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.