Matchbox Monday hitches back up to the twin packs

I absolutely love that Hitch & Haul is continuing for another year.  When the 2022 Gathering came and went, and there was no word on the future of the range, I was a little worried.  I have always been a fan of vehicles and trailers.  I still remember growing up in the 1970s when Lesney first introduced the twin pack concept.  My first pack was a TP-5 Weekender set with a Ford Capri towing a Boat & Trailer.  I loved it!  I still have it.  I looked after it pretty well.  Whenever they bring these back, I am reminded of that set, and it brings a smile to my face.  Long may they continue.  So without further ado, why not dive right in.

It appears that, for 2023, we are going to be getting 9 sets in the series.  All featuring the 70th Anniversary logo on the packages.  The first of these is all-new, and is called MBX Arctic Explorer, and takes the number 1 slot in the set of 9.  

The set features the MB1044 Snow Thrasher towing the MB1261 MBX Hitch & Haul.  Both are in red, with a snow splash and a Glacier Patrol theme on the truck.  

The trailer does only have the snow splash.  Which is fine.  It doesn't have to have the exact same design as the front vehicle.  I like the design on these models.  I always say, you can't go wrong with stripes.  Glacier Patrol gives us a good idea of what they are aiming for here.  I like it.

The Snow Thrasher is the first we have seen in this particular configuration.  

And the MBX Hitch & Haul is also the first in this configuration.  

Because this is the first we have seen of the Snowmobile in quite a while.  

The Snow Thrasher has seen a small modification with the inclusion of the tow hook now. It has been re-copyrighted for it, but still retains the same MAN number it had previously.  

With the MBX Hitch & Haul being the same unit as we saw debut in 2022.  I am guessing that the contents of the trailer are unimportant.  Which is logical.  This was how the old Excavator Trailer was utilized in the 2000s. It's the trailer itself that gets the MAN number.  Additional pieces included will vary, which means that this could also sport a number of other items being towed.  I like this idea, as this opens up avenues of possibility. See, thinking of the future again.  

What we also get with these are accessories.  I do enjoy the accessories.  In this case, we are getting a well wrapped man, a polar bear, and 2 huskies.  

Before I got too into the models in the set, I would like to go through these accessories.  I like this polar bear.  It is an all-new element debuting this year.  I am enjoying all of these animals that get added to the sets.

However, the other items have been used before.  But both of them have been altered for this new run.  The well wrapped man was previously used in the 2000s HnH sets.  But at that time, his pickaxe was positioned differently.  It stuck out further towards the back, whereas now it is closer to his head.

The dogs have also been altered a little.  The leg parts are now an all-in-one pairing.  They were a little flimsy before, and I wonder if, as rules constantly change for these, they have been moulded together for greater strengthening.  Or is it simply a quicker production method?  I honestly don't know.  I also notice that the ear have been softened a little.  But the biggest improvement to them is that the eyes are now being detailed.  That makes a big difference to them.  

So, now I have touched on the accessories (they are the starter), it is time for the main course.  The models.  First up is the Snow Thrasher.  This casting debuted in 2017, and ran until 2018.  However, that final model resurfaced in 2022 as a playset addition in the Canyon Adventure playset (and was added to 9-packs again).  So we have seen the previous red issue a few times.  

While it was being sold as MB62 in the 1028 basic range, and again when it reappeared in a playset-9-pack, the casting did not sport a tow hook.  

However, the fact that both bases are identical apart from the tow hook and the updated copyright year leads me to believe this could be a permanent change.  It has the same DVK11 internal Mattel code to the base. Of course, you never know.  The original base may reappear.  I don't see why they would bother, though.  

I had to.  I own a pre-production sample of this is a beautiful deep burgundy colour.  This was an early prototype of the model, and is still my favourite of this casting.  It may be a Matchbox Originals casting, but I have to admit, I always quite liked it.  So when an opportunity arose to try and get this prepro, I went for it.  

When it did debut in the 2017 basic range, it came in blue with an Arctic Exploration side design, and more snow. Its side design was almost the same as the name for the new pack.  Happy coincidence, that one.  

I can't believe that this is only the third outing for this casting.  2017, 2018 (repeated 2022), then 2023.  It doesn't get a lot of love. But I am sure that being an originals casting, some will say keep it that way.  But I don't mind some of them, and this is a nice one.  So I am up for seeing more of it in the future.

As to the trailer unit, this debuted in the 2022 Hitch & Haul series in orange/white, but at that time had a jet ski on the back.

Funnily enough, that original matches the snowmobile too.  Both the snowmobile and jet ski are mainly orange and white.  

People may have been thinking that the snowmobile is familiar.  Yes, the MBX hitch & Haul was based on the old MB682 Snowmobile Trailer from the 2000s.  At that time, the trailer only ever sported a snowmobile, but this new one is expanding its horizons.  That doesn't mean a snowmobile can't still be in action.  

At first, you would think that the snowmobile is the same, but again, this has been modified.  Do you notice how the seats are also forming the front visor now?  Change number 1.  And, well, this is now a 3-part build.  So we have 3 colours to it.  The arms to the skis are thicker now as well.  A little extra strength.

The slot to attach it to the trailer has also moved, due to the ski mobile being altered.  

However, the nice part about this is, the ski mobiles are actually able to switch between trailer units.  They are compatible.  I remember the jet skis in 2022 were not quite able to fit on the old trailer well.  Although whether people are really that bothered is another matter.

I like this one.  Number 2 in the set of 9 is the MBX Tree Service set.  And this has a lot of new items in it.  Let's dig into this one.  Get it?  Trees?  Dig a hole in the ground to plant them?  No?  Is this thing on?  Tap tap!

The set features the return of the MB1043 Tree Lugger.  It hasn't been seen in a few years.  And, has been seen already in a Working Rigs (check my Instagram at @davidjtilley for further pictures of that), this is another release for the Ozima Tree Service design in green.  Ozima being Terry Ozima, a former Matchbox Ambassador.  Hence the little notes, "since 2009" being that his tenure started in 2009, and Chicago being where he is.  I love these little nods.  

It comes paired with the updated MB1318 MBX Utility Flatbed Trailer, which comes complete with a plastic all-in-one piece across the top.

Confirmation of the base.  

We also have 3 trees included with the set.  Two different shades of green, and one in tan.  Now, being all nerdy, I am going to use the picture on the back of the package to slot them in to the rear in the same order.  

Here we go.  One tree trailer unit.  Excellent. I love this set.  The creativity on show here is fantastic.  

So we get these 3 trees to add to the trailer in the set.  But they were not all.

Now, of course, you can take the top section off of the trailer unit for an additional piece.

But we also get a further tree, 2 cones, and 2 workers.  Can I also just say that the return of detailing to these accessories is really nice.  When Hitch & Haul returned a few years ago, I did notice that all the accessories were left plain.  But now they are fully detailed again, this makes a huge difference.  It is a little, but important point to make.  

One thing about the Tree Lugger is that the rear tips backwards.  Until now, this served little purpose.  But now....

We can throw trees in.  Of course, this extra tree is not the ideal part to throw in.

But I find that the ones that go in the trailer unit fit pretty well.  This is giving us lots of play value with this set.  Honestly, this is easily my favourite set of the batch.  

I'm playing.  Give me a few minutes!!!!

Okay, where was I? Right, this trailer unit first appeared, updated, last year in the MBX Archaeologist Dig set.  At that time, it sported a standard excavator on the rear, which was a modification of that part.  As I said, this set features a whole host of new items.  I love it.

So when the upper parts are removed, you can see the main part of the trailer is the same.  I cannot wait to see if they are planning further parts to be added to it.  The possibilities are pretty much endless.  

As to the Tree Lugger, we have not seen this in a while, have we.  It debuted back in 2017 as MB31 in the basic range in a light blue with a Rootsman Tree Service design.  

However, just as with the Snow Thrasher, this never had a tow hook.  This is a modification to the casting for this release.  

In 2018, it moved to the MB35 slot in grey with a Jim's Tree Removal design.

Before seeing one final basic range outing in 2019 in the recurring Ranec theme.  It was MB26 that year, and has not been used in 4 years.  

But now it is back.  And with a bunch of trees available, all of them can get in on the action. Great stuff.  

Now, that was the awesome part of the report.  Sadly, this batch contained 2 carry forwards into 2023.  Number 8 of 9 is a carry forward of the MBX Ocean Rescue set.  This contains the MB909 Rapids Rescue in brown & MB1261 MBX Hitch & Haul (with jet ski) in orange/white.

This set appeared early in 2022, and at the time, Hitch & Haul sets were getting something different between dual sets.  In this case, the trailer unit saw the orange and white parts reversed in half of them.  From what I have seen, only the white trailer with orange lower jet ski is still being made.  I have not seen the alternate.  But, what I know for sure, is that there is absolutely nothing I can find different between the older run and the new one.  

The other set, 9 of 9, being a return of the MBX Archaeologist Dig set, which was only in the final batch of 2022.  So just carries on.  

However, I have opened this.  I am all nerdy.  

Because I saw something.  Not much, but let's bring in the earlier run for a quick snapshot.  

The Truck Camper itself sports a small shade, mainly with the brown tampo printing.  I can see it.  I am keeping it as an extra.  All other items in the set are identical.  

Which means, I am at the end of my report.  Wow!  That was quick.  Well, for me.  I hope you still enjoyed it.  I love the 2 new sets.  Especially the tree one.  

Although I am sad to see we are already getting carry forwards in the series, after only a few years. But this appears to be the way with almost everything nowadays.  Basic range, Moving Parts and Collectors are now the only 3 ranges that are currently seeing all-new items each year.  Basics and Moving Parts only got that way a few years ago.  So, I am getting used to it.  I guess it is up to the individual whether to pursue carry forwards or not.  It depends on how nerdy you are for variations.  

As these head off, I guess I should prepare for my next report next week.  More goodies from Wheel Collectors. I am "working" my way through them all.  Until then, I hope everybody has a safe and happy week.

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