Machbox Monday looks at the first batch of 2023 5-packs
I know that I still have quite a lot of 2022 content still to explore, but this week I am going to crack on with my first 2023 Matchbox products. This is the first batch of 5-packs, which hit recently. They launched the 2023 series of packs in style by giving us 3 different packs. As I write, another batch of 4 packs, and a single pack have also arrived. I think I might be needing to include these in bulk over the course of the year too. They are showcasing some amazing models in them. And for a little fun, I am scoring each of the models in the packs, and seeing how each pack stacks up overall.
Matchbox 5-packs have been unnumbered for many years now. I miss the old days of numbering them. In the late '00s and early '10s, we saw a number assigned to each pack of the year, so we knew whether we were missing any. Still, I digress. As there is no order, I am simply going in alphabetical order for these 3. So that means Autobahn Express IV is up first. For each pack, I will go top to bottom.
Which means I start with a classic. The MB363 '62 VW Beetle. I cannot believe that this model debuted back in 1999, and this is the first time they have ever given it the Polizei treatment.
Beetles were used as police cars back in the day. Not just in Germany, but in many other countries around the world. It's about time Matchbox made a model of one.
Sure, it doesn't sport a light on the roof. I think the image I used of a real one had an aftermarket horn on the side. But this is such an iconic look, and I am so thankful to finally see one added to the Matchbox ranks. It only took 24 years! This is the highlight of the batch. My job is done. Blog over! Oh wait, there were others. I suppose I should look at them too. But honestly, even without a light, I am giving this 10 out of 10. I love this one. It is shot to the upper echelons of my VW Beetle collection. I checked. This is my 73rd! Yes, I have 73 different Matchbox MB363 VW Beetles in my collection. And yes, that is way too much to do a dive back on. I still have 14 models to go through.
So here's the 2021 basic range release of the MB1200 '76 VW Golf Mk1 GTi instead. Well, the Golf was supposed to replace the Beetle at the time, but sales did not drop off significantly, so VW kept the Beetle going a little longer. 1978 production in Germany, and Mexican production was still shipped to Europe until 1985. The last Mexican model, made on July 30th 2003, was shipped to the VW Museum in Germany, where it still sits.
This is setting a precedent. In 2023, a new Karmann Ghia is due to arrive. Guess what I will be waiting for? Oh yes!
If you read last week's report, you might have seen my spoiler alert. I just showcased the 2022 basic range release of the MB1173 '69 BMW 2002 in red. So, it is silly to run through them all again. I will just talk about the new one. This is a beauty. It is an official BMW colour choice. They refer to is as fjord blue. And it was a genuine choice on the 2002. So props to Matchbox for another winning choice.
It is absolutely stunning, with simple front and rear tampo prints. This has been a recurring theme with the core issues of this model, and they cannot go wrong with that. I love it. 10 out of 10. Yes, again. This is one of my favourites of the BMW casting to date.
I am just repeating last week's photo again. I didn't feel the need to take another. I love this model. And I love these consistent releases.
The middle model in this pack is the MB1242 '20 Audi TTRS. Or is it a '19 Audi? I don't know. They changed the year on the base after the debut release. I mark them all down as 2020s, even though technically only 1 was. This looks really cool in black. But then, most vehicles do.
I wish I knew why they don't add in a licence plate of some sort with it. It would really help. But each release continues with a large blank area on the rear. Which is a shame, as I feel that lets the model down. Because the rest of it is fantastic! The front end detailing, and the lights/badge on the rear, just pop. The darker wheels look great here as well. They really put in a lot of effort. Had it had the rear plate, I would have given it another 10. But I am being cruel. 9 out of 10. Maybe 9.5. It does look really nice.
It's about time I did a dive back. More to show the base. So, 2021 debut. MB16 in blue. Or Turbo Blue, as Audi call it.
Marked down as a 2020 Audi. But, at the request of Audi, they changed the base after that blue one to state it is a 2019 Audi. Is it purely down to the fact that 2019 and 2020 are the same, and Audi wanted the start of the look, rather than the following year? I don't know. But they request a change, Matchbox make a change.
The 2022 release was MB49 in red. Or as Audi call it, Tango Red.
And Germany had a Best of Germany release in metallic orange too. Or as Audi call it, Sunrise Orange.
And now we get a black one. Audi call it Mythos black. Turbo Blue, Tango Red, Sunrise Orange and Mythos Black. That is quite a stunning array of looks. There has to be a Vegas Yellow on the cards, surely!
I do love consistency. But, ever since this debuted, I have remarked how that rear licence plate lets it down. It is literally the only change I would make. Add a plate.
You know, like this. The MB1205 '16 Alfa Romeo Giulia makes its multipack debut in this pack. And, although this pack name has a rather German sounding name, I like that they are using European vehicles for it, not just German. Each release to date of this model had been on its own. It is the first time it has been surrounded by others. It comes in a lovely metallic gold, which Alfa Romeo refer to as Ocra. Again, this model sports a simple front and rear print (along with a tasteful licence plate detail).
After red(s), white and blue, as well as a charcoal Collectors release, I think this is the brightest, and coolest colour choice so far. Son of a... I am giving this another 10 out of 10, aren't I. Is this pack cool, or is it uber-cool?
Okay, I mentioned the other colours. I am doing another dive back. The model actually arrived as a promotional release twice before its official debut. A Competizione Red looking 2020 Toy Fair model in late 2019.
Plus, another Competizione Red release in the way of a Mattel Christmas Dinner special in 2019.
Although the 2020 basic range release of the MB12 in Alfa Red did appear in late 2019 as part of the first batch.
2021 saw it move to the MB47 slot in Trofeo White. I did see a shade variation to that.
2021 also saw a Collectors release in Vesuvio Grey.
And a Best of Italy carry forward of the debut release as well. It was a slightly different shade to the 2020 debut, so I kept it.
And 2022 saw it move to the MB26 slot in the basic range in Montecarlo Blue.
All 4 core issues of this model have been so consistent, and I love that this continues with the 5-pack release.
All 4 have Giulia on the rear licence plate. Fantastic!
The final model in this set is a carry forward. No it's not. Cast your mind back to 2019. A Bentley Continental GT was going to take the MB99 slot in the basic range. Sadly, it got dropped, and the Matchbox guys tried to hurry up a replacement, with a second version of the MB1169 '80 Mercedes-Benz W123 Wagon. They showed a sneak peek of it in their Instagram feed in late 2019 in metallic chocolate brown with a light tan interior. Sadly, things transpired against them, and they were unable to get it going, leaving us with a blank for the MB99 slot. These things happen. When you think of just how many licences and deals they have to make with so many licensors to create these, I am amazed at just how they are able to achieve things. In the old days, Matchbox would just make a model. Now, each model, in each livery, has to be sent to the licensor for approval. Add a licenced logo to a model, and these have to go to both for approval. It is a big and time-consuming task. Something we often don't think about. We just see the end result. Occasionally, something has to give way. But, that does not mean it is gone for good. They managed to release that planned metallic chocolate brown Merc in the end.
I believe Mercedes-Benz referred to this as Manganese Brown Metallic at the time. I think it looks absolutely fantastic, and I love chocolate. In fact, as I write this, I want to go and eat some chocolate now. It is a terrific model. Another home run. Yeah, I am giving it a 10 out of 10. So, is that 4x 10 out of 10s, and 1x 9.5 out of 10? A 5-pack that I have rated 49.5 out of 50. Wow! That is a huge act to follow. Have I already found the pack of the year?
So I move on to pack number 2 of the batch. Blue Highways III. I am quite enjoying this whole Roman Numeral system for packs with names that had been used recently. Does it make up for not numbering the packs themselves? Not quite. But it is cool.
This one starts off with the MB1186 Polaris Slingshot. This is another vehicle that sees its first time in mulitpacks (in an exclusive look, as I think it was in a 9-pack a while ago). Officially, all releases until now had been in the basic range. I have to admit, I am not a massive fan of this casting. The Slingshot is a rather unusual vehicle. Depending on where you are, it is either a 3-wheel motorcycle, or it is an autocycle. It is unique, granted. And I love seeing Matchbox think outside the box at times. But, it just never gelled with me. I much prefer the Polaris RZR. I would not be averse to seeing them attempt a 4-door Polaris Ranger SP-570, along with a tow hook on the rear, so that it can tow trailers. Yes, I am thinking Hitch & Haul ideas with it.
When it comes to the look of this particular one. I have to give it to them. It is very good. Polaris does make a lot of stripey designs for the Slingshot. This is extremely realistic. Although I do wonder if putting black stripes on such a dark blue model really work. It appears to be fairly real. The Slingshot SL has a similar combination in real life. But that is because it is a blue paint job combined with a black section of carbon fibre. However, the blue is a lighter hue, so the black stands out more. Matchbox were replicating the carbon fibre section, but I think they should have gone with a lighter shade of blue too. Just to make it stand out better. So far that, I am marking this down. I am giving it a 7 out of 10.
I was surprised to get some from Wheel Collectors as well. I had to check. I discovered that the batch sold in the UK (dated R42) had a little difference to the one that Wheel Collectors sent over (dated R43). Theirs was a much darker shade of blue. Considering how dark it was anyway, it went darker!
This is the first time that the same livery has been used twice. It appeared on the debut 2019 MB66 in red. But you can see how the black pops much better on a mid-shade of red.
The 2020 MB57 was also blue, but this was a bright sky blue. I liked this particular colour combination the best out of all the releases.
In 2021, it was MB90 in a matte black with red stripey design. I liked the fact they painted the wheels red, but again, I was not overly keen on this one.
Which leads us to the 2022 MB90. Yes, it was MB90 2 years in a row. This was a bright yellow with black design. Neon Lime (as Polaris call it) is an official look, but the design on the top was something that Matchbox made up (as far as I can tell). To me, the new one should have been a lighter blue to make the black stand out better, or perhaps they should have tampo printed in white. Just for a change. Or in orange. As we have already seen, orange works with blue well. On a colour chart, it is the opposite. And opposites usually go together.
With 5 releases of this casting, something needed to be bottom. And, this is it. Or is it the black? Sky blue is top, followed by yellow and red, with these 2 vying for 4th. I will get back to you.
The MB260 Dodge Viper RT-10 is on a new lease of life, isn't it. Originally appearing back in 1994, it was a cool current casting when it first appeared. Now it is a cool classic casting. And since the recent revamp, has stepped up its game. This release is in a dark grey with a stripe over the top and the Viper logo. Ooh, this is cool!
A very simple design, but that is all it needed. I was contemplating whether the black against grey was perhaps too dark again. But I think the shade of grey is light enough for it to still stand out. It works better than the Polaris. But perhaps a shade lighter could have been beneficial to the model. For that, I am giving it a 9.5 out of 10. Had I designed it, the grey would be a lighter grey. But I love that stripe. I want to see them use it again on future releases.
I didn't do a dive back as I did one recently, and I have not here either. The M864 '74 International Scout 4x4 is a long-running edition to the Matchbox ranks, and marks its second outing in a 5-pack. Spoiler alert: 5-pack issue 1 returns for another go later in 2023. This is a simple medium blue with a black side stipe, and the International logo as well as a Matchbox World Tour style logo for the Pacific Northwest. This is keeping in the recurring Matchbox World Tour theme that was recently started.
I have to admit, this is one of the nicest designs I have seen on this one. The blue pops, and I love the side stripe. I am giving this a 9.5 out of 10 too. I am still waiting for Matchbox to come up with a traditional Scout. Specifically, I would love to see them create a standard final year model. The 1980 Scout with proper roof and regular wheels. It had a unique grille, and they come with side stripes that look quite a bit like this one. I would love many of those.
This is disappointing. The MB1012 Mazda MX5/Miata returns in its debut red look.
I have not long previewed this carry forward issue. It was included in the Japan Origins series at Walmart in the USA, as well as select other markets.
I was perfectly fine with seeing the model as a carry forward. I know some don't like them at all. But for me, I like to see if there are variations, and when this turned up in Japan Origins, I could see a few differences between it and the 2016 MB3 debut run. But this is literally just a few months later, and it is being run again as a 5-pack issue. If they had done a carry forward again here, why not another of the Mazda's previous issues? Okay, grey might have been too close to the Viper. Blue might have been too close to the Scout. But how about metallic orange? I just feel that this is another case of using the same carry forward too much. I am sad about this one. Furthermore, I score it 0 out of 10. Yep, harsh! Not for being a carry forward, but being the same carry forward that was literally just used!
I go from a low to a high. I love this one! Stripes! Having retooled the MB302 '69 Chevy Camaro SS396 Convertible, it appears they are giving it a good run. I only recently showcased the debut of the retooled casting, as it was in the final Retro batch of 2022. Almost immediately, we have a second release in a lovely brown with dual white stripes. Freaking awesome!
To me, this is an easy 10 out of 10. Definitely the model of the pack, and close to the VW Beetle for model of the whole batch. A home run.
So we now have 2 of this updated casting. It has returned with a vengeance! I can't wait to see more of this one (and the hardtop). I love Camaros! I am still waiting on the MB336 '71 to return. Now, pack 1 I ended up with a 49.5 out of 50. This pack scores a 36. Not as high. The Mazda really let it down. That gave it a big hit.
This brings me to the last pack of the trio. For some reason, this is the only one that is being packaged up in this new insert piece. A compostable section rather than the plastic for the other packs. I don't know why they are not switching them all to it. It makes sense to me.
This is the MBX Electric Drivers set. That means each of the 5 models included is an electric vehicle. As we have seen, Matchbox is really starting to embrace the current electric revolution, and with a slew of new electric castings, they now have quite an assortment to include in this type of pack.
And it begins with one of my favourite new castings of 2022, which arrives for 2023 in burnt orange. The MB1303 '21 Ford Mustang Mach-E. Ford calls this Cyber Orange. A very real colour, and this really pops. It is the brightest colour in the range for the Mach-E. It beats the "Grabber Blue" look. And Matchbox have nailed this. The simple front and rear detailing.
I love this! Another 10 out of 10. Easy home run. We are getting some incredible models in this batch. Now you see why I was determined to showcase them. I might have to showcase the next batch as well.
Again, I noticed a difference in the pack that Wheel Collectors sent over. Only a week or so later in production, but this orange is already starting to shade!
Of course, there is very little history to this. 2022 Batch F debut. That was in Rapid Red. I hope we are going to be seeing another in the 2023 basic range. Fingers crossed for Grabber Blue.
I will also be keeping an eye on future 5-pack runs, as I am sure this has the capability for a decent shade variation. The red sported a decent one.
Next on the list is the MB1227 '20 Honda E. This is what Honda refer to as Crystal Black Pearl. One of the official colour options on the E. Obviously, as this sports a dark window here, it is making the model a little blobby. So perhaps it is best to slot it in the 5-pack, as being sold on its own might be a little tougher. Honda only have 5 colour choices. Black, white, red, blue or grey. Which means Matchbox is soon to start creating their own looks, or running through the series of official ones again.
I am a big fan of the Honda E, and I do apologize for the dust particles stuck to it. It builds up a little charge, and I only notice it after I have finished all my photography. Again, this benefits from simple front and rear tampo printing. But being black, and having that black window, does knock it down a bit. I just feel the window would have been better being a dark smoke. Like the 2022 issue was. There is an interior to the model. You barely get to see it. Because of this, I am giving it a 9 out of 10.
Mind you, I hope you can see in this picture. The pack that Wheel Collectors sent me has a smoke window to the Honda, whereas my original had a darker smoke. You have to get the light right to see it. Mind you, it is still pretty dark, but not quite as dark as my original. My score stands!
The 2021 debut issue in white as MB1 was also one with a black window. But with the majority being white, it was not quite as noticeable. It is a better option.
Although I do love the consistent printing.
The 2022 MB79 in blue did come with a dark smoke window. And a shade! You can just about see the seats inside the blue on the left in this picture. Something you cannot see on the black one.
Again we saw a consistent tampo print. Of course, the black doesn't have to use all of it. The model was black anyway.
There is another that has just arrived. A dark grey one in a 9-pack, although mine has not arrived yet. It will be with me soon, so I can add it in to future dives.
I am starting to see a bit of a pattern. This is another carry forward. The MB1286 Tesla Model X. This is a repeat of the one that debuted in the 2022 basic range.
Which means we have already seen this one. I do wonder if this is a new way that Mattel have come up with in their quest to give us more 5-packs. As we know, in recent years, the assortment through the year had dwindled down, but in a sneaky way to increase them, they started issuing some carry forward packs. All models in them had been used previously, so some did not worry. Others grabbed them for variations. But, is this a clever way of keeping a higher count of packs, but not having entire packs made up of carry forwards? Mix and match some carry forwards with some exclusives in the packs, and each one theoretically could be of use to people. I don't know. I am not privy with the inner workings of Mattel. Of course, we went down this route in 2013/2014. It didn't go down too well with collectors, but that was because each of the models were simply puled directly from the current basic range. Bring back older models, and it increases the chances of variations. Yeah, I know, this one is not that old.
It debuted as MB53 in the 2022 basic range in this blue. I did notice a shade of blue to it. So how does the new one compare to them both?
It's fractional. A slight hue to the darker one. I did contemplate whether to keep it or not. In the end, I went with.... no! So, in this respect, I am giving it a 2 out of 10. Partly because I think it could have worked had I only found the lighter one originally.
We did get a version 2 later in the 2022 model year for the Model X. I wonder if that was the original plan for this set, but when a spot opened up in the basic range, they slid it in there instead. It was a last minute addition.
Finally! The MB1091 eStar Electric Van, or '09 International Electric Van as it is now known as, is released in a non-white scheme. We are now in double digits on releases for this casting, and this is the second one that is not white. Its second release was in blue, and that was on the original casting. Since it was updated, this is the first time it is being seen in anything but white. And I love this design. Orange with a Matchbox theme to it. Battery refurbishments, ECU optimizations, Regeneration kits or EV conversions on this zero emissions EV Service Centre vehicle. I also love the little electric circuit look under the stripes. They went to town with this one, and it really works well. This is my favourite look to this casting so far.
Yeah. I am giving this a 10 out of 10. I think this is actually the second-nicest design out of the whole pack. We are not beating that Mustang! Great work from the Matchbox team with this look. I wonder if it can translate to any other vehicles? This might be a one-off.
The final model in the set is another Tesla. More reason why that blue one was not overly needed. We already had 1 Tesla in the pack. The MB1280 Tesla Model Y appears in grey here. As per usual, this model is sporting a simple front and rear tampo print, just like all other Tesla cars have to date.
You really cannot go wrong with that mindset, so I am giving it a 10 out of 10 as well. A real model with a real design. This is exactly what I want from Matchbox. They are giving me it. I cannot complain.
Ooh, was that another shade? Again, the later production run appears to be a little darker than the earlier one. If I see it, I keep it.
This was originally MB18 in the basic range, and appeared in a 12-pack in metallic red to begin with.
So this does mean that both the Tesla Model X and Model Y are on 2 issues. Final tally for this pack? 41 out of 50. So we had the Blue Highways III pack in third place with 36 points. MBX Electric Drivers in second with 41, but a clear winner as the Autobahn Express IV pack scores a mighty 49.5. What a pack. What a trio to be honest. Had the other 2 packs not sported carry forwards, they would have been much closer as well.
So congratulations to the Autobahn Express pack. That was fun. Shall I do the same again in the future? It was a bit different, wasn't it. Now, with that aside, I am going to do a little dive back. But this time, I am not going back too far. In keeping with an Autobahn theme, I am keeping it Mattel with the MB434 Mercedes-Benz S500.
The S500 was released back in 1999 as a German exclusive. The German range was split from the norm that year, and Mattel went absolutely nuts by giving us not 1, not 2, but 10 brand-new castings, exclusively in the German range. 1999 still goes down as one of the best years for the basic range ever! The S500 debuted as silver, exclusively in Germany as MB66.
It went a little further afield in 2000, as MB32 was found in all ROW markets. Still not in the US market.
In 2001, it went back to being a German exclusive again. This light blue issue was sold as MB65 in the German market. Weirdly enough, this being a German exclusive bookended its initial run in the basic range. 3 years, with the first and last in Germany. The US market didn't see this model as a basic range issue at the time.
However, we did get a worldwide release. The Major Motion 5-pack appeared, with this yellow model featuring a blue side stripe. So the US market did see it. Just not sold as a basic range issue.
For 2002, and the model no longer wanted in the basic range, we saw just 1 release. Guess where? That's right, Germany. It was a part of the inaugural Stars of Germany series.
2003 saw this Coca-Cola themed yellow model appear in the Coke series. And yes, this series was mainly found in the US market.
And furthermore, again mainly found in the US market, the model was given a Collectibles release as a part of The Osbournes series. Matchbox had jumped on the bandwagon as The Osbournes reality TV show was at its heights at this time, and they released a model for each of the 4 family members. This one was for Sharon, the mother.
Comparing it to the 2002 German basic range exclusive, you can see it is a much paler, more silvery looking, blue.
2004 gave us another burgundy release. This was in the Auto Cargo Launcher set.
Again, comparing with the previous burgundy, we see this too went paler. We also saw the chrome grille left grey, and the interior going a darker grey (to match the grille, it wasn't cost-reduced to combine them).
We also saw a Superfast release that year as well. Number 60 in the range was this bright white release.
For 2005, something incredible happened. It went into the basic range, worldwide! OMG! It was a metallic off-white look, and you might notice 2 noticeable shades.
There is a reason for this. 2005 saw Mattel move production of Matchbox products back to Thailand, from where they had been produced in China. A few items were left in China, but the majority of Matchbox products were switched over during the year. The S500 was in the middle of its run at the time, so made a switch.
It was also added to the Stars of Cars series, exclusive to the German market. Again, we saw changes of colour due to the factory switch.
It continued in the 2005 Superfast range as well. This meant that we saw 2 different looks. One for the USA market, and another for everywhere else. the blue at the front was the USA 1 of 15,000 issue, and the charcoal at the back was the ROW 1 of 7,500 issue.
After that, the model basically fell out of favour. We saw nothing at all in 2006 or in 2007. But for 2008, it was given a big swansong. It was chosen to be 1 of the 2 exclusives for the non-exclusive 10-packs. As was the rule at the time, 10-packs would see 4 batches through the year. Each batch would contain 3 different packs. 1 was an all-exclusive pack themed. The other 2 packs were simply featuring 9 models pulled from elsewhere, but the exclusive would be one of 2 castings. Each casting would get 4 outings. The first batch was known as "Real", and the Merc was blue in one of the alternate sets.
Three months later, the Action batch arrived, and the S500 turned silver.
And another three months down the line, the Adventure batch appeared, and a cream S500 was in one of the alternates.
With a final 1st Editions batch alternate in charcoal. It was a good way to finish off the casting, although I am still sad that it didn't get more outings.
My other model is the MB1046 '51 Hudson Hornet Police. This is another casting that just doesn't appear to be getting the love. Which is a shame, as it was hugely popular when it arrived as MB57 in the 2017 basic range.
It moved to the MB64 slot for 2018 in red, as a Fire Chief car.
Then, for 2019, it saw a final basic range outing as MB57 in blue.
It was also given a special Target 50th Anniversary Superfast release that year. It was one of a selection of golden models.
After that, there has only been one more official outing in a new look. It was a part of the MBX Countryside 5-pack in 2020, in white featuring San Luis Obispo on the side. Since this outing, we have not seen a single new look. Although, it you were to hunt around, you would see a few carry forwards. A 2021 Advent Calendar saw the 2018 red carried forward. It had a lighter base in 2021. And for 2022, the MBX Highway II 5-pack saw the debut black one repeated.
That was more subtle, and the window is now a lighter smoke.
But this is still the entirety of all the different looks this model has seen. Am I the only one who thinks it deserves more outings?
And on that note, I think I am done with another report. This featured 4 different German vehicles.
As well as a bunch of US vehicles.
Including these 2. How did I almost forget them?
There were also 2 Japanese and 1 Italian vehicle. Next week, I am "Moving" back into 2022. I still have more 2022 to showcase. I don't want to skip things, as there is so much cool content to talk about. Until then, I hope you all have a good and safe week. Catch you next Monday.
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