This week sees me tackling 2 different Matchbox ranges in the one hit. I am doing a few amalgamations of items in my quest to not fall too far behind. I thought this was a good opportunity to combine things. First up on the docket is the final Walmart exclusive series. Simply known as Muscle, this is the 4th and final set that is coming for 2023. They had upped their quantity of exclusives to 6 per year, but that was actually quite difficult to keep up. It appeared that many items were not selling for long enough for people to be able to get them. So slowing it down from a 2-monthly to a quarterly release does make it a little easier to follow (and find). Sadly, this batch only seemed to get 2 new items. This meant 4 carry forwards. But, as is often the case, that is not always a bad thing. Let's muscle in on the series.
We start off with the 2 new looks. First up, number 1 of 6 is the MB1226 '19 Ford Mustang GT. This comes in a lovely white design for this set.
We did see a white one before, but that was sporting a side design. This gets the standard front and rear tampo treatment. You cannot go wrong with that. I am very happy with this model.
A perfect 10 out of 10 for the model. Muscle cars do mean things like this. But, I know this may sound a little odd. I think this could have been a better series had the whole set of 6 models been classics. Am I the only one? I am not sure. So, as I said, a 10 for the model. I love this casting, and I think this look is amazing. But, I think of the wider series, and I contemplate having modern ones. I would say, maybe as a casting in the series itself, the score reduces. Suddenly the 10 becomes a 5.
The only other new look is also for a modern vehicle. The MB1221 '20 Chevy Corvette C8. The number 2 model in the series comes in a lovely orange look.
Again, this is sporting a very simple front and rear tampo design. Again, this is an easy 10 out of 10 for the final look of the model. Had this been in any other series, I would be hailing it as a fantastic look. I believe Chevrolet calls this Amplify Orange. It is stunning. One of the best looks for the casting to date.
But, as I said, I just feel that this series should have been all classics. Technically, the modern vehicles still get referred to as muscle cars, but I think a full-blown classic experience would have made this set really pop. 6 classic US muscle cars, all together in one set. So for being in the set, I am giving it a 5 again. So what would I have gone with? I would have dug into the archives and pulled out the MB336 ‘71 Chevy Camaro Z-28 and MB636 ’68 Mercury Cougar to replace these 2.
There is one more modern. The first of the 4 carry forwards. The MB1168 ‘18 Dodge Charger. Hello. Last year, they launched the MB1291 ’66 Dodge Charger! This thing is writing itself. Number 3 of 6 is the modern Charger. I so wish it was the classic Charger.
And, as we often see with these side ranges, we have some new stuff, and some carry forwards. It's the way they do it. Earlier this year, one of the Walmart sets was all-new. But it was a 70th Anniversary one. They had no 70th to carry forward, so that was all new. It was only 5 models as well. The Porsche and VW sets had an even 50/50 split, so even though this is more skewed to the carry forward, overall, the entire year has eked out a win for the new stuff. 13 to 10.
This is a carry forward of the debut. The 2019 MB2 release in green. I cannot fault the level of detail being given to these Chargers. Every one has been the same. Only the licence plates change. Honestly, as a carry forward, this is the best to go with. It is the oldest. Most change for a change.
Well, the shade of green is a little brighter. It is not a major shade, but I see it. I am going to keep the new one.
The tampo printing between the 2 runs is almost identical. There is just a tiny nuance in the shade of red, and of the blue in the plate. Not really enough on its own to warrant a place, but as I said, the green is noticeable. So, yeah, I am giving this a 3. Well, I can't give this a 5. The 2 new looks were given 5s, due to being modern vehicles. I didn't score them a zero, because it is a personal preference. Some may like the classic vs modern approach they did with these.
Now, we get on to the classics. The last 3 are classic vehicles. This is the MB302 '69 Chevy Camaro SS396 Convertible. It takes the number 4 slot in the series.
This one comes in orange. A slightly darker shade of orange to the Corvette. I am sort of seeing a link with the classic vs modern routine. A Camaro and a Corvette in orange. Both are Chevys. 2 different eras of Mustang in white. Both are, well, Mustangs. A Plymouth and a Dodge in yellow and green would denote 2 arms of the Chrysler Group in sort of similar colours. But, with only 6, 2 whites and 2 oranges make for quite a plain array of colours. Yeah, it is weird, but I am not loving this series as much as I thought I would. I wanted more classics, but I also think a wider range of colours would have improved things as well. There was no need to attempt to colour match things . In fact, as I mentioned bringing back the ‘71 Camaro. Could they have not used this, but gone for the MB610 ’71 Chevy Chevelle instead? Just throwing that out there as another classic that could have been utilized in this series.
Which is quite sad to say really. Because, when you look at each model on its own, every one is really nice. The 2 new looks were amazing, the Dodge Charger, to me would be the best to carry forward when needed. I do know of the need for these. I have stated it does not bother me. And this, well, it is an absolutely fantastic carry forward. Why?
Because they are carrying forward the 2007 US Classics 5-pack release of the model.
And, as most people will know, this casting saw quite a huge overhaul in recent years. This means that it is quite different in the end to how it was when it first appeared.
So basically they can carry forward any release of the casting up to and including its 2013 basic range outing, and each one is going to be completely different in its end product. That makes me genuinely excited.
As a carry forward, I give this a 10 out of 10. As a carry forward in this particular series? I am giving it a 10. Why? Well, I was only making note of a certain Chevelle, as a possible alternative because of me thinking the ‘71 Camaro needed to return, and looking for variety. But, as the series is, with these 6 models, it’s perfect. I would have liked for it to have been the only orange. That's not this model's fault.
I think I can copy and paste quite a lot here. The MB342 '65 Ford Mustang GT. Another carry forward, taking the number 4 slot in the series.
It comes in white, and features a lot of red striping. I do like stripes. But, just like the Camaro, this went through an overhaul. This one was in the middle of 2020, as it was included in the Mustang series that year, in both batches. The first batch saw an earlier casting, and when it turned up in the second batch, it was overhauled.
So, again, they have a whole list of vehicles to dive back into for a carry forward. The one they went with?
The 2010 Classic Rides 5-pack issue.
The maroon interior is still as it was, but you do notice that the striping is much brighter on the new release. To me, that is actually a little sad. The maroon striping matched that interior well. And with the interior section now forming bumpers as well.
It actually makes it more noticeable. And the maroon stripes and interior were a great match. Maroon with red, it doesn't quite go as well.
So, this time, I am giving it a 9 out of 10. Only the Camaro has scored perfectly so far.
The last model is the MB1088 '70 Plymouth Cuda. It is a carry forward of the 2020 basic range issue. So quite a recent model to carry forward from.
The thing is. This is MB1088. When the Cuda first arrived, it was MB616. It changed to the new MAN number in 2018. I have this feeling that they might be struggling to carry forward any of the MB616 releases into this new one. Which does limit the choices. The daft thing is, the 2018 release was green. The Dodge Charger was green. 2x white, 2x orange, green and yellow. At this stage, why not go the whole hog and have just the 3 colours used. I would have gone with the carry forward of the 2018 green issue.
I tell you, writing this is really bumming me out. I love all 6 of these castings. Every single model, on its own merits, is fantastic. Honestly. had this series been known as “Then & Now”, I could have got behind things a bit more. Even then, the Corvette would have had to be replaced by the ‘16 Camaro Convertible (that writes itself), and this would still would have dropped in lieu of the ’66 Dodge Charger. Obviously. I just don't see a scenario where these 6 work as a cohesive group that well. I just felt the whole set was a bit of a mish-mash. Which is awful as well, because the 6 models in the batch are 6 models that are big favourites of mine. And they all look good. I just didn't feel this set.
I still had to know. The 2020 MB56 comes in to see what, if anything, is different.
3 years between produiction runs, and the new one is coming out in a lighter shade of yellow. It is noticeable.
The base is a fractionally lighter grey. Not a big difference. You do only notice it up close. But, I am keeping all 6 of the models in the set. They are all added to the collection. Each one will be a very nice addition to the collection. I just have to forget which series they came from. The models, great. The series, no. This is just my opinion. But, to me, the Muscle series should have been a lot different.
Let's move on to something else. Convoy. Returning in 2020, the series went a little quiet in 2021 before returning in 2022 with a number of carry forwards and only a few new items. Well, to be honest, only 1. There were 6 sets released in 1 batch, out of a planned 8. One set was a new Convoy, 1 had an updated model that was in a way unique (cost reduced promotional), 2 came with alternate inclusion of already released vehicles, and 2 were identical. Well, as 2023 rolled around, we saw a new batch of 4 sets come out. 2 sets were entirely new.
The first set is marked down as number 3 of 10. Although, to date, I have not heard of a batch B. And one was supposed to have a 70th Anniversary model in it. So, we may end up with just the 4 sets. We will have to wait and see if batch B surfaces. This set features an all-new Convoy casting. The MBX Mega Ton Fire Truck/Trailer combo. It comes with a unique MB1178 International TerraStar Ambulance in the set.
You may recognize the livery here. The Matchbox Fire Dept, El Segundo CA livery appeared in the report last week. It was on the Moving Parts Ram Ambulance. I mentioned there were a few coming. This set here, and in a month or so I will be showing off another set, and having them all together for a meet up. We get the added model in the exclusive livery as well, which is new for this year (apart from 1x 2020/2022 release, which I will get to). The MB1178 International Terra Star Ambulance. I'm not going to go into more details on that (leaving that until I showcase the next use of this livery), as I will just concentrate on the Convoy.
Now, attention immediately goes to the new casting. The MBX Mega Ton Fire Truck. This is the first time we have seen this casting in the Convoy series.
Because, although there are 2 parts to this model.
It appears that they have built them to be a pair. They have the same name, and I have had it confirmed from Matchbox, that the cab is not a single piece, and is not receiving a MAN number.
The thing with this is, though, it is not technically new. In fact, there have been a number of Convoy items that are not technically new. Back in 2009, Matchbox released a series called Super Convoy. It ran for 3 years, and featured a total of 8 different cab castings, and a larger group of over a dozen rear ends. The pipe truck, log truck and box truck rear ends have seen smaller recreations for the return of Convoy. The LoneStar Semi Cab, Ford C-900 and MBX Cabover are all smaller variations of earlier Super Convoy cabs. This is the latest reinvention, and takes an entire front/rear end, and reduces it to the smaller Convoy scale.
I never collected Super Convoy at the time (no plans to go back and buy them at the moment), so I cannot do a side by side myself. I have seen pictures on the internet of others who have both, and from what I can see, the cab is literally a smaller incarnation of what we had before. The rear end has had a few changes. It appears the rear window element is now black, so it hides the lack of anything inside. And the legs would drop before, as the body section went across to the front, and now the base does, taking the legs with it. It appears the body had a different top section before, but is now all-in-one. It is just a few minor tweaks as is often the case, and obviously it is smaller than it was. To me, this is fine. As I said, I never got the Super Convoys, and I thought some of the rear ends created for it were pretty cool. So, if they want to grab a few more of those and shrink them down and add them to future Convoy releases, feel free. This is brilliant. I am extremely happy to see what they have done here. It may all be generic (or Matchbox originals as they call it), but I am more than happy with what they have done. I would give this a 9 out of 10. Had the cab been a licensed one, I would have given it a full 10.
I may not have had the Super Convoy, but I did have this classic Convoy. CY-13 ran from 1984 through 2001, and the Fire Dept 8 design was a massive running livery. It went from the beginning until 1998. It was originally in white, but turned yellow in 1988. With the new one being yellow, I thought a yellow one would be a better comparison.
They are a similar length. The original one does sport a little more metal. The ladder is longer, and it has 2 struts that move out at the sides, but the new one holds its own pretty well.
Of course, that did contain a real cab. The MB724 Peterbilt Tractor. Or should I say original MB724, as when they first reached the 700s, they forgot that older models had used the numbers, and the first year (those up to 731) ended up being duplicated, before future numbers were skipped. So MB724 later became an Armor Piercing Tank.
The other new items is 7 of 10 featuring the MB1202 ‘20 Western Star 49X and MBX Tanker Trailer combo, alongside a unique MB1226 ’19 Ford Mustang GT.
Okay, this set is a full 10 out of 10 from me. A Shell designed set? Brilliant! A Mustang added, complete with a Shell look. Fantastic! The licenced cab. Perfect. Yeah, I am totally blown away by this set. It is definitely my favourite of the bunch, and to be honest, the entire return of Convoy (including the 2020 and 2022 stuff).
The Mustang may not have the simple front and rear tampo that the white one received in the Muscle series (above), but I have always said, they may be the preferred, but sometimes they come up with a different look that just works. And for me, this one works brilliantly! I am very impressed with it. But, again, I will concentrate more on the Convoy itself.
Because this is actually the second release of the Western Star 49X and MBX Tanker Trailer. Daft fact, since the return of Convoy in 2020, this is the first new look for a cab and trailer combo. None of the 2020s have seen a version 2 yet, and this was the sole new release of 2022, when it came with a Sriracha livery. Of course, I am not including the accompanying miniature as something that has to be the same. Only the Convoy itself.
The best part about these is that both are licenced liveries. This Convoy series does have some really cool stuff in it. It is a shame it doesn't get sold in many places. It took my a while to track these down.
I couldn't resist bringing in a few classic Shell Convoy tankers as well. This particular CY-35 release from 2002 featured the MB202 Mack CH600 towing a classic Tanker.
Whereas this 2006 release featured the MB214 Ford Aeromax towing the last incarnation of tanker trailer. Something which the new trailer unit was derived from, not something that was used in Super Convoy. In fact, Super Convoy had a completely different tanker section than the style used here.
These 3 are great at showing a 21st century evolution of the Shell Tanker. Again, this is an awesome set, and sort of harkens to the past while keeping us firmly in the present.
Alongside the new sets, we did get 2 carry forwards. It was inevitable. The 2022 series saw 6 sets, and only 1 was new. So, although we only get 4 here, the odds are still higher in regard to original content. The first of them is the 9 of 10 set, featuring the MB1110 Tesla Semi with Pipe Bed Trailer, and containing the MB856 Load Lifter with it.
This set was last seen in the 2020 series, so it has been about 3 years since we saw it.
I did end up getting this set again, as my gut was telling me it was worthwhile.
I bring in the original Tesla Semi Convoy to compare.
It is quite a darker silver shade on the new one. The original is notably lighter.
The over the window part is also a different piece, and this too, is a lighter silver.
The tampo detailing is pretty much the same. But I am happy to get the shade of silver in my collection.
As to the Load Lifter, this model just keep appearing. It was originally in the 2013 basic range.
It was carried forward into the 2018 basic range, where it appeared to be pretty much identical. However, the “2200” on the tampo printing was now brown, where it started in orange.
Then, obviously, it was added to the 2020 Convoy set, but the base was notably lighter than it had been. It was also back to an orange tampo part.
The newest one has a lighter yellow body than any of the previous 3. A light yellow base. An orange tampo. Yes, 4 releases now, and I have found something with all 4. So, I now have 4.
As to the other set? It was this one again. The 10 of 10 featuring the MB1150 MBX Cabover and Box Trailer in orange and white, along with an exclusive MB988 Power Lift. The thing is, this set was originally in the 2020 series, but had already been carried forward to the 2022 series, which means it has been out 3 times. I did not buy it again. I couldn't see anything that my gut was telling me was worth buying it for. I felt that was a bit of a shame, as there are still a few 2020s that had not been carried forward. The Rocket Transporter set? That could have been cool. Unless there are plans (or were plans) for this to pop up in batch B. Or we were getting a new NASA liveried one in batch B. Maybe 2024? I am holding out hope for more new Convoys. The release schedule for these is so erratic. The places where you find them, so erratic. I hope in 2024 we get a series that actually gets completely released as scheduled. Convoy and Hitch & Haul both appear to struggle with release schedules. Which is a big shame, as I am a fan of both, and would love to see them both more readily available.
And with that, I think I am done. This week saw 3 modern muscle cars in new looks. Well, 2 cars, 3 looks. You know what I mean.
Along with some new Convoy stuff, and some recurring themes. I do love recurring themes.
We also saw a few carry forwards that I think many people can get behind.
And a few that perhaps are a little more for the nut job to get excited about (unless you missed them first time around).
Well, I hope you enjoyed the article. It was a bit packed this week with new stuff, meaning not much in the way of dive backs. Next week sees me returning to the basics for another round of models. Until then, I hope people have a safe and happy week.