Friday, February 22, 2013

First Look: Matchbox's trio of new off-roaders - International Scout 4x4, Vantom, & Torque Titan (with a Land Cruiser thrown in)...

There must be some strategy behind Matchbox's decision to release three new off-roading models in the same batch, in this case 2013 Batch D.  Maybe the kid in the cart sees one, and right behind it will be another, and then another.  Who knows...

Whatever the reason, we have three new Matchbox castings to take a gander at.  I previewed all three several months ago in a Matchbox Ambassador report, and I would say the response was mixed, at least among the vocal folk.  Now that I have them in hand, I will say that these three are definitely kid-focused models.  Surprise!

Of course they are kid-focused models!  All Matchbox are.  But some do have more appeal to collectors than others.  I would put these three in the "less appealing to typical collectors" category.  I did not expect to be overly fond of any of them once I had them in hand, and I would say that is relatively true.  But I was surprised by a couple of things: I like one a lot more than I thought I would, one a lot less, and one just about as much as I predicted.

Let's start with the one I like a lot more than I thought I would:

Matchbox Torque Titan (2013 New Model):

I will start with this: Convoys have a long and prideful history with Matchbox.  The Convoy line was around a long time, and there are still a lot of Convoy collectors.  Most of them don't have the coziest of feelings towards Mattel for what they did to the Convoy line, which no longer exists.  And this cab won't do anything to change soften their opinion on the matter.

But for what it is, I really like it.  Matchbox Mad-Maxed the life out of this one, and it works.  Would I put an Allied Van trailer on this one?  No.  Will I try and take out Mel Gibson in his Falcon and save the world from all of his post Lethal Weapon shenanigans?  Probably.  Take the connection to Convoys away, and this non-licensed model definitely holds its own.

Now for the one I like as much as I thought I would:

Matchbox Vantom (2013 New Model):

And when I say I like it, I mean I have no opinion about it.  It is a 4x4 Van, and I guess it is fine.  Don't like, don't necessarily dislike it.  The only thing I can say is that it appears there is a wheel variation on it.  My example sports the standard off-road wheels, while some appear to have the new off-road wheels.  Check these ebay listings to see.  I have no idea which one will be more rare...

And now the one I like a lot less than I thought I would:

Matchbox International Scout 4x4 (2013 New Model):

The models from any brand that disappoint me the post are always those that don't live up to what I was hoping for.  Hot Wheels can put a shark on wheels and I don't care.  I know from the beginning that it will not be a model I will care about.  But when Hot Wheels announces a Porsche Boxster and then gets the cars proportions wrong, I am a little disappointed.  That is the case here.

The thought of an International Scout in the Matchbox lineup is a congruent one.  It seems to make a ton of sense.  The vehicle is a classic, and would surely look good in small scale.  When I learned that Matchbox was finally doing one, even as an extreme off-roader, I was fine with that.  When I saw the first sneaks that Mattel sent over, I did note that it seemed a little more over the top than I expected, but was still cool with what I saw.  But now that I have it in hand, it just seems a little off.

First off, the wheels look great.  These new off-road wheels are a true upgrade over the previous wheels, like you see on the Vantom above.  They are more detailed, thinner, and more balanced.  Plus they look good here with the gold lip.  I like them on the Scout.  But where the problem lies is with the body.  It is too small, and the proportions are off.  The best way to tell is to look at the spare wheel cast into the rear.  The wheel is actually much smaller than the real wheels on the model.  If they would have started by casting the spare the same size as the real wheels, I think the proportions would have been much better.  It is too bad, because I like the concept, and a lot of the details, it just isn't Matchbox's finest moment:

But it happens.  I have given my honest opinion about the model, and I can happily move on.  I am sure a lot of collectors will really like this one.  There are plenty of great models to come (Dodge A100, BMW 1M to mention a couple), and I can focus on them.  Or I can get in my Torque Titan and go hunt MG in the Australian Outback...

Before we go, how about a Matchbox off-roader I really like.  We already focused on the Toyota Land Cruiser earlier this week, and since then we received the latest version in Batch D.  While not my favorite version (I like the plain versions, and I like seeing the iconic front grill with tampos), it still contrasts nicely with the three models above.  Enjoy whatever models you want...

Matchbox Toyota Land Cruiser (2013 Mainline):

Find Matchbox Batch D at Wheel Collectors or on ebay.


  1. I hate that Scout. It seems like Matchbox suddenly can't get proportions right. Even the (great) Seagrave is a little too skinny, and the Buick Century is too short, and the wheels are too big. Scouts are some of my favorite trucks of all time, but this one really disappoints.

  2. Apart from the Land Cruiser, which is a nice model, I think the others are awful, matchbox has gone so down hill lately, too many 4x4, SUV and American toolings that it no longer can call itself an international brand, they seem to launch some nice euro cars, and then stop them, I am glad there are companies like RMZ, majorette and Kyosho around that get far more money from me than matchbox do.

  3. Looks like Big Boots has infiltrated the MBX mainline! Aggressive, big wheels, frames, grills, everything Mattel thinks appeals to kids these days. Land Cruiser is great! Vantom is passable. It seems like I've been buying less and less of MB. Maybe a car or two per batch these days... so 12-24 cars a year! Wow, that's disappointing.

  4. Maybe the kid in the cart sees one, and right behind it will be another, and then another. Who knows...

    Tomica are made and marked to kids in Japan. Are Japanese children more sophisticated then American children? No, the difference is Tomy doesn't treat their core demographic like they are driveling idiots who will buy anything that's colorful and has big wheels.

  5. I actually have the Vantom wheel variation. I assumed that the wheels had been changed from the pre-production model.

  6. Saw all three of the new trucks today. Can't remember what wheels were on the Vantom, I didn't get the vehicles yet. My only problem with the Scout is the body just doesn't seem wide enough. I still love it, though.

    This is a great batch of three trucks that will look great in my collection. My love for 4x4s in the HW line is spilling over into the MBX line for sure.


  7. They modeled the Scout after the first image that comes up for "International Scout" on Google. It appears the model has half doors inserted into the door frame. I think the half doors are throwing people off to the scale of the Matchbox model. If the model had full doors perhaps we could better envision the roof line being scale to the rest of the body. I just bought a Johnny Lightning International Scout today on clearance at TRU. Both the JL and MBX models are the same length. The MBX is more narrow though. The MBX model has extended fender flares. I think they were trying to maximize the macho look of the wide tires with the narrow body. I think it should have kept the big wheels, the lift, but made the body wider. I like the Chevy 4x3 Van so I like the raised 4x4 look.

    I thought in pictures I'd like the tractor trailer truck. In person I don't like it as much. I wish it had the smaller utility wheels. I wish it hooked up to trailers.

    I love the Vantom since I like vans like the MBX Chevy 4x4 Van. It looks like a Matchbox generic take at a Volkswagen variant.

    I love the FJCruiser. I already have 3 or 4 of them. This gold is pretty sharp but I'm hesitant about buying it. Stock is not always good for me. I welcome the 4x4 look Matchbox is going for but they have to be careful with the scale.

  8. The Scout is quite a disappointment. It reminds me of that Hot Wheels Custom Ford Bronco that I left on the pegs in favor of Matchbox's '72 Bronco. I'm still not sure if I'll get one when I see it on the pegs.

    From the sides, the Vantom kind of reminds me of an 80s Dodge van.


  9. First of all, thanks for the article. I don't like the way Matchbox is turning out these new models.

    Is one thing that they had to follow the "Adventure" theme, eschewing realism and classic cars. But execution is way too childish, toddlerish even.

    The proportions on these 3 new models are way off. A well-done "off-roader" with big wheels could actually be a nice addition, and something for both kids and adults to look for, more where there are classic licenses involved.

    The Torque Titan is the worst here. It doesn't just have huge wheels. The cab is disproportionately small compared to everything else. It's ridiculous. I also found it funny you mention Mad Max, as I imagine most kids have never seen or heard of such an old movie!

    The International is a dissapointment, of course, but I was prepared since its earlier preview had already shown it wouldn't be a very realistic model. Again wish the wheels were smaller.

    The metal frame on the windshield is a nice touch, but it looks too think and round. Same goes to the bar on the front and the roll bar behind the seats.

    Still, the Scout is not terrible, and I will get one. But likely only one, instead of the many I would get of a realistic take on the car, or even something not that stock but still pretty well done, like Hot Wheels' take on the Studabaker pickup.

    The Van, being generic and exagerated, looks kinda cool. It reminds me of Dodge wagons, and I think I will buy one!

  10. I saw the Scout on the pegs today, and I had to pass it up - the scale being so far off is most frustrating.

    Vantom didn't do anything for me - actually, I came home with that red Cadillac - it's nice.

  11. The only problems I have with the Vantom are the transparent roof rack and lights (I wish it was like the Land Rover Defender's roof - solid metal with detailing added for the stuff on the rack and the lights) and the rear "hook" that keeps the top, middle, and bottom parts together(I wish that had been a peg or a post just like in the front part of the vehicle). Other than that, I like it. I can imagine it as a zombie killer vehicle.

  12. Got 2 of the LC's the other day... one of the best castings of mbx thus far this year.