C is a great mystery for us as various models keep popping up on auction sites. Some 2013 models have only seen in 2014 packaging but we can only guess whether it was a model from 2013 unreleased until 2014 or whether we had some 2013 models still missing.

Many people from different countries have been asking why Matchbox cannot release the information regarding the content of wave C. We would like to have a list of all models issued in 2013 together with a list of which 2013 models have been re-issued in 2014 in new packaging.

I can work on putting together a list of SB planes and SB numbers for 2013 & 2014. I cannot provide actual toy numbers (Y & W prefixes) nor will I provide the content of each mix for this is not allowed by Mattel.

John should also be aware that we distribute Sky Busters in different ways in different countries. I simply don’t have the bandwidth to filter this. Pooling this information is time consuming because confidential information must be edited from the lists as I have done on the mainline 1-120 numbers.

I do this on my own time so I have to prioritize what is important. In short I cannot provide everything that John is asking for.

However, I have enclosed the 2013 and 2014 Sky Busters assortment lists.

For your information in certain European regions, the contents of the assortments may vary since some countries do not like to have military style vehicles in their assortments.

  1. SB32 A-10 Fairchild Thunderbolt
  2. SB58 Transport Helicopter
  3. SB62 Airliner
  4. SB65 Cessna Caravan
  5. SB69 Boeing 747-400
  6. SB71 Boeing 737-800
  7. SB73 Stunt Plane
  8. SB74 Tilt Rotor
  9. SB75 Cessna Citation X
  10. SB79 Robinson R-44
  11. SB82 Pusher Prop
  12. SB84 Sea Plane
  13. SB85 Air Blitz
  14. SB87 Blaze Buster
  15. SB86 Airblade
  16. SB89 Space Shuttle
  17. SB90 Lockheed Martin F-35B
  18. SB91 Cirrus Vision
  19. SB92 Stealth Launch
  20. SB93 Snow Explorer
  21. SB94 SB 94 Drone
  22. SB97 Battle Raptor
  23. SB99 AH-64 Apache Helicopter
  24. SB100 Blade Force
  25. SB102 Aero Blast
  26. SB103 Twin Blast
  27. SB104 Flight Strike
  28. SB105 Subsonic Interceptor
  29. SB106 Turbo Tornado
  30. SB107 Sky Scorcher
  31. SB108 Sky Safari
  32. SB109 The BAT
  33. SB110 Rescue Blade
  34. SB111 Biplane
  35. SB112 Freeway Flyer
  36. SB113 Fang Fighter
  37. SB114 Stratos Saucer
  38. SB115 Duel Tail
  39. SB116 Strato Stormer
  40. SB117 Air Grabber 2100

Comments John: To my idea this list can not be right. I will ask for more clarification to Dave Weise to check this out.


  1. SB73 Stunt Plane
  2. SB80 Sky Knife
  3. SB87 Blaze Buster
  4. SB85 Bi Plane
  5. SB86 Air Blade
  6. SB90 Lockheed Martin F35-B
  7. SB91 Cirrus Vision
  8. SB91 Cirrus Vision
  9. SB93 Snow Explorer
  10. SB94 Drone
  11. SB96 Eurofighter Typhoon
  12. SB100 Blade Force
  13. SB102 Aero Blast
  14. SB103 Twin Blast
  15. SB104 Flight Strike
  16. SB106 Turbo Tornado
  17. SB107 Sky Scorcher
  18. SB108 Sky Safari S
  19. SB110 Rescue Blade
  20. SB111 Air Blitz
  21. SB112 Freeway Flyer
  22. SB113 Fang Fighter
  23. SB114 Strato Saucer
  24. SB115 Duel Tail
  25. SB116 Strato Stormer
  26. SB117 Air Grabber 2100S
  27. SB118 Gee Bee
  28. SB119 Boeing F-15 Eagle
  29. SB120 Sky Sentry
  30. SB121 Sky Shredder
  31. SB122 Virgin Galactic Space Ship II

The first model is called the Field Tripper. It’s a new unstoppable way to get to school and clearly it would be most useful on School Field Trips involving the most direct route. It would also have been useful in the floods we have had recently in Britain. Presumably all children would have to bring their own ladder with their books and the driver would have perfected the Fosbury Flop.

There are 3 refreshed 2014 models. Note that the Sahara Survivor has been retooled with a new MAN Number: MB924. It now has various changes including a plastic body.

The AeroBlast Sky Buster has been re-decorated for this year.

Last week I considered the Citroen DS and SM. In 1979 another Citroen was planned for the miniature range. This was to be a Citroen CX Safari. Presumably there was an idea for a plastic roof rack similar to those produced in 1:43 scale by one of its competitors, years previously. A decision to change must have been late as a pre-production base shows here that Safari had been included in the casting.
Baseplates were modified to erase Safari prior to production and this Citroen replaced the Big Bull in late 1979.

This model was originally released in metallic blue with a cream interior and silver painted base. Some models were found either with an unpainted or gloss black painted base. The metallic blue livery varied considerably and the interiors may be found in white, light or dark yellow, tan or a very rare, red interior, which has attracted bids of more than £200 at auction. The model was given additional play value with an opening hatch, which was always in a darker blue than the body.

In 1981 the body colour was changed to yellow, with a red interior and black base, though charcoal and silver based models also exist which command a premium. In 1982 this model was added to the “900” range of Twin Packs, with the addition of tampo print to the bonnet. This comprised of the “Matchbox” logo in red, prefixed by “Team” in the shape of a motor-bike in blue or black. It towed the motor-cycle trailer, previously hitched to the Citroen SM, but now in mustard yellow with red or yellow bikes.
Soon after this the body was modified into a white ambulance with blue windows and dome lights. A black and red Ambulance design was added and the base could be unpainted, silver or black. The interior remained red, but the body side windows were filled in, apropos an ambulance. The following year, after Lesney entered receivership, and became Matchbox International, the design was changed such that the wording read Marine Division in blue and the model was now manufactured in Macau. The Twin Pack featuring this latest Citroen CX towing the old #9 Boat and Trailer, included several colour schemes of which the rarest was an all white boat and orange trailer. The Citroen CX was finally consigned to the scrapyard in 1985.
In 1979 Lesney decided to release a classic vehicle into the miniature range, rather than as a Yesteryear. This was the Model A Ford. By 1982 a Model A Van and the Jaguar SS had been added. In 1983 the Citroen 15CV was released. Interestingly, this only came into being because the originally planned vehicle, the Citroen CV16, would not fit the dimensions of the box, without removing the front bumper.

Shown below is the CV16, without front bumper and with a larger rear side window and several casting differences. The CV15 has a pre-production black front grille and bumper.
Few Matchbox models have been painted black. Indeed the original London Taxi (17c) was painted black to resemble all London Taxis at the time but Odell thought that black was too dull for children and he decided on the maroon colour for the released model. This full size Citroen 15 was probably only painted black though I am not sure. The model was fitted with a grey interior and a chromed plastic base.

Later the grey interior gave way to white, presumably to brighten up the model. Towards the end of its life the Citroen body colour was changed to a deep blue.

One further change to green with a red interior occurred when it was selected as one of six models to have Dinky printed in white on the base. Although Matchbox owned the Dinky copyright, it was only realised at the last moment that the name needed to be used as otherwise the licence would lapse. Thus in 1988 a few models were selected to be imprinted in this way and their production was rushed through to meet licensing deadlines. The Citroen 15CV was never produced again. It would be a very popular decision if the Citroen DS could be used as one of the enhanced models for 2015.
Hardly any models of the Lesney era were painted black and probably there was a limited amount of black paint in the factory and so black pre-production models are quite rare. A few are shown below.

March Report 29

BMW M1 The new listing for 2014 prompted more hits and messages on notice-boards than usual. There were plenty of comments proving that collectors still care passionately about the brand and feel moved sufficiently to put pen to paper.

Many collectors outside of the US have enquired about the BMW 1M. All that I can do is to include an image of the BMW 1M as it seems this car, which would surely be the most popular vehicle in the range were it to be released here, may not actually appear in Europe. We can but hope that the missing wave may find its way to these shores eventually.

The Ambassador Report last week was so long that I had to remove the last section on Bulgarian Mark IV Cortinas and so at the end of this Report I have included some photos to pacify those people who requested a viewing.

1. With the success of the INC construction series, is there a possibility of seeing the Street Cleaner in INC Construction colors? It would be great to have a 5 pack in this livery next year. Is there any chance?

The Street Cleaner could have INC markings in the future but we normally use INC on vehicles in the construction segments. The Street Cleaner is usually in the Adventure City segment. We will take your suggestion into consideration however. Thanks.

2. My most depressing part about the 2014 list is the reduction in cars. When it was increased from 100 to 120 the other year, it was purely to add cars in to the mix. The range had been set up with 100 non-cars, and they decided last minute to sprinkle in 20 cars. Last year, they kept it at 20 cars in the series. But this year it has been reduced to a paltry 9. I felt 20 was too little as they make up the majority of what you see out and about. I understand they are trying to get variety, but cars are important. Will 2015 see a larger intake of actual road cars in the range?


3. #9 is listed as MB807 Caterham Superlight R500, is it the MB802 Caterham or is this in fact meant to be MB807 Holden VE Ute? Please say it’s the Ute.

Sorry but there was a typo. The correct number should be MB802. You have a keen eye. Thank you for pointing out the error. It should not be the MB number for the Holden.

4. I hope it is the model name they got wrong (I know you’re most likely right though) that way we would get the MB868 Travel Trailer at #26 instead of the MB865 Torque Titan but again I think it’s the MAN they have incorrect, the trailer would be a far better inclusion into the main line than that hideous Torque Titan. Can you please comment?

Thanks for pointing out yet another typo on our part. The correct MB# should be 865 for the fantastic Torque Titan. You will be happy to know that the Travel Trailer will be included in this year’s 5 pack.

55. Regarding the Mini Dozer I feel compelled to remind you it is a bucket or a loader. A DOZER is a blade, of which I learned at a very early age BECAUSE of Matchbox. Actually a single arm skid steer loader is a real machine. If you google 1110t JCB you can see some pictures. I say skid steer, but this is really a compact track loader. The MB track layout is not the same as JCB, but they probably cannot do an exact copy. I do agree the radiator out front is way in it should be in the back. I also agree that it is not a dozer. This always bugs me when the news cannot get this right either. Any comment?

You are overthinking this. Sorry if it keeps you up at night. At Matchbox we reserve the right to call our vehicles whatever we want. We designed it so we get to choose the name even if folks aren’t happy with it. Sorry about that.

6. I'd rather see either of the two new Fiats, the Mini Clubman, a modern Corvette Stingray, a Koenig's Egg, a modern Ford Fiesta, a 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker, the new Dodge Dart or any number of another 20 or so vehicles before seeing some of the generic creations. I just miss the regular cars and more than that, I miss newer regular cars. I like the heritage cars we see from the '50s, '60s, '70s and even '80s in terms of the Toyota 4Runner, but the type of modern cars MBX is running out there right now are a 2007 GT500, a 2008 ZR1…...come on, MBX. Get back up to speed on some of the daily drivers, lower-end (i.e. semi-affordable in real life) sports cars and add a few eye-catching exotics. I appreciate where you're coming from, but I think that is the Matchbox brand of the past... A Skoda Octavia isn't a bad choice for an international police car. A quick image search shows it in liveries from Iceland, Switzerland, Holland, Portugal, Egypt, Israel, Hungary and, of course, the Czech Republic. It's also on sale in China and India so you just about justify liveries for there as well. Are you able to act on our suggestions?

Not at the moment. You have some good suggestions but we can only acquire a certain number of licensed vehicles each year. We have a limit. As the team has stated before, just because we want to do certain licensed vehicles does not mean we can. We have to get permission from licensors first. Sometimes they say no. Sometimes it can take a very, very long time to receive information about new vehicles which can delay development. Much effort is required to develop any vehicle especially licensed ones. Licensing is complex these days. Finally, there can often be language barriers. Obtaining international licenses can often be challenging because of translation issues. If you can find someone that can speak 16 different languages please let us know. Cheers.

Comments John Nijhuis: I worked in the Automotive business for over 25 years in over 35 different countries and or languages. You really think you need to speak 16 different languages or may you expect they talk English in International Business. Certainly in the Automotive Businees English is the common language. The language have never been a problem but professionalism is!

7. Did Matchbox base their model on an existing real vehicle? 

The Matchbox team always scours the world of vehicles for inspiration. We were influenced by many innovative vehicles when we created the MBX Coupe not just the Local Motors machine.

8. Is it possible to fit in your plans for 2015 Ford S-Max, any new Audi, Mini Countryman Dakar or Paceman, any Lamborghini, Mclaren, or Rolls Royce in your city adventure segment? Or how about the MG B Coupe, Ford Transit MK1, Fiat, Lancia and others would be good ....

Thanks for the suggestions.

9. Anyways, I got another question, one that the people at Matchbox are probably tired to hear, but I still have to ask... Are there any plans to bring the brand back to Brazil? Or rather, were there ever any attempts at bringing Matchbox back to Brazil, or it was settled that the brand would not be coming back once it was removed? It's unfortunate that the collecting landscape in Brazil probably wouldn't be able to support both Matchbox and Hot Wheels when only HW is a good seller among kids, but I've started seeing MBX playsets in stores recently and became curious.

For the moment Brazil appears to be Hot Wheels territory. Perhaps in the future this will change in terms of the availability of Matchbox vehicles.

There are no new images available to show this week. I hope to have more in my next report. The Matchbox team wanted to make a comment about the Torque Titan.
It appears that our collectors are giving our Torque Titan truck a bad rap thinking it is an over the top version of a big rig from our fertile imaginations. While it is over the top, it may surprise these folks to learn that it is actually inspired by real trucks that are used in oil fields today. Attached are images that inspired the team to create the Torque Titan. Love it or hate it, it does have real world relevance and it is over the top.  

As the miniature range expanded during the 1950s and sales were increasing at an amazing rate around the world, it was natural that some countries would request specific models. It was not usually Lesney’s policy to respond to such demands. New models were generally at Jack Odell’s discretion, although he sometimes listened to suggestions and France was a major market at this time.

As I have mentioned before, there was no committee or think tank, if Odell thought that the idea was a good one, the model would be made.

The Citroen DS19 followed the pattern of previous saloons in the range in that it consisted of a separate body and base which were attached to the wheels. There were no specific features at this time. All the models were painted yellow with earlier examples in a darker shade than later versions. The baseplates were painted gloss black whilst the silver trim to the headlights and bumpers were applied by spray machines.

Shortly before the Citroen was withdrawn from in October 1962, a few models were fitted with silver plastic wheels. This version is quite rare. A picture box of the Citroen must have been produced shortly before it was replaced as it is one of the rarest Matchbox boxes and has been known to fetch over £1000 at auction if in perfect condition and containing the silver wheeled car.

The 1959 range showed the Citroen DS for the first time.
The Citroen probably did not sell well and its deletion from the range after a period of just over three years confirms this. It was not until the Citroen SM was introduced in 1973 that another French car was to make its mark.
The body colour was different from any previous colour used and could best be described as metallic orange or bronze. The first issue was fitted with an orange interior but this unlikely combination was quickly changed when the interior was altered to cream.

In 1975 ten of the models in the range were given a more colourful treatment and termed Streakers.
 (This was before Erica Roe appeared at Twickenham!!). Previously decals or labels had been used to improve the decoration. These models were the first to benefit from a tampo printing process, whereby a rubber pad transferred ink from a plate directly on to the model.
The roof design included a Number 8 whilst the familiar Citroen chevrons adorned the bonnet. During the production of the Citroen Streaker it was found that the tampo printing could be blemished when the base was riveted to the body. To overcome this, the design on the boot was adapted to a V shape, usually referred to as a fish-tail. A few models were found without any tampo print.
Although the Citroen was replaced in 1978 by a Combine Harvester, it reappeared in TP-21 towing a trailer carrying three plastic motor-cycles. To avoid confusion with the new number 51, the model number was removed from the baseplate. The model continued to be painted in metallic blue but in a darker shade. It included a black plastic roof rack into which had been moulded two shovels and two tyres. This was not a new component.

It had been used in different colours as early as 1968 on the Ford Cortina Mk II and the Volkswagen 1600 TL. Interestingly, instead of tampo printing, Lesney reverted back to a bonnet label. The glue was not of the best quality and today it shows signs of weeping.
Matchbox Citroen
In 1984 the Citroen became one of the first five models produced under an annual licence in Bulgaria. It was produced in many different body and interior colours. In 1987 the mould was leased to Hungary under a similar agreement. Production was limited to a matter of months before all production was stopped, though not before a variety of body colours had been manufactured. A selection of Bulgarian and then Hungarian models are shown below.
Recently the 1968 Citroen DS was reintroduced into the range and two examples are shown here. This model certainly had an appeal in Europe.
Next week I will cover two unissued Citroens and two which did find their way into the line. Here are the 150 different Bulgarian Mark IV Cortinas with a close up of just a few.

March Report 28

  You have waited long enough. Today I can reveal the official 1-120 line for the US, thanks to the Matchbox team. Interestingly the ROW line is not yet available, presumably meaning that there will be differences, possibly in terms of model name. I will keep you informed. As explained before, some planned models had to be dropped or moved to next year.
This year some military 2 packs will be making their way into Walmart. These contain one Matchbox vehicle paired with a Military Sky Buster plane. The packs will not have exclusive deco’s but offer a different vehicle combo for those interested.

Your comments on the proposed line for 2014 will be most welcome. I include some responses from a typical collector which are intended to provoke further comment. At first sight, it is clear that there are 25 new models which will be numbered between 95 and 120 but only six of these will be licensed. The oldest castings will be MB222 Highway Maintenance Truck, first shown in the catalogue of 1991 and MB249 Chevy 1500 Pick-up. There is no reference to the Mega School Bus which was shown at The Gathering last July. One wonders whether this been dropped. There were not many collectors who found this bus to be appealing, but of course it was designed with children in mind. I am not sure what a Seed Shaker is but I am sure we will find out in good time.

Today Matchbox revealed the official 1-120 line for the US, thanks to the Matchbox team.
Interestingly the ROW line is not yet available, presumably meaning that there will be differences, possibly in terms of model name.

  • I think the biggest shock is the Dodge A100 Pick-Up and VW Karmann Ghia Type 34. Both of these were brand new castings in 2013 and both are extremely popular. The Dodge in particular is probably the most popular new casting of 2013.
  • The dropping of the Cadillac Ambulance is going to be a disappointment too.
  • I notice the GMC School Bus is dropped and perhaps the Mega School Bus was intended to replace it, but that is nowhere on the list so we have no school bus at all.
  • The 2013 Ford Explorer is another unusual deletion. Only debuting at the end of 2012, it had 2 outings in 2013 in the basic range and I wonder if they are giving it a year off to compensate.

    Of course the Matchbox team have to work under considerable restraints, not least in terms of budget and licensing, and you may find much that is pleasing in this year’s range. You may not be impressed by some of the model choices but we have to remind ourselves that at the current retail price these models are, in the main, produced for very young children and their preferences will vary from those of collectors. Your comments and suggestions will be passed on to the Matchbox team.
  • Following Models are existing castings:
    1. 947 Porsche 911 GT3
    2. 839 Urban Tow Truck
    3. 776 Street Cleaner
    4. 823 Aston Martin DBS Volante
    5. 812 68 Ford Mustang GT/CS
    6. 887 Two Story Bus
    7. 816 Porsche Panamera
    8. 889 Food Truck
    9. 807802 Caterham Superlight R500
    10. 850 Garbage Grinder >810 71 Pontiac Firebird
    11. 815 Cadillac CTS
    12. 886 Ground Grinder
    13. 834 Crop Master
    14. 840 Water Tanker
    15. 800 Road Roller
    16. 687 International CXT
    17. 786 57 GMC Stepside
    18. 3 Axle Dump Truck
    19. 745 Scraper
    20. 828 Pit King
    21. 704 Powerlift
    22. 882 All Terrain Crane
    23. 884 Dump Dozer
    24. 950 Tractor Plow
    25. 868865 Torque Titan
    26. 856 Load Lifter >852 Trail Tipper
    27. 703 Tractor
    28. 946 Ground Breaker
    29. 853 Sowing Machine
    30. 737 Quarry King
    31. 222 Highway Maintenance Truck
    32. 712 Desert Thunder V16
    33. 864 International Scout 4x4
    34. 861 Sand Shredder
    35. 805 Toyota 4Runner
    36. 892 BMW R-1200 GS Motorcycle
    37. 845 4x4 Scrambulance
    38. 249 Chevy K1500 Pick up
    39. 891 Deep Diver
    40. 899 Questor
    41. 842 Blizzard Buster
    42. 795 Cliff Hanger
    43. 767 Quick Sander
    44. 833 Terrain Trouncer
    45. 847 Frost Fighter
    46. 952 Hummer w/Ramp
    47. 825 Road Tripper
    48. 797 Baja Bullit
    49. 782 Sahara Survivor
    50. 832 Jeep Wrangler Superlift
    51. 781 Rock Shocker
    52. 764 Toyota FJ Cruiser
    53. 838 Land Rover Defender 110
    54. 863 Vantom
    55. 788 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
    56. 831 ATV 6x6
    57. 783 Jungle Crawler
    58. 748 MBX 4X4
    59. 819 Coyote 500
    60. 818 Dune Dog
    61. 723 VW Beetle 4x4
    62. 670 Jeep Hurricane
    63. 895 Road Raider
    64. 897 Blaze Buster
    65. 898 Whiplash
    66. 894 Turn Tamer
    67. 900 MBX Coupe
    68. 896 Range Rover Evoque
    69. 893 BMW M1
    70. 949 06 Fire Engine
    71. 935 BMW R-1200RT-P police Motorcycle
    72. 890 Amphi Flyer
    73. 771 Ford E-350 Super Duty Ambulance
    74. 858 56 Buick Century Police Car
    75. 843 Seagrave Fire Engine
    76. 824 SWAT Truck
    77. 755 Pierce Dash
    78. 885 Renault Master Ambulance
    79. 867 Lamborghini Gallardo Police car
    80. 817 Ford F-550 Superduty
    81. 855 Oshkosh M-ATV
    82. 933 Dodge Charger Pursuit
    83. 938 Ford F-350 Superlift Brush Truck
    84. 888 International MXT-MVA
    85. 821 Ford Police Interceptor
    86. 881 Blaze Blitzer
    87. 801 International WorkStar Brush Fire Truck
    88. 872 BMW X5(police)
    89. 510 Armored Recon Vehicle
    90. 866 Fire Smasher
    91. 751 Subaru Impreza WRX Police
    92. 784 43 Jeep Willys
    New Models
    1. 969 92 Ford Mustang Police car
    2. 902 Field Tripper
    3. 903 Land Rover LR4
    4. 904 Garbage Gulper
    5. 905 Alfa Romeo 4C
    6. 906 63 Mack Model B
    7. 907 Blockade Buster
    8. 908 Crime Crusher
    9. 909 Rapids Rescue
    10. 910 Sahara Sweeper
    11. 911 Toyota Tacoma Lifeguard
    12. 912 Trail Tracker
    13. 913 Mound Mover
    14. 914 Ground Grabber
    15. 915 Seed Shaker
    16. 916 Dirt Smasher
    17. Mini Dozer
    18. 918 Drill Digger
    19. 919 Acre Maker
    20. 920 Ford F-350 Stake Bed
    21. 921 Terrainiac
    22. 922 Snow Ripper
    23. 923 Travel Tracker
    24. 924 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500
    25. 925 Rumble Raider
    26. 120 926 Sea Spy
    The five recolours were to have been these five models but as the #97 Land Rover LR4 has been postponed until 2015, another model will be selected from the standard line in due course. This will also apply to the #70 Evoque.
    1. International Scout 4x4
    2. Blockade Buster
    3. Travel Tracker
    4. Crime Crusher
    5. Land Rover LR4
    Note: Vehicle selections are subject to change at will by the Mattel Matchbox Team. The

    Workstar Brush Truck is now being dispatched by Amazon. Mattel has responded to concerns regarding availability as follows: I am also hearing that our special 6oth Anniversary International Workstar Brush Truck in now available for delivery from Amazon. We do encourage folks from the UK and other countries across the pond to reach out to US collectors to get them in lieu of shipping issues that are occurring with Amazon.
    Note John Nijhuis: And of course that is much cheaper then sending a couple of boxes to several European Countries.....and what about Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa ? Are they the lost Continents?

    1. What is happening with Walmart? Many stores seem to be discounting all Matchbox items. Is this Walmart dropping the brand, reducing the amount of stores taking them, or simply getting rid of stock to bring in new Matchbox items?

    Walmart has been restructuring their die cast brands in some stores.

    2. What is happening with the number of vans in the range? A few years ago there was talk of increasing the amount available due to the large area for tampo design on the sides. Yet recently they appear to have vanished. Models like the Ford Transit, VW Caddy, Ford Panel Van, 1956 Ford F-100 Panel Truck and 1965 Austin Mini Van. The only one that appears to be continuing is the Delivery Van. Please can we have more vans? This will depend on the segment themes we have chosen for 2014.

    Since we add new tools each year, some tools will drop out to make way for them. We also have issues with the weight of some of these vehicles. Note however that the 65 Austin Mini Van will reappear in the “City works” 5 pack this year.

    3. Talking of Ford Transit, it has been a staple of the range since 1976. Has any thought been given to including the latest generation full size Transit? Ford will soon introduce the redesigned Ford Transit (full size van) and the Ford Transit connect .

    Hot Wheels showed their custom version of the Transit connect at the SEMA show last year. Matchbox won’t pursue either model at the moment.

    4. There was talk in a previous q&a about Swedish cars. Has any thought been given about retooling the Volvo XC90 into an emergency vehicle? It would simply be an alteration to the roof to incorporate a light bar, and then you could re-issue it as ambulances, fire vehicles or police vehicles - vehicles that will all easily fit in with the current categories.

    This is a good suggestion. Thanks.

    5. Are there any plans to work with Superlift again? We had the Ford F-350 Superduty and Jeep Wrangler. Could we see any more collaboration in the future?

    It’s possible.

    6. The news that the Range Rover Evoque is hopefully on course for a release next year, will the model still be classified as a 2013 model when it does finally surface, or will it simply be released under its 2015 number? We would like to know so we can either keep the 2013 list open until it reaches stores or close it after the BMW bike hits stores.

    The Range Rover Evoque will carry over into 2015 but as a 2014 model due the very late introduction.

    7. Have you ever seen the TV series "Last Man Standing"? It is a Tim Allen comedy on ABC Friday nights. Quite often you see various Matchbox models laying around on the series. He drives an early 1950s pick up. I think it would be great if you could make a version of the GMC Pick up similar to his green one.

    We have had a similar request regarding a Canadian TV series with the same model. We probably would not tie into a direct replica of either one as there could be licensing issues.

    8. Do you know how many models in the 5-packs are exclusive? As pictures come out, it appears that some packs have barely anything exclusive in them.

    For this year 36 models will be exclusive. 24 will be from mainline.

    9. Will the Garbage Grinder be seen again? I loved that mould and it would be great in a National Parks livery. l hope we see it again.

    Yes the Garbage Grinder will appear again this year in mainline.

    10. Thank you for doing lime green fire apparatus. While not as popular as that other color in the States it is still used by many departments. Do you have further plans to use this colour on emergency vehicles?

    This has not been determined yet but we are glad to hear that you liked this color choice.

    11. British and EU emergency vehicles are using a fluorescent lime and red (fire) blue (police) and green (ambulance) checkerboard. Could the Matchbox designers ensure that the colour match is more accurate as these colours have changed?

    We will do our best to create authentic colors when we can. This does requires research that we find on the net and certain colors must be approved by our licensors when using licensed vehicles.

    12. We would love some campus police cars. It's Xavier from Barcelona, Spain (the MATCHBOX administrator of the Spanish uno64 forum). I still intend to send you questions from the Spanish collectors... it has been a hell of a time at work with many threatening deadlines, and I've been unable to sit down calmly to try to do a proper translation of the collectors' questions, worries and frustration. And that's one of the things that makes the task a bit more complicated: almost all the comments I'm collecting are full of bitterness, frustration and desperation as it is IMPOSSIBLE to get *fresh* Matchbox product in Spain. I'll try to send you the input this week, and filter a bit the bitterness (and some proper language) from some of them. But I'm contacting you because of a finding I made today which only confirms the frustration of us Spanish collectors w.r.t. Mattel and the way they handle (destroy, swipe) the Matchbox brand in Spain.

    We welcome any questions that you may have from your home country of Spain.

    There are six new images available to show this week. First is a new tool for 2014 and called Mini Dozer. It will be the smallest dozer produced under the Mattel banner. It does have a shovel that can be raised and yes it only has one arm.
    The Deep Diver which will be used in both the singles mainline and in a 5 pack for this year nad the next three models will appear in the 1-120 line.
    Lastly a new decoration for the Freeway Flyer (flying car) in the Sky Busters range has been revealed.

    The first Matchbox Ford Cortina, a Mark II, was issued in the regular wheel series as MB254 in 1968 and continued into the Superfast era.
    Though deleted from the range in 1972, it was revived in 1986 in Bulgaria in a range of colours. The Mark IV Cortina was first shown as a new model in the 1979/80 pocket catalogue. Both models were fitted with opening doors.
    Pre-production models of the Mark IV Cortina come in a range of colours, for a different colour may be in use in the paint shop at any one time and in the early stages colour was not important. These colour pre-production models were used to check for minor errors in production. As the development of the model proceeds the castings may reveal slight alterations. The very first casting, which was possibly assembled in the toolroom, used the first shots from the moulds and was painted light blue with a beige interior and amber windows.
    The unpainted base did not have an MB number, year of manufacture or the dots on either side of the base. At this stage the doors were loose.
    The next stage, which led to the first colour trial run, still did not show a model number. The reason for this was simple. If a production problem occurred there could be a considerable delay before a model went into production and there might be a need for a replacement in the range.
    Sometimes, a problem developed very late in the production process and there are examples of pre-production models with the wrong base number for example the 57 Carmichael with 45 base, 54 Mobile Home with 52 on base, 38 Camper Van with 35 and 17 London Bus with 50.One colour trial model was painted red with a yellow interior and amber windows and a black base.

    Another example, as shown, was painted white with a black, red or yellow interior and an unpainted base. By now the base number had been added to the base casting. When models with opening parts were manufactured, these parts had to be given a strength test. Close examination of the white model shown shows the driver’s door missing. It had been pulled off in the strength test and was despatched to the waste bin for recycling. Some colour trial Cortinas were painted in the military green colour used on a number of range models at the time. Once the body colour had been agreed, in this case metallic lime green, discussion followed regarding the interior colour.

    Following the colour trial models a final pre-production run of approximately 5000 models were produced which had to be of a quality good enough to be put on sale. Usually these are then destroyed and sometimes a very small number are released. (The yellow MB 8 Rover was an example of this).
    In this case the pre-production models were released for sale but the only difference between these and the normal issue models is that the early models had no patent number. All subsequent variations, with the exception of the Chinese model, featured a patent number.

    The first colour change came with a bright metallic lime green colour which appears to be limited to the USA releases.
    The first worldwide colour change featured a metallic red body with a creamy yellow interior.

    A metallic brown version followed with a creamy yellow interior which soon gave way to a white interior.

    Though the model was replaced as a single in 1983.

    It continued as a component of the Twin Pack range with a plain red body with the doors fixed shut.At this time Matchbox were selling their Streak Racing sets where the models in the pack featured luminous windows which glowed in the dark.

    Perhaps the most interesting of the red Cortinas were those found with light brown interiors and those with black bases.

    The final Cortina was only available in mainland China. Apprentices for the Shanghai factory learnt their trade on three models, one of which was a red Mark IV with tan and white flame tampo on the bonnet and roof. The base was painted metallic silver and was not cast with a patent number. The model was sold in a special blister pack.

    February Report 27

    In my haste to show the new Mustang I inadvertently featured a Foxbody Mustang from 1986. Thank to Nic, I can show the correct Mustang from 1993 in the form of a Ford Mustang Foxbody Special Service Package. There have already been several requests that the livery is as accurate as possible and there has hardly been a dissenting voice regarding the surprise introduction of this US Police Car. It would be a great idea if a Police Car, modern or classic, could also be included in the range from a country outside of the US.
    I am pleased that the International Brush Fire Truck will be generally available in the US. I cannot think of even one promotional that was available world-wide. I have many Matchbox promotionals from around the world and part of the fun has been in the chase to find something not issued in the home country. This has often led to long-term collecting friendships where we help each other. I certainly would not have many of my most treasured models without the help of a collector overseas. Now that the model will be available for a fraction of what was being asked on auction sites, perhaps we should not complain but seek out an accommodating US collector – there are hundreds out there! >Several of you asked for further information regarding the Guildsman. Chris Pryor has found a link to the original designer and further interesting information. ht

    To quote just a small section from the original designer, Phil Gannon:

    I have just come across your letter by chance. I can give you all the details relating to the Vauxhall Guildsman model as I was the designer and modeller of the original way back in the 1968/69 competition year! I still have the original model, sketch plans and Vauxhall information.

    I was placed third in the competition. The competition ran from 1965 to 1970, I entered three times being successful in year one in the top twenty five, year two 4th place and finally year three 3rd.

    Lesneys (Matchbox) approached Vauxhall to produce a model from one of the thousands of designs submitted over the five year period, mine being the only one selected!

    All entrants were given a number and all rights for publicity were given to Vauxhall Motors as part of the competition, however, two years after the competition I was awarded a further £ 25 for the model being produced. Out of interest the second and fourth place winners went on to work for Jaguar Cars and Land Rover design depts.
    Should anyone be interested in further information relating to the model, competition or details of the original model, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Phil. Gannon


    1. The Princeton, WV Rescue Squad version shown on the Kimtek website I've actually seen in person. In fact, that's the main reason I was excited when I first saw the prototype version of the Matchbox one. Maybe Matchbox will consider a Princeton Rescue Squad version of this model in the future.

    This is something to consider. Thanks for the suggestion.

    2. We do already know that Matchbox won't be doing any Mercedes models until something changes in the licensing agreement between the two companies, so the Sprinter can't happen any time soon. But I do like the idea of a Chevy Express or the now-deceased Dodge Ram full-size van. I think it's high time that Matchbox had a minivan in the line-up, simply based on the number of kids that ride around in them...I think they'd be pretty excited to have a toy version of their family car. As far as minivans go, though, I think I'd vote for the Honda Odyssey. What does the Matchbox team think?

    These are good suggestions. We do have challenges regarding their size and weight but we will take your suggestions into consideration.

    3. I'd like to know if we're going to see anymore classic American Muscle cars from the 60's and 70's, like the 71 Firebird or the Mustang CS. I know Muscle Cars are more up Hot Wheels' alley, but, in my opinion, Matchbox's take on the 71 Firebird was much better than Hot Wheels' "custom" version, for example. From the stance, to the proportions, to the overall body shape, there's something about Matchbox's 'Bird that just feels right and I can't quite put my finger on it, but I do know I'd love to see more American cars getting the same treatment. My personal suggestion would be the 1973/1974 Chevrolet Nova, which, despite similar to the 1968/1972 models, has yet to be done in small scale. Is there a place for it in Matchbox's line-up, with the Firebird and Mustang?

    Never say never when it comes to Muscle cars. There is always a place for them in the City Adventure segment. We are doing Mustang LX SSP this year although it's a police version. We have not abandoned Muscle cars but need to be prudent about where they fit in the line.

    4. I think the already too-large wildfires around the world are going to become more common in the news, perhaps as soon as this summer, and I think the public's response to a Forest/Park Service themed fire five pack will be positive (perhaps frustrating me when I can't find them....). That said, I wonder if Matchbox will ever produce a European forest fire truck....Unimogs are commonly used as are other marques. While I'm on a roll, (we fire guys often call a fire response a "roll"), my best-case scenario has Matchbox making some Australian forest fire trucks too...there are some very interesting vehicles in use "down under", from all around the Australasian region. An "international forest fire" themed multipack would be a "hot" item in my book. (Puns intended....) (I'll keep dreaming about those, as the practicality of the idea is a bit far-fetched.) Would you consider making some regional fire vehicles? Your suggestions are not farfetched.

    We are always looking around the world to see what new vehicles will work in our Heroic Rescue segment. You have some good suggestions.

    5. When will you be able to provide the complete list for 2014 releases?

    We hope to post this later this month. Revisions are always happening. We want to post a list that is the most final. The paint is not dry yet as they say.

    6. Do you have any news on the Premier series planned for 2014 – just a clue would help?

    Note that there is no “Premier” series for this year.

    7. As the Acre Maker has received so many favourable comments and it has a tow hook, are you planning to release some trailers, either in the range or as parts of a set?

    No plans for new trailers at the moment. We did want to make it compatible with our current farm trailer however.

    8. A few years back Matchbox had a wonderful idea and recolored the whole range gold. It was known as the Gold Challenge. Could we have another one of these, please? It would stimulate sales and should be easy for you to do as there was no decoration on any model – just plain gold.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    There are no new images available to show this week. I hope to have more in my next report.

    In the 1960s most Matchbox models were replicas of vehicles that could be seen on the streets. The1970s saw a change in direction, not only to feature unrealistic cars in flamboyant colours, but also to copy the most exotic and expensive cars often including concept cars in the range that would never see the action outside of the motor show stand.

    The full size Maserati Bora was first introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971 during an era that spawned a myriad of mid-engined sports cars such as the Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari Boxster and BMW M1. The Bora dates back to the days when Maserati was owned by Citroen and although it was an Italian, Alfieri, who designed the real car, a number of French idiosyncrasies were included in the design. Citroen's high pressure hydraulic system not only meant no-travel braking but also was the source to raise and lower the headlights, tilt the front seat and move the pedals forwards and backwards. The seat was rigidly fixed to the bulkhead and so the pedals, steering column and seat squab had to move to accommodate different sized drivers. The Maserati Bora could be yours in 1972 for just £9832, which included air conditioning and electric windows and a speedo showing an optimistic 200 mph – its top speed was just 175 mph. Only 500 were made of which only 20 were right hand drive and so Matchbox decided to model the left hand drive version.

    Matchbox Maserati Bora The new models for the 1973 Matchbox range did not include one commonplace vehicle. Most were figments of a designer's imagination striving to copy the Hot Wheels range. No wonder collectors of the time, who had been used to the traditional releases of everyday vehicles, complained bitterly.
    There were 19 new models including five cars that most children would never glimpse in their lifetime. The Monterverdi Hai, Lamborghini Countach, Datsun 126X, Saab Sonnet III and Maserati Bora were certainly not everyday cars that fathers would drive to work.
    The Maserati was released in early 1973 painted in metallic burgundy with a yellow interior, opening doors and a No 8 label on the bonnet. The very first issues had an unpainted base but it was quickly decided to paint the base green
     as the front grille and rear bumper and exhausts were visible and it was felt that green would be more attractive than bare metal. The green paint tended to be dark in shade but light and metallic green paint was used on occasion. The variations not painted dark green are rare.
    The miniature range contains hundreds of models that received at least one colour change during its period of issue, sometimes to lift flagging sales and to stimulate further interest. The Bora must have been a good seller as it was not replaced until 1978 and during that time it remained in metallic burgundy.
    However, it popped up in the 1979 catalogue towing a massive Caravan so the interior had been adapted to include a very unlikely tow hook. There was a change in livery to plain gold and the base was painted silver grey. This colour scheme did not last long and so prices tend to reflect this.  
      The mould was used again, albeit in a simplified form in 1985 as a model in a budget priced range called Super GTs. These models first produced in England and then in China, all had plastic bases, no opening parts and blacked out windows to avoid the fitting of interiors and thus reduce cost. They were painted in a variety of colours including yellow, shades of blue, beige and fluorescent green.
    Collectors thus have an interesting choice. The cheapest example will include the whole Super GT range that may still be purchased at swapmeets or on auction sites for not much more than a few pounds, though they are getting harder to find.
      There are 15 known variations to look out for. The standard issue Bora in metallic burgundy has 11 known variations, mainly relating to wheels and base shades.  

    A standard model should cost no more than £5 and you may be lucky and pick up a rarer base colour. A mint boxed example may cost a little more from a dealer at around £10.
    The gold Bora may well cost you more with a mint example in a pristine TP-4 blister pack, often changing hands around £80.

    In 1981 the Bora was reissued when, for the first time, the standard Superfast range was split into two parts to suit the USA and Rest of the World markets. Demand for Hot Rod models had declined outside of America and so more realistic models featured in the Rest of the World range.
      However, sixteen reissues of obsolete Hot Rod models were released across the Atlantic with new names and numbers. The Bora was now called Sunburner, emblazoned across the roof, and took the number 37. It was painted black with yellow and red flames decorating bonnet and doors.  A red interior and tow hook was fitted and this was one of only a few models that were made in Hong Kong. It was also manufactured in England and Macau.
    Tampo printing on some of these models was more of a green than yellow flames. Though not that easy to find outside of America, it is not a rare model and may be found for only a few pounds. The white model is a pre-production for the Sunburner when colours were being considered. 
  • A replica of Mayflower sailed to America in May 1957, three hundred years after the original boat set sail, with Matchbox models on board – quoted in Games and Toys from May 1957.

    In the spring of 1966 a Matchbox Collectors Club Official Quarterly Newsletter was published for the first time. The first issue of Volume 4 in April 1969 described the 1958 issues and quoted:

    Also at this time Lesney brought out the first military vehicles which appeared in the line until 1967, when the last vehicle, No. 67 Saladin Armoured Car, was retired. Some of the very avid collecting fans have reported finding as many as nine different shades on a particular model.

  • The militaries have remained excellent collector's items, especially the No. 55 DUKW Amphibian.  
      Comment: I have never seen or heard of these shade variations and I thought that the olive green paint used remained exceptionally constant throughout the time military models were issued. The DUKW was probably the worst seller of the military models as it was out of scale with the other models. However, the picture box associated with this model is very rare. The image of the 1966 range still shows two military models which had first joined the range in 1958.
  • The first Bedford Crane Truck, 13a, was too large to fit into the standard size boxes Lesney had ordered. All models then were limited by the size of the box. Jack Odell had to grind 1/8” from the die blocks to make it fit. Later the Aston Martin, 53a, was too big for the box because of a mistake by a draughtsman with a pantograph, but it was decided on this occasion to alter the size of the box to accommodate the model. The size of this model caused a review of the range in terms of size and many models were then up-rated or replaced. Jack Odell had one of these real Astons that was painted yellow. He later had it repainted red to avoid being mistaken for another owner of a yellow car, who frequented some of the gentlemen's clubs in central London!!!
  • In 1976 the Toe Joe, 74c, was released in the Two Pack range. The rarest variation is the red-bodied version. I found 24 of these models with red arms at 80p each in Hereford Covered Market. I sold them for £1 each including postage to collectors from around the world. This model now fetches upward of £200. A batch of red bodied models with green arms appeared plentiful for a considerable time in JFK Airport shop in New York.
  • When the first cars joined the 1-75 range, there were sufficient women who lived locally to accept a large biscuit tin containing 72 toys in order to decorate the grilles and radiators. When the company moved from Barrett's Grove to Eastway, there was no local labour force on the industrial estate and so Odell designed mask-spraying machines and a metal cap was fitted to ensure only the requisite area was sprayed.
  • The Queen and Prince Philip visited the Matchbox factory on Wednesday, November 12th 1969 between 3 and 4.30pm. To quote from the official newsletter:

    A surprise awaited them in the Matchbox reception room where a Matchbox Motorway was made up in a nice little scenic form.

    The Queen and Duke were so excited with it, Mr Smith and Mr Odell gave it to them.

    In the corner of the room was a very exclusive visitor's book. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were the first ones to sign their names and doesn't it make you feel good that she and the Duke are proud owners of the Matchbox Motorway?

  • Are you sure you know the colours of all of your models? To check, see if you agree with this list published by Matchbox of the new models for 1971:
    • 8 Wildcat Dragster      Ontario Orange
    • 19 Road Dragster        Lime Rock Red
    • 29 Racing Mini            Oval Track Orange
    • 30 Beach Buggy          Grand Prix Gold & Violet
    • 34 Formula 1              Racer Pikes Peak Purple
    • 36 Hot Rod Draguar     Riverside Red
    • 52 D52 Dodge Charger Le Mans Magenta
    • 54 Ford Capri             Talladega Tangerine
    • 62 Rat Rod Dragster    Langhorne Lime
  • Complaints from collectors to the Matchbox team are not new. This is part of a letter bemoaning the arrival of futuristic models which claimed:

    It seems as though Lesney are falling back into the toy making business to compete with other companies. Many of the Mod type Superfast vehicles are figments of someone's imagination. I doubt seriously if a number of them would be roadworthy. The MB11 Flying Bug is an insult to Germany and the Volkswagen industry. The Big Banger, MB26, is so nose heavy that it would topple over at a sudden stop. What about the poor driver's visibility? Whoever heard of a Superfast Fork Lift Truck? I guess, however, once you become a Matchbox addict, it's hard to kick the habit. I just pray the Models of Yesteryear do not go Superfast.

    By 1982, most of the futuristic models had been deleted from the range.


    Nigel Cooper's Ambassador Reports Archive
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