Matchbox Monday checks out some store exclusives

What do Walmart and Target stores in the USA have in common?

Both made requests to Mattel to create some unique Matchbox items to sell in their stores.  The difference with these, as of 2023, is that the Walmart exclusives only apply in the USA.  In other countries, these sub-sets of models are available for various stores to stock.  They still get classified as Walmart models, as without the request from Walmart, these would likely not be made at all.  On the other hand, with Target, they wanted a special model that is just unique to them.  The batches they appear in actually get unique codes for them to order, and instead of something else, a special “red” model appear instead.  For this article, I thought I would run through one of each.

I will start with the Walmart stuff.  Apart from the previous batch of items, which saw 5 unique models, this batch of models reverts to their standard routine of having some new looks, and a number of carry forward models.  This time out, it is an even split.  50/50.  3 new looks, and 3 carry forwards.  When they showed us a slide at the 2022 Convention in Albuquerque, they showed a plan for 6 models.  But, things change, and a few dropped out and were replaced by alternates.  This is one.  The MB883 VW Karmann Ghia Type 34 Convertible. It takes the number 1 slot in the set, and is one of 3 new offerings in the batch.  

For some reason, they have this model turning up in blue quite often. It appears to be the go-to colour for it.  Not that it is a bad thing.  But I do think a nice white, cream or yellow might be nice.  

Although this blue one is really nice. Again, as we often see, this model gets a simple front and rear tampo design.  Headlights, rear lights and a licence plate.  You can't go wrong with this.  A lovely solid blue, and clear windows.  Yes, this is a lovely model.  But, I would like to see more variety in the colour pallete for any future releases.  Because, time for a dive back.

It debuted in the 2013 basic range in a light blue.  MB35 was joined that year by a Leipzig promotional issue in red, for the Modell-Hobby-Spiel. 

For 2014, we only saw the model as a 10-pack exclusive in silver.  Although during production, this did vary in shade quite a bit.

And in 2015, we got another blue release in the Classic Rides 5-pack.  Although this featured a side design.  The only time it has had a side design, and not front/rear detailing. 

2016 saw it back in the basic range as MB29 in green.  

After this, it took 2017 off before seeing another silver issue as MB21 in 2018.  It was similar to the 2014 10-pack, but a much brighter silver than that was.  The 2014s are shown for comparison.  

This was followed by a dark green MB17 in 2019.  Which, until now, was the last we had seen of this particular casting.  I am very happy to see it return. But, we seem to keep getting variations of blue, green and silver.  Had it not been for the promotional issue, we wouldn't have even had a red one.  But, this vehicle is sold (well was sold) in many more colour options in real life, and I feel there is a much wider range of choices to go for in the future.

Next up is the MB1200 '76 VW Golf Mk1 GTi.  This is number 2 in the series, and is also a new look.

It comes with a Ruff Rabbit II side tampo, and a front end grille design.  

I do enjoy their side designs on this one.  Especially the rabbit ones.  This is another cool rabbit look, and reminds me of the old Lesney casting.

1982 saw a Romping Rabbit (with Rompin' on the tampo, never understood the reason for both spellings) debut in the US range as MB7. MB099 ran for 4 years, and whenever I see this new one, I simply go back to my childhood, as I got one of these back in 1982 as a kid.  I don't quite know how.  I think random ones were thrown in Tesco 3-packs in the UK. 

And of course, if you are a nutter like me, you might be on the lookout for both variations.  The interior comes with or without items on the rear parcel shelf.

This is not the first yellow rabbit themed Golf either.  Back in 2021, the Target Retro series had a Rompin' Racing Team look on one of the models.  I think these look really cool together.  

New casting time.  Since 2018, Walmart has received a brand-new casting in one of their ranges every year.  That year was a Chevy AD Pickup, 2019 a Willys Jeep, 2020 a Ford Mustang GT, 2021  a Cadillac Eldorado Convertible and  2022 a  Dodge V-series Pickup.  Next year will see a new Corvette Convertible.  But for 2023, we got the MB1394 '62 VW Karmann Ghia Type 14.  It takes the number 3 slot in the set, and is the final new issue in the batch.  

This is a really nice looking casting.  And it is orange.  It ran from 1955 through 1974, and Matchbox have taken the 1962 model for this casting.  Changes made to the real vehicle were relatively minor across the almost 2 decades of production.  The biggest change occurred in 1961, when the “low lights” were replaced by “high lights” on vehicles.  Basically, they just moved them up a bit.  This is a high light model.  

This is the second time that Matchbox has made a model of the Type 14.  But the last one was a later issue convertible.  I like that they went with the hardtop this time.  It gives the model a distinctively different look.  Especially when they made the Type 34 as a convertible as well.  

This casting is looking fine, as we expect nowadays.  This is a fantastic representation.  I love the simple front end detailing.  They did an amazing job with it.  

This is a terrific model.  Definitely one of the standouts of the year.  Walmart seems to get some really cool little exclusive new castings.  I am definitely giving this one a 10 out of 10.  Great stuff.  Looking back, the other Karmann gets a 9 purely due to being blue again.  The Golf another 10.  I love the stuff they crank out. What can I say?

New casting, base shot.  It was asked for many years ago, and I keep posting them whenever a new casting arrives.  For those who like seeing them. 

And also shade variations.  Again, there are those who are as crazy as me, and like to look for anything different.  I see 2 shades of orange, I am having 2 shades of orange. 

I thought, before I look at the carry forwards, why not check out the earlier Type 14.  The MB760 '69 Type 14 Convertible debuted in the 2009 basic range.  But, rather than a complete dive, I just took one at random for some side by side shots.  As that never had an orange release, I went with the closest.  The 2011 MB22.  

From the front, you do see a few minor differences.  But, the convertible is a 1969, with the new model a 1962.  With minor changes made each year, this may be perfectly normal.  I am not a Karmann Ghia expert.  The 1969 also had a licence plate included in the front bumper section. Something they didn't bother with this time.  

The 2 rear ends do look pretty similar, although I am sure that the small differences may be down to the convertible being a convertible and requiring a few tweaks to house the roof.  It all doesn't fit into that tonneau section.  

From the sides, they both have a very similar look to them.  Plus, both have been built to the same scale.  There is only 1 small change that is sad.  Why are there no side mirrors on the new one?  It should have at least one.  A passenger mirror was not required in those days, and were often an optional extra.  But it should have had a driver's one.  Hmm!  That's it, I am knocking this down to a 9.  The Golf gets the win for the new stuff in the batch. Ha ha!  After that surprising change, let's check the carry forwards.

The first of these is the MB738 '74 VW Type 181 "Thing".  It is in the number 4 slot in the series, and is a repeat of the model that was in the 2011 VW Classics 5-pack.  

This is another simple front and rear print model.  

And comes in a very clean white.  So, just how different is it to the one from 12 years ago?

From the front? Well, there is not a lot.  The white is a pretty close match.  The licence plate is fractionally duller now than it was a dozen years ago.  A clear window stays clear.  But, I did open this, so I saw something. 

It's at the rear.  We have seen this before as this model has been the subject of a carry forward release on a light blue issue.  Recently, the rear lights have not been as colourful.  In the early days of this casting, they used to cover the upper part of the light cluster with an orange tampo print.  But now, they simply print on the flat edge part alone.  It's enough for me.  

Now, how about the MB723 VW Beetle 4x4?  Number 5 of 6 is a repeat of 2008 Dino Mountain 5-pack release in green.  

It comes in green with a Park Patrol side design on it.  Not a National Parks design.  That came later (2010).  

It did not have any front or rear details applied, as it was all side design back then, and repeated now.  So, 15 years this time.  That must be ripe for variants.

So I dig out my 2008s.  I have a few of these.  Back at the time, the model was good for a shade or 2.  Lighter or darker green.

But they are nothing like the new one.  It is a much brighter green than anything we saw before.  It really stands out.  Brilliant.  But that is not all.

That tampo is now in orange. It was in yellow before.  Again, a huge difference.  I am extremely happy with this carry forward.  The Thing might have had a small change.  But this, to me, is a massive difference.  It is definitely my favourite of the carry forwards.

I did want to point out, that back in 2008, there was a small run made with oval wheels, as the standard ones ran out temporarily.  I have a feeling we will not see the same happen again, as production has already completed for these, and nobody reported seeing any wheel variations this time.

The final carry forward is the MB363 '62 VW Beetle.  Number 6 of 6 is a repeat of the 2019 MB12.  

Which is a bit disappointing.  To be honest.  You see, this casting has been with us since 1999.  It has a lot, and I mean many, releases from over the years.  After seeing a 2008 and a 2011 model repeated, they went with one from just 4 years ago.  Especially as it is a release from after the casting saw a small modification to it.  Any pre-modification release that has not been reissued since would have been fantastic.  

Saying that, I did find something.  Not a major change, but it was enough for me to say “what the heck, I will keep it”. 

Back in 2019, I saw that the model did sport a little shade of red during production.  

The new one is sort of in between shades.  So, yes, it does work there.  But, more importantly, the licence plate is now squished.  It is noticeably thinner than it was 4 years ago.  For that reason, I am keeping it.  The Beetle 4x4 is a great variation.  The other 2 were meh!  

But, as we are doing red stuff, I guess I should look at another Target exclusive.  With the Walmart stuff, Mattel does allow them to be sold overseas in other countries.  But for Target in 2023, this is a no-go area.  They are specifically for Target, and Target alone.  For 2023, they have their red series.  I showed the first of these 2023 red editions with batch B, but did not have the one availablein batch D of the basic range in time for when I did that recap.  So I have tagged it on to this report.  

The MB1211 Bugatti Divo.  After a quiet year or so, it is nice to see this model getting more activity in 2023.  

As is the rule for the “red edition”, this model comes in red, with some white detailing.  Stripes and lights.  A briliant combination.  I love it.  This is also the brightest one we have seen to date.

It debuted in 2020 as MB46 in a dark charcoal.  

And immediately turned black for 2021 as MB39, as the 2020 model was in the final batch and the 2021 was at the start of the year.  So, they pretty much together.  After that, we had a Best of France repeat of the 2021 model in the 2022 series, and now we have just had a Walmart 70th Anniversary, which I showcased just recently.  

But, ignoring the 70th Anniversary due to being in a unique look, this new red one actually follows the same pattern as the 2 original issues.  So it looks really good next to them. Great job.  

Now that is a way to finish.  3 VW newbies.

4 newbies, if you include the Bugatti, which is owned by the VW group.  

As well as 3 carry forwards, all of which I found something about them worth keeping.  

A pretty cool batch, really.  Well, I am happy enough.  Next week I go full-blown orange in my report.  And again, there will be a bonus at the end.  Until then, I hope everybody has a safe and happy week.

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