We have always dedicated Mondays solely to Matchbox, but maybe it is time for that to change.
It was easy before, as I had an Ambassador Report to post, but with Nigel taking over the Ambassador reigns, it is up to him on determining how frequently he will be putting together Ambassador reports, and when he will post them. Nigel has asked to use Lamley as the place he will post the reports, and we have promised to post them at the time he wants. Obviously, since the Gathering was a week ago, Mattel has nothing new for this week, so we will wait and see when Nigel has his first report.
And that is easy yesterday. As we did last year, at the request of the Matchbox Gathering organizer Jim Gallegos, we posted the results from last week's charity auction to benefit Rachel's Courtyard.
As has been the case in previous years, Mattel's donated preproduction models generated a great deal of interest and funds for Rachel's Courtyard. These models are early production models used for testing and other purposes. Sometimes they are unpainted, other times painted with whatever color is available. They come unassembled to check all the parts, or assembled to see how all the parts fit. And wheels, like paint, are an afterthought. Whatever is around gets put on, sometimes even Hot Wheels wheels are used. These models are quite unique, available (legally) only if Mattel makes them available, and highly sought after by certain collectors.
I personally like to have a go at one or two each year at the auction, and have actually been successful three times, and lost twice. In 2009 I bid on a Matchbox Mercedes SLR McLaren prepro and lost when the bidding passed $200. In 2011 I lost as well when a blue Matchbox Toyota 4Runner prepro also passed the $200 clip.
But I won one in 2010, another in 2012, and a third this year. My preproduction collection is tiny (these three plus one more I will show at another time), but one of my favorite parts of my Matchbox collection. I personally like painted, fully assembled prepros. That way they can join the collection as a sort of unique one-off version. The colors might be a little odd, they might have barbie interior, and there is always a very good chance of a paint chip or two (or 10), but I love having them.
One other self-imposed rule I use before bidding: It has to be a model I plan on collecting completely. I want to be able to have every version and variation of that model, so the prepro will fit in nicely. For example, the Land Rover Defender 110 that Mattel donated this year is one of the best looking prepros I have seen, but I don't fully collect that model, so I didn't bid. Plus, it went to a collector who I know is very happy to have it.
So I have three, all prepros of models I fully collect, and all painted and assembled. If you care, here they are:
Caterham R500 Superlight (prepro won at the 2010 Gathering):
The first prepro I won, and if I remember the price was about $130. I actually saw this exact green model at the Matchbox Line Preview that I had attended earlier that year, and was very excited about the Caterham being in the lineup. The model is a very unique choice, and apparently decided on when it was seen on Top Gear. The Caterham is a no-brainer for the Lamley collection, and the prepro was a fantastic addition. Incidently, this green E/P actually has a real counterpart, pictured below as well.
Cadillac CTS Coupe (prepro won at the 2012 Gathering):
I love cars. There is no mistaking that. But even more I love car design. There are eras and queues that stick more than others, and there are certain designs that appeal to me personally. I have lots of favorites, and one of those are the Art & Sciences Cadillacs. After a really bad run through most of the 80's and 90's, Cadillac came back with a vengeance with their Matrix-introduced designs. The CTS so far is the peak of that aesthetic, and to me no car has ever worn it better than the CTS Coupe.
I was very excited to see this model join the Matchbox lineup in 2011, even after the CTS Wagon debuted the year before. While I would have preferred the CTS-V (like the BMW 1M over the 1-Series), I am happy that we at least have the side profile of the Coupe in Matchbox form.
We have only seen it twice so far. Once as a 2011 basic model in silver, and once as a 10-pack exclusive in black (which sharp-looking orange rims). Thankfully there are rumors of another version coming in 2014, but in the meantime I am happy to have this off-blue prepro. This is one I was very determined to have, considering my love for the model, and snagged it for $140 in auction. You can see it most likely was held together by rubber bands before it was riveted together.
BMW 1M (prepro won at the 2013 Gathering):
We have probably shown this one enough. You can see it here and here. But there is a bit of a story behind this one, and may only interest me. The announcement of the BMW 1M for 2013 was a welcome change from the year before, where no current cars were added to the Matchbox lineup. But while was I happy to see a cool current car, I was even happier to see them doing one my favorite current cars on the road. I see the 1M as a successor to the 2002tii and E30 M3, and any car with that legacy becomes a fave. Plus, Matchbox would normally do just the 1-Series (like they did the CTS Coupe instead of the CTS-V Coupe), but they surprised with the much cooler M version. That meant if the 1M was done right it was instantly going to go to the top of my favorite Matchbox list next to models like the Ford GT and Audi R8.
Well in my opinion they did it right, and I knew this several months ago. Being Ambassador has its privileges, and one of those is seeing photos of early prototypes that can't be shared with anyone. The boys at Matchbox knew of my excitement about the 1M, and back in February they sent me pics of the E/P as a little gift. (There were other photos as well, including the A100 and the Karmann Ghia T34 with Hot Wheels wheels.)
I would love to share the pic, but I can't. But the cool thing is you have now seen the model shown to me. The prepro I won in the auction is the exact model they photographed back in February. I can tell by the paint chips. Plus, the prepro might have been included in the auction to make a certain 1M fan happy, but I cannot confirm that. Nonetheless I am very happy to have it, and the model now takes on added meaning as a remembrance of my time as Ambassador. It quickly has become a major highlight of my collection. I had to have it, and if you saw the results of the auction, you know I paid a pretty penny for it.
One other interesting tidbit about these models. Mattel marks them "ABQ" with the number of that year's Gathering. This is to make sure that it is known that these were obtained legally. These models are closely guarded, and most of them are destroyed. Thankfully some of them survive and become fantastic collector items.