Matchbox Monday finishes 2022 Hitch & Haul

I am close to finishing my tour through 2022 Matchbox products.  I have this batch of Hitch & Haul I am looking at this week, and next week there is one more item to finish off 2022.  Then I close the chapter on that year and concentrate solely on 2023.  I do enjoy the Hitch & Haul series, and I am loving getting all the accessories again.  They are fun to get too.  So, let's get into it, with these final 4 sets.  

Now, for those who are trying to keep tabs on Hitch & Haul, things got very squirely.  In 2021, they launched a series of 8 sets.  One batch of 3 sets arrived (one of the sets being in later assortments), and then nothing.  A year later, a new batch appeared.  Almost immediately came another batch.  This was in March and April 2022.  With these 5 sets, we do have a complete set of 8 for 2021.  We could classify those as 2021 sets, and there would be a set of 8.  But March and April 2022?  Surely that is not 2021 items. So we mark them down as 2022.  But with this batch of 4, this leaves us with 9 sets in total for 2022.  And 2 set numbers duplicated.  Set 1 and set 3.  Plus, there is no set 7.  But if we don't, we could re-classify the first 2 batches as very late 2021s, and then this set of 4 is all we get for 2022.  Because a series of 9 sets are starting to appear for 2023, and will be showcased soon.  Are you following? Many people have likely thought "screw it, I am lost".  So I am starting this with set number 1 (for the second time) of 2022.  MBX Archaeologist Dig.  

This sees the return of 2 castings from before, except that both have been tinkered with in the interim.  Rather surprisingly, one of them even gets a new MAN number.  So I think I need to check them out properly and see what has been done with them.

So do we have the Truck Camper and Excavator Trailer from before?  These were a part of a Dino Dig Hitch 'n Haul set in 2007, so this is almost like a refresh of that set.  

Especially as the accessories are the same ones.  I like this feeling of nostalgia.  

Although, I wish I knew why they have hexagonal slots to put round pins in.  All that effort to teach me as a baby how to fit shapes in holes in a wooden shape sorter game was a complete waste of time.  Round fits in a hexagon.  Mind blown!  

As I had mentioned the Dino Dig set from 2007, I guess I should bring it in.  

The MB417 Truck Camper first debuted back in 1999.  Yes, this was an early Mattel creation.  It ran for 2 years in the basic range, with a reappearance in 2006 briefly. Aside from that, it was used quite a lot in licenced 5-packs, and the older incarnation of Hitch 'n Haul (as it was known in the mid '00s to early '10s).  It was last seen in 2013 and has laid dormant since.  You can see changes already.  The front bumper is now a part of the base section.  This is because the model was a slot in casting, and all of those have been changed to the drop method.  Production is faster when you assemble that way, starting with the body upside down.  You then drop a window in, drop an interior in, drop a base in, then rivet.  Boom!  Done!  While doing this, you can see that they took a little time to tidy up the casting itself.  Look how much better those window wipers are now.  Nice and sharp, compared to the older incarnation.  

This runs through the entire casting.  Everything looks sharper than it was before.  You might also notice how the base is much more prominent now.  

I think this has really enhanced the casting, giving it a much better look.  I wonder if this means we will see more of it in the future.  We haven't got much in the way of mobile homes in the range at the moment.  

There is one other point to note.  Originally, it came with an opening side door.  This has now been sealed shut.

That is quite a big overhaul to the casting.  As a final touch, they have now renamed it to Campin' Cruiser.  It is still being classified as MB417 though.  A great job by the time in refreshing the tired old casting.  I always liked it.  As a Matchbox originals casting, this was one of the nicer ones.  I am happy to see it return.

Now we come to the other casting.  What was the MB681 Excavator Trailer.  The trailer section has seen a small change.  The lower tab on the front hook as been removed, so the casting drops further when unhooked from a vehicle.  The hexagon in the middle has been shrunk.  You might also notice divots being taken out of the higher side sections.  

With the lower tab missing, this does mean that it now tips up a little when loose.  the back wheels are off the ground.  

But the bigger surprise was seeing this given a brand-new MAN number.  MB1318 MBX Utility Flatbed Trailer.

As to the little excavator in the back, this has been changed quite considerably.

The main body of the original was made of 2 parts, with a small upper area being used as a colour break.  The arm and bucket were 2 parts.  Now, the arm and bucket are a single piece.  But they have changed the split to the body.  Now it is the lower section, and this allows it to pivot around rather than staying one direction.  I prefer the body this way, but am sad the bucket was no longer moveable.  

So now the 2 castings have new names, but only one changed its MAN number in doing so.  Usually they don't do that any more.  My guess is that MB681 was used for all trailer sections, regardless of which items were attached to it.  Let's face it, the original didn't always get an excavator on the back.  A selection of Egyptian artefacts, a gun turret, an alien spaceship and a trebuchet were all to be found in lieu of the excavator, yet it was still called an Excavator Trailer.  I think they are separating it out to call it a different MAN number, depending on what is being placed on it.  

While I am here, for fun, why not check out the accessories too.  

As I mentioned, these are the same accessories that were used back in 2007.  This is a simple refresh of a classic set.  I don't mind that.  Take something old and make it new again.  I think it is cool.  Sort of like a running theme.  

I am noticing the lack of printed detail being applied to these items now.  But, spoiler alert, I am noticing them return for 2023.  Which is good.  

Next up is something that is really cool.  And definitely not something that is like a refresh on an older set.  The number 2 of 8 Crocodile Country set.  

This sees the Hitch & Haul debut of the MB997 Swamp Raider, towing the MB422 Whitewater Raft.

But wait?  The Swamp Raider doesn't have a tow hook.  It does now!  I love the rear.  Although I am picturing silly shoes in my head.  I don't love them.  My niece, on the other hand....

The Whitewater Raft was last seen in 2017 in a 5-pack, so it has not been docile for very long.  

Included in the set are these 2 adorable crocodiles.  Okay, crocodiles are not exactly the prettiest of animals, but have you ever held one?  I have.  They are so soft underneath.  I visited a gator farm in the USA in 2019 with my niece, after our visit to the 2019 Convention.  So these are giving me nostalgic vibes.  And they are really nice.  I don't think that man with a fish has been seen before, although I might be mistaken.  However, the old tree definitely has.  

Look, the man is taunting the crocodiles with the fish.  If he's not careful, they might forget about the fish and choose him for their dinner instead.  Anyway, enough playing, let's do a few comparisons.

For this, I am actually going right back to the start of the Swamp Raider.  It was created back in 2009 and was going to be a playset exclusive.  Things often change, and in the late 2000s, Mattel came up with a plan to create a few castings that would only be used in playsets, as an exclusive.  This and Badlander were the first 2 creations designed that could be thrown in without the need for applying for a licence.  It was a way to keep costs for playsets down a little.  Unfortunately, the bean counters decided that it was not enough, and having models in playsets was temporarily dropped, before being reinstated a few years later, as simply models pulled from elsewhere that sort of worked.  A concept that is still in place now.  So after its debut, the casting lay dormant for a few years before they started using it elsewhere.  

When it debuted, it was a part of a Croc Escape playset.  You see where I am going with this?  It came with a removable rear canopy, and at the time was to be found with either white or black windows.  

But look at that tampo.  Isn't that awesome!  This set may feature a lot of new stuff, but the design on the Swamp Raider gives us the nostalgia feels.  I love how they used the original look, and came up with a "Team Two" design.  That is a great way to sort of give us a recurring theme.  I think it is fantastic.  

Obviously, this casting did go through a change in 2014.  After a final 5-pack release in 2014 in a Dino Adventure pack, they retooled it to remove the rear canopy, open the bed and give the model an interior.  Plus the roof was turned into a part of the window section.  But it never had a tow hook.  

The latest release is the first time we have seen it with a tow hook.  The base has been updated with a double copyright year of 2014 and 2021.  It still keeps its name, and its MAN number.  

Now, how about the Whitewater Raft?  This first appeared back in 1999, but with the debut having a white base, I decided to use one with clearer details, hence the 2000 MB37 UK exclusive release.  

You might notice the original copyright year of 1999 was changed to 2011.  This did receive a small change at that time.  They also dropped the "Whitewater" part of the name.  It simply became Raft Boat.  

This was all down to how the engine was being added at the rear.  In its early days, this was simply attached between the hull and top section of the main body.  Sadly, this did mean that it was possible to pull it off quite easily.  So they made a change to it, and now the engine has a section that goes much further inside to be hooked in to the rest.  This way, the engine can't be pulled off, unless you put in a lot of effort.  

They also slightly altered the base of the trailer to now require just a single rivet.  

This also saw a change to the metal section and this was shortened a little to allow normal wheels to be used.  For the 1990s/2000s, the model used a very thin wheel, which was an older wheel that was still being used on occasion.  They decided it was time to update it to one of the standard wheels in rotation.  Being much thicker, this meant the axle needed to be shorter.

But, as these were only mild changes, this does mean that the original boats can still be clicked into modern trailer bases.  And vice versa.  It is still all compatible.  

I think this is a brilliant set.  I pulled out a few extra trees for this final shot of the croc team.  

Third up, is set number 3of 8.  The MBX Surfing II pack.  This features the MB1194 ‘61 Ford Ranchero & MB1271 Travel Trailer II.

I have to admit, I am a sucker for the caravans.  Having been a caravan family growing up, whenever I see one, it reminds me of my childhood.  Good times!  

I love this red and white look, complete with a variety of logos across both models.  

I do smile at the logo on the door.  RIP to the surfboard as the wave has smashed it.  

We see a few familiar looking accessories, but I don't remember that man on a surfboard with a paddle.

As this is called MBX Wave Rider II, this logically means that there was an original.  Sure enough, the original was in the 2021 series.  This time, it was the MB1013 VW Transporter Crew Cab that was pulling the Travel Trailer II.  

And those who know the VW, they know it comes with a dual interior option.  With or without items in the rear.  

But, as you can see, when that came out, the stack of surfboards was there.  The man in the recliner was there.  But in the 2021 set, we had a man riding a wave included, where this has been replaced by a new man on surfboard with paddle.  

It turns out, the Ranchero is another casting that has seen the addition of a tow hook.  

This is technically the fifth release of the Ranchero.  The first with a tow hook.  It debuted in 2018 in the basic range as MB30 in err, whatever colour that is.  Then it was MB75 in 2020 in white, which saw a wheel variation during production, and in 2021 we saw a blue MB96.  Earlier in 2022 saw an orange 9-pack exclusive.  And now the red one.  Will all future Rancheros now have a tow hook? Only time will tell.  

With this, I now move on to the final set in the batch.  Number 4 of 8, MBX Service II.  Included are the MB1074 MBX Flatbed Truck & MB1078 ‘16 Chevy Colorado Xtreme. However, it should be noted that this is MBX Service II because MBX Service was a 5-pack released earlier in 2022.  

In 2021, they released a set called Roadside Assistance.  This also contained the MBX Flatbed Truck, but some may remember this was the delayed set in the first (and only) batch of 2021.  The reason was that the original casting due to be added to the rear was dropped late in the day, and they had to rush through some sort of alternative.  For that, they just grabbed a Matchbox originals casting, and set about redesigning the artwork to denote that instead of the original vehicle. No such delay this time.  Excellent.  The truck has Wiersma Towing on the doors.  A nod to the former Ambassador, Chuck Wiersma.  He was the 6th ambassador, which is why it has No.6 on the printing.  Easter Eggs!  

It is nice to see the Chevy Colorado Xtreme return.  This is the first new look since 2020. It had a carry forward usage in 2021.  

The Colorado rolls on to the back of the flatbed perfectly.  

And sits snugly on the back while in motion.  I love it.  

As I show off the accessories, I wanted to explain why I mentioned it sitting perfectly.

Because do you remember the 2021 release?  This featured a blue MBX Flatbed Truck with Ozima (Terry Ozima, the 4th ambassador), but had the MB731 Baja Bandit on the back.  This was just grabbed from the Off road Rally set that same year as a quick replacement when the original choice was dropped.  And no, I don't know what the original choice was.  

Sadly, in their haste to grab something, they forgot to check whether it fit the rear properly.  Those large rear wheels meant it was actually a little wide.  Not overly wide, but wide enough that it wasn't a snug fit on the back.  Not like the Colorado.  That one is spot on!  

The 2021 Roadside Assistance pack has the same accessories as the 2022 MBX Service II pack, albeit in different colours.  I enjoy these, so am happy to have alternate colours on various items.  I would not say no to a set like this every year.  I like them. Now before I finish, just a quick recap of both of these 2 models.

And I do this by stacking them.  On the left in this picture are the 3 basic range issues of the MBX Flatbed Truck.  It debuted as MB32 in the 2018 range in white.  It was then MB95 in 2019 in red, before getting a final basic range outing in 2020 in silver as MB25.  On the right are what came after losing its basic range status.  In 2021 it was in a City Adventure II 5-pack in black (which was also in the MBX Metro 12-pack in 2022), and as I noted, it was in the Hitch & Haul then and now.  This is its 6th look.  

Which beats out the Colorado.  This was also a 2018 basic range debut, but actually arrived a little earlier, in late 2017 as a 2018 Toy Fair model.  It then popped up in orange as MB92.  For 2019, it moved to the MB67 slot in dark grey, and in 2020 was MB93 in blue.  Funnily enough, this mirrored the Flatbed Truck's basic range run.  But after that, this was a lot quieter.  As I mentioned, the 2018 debut popped back up in a 2021 Walmart Truck series set, but that was all until now.  As you can, apart from the very premium look to the toy fair model, this is the first time the model has seen a side print and not a front/rear detail.

And with that, I believe I am done with these.  I have enjoyed all of these sets in different ways.  The Archaeologist Dig set for giving me nostalgia feels from the '00s.  The Croc set for more nostalgia from the original Swamp Raider.  The Surfing set for even more nostalgia.  This time from my childhood.  And the Service set for just being a great set. No nostalgia.  Just an improvement over the 2021 set (I am sure Terry Ozima may disagree - ha ha!)

I hope you enjoyed my little run through.  Next week, I will work my way through the final 2022 products.  After that, it is all 2023. Until then, have a safe and happy week.  See you next Monday for more Matchbox goodies. 

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