Matchbox Monday celebrates Christmas with a few premium products

It's Christmas!  A time to splurge, or hope for that extra little something in your stocking, or under the tree.  Well, if you are anything like me (cough - nerd), you will likely be hoping there was a Matchbox model (or 2…. hundred) under there.  So, I thought this week, I would simply run through a couple of the really high-end issues that have appeared recently.  First up, we have something that is not often sold by Matchbox.

A premium Gift Set.  The best part to some was the artwork. To celebrate the 70th Anniversary, they took an old look for a G-4 Race Track set from the 1960s as inspiration for this new package.  This box has a very retro look to it, and it did get people talking.  

The back of the package showed off the contents (as well as a ton of legal stuff).  7 of the models in the set look very familiar.  1 though, this is a unique model, only found in this set.

When you open the flap on the front, you get a little blurb on the top end.

Underneath, we get a look at the 8 models in the set.  There is actually a model that represents each decade that Matchbox has been around.  It may be the 70th anniversary of the Matchbox brand, but they have been active in 8 different decades ('50s through to '20s). I do like that each box artwork for the models show a different background to the model.  This does remind me a little of something that was done in the late 1970s/early 1980s, where models were pictured on little dioramas.  We saw it on posters, and in German blister packs.    

Now, for those who may not know, 7 of the models have been seen before.  All in one go.  They are a repeat of the 2nd batch of the 2023 Collectors series.  Which means, the first one (representing the 1950s) is the MB1406 '54 Jaguar D-type.  The only difference is that the box it comes with in this set is a little different to the one that they had in batch B.  

I am not going to go into the specifics here.  I did when I first reviewed it.  

I did bring out the older one for comparison.  They appear to be a perfect match.  

Although, I will have to check each one, as it appears there is a 15-week gap in production.  R51 through to S14.  So, I cannot assume that each model is identical.  

Representing the 1960s is the MB1407 Porsche 910.

Again, this is identical to the one sold previously on its own.

The 1970s gives us the MB1213 '71 MGB GT Coupe.

Yes, this is also identical to the one I already had.

The 1980s yields the MB805 '85 Toyota 4Runner.  

Hmm!  That looks a little dark.

I was right.  This is coming out in a darker shade to my original one.  Well, this is a bonus for me.  Knowing that this set only had 1 exclusive in it, I was expecting to be walking away with just the 1 addition to the collection. You know me, though, with my nutty obsession with shades.  Well, this made my Christmas just a little better.  Yes, I am easily satisifed.

The 1990s is represented by the MB969 '93 Ford Mustang LX SSP Police.  

Was this one a little darker?  No.  This matched my original one.

Heading into the 21st century now, with the MB696 Audi RS6 Avant.  They have marked it on the package as a 2002 model.  I don't know if that is correct, but it sounds about right.  

Again, we see a perfect match to the one that was issued as a single a little over 3 months prior.

Out of the 7 repeats, the final one is from the 2010s.  Although this doesn't have a date, the MB1056 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6 was produced in real life between 2013 and 2015. So this is obviously clearly a 2010s vehicle.  

And again, I saw no difference between this one and the one that I already had.  So, out of the 7 duplicates, one gets added to me collection.  I am an optimist. It's better than none!  Ha ha!  Of course, the main part of this set is that exclusive.

The one from the 2020s.  Completing the 8 different decades that Matchbox has been around.  This is the MB1258 Nissan NISMO GTR (R35).  Again, the package has marked it as a 2020 model, although the base of the model didn't specify a year.  Technically, from what I can tell, although the model first arrived in the real world in late 2007 as a 2008 car, there have been minor updates.  One happened to occur in 2019 as a 2020 model.  I cannot say exactly what was different between a 2020 and a 2019 edition GT-R.  I am not that knowledgeable on them. But, I guess whatever it was is enough for the model to be designated as a 2020.  

Obviously, this model is in line with the other 7 in the pack.  It is a platinum model featuring black, orange and white detailing.  As well as some red in this one.  It does seem to be slightly more colourful.  Just that one colour.  But it is more.  Ha ha!  And well, this does get a lot of detailing.  We see a lot of NISMO and GT-R logos over the model. Various nods to Matchbox and its 70th anniversary.  This really does feel like a poster model for the range.  

And here is something that you may have missed.  Opening features.  Yes, the doors open on this model, which means it is the only moving parts vehicle out of this batch.  All of the others were basic range models enhanced, or in the case of the 2 new castings, metal based models. 

I did notice that there is a lot of tampo printing to this.  Just look at the top of the model.  Not a lot of platinum on there.  It is mainly a black upper half. This is an impressive amount of detail.

Every part of this model has received tampo print.  It is very highly detailed.  I am very impressed with it, and I think that the final look is amazing.  I have to give this a 10 out of 10.  I have been enjoying all the platinum stuff that they have done over the course of 2023, but this is definitely a poster model for the year.

Plus, it is nice to see another outing.  It often feels like when a new casting gets a lot of attention, it becomes a bit of an underused model.  

Because, if we were to dive back into the history, we find a 2021 Collectors series debut in white.  Well, I say 2021, it actually arrived late in the first batch of 2022.

And then we saw a Japanese exclusive Moving Parts release later in 2022 in red. 

And now this.  Yes, that's all we have seen so far.  Not a lot of action.  I hope we get more outings.  Fingers crossed for 2024.

And now it is time to catch up with Mattel Creations.  Two more outings arrived in the 2023 model year.  We have been able to order 2 more during the year, but neither arrived before the 2024 model year.  I do think they are putting these out very fast lately.  We appear to be getting them at least monthly now.  My wallet is not enjoying it.  My head does, but my bank account is crying!  Ha ha!  First up is a brand-new casting.  The MB1308 Porsche 911 RSR. 

Inside the orange box, the large plexicase has a yellow wrap around it. 

Which we know will have a little blurb on the back of it.

The base section for this model looks like a corner of a race track.  Well, the 911RSR is a track version of the 911. RSR stands for RennSport Rennwagon.  It is German.  Translated into English as Racing Sport Racing Car.  This is not a road legal vehicle.  

Am I surprised that they made a racing version of the 911?  Yes, most definitely.  I know with a certain other brand in the Mattel wheelhouse, a lot of the more racy vehicles tend to be shoved over that side.  Matchbox does see more of the realistic stuff.  Am I happy?  Yes!  It's a 911.  It's something a little more outside the Matchbox comfort zone.  Two big wins in my book.

Have they done a good job with it?  Well, I think so.  The attention to detail is amazing.  The shape of the real vehicle has been captured so well.

I love the big wiper on the window.  And the fact that they incorporated the headlights into that section as well, for an instant colour break.  I don't know why they don't do that more often.  

This is where things get a little tricky.  This rear spoiler is a plastic, separate piece.  Logically, this is great.  Making it a part of the body section would be a little tougher.  This is the issue with the large wings.  They do work better as their own part.  But, it does mean that this is a 5-piece build. Which does mean that it might not see many regular outings.  Could this see action purely as a premium offering?  Or, are they going to have to compromise by adding more 3-part build models to the core range to compensate? That is a worry.  

I see certain Mattel members getting their names across the top.  Abe Lugo and Jimmy Liu.  My guess is that these were the 2 main people behind getting this into the Matchbox portfolio.  Terrific work guys.  The casting is amazing. The design for it is also very nice.  I don't see this as a specific design.  I may be wrong.  I think it is likely it was designed in-house at Mattel.  But, they have made it extremely realistic, and I could see something like this being in a race. 

Now, this is where I really complicate things.  Casting?  I am extremely impressed.  A 10 out of 10.  I cannot fault it.  The final look for the model?  Again, I think they did a great job with it.  It looks extremely realistic, and I will be putting a 10 in that score as well. So, I think many will be wondering if this is going to be one of my models of the year?  Well, I am about to do my Lamley Top 10 which drops on the last Friday of 2023.  You will see where I placed it on my list.  

But for now, let's finish the model with a pondering.  MB1308?  That number is not part of the current 2023 crop. Plus, a copyright of 2021?  Not something we usually see on a 2023 release.  Usually the copyright is the year before, possibly the current year, as the end is in sight.  I do believe this appears to be a model slated for a 2022 debut, but got a little delayed.  But, before moving on to the last model, I think I should do a little Christmas extra, and pull out a classic casting to run through. 

This is something I used to do every week.  But, with time limitations, I was unable to keep it going.  However, as it is Christmas, I thought I would do a little dive into a classic.  The MB118 Porsche 935 Racing.  Another 911-based racing vehicle.  This was from the beginning of the Universal era, when the toolbank was a little thin on the ground, and they simply created a new casting using the old MB003 Porsche Turbo casting to give the illusion of new stuff.  It debuted in 1983 as MB55 in the US range, or MB41 in the ROW range.  Its first look was blue, where it ran for 3 years.  Of course, with Macau being still new to the game as a factory, they were often a little varied in their output, and the shade of blue did vary during those 3 years. 

During 1985, the UK ran a special gold box promotion for the brand, to celebrate 100 years of the Motor Car, and as such, you would cut off headers of these gold window boxes, and once you accumulated so many, you would send off for a free Porsche.  Both the Turbo and 935 Racing were available, and you could choose which you wanted.  The 935 Racing was in a Cadbury's Buttons look.

1986 saw them come up with a new design for the model.  This white 41 look ran until 1987 in the US at which time the model was dropped, but for the ROW market, this continued through 1988. Some early runs in 1986 saw gold wheels, before chrome took over for good, staying until the end of this design's run.

The model also arrived in the re-launched Superfast range, which ran from 1986 until 1990 in the USA only.  This model saw some new starburst wheels, although I did find a blooper where they accidentally put on the usual 8-dots on one.  

1987 saw them expand the Superfast range into Laser Wheels.  A new CD looking wheel emerged and the model was given a more metallic look to the paint.  The plan was to replace Superfast, but the USA still wanted the Superfast, so they ran side by side.  However, Lasers were a worldwide release.  

In 1988, Hong Kong ran a promotion. The Chinese Zodiac series featured 12 models, all in unique looks, depicting an animal and a number between 1 and 12.  The Porsche was Ox 11. 

And this year also saw the launch of the MP-106 3-pack, which featured a trio of Porsches.  The 959 and Turbo joined the 935 Racing.  This saw a small tweak to the colour, with the white being switched for yellow.  The 3-pack ran until 1992, seeing a production change in 1990, and was only sold in ROW markets.  

Having already been dropped from the US range, 1989 was the final year for the ROW market as well.  However, they did switch the basic range model from white to red, and changed the colours of the stripes.  Oh yes, they also changed the number on the model from 10 to 41.  

After 5 years of Superfast/4 years of Lasers, the closure of the Macau factory also saw the closure of those ranges.  The new factory in Thailand launched the Lightning range.  These were the next stop on from Superfast/Lasers, as they tweaked the wheel setup even further.  These things rolled very smoothly.  However, the gaudy colours and designs I think might have put people off.  Lightning did not strike a chord with people, and they did not last much beyond a year.  The Porsche had 2 different looks to them. 

But, although the model was no longer in the basic range, it was seeing a few more outings.  As noted, the MP-106 3-pack continued through 1992, only seeing the change from Macau production to Thailand production in 1990.  This was joined in 1991 by another gift set.  The MC-23 set saw 4 different Porsches, and a Convoy truck in a set.  The Racing Porsche was given a simple red design, matching the tampo design used on the other 3 models in the set.  I did notice a shade variation during production.  

1991 also saw the model go premium.  The 3rd batch of the World Class series saw them release a yellow model.

Which was followed up in 1992 by a 4th series issue in white.  This officially finished the casting off.  The 3-pack run ended in 1992, and after this stopped, the Thailand factory never made any more.  But, there was a small side hustle going.

Brazil used to have very tough import laws.  Toys were not allowed to be imported into the country.  However, there was a loophole.  Parts for toys could be.  During the Lesney era, they set up a deal with a Brazilian company called Roly Toys to import all of the parts from England.  They would then put them together, paint them, and sell them locally.  This was during the 1970s.  In the 1980s, Universal set up a new deal with a company called Trol.  Again, parts were sent over, and they were built in the Brazilian factory for local sales.  In 1987, Universal sent over some Porsche 935 Racing models, and they made a load of them in a somewhat similar look to the debut back in 1983.

Bases were re-detailed with the Brazilian information.  This model is known to have a couple of wheel variations.  However, I currently only possess one.  There is a dot-dash wheel variation to find as well.

When Universal went belly up at the end of 1992, so did the deal with Brazil.  The last thing that came out of the factory was a set of 3 different 4-packs, all containing unique looks for some models.  The racing set featured the Porsche in a new white design.  These landed in Brazil at the beginning of 1993, and then things dried up.  Luckily, soon after, they relaxed their laws, and toys will be imported normally.  But, this model technically, serves as the swansong for the casting.  

Right, after that deep dive into my collection, it is time for the last of the new stuff.  Mattel Creations have been on a roll, and although we were able to request new stuff during the 2023 model year, those were not shipped until the 2024 model year.  Meaning the MB1223 Lamborghini Centenario is the final 2023 released Mattel Creations model.

And it is not in black, or a very dark grey. This is a deep dark red shade, and it looks amazing.

And, as we know, the back of the package does contain the expected blurb about the model.

The base to this plexicase simply has a few red stripes on it.  It does feel quite basic.  But, do I really care?  Screwdriver out, screws off, model out, plexicase chucked.

After all, I am only here for the model.  Which appears to have a piece of plastic through it.  

It is easy to remove. It was only hooked underneath the model. I guess, because those doors are scissor style, and they move up and down quite easily, they wanted to make sure they didn't fall up and down during transit.  It makes sense.

After 3 outings in black or dark grey, I am absolutely loving this red look.  It looks stunning, and the attention to detail really shows on this one.  The base section in black sticks out of the front, and on this one, they have tampo printed more red, and it matches the body very well.  The tiny Lamborghini badge on the door is fantastic.  I love the roof detailing.  Yes, this is really showing what can be done with a premium budget.  It is definitely one of the best Mattel Creations models I have seen them do. But that is not all.

Those wonderful opening scissor doors.  They are new. They still look just like before, and work just like before.  But there is a difference here. 

These are now metal.  and they match the rest of the body perfectly. A great job in making this model not look a little awkward in that respect.  We have seen a few Mattel Creations models with metal opening parts see shade variations between components.  But, they have nailed this one. 

Now, here is something people might not be aware of.  Did you know that those doors slot in place on the model?  They do pop off quite easily.  Hence, the addition of that plastic piece for shipping, as if the door had popped up and down many times, it might have shaken loose, then started rattling around inside the plexicase, possibly causing damage to the model or case.  And who wants to open something to immediately find what they think are broken parts?  

But, the benefit of this is, if I was to bring in the 2020 Moving Parts debut release of this in dark grey with a yellow base, I can pop those plastic doors off and show them up close on their own.  You can see the single plastic piece for that, with a dual part (riveted) metal and plastic door for the new release.  This is a very premium little addition, and I bet it was not easy to rivet those fast.  

This is easily my favourite Centenario release to date.  I also think that yes, this is quite worthy of a high-end premium cost.  Some models I do wonder if the ultra-high cost is worthwhile, but this is one where I see this as going over and above the regular premium offerings.  A 10 out of 10, easily.

Because after the 2020 Moving Parts debut, for 2021, the model was added to the Collectors series.  A premium outing.  Sure, it had a bit more tampo, and real rider wheels, but this is next level.  This is premium with a cherry on top.  As I said, worthy of a high cost.  

It is also very nice seeing it again, because 2021 also saw a Moving Parts issue, in black with a blue base.  But we never saw the model in 2022. I did wonder when it might next pop up.

This is surely the best it has been.  I hope we see a yellow one, and a baby blue look.  They are official looks from Lamborghini.  Most tend to be in the darker looks similar to the original 3, but there were some unique looks. This model is too good to ignore.

Phew!  That was quite a write-up for just 3 models.  Do I know how to pad things out or what?  Well, I am done for the Christmas week.  Enjoy all the festivities, and have a safe and happy New Year.  I will be back at the beginning of the year with one of the last of the 2023 batches.  

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