Monday, December 31, 2012

The last Matchbox Ambassador Update of the Year: Upcoming Emergency Vehicles...

Happy New Year from the Lamley Group, the Matchbox Ambassador, and I feel safe to say from the Matchbox Team as well.  We hope 2013 gets off to a great start...

We thought we would ring in the new year with some more bread-and-butter Matchbox models.  Two weeks ago we unveiled the newest police car the Lamborghini Gallardo Police, and today we stay in the public service sector and pull the cover off of two new emergency castings.

No need to blabber on anymore, let's just get to the models...

(Photos shown by permission from Mattel...)

First up is the brand new MB881 Blaze Blitzer, or European Fire Truck.  This is a non-licensed vehicle, but created to reflect European fire trucks.  Hence the Euro-looking livery.  You will see this one soon in the 1-120 range:

But the basic range is not the only place you will see the Blaze Blitzer.  Look for it soon in the 60th Anniversary Line in white:

Next up is another new European emergency tool, the MB885 Renault Master Ambulance.  You will see shortly in the basic range in red:

And because I know the question will come up, the body is plastic, and the base diecast metal.  I asked the team why this was the case, and was told it is because of the size of the model they had to produce the body in plastic to keep it within cost parameters.  Yes, I would much prefer the Renault to have a metal body, but on the bright side at least it doesn't have a front metal bonnet and fenders and a plastic torso, a la the Ice Cream Truck.  I know the focus will be on the fact it is plastic, but I will say the model does look great.

And it is looks even better in its 60th Anniversary outfit in yellow:

Variation Alert!  You may notice that there is no 60th Anniversary logo on the three visible sides of the Renault.  Well, it is nowhere to be found on the model.  The logo was slated to be on the rear door, but the first versions came off the line without it.  The team noticed the error and corrected it mid-run.  But a handful of "non-60th logo" models did make it, and will be mixed in with early batches.  So you vari nuts be on the lookout...

Lastly, in keeping with the emergency theme of this update, one more sneak peak of a 60th Anniversary model, this time the BMW Motorcycle looking sharp in blue and white:

There are your three emergency sneak peaks, including the two new models.  We will be back next Monday to show off a few more 60th Anniversary models...

Happy New Year!



  1. I like plastic... but I do wonder how Mattel can sustain such a large line of mostly-metal models (HW), with considerably more releases each and every year in many different specialty themes on top of a "basic" range of mostly-metal models numbering 250 models/year, and have a small division saying they can't use metal in their products because of "cost parameters"? Maybe I'm just dumb and all those HW cars are mostly plastic? Just sayin... But, I'm gonna like all of these 5 models/variations, and can't wait to find them in the stores!

  2. I will definitely get the Renault vans, maybe the fire engines once i have seen them in the plastic, but the bike can ride off into teh sunset, it is awful. IMHO

  3. As disappointing as the plastic is, I am in love with that Master Ambulance. Matchbox desperately needs more European and Asian emergency vehicles. The fire truck on the other hand...

  4. I actually like the firetruck! It resembles the trucks in England and although it unlicensed it is not over the top. The ambulance is the most realistic I've seen so far from MB. One thing about the generics is they are all starting to look alike and that ok for trucks but their car models I haven't seen as of yet.

    Swifty's Philly Wheels
    Happy New Year

  5. OK, if they are making the bodies in plastic, why don't they paint them? That way they would look way better and closer to metal-bodied castings. I like the addition of a Renault.

    The generic truck, meh, not for me. And its inclusion as one of the 60th anniversary models makes no sense, specially when it is just a colour variation, no added detail or anything. It is a symbol of how meaningless this series is.

    BTW, I wish all cars had the same error of the Renault, that logo is ugly.

    Thanks for the report.

  6. Thanks for the update John. But all I can say is that Mattel continues to disappoint. The cost cutting is getting beyond ridiculous to the point where it is ruining the product.

    Firstly, the Blaze Blitzer. Sure, this has a metal body, but is designed in such a way to minimise the amount of diecast. Big gaping holes in the side of the body and a piece of the window assembly making up the rear of the body. They could have at least detailed that large bit of grey plastic in the big square hole on the side. The overall design looks OK, but they could have at least try to make it look like a roll a door or showed some equipment. It just looks like the design team aren’t trying. I am guessing that it will also follow the trend of the shrinking Matchbox car. Has anyone else noticed that the new castings are getting smaller? No doubt another way to minimise the amount of diecast.

    Plus as a generic, this has no place being in the 60th Anniversary range. Mattel is expecting us to pay a premium for a generic vehicle with a bit more tampo and a picture box. Guess what Mattel? I won’t be buying it. If you had included the Dennis Sabre, then I would have.

    And then the Renault Master Ambulance. I initially suspected that this would have a plastic body, but I am still very disappointed to learn that this is in fact the case. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, the plastic body makes this look cheap and nasty. I do not want to collect plastic models and I simply won’t. If Mattel says that the plastic body is to keep it within cost parameters, my answer is raise the price. It is quite frankly bloody ridiculous that in 2013 we are being served up plastic rubbish while at the same time the average price for a Matchbox car (in Australia at least) is less than it was 20 years ago.

    The final insult is to put this plastic rubbish in the 60th Anniversary range. Sorry, but I thought the 60th Anniversary range was intended to celebrate the heritage of the brand. Well done Mattel, celebrating the heritage of a diecast brand with plastic.

    Yes, I am a lifelong Matchbox collector. I started collecting in the early eighties when I was about 8 years old. Mattel has done many things to disappoint me, but the plastic bodies takes the cake. I was collecting the 1-75/100/120/1000 range, but no more. I will only now buy what I like, which is not generics or plastic bodied rubbish. But it’s not just me who dislikes the plastic trend. I know several mothers who buy diecast cars for their children. In particular my sister in law was particularly disappointed with that fact that the Cars2 Movie toy Francesco Bernoulli is mostly plastic. So it’s not just the diehard collectors who are upset by this.

    So I would really love to know if Mattel have asked their customers about the acceptability of plastic bodies? I would think that most people won’t like it, which will ultimately lead to fewer sales. I’m certainly not buying as near as much as I used to. My yearly spend on new Matchbox has more than halved. It’s just a good thing that there is enough in the back catalogue to keep me happy.

    Honestly, I would rather see the Matchbox brand be phased out than it continue under the current ownership. Mattel doesn’t care about the brand or it’s customers. If they cared they would provide a catalogue/poster and an updated website. The fact that we have neither of these things, and savage cost cutting is really sad. So please Mattel, do us all a favour and either sell the Matchbox brand to someone who actually cares or kill it off. Please put us out of our collective misery.

    1. Jonathan - sadly, I think the loudest voices, in an ironic twist, come from those with the most apathy towards the brand. These cheerleaders will buy anything with the Matchbox logo, no matter how cheap and gawdy the toys become. Apparently, they like the brand, not the wonders of transportation design and innovation. I miss the days when Lesney was dedicated to making the very best toy it could. Things like working features, quality castings and precision engineering were the things we fell in love with during the golden age of the brand (1960s).
      If today's product cannot better that from 40+ years ago, it's time to call it a day.

  7. If these new models are any indication of what we can expect for 2013, it looks like my money will be spent on Greenlight and M2 products.
    It's a real shame Matchbox continues to cost-cutter it's way out of our hearts with more plastic bodies and bases, more generics, and a lower standard of quality.
    Some way to celebrate on a significant anniversary.

  8. do you know any info about the 2013 real working rigs or if there will even be a 2013 line. because my local walmart has the last few peg warmers on clearance

  9. Have Mattel ever been to Europe? That 'fire truck' looks nothing like a European fire engine... Looks more like a Dakar truck that they thought 'hey, let's put a fire livery on instead!' If you want a proper emergency vehicles model which is licensed and 100% accurate at the same price as a Matchbox, get the new Corgi toys. Fully diecast, heavy, and highly detailed.

    Oh and plastic models... Really? Ridiculous. And charging such a high price for plastic when Corgi (a smaller company) can charge similar price for a high quality product is a joke.

  10. Hi John,

    I have come up with a great new packaging idea that will really suit the direction that Mattel is taking the Matchbox brand. I hope you can show the guys at Mattel:

  11. I wish MB would stop plastering "MBX City" and "MBX County" on all their emergency vehicles. I definitely don't mind "generic" markings as long as they're realistic, but whoever heard of a city or county with a 3-letter name? That has spoiled a lot of their vehicles, in my opinion, and is on the otherwise nice looking Renault van, though I don't care for the plastic body either. (I would also prefer NOT to have their 60th anniversary logo on otherwise realistic looking models like the Gallardo police car, but I realize that may be a selling point for some collectors.)