Matchbox Monday makes Mini Mayhem

The Mini.  It is often regarded as one of the most iconic cars, and especially when you think of a British car.  However, in the 1950s, it was not really seen as something that would come to light.  Sir Alec Issigonis, who had earlier created the Morris Minor for BMC, had been working on 3 different sizes of cars.  A large, a medium and a small.  XC9001 was his biggest, and was the main one he was working on.  XC9002, was a lesser priority, and the little XC9003 was on the back burner.  But, in 1956, there was a crisis in the Suez. I won't go into details, but shipments of oil became severely depleted.  Suddenly, large cars were not wanted.  People wanted cars that were fuel efficient.  Sales of small bubble cars were increasing in the UK, and the head of BMC, Leonard Lord, saw a market that needed filling.  He turned to Alec, and pushed for that small model to be the priority.  This was moved to the Amalgamated Drawing Office, and renamed as ADO15. The press were shown the model in April 1959, and it was launched simultaneously in almost 100 countries on 26th August 1959. It was launched as the Austin Seven or Morris Mini-Minor in the UK, and went by a number of other names in other countries.  The Austin version was renamed Mini in 1962, and in 1969 the car became a marque in its own right.  The original Mini was relatively unchanged over the next 41 years, until finally ceasing production in 2000.  Although, if you know your stuff, there are officially 7 generations of Mini.  When the Rover Group went bust in 1994, BMW bought the rights to everything, although many of the Rover Group brands were later sold on.  But, they kept the Mini brand and came up with a new Mini which launched in 2001.  They also kept the rights to Triumph and Riley, but neither are being used.  Since 2001, the "BMW" Mini has become almost as iconic as the original.  However, for a car that was supposed to be "mini", it is a lot larger than it used to be. Matchbox never really made a lot of Minis until Mattel took over.  There was a Racing Mini that ran from 1970 through 1975, and a Mini Ha-Ha from 1975 through 1981.  But, neither was a road going Mini.  It wasn't until 2003 that Matchbox finally issued a road going Mini in the range, and since then have come up with alternate versions of the newer Mini, but also dived back into the history to bring us the originals.  And in 2024, they have given us a whole set of Minis to enjoy.  

Each of the models in the set is coming on a blister that mirrors the colour of the model in the blister.  I like the artwork. However, I am still ripping things apart to get to the models inside and chucking away (in recycling, of course) the blisters.  The first of the models is the classic.  The MB765 '64 Austin Mini Cooper 1275S.  The Mini Cooper had been a collaboration between Alec and John Cooper, who had been in the car business as well as running a Formula 1 team.  He took the original Mini and tweaked it into a more nimble and sporty number.  First launching in 1961, the Cooper was a popular addition, and Matchbox chose the 1964 1275cc model which had been dubbed the "S" to add to the range in 2009.  This casting is still going strong, and I am amazed at how often they can come up with a new look for it.  

I just love this olive one.  Of course, if you were to check the BMW colour chart for 1964, you might find it called Porcelain Green.  It is a classic colour option, and it really suits the model well.  Plus, this is much like the early days of this model in the range, where they highlight the front end, and then add a black roof on top.

Which does mean that the back end is plain.  This is about average for this model.  I do not mind it.  I know it is a core model, and has limited passes through the tampo machine.  I did notice mine has a little scratch down the door on the alternate side.  I am not going to worry about that.  It makes it unique.  I think this is an amazing look for this model, and I have to give it a 10 out of 10.  This really takes me back to 2009, and when they launched the model in the basic range.  15 years later, and this still looks as fresh as it did when it first arrived.  What a terrific job they did here.  I am not going to dive back yet, as I will be returning to this casting later on.

For now, I move on to number 2 in the set of 6.  The MB713 '65 Austin Minivan.  Can you believe this was released before the Cooper?  It arrived in 2007, with the Cooper following 2 years later.  Again, it still looks fresh.  And this blue look is fantastic.

This is a fantastic livery.  Simple, straightforward, and really suits the era well.  Motor Spares since 1953, and it is owned and operated by Alastair & Elspeth Brothers LTD.  I did check.  They are not a real company.  I love this look.  

And, with white wheel hubs and a white base, I think they have done wonders with this.  Red, white, blue and black.  4 basic colour choices.  Although, if you look carefully, you might notice a small golden stripe down the middle of the larger red stripe.  Yeah, I have to say, they have outdone themselves again.  This is one of my favourite looks on this model.  Again, I am giving this a 10 out of 10.  Hmm, is this the right time for a dive back?  Yes....

As I mentioned, we first saw the Minivan in the 2007 basic range.  I also remember that this model was chosen by Gerardo Lopez to be the star in a small film he created about how Matchbox were made.  Gerardo used to work for the Matchbox brand within Mattel at the time. Debuting as MB31, we saw 2 looks.  The first was in a beige colour, with an Authentic British look to the side, incorporating the 3 colours of the British flag. I did spot some shades to the beige used.

It was then followed up by an emerald green release as a version 2.  One of 3 models chosen to sport this look, as part of a small 55th Anniversary celebration.  Again, this green was good for a shade or 2.

We also saw 2 other issues that year.  It was chosen to be the show model for the 2007 Gathering in Albuquerque.  At that time, we would have a single dinner model, a dealer model, and then a show model for the Sunday event.  They were simply packaged in special blisters.  This was a metallic blue model.  We also saw a 1st Editions 10-pack release at the end of the year in a greeny gold look. It had a Dairy Farms design, and was one of the last models to sport the old disk wheel, before being replaced by the current disk design.  

For 2008, the model was given a mustard look as a basic range model, and simple front and rear detailing.  No side design. MB7 that year would come in a variety of shades of mustard.

It also saw its first 5-pack outing, as a part of the Classic Cars pack.  Again, this model saw no side design, but this time had a white roof and front detailed.  During production, they switched between disk and tri-spoke wheels.  

That was not the only model that was switching wheels.  It was a part of the 2008 Superfast series, and the final production run stopped using the retro 5-spokes, and switched to the more common tri-spokes.  

But, wait.  We are still not done with 2008.  A Best of British series sported a Minivan in a very nice olive colour.  Hmm! That looks pretty similar to the latest Mini Cooper 1275S.

We also saw 2 promotional issues as well.  The first, a British Racing Green model, was actually designed by me. Yes, I came up with the idea, as I was the Matchbox ambassador at the time, and submitted my idea to Mattel. They allowed me to make a 400-piece run of the model, and I have to say, Michael Heralda tidied up my initial terrible drawings to make a lovely model, and Felix Holst, who was in charge of the brand at the time, added a black roof, as he thought it set it off perfectly.  It did. Sadly, they didn't get the clearance to use my name quickly enough, so the side writing had 2007-2008 Ambassador on it, instead of my name.  I think they have more than made up for it, as my name has appeared on numerous models since.  The latest being a certain Nissan Skyline from a 2024 5-pack. Oh, and it was also the 2009 Pre-Toy Fair model. The Pre-Toy Fair would take place around the middle each year to showcase some ideas for the following year.  

Yes, I believe, we are now moving into 2009.  It was MB53 that year, and came in red with a Benz Electrical Specialists design.  Now, there is a very rare variation of this one, where a few were found with tri-spoke wheels.  I never found one.  I only saw the disk wheels.  But, I did find a shade to the tampo printing, as the white was thickly or thinly applied over the side.

We also saw 3 other issues in 2009.  The blue Lumber Co look was a part of the Classic Cars 5-pack.  The blue Butcher Shop model was the 2009 Best of British release.  The iridescent white Richie's Pizza Delivery was in the "Real" all-exclusive 10-pack that year.

By comparison to the years surrounding it, 2010 was extremely quiet.  This is it.  The MB72 US exclusive basic range issue.  Yes, it had one release, and it was only in the US market (which does involve other countries, but is dubbed US to make it easy, just like this is the Walmart exclusive set, just to make it easy).  I did spot a shade.  A more purplish shade of blue.  

2011 saw it going nuts again.  It was still MB72 in the US range, but, with the range being split 3 ways, was also added to the LAAM range as MB72 as well, but also the ROW range as MB48. However, it was a bit random.  In the US market, people noted it was only briefly available, and I did pick up a few spares on ROW short card to help out those who were unable to find one at the time. It was a really cool look. A black Express Royal Couriers design.  Very classy.

It was also a part of the City Life 5-pack, with a GO Bike Shop design.  This model was good for a few shades. It came in a very pale yellow, to a very creamy yellow hue.

It was also in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse licensed 5-pack as well in red.  Plus, it was a part of the 2011 Lesney Edition series, which was the premium range of the time, and a new, metal base was created for the model.  This base was the first time we saw a tow hook on the model. It also accidentally had 1955 engraved on it, with later runs having this altered to correctly state it as a 1965 vehicle.

Then there is the Chilean Minivan.  This unusual metallic green with white roof model was something that Mattel were planning for something that did not come to fruition.  I honestly do not know what.  They were unable to say.  Legal stuff.  However, a few thousand had already been prepared.  Obviously, they didn't want to waste them, and as there was nothing on them to denote anything, they simply popped them in a run of 3-packs, alongside a red Audi R8 and grey Nissan Z.  They are rare.  Nobody knows exactly how many were made, but it is believed to be a low 4-figure run. The reason they were dubbed the Chilean Minivan?  It is where they were first found.  In fact, the only other country I know that definitely found them was The Netherlands.  

After the madness of 2011, things immediately started to quieten down for the casting.  2012 saw just the one issue again.  Another Mickey Mouse Clubhouse model in a licensed 5-pack.  Except this one was purple, not red like the previous year.

2013 saw nothing at all.  For 2014, it was included in the City Works 5-pack with a plumbing theme.  Again, I noticed it was shading.  Lighter versus darker silver.

Again, the model missed a year.  2015 was ignored, and in 2016, the model saw another premium outing. This time it was in the Best of series.  It came in purple, and sported some real riders for the first time. I did notice that the purple is also good for a shade.  

Doo-di-doo!  Nothing in 2017.  Are we seeing a pattern?  2018, and a basic range issue.  Wait, what?  Yes, after 7 years, we saw another model in the basic range. It was MB27 that year, and to date, is still the last basic range outing.  It came in brown with a chocolate themed design.  Do you notice the bases of these are a little different?  One is more yellow than the other.

A better shot of their bases.

And as we skip the odd numbered years.... Wait a sec... No, this is from 2019.  Yes, we got a model in the first of the candy themed series.  A silver Baby Ruth model.

Which was followed up by another the following year, for Junior Mints.  At this time, they re-did the base to include a tow hook.  I am not sure why.  They have never had it tow anything.  This look was repeated this year.

However, after 2020, it took 3 years before we got another issue.  Vickies Florist was a 2023 MBX Wagons II 5-pack release.  But, with more this year (including the MBX Retro 5-pack in pink that I never photographed), it is not anywhere close to retirement yet.

The 3rd model in the set is the first of the modern breed.  These are the newer Minis created by BMW. They are still made in the UK in real life (as well as other places), and many still think of them as British.  Just like they do with Rolls-Royce, another BMW-owned brand.  The MB822 Mini Cooper S Cabrio is not a casting that has seen a lot of action, but I am very happy to see it continue.  And this new teal look is amazing.

I love a car with stripes.  I can't explain why.  They just look cooler with stripes.  And this sports a pair of black stripes over the bonnet (or hood).  As well as this, we get the front end detailed.

And, just like the classic Cooper S, this one also sports nothing on the rear.  But, what I do find surprising, is that this model has not been altered.  Do you notice the licence plate section?  That is a part of the base.  This is still being built the old-fashioned way.  Slotting the base in, and not dropping it, and riveting it.  I am surprised that they haven't altered this one to the drop method.  That is not something that would particularly faze me.  I would just see it as an opportunity to carry forward older designs on a different tooling.  Ha ha! Anyway, I have to say, all 3 of the new looks that have been created for this set are stunning.  As with the other 2, I am giving this top marks.  I do not mind the blank back.  Some may complain.  I grew up collecting Matchbox when they didn't even detail the lights.  I love what they do now, but know there are limitations.  As a rule, a core range model (that doesn't have moving parts) will generally see 2 passes through a tampo machine.  Front and top.  Done!  If I had a choice between stripes or a blob of red on the back, I would go all stripey!  

I do love this casting.  I actually own a pre-production sample of it.  The chrome base has no details on it.  The window is unpolished, but it comes in a gorgeous shade of dark red. Yes, we are doing another dive back.

It was 2011 when the model first arrived in the basic range.  It was sold worldwide as MB28, and came in 2 colours for the debut year.  The first look was in red, and then a few batches later, it turned yellow.  I did find a good shade to the yellow.

2012 was a period in recent history, where the bean counters were trying to tweak the Matchbox brand, and models were starting to see more vivid looks again.  MB13 was a blue Mini, but along with the front lights, we saw this checkered look on the side, along with a 6 roundel.  

Although, 2013 was awesome! It was the first time we had the dual bonnet stripes on the model.  MB65 was a lovely metallic dark green look.

And then it was gone. It didn't return until being added to the 2018 Globe Travelers premium series with real rider wheels.  

Again, it disappeared.  Finally returning, back in the basic range, as MB52 in lavender.  I saw that this was a particularly good colour for shades.  And, then it went again....

Returning this year, not just here, but also in orange in the British Roadways 5-pack.  Again, sporting those dual stripes down the front.  

Which means, that with 14 years of action under its belt, this model has had a grand total of 8 looks.  That is not a lot.  Just think, the Morris Minor is on year 2, and is already on 4 looks. Nothing against the Moggie, I love that model.  I am so happy with having 4 looks. But it is already halfway to the grand total for this cutie.  I would love to see some more of this one.  And, especially if they sport those dual stripes.  Half of the ones released so far have them. We need to up the percentage!  Ha ha!

And now, after those dizzying highs of 3x 10s, we move to the other end of the scale.  As we know, most of these lines will feature 3 models in exclusive new looks (occasionally a new casting slips in). But, joining those, will be another 3 that are carried forward from before.  I do not mind carry forward as a rule. However, they need to be the right carry forwards, and these just don't work for me.  Case in point.  Number 4 of 6 is the MB579 Mini Cooper S.  The first standard, road-going Mini that Matchbox made.  First released in 2003, and now being classified specifically as a 2003 model, we see this carry forward of one from 2020. Which, to me, is a real shame. Why?

Well, for starters, I am not seeing any discernible difference between this and the original run from 2020.  Okay, that is just the way that is.  Sometimes a carry forward doesn't throw up a variation.  That is not a big deal to me.  I live in hope, but it doesn't always work out.  I am fine.  But....

The 2020 release was the first time that we saw the model after it had a little cosmetic surgery.  A few nips and tucks, and some wing mirrors added for extra realism.  This means that there was a wasted opportunity to have pulled out any pre-2020 release as a carry forward, and have people going nuts over the fact that the look is now on the updated body.  Instant variation, and I would think, more sales.  There were plenty to choose from.  Let us round them up.

We had the debut look from 2003.  MB75 that year, and with the first 10,000 sporting a Hero City logo, perhaps that was not the best one to go for.

I could have happily seen the 2004 yellow MB65 again.  And that is partly down to the dual stripes again!  Woohoo!  Of course, they would need to accidentally forget the Matchbox logo on there.  The 2004 Superfast issue in red would have been too detailed for this sort of carry forward.

They could have looked at the 2005 MB7 in blue as a carry forward.  Although, with the Minivan already being in blue, it might have been too much blue.  Plus, they might have looked at this one and thought what the...? Yes, it kept getting running changes.  What started off with dual white stripes, a large Mini badge and no rear detail, morphed into a dual white stripes, small badge and added rear detail, morphing again into dropping the stripes and detailing the side pillars, but still sporting a small badge and rear lights.  I have no idea why it kept changing, but it was a fun issue(s) to get.

Okay, so the 2 Superfast from 2005 at the front would have been too detailed.  White being for non-USA markets and grey for the USA market.  But, what about the Stars of Cars from Germany?  It came in a simple black with lights depicted.  It was also one of the models that switched production from China to Thailand mid-way through as well.  Hence, why I have 2.

2006 only saw a Superfast release.  Again, being a premium, this couldn't have carried forward to core.  So I would not have expected this.

They could have gone with one of the 2007s.  These were the last models issued before it went into a long hiatus, and an overhaul before the 2020 outing.  It was again red in the basic range, but this had black pillars instead of a black roof.  It was also in the Best of British series in charcoal with a Union Jack roof.  Either of these 2 could have made a fine carry forward, and we would have gone nuts over getting the updated casting. Although, that Best of British issue does manage to achieve just a little extra detail. It might have been tough.   

The only 2 that I was not keen to see carried forward were the last 2.  Being updated for the 2020 comeback, we have had a red (2020) and grey (2021) basic range release. I would have loved anything from before this time to have come back.  Literally, any of them.  These 2 are nice models, but not the ones I would have wanted to revisit.  Oh, well....

Next up, we have number 5 of 6 as the MB1167 '11 Mini Cooper Countryman.  This is a carry forward of the 2021 basic range issue in metallic orange.  

I am sad to say that I found a match for this one.  Orange is quite a cool colour for shades, and I had 2 already, back when it first appeared.  I was hoping that I get lucky and add a third shade.  Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.  

I have to say, if I was given an option to choose any of the models already issued from this casting, I think I would have gone with orange.  It was the most likely to sport a variation.  I just got unlucky.  Another dive back, as this debuted in green.  Which did sport a number of shades.

Plus, it was carried forward to a 2020 Convoy set in another shade. I really didn't need this carried forward again.

In 2020, it was red in the basic range, and another green, now with dual white stripes, was issued in a Top Gun Maverick 5-pack. Both models have been carried forward into Advent Calendars.  I am good for seeing these again.  

As well as the 2021 basic in orange, there was a Best of UK in grey.  Hmm!  Perhaps, as an alternative, that could have been the carry forward.  But, I would have gone with the orange still.  

And, the 2022 basic range in blue would have been too much blue in the set.  So, that would be discounted.  Plus, I already have a shade.  I'm good (again).

And last year saw a black with dual stripes appear in the MBX Wagons II 5-pack.  Too recent to be used again.  I would definitely not have wanted this to be seen again so soon.  So, yes, in this scenario, they made the right choice.  It can be tough to choose sometimes.  I think the '03 Mini Cooper S was perhaps the wrong choice for a carry forward, but, if given free rein over which of the Countryman issue would return, I would also have gone with the orange.  

Which brings me to the last model. And complete and utter disappointment!  Honestly, I am absolutely gutted that we are seeing this again.  I am not fussed about them only having 5 Mini castings in the basic range to choose from, so having to double up on something.  To be honest, out of all of them, I think doubling up on one of the Classic Austins was the right choice.  But, seriously?  The white one?

In this case, white is most definitely wrong!  Why? Well, this model was originally the 2010 MB19.  Sort of. It was, but there was a small cock-up. Back in 2010, Walmart had approached Mattel about having some exclusives.  Their first thought was to create 4 unique looks, exclusively for Walmart stores in the USA.  Everywhere else would see a model in another look, but Walmart USA would have a different look.  3 of the other 4 ran perfectly.  However, the Mini had a slight issue.  You see, this was the regular MB19.  It should have been available in every store except a Walmart in the USA.  However, ROW short cards and LAAM long cards also saw the Walmart look.  This white look was only found on US long cars outside of Walmart.  Oops! I still managed to get a cool shade.  Had this been the extent of the white model, I would have been fine with it.  

But, since the Mini first debuted in 2009, before now, the casting has been carried forward 3 times (well, plus a partial carry forward).  Yes, 3 times we have seen them decide to bring back an older issue for a carry forward, and EVERY SINGLE TIME they have chosen this white one.  Seriously?  What the actual..... Aaagh!  Yes, I am quite annoyed with this.  We have seen a Best of France carry forward.  We have seen a Coffee Cruisers III 5-pack carry forward.  We have seen a Target Retro carry forward.  Each one is this one.  I am seriously fed up with seeing this one over and over again.  There were others.  I am going to show them all now.  Pick one, Any one, except this one, the next time you want to carry this model forward.

I am bringing back the olive from the start of this report for the dive back, as I want to show it off more.  This one is a beauty.  And look how good it sits with the 2 2009 basic range debuts.  When MB2 first arrived, it was red, but then switched to British Racing Green for a version 2 issue.  Either one could have made for an awesome carry forward.  

Obviously, this one wouldn't have been used again.  It was the 2009 Gathering Dealer model in a highly detailed look.  Not something that would crop up again.  

This was the other 2010 MB19.  The non-white look was supposed to only have been found in Walmart stores in the USA.  But, due to a mix-up at the factory, it ended up being sold in every market that was not taking US long cards, as well as Walmart stores in the USA.  It was good for a shade.  I could have happily seen it again.  Just for something different.  The Lesney Edition in black with a Lyons Bros theme would obviously not be carried forward to here.

The 2011 MB19 was blue with dual white stripes.  I see it not being an option here (due to the Minivan being blue), but if this casting comes up as a carry forward for the future, here's an option that is not the white one.  

The model was not seen in 2012, but for 2013 we did get 3 outings.  A certain 60th Anniversary special in gold with a Union Jack roof might be a little tougher to explore as a carry forward, as it was a midway point between core and premium.  So it is a little better detailed.  But, if I had a choice, I would have taken the 2013 MB12 in red over the white one.  It was part of the side step from Matchbox in the early to mid 2010s, but I didn't think this look was that bad.  It really felt like it had a '60s vibe to it.  

The final outing might also be tough. The 10-pack exclusive from that year. There is a very large 60th Anniversary logo on the roof. Pretty tough to bring forward now.  Although, 2024 is the 60th Anniversary of this '64 Mini Cooper 1275S.... No, it's too late for that now.  

We didn't see the model for 4 years after that.  When it returned to the basic range as MB117, it was in a quite familiar looking green with black bonnet.  It was quite reminiscent of the Mr Bean car.  

2019 saw the model in a yellow taxi scheme as MB96 in the basic range.  We also had a seasonal issue in a Happy Holidays 5-pack.  I guess that one is not the easiest to carry forward.  Although it does work in the Advent Calendar.  

In 2020, after having a very "Bean-like" model in the 2017 basic range, they actually got the rights to put Mr Bean's car in the range.  Technically, his was not a '64 Cooper 1275S, but it is close enough.  You can see, placing the 2017 next to it, that Mr Bean's car was more of a yellowy green, and they added his numberplate to the front.  Could they have put this in the range instead?

They could have gone nuts and added the 2021 Best of UK issue instead.  Having Mr Bean's car, with teddy on the chair on the roof.  When this was put out in UK stores in 2021, it was a blink and miss it moment.  Honestly, if you were not there when they put new stock out, you would likely miss it.  They sold like hot cakes.  They could have just made a batch purely of this one model.  Just imagine if they had carried that forward to this set. The 2021 basic in blue would obviously not have worked here, being blue.

And again, the 2022 in pink might be a little too modern for now.  But, a possibility for the future. Although I do have shades already.  I didn't photograph the 2023 Convoy issue in 70th Anniversary platinum, as I completely forgot, but again, that is one that will not translate to a carry forward.  There are possibilities.  I just really felt that white was the worst choice they could have made here for a carry forward.  As I said, 3 times this Mini has been used as a carry forward, and all of them are the same one.  Please, use one of the others.  There are plenty.  

And on that note, I am done.  Especially with white Minis!  Ha ha!  The Austin ones, that is.  I'm happy to see the modern Minis in white.  Even the Cooper S, as the one we saw was a Superfast, and it deserves a core issue.  The 3 new additions to the series were amazing.  Top marks all round.  These are some of my favourites from each of their castings.  I am so happy with those.

The 3 carry forward?  Sadly, they were all a no-go for me.  As I said, the Countryman, I was just unlucky not to get a shade.  I thought I would.  The other 2?  The Cooper S was a missed opportunity, and the Austin, I am still in shock!

I would have perhaps gone with this trio.  The Austin should have been the red one.  A repeat of the debut release.  The Cooper S would have not been red.  I would have gone with the Stars of Cars from 2005, and had an instant flurry of people wanting the model with the updated casting.  And the Countryman, yeah, the orange.  That was just me being unlucky.

But, I hope that you have enjoyed my latest rave, ramble and rant.  The 3 "R's".  Or, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Yeah, I could go on.  But, I won't.  I need to start thinking ahead to my next report, which I think is "D"-lightful. Until next time, I hope everybody has a safe and happy week.

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