Am I going off-track here? Sure? But I am having fun, so why not take a week to enjoy the hobby for what it is. Toy cars. And what comes with toy cars? Playsets. Wheel Collectors have recently started adding playsets to their store, and asked me if I was at all interested in the Matchbox ones? Yes, I am definitely down for a little fun. So they have sent me an assortment of playsets for me to have a little fun with. Thanks guys. I am sorry this is a week later than planned, though. My work schedule is pretty hectic and my spare time is getting quite limited.
So I am going to just have a little fun this week. There is no dive back at the end. Just me being a big kid and playing with Matchbox. After all, isn't that what they were made for? So kick your shoes, off, let your mind go blank, and just have a little fun and pretend to be a big kid again. I never stop! Ha ha!
One set I was shocked to see was the 2021 Helicopter Rescue set. It is dated fairly late in 2022, so was still being produced well into the new year, long after the later sets had surfaced.
I am not going to focus on this one as it is actually not compatible with the later assortment. I know, why did they change the links on the sets for 2022? Nobody knows.
Which is a shame, as I did buy this set back in 2021. The UK sold them at Tesco stores alongside a Fuel Stop set, and I picked them both up at the time for a little fun. I really wanted the later stuff to slot into these and build the city even bigger, but sadly anything 2021 is its own little city. 2022 appears to continue into 2023 unchanged, which is how things should be. So I am going to really get going on some 2022/2023 sets.
To start with, I will open the Construction Site set. It is a medium-sized set and comes complete with the MB737 Quarry King.
Inside are an assortment of solid plastic pieces, with an instruction manual explaining how to build the set.
A couple of the smaller parts that are tied into the bigger pieces are carefully covered with a thick piece of cardboard to stop being damaged. Some smaller parts are placed inside a small box so as not to lose them.
You also get a sticker sheet, with instruction on where to place them. There were some stickers already added, which I think are in areas that are a little more fiddly.
The area on the parts where stickers are to be placed are easy to identify. Like on this section where it is slightly indented and smoothed out ready to accept a sticker.
Once I am finished with the sticker sheet, it is time to start the build.
The base sections all slot in very easily. There is a sold click when you push them together, but if you did want to pull them apart, they are not difficult to pry apart either.
And then you add in the crane section and other parts, including the ramp parts. Again, these all slot together with a nice, solid clunk as you are putting them together. This does not feel cheap.
There is a section of road which is being swung around by the crane, and can be lowered into place on the upper ramped area.
It is a nice snug fit when lowered down.
You can also raise it back up and swing it around to the other side of the set.
It fits nice and smoothly into the section in the middle of the road, covering up the dirt patch that was there.
And of course, we have the Quarry King in the set for instant playability.
There is a figure on the road that stops you from passing by.
They can slide back and forth, so can let people by at other times.
When it is on the raised section, there are some notches so that you can raise and lower it with the vehicle staying put.
Once the vehicle is over the ramped area, as it heads down the exit ramp you will find a boulder in the way, and another figure holding a barrier to stop people going by.
These 2 parts are connected. You push the boulder out of the way, and the person with the barrier will also swing out of the way with it. A nice and simple technique. It is a nice little set. It has playability on its own, but obviously if you were to build up a city, it makes things even more interesting.
Now what of the Quarry King? Let's look a little closer. As with all playsets recently, included vehicles are pulled from elsewhere. This Quarry King was It was MB58 in the 2016 basic range originally.
But with 6 years between production runs, I am not surprised that the newer one is so much different. A very noticeable shade of orange. Much lighter than it was back in 2016. Anybody who has been following me a while will know that this has made me very happy.
But, why not dive back through the entire history here. The model debuted as MB57 back in 2008. It came in yellow, and boy did it give us a lot of fun.
Because the wheels kept changing. Sometimes chrome, sometimes yellow, and other times just not hot foil printed at all. So we had 3 variations for the debut release.
And that's not all. They also gave us a version 2 a few batches later. And again, the wheels were never consistent. Orange or grey this time.
It had a big debut year, though. At the end of the year, it was added to the 1st Editions 10-pack in red. The wheels had a totally different variation, as this time they ran out of the normal cog wheels, and pulled out some older ovals to continue production while they went and got more.
They also threw it into the first set of Euro Edition. This was a German exclusive series that replaced the Stars of Germany (2002-2003) and Stars of Cars (2004-2007) ranges. This did not sport any wheel variations, so I had to go with my old way and find a shade.
In comparison, 2009 was quite boring. It was Mb63 in the basic range in olive. Yeah, just the one variation I could find.
It was also included in the Construction pack in brown-red. Yeah, I found nothing again.
They also put it in the Superfast set as well. This was a premium offering, which did mean a few additional tampo prints. But no additional variations. Just the 1.
In 2010, this is where things went really weird. The model was MB41 in the US and ROW range only. The LAAM range did not include it. It arrived in the middle of the year in US assortments, but not in the ROW assortments. It was in blue with an orange striped design. After running a bunch of batches in the US range, it was dropped from assortments. But by that point, it was still not in the ROW assortments. It finally popped up right at the end of the year. Briefly, in 1 assortment. But then it switched the colours. It was now orange with a blue striped design.
This only appeared in a later ROW assortment that was actually in the early 2011 year. Some thought it was a 2011 model, but no. MB41 for the ROW 2011 range as a Cadillac Ambulance. The Quarry King was not officially in the 2011 ROW range. But this was not a version 2 either. The orange never appeared in the US assortments. Just this one ROW assortment.
We also had a grey issue in a Construction Trucks 5-pack that year as well.
MB41 for 2011 was now a US and LAAM exclusive. It was in green and appeared later in the year.
And another Construction 5-pack gave us a white issue.
2012 saw the model sold as MB91 worldwide, as the ranges had all amalgamated again. We did note that the casting had been altered.
It was only a simple change. The ladder was moved from the body section to the base section. It kept the MAN number, which is the norm now, but at the time, usually this would warrant a new number.
We had another Construction 5-pack, which had another red issue this time.
In 2013, they made a small mistake. It only appeared in the 60th Anniversary series in yellow with a chrome bucket on the front. However, apart from me finding a shade to the yellow, they mistakenly pulled out the original base section. So the modified body with no ladder met a base with.... no ladder. Oops!
2014 saw the model back in the basic range. MB32 this time. It was in lime green, and this time it was the wheels that threw up the variation again. Cogs or dual ringed 8-dot wheels.
And in 2015, it was now MB29 in green.
It was also thrown in the new Jurassic World series that they rushed out due to getting the licence so late.
This was a repeat of the 2016 issue, and after that we saw one more basic range outing in 2017. It was in blue with a green bucket as MB76. After that, the model has not been seen in the basic range. But it has appeared a few times in carry forward guise. This was also in an earlier Demolition playset in 2020, but there was another carry forward in 2019.
Mattel released an MBX Construction 5-pack in some places, not usually mixed in with other 5-packs. This was one of a small selection of all carry forward packs that tested the market before becoming parts of the standard 5-pack assortments.
However, the model they carried forward was the 2009 basic, and this meant that the later run was on the updated casting, and the ladder was now on the base section, not the body section originally. But this model has not seen any new looks since 2017.
Wheel Collectors also have an Auto Shop playset in stock. However, I had already bought one of these in the UK, as they were in a store called Home Bargains a short while ago. I told them not to bother sending me that as I do already have it.
If anybody follows me on Instagram at @davidjtilley you might have seen me doing the unboxing of this there. I am not going to repeat it.
But, being a 2022 release, this does mean it is compatible with Construction Zone, and they click together perfectly.
So time to move on to the smaller playsets. Bus Station is one of the two 2022 small playsets they released.
Considering this is about half the size of the bigger sets, I think there are just about as many parts to put together again.
So I sticker up what needs a sticker and prepare to put all the parts together.
As with the larger sets, it is still a 3-part build for the base of the set.
With the upper parts all clicking in with a solid clunk again. I love that they make sure to be as inclusive as they can, as we often see disabled markings on these sets. The 2 larger sets did not have the facility to put a disabled badge anywhere, but this has a disabled parking spot on the roof.
We have a suited gentleman waiting for the bus. You can see he is in a section that appears to move.
Which means that the included MB992 City Bus serves a purpose.
When the bus rolls over the slot in front of the man, he moves out to get on the bus. Not too far. We don't want to run him over.
The bus also has a slot to park in at the rear to refuel.
Which is barriered off at most times.
When the bus is ready for another trip, the barrier can be opened to let it out. It is a lovely little set.
And this clicks into the larger sets very easily. Obviously, you can click it to the others in multiple areas. I just chose this for myself.
So, time to take a closer look at the model again. This is a repeat of the 2018 Metro Transit 5-pack release.
It is a slightly different green. A little bit brighter? The new one is on the left.
The tampo printing is very close, and the tint for the window is almost identical as well. In fact, there is really only 1 way to know for sure which is the 2018 run and which is the 2022 run.
Because they have renamed it. The original City Bus name was wiped off the base, and in its place? MBX City Bus. In a new spot on the base. Everything else is the same. It was purely a rename. This is the first we have seen of the MBX City Bus moniker.
So back in 2005, when it was known as City Bus, it was also known by a different MAN number. MB662. It debuted that year as MB18, and was one of the first Matchbox originals castings to debut under the new regime based in El Segundo, after moving from Mount Laurel in New Jersey. The model debuted as MB18 in white, and although I did not find one, there is a rarer variant where the 2 pillars in the middle did not receive a tampo print.
They had confidence in the casting, and added it to the 2005 Superfast series. That was important, as when Superfast returned in 2004, every model was a licenced one. This saw them slip in a few original castings to the range. It was also in blue for the ROW market or white for the US market.
It was also a part of the Stars of Cars series in Germany. This was also the first we saw of a non-licenced model in that range. It was also a fun one to collect. As you can see, the shade of blue was good for some shades on the casting. But this was not because of a change of factory. I mention that as during its time, they moved from China to Thailand.
These are both China made models. Adding Dinky to bases for the Stars of Germany/Stars of Cars series was the norm for a number of years.
The late run, Thailand made model, is notably different. More of a creamy white, with a lighter blue print on the sides.
For 2006, it moved to the MB33 slot in the range, and was using a design as used in Los Angeles on real buses.
It was also included in the City Transport 5-pack, and this was good for a wheel variation. Sawblade or crown wheels.
It had another Superfast issue in yellow too.
In 2007, we saw some fantastic releases. The LA theme was revisited, and this time they went the whole hog. The mass transit system n LA has 3 distinct vehicles. MB35 started off using the Metro Rapid "red" look. Rapid is, as expected, a fast system, with limited stops on various routes. The model came with either larger 6-spoke wheels or smaller ones. The actual wheels are the same size, but the middle section is enlarged on some.
We then saw the Metro Local "orange" again as a version 2. Again, both wheel variations could be found.
The Metro Express "blue" was also done, but this was a part of the Action 10-pack that year, and saw no wheel variation.
Then there was the fun 5-pack issue. An Airport set saw a yellow model appear, and during production they made some changes. At first, it had a grey interior and 6-spoke wheels. The interior changed to black after an initial run, and then later, the wheels switched to sawblades. There are 3 official variations, but I never found the crossover.
We also saw 2 different licenced 5-pack releases. A Go Diego go pack had a white model in the second pack that appeared that year, and a Cartoon Network pack had a purple bus with "The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy" on the side.
In 2008, the model was only in the US and ROW ranges. LAAM did not get the MB50 with a real Everett Transit scheme. The City of Everett is in the state of Washington in the USA.
Target stores in the USA wanted something unique, and Mattel proved them with a Skybusters Action pack series. Each set contained 1 Skybusters model along with 2 basics and a few accessories, along with a base section to play them on. One of the sets was called International Airport, and the City Bus was in white with a shuttle service design, along with a Ford Transit and a plane.
We also had another Action 10-pack release. This was a simple original designed blue model.
For 2009, the model was only sold in the US market as MB50. This was such a cool look as well, with the black and red, along with the Matchbox logo down the side. You could tell they were having some fun with these designs.
A City Services 5-pack saw the return of the 2 different 6-spoke wheel types.
We also saw a Nick Jr licenced 5-pack release in grey. For those who keep them packaged, you might be looking at this and thinking it wasn't like that. That is because the model had different designs for the 2 sides. The Go Diego Go themed side was against the card in the pack, so is not as well known.
This is because the side we usually see had some of the Backyardigans on it.
It was also in the final Euro Edition series in Germany. Featuring a Swiss Adventures theme on a white model.
2010 had another cool look. And this white model was sold worldwide, as MB67. I think I was the driver. Under the driver's door, there was a note.... "Do not disturb driver, he's checking for variations". Yes, that definitely sounds like me.
We also had another white model in the Action 10-pack again.
In 2011, it was back out of the ROW range again. MB67 in orange was sold in the US and LAAM markets only.
After that, the model went on hiatus. When it returned to the 2015 City Works 5-pack in white, we noticed a significant change. The body was now plastic and the base metal. Before, it was a metal body/plastic base combo.This is what caused it to move from MB662 to MB992.
MB992 was only sold once in the basic range. 2016 saw it as MB22 in white.
2017 saw a City Service 5-pack release in blue.
And after the original green run in the 2018 Metro transit 5-pack, we saw one more outing in the 2019 Service Crew 5-pack. This one looked pretty familiar.
Yes, the 2010 model had turned grey for 2019, and the driver saw still checking for shades. I found one. Grey is definitely a big shade to white. Plus, it was on the updated plastic over metal casting. This is the first we have seen it since then, and this is the first it has seen MBX City Bus. I wonder if that means it will be used a few more times in the future.
The other small 2022 set was the Pizza Hut Pizza Run set. I love this one. Pizza Hut. Licenced. This is a fantastic set.
Again, time to unbox.
Well, you know the routine. Here is it finished. Awesome!
As with the Bus Station, there is a disabled spot in front of this one.
And a person brings out a pizza when you press the button in front.
I did a showcase on this back in 2022, but I had picked up an example in Canada to showcase. The USA has a different look to the other markets that took the set. Red top (USA), black top (ROW).
Stickers all differ too, as the USA has a different corporate logo for the chain and other countries see a different look.
Which means that when you peer inside the store, these are completely different to each other.
The MB684 VW Golf V GTi is the same for both sets, though. Each one coming with the same red roof attachment too.
However, these were made at different times. So I wonder....
P37 to R22? Wow! Big difference. That is almost 9 months.
Oh yes, that gives us a lovely shade of grey. The later production run is quite a lot darker in shade than the earlier run. So this set, for me, was loads of fun. A set variation, and a Golf variation.
This brings me to the last playset I am showcasing. New for 2023 is the FedEx Package Center. I got this from Wheel Collectors, who are based in the USA, so I do not know as yet whether there is a packaging variation for other markets with "Center" spelled "Centre". FedEx is FedEx, so I doubt that this will see a variation like the Pizza Hut set did. I think these little sets are really cool, so was very much looking forward to this one.
Admittedly, there are not as many parts to this one. A "store" section, a 3-part base build and a small drop-off box section in a protective piece of cardboard. The store section is already labelled up, but I need to finish off the other parts.
Which is easy enough to do, as the plans are pretty straight forward.
A simple 3-part base unit, which appears to be the norm for both small and medium-sized playsets. This only leaves 2 additional parts to slot in.
And as I said, they slot in with a satisfying clunk. The FedEx playset is ready to go. I love these licenced playsets. Pizza Hut for 2022, FedEx for 2023. What can we expect for 2024? McDonalds? KFC? Can't go wrong with more fast food places. Perhaps something we know they have already. A NASA set? Shell set? A Police Station (many police forces could be utilized there).
Inside the store is a FedEx employee waiting to serve you. They are part of the sticker on the back of the store, and will not pop out to you like the Pizza store employee did. They are just beyond the disabled parking bay.
This has a sliding door mechanism at the top of the roof. A little old-fashioned compared to the push down and door slides open method on the Pizza Hut set.
But there is a push button section in the build. Just a little to the right.
For this, we need to bring in the included model. The MB813 Express Delivery in a "we can't call it a carry forward as this appeared first" repeat of the 2023 basic range issue of the Truck in white with a FedEx livery.
The truck drives up along the side of the store front to the shutter area and when the button in the floor gets pressed....
The shutter pops open and an employee pops out with a delivery to collect. Yes. Employee pop-out section! What? I am being a big kid here.
Next to the disabled spot is another spot for the truck to park in when not in use. Or somebody coming to collect/drop off something. The possibilities are... well, not endless. But I am sure a kid's imagination will come up with lots of ideas. I have a few ideas. I told you, big kid.
I never showed off the little drop off box does open up to drop things off. Inside is a box with FedEx engraved into it.
This is the funnest part. Is funnest a word? Am I making things up? As I said, MB813 was a part of batch A 2023. Now you see why I never bothered doing anything when I previewed it the other week. I am going to go nuts here.
The playset issue is on top, and the batch A release on the bottom. That is quite a difference. Dark blue and red vs purple and orange in the logo.
Of course, this also extends to the front print as well. Because why wouldn't it? The FedEx truck is now out of assortments in the basic range, and all were purple and orange. This dark blue and red look is exclusive to the playset. That is what I call an awesome variation.
As you can see on the bases, the playset model was run in the 27th week of 2022, with the basic range run coming later. Mine was actually in a batch B assortment dated R41, 14 weeks later. But batch A is identical and was a matter of weeks earlier. Still later than the playset model. I think I am due one more dive back. Now let's make this one a double hitter.
I will start by doing a dive back on the casting itself, back to 2 previous incarnations. When it first debuted, back in the 2010 basic range as MB60, the model was given the MAN number MB787 and was constructed with a metal body and plastic base. It was a heavy build. I remember chatting with the Mattel guys at the 2010 convention and being told how this was a tough one to create. They had to create the model with the doors open, and with a large window section to the roof, just to keep the weight under the limit. Even then, it was fractional. We got our first Speedy X-Press livery on this model. A livery that has recurred a few times since.
As you can see, it was created with both doors open as a way to reduce weight.
We then saw a 1st Editions 10-poack release at the end of the year in green. This was a cool model for shades. I found a noticeable shade of green on them.
But the weight issue was a cause for concern, so they decided to switch it around. The body became plastic and the base metal. This was given a new MAN number of MB813, but at the time, they still continued with the opening rear. Being lighter now, they could keep the doors shut as it was easily under the limits. MB60 for the 2011 range was the first we saw of the new, updated casting.
We also saw a 5-pack release in the Police set, in black with a SWAT theme.
In 2012, the model was given a food themed side design. The Travelin' Warrior Burritos look was applied to the green MB36 issue.
This gave them inspiration to actually create a food truck, as the alternate side looked like a closed food truck with the menu and all. But at that time, they had no food truck in the range. One debuted in 2013.
But that did not stop this casting. It continued on and on. I don't blame them. It may be an original design, but it looks very realistic. 2012 was a busy year for it. This was the 5-pack release. In ivory with an Express Delivery design for the Airport Ground Crew pack. And yes, I found the plastic ivory section was good for shades too.
It was also given a Batman licenced 5-pack release in red. This was the side that was visible in packages.
This was the side that was hidden against the cardboard backing. Yes, this was another release that contained alternate designs for each side. I love the alternate side designs.
It was also a part of the Space Crew Mission Force set in orange.
The 2013 MB28 looked very classy. This mustard release for K Callahan's. For those who don't know, Kevin Callahan has been with Mattel for a long time, and this was a nice little nod to his work.
We had another Mission Force set that year, too. It was an Airport Crew set, and featured this in white.
2014 did not see a basic range issue. But we did have a bit of fun with the City Works 5-pack release. At first the "Express Delivery" livery was white on a silver background, but when the first run was made, they thought it wasn't quite standing out well enough. So they switched to a red on white background. This stood out much better, and continued on for the majority of the run. The initial white on silver ones are not as easy to find now.
Oh yes, Mission Force. Yes, 3 years in a row and 3 Mission Force sets. This was simply called Space.
In 2015, there was only the 1 release. A Trinidad Medical Response Unit was included in the EMT 5-pack. Again, the plastic was good for a shade or 2, as it varied in darkness of red.
In 2016, the model popped back in the basic range as MB21. The gold wheels came with or without the middle hub section hot foil printed. After this, the casting went on a small hiatus.
Three years later, it returned as MB88 in a really cool "classic" NASA livery.
In 2020, the model returned to the random 1-off Mission Force revival. And in a Convoy set. Both the same.
Although it was a repeat of the 2013 Mission Force release, it was a different orange, the side design was slightly zoomed out, and the base was now left unpainted, rather than painted black.
As 2021 began, the model was given a final outing in the "second" incarnation. It was a part of the Thank You Heroes set that people pre-ordered in mid-2020, but was not produced until the start of the 2021 model year. Some do class these as 2020s, but I don't. It was slightly after the first of the 2021 items were being made, so to me, it is a 2021 item. Notice the opening rear still in place.
A short while later it was in the basic range as MB89 in blue. And you might notice this rear door matches the rest of the body. Yes, they sealed the door up. However, it retained its MB813 spot. They changed the rules a few years back to stop the escalation of MAN numbers and many empty slots in the factory toolbank opening.
We were also given a Retro series release in blue and pink, which I still think is a cool design, and deserves to be recurred.
With 2022 only seeing a CarGo liveried MB89 in blue.
Now we have the 2023 stuff. I love FedEx, but am still waiting for Mattel to obtain a licence to use this in a UPS brown livery! This is the perfect casting to be released in a UPS look. But, I did say a double dive back.
This is because FedEx is not something new to Matchbox. But those who are younger may not know the full name. As a teenager, Fred Smith attended Yale University, and submitted a paper detailing his idea to create an overnight shipping company. Not enthused, his tutor gave him a "C" grade for his paper, but after graduation he continued on with his plans and started the Federal Express Corporation in 1971. Matchbox started using the FedEx logos on Convoys in the 1980s. CY-3 in 1984 appeared with the Federal Express logo on the containers. This ran until 1990 but did see some variations, mainly to the cab. The first year saw an England based release. The side sleeper section is the best place to notice the difference, as this has a thin red "Z" stripe.
It then moved to Macau in 1985 and at first the model did not have Peterbilt on the cab. Peterbilt requested their logo be added, and by 1986 this was in place across all Peterbilt release by Matchbox. As you can see, the "Z" stripe is much thicker on Macau ones.
Later on, the sleeper design was wiped, and the chrome interior/exhaust turned grey. This was how it finished, with Macau production giving way to Thailand production in 1990.
While this was going on, Matchbox also created a few multipacks. In 1987 a G-5 giftset appeared that included an MB152 VW Golf GTi and MB165 Ford Transit. the Golf was only found in the set, but the Transit was put in the ROW basic range in 1989 for a year after the 2-year run of the set finished.
The set also included 2 Volvo trucks as well. The MB148 Container Truck was also a basic range release. MB20 in the ROW market in 1987, but was dropped for 1988/1989, and returned unchanged as MB62 in 1990. Although production had moved to Thailand. The MB129 Volvo Tilt Truck was only in the giftset. There was a Skybusters model in the set, but I don't have that any longer.
In 1994, the name for the company was shortened to FedEx, and Matchbox were back with a FedEx release in the Convoy range in 1997. The CY-27 Mack and Box Truck was a FedEx branded livery.
The last we saw of a FedEx vehicle from Matchbox was with the launch of the MB371 ford Box Truck. It launched in the 1999 basic range as MB23 in the FedEx livery. That was the last the ROW range saw of it, but the US range managed to eke out one more year.
And they kept the livery the same. MB59 for the US market in 2000 differed simply by having blue windows in place of clear. We also saw a Matchbox 2000 logo on the first 10,000 produced.
Oh wow! The FedEx building has just got a little extra busy....
Yes, this set can be lots of fun.
Lots of activity going on here. Talking of which....
I'm starting to build a community. I do want more sets to continue with the expansion, but this is a good start.
But it is looking a little stark at the moment.
So I might have to do something about that....
Time to populate. Hmm! Why is the Holden missing its bikes?
I told you. I am having fun with this lot.
I am definitely in the market for more sets to expand this city.
As I know there are more sets out there. I am hoping Wheel Collectors get more in.
Because this does remind me of my youth when I used to have sets that I could rebuild in new configurations.
And that brings a smile to my face. So as far as I am concerned, these are good to have.
I hope you enjoyed my fun post this week. And yes, it went a little long again.
My next report will be back to a simple run through of a batch of models. It may be next week, it may be 2 weeks time. I am struggling a little with a weekly rollout, but I am still working on it. I just have to see how I can utilize my time off.
Until then, I hope everybody has a good week (or possibly 2). Catch you next time for more Matchbox goodies.