Matchbox Monday begins the 2023 Collectors series

Ooh!  Premium stuff.  It is really nice that Matchbox is back in the premium game.  During the early to mid 2010s, there were no premium offerings.  But then they got some back with a "Best of" series, which led to Superfast, and Now Collectors, which rolls into its 3rd year with a series of 22 models this year.  The first batch of 5 appeared earlier in the year, and I am finally getting around to showing them.  About time, I hear you say.

And first off the bat is a brand-new casting.  The MB1403 Land Rover LR4. It takes the number slot in the series.  

As they do, premium offerings come with a box inside the blister.  I hear some people like boxes?  

Me?  I am here for the model.  This is another of those castings that may cause a little confusion.  The Land Rover Discovery first launched in 1989.  It ran until 2004 in an early (series 1) and facelifted (series 2) look.  When its replacement came out in 2004, it was known in some markets as Discovery 3, but in other markets it was just LR3.  This too, received a mid-production run facelift and was called Discovery 4 or LR4, depending on market.  This vehicle ran until 2016, and Matchbox has made a model of how it finished, before the 3rd generation Discovery debuted in 2017.  As I mentioned with the Nissan Sentra last week, I am not 100% sure as to why they do this.  Not make the current offering, but the previous one.  But in this case, I sort of see it.  Modern Land Rovers and Range Rovers are quite distinctive in their own way.  The Discovery does now look a little bit like the Evoque.  The front end in particular really gives off a similar vibe.  Obviously in real life, you can instantly see the differences, but when shrunk down to miniature size, these differences tend to fade away a little.  So by making the previous generation, it does make this stand out very well.  Which I think does make sense.  

And as Matchbox had made a casting of the first generation, I was sort of hoping for the second.  Better late than never.  Especially as they have done a great job with the look of this casting.  I immediately notice this as the LR4 (or Discovery 4, as I live in the UK and that is what it was called here).  It has quite a distinctive look, especially when it comes to the back half windows.  And Matchbox have done a stellar job in getting those looking right.  They even got in the little brake light at the top in the tampo print.  Nice!

The model comes with opening doors here. I have not heard of them coming up with a LHD/RHD variant like they did with the Range Rover the previous year.  Sometimes we get a recurring theme with some of these variations.  VW Golfs all coming with parcel shelf variations.  MR2s with a double variation.  But no, it appears this is all LHD.

But one thing I do find a little unusual is the lack of any detailing on the inside of the opening door. It is completely flat.  Sure, it is not something you really go overboard in creating details to, as it is on the inside.  But usually, when it comes to doors, they are curved in some way, and as such it gives the impression of something.  But with this being quite upright, this inside flatness does feel weird.  Maybe it is just me.  I would have preferred for something to be there.  

But I do love the rest of the build.  Especially, as I said, the way the window section forms part of the roof, mirroring how the real LR4 appears.  This was a great part.  

Now is it just mine, or do these doors not fit very well?  They are flat.  They should be a nice, comfy fit for a debut.  But mine do appear a little wonky.  It is a shame.  I was really looking forward to this, and the paintwork and tampo printing are spot on.  The way the window works into the roof.  Fantastic.  Those doors?  They let it down.  I am still not overly keen on those wheels as well.  I think they could do with some newer rugged wheels.  

So, for a new casting, I give this an 8.5 out of 10.  I wish I could go higher, but there were a few areas I felt could have been improved.  Base shot to finish, as this is a new casting.

Well, it's only right I bring in the previous Discovery for a little side by side comparison.  This particular MB524 Land Rover Discovery was a part of a 2005 Superfast Off-Road 5-pack.  So this was also a premium issue of its time.  

The most obvious difference, apart from the new casting being a newer configuration, is that the original is a little bigger.  In fact, I do remember when it debuted thinking to myself it was a really big casting.  The problem was, due to its size, the wheels always felt just a little small in comparison.  They sort of felt out of place.  So, in reality, smaller is better here.  The model has been created to suit the sizes of the wheels in their database.  Which is one of the things they often look at.  

That casting was created with an added bull bar on the front.  The new one is completely standard.  I think this does look better.  Keeping it completely stock.  I do like the stock vehicles.  

And of course, the new one has opening features.  Something the original didn't.  Although, I am trying to remember if this was the one that was being considered to have an opening rear in early development.  

I am happy to see they remembered they have this one.  This is the MB1135 '65 VW Type 3 Fastback.  It is number 2 in the series, and appears to be making a little more of a comeback after a stellar first year.

It comes in a lovely solid green paint job, with a little checkered design on the side.  It also has one of those cardboardy things to sit on.

Or not in my case.  Ha ha!  I like that they continued the check theme in the licence plate.  I also see some coded characters on the plate too. I see they are starting to get more common again.  It was quite the thing during the late 2000s into the early 2010s, but then this sort of thing faded away.  I was sad.  Now I am happy again.  

And again, this is an opening door model.  But look at that curvature.  It's not flat.  It doesn't look weird.

I like this little side design.  Simple.  Understated, but something just a little different to the norm.  And the wheels here look superb.  This is a nice wheel design, and the rubber surround is nice and thick.  This is a wheel I can get behind.  

I am very happy to see more of this. As I stated, they do seem to remember they have it again.  This is because it was a part of the first year of Moving Parts.  In fact, it saw a dual release back in 2019 in both red (reminiscent of the early Lesney casting) and then metallic blue later.

It was also chosen to be in the premium Superfast series in 2019, as that too was new that year.  This was its first premium outing, and that initial year saw 3 issues.  And then, tumbleweeds!  2020 and 2021 saw nothing. Unless you include a carry forward of a Moving Parts issue in 2020. 

It finally returned in the first batch of the 2022 Moving Parts series, in purple.  Again, this was a throwback to a classic Lesney look.  Which does make me ponder if a pink one is coming at any point.  But the problem was, this first batch was not widely produced.  In fact, most of the USA, which is its main market, did not see the batch.  So the purple was quite an elusive model.  

Which means that this is only its 5th outing.  If it was 1 per year, that does equate.  But the trio of a debut year release do make this feel like it was a little overlooked.  I hope this does get a few more outings.  And as I said, I would not be opposed to a pink one. Just because it also gives us a throwback vibe.  

Number 3 in the series is the ambassador special.  I mean, the MB1023 '70 Datsun 510 Rally.  This is the first time the model has seen a standard premium release.  I guess that needs clarification in a minute.  

This model comes in white, with red and blue detailing, as well as black lettering.  It also sports different hub capped front and rear wheels.  

Being a premium issue means that we get to see a complete set of tampo prints, which really set it off well.  I like this look.  This is a model that really benefits from the full tampo treatment.  

You may notice there are quite a few nods to ambassadors on the model.  Well, I did say that this was a bit of an ambassador model.  It appears to be a go-to for them.  

So I really need to do a dive back, just to explain a few things.  It began life in 2017, as MB94 in orange.  It was good for a shade or 2, and the wheels were also fun, as sometimes they were disk, sometimes they were 6-spoke.  It was also given some additional tampo printing as a JCCS special later that year.  

Then it was 2020.  This is the year things happened that I should note.  First off was the red MB108.  It also sported a J Yanouzas design, which referred to John Yanouzas, the first of 11 Matchbox ambassadors from the 2010s and 2011s, while the ambassador programme was in place.  It was also given a premium release, but only as a dealer model at the 2020 Matchbox Gathering.  This featured many nods to Jim Gallegos, the second ambassador.

For 2019, and a final year in the basic range as MB73, it turned dark blue and featured references to 4 different Matchbox ambassadors.  Chuck Wiersma (6th), Shabbir Malik (7th), Terry Ozima (4th) and Nigel Cooper (9th).  Phew!  This model came back as a carry forward in 2021 in the Target Retro series, with a much more orangey base and stripe.

In 2020, the model saw 2 releases.  It was in a 9-pack, which that year saw 2 different colours for each of the 2 packs in the assortments.  This was in white and in black, and featured myself (3rd) and Larry Scaduto (10th) as more ambassadors, adorning the design.  It was also in a Walmart exclusive Off Road Rally series in green.  And this had a nod to Dirk Schleuer (11th) on the side.

Finally, 2022 saw a yellow release in the MBX Rally II 5-pack.  This had a nod to John Lambert (8th) and the Lamley Group.  Plus, another Nigel Cooper reference.  This means, that by the end of 2022, they had made reference to every single Matchbox ambassador on this model. So, now we are in the midst of running through them all again.  Ha ha! I love it!  It think that it is an awesome little recurring theme just on the one model.

Number 4 in the set is a really cool look for the MB1169 '80 Mercedes-Benz W123 Wagon.  

I love these "out of the box" looks.  Because, you know, this is out of its box.  Ha ha!  But what they have given this model is a courtesy vehicle livery.  I don't remember ever seeing a courtesy vehicle design on a Matchbox before.  

I absolutely love this design!  10 out of 10 for imagination.  I think it is great when they come up with something as unexpected as this.  I honestly do not know if this is inspired by a real Merc courtesy vehicle.  If it is, then great, but if not, freaking awesome!  Can you tell I like this.  It comes in a purplish blue with white roof and stripe.  It also has a rear detail.

But the one thing I find was a little unusual, is that this did not get any front detailing.  Considering this is a premium issue, and yes, I do know the base was chromed here.  However, I just find it unusual not to see headlights depicted in tampo.  

This is because headlight tampos have been adorning this since day 1.  The 2019 MB3 in olive had them.  And this was also a Gathering model, back in 2019.  These blue and green models were dinner models that year.  Both in premium guises with chrome bases, yet they still got the headlight detail as well.  

So it did feel weird not seeing them here.  A premium release, and the only 1 without headlights.  Maybe it is just me, but that tiny little thing was the only thing I could find wrong about the model.  I loved everything else about it.  

It has had quite a few core range releases (a new pumpkin one is just appearing, which was too late for me to add in to the photo here), and each one is a simple front/rear tampo model.  I think it is so cool seeing something a little different.  Had it had headlights, it would be a final product 10 out of 10.  But that niggled me. I have to be honest.  So, 9.5 out of 10.  I can't give it top marks, as much as I wanted to.

The final model in the set, and taking the number 5 slot (they appear to be going in order so far) is a brand-new casting that sadly was unable to make it out in 2022.  Originally announced back at the 2021 Gathering as coming in 2022, Matchbox had initially intended to create a model of a rare 1979 White Western Star Cabover.  Sadly, I don't know what went on behind the scenes, but it seemed to stall, so they switched to a very similar vehicle, the 1979 Freightliner FLT.  There was talk of including the tilting mechanism to the cab, but sadly that also didn't make it to production.  However, with all the delays, this did mean that the MB1339 casting was not going to appear in the 2022 series.  So the original White Western Star was cancelled, but the Freighliner was given its MAN number, so as not to leave a gap.  It was obviously early enough in that respect to not have set up the MAN number properly.  

So we get our first premium Convoy cab for many years.  I am trying to remember if any premium Convoys appeared after 1999.  

So how does this model look?  Really good!  Matchbox do put a lot of effort into getting things looking very realistic.  The attentnion to detail is on show.  The window wipers are exactly how they appear on the real FLT.  The way they incorporated the grill into the base/bumper, and then chroming it all, it is just about perfect.  The wheels look much better on this one.

I think the metallic orange and striped design gives off a perfect 1970s vibe to this, and is an awesome look for the debut.  

I have no idea who Benedict & Sons Farms are.  Apparently they are in Turlock, CA.  And they haul cattle.  Is it based on something real?  Or is this just more nods to people at Mattel? After all, there is a Bryan Benedict, who is a designer for Matchbox (as well as other items) at Mattel.  Was he born in Turlock? Is this just a clever little nod to him? That is my gut choice. If so, fair play.  I think this looks fantastic.

Being a premium, this is getting a full set of tampo prints.  But I know that some have lamented over having black windows.  This is to cover the lack of an interior.  I say that is fine, because to me, this is sort of reminiscent of the MB045 Kenworth Cabover Aerodyne.  It debuted in 1982, and also featured no interior.  It seems to be a bit of a nod to this model, as the new one also is built to the exact same build.  

And the thing is, this model is being built to the exact schematics that all the other current Convoy models do.  Which means, it does need to stick to the same sort of part count as they do.  Which I think could be the main reason why the cab didn't tilt.  

Quick base shot before I prove its capabilities.  

Because as you can see here, this model is perfectly suited to the new selection of Convoy rear ends.  

Trailer units slot in perfectly.  So I can see this being moved to the Convoy series very soon.  

Something to keep an eye on as the first of the 2023 Convoys are just starting to appear now.  I will be looking forward to seeing this mated to a trailer.  

Which I believe brings me to the end of another report.  A batch of 5 Collectors issues.  Another 17 to come in 2023.

This batch provided us with 2 brand-new castings.

Plus another 3 older castings too.  All of which appeared in the latter half of the 2010s.  One a Moving Parts, the other 2 not.

Next week sees another Batch A series of models to go through.  However, I took photos of them ages ago, and they came out a little funny.  So be prepared for a funky colour scheme next week.  Ha ha!  Until then, I hope you all have a happy and safe week.

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