Occasionally it is nice to break away from the brand new stuff and take a gander at a modern classic. And what a modern classic this is.
The Matchbox Hearse is an interesting model for several reasons. Obviously reason number one is because the casting itself exists. I remember when the first Hearse hit the stores in late 2006, early 2007. It was one of the first times since I started collecting that a Hot Wheels-like frenzy was occuring for a Matchbox model. MB and HW collectors alike were door-warming, pallet-raiding, old-lady tripping (you name it), to get their hands on the Hearse. It was also the first time that collectors were bypassing the blue cards to look at the orange cards first to see if it was there. I remember finally finding one at an Arizona Target after several fruitless visits to all kinds of stores. I was a wee bit happy about that.
It is easy to see why it was so popular. It was a signature Matchbox model. Cool car, unique choice, and a casting perfectly done. It even went against Matchbox conventions and went a little custom. It's lowered stance actually gives away one key reason it was done. The first edition in black is based on the Hearse owned by one Felix Holst, VP of the Wheels division at Mattel. At the time he was in charge of the Matchbox line, and was able to get this model done.
So here we have a unique car, done perfectly by Matchbox, based on the car of a Mattel VP, and has proven to be hugely popular. So why have we not seen it in the lineup even more? Why only six versions? That is what makes the story even more interesting. The Hearse was released in the worldwide Matchbox basic lineup three different times, as a cartoon licensed model once, as well as once in the Superfast range. After awhile Mattel started hearing complaints from several overseas markets that the Hearse was not an appropriate toy due to the innuendo of death, and from what I understand set some ultimatums on whether or not they would carry future Matchbox lines if the Hearse was included. Mattel obliged, and the Hearse was pulled from future worldwide lines.
Of course, those of you who have collected Matchbox for awhile know what came of that. The tool was modified into a '63 Cadillac Ambulance, which has also been a hugely popular casting.
The Hearse tool does live on, however, and this blue model below represents the only "post-ambulance" version, released in the 2011 Lesney Edition range, which was not distributed to any of the "no-hearse" markets. The model is beautiful in blue, and happily sports the very appropriate disk wheels, which did not exist when the previous versions were done.
I don't know if we will ever see the Hearse again. Of course it is possible, and it is very hard to predict where the line will be in a few years. But if we don't see it again, that is ok. We have several fantastic versions, topped by this beauty in blue...
Matchbox '63 Cadillac Hearse (2010 Lesney Edition):
As always, Matchbox Monday is sponsored by MVE Collectibles...