Matchbox Monday continues it's world trip, hitting France


Another week, another Matchbox Monday.  This week, after my jaunt through a Japanese series, I am looking at a French one.  This is the second batch of Best of France for 2022.  Sadly, the UK series never managed to eke out an existence to batch B, but the French and German ones continue on. I covered the German Batch B a month or so ago (which can be accessed on the Lamley Group blog), but now it is the French batch B's turn.  6 models, some of which are carried forward (or in this case back?).  As well as a couple of new ones.  Really?  2!

So let us start with the first numbered one.  Batch A was simply 1-6, and these are 7-12, so we start with number 7.  This is the first we saw of the new MB1281 '22 Renault Mégane.  This is one of the 2 that you could say are carry backwards.  This is because this, and another I will get to shortly, are actually the debut basic range releases, simply arriving before their debut in the basic range.  

So it is fun to check out brand-new castings in the Best of series.  We did it with the German batch, although that one is exclusive to the series.  These will also feature in the basic range.  This Renault is also a part of batch E, which I will shortly be showcasing, and it simply arrives in the debut look a little early here.  It comes in silver with front and rear detailing, plus the side going over the top is detailed as well.

As it is starting to become a bit of a trend with basic range releases lately, the roof is actually a part of the window element, meaning the window is quite heavily tinted. There is an interior to the model, but you have to look quite carefully at it to see it.  I am not sure if this new way of doing models is a great way of doing them.  I do prefer the traditional method of making the roof a part of the body section, but then maybe I am starting to become old.  Ah nuts!  Although, again, maybe I am starting to get used to it, as I do like this one.  I don't know if it is just that we finally have a regular Renault in the basic range again, and growing up, the Renault 17TL, 5 and 11 were all big parts of my life.  

The shape of the model itself has been captured very well.  Aside from the little side stripe being added to the roofline, the model benefits from the front and rear tampo detailing that I do enjoy.  The rear detailing is extremely well done.  

The front receives a nice golden area to the tampo print.  This evokes the look as showcased by Renault with the Mégane eVision that they showcased in October 2020.  That too was in silver, and had these golden touches to it.  And as such, this does give me a feeling it is based more on the E-tech electric version of the car, rather than a traditional ICE vehicle.  

Packaging and base does not specify the electric version.  But I do believe this is the one that has been recreated.  

So this is a nice looking model.  One I am very happy to see, and yes, this is starting to turn me more towards those with this style of construction.  The only gripe I have is that I wished they were able to give us an alternate for the French release as it is just about the same production time as it debuting in the basic range.  

Number 8 of 12 is the only logical new look for a model.  The MB1246 '19 McLaren 720S Spider.  It comes in a charcoal look for the French series.

Yes, I know, McLaren is British.  I have often stated that these country exclusives don't have to be made there.  Just vehicles sold there.  McLarens are sold in France, and French people know what they are, and will occasionally see them on the roads.  Putting a Holden, or an Oldsmobile in the French series would be ridiculous. But, as they are still building their portfolio of French vehicles, they still don't have enough to enable them to have a whole set of 12 French manufacturers.  So they bring in a few others that are still known there.  

The McLaren looks really nice in charcoal.  Again, it sported a simple front and rear tampo print.  Very classy.  I believe this is based on a real McLaren choice too.  Sarthe Grey.  Yes, that is a real colour choice.  And what is Sarthe?  A district and river in the Pays de la Loire region of France, that runs from Le Mans to Angers.  How is that for giving us something very French in something that you thought was English?  This shows that the team are not just randomly putting things together.  They thought this one through.  How cool is that?

This is only the second issue of the McLaren so far, although a basic range issue is not far behind (in a different colour).  It debuted as MB20 in the 2021 basic range in teal.  Or Belize Blue, as McLaren call it.  Matchbox are really nailing this one.  

Both releases to date are sporting the same tampo printing.  Again, I love the consistency to the model.  I am very much looking forward to getting more.  Although, as of time of writing, I do have the next one.  I am very pleased.  To be continued....

So what am I classifying as the second new one?  This.  The MB735 '68 Citroën DS. Why?  This looks extremely familiar. 

Well, yes, it does.  But have you noticed a certain licence plate?  It has DS 21 Pallas on there.  That's a first.  The Pallas was the luxury version of the model, first introduced in 1966.  This is the first time we have seen this on the licence plate though.  

And yes, it is on the rear too. That, to me, is enough for me to warrant this as something new.  Some may argue that point.  And sure, we all have our opinions.  We all see things a little differently.  To me, changing the licence plate to a model means it is a new model.  To others, the rest still looks the same, and it is simply a minor variation.  We all collect in our own way, so in a way, neither is correct, nor incorrect.  We can all make our own call on it.  

In comparison, I bring in the debut model from 2008, where it arrived as MB1 in the basic range.  As you can see, that model (with a smoke window, not clear) has Citroën on the plate.  

Both front and rear, obviously.  Well, not quite.  There was a later mix-up model. So it was not a 100% guarantee that the front and rear plates would match.  

MB1 was recoloured to metallic green during 2008, and the plate was unchanged during the switch.

And we also saw a Best of International release in blue, that continued on with the same plate as both basics received.  

At the end of the year, the First Editions 10-pack gave us a metallic burgundy release, which featured the first change to the plate.  It now said 1968 DS.  

This is where the error occurred. The first runs of the 2009 basic range MB6 accidentally put 1968 DS on the rear tampo print, with the correct Citroën plate on the front.  This was quickly rectified. But some 1968 DS rears did head out to stores.  

So yeah, back to Citroën on the plates, as the 2009 Classic Cars 5-pack sported it on the metallic tan model.  

They did add it to the Superfast range in 2009 too.  It was number 16 in the set in red with a white roof.  And this did see a unique licence plate too.  2O14JOUR.  With B being the 2nd letter of the alphabet and N being 14th, you switch them in to make "bonjour".  French for hello.  They were having fun with this one.  

In 2010, it was MB23 in the basic range, and came in dark blue with a white roof.  This simply had the Citroën plate again.  

And in 2011, the model saw one more outing in the basic range in yellow with a white roof.  MB23 that year continued the same plate design, as only officially, did we see 2 outings that didn't have Citroën written on the plate.  

After that, the model went on hiatus for 10 years, before returning in 2021, as part of the Best of France series again.  This was a standard repeat of the debut look, in black with a smoke window and the same Citroën plate we knew from before.

As I pointed out last year when I reviewed this model, the font for the licence plate was different on the 2021 release.  Thinner and more stretched out in visible looks.  

But to me, even though it is still black, the different licence plate (as well as the clear windows) make this different enough for me to classify it as something new.  Not massively new, but new none-the-less.  

The other carry backwards.  This is the brand new MB1279 '21 Citroën Ami. It takes the number 10 slot in the series, and will also appear in the final batch of 2022's basic range too.  So, just like with the Renault, this is just a case of arriving early for the French market.  Or anywhere else that happens to sell the French series.  I believe Canada sells them.  

So, another brand-new casting, and yet another model where the roof is a part of the window section.  But when you look at the real one, I really see why they went that way.  It would actually be odd to make the roof a part of the body.  In real life, the quadricycle (this is not a car) does look like this.  It is a rather weird look vehicle, and definitely stands out.  

Rather unusually, Matchbox have decided to launch the model in grey.  The real one, by default, comes in more of a gunmetal blue-grey colour.  I am surprised that was not replicated here.  I would hazard a guess that will be appearing at some point in the future.  As I mentioned, this is simply an early run of the model that debuts in the basic range later in the year.  

It is a cute little model, though.  As is often the case, this features simple front and rear tampo printing.  This clearly shows that this is the Citroën (Stellantis do also market this as an Opel Rocks-e) with a slightly different front/rear, and obviously Opel logos on it.  

They have got the quirkiness of this quadricycle down well.  It is a weird looking thing, but is proving to be extremely popular.  When they went on sale in the UK, the first run sold out extremely quickly.  

I am very impressed with the finished look for this vehicle. As I said, the shape has been captured extremely well. It is all the weird things, like doors that open the same on both sides.  Which means one open the regular way, the other suicide style.  This means that the doors are identical on both sides, with the lower design shape towards the right on both. It was all part of the funky build, which was done to keep costs down.  Why both making a left and a right door?  Just make 2 the same, and just live with it.  It is a shame this wasn't done as a Moving Parts model, and those doors shown off in all their weird glory.  I am not sure if it would be easy to do though, due to the upper half being so different, and possibly not having enough of a mechanism to enable to them to open the doors easily.  

The Ami is an electric vehicle, so when looking at the base, there is not a lot there.  Mind you, it is so small, if they were to put much else apart from the standard writing, they might have run out of space.  

Before I move on, though, I did want to bring out what this reminded me of.  The MB561 Smart Cabrio.  When The Smart was first released, back in 1998, people thought that was a little too quirky.  But it became quite the success.  Matchbox released their version as MB73 in the ROW only basic range in 2002.  This was in silver, fairly similar in colour to the new Ami.  I felt these were a logical pairing, and was curious as to how big they were next to each other.  

When it comes to the size of the vehicles, it turns out that the Smart is just fractionally longer.  But is quite noticeably wider.  

The Smart is also fractionally taller, too.  

I have to admit to being a fan of these quirky vehicles.  So when the Ami was announced in 2021, I have to say it put a smile on my face.  And now I have it, it is still putting a smile on my face.  So for me, that is job done.  

Number 11 of 12 is a carry forward.  This was originally a part of Best of France.  Wait, this is Best of France.  Yes, this just rolled through to a second year.  We saw the Renault Kangoo and Lamborghini Gallardo do the same in batch A.  

So the MB885 Renault Master Ambulance gets a second run in Best of France.  If you saw my report last year, then you will already have seen my review.  

If you didn't, then I will just say again, I like it. It gives us a very good likeness of the types of Ambulances you get in France, without actually being an official livery.  So a job well done in my opinion.  

So yeah, this was last year's one.  Looks the same.  Hmm!  Checking closer....

Well, this year, the blue tampo print is coming out in a darker shade.  So yeah, we got something small.

Oh, bases.  I often forget to check bases. Okay, so a small shade there too.  It is slightly lighter.  Less than the blue tampo.  But, I am keeping the new one anyway.  

Oh, and I may as well do a dive back again.  I keep doing this one lately.  So, it debuted in 2013 as MB12 in the basic range.  The first look was a red model.  

A second model appeared that year as well.  A special 60th Anniversary set gave us a yellow model, with additional printing front and rear.  

2014 gave us our first white model.  MB80 also served double duty, as it was added to the Rescue Duty 5-pack as well.

2015 followed a similar path.  MB58 was white, and again it served double duty, as it was in the EMT 5-pack as well.

We also saw a nice red issue in the Supreme Heroes premium series.  This was the first time it was given a French theme.  

The model went on a hiatus after that, with no new looks for a whole 5 years.  2021 really made up for lost time.  Apart from the French exclusive, there was also a Russian exclusive too.

And a third model was released as a semi-exclusive in the 9-packs that year.  This was the first time we had seen a grey one.  And now, it looks to have quietened down again, as I think this is the only time it is being used in 2022.

Which brings us to the last offering in the set.  Another French model, and a few years back, one I would not have believed would have been done by Matchbox.  The MB1211 '18 Bugatti Divo.  

As with the Ambulance, this too is a repeat of a model from 2021.  Well, as a carry forward, they only had 2 to choose from.  They went with the latter.  What was the MB39 for 2021's basic range.

It is nice to see it again.  But the weird thing was, this model debuted in the last batch of 2020, and then immediately saw the 2021 version at the start of that year.  So it was all a quick turnaround.  And then it went quiet again.  I would love to see a new look, and I believe one is coming soon, but am happy to see it return.  Models like this are just such a cool part of the range.  

So, if you need reminding, this debuted in 2020 in charcoal.  MB46 that year was in the final batch, and as stated, the next one appeared in the next batch.

Which is the one that they have repeated here.  So was MB39 for 2021 any different to Best of France 12 of 12 for 2022?

Now this one is more noticeable, when it comes to the base.  The new production run is noticeably darker grey than the previous run was.  

The rest is very similar to what we had seen before.  But, as this base does pop up around the side and rear, I decided to keep it anyway.

So, I have to admit.  Quite an eclectic mix, really.  2 carry forwards, 2 carry backwards, and 2 I am classifying as new (some may say 3 carry forwards, 1 new).  

Time for a dive back.  However, before I begin, I am going to confess/explain something.  I recently began a new job, and I have discovered that my spare time, which is when I can write my reports, has become a lot more limited.  So, as such, I am going to have to cut down on the stuff I do a little.  One thing I see that can be scaled back is my dive backs.  Where I had been doing 5 models recently, after starting with 4 originally in my current style, I have found that writing them all up is taking so much time that it is not feasible for me to continue at that pace.  So, I have come up with a small tweak.  I didn't want to give them up entirely, but I am cutting back to 2 per article.  I hope people understand, and will still enjoy them.  So, this week, with the latest Formula 1 season just finishing, I decided to do a few models that are somehow linked to it.  First up, a race car.  The MB19-A Lotus.  That was all they called it, although people know it is the 33 Race Car.  Developed in 1964 as a new upgrade to the older 25, the vehicle took them to 3rd in the 1964 championship, but in 1965, they won the championship in it.  1965 was when Matchbox launched it in the basic range as MB19. The first Lotus they ever made.  It was green for the first 2 years, and in 1967 it switched to orange.  I don't own either due to my not collecting regular wheel models.  But, it did make a brief switch over to Superfast in 1970.  

For this final year, they switched the colour to purple.  It is worth noting, they only ever bothered with a 3 label throughout its entire life.  

There is very little to look for with the model.  As noted, it only appeared during that year, and was swiftly dropped in 1971 for a Road Dragster.  

As such, there are precious little in the way of variants.  A small shade may appear (not found one of those yet) and people have found wheel errors, with 4-spokes popping up.  The only variant I found was one where the 3 labels on the sides are not there.  I cannot guarantee it left the factory like this, but there is no residue or any marks to make me feel they were there before.  Although I swear, if you stare at the picture, you start to see a circle on the side.  

My other model is a Ferrari.  Well, as I said, they were linked to F1.  Ferrari run a team there.  This is the last casting that was created by Matchbox.  Back in 2002, the MB531 Ferrari 360 Spider would prove to be the last time that Matchbox has (so far, I hope one day Ferrari will relax their rules) created a casting of one of their cars.

The model debuted in 2002, exclusively in the ROW market.  It was sold as MB65, and came in a traditional Ferrari red look.  The first 10,000 examples saw a 50 logo on the engine cover.  

2003 saw the model go worldwide as MB7.  Again, this was a logo year, and a Hero City logo adorned the front of the first 10,00 made.  Daft fact, this was the only model in the 2003 basic range that did not have the model's number in the range somehow incorporated into the tampo printing.  

In 2004, it was back to being an ROW exclusive.  Yes, it was flip-flopping around.  This year, it was MB22 (in lieu of one of the Ultra Heroes that the US market was getting) in yellow.

If you lived in the German market, you did find a second one too.  Stars of Cars arrived that year, replacing the earlier Stars of Germany series that had debuted in 2002.  The first 2 years, all the vehicles were of German cars, but in 2004, they decided to incorporate non-German cars too.  They changed the title of the series to the new name so as not to specify the German theme. It was red.  Similar to the debut.

But there were differences.  The tampo printing was different.  The shade of red was lighter.  The windows were light smoke, not clear.  The wheels were flower ones, not lace.

And this one did tampo print the rear lights.  Plus, they got rid of the Matchbox logo, that they were busy popping on models, until they dropped that after negative feedback.  

2005 did see another yellow sold worldwide again.  MB would prove to be the final basic range issue of the model, though. As many know, Ferrari decided to not allow any old manufacturer to make models of their vehicles after 2005.  They would give a single brand an exclusive right to make models.  I think the rule has been slightly altered lately, but they still don't allow whoever wants to make a model, a licence to make it.  Such a shame.  I would love to see more Ferraris in the Matchbox range.

As I compared the 2 reds, I should compare the 2 yellows too.As you can see, this time the window went the other way.  What was smoke is now clear.  The tampo printing is different. Lights were detailed for the first time.  However, this kept the same lace wheels that were used on the ROW 2004 issue.  

The rear detailing was definitely a lot different, though.

Of course, 2005 was not just a basic range release either.  The Superfast range brought us 2 more.  The number 38 slot saw 2 releases.  A champagne model for the US market, and a blue one for the ROW market.  

But with a licence no longer given after 2005, this proved to be it.  The model was capped at 7 releases.  4 basics (2 worldwide, 2 ROW only), a German only, and a pair of Superfast.  If Matchbox were to ever get the Ferrari licence back, I have a feeling this casting might be a little bit dated now.  I guess they could tinker with it, and get it freshened up.  But I don't see Ferrari playing ball for a while.  Such a shame.

So that brings me to the end of this report.  Best of France Batch B is in the bag.  2 (for me) new models.

Although to some, it is just the one.  Funnily enough, the only non-french vehicle in the batch.  

We also saw an early debut of 2 new castings too.  

And 2 others (or 3 if you include the DS) carried forward from 2021.  

It is funny how this batch had 5 French vehicles, and only 1 non-French.  The last batch only had 1 French model.  The Renault Kangoo.

As the others were 2 USA, 2 Italy and 1 Germany.  

I have to admit, the only thing I found was a little sad, was that there really was a lack of new content in the series.  A lot of carry forwards to be found.  Only a few exclusives across the entire set this year.  I mean, I did keep pretty much all of them, as I am mad, and do enjoy variations.  But I know, for many, they are quite irrelevant, and they prefer more exclusive content.  

But I still enjoyed getting these.  Next week, I am heading back to the USA for one of the store exclusives.  I hope you enjoyed my report.  Yes, it is slightly streamlined, but I hope it was still as enjoyable.  In the meantime, have a good week and catch you back here next Monday for more Matchbox goodies.


  • Speelshare

    Love the Citroen Ami – can’t wait for the Renault Twizy from MBX to come out too.
    I’m also a big fan of quirky electric vehicles.

  • bubblecar

    The Lotus is actually a Lotus 25. The configuration of the exhaust pipes is the giveaway. The Lotus 33 was a development of the 25, so you are not far off. Cheers.

  • Craig Tetlow

    Shame the UK only got the one series this year. With Tesco still at the healm and thus Matchbox being a closed market here I guess rendered this set pointless.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.