Firstly, Happy New Year! I can't believe we are in 2023 already. This means I have been doing my blog reports for 3 years now, as I began at the start of 2020. At first, they were on the Lamley blog, as being one half of Lamley, John spent many years convincing me to join in on the blog stuff. But as we have seen recently, they are now being showcased on the Wheel Collectors blog, and linked from Lamley. As I begin year 4, I am noticing just how far behind I am getting. Batch E? There's still batch F to go. And then we get to the 2023 stuff. Plus (deep breath), lots more Jurassic, Walmart/Target stuff, Working Rigs, Hitch & Haul, Moving Parts and Collectors stuff from 2022 to showcase. And that is before I make a start on anything 2023. I really need to either skip stuff, or double up on content. Luckily, with a few weeks coming up booked off work, I will have a little time to create some lengthier blogs. So be prepared. Later on, you will be finding some longer reports. In the meantime, let's finish off this batch.
Which begins with the MB1240 '84 Toyota MR2. For 2022, this model is in the MB16 slot in red. Wheel Collectors sent over both long card and power grab boxes for me to have fun with.
This is a lovely little casting. And so far, all the releases have been very simply done. Just front and rear detailing over a standard colour.
I do think the red look is the nicest to date. Maybe because red is my favourite colour. What do you mean "biased"? It really does look superb like this. Another home run from the Matchbox team.
And of course, for those of us crazy enough to attempt it, there are the 4 variants. I can't believe we are only 2 years into this model, and I already own 12 of them.
I do think each release has improved over the previous one. When it debuted, it was white as MB14 in 2021.
We then saw a Target Retro release in blue earlier this year, which I thought was a nicer look than the white debut. This red looks even nicer.
I love that the tampo printing on all 3 has been identical. Sure, one day I hope we get a fun licence plate. But the rest being the exact same between the releases just gives a sense of realism to the model.
Plow Master 6000. That appears to be the name currently assigned to the MB954 Highway Maintenance Truck. Daft fact, the base does not specify a name any more. So is this an official name now, or just a packaging thing? It takes the MB19 slot in the basic range, and is sporting the iconic National Parks livery.
You can't go wrong with the National Parks design. It can work on so many vehicles. Not all of them. Although I would love to see them attempt it on a Tesla! This is a welcome return to this model, which originally started back in 1990. Originally it was MB222, but saw a modification in 2014 into its current MAN number. But not its current guise.
Because it is 5 years since we last saw this model, and since 2017, it appears to have undergone a large transformation again.
Funnily enough, that last release was in the sister Forest Service livery. Some people mistake the 2 designs for each other, because both are fairly similar in colour. But they are different recurring themes.
The Forest Service theme is a darker green, although lately has moved slightly further away by adding a bit more of an olive look to it. Just to help differentiate it better. So what has changed?
The first thing you notice is that the model is now sporting a tow hook. Something it never had before. I always like a model to have a tow hook. Honestly, one area that requires looking at more is the lack of regular cars with tow hooks. Pickups? Sure. But just run-of-the-mill cars? We have the old MB363 VW Beetle. That is it. I hope to see a car get a tow hook in the future. But, I am going off track here. Apart from the addition of a tow hook, we also have the sides, under the dump area, no longer a part of the body.
They have not been over to the base section, but are actually a part of the window section. When viewed at the right angle, they are actually a dark smoke, not a black piece.
The base has been updated slightly, but as you can see, still keeps the same number. This means this alteration has over-ridden the old casting. That one no longer exists. The factory is now re-using the numbers for these changes, as leaving loads of gaps in the toolbank was proving more awkward.
So with this change, I can see this casting lasting for a while yet. I can't see a problem with that. It is a great nod to the past. I am not doing a dive back on this casting, as I actually showcased it in a recent blog report.
But what I can do is add a little trailer to the new one.
This particular MB1076 Trailer Trawler was used recently in the Off Road Hitch & Haul set, where it was being towed by the MB878 Jeep 4x4. And being raised quite high due to that too. The Plow Master 6000, or whatever we are going to call it (I tend to stick with Highway Maintenance Truck as that was the original), does a much better job of keeping it level.
Hubba hubba! One of my current favourite castings. The MB1244 '70 Ford Capri. I am a big fan of this, and those that saw my Top 10 list last week over on Lamley, they will have seen me choose the green one as one of my favourite recolours for a casting. It was close between that and this blue one. I didn't want to just fill the list with the same casting over and over. So I chose my favourite, and ignored the others. Had I not done so, this too would have been in the Top 10.
It takes the MB41 slot in the basic range, and this lovely metallic blue with simple side detailing and front end design looks amazing.
As I said, it was a tough decision. Both sport the same tampo. It really was simply a case of do I prefer green or blue? Green took it.
The best part about having Power Grab boxes and long cards? The possibility of being produced at different times. As such, this can often give us a variation. In this case, a lovely shade of blue.
The were produced 4 weeks apart. R19 or R23 base codes.
The debut release of the Ford Capri is the only one I don't have a shade on. The 2021 MB18 in silver.
Because I have some nice shades to the 2022 Best of UK release in yellow.
And the Target Retro release in green. I do enjoy my shades, and this year, the Capri has seen 3 releases, and I got multiples of them all.
The one thing I am waiting for is a release that has the rear tampo printed.
The MB1228 '57 Dodge Sweptside is up next. This year it takes the MB68 slot in the basic range.
This one looks really nice in white with a blue side. I love how this is also keeping a very consistent theme going with one side colour over another. This is in keeping with the real Sweptside's look. Fantastic work. Of course, this does mean, as a core range model, the model will not receive a front or rear print.
But I know from a sales perspective, the sides are often quite important as these are what are immediately visible when seen on the peg. And with a general rule of 2 passes through the tampo machine for a basic, this does mean that to get any additional printing front or rear, the sides could get affected. Let's hope for a premium issue at some point. But on a model like this, I think this is good enough. I like this look. The white with blue sides looks very appealing to me.
Again, this model is one from 2021 initially. Many year 2s here. MB2 was the 2021 debut in cream with a red side.
And only recently shown, we had the blue with black sides Dodge series issue too.
Which means, just like the Toyota shown above, this is now 3 releases in, and each one sports the exact same tampo printing. Which, as you know, I love this consistency in the model.
The MB1281 '22 Renault Mégane is up next. This was already previewed a few months ago, as it actually arrived early in the Best of France batch B.
It now arrives in the basic range as MB70 in the same silver look that we saw earlier in Best of France. So we know what to expect. Well, those who got Best of France do.
Which is a nice debut look in silver, with front and rear printing. But in this case, they have managed to sneak in a little silver trim over the side because the roof is a part of the window section. This may be a requirement by Renault. It is so nice seeing a Renault car in the range again. The last one was the Renault 11, which was last seen in 1988!
You may have noticed that I opened the new issue of the Renault, too. This means there is something I noticed that was different between it and the Best of France issue I showcased before. So let's bring that one in for a little side by side.
Wait, that's not side by side. That's top/bottom.
There we are. Side by side. I noticed that the earlier run Best of France release has a bit of a blueish tint to it. The newer basic range run is definitely more of a grey. So, there was me thinking that all we got was an early release for the French market, but we did get a shade. So, I am very happy.
Tesla! Yes, I showcased a Tesla in the first half of this batch. We saw 2 of them in the mix. And with one in mix D too, this means we have seen 3 Tesla's in 2 batches. Tesla are taking over! This is the MB1230 '20 Tesla Roadster.
Taking the MB75 slot for 2022, the model comes in a dark charcoal look.
With quite a minimalist approach to the tampo printing, this does look actually a little plain. There is not a lot of colour to it at all. But, when you look at the real car, which is not easy as they are still not out yet, you do notice that they are, in actuality, quite plain too. So, that actually makes this a very good representation of how the real vehicle looks. But, and this is a weird but (this is me, I like weird), I still like it. There is something about the Roadster. I think it is a pretty cool vehicle, and even in this plain look, I think it looks excellent. Go figure.
And I have 2 of them. Remember me talking of the power grab vs long card dates? Well, that paid dividends here too. A number of weeks apart, and boom!
The window tint changes. A smoke window, or a dark smoke window. How well do you want to see inside?
It is quite a noticeable little change. Something that a crazy person like me fawns over.
In this case, the earlier run was R20. The power grabs look like they were done around the end of one week, beginning of the next.
Wait a sec? Was this a model that debuted in 2021? I think it was. Definitely a theme here. Only this time, the model did not debut in the basic range. Instead, we saw this white promotional example made to showcase Matchbox's planned move to recycled materials, as it was made almost entirely from them. And I have to say, you can't tell the difference.
Then it arrived in the basic range. Sold as MB4, it came in burgundy, which came out in numerous shades. It wasn't even different production times. The paint was just unusual, and giving us unique results.
Earlier this year, it was repeated in the MBX Electric Drivers 12-pack, and this was a very bright burgundy shade, compared to anything that came before. That included a carry forward to Best of France batch A, which appeared to be more of the initial run in darker burgundy shades.
Next up we have a casting that first arrived back in (checks notes), yes, 2021. The MB1241 '53 Buick Skylark Convertible. Last year, I was completely taken aback by just how nice it was. And this black does not disappoint. In fact, this was another that almost made my Top 10 new liveries list. It was one of the last to be taken out before I settled on my 10. I love this black look.
It looks absolutely stunning in black. Simple front and pin striping details. Lashings of chrome. A lovely ivory interior and light smoke window. I really can't ask for much more from this.
Sure, there could have been rear printing. But that would have taken away from the sides. I like this side look. I think this may be an improvement on last year's debut, which did make my Top 10 list of new castings for 2021.
And that too was a stunner. MB21 for 2021 was a stellar debut in blue with a red interior. Same tampo, same lashings of chrome.
Even the same tinted window. What do I keep saying? Consistency! I love how we are getting so much of that lately. You find something that works and stick with it. No trying to change it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
Oh wow! A model that is older than 2021. Only the second in this review. The MB1179 '16 Ford Interceptor Utility makes a repeat appearance in the 2022 range. We did have one already.
Sold as MB92, this is a very real livery, for Monroeville. A "home rule municipality" in Pennsylvania, which is a Pennsylvania thing. It is located about 10 miles from Pittsburgh. The police force there have 42 officers, and they have Interceptor Utility vehicles to drive in, which look like this. I love how we are getting so many real looks for this casting. Most of them have been authentic liveries of real police forces.
Something which, again, you cannot go wrong with. Make a real livery, and I love it! I am always happy to see them find all of these places to get liveries from. Who would have guessed Monroeville as a future livery a few years back?
So, recap time. We can go further back, as this dates all the way back to 2019! The MB42 debut was as a fire chief in red, with a Matchbox original design. With that turning up again on a Ford Taurus Interceptor, I wonder if we will see it on a future vehicle again?
2020, just like 2022, had 2 issues in the basic range. However, both of them that year were black. We had an MB48 for The California Highway Patrol, and an MB78 for the El Segundo Police. The El Segundo one did reappear in the MBX Service 5-pack this year, but was identical.
For 2021, it was just the 1 basic. MB65 was again black, and this time had the San Luis Obispo Police design on the side.
We also saw a 5-pack for Boone County in a set that was actually called MBX Recue. No, that is not a spelling mistake. The package was. It was supposed to say Rescue, but somebody missed an "s" out.
We also saw one more release, early in the year. This was actually all ordered in 2020, as part of a Thank You Heroes gift set that Mattel created. You pre-ordered them in 2020, and they made them at the end of the year and shipped them out at the start of 2021. Some people classify them as a 2020 issue, as that was when you ordered them. But with production starting during the 2021 year, I classify them as a 2021.
And, as I said, this is the second 2022 release. After 2020 being both black, these are both white. MB95 appeared earlier in the year in the very well known NYPD livery. Plus, the blue tampo gave us some shading. I do love shading. I think this is really cool, that this year we had a massive police force, and a small local one, both covered as basic range issues on the same model. I think that is great. Not just going with what we all know.
This brings us to the last model in the batch. The MB1215 MBX Cycle Trailer. It takes the MB98 slot in the basic range.
Now, this is a really cool recurring theme. So I am happy. This white look has been seen a couple of times already. I love a recurring theme. We see the wheel arches detailed, which is a single pass, as this would get done before they add the bike, and both sides are hit together.
Which means we also got a rear end treatment. Something, which my camera did not decide to focus on. Dammit! A clear shot of the bike though. That will be the scrambler.
Because this is also a dual variation model. You can find either a scrambler or a chopper on the back of the trailer.
For those trying to remember what vehicles sported this theme before, let me remind you. We first saw it in 2015. The MB860 Ford Explorer used it for the MB76 basic range issue, and also as a part of the Police Squad 5-pack that same year. No tow hook. No good for pulling this trailer.
Ah yes, the MB129 Chevy Blazer. In 2019, it used this livery too. Oh look, that one has a tow hook.
Which does give you a bit of a problem. That bike will need to be tied very securely to stop it from falling off the back while being towed.
The highway Maintenance Truck is back, as he is having fun, finally sporting a tow hook of his own. He can tow whatever, anywhere. Literally, as he can clear a path as he goes.
And that is the end of Batch E. One more batch (plus a couple of stragglers) to go to finish off the 2022 basic range. But, I have a little time to squeeze in a couple of models as I dive back into my collection.
Which this week actually begins in 1969. The year man first stepped on the moon, and Jimi Hendrix wowed the massive crowds at Woodstock. This was the year that saw the Boeing 747 launch, Sesame Street debut, and Matchbox launch their Superfast range. That first year saw 10 models debut. 5 were brand new. The other 5 were the first 5 regular wheel models to be converted. One of them was the MB14-A Iso Grifo. It had first arrived in 1968 in blue with regular wheels. Iso Rivolta, the Italian car manufacturer, was perhaps best known for introducing the Isetta, a 3-wheeled vehicle, in 1953. However, not many know it was Iso that started it. They sold rights to make it to many companies, and many just know it as an Isetta. The one common thread between them. The Grifo was perhaps their best selling GT car. Sold between 1965 and 1974, they made a total of 413. After this, Iso went very quiet until relaunching in 2017 with the new GTZ. This began production in 2019, and a total of 19 will be built. They are still making them.
Lesney's model of the Grifo launched in 1968, and came with opening doors. Upon switching to the Superfast wheels in 1969, the rest was unchanged. Dark blue, a blue interior, and thin 5-spoke wheels.
It ran through 1970 like this, and the interior does vary in shade of blue.
As does the body.
In 1971, they decided to change the look. They went from blue, to blue. Yes, it was now just a bright blue, rather than navy blue. There is a rare crossover. The white interior was fitted to the last few dark blues, and these command a very high price nowadays. I am still to get one.
Of course, shades are very common with Lesney models. They just used whatever paint was there at the time. It was never consistent.
For 1972, the model underwent a small change. The wheels were fattened out to keep the model stable on the new track they were selling. The original thin wheels were found to not stay on as well. Particularly on models where they were not specifically on the outside of it.
However, this is a casting that really did not require any chopping to the body to accommodate those wider wheels. Some castings had some severe work done to wheel arches to fit the wider wheels.
The model continued in production until 1974. 3 years of wide wheel blues? Yes, plenty of shades.
After being replaced for 1975, the model lay dormant for a few years. But in 1977, with Lesney trying something new for the Japanese market, they relaunched it there. However, these were a very pale pastel blue shade.
They were also sporting 5-square wheels rather than the more common in early 1970s 5-rectangle. It was a small, but subtle change to the wheel.
In 1979, the wheels did switch to dot-dash for a final run, and after the sudden cessation of the Japanese exclusive range for 1980, what was left was sold in MP-1 5-packs, mainly in the UK in 1980. These MB-1 packs saw a number of items intended for Japan in 1980, but because of the swift way they stopped it, production had already started on 1980 stuff. After this, the model was retired (except a cost reduced version reappeared as a Super GT in 1985).
My other little dive back this week is the MB532 BMW Z8. This was released in 2002 as MB9 in the basic range. 2002 was quite the year for BMW lovers who also loved Matchbox. Mattel had set up a deal with BMW dealers in Germany to release a special set of unique models directly through the dealerships. As such, we saw a slew of new castings arrive. There was an X5, Z3 and 3-series Cabrio too. This though, it was the only one to be in the BMW dealer set and the basic range in the same guise. The X5 and Z3 had opening doors for the dealer set, but a secondary sealed door version appeared as a basic. The Cabrio? Well, that was barely used at all. Never saw a basic range release.
This one was sold as MB9 in black with a red striped side design. The first 10,000 produced had a 50 logo on the rear too.
We also had this lovely silver release in the dealer set, sold through BMW dealers in Germany (I believe Austria too).
But that was not it for 2002. An Auto Caro launcher set included this blue version in the 5 models included.
And again in Germany, we saw the launch of Stars of Germany. A 12-model set for the German market, which saw another blue release of the Z8.
That was quite the debut year for the casting.
For 2003, we saw a blue one. Why am I getting Iso Grifo vibes again? It was MB10 this year, and again the first 10,000 had a logo. This time it was a Hero City logo on the front.
The Auto Cargo launcher set saw a number of the vehicles carried over from 2002, but in alternate colours. The BMW was one, and what was blue in 2002, became gold for 2003.
After that, the US range dropped it. For 2004, it was now an ROW exclusive MB23 in a lovely metallic green with simple rear detailing. This was because the US range was getting more Ultra Heroes. We had to make do with models like this in the ROW range, while the US range got vehicles with hats on.
It was also added to the Superfast series that year too. It was in the number 59 slot in grey with front and rear detailing.
For 2005, and a drastic change of direction, the model was brought back to the worldwide basic range. It was in burgundy as MB34. It saw a simple lights detail, and in my case, a cool shade.
It was still number 59 in the Superfast series, which meant a dual release. USA saw 15,000 blue ones sold, and all other markets saw 7,500 red ones.
Which means that, yes, it has 4 blue releases. It was trying to give that Iso a run for its money.
Sadly, this model really tailed off after that. Dropped from the basic range, we saw one more Superfast release. It was also chosen to be one of the "Streakers" models. It was in grey with a white design on it.
That pretty much proved to be it. However, as a surprise, a 2014 MBX Exotics 5-pack randomly threw one in. It was a lovely model in red with simple front and rear detailing. This time, I noticed it was the window that was sporting a shade. Was this the model's swansong? Could it return for another outing? Who knows.
And on that note, I think I am done for another week. We saw a trailer, with 2 vehicles in the batch that could tow it.
Three American vehicles, 1 modern and the other 2 classic.
As well as 3 from other parts of the world. Again, 1 modern and 2 classic.
Next week I will be showcasing something I didn't think I would. Hmm! I wonder what that could be? You will have to wait to find out. Until then, I hope everyone has had a good start to the year, as we start to get back to normality.