Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Models of the Day: Matchbox Employee Transport Double Decker Buses...

We continue today's dedication to the Matchbox Routemaster with a showcase of my two favorite versions of the casting.  The new 2013 60th Anniversary Chase version gives these two a run for their money based on its simple beauty, but nothing can beat what the 2007 1-120 and 2007 Gathering model represent.

I am sure a great many of you have seen the 2007 basic range version.  The bus is blue with a vintage "Matchbox" Toys sign:

But the one not a lot of people have seen is the 2007 Matchbox Collectors Gathering of Friends Dealer Model.  It was produced only for table dealers at the show, and came in very low numbers.  It is in very classic Matchbox colors: white, yellow, orange, and red:

By themselves both models are quite stunning.  But they look even better when you look at these photos:

Both of these photos show the Matchbox employees transport bus, and it is easy to see where the Mattel got its inspiration.  The Lesney factory supplied these buses as a means to transport employees too and from work, especially since there were may shifts at the factory that maintained odd hours.  This must have been a very nice perk for Lesney employees, and probably decent advertising for Matchbox.

It is great to think that a fleet of these buses existed, and thank goodness these photos were taken.  The Lesney factory is now a memory, as are most of these buses.  I might seek out an expert on these vehicles to write an article about them for Lamley, but in the meantime, this site linked below should be able to fill you in a bit:

Lesney Staff Transport Index

Doesn't that make these two models that much cooler to collect?  The Gathering Dealer Model is near impossible to find, but does occasionally pop up on ebay for a pretty penny.  The 2007 Basic version in blue is much easier to find.  A few are available for sale now...

Matchbox 2007 Gathering of Friends Dealer Exclusive and 2007 1-120 Basic:


  1. You know, I don't really care for this bus casting, but I do want these two versions!


  2. Did Mattel even own the brand during the time those Lesney busses were around?

    1. no , I worked at rochford where the photo of the buses at the junction was taken and is possibly my Vauxhall viva hb sandwiched between then , it was lesney then

  3. Talk about a nice way to get to and from work!


  4. Since when did Mattel make Matchbox models in the 70s and 80s?

    Not sure where you got your info from John, but this is highly inaccurate.

    1. Well Keef, either:

      A) after years of collecting, discussing, and writing about Matchbox, I never realized that Mattel hadn't always been the owner of Matchbox. Even after referring to the Lesney era many times in previous posts, including this one.


      B) I made an easily correctable typo.

      The answer is actually B, but I can totally see how you could surmise it was A based on the fact that I wrote "Mattel" instead of "Lesney" in one place.

      Correction made.

    2. Internet comment sections: where we embrace any chance we can get to defame someone else.

      Great article as always, John.

  5. I might not be a big bus fan, but I can appreciate the realistic touches they put on these two.

  6. hey! i like your blog, i will be here more often.

  7. I rode the Matchbox employee bus service when I worked at the Chingford factory in the Summer of 1976(?) I believe our service was provided by a Bristol Lodekka.(background of photograph with 2RT's) Picked up at Chingford Road on the North Circular and taken to the factory at Hall Lane. Mostly we made Yesteryear and Road King models. The Cord model was about to be released.