Ah, the good old days...
It seems like just yesterday (because it practically was) that the first place I would go when entering the diecast aisle was the Matchbox pegs. They still always get a visit, but that is after perusing the Hot Wheels section first. It doesn't mean Hot Wheels has passed Matchbox for me, as Matchbox will always be my first love. But some of the excitement has waned a bit for obvious reasons. There have been some great models this year, just not as many as years past. This has been a learning year for the Matchbox team, and it will be very interesting to see where they go for 2013, Matchbox's 60th year.
The word out of Mattel is that there are some great things planned for Year 60, and I wholeheartedly believe them. As disappointed as many collectors are in the this year's range, I think that most hold out hope that a return to what made Matchbox great will happen.
A full-fledged return to Matchbox greatness would revolve around castings like today's Model of the Day - the SLR McLaren. The casting is SPOT-ON, the design understated, and the black just mean. From 2005 to 2011, the Matchbox range was littered with these beauties, and I honestly think those years have been Matchbox's best design-wise.
Even if Matchbox brings back many of these models, the SLR Mclaren would not be one of them. Mattel and Mercedes-Benz have yet to work out their licensing issues, and from what I know there is no resolution in sight. That is why we haven't seen any Mercedes in both the HW and MB lineups for some time. Hopefully it gets resolved someday, because there are many Mercedes cars I would love to see Mattel tackle.
One other note about this one. This model was created because Matchbox collectors chose it. A few years ago, the Matchbox team brought to the Albuquerque Gathering a list of 5 sports cars they were considering for the range, and had the collectors choose. The SLR was actually not the first choice. The first, if I remember correctly, was a Rolls Royce. The SLR was second. Matchbox could not get the RR license, so the SLR was done.
Matchbox Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren: