Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26 Matchbox Ambassador Update, by Nigel Cooper...

We are pleased to post the first Matchbox Update from our new Ambassador for 2013-2014, Nigel Cooper:

I would like to start by paying tribute to previous ambassadors who have been so understanding, helpful and patient to a Matchbox collector who finds paper easier than computers. Just when I appear to have mastered one concept, another challenge appears. In addition, I have been heartened by the huge number of good wishes from collectors around the world, many of whom I have had connections with in the past. It is so good to realise that I have so many Matchbox friends. I welcome all of your comments, positive or critical, amusing or reflective. I will endeavour to pass on all of your comments and disseminate the responses from Mattel. 

I can sit in my Regular Wheel area and admire for hours the skills of Jack Odell and Les Smith and think how much poorer the world would be without their amazing skills. The work of these two men brings us all together and enables us to forget the cares of the world for a moment and just admire the craftsmanship encompassed in every Matchbox Toy. I can remember the horror expressed by some collectors in the early 1970s when bright colours on less than authentic vehicles running on Superfast wheels joined the miniature range. Some collectors stopped buying new models and concentrated on regular wheels. As time goes by interest has grown in the transitional models of the early 1970s together with the Dragsters and more way out models. There were still many authentic and attractive models and perhaps collecting Matchbox Toys peaked during the 1970s and early 1980s. Miniatures were still making considerable profits for Lesney but other factors combined to cause the factories in England to close in 1982. Some collectors refused buy models which had not been manufactured within these shores. Then there are those collectors for whom a particular theme is paramount. Collectors of emergency vehicles, for example, have been so well served by Matchbox over the years and we will see that in 2013 and 2014 this will continue. Finally, there are collectors who buy whatever takes their fancy and then there are the die-hards who collect everything. Thus I believe that during my tenure, there will be something for everyone.

There were so many new models revealed at Albuquerque that it was inevitable that there would be a delay before we would see further new models and recolours. The first recolour on the Toyota4Runner in black, grey and yellow is attractive and should appeal to many collectors. I think the Ford F100 Panel Truck (MB771) in a Fire Chief livery in red with gold piping is a great idea. It seems typical of a 1950s Fire Truck but US collectors will be better able to comment on this. I wonder which other standard models manufactured in recent years would lend themselves readily to an emergency theme as they are so popular. The Ford Panel is one of the exclusive cars in the 2014 9/10 packs, so look out for more colour schemes. 

The third model shown is the MBX Coupe (MB900) which has already generated considerable comment. It is shown in bright orange. The mudguards (fenders) are reminiscent of those fitted in the 1960s and 1970s by boy racers in the UK to cover the protruding wheels as required by the law.  I rather like these wheels and I expect them to be used on many future cars. This model could be a kit car. What do you think?

I was asked if the missing MAN numbers could be passed on and Mattel have obliged so far as is possible as some 2014 numbers are still being decided. However, it is clear that there will be many models undergoing retooling as some tools are being revised or adjusted. In total there are 28 retools – modifications to existing castings - planned for 2014.  These will bear numbers between 927 and 954. I will pass these details on as soon as they are released. Gone are the days when the number of new models failed to reach double figures. For 2014 there will be no fewer than 26 brand new tools. The MB numbers associated with these new castings will range between 901 and 966. There is certainly a great deal happening in the Matchbox design studios. If you have any suggestions regarding possible modifications to models released in recent years, please let me know and I will pass on your ideas.

Some of these are retooled models which will usually have modifications, though some modifications will be visible while others will not.

MB835 Coyote 500 
MB836 Road Tripper
MB849 Rescue Helicopter (retool) parts modifications
MB854 Sand Speeder (retool) parts modifications
MB857 Chevy Suburban (retool)
MB869 Garbage Truck 2008 (retool) parts modifications
MB876 Dennis Sabre (retool) conversion: plastic body/die cast chassis. 
MB892 BMW R1200 GS 
MB896 Range Rover Evoque> Delayed.  Moving to 2014
MB900 MBX Coupe on schedule for this year.

I have been inundated with questions for the Matchbox design team. Here are some of the questions and answers. I will pass on all questions and comments but for a wide variety of reasons it may not be possible for Matchbox give a response.

Are licences sourced by Mattel or does Matchbox have to do its own work in this area? 

Matchbox must acquire its own licenses.

There have been many positive comments regarding the Real Working Rigs and it is unfortunate that the range is to be discontinued. Both RWR Rolling Raider and RWR Fire Stalker are listed as 'RW036' on the base. Which one is correct, and which number should the incorrect RWR have? (Is there a complete listing available which includes all variations?)

We are looking into the duplicate RW numbers on these 2 models. RW036 is correct for the Fire Stalker.  The Rolling Raider should be RW037. We do have a complete list of the RW numbers but I believe that David Tilley has already posted such a list.

Next time I will show three recolours for models designated to be included in the Mission force Police pack.  For now, just one more new model … the Robinson R44 Police Helicopter. 


  1. Nice report Nigel. I like your viewpoint on history. However, the MBX Coupe is just not a good casting in any sense. And the Dennis going to Plastic is going to make a few members blood boil LOL.

    Jeff van Leliveld

  2. Enjoyable read for your first report, shame then it is spoilt bu teh hideous Generic coupe pile poo and that helicopter, oh dear, the Toyota and the Ford are great models, and what has matchbox done to cause the delay in the Range Rover, it now means that there will be the Evoque and the LR4 Discovery 4 for next year, or will they delay the LR4 until 2015, that seems more likely.

    Too many generics, end of, Matchbox has lost its way of late, and if they are responsible for their own licences, then why are they not doing more to get some really good cars back in the range, like Merc saloons, what about a few Jags, the XF or XJ would be awesome in small scale.

  3. The Coupe is what i expect from Matchbox these days just a generic piece of junk.Cannot see the need for an old hat panel van,your average 2 year old will find it silly in the line up as they need play value.They have lost the plot and the brand needs closing down and all future work given to Hot Wheels.

  4. Lots of doom and gloom here. While the MB Brand has taken a different turn as of late, the largest market is KIDS. Not collectors. That being said, that panel van will have a position in my Fire Department's heritage fleet.

  5. Turning the Dennis Sabre into a plastic model is a poor choice to me.

    I might be fine with this change if they add an interior to the model

    The Sabre has been not been produced for a number of years, why continue producing it

  6. Congratulations on the new position Nigel. As an early warning, I will not be a cheerleader for the direction the brand is heading. I grew up with both regular wheels and Superfast, so I know what standards Matchbox has left behind. The new toys appear to be designed to an unfortunate price point. It's true, they are toys for kids. This was also the case 40 years ago, but there was pride an innovation in the models made by Lesney. Because of this, adults latched on and became collectors.
    Today, for the life of me, I cannot fathom what child (or adult) would become inspired by such a marginalized product. For example, the Toyota 4Runner. The casting is good, but my god - tacky graphics and a chrome interior. It just looks cheap. And, why must every issue have "MBX" on it? Is this because the lines between Hotwheels and Matchbox are so fuzzy, they need to call out which is which? The Ford panel would have been pretty cool with the fire livery. Sadly, it too has the MBX letters.
    Anyways, Nigel, my feelings towards all this are not directed at you. I trust you will do an excellent job reporting the news. Too bad the news will likely be glum on a regular basis.


  7. I agree with all of the above...

    Leave otherwise successful models actually cast of metal to rest in peace rather than waste time remaking them in inferior plastic.

    Also, what happened to the great authentic or at least semi-realistic liveries of 2010? STOP WRITING MBX on every model... PLEASE! Throw a dart at a globe and use the name where it lands, any city, no matter the spelling or difficulty to pronounce for a child would be more interesting and inspiring for all age ranges than 'MBX'.

  8. Here is an idea. Instead of "MBX County", why not use Lesney County and honor Matchbox's heritage at the same time.

    Also, instead of Fire Chief, why not use the words Rescue No. or something like that, as most Ford Panel Van emergency vehicles that I'm familiar with are ambulances or rescue trucks.

  9. Congrats on your first report Mr. Nigel. Now it is the time to lend a few comments of my own:

    The 4Runner is a very nice casting. But I gotta keep it real with you, the graphics do look a little corny. Not great, but not terrible though. Then again, the kids will love it, as it's supposed to be for.

    I'm not really into panel vans, but that F100 panel is pretty nice. And this particular scheme makes it even lovelier. Nothing outrageous; just old school at its finest.

    The MBX Coupe is kinda hot. I have a thing for sports cars, so it gets my interest. However, I never was that crazy about sports cars that sit that high off the ground. But, when you say mudguards, it must be some kind of rally car, so I guess the ride height would be suitable. That being said, this one actually had a lot of potential overall, "had" being the key word. Chalk this one up to the kids.

    Thanks a lot Mr. Nigel. Keep doing your thang!

  10. Many congratulations on your first report as an ambassador for Matchbox.
    I want to make my contribution so I ask the lamley group to pass my ideas so that you can expose them to mattel.
    Referring to 2014 there are so many models available in the market it is not worth continuing to invent cars, like: Jaguar, Aston, new Range Rover (normal and sport version), the new Land Rover DC100, Mercedes, Audis, Volkswagen, Abarth, etc .... etc ... Why not the new Routemaster and new London Taxis? And why not the topic Le Mans? Audi e-tron and the Toyota TS030 Hybrid ..
    If the target set for 2014 is Unstoppable Vehicles for Heroic Adventures so why not carry the concept to one of the most mythical races? The Dakar!! Schlesser buggy, Mitsubishi Racing Lancer, Mini Countryman (based on existing wrc) etc…
    Speaking of vehicles Unstoppable how about trucks? Kamaz iveco and retool the desert thunder (my favorite matchbox recent years) to become an 6x6!
    Continued good work, until the next report with more news, and perhaps, some of the ideas discussed in here are accepted by mattel
    Best regards
    Oscar Pedroso - Portuguese fan!

  11. Ok so I showed my 5 year old sister, who collects with me these cars.
    The design of the Toyota is boring, I don't like it
    The Ford Panel, well she loves it, I think its ok.
    The Off road coupe was met with a Nah!

    Its no wonder a lot of shops here in the UK have dropped Matchbox. I bet kids would prefer a delivery van with sliding door and with a well known fizzy drinks or chocolate company deco than another generic off roader or US utility truck. I know my sister would love it if they did my dads '12 Vauxhall Zafira with an opening boot, as I know she'd love to drive around pretending to but shopping in the boot.

    Keep up the good work with the reports! :)

  12. Can you guys help me out? I love that Matchbox puts the scale on the models. I use it for my math students. After purchasing some cars I realized the scale is not on all of them. Is there a way to find the scale of such cars as the Coupe, ATV 6x6 MB831, Road Raider MN895 and others that do not have the scale imprinted on them? Thank you for your help if you decide to reply.