Matchbox Monday hauls the last of the 2023 rigs

As is often the case when I create a single post with 2 different items, one is provided through Wheel Collectors, but the other is not.  Working Rigs.  Wheel Collectors always get these in for me, and have provided me with the last batch of the 2023 range to showcase here.  Later on, as there are only 4 items, and it is a little short, I tagged in another batch of Hitch & Haul.  Sadly, they did not get these.  Just the rigs.  So, I will start with those. 

As is the norm for me, I am working my way through the Working Rigs in numerical order.  This means I begin with number 7 of 16, the RW050 International DuraStar Box Truck. For 2023, the model comes in blue with a Goodyear side design. 

What I love about the items that are not in the basic range is that the guys still have some leeway for adding in more details than the bare minimum.  Working Rigs has a little leeway to add in a bunch.  As you can see, the cab is getting a design on each side, and then the box has the sides detailed and a little extra detail over the front.  Plus, it's Goodyear.  A real company.  I love it.  

I still wonder about the addition of a simply box truck in the Working Rigs series.  I am sure this could have been a better option as a vehicle in Moving Parts.  A smaller scale vehicle with just the rear doors opening.  

Although having that little ramp section that slides up and down is a little bonus.  I don't think it would have been feasible in Moving Parts.  Perhaps they could look at doing another box truck in Moving Parts alongside this one.  I mean, there's no rule that there can't be 2 box trucks floating about.  For now, I am liking this.  It is fun, and it is a real vehicle with a real livery on it, looking very tasteful.  I am going to give it a 10 out of 10.  

I have to say, this model has had some stellar outings since day 1.  This is only its third outing to date, and when it debuted in the 2021 series in the number 1 slot, it saw a lovely recurring Speedy X-Press theme.  

And 2022 saw the recurring CarGo theme on a lovely yellow and white model.  That was number 6 in the range.  

And now we have the Goodyear design.  All very nice designs.  This is the first one that is not a recurring theme, but I have a feeling this may become one.  At least it will get another outing.  That is coming in a future report in the next month or so.  

The next model is the RW046 Road Scraper, taking the number 9 slot in the series.  This is also in a new look for the 2023 range, and is sporting this new Matchbox Construction theme that has exploded into the Matchbox world/

You can easily tell who is behind this new Matchbox Construction theme.  I see the A58 markings on the side.  Michael Heralda has been behind a great many recurring themes in the Matchbox portfolio.  National Parks is the forerunner of the themed sets, and that came from Michael.  As did Ranec and INC.  Not everything recurring is his.  The guys have recently taken an old 1980s Speed Shop design and turned it into a recurring theme.  That was long before Michael started on Matchbox.  

Again, we are seeing plenty of detailing to the model.  The front of the vehicle gets well detailed, and I like that they added the MBX to the upper grille in the area where a badge would normally be.  Obviously, this is a Matchbox originals casting, so it is only fitting their badge is there.  

And then we have the cab with side printing, and the scraper section with side printing.  The ejector slides forwards and backwards for a little fun.  And the model pivots from side to side.  It is a nice model, and is a good complement to the smaller scale Scraper in the basic range.  Again, this is leading me to the Box Truck showed previously being worthy of a smaller scale model to be added to Moving Parts.  I have been noticing that Michael has been numbering all the units in the Matchbox Construction theme.  At some point I might have to pull them all out and line them up in number order.  This being Unit 17 is definitely towards the tail end.  Scoring?  Well, I do love a recurring theme.  I think this model is a lot of fun, and to be honest, being an original casting is not an issue for me.  I could not tell you of any official Road Scraper in the real world.  So, yeah, a 10 again.  I can't fault it. 

Sadly, I do not have the original release for this.  When Working Rigs returned in 2019, it was in one of the first batches.  However, this was before I set up my deal with Wheel Collectors and started receiving them.  So I do not possess the original blue release in the INC theme. One of Michael's. But, I do own the second outing.  Again, this is one of Michael's themes, the Ranec one.  I love how this also has its unit number on the side in the same spot.  A little consistency across the themes.  This is terrific work with these designs. 

And, of course, before I move on, I couldn't not bring this model in.  Seen earlier this year was the RW020 MBX Road Grader, sporting the same Matchbox Construction design.  That means that we have had 2 different Working Rigs in the same look in the same year.  I love that!  I wonder if we will see another Working Rig in 2024 with this look?  I'm looking at a possibility of an RW052 dump truck.  One is scheduled in a new look next year.  We will see what it turns out like soon.  I wonder if they will dig into the archives for the RW009 MBX Bulldozer for the future?  Possiblities.

Now, talking of dump trucks, the RW005 International WorkStar 7500 Dump Truck turns up in the number 14 slot next.  

Does it look familiar?  It should do.  This is the 4th time that they have released it!  Yes, 4 times.  It debuted in the 2010 series.  It returned in 2019 as a carry forward, although was now a lighter burgundy.  Then it carried forward again to the 2021 range.  And now we see it again.  The thing is, there were 2x 2009 outings that have never been used since.  When this returned in 2019, we saw a new look for 2020, and that returned in 2022.  I am little worried.  It is currently scheduled to be used in the final batch of 2024.  And it is marked as being a carry forward.  Surely, they are not going to carry forward this one again.  Or even the 2020 version.  There are those 2 early ones.  This is a little sad to see, that they are rehashing the same one over and over again.  I do notice that Working Rigs relies on a lot of carry forwards as it is.  We get a range of 16 (or so, as this is missing numbers 6 and 11 from the set of 16, so we only have 14 in total).  And it appears that they were split 50/50 between new items and carry forwards. Sure, I have said with a lot of side ranges that carry forwards are necessary for them, to give more variety each year, but will actually keep costs down.  But, when they do, I really wish they would look at which ones have and haven't been used, and try to mix things up more.  We have only had 4 looks for this casting.  The first 2 used once only, the last used twice, and this now on its fourth outing.  I couldn't even see any variation between this and the last outing in 2021.  So, for this, I am scoring it a 1. Not for being a carry forward, but for being the same old carry forward.    

Which brings us to the last model in the batch.  The RW023 GMC 8500 Topkick Tree Trimming Truck.  Phew!  Long name.  But, this is also a carry forward.  However, unlike the last one, this one is a model that was last used in this livery in 2013.  To me, that is perfectly fine.  After all, in my eyes, this is a toy company making toys for kids.  We, as collectors, are a secondary market.  Kids tend to be in to toy cars for maybe 5-10 years.  They start in their early years, but by the time they are teenagers, they are often into other things.  Not always.  I never grew out of it.  I never stopped.  But, I am weird!  Ha ha!  So bringing a livery back from 10 years ago is not a bad thing.  Plus, I actually fit into the new regime.  Because I wasn't getting these back in 2013.

So this is the first time I get to see Mr Green's Arbor Machine.  I like it.  It takes the number 16 slot in the 2023 series.  Did they save the best to last?  Nah!  But it was far from the worst.  I think this is a cool little casting, and I love the autumnal theme.  It makes sense releasing it at this time of year.  Did they do that logically, or was it coincidence?  Who knows.  All I know is, I like this one. Seeing as it has not been used in so long in this design, I am treating this as an equivalent to a new look.

It has a lot of play value.  The rear tips up and opens.  The boom on the roof expands up, and the bucket moves.  There is a great potential for play with it.  

The only thing I wonder about is the writing on the side.  Call, FAX or email?  Who faxes nowadays?  Social media.  That is the future.  Faxing.  Ha!  That made me laugh.  In fact, it gave me such a chuckle that I am going to give this a 10.  I am!  Seriously. It may be a carry forward, but I didn't have it before.  I do now.

This model gets added to my collection alongside the 2022 number 10, which was in an Ozima Tree Service theme.  This theme was used in a Hitch & Haul set as well.  Now I want to see Mr Green's in Hitch & Haul as well. I think it warrants it.  Talking of which….

It's time for me to move into the second half of my report this week.  Sadly, Wheel Collectors did not get these Hitch & Haul sets in, but with the Working Rigs only being a set of 4 (they don't have big batches), I needed something else to pad the report out.  Or I would be done already.  Batch B of the Hitch & Haul set only contains 3 pairings.  So, I think that will fill the rest of the space up perfectly.  

So, again, going in number order, I start with number 3 of 9.  MBX Construction Zone.  This looks very familiar.  We have another outing for the new Matchbox Construction theme.  As I said earlier, this new theme has exploded into our lives.  It is everywhere.  Is that good?  Yeah, I think it is.  I enjoy a theme, and sometimes it is nice to see a whole theme come together fast.  

The set includes another H&H outing for the MB1008 Tilt 'n Tip, sporting the now common orangey yellow and grey look.  

It is towing the MB1318 MBX Utility Flatbed Trailer with Excavator.  Now, I have had some news from Mattel about Hitch & Haul trailers.  Specifically where it comes to the manufacturing numbers for them.  I did wonder, as I saw these updated trailers were getting different items inserted.  I enquired, and I have had the feedback as to what the factory are using. So, here goes.  The MB1318 MBX Utility Flatbed Trailer is only being called MB1318 when it actually has the excavator on the rear.  The factory have actually duplicated the base unit for an additional upper section with the trees on the back, as used in a 2022 set.  However, they did not alter the base details, which is leading to a little confusion.  As far as the factory are concerned, and after all, the MAN number system is used by the factory, and we just use it as well, if there are trees on the back, they have it listed down as MB1396.  If they come up with another upper section, they will assign it another new MAN number.  So….

MB1318 MBX Utility Flatbed Trailer with Excavator

MB1396 MBX Utility Flatbed Trailer with Trees.

And if you are wondering….

MB1261 MBX Hitch & Haul (with jet ski)

MB1395 MBX Hitch & Haul (with snowmobile)

These are official details coming from Mattel, direct from the factory where the MAN number system is in use.  Bases are not being altered for individual upper part inclusions.  But those are the numbers being assigned depending on what is in the trailer unit.  Again, if we see something else being added, I will inquire as to what the MAN number is.  

What we also have with this set are the accessories. For this, we get 2 cones, a man with a flag, another with a broom (quite wobbly, tough to keep upright), and, err, what I assume is a pile of dirt.  At first glance, I thought it was something else.  It's a good job it wasn't a darker brown!  As to the wobbly man with a broom, they should have put a small base section to him to keep him upright easily.  The man with a flag is on a little base section.  But, this is a minor quibble. After all, these are just fun little accessories. The main part is the models.  

This pile of dirt does fit in the back of the Tilt 'n Tip.  Although not perfectly.  It is not too long, but is fractionally wide.  So it goes in at an angle.  I am not sure if that was intentional, as with the model being able to tip, it would fall out if it was smaller and slotted in better.  Again, minor quibble.  

You know what, I did find a superb use for that mud.  Showcasing the MB1380 Mercedes-Benz Unimog U5023 that had debuted in the Moving Parts series earlier this year.  Being a model with a twisting section in the middle, you can balance the model in the mud angled up at the front, while the rear is still flat.  Sweet!  You can mix and match so much, if you put your mind to it.  

Although, funnily, the mud is narrow enough for the back of the Mog, it is a little too long.  However, you can again balance it, to take it around to showcase in various scenarios.  

And, as I noted, this model is sporting the same Matchbox Construction theme as the Road Scraper did in the Working Rigs batch.  I love the consistency. I love the recurring theme.  The only thing I am a little sad about, is that the excavator is blank.  They are now adding detailing to the accessories being included, but this excavator is still looking pretty depressed with nothing on it.  So, for that reason, I can't give it a 10.  I am not a huge fan of Tilt 'n Tip.  But, I like this look.  So, an 8 out of 10.  

Of course, this is not the first outing for the new MB1318 casting.  It did arrive in the 2022 Hitch & Haul series, as a part of the MBX Archaeologist Dig set.  Again, the excavator itself was completely blank.  It was a lighter yellow colour, with a darker grey base section and boom/bucket.  The base section was also in tan, compared to grey this time. 

But, last year, they added rear lights to the base section.  This year really saw nothing applied.  The base section, as far as I am concerned, is okay with being blank.  The excavator would really benefit from a little detail. 

It's time to move on to the second set.  This is number 5 of 9 MBX Fire Rescue.  It is the same name as a set from 2 years ago, and that is not where the similarities end.  

This is because one of the models in this set was also in the 2021 set.  The MB996 Hazard Squad.  It sports another of the new themes for 2023 that has come out of the box running.  It hasn't exploded in the way the other theme (just previewed) has, but this Matchbox Fire Dept look has appeared in Convoy and Moving Parts so far.  I am liking all these linked designs.  They should do more.  However, there is something different about it.  It's towing a trailer!

This was the pairing for 2022.  Hazard Squad was joined by the MB679 MBX Ambulance last year.  But, you may notice that the Ambulance sports a tow hook. However, Hazard Squad didn't.  

The casting has been slightly modified. This is the only change to it, but you may notice that legally, they still had to re-copyright the model to accommodate the change.  

This time out, the Hazard Squad is now able to tow something, so it gets a trailer unit to pull along.  This may look familiar to those who have been collecting for a while, but I will circle back to it in a minute.  Because, before I get to it, I just want to point out the accessories.

It comes with a sign for the Matchbox Technical Institute, which does look just a little bit smoke damaged.  We also get 2 barriers in orange and a pair of firefighters.  I have to say, these firefighters look really good detailed up like this.

I pulled out last year's accessories to compare.  As you can see, the exact same items were used for the set.  But, although the sign had a label on it (I am happy they did come up with a new label), detailing those firefighters really enhances them.  It makes a massive difference! I am very happy to see they are able to detail these accessories again.  It was a low point with the return of the Hitch & Haul series.  Not a majorly low point, but when we always had detailed people included, losing the details did make them quite bland.  So kudos to the team for getting this little extra back. I am going to give this set a 10 out of 10.  I think it is a lot of fun, and looks really nice.  

Now, back to this trailer unit.  And for my second surprise of the report.  Many people are looking at this and saying they have pulled out the old MB548 Mobile Light Truck from the archives.  Yes, and no!

This is the debut release of the MB548 Mobile Light Truck coming in for a comparison.  It does look very familiar.  But, technically, this is not MB548.  Which is very confusing….

Because it still says MB548 on the base.  Somebody forgot, when they were making some alterations to this old casting, to update the MAN number.  This is officially the MB1398 MBX Mobile Light Truck. This is what this casting has been assigned at the factory.  They have also added the “MBX” bit to the start of the name, bringing it in line with a whole slew of Matchbox originals castings that start with MBX.  Which does sort of bring this in line with the other “altered” trailer units (as I mentioned, MB1395 and MB1396 already).  And no, I currently have no idea on the gap in between.  I am sure we will find out the identity of MB1397 soon.  I will keep checking to help fill in gaps.  Furthermore, I also don't know if they will update the base to this to correct its number.  It is all TBD.  One thing at a time.  

They have made a few changes to the casting.  One was a very good change.  They wiped off that awful oval logo.  This was created during the short-lived era when they tried to change the logo.  It debuted in 2001, and after the massive shift in 2005, they were a little late to change the logo in time, so switched it for the following year, and we were back to the traditional lozenge in 2006.  But, there were a few models who saw the oval cast into their bodies.  Those still in use have seen them removed, and this is now following the routine.  Brilliant.  Sadly, I think the change to the lights at the end of the boom is a downgrade.  They looked really good before.  They look more like discs on the end now.  Not everything is an improvement.  

You might notice that the wheel arches used to have additional lumps on them.  Were they depicting the Light Truck's own lights?  I am not sure.  I guess the guys at Matchbox weren't either.  They knocked them off.  The rear end (or is it the front end) has seen a little work.  You can see the bottom is tidied up, and where the boom is attached, this has been altered.  All of these changes has warranted a whole new MAN number being assigned.  Even though you might not have known. They accidentally make a blooper like forgetting to update the base, and it confuses everything.  But, I am marking this down as MB1398.  It is what it should be.  Hopefully, if we see this trailer unit again, we will see the base has been corrected.  

Now, as I have my MB548s out, and we have not seen them for quite a while, I think I should go with a dive back to check them all out.  As I said, it debuted in the 2002 basic range as MB60 in red.  2002 was a logo year, and the first 10,000 produced saw a 50 logo attached to the side.  

In 2003, the model was dropped from the ROW range, but continued as a US exclusive.  It was MB68, and even had a 68 in the side design.  In 2003, they wanted to emulate something they did with another of Mattel's brands, but there was such a backlash that it got dropped very quickly.  Again, this was a logo year, and the first 10,000 saw a Hero City logo on the side.  

2003 also saw Matchbox send out a memo to the factory for a little fun with a 20-pack.  This special pack was sold through the Mattel store as an exclusive, and instead of simply being 20 models pulled from the basic range and 5-packs, each one of the models saw something unique.  10 of the models were simply models now sporting gold wheels.  3 models were all new and exclusive to the pack.  The other 7 saw their basic range colour switched to an alternate.  In this case, the Mobile Light Truck switched from orange to silver. It still had the gold wheels, as every “wheeled” model in the set had gold wheels.  

In 2004, the model was now dropped from the US range, but put back into the ROW range.  2004 saw only 15 differences between the US and ROW ranges.  In the US, number 1 through 30 were assigned to their new pet project.  Ultra Heroes.  However, the ROW market cherry-picked 15 of those 30, bunching them up to the first 15 slots, and were given exclusive models to the next 15 numbers, before the whole world saw an identical group from 31-75. This was assigned the number 30 slot in blue.  However, the whole world did get a Disaster Crew 5-pack, which saw a green model included.  

After this, the model was dropped from the basic range entirely, and funnily enough, has now become a bit of a Hitch & Haul exclusive.  Or, as it was, Hitch ‘n Haul. Because the debut of Hitch ’n Haul in 2005 saw it included in the Monster Movie pack.  

After that, the model saw one further outing in a 2008 Flame Tamers pack.  Or should I say 2008+.  This is because they were planning on dropping Hitch ‘n Haul after 2008, but various stores kept ordering more.  So they kept producing them.  Unchanged.  For 4 years!  In 2012, they finally decided to do a refresh to some sets, although this model wasn’t. It simply swapped out the front vehicles from the '06 Fire Engine to a Truck Camper.   

Although, as part of the refresh, the base did see an update to the writing.  I believe, there was a wheel variation to be found.  This was during a period when the 6-spoke wheels came with a thick or thin surround, but I never saw a thin surround.  

This brings us to the last pack in the assortment.  Number 6 of 9 MBX Farm Trailer.  Is it me, or does that sound a little unusual?  To me, it sounds more like a single Matchbox originals model, not a whole set.  I know that in 2024, there is an Action Drivers Farm Adventure playset coming.  So, Adventure?  Well, it seems silly to use the name twice, so perhaps it should have been MBX Farm Experience.  Am I nitpicking?  Yep, well, I appear to be giving really high scores again.  Well, I am going to be honest.

I don't like the MB1010 Dirtstroyer.  I think it's ugly.  I am sorry, but I do.  Out of all the tractor castings that Matchbox has made over the years, this is one of my least desirable.  Down there with the MB25-B Mod Tractor from 1972 (never liked that growing up)  and MB653 Max Tractor from 2004 (it was an Ultra Hero, enough said).  The nicest casting in the currently portfolio (The MB218 Mercedes-Benz MB Trac 1600 being long gone) is the MB703 Tractor.

Well, this MB703 Tractor appeared in a 2015 Mission Force Farm set.  So, we have already seen this exact look.  It is great to see it recur here.  I also see exactly why they have done this.  Spoiler alert, the Tractor has been thrown in that 2024 Action Drivers Farm Adventure set.  So, putting more with the same look does make sense.

Because it is interchangeable and fits in perfectly.  But, I still wouldn't have used the Dirtstroyer.  I would have pulled out the MB834 Crop Master and used that instead.  That is a lovely classic looking tractor unit.  It would have fitted in so much better.  

The rest of this set is fantastic.  We see the return of the MB829 Farm Trailer.  It has been 6 years since we last saw it.  It had some bales of hay in the back.  

And I love the accessories.  The farmer with the chicken, and the cow being detailed up look amazing.  The bull being plain black.  That's fine.  Bulls can be very plain.  Maybe the horns could have been detailed?  But I am not going to quibble about it.  The dented fence piece is a lovely piece.  I am sure we have seen a piece like this before in the past.  But, I love the set as a whole.  Had the Dirstroyer been a Crop Master, I would have (almost) given it full marks.  They still needed a better name.  Now, both of these castings haven't been seen in a while, so I will finish my report by diving back on both.  

The ugly one, sorry, Dirtstroyer, well this debuted in the 2016 basic range as MB36 in grey.  

Then, for some reason, it was included in the 2017 Construction 5-pack.  A farm vehicle in a construction pack.  It even had Trevino Farms on it, confirming it as a definite farm vehicle.  However, after the 2017 5-pack, it then appeared in the 2018 basic range in the same look.  However, the MB49 that year was a very noticeable darker red.  

Then, it finished in the 2019 basic range as MB35.  This was in a Canon Construction theme.  Yes, it was in a construction themed pack in a farm theme, then given a construction theme when it wasn't important.  After 2019, I was hoping it would be gone for good.  I was wrong.  I can't have everything my way.  

As to the Farm Trailer, this was also a little confusing.  It debuted in the 2008 Bull Ride Hitch 'n Haul set.  However, as this time, it was assigned the MAN number MB717. The set saw the bull and farmer/chicken included.  The cow is new.  It also had those bales of hay in the back.  

When it returned in 2011, as a part of the Farm 5-pack, it had now been re-assigned to the MB829 slot, but the changes were so small that you can barely see anything.  I don't see why they really changed it.  It was also noted that the tampo design still included the original number, as 717 appears on the side.  

Its only other use has been in the 2017 Construction 5-pack.  Yes, the same pack that the Dirtstroyer popped up in had this to tow. It did look very similar to the 2011 release, although the 717 was changed to Trevino Farms, and it had a black base, not red.  There was an issue at first.

This is because the hook at the front came with a tab underneath it.  But, the Dirtstroyer had a thick tow hook section, and as such, it wouldn't clip on.  So, the casting was modified mid-run, and later issues had the tab removed.  Something that has rolled over into the new one (luckily). 

It was a small, but subtle (and needed) change. I am happy to see these trailer units getting more love. I am loving the Hitch & Haul series, especially now that the accessories are getting more detailed.  I look forward to seeing more in 2024.  I also love that these 3 sets all feature known themes.  As I keep saying, I love all these themes.  How everything is connecting to everything else.  It is great fun to be collecting these at the moment.  

But, for now, my job is done.  Another report is in the bag.  I hope you enjoyed the read, and made note of the new MAN numbers.  Of course, one of the best parts is the theming of things, and we saw both Working Rigs and hitch & Haul seeing this theme.  

We also saw some other working vehicles.  

Lots of action within them.  There is a lot of play value with both of these ranges.  Next week, I “move” on to another range as I start to close in on finishing 2023.  

Sadly, they don't come with accessories. I do like the accessories. 

So, as these head off into the sunset, I will rest up ready to work on next week's report.  In the meantime, I hope you all have a safe and happy week.

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