Matchbox Monday jumps for joy with the J batch

I sat down this last week and worked through my list of upcoming blogs to finish off the 2023 model year.  I am going to try and complete all 2023 items before I make a start on anything 2024.  But, I noticed I still had 4 batches of the basic range left to talk about.  2 batches of Moving Parts, 1 of Collectors and some final Convoy items. Hmm!  Methinks I need to work a lot with the basic range so as not to do them consecutively. I think they will be pretty much every other week as I finish off the 2023 series in general.  But, as I often do, I am throwing in a random model or 2 into this review, as I get the odd items that don't seem to fit with a main blog piece, but not wanting to leave them, I tag them in at the end.  You might already see something in the main picture at the top.  So, let's get on with it.  

Keeping with my tradition of doing things in number order, my first review goes with MB2.  This is the MB1242 ‘20 (no sorry, ’19) Audi TTRS.  It comes in a lovely metallic green for its 2023 outing.  

This appears to be based on the Java Green paint finish that Audi has.  It looks extremely nice like this, and as we are used to with this model, the final look is complemented by front and rear tampo prints.  

I usually say that you cannot go wrong with a standard front and rear print, but this model is a bit of an outlier.  It is daft, but I really feel it is a little let down by not having anything tampo printed on that rear licence plate area.  We get a thin strip along the top end depicting lights, badges etc.  Underneath is a lovely section, just waiting to see a cool licence plate.  Or even just the Audi logo on a plate background.  Something.  Anything.  It just feels that in this case, it is a big area of [blank]. Many times I will not worry.  But, I think it is purely down to the shape of this car, that makes this area noticeable.  I have no idea if they wanted to add something, but Audi requested for them not to.  You never know some of the inner workings behind the scenes in getting models to the production line. Sometimes, things go really smoothly.  Other times, minor things get picked up and have to be altered.  This model is a prime example.  Why?  Well, let's get back to its debut to understand that.   

This model debuted in the 2021 basic range in blue.  That year's MB16 was a lovely addition, although the tampo print is exactly as it is now.  

Upon launch, the base of the model depicted it as a 2020 car.  But, after production finished, Audi requested that Matchbox alter the base to state it is a 2019 car.  So, the base was altered, and every release since has denoted it as a 2019 vehicle.  It may be a very minor thing, but if a licensor has a request for something specific, the Matchbox team will accommodate.  If Audi have a desire not to include a licence plate detail in a model, then Matchbox won't add one.  They may not.  It may just be a random thing.  I don't work for Mattel.  Or Audi.  I have no idea.  It is pure guesswork.  But, that one minor detail does bug me.  Not in a “keeping me up at night” kind of way.  I only think of it when I see the model, and wish it had a licence plate.  

Since then, we have seen 2 releases per year these last 2 years.  2022 saw a red version in the basic range as MB49.

And a metallic orange exclusively in the Best of Germany series.  

And earlier this year, before the basic arrived, we saw a black model included in the Autobahn Express IV 5-pack.  

This means that we have seen 5 outings to date for the casting.  The positive is that each one gets an identical tampo treatment.  Something I have always been a fan of.  But, this does mean it always has a massive blank area across the rear.  Something, that in this particular case, does let it down.  Just a tiny bit.  It is minor, but I cannot give it a 10 out of 10.  It niggles me.  So, I am giving it a 9. Yep. Cruel, I know.  But, I get niggled, I am marking down.  I may be a minority, and many will simply not care.  The casting is so well done, and everything else is brilliant. That one little bit though.  It is enough for me to mark down.   

Second on the docket is the MB1232 ‘34 Chevy Master Coupe.  This is the model’s third outing in the basic range, and the 1934 car is MB34 in the range.  I thought that was fun.  They should match more numbers up with the year of the car.  

A two-tone brown.  I think this looks really nice.  Perhaps its nicest outing to date.  In fact, yes, it is the nicest to date.  A simple front detailing is added, which is the same as we have had in its previous incarnations.  

This model sees simple hub detailing to the wheels.  I think that is also a very suitable look.  This really does give me a good feeling of 1930s vibes.  I think they did a great job with it, and I am giving this a 10.  Even with a lack of rear detailing (due to interior, which make the runners, getting a tampo hit and the front of the body section).  With a 2 pass through the tampo machine limit, I see this as the most effective way to do that. So, knowing that these are the most budget range in the portfolio, I can live with it.  Because what they did tampo print, they did well.  No blank spaces!

As I said, this is the way they have always done this model.  The 2021 MB6 is proof of that.  This was the debut look for the model, in a dark red with black runner boards.

The 2022 MB71 in a dark blue shade with black runner boards followed the exact same pattern.  Even down the wheels.  But, you may notice something that they have managed to add this year.

After the debut sported a chrome base, the 2022 lost it.  But they got it back this year.  Chroming models is expensive.  Well, not very expensive.  But, with this range, every penny counts.  The room for profit margins is wafer thin, but they will try their best to squeeze in whatever little things they can.  In this case, a base dipped in chrome.  I notice these things.  I think it is worth pointing out, as many don't even think of what efforts they put into these little models.  They push budgets to the very maximum for our (well, kids and us big kids) benefit.  

New casting time.  This is the MB1342 Holden VF Commodore SSV.  It takes the MB35 slot in the basic range, and comes in a police theme. 

The Holden Commodore was sold across 5 generations between 1978 and 2020, before the brand was retired completely.  However, the VF Commodore is the final incarnation of the 4th generation, that was sold between 2006 and 2017.  Matchbox decided to forego the final incarnation, as the Commodore had always been produced in Australia until the VF retired.  The final incarnation that debuted for 2018 was actually the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, imported with a different badge.  So Mattel decided to go with the last Aussie one.  Which I think is a nice touch.  

The sides of the model are depicting an Australian police theme.  This is a very realistic look, although I think they have taken a couple of small liberties.  I may be wrong, and if somebody from Australia knows more, please let me know.  But, from what I can tell, the orange stripe/blue checks design is something that is used in New South Wales.  Or NSW for short.  But, on the orange section, it states “Keeping SA Safe” in clear letters.  SA is short for the state of South Australia.  And the little insignia over the rear wheels is not quite the one that real cars have.  

It's a minor thing, and really does not detract from the model.  However, as I am sure people are wondering.  They have made this a police car, but where are the lights?  Good question.  I guess that this will see a lot of civilian outings as well.  But, I think it could not have hurt Mattel to have made 2 castings.  1 with a full roof piece (civilian use), and the other with a small hole in the roof, and a unique window section that pops up through that hole to depict lights.  We are way past the era of adding a separate light bar on the top. As I have already mentioned, profit margins are so thin that these additional parts are no longer available on core range models.  But, did you notice they did squeeze in another pass through the tampo machine?  We got a front print, alongside the 2 sides.  

The rear didn't.  But the lights do slip around a little, to give us a feeling of a rear print.  Again, they are pushing limits as much as they can.  It is a shame they can no longer do light bars.  As, without it, I do feel this model lacks that final cherry on top.  Get it?  On top?  No?  I don't know why I bother.  

It is the only thing I can really mark down on.  The new casting looks amazing.  They have done an amazing job recreating the VF in miniature. As far as the casting itself is concerned, top marks.  The Australian looking police design is brilliant.  But that missing light bar.  Such a shame.  I can't justify top marks.  I know it is a budget thing, but as I said, they could have created this as a dual casting with 2 options depending on which route they would take each release.  So I am scoring this a 9.5.   

Finishing up with a base shot, as this is new. 

So now I move on to, oh, another new casting.  The MB1343 '22 Mercedes-Benz AMG SL63.  Finally, a Merc convertible in the range again.  Woohoo!  I have been wanting one to be added for a good few years, as this was quite the staple of the range for many years, but has been absent for over a decade now.  There have been gaps since they first arrived.  The 230SL in 1966 ran until 1972.  Then nothing in 1973 before the 350SL arrived in 1974.  When that left in 1984, we waited until 1990 before the 500SL arrived.  Then after 1994s final year, it was 1999 before the CLK arrived. That stopped in 2005, the same year as the last convertible appeared.  The SL55 AMG ran until 2009, but since then we have had no convertible.  I have been lobbying for one for a while now.

Does this disappoint?  Err!  No! This is freaking awesome! It takes the MB67 slot in the basic range in a very dark blue.  Mercedes-Benz calls this Starling Blue.  It is a real colour. The model has been extremely well crafted, and I have to say, those grills points in the corners are so well defined.   

The small details are really well done.  The rear upper middle light stands out.  And I have to point out.  Isn't that licence plate, with AMG on it, a stand-out.  Hint, Audi!  It is a shame that they were unable to get a tampo hit to that middle light, but it is a very thin line.  I think it might have been too tough to get spot on in mass production.  I am okay with that being left.  The licence plate makes up for it.  Ha ha!  

Just look at all the side cast detailing.  I compared it to real ones, and I don't think they could have improved on what they did.  I am absolutely stoked with this.  And look at those wheels.  

They are a brand new wheel design.  Charlie Mack is noting it as a 10-spoke split dash wheel.  So that will do for me.  This does look a little like some of the wheel options for Mercs.  I believe Mercedes-Benz did request a wheel type that was more akin to the sort of wheels they used.  Plus, it is about time Matchbox added a new wheel design for sportier cars.  

I am very impressed with this.  It gives me a lot of joy, and therefore it is an easy 10 from me.  Definitely a standout in the batch.  

Before I move on to the next model, of course I add in a base shot.  It is a new casting, after all.

I also add in a shade shot as well.  I have found a few shades to this, but I have seen others who are finding even more extremes.  This blue has been a lot of fun for the shade nutters!

I move on from a blue car to a…. blue car.  Do you know, that Merc was sporting a lot of shadiness to the paint, but this MB1240 '84 Toyota MR2 appears to be pretty consistent in being this dark blue shade.  And, of course, I got more than one.  Wheel Collectors know the score with this.  

After all, this is year 3 for the model in the basic range.  MB95 this year, and the blue has the standard 4 variants.  

Lights up, lights down.  Left hand drive or right hand drive.  All 4 configurations exist, and all appear to be about evenly matched.  I would assume it is a standard even match.  As to the look itself.  Sporting a simple front tampo hit.

And a rear tampo hit, just like all previous outings have seen, you cannot go wrong here.  I believe Toyota called this Blue Mica.  It is a real colour, and therefore, with all the right tampo detail, this is another 10 from me.  

This model has really started building up in my collection.  It only debuted in 2021, as MB14 in the basic range in white.  This was carried forward to a 2022 Walmart Japan Originals series, but was identical.  

With 2022 seeing it as MB16 in the basic range in red.  

With Target getting a Retro series release in a lighter shade of blue.  A much lighter shade than this.  It is almost a cyan, it is that light.  So these won't be confusing.  

So, 4 releases in, and 16 models in the collection.  As I said, this casting will build up a large collection very quickly.  I still hope they don't make it a 9-pack exclusive.  That one will be very expensive to get all 4 for.  

Now we move on to, what is officially, the last model in the batch.  And, also the last model that Wheel Collectors sent to me for the batch.  The MB1287 ‘21 VW ID4.  Oh, sorry, EV4, or Electric Vehicle 4.  There are legal reasons behind it.  VW are unable to use the ID4 name in certain markets, so Matchbox follow suit by using a more generic name.  This is actually VW’s request.  It's not the first time.  The Caddy was known as “licenced by VW” on the base.  That one we know, it was to do with Cadillac.  I know not of what an ID4 is in a random country, that stopped VW using it.  I mean, the Toyota MR2 is just MR in France.  MR2 sounds like “merde” which is a rude word there.  But, the Matchbox model still has MR2 on the base.  Kids in France probably giggle a lot at the model.  Kids look at this and get a little confused.  

It takes the MB96 slot in the range, and comes in a lovely dark red shade.  King's Red Premium Metallic is what VW call it.  Yes, it does look posh.  I like it.  I also like that we can clearly see inside.  The debut last year had a very dark window tint.  This is much better.

The model comes complete with front and rear detailing.  But also that silver strip going over the edge of the window section.  I am guessing it was a VW request to include that.  But, well, I talked about it with the Audi, and I am going to revisit the licence plate scenario.  That lower black section is where the licence plate would go.  With last year's blue being so dark, I didn't really catch it.  But, this one is a little brighter, and it stands out a touch.  However, with the area getting a black tampo print, which does break the section up, it is not such a big deal. Between the black and the lights, it is that empty.  So for me, because this has given us a colour break, I am not as inclined to mark it down.  Fickle, aren't I!  Yes, I am happy with this as it is.  Therefore, I am giving it another 10.  Boom!  Mic drop!

As I mentioned, last year's MB44 debut was a much darker colour and the windows much darker too.  I definitely think this one is an improvement over that.  I was happy enough with the debut, but am much happier with the follow up. 

On that note, I am finishing with the Wheel Collectors assortment.  But, I am not finished with the report.  Because, in general, this was a small batch.  There were only 6 new additions to the basic range included.  This is the joint smallest for the year, along with batches E & G. However, batch G was the smallest overall, because both E & J have something that G didn't.

A Super Chase!  Sadly, very sadly in my case, Wheel Collectors never got any Super Chases in.  I heard that the UK market did get some in on small card.  But, again, I was sadly unable to find one in a store.  I might find one yet, as our stores in the UK are all over the place, and they may still appear with a store that hasn't reached the batch yet.  But, in the meantime, I had to do the inevitable eBay hunt! Because, I was not allowing myself to miss out on a brand-new Porsche casting!  That's right, for the first time, they have debuted a new casting as a Super Chase.

This is the brand new MB1367 Porsche Macan.  The Macan has been around since 2014, as the second SUV in the Porsche portfolio, after the larger Cayenne had been around for close to a decade before it debuted.  I am shocked at how long it took for Matchbox to add a model of it.  Still, good things come to those who wait, and I will wait as long as it takes.  Well, actually, that is not strictly true, as I hunted for this about 3 weeks before giving up and going the eBay route!  I can be patient.  But there is a limit to how patient I can be.  Ha ha!  It's a Porsche.  Once released, I was frantically foaming at the mouth!  

Anyway, I digress.  The casting.  This is a terrific rendition of the real model.  They have nailed things again.  I cannot fault it!  The shape has been captured very well, and the detailing is all there.  

Being a Super Chase means that this model is getting a full tampo treatment.  All 4 sides are detailed.  Front and rear is the usual Porsche and lights markings.  Sides are getting quite the familiar feeling details. A few stripes, name and SC logo.  Plus, we have real riders and not plastic wheels.  

The model is not overly fussy with the tampo.  I think this whole SC look is working well.  I am very impressed with this, and it is not going to be a shocker that I will be marking this as a 10 either.

I am definitely looking forward to seeing many more of these appear over the coming years.  Matchbox are really adding a lot of new Porsche castings lately.  Am I happy about that?  You bet I am!

Base shot!  Well, this is the third new casting of the batch.  

It is also the second Porsche Super Chase we have seen since they started doing them. Last year saw the MB947 Porsche 911GT3 in black, but also featuring a very similar red, orange and yellow design.  

This is also the third and final Super Chase of 2023, after the MB1234 ‘32 Ford Coupe Model B popped up in batch A in orange, and the MB1231 ’20 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake was included randomly with batch E.  You may be noticing, they are popping up every 4 batches.  That means, batch A 2024 for the next one.  

Talking of 2024, for the first time in a few years, the Toy Fair model has actually turned up as scheduled.  For the last few years, things went a little pear shaped, and the Toy Fair models didn't arrive until much later than planned.  It appears things are definitely back to normal, and so, the September Toy Fair saw Matchbox handing out the latest model.  The MB1299 Audi E-tron in what is a very familiar look.

They don't tend to make a lot of these, and so they are not easy to find.  Luckily, I managed to acquire one.  

I am noticing a theme.  The last few years have seen some “new” electric vehicles chosen to represent the Matchbox brand.  It seems to be a thing, as they are definitely trying to be socially conscious with the toys.  This is why we do see a high proportion of electric vehicles in the ranges.  

I am surprised that they haven't jumped to including real riders on Toy Fair models yet.  But, for the rest, I am not surprised at all.  This is almost a tradition now.  Apart from the random 2020 Toy Fair edition (the Alfa Romeo in red), all Toy Fair models since they showcased the 2016 Toy Fair model in September 2015 have been in bronze.  Wheels have a single gold rim around the edge.  

Plus, blue tinted windows as common as well.  The rest?  Well, they have a lot of fun with tampo detailing, and of course ensuring that all the regular details of the models are included. So the Audi gets the rings, the lights, the name etc.   And that is that?  Toy Fair across the licence plate area on an Audi!  Yes, they can do them.  So why is that TTRS so blank?  Am I like a dog with a bone?  Don't answer that!

Taking last year's MB1295 Ford F-150 Lightning as an example, you can see how things tend to follow a similar pattern.  I, for one, love it!  

So, to finish off, I will give a quick recap of the E-tron.  It launched as MB77 in the 2022 range.

And this year saw the model as MB1 in silver.  Although some came out with a bit of a blue tint to them.  Quite a noticeable shade variation.  That is, if you were in a country that sold long cards.  This model seemed to be quite scarce on ROW short cards.  For some reason.  I have no idea why.  

Of course, it is not as rare as a toy fair model, but it was still a little unusual.  And with that, I think I am done.  I didn't give the Audi a score.  Well, as you know I love patterns and recurring schemes, so I think you know it got a 10.  

I hope you enjoyed my latest ramblings.  2 new castings in the standard set of 6.  The Holden only lost a top score due to the lack of a light bar.  

We also saw 2 modern cars from VAG.  Both amazing, but I wish we had more licence plates!

We also had 2 classics.  One from the USA (very old) and one from Japan (not quite as old).  

As well as an addendum with 2 more German modern vehicles.  Both SUVs.  Hmm!  5 out of 8 models came from Germany.  That was a big percentage.  

As these head off to join my collection, I look forward to next week, where I have a look at 2 different ranges.  Well, they were both smaller batches, so I combined them into one larger group.  Until then, I hope you all have a safe and happy week.

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