Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30 Matchbox Ambassador Update, by Nigel Cooper...

Ambassador Report 6

I previously showed a Helicopter from the 2014 Dino Adventure 5 pack. Here are three more models from that set.

Shown below are some new decos for 2014 singles. The Ground Grinder will also be used in the construction 5 pack for 2014.


  • I know this is just me, but we are getting Mission Force moving next year to incorporate 2 Skybusters and 3 miniatures in a set. So why are the standard 5-packs also getting flying models? Is it just me, or is that just making the standard 5-packs more like the Mission Force 5-packs? Maybe I just have a weird sense of logic.

We sometimes need helicopters in our 5 packs to help support the themes. This does not detract from the use of aircraft in Mission Force packs since these aircraft are Sky Buster Models which are a larger scale and have a larger range of aircraft beyond just helicopters.

  • Why not create a VF Commodore? Opens up UAE, Australia and SA markets. Go one better and get a Caprice done - re-tool and you have the new Police car for the US.
We are not doing Holden models at this time.

  • The Mound Mover looks like it will be a lot of fun to play with. Do you know if the body is articulated (like the scraper)?  It looks like a possibility based on the picture. I'm glad the Sport SUV is back in the line; it's got a nice look as far as generics go. I like the Mercedes-Benz line-up you shared. My favourites among Matchbox Mercedes-Benz, however, were the Unimogs. I would put silver holographic stickers on the packaging myself if they would only bring back the Unimogs.
The body is not articulated like the scraper. This would have caused assembly issues.

  • The Buick police car is great, I agree with chrome it would be better but the different base does bring a bit of variation over the first two regular versions. Now if only it wasn't burdened by 4 horrible other models in that 5 pack?! Along the same lines the Morgan and Aston Martin look amazing, but as exclusives in a 9-pack they are sure to be laden with c..p generic models?
This question does not merit a response.

  • I can work with 1 generic model in a 5 pack and perhaps 2 in a 9-pack (if I must) but the deluge of poorly colored and poorly designed generics in multi-packs is sad. The Matchbox 914 for example, the mustard yellow variation came in a GREAT exclusive editions 10-pack (no complaints even with the well designed generic delivery van, bobcat, etc.) and the bright yellow variation came in a classic rides 5-pack everyone seemed to enjoy, kids and collectors alike. The red Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser from the pack is even on a currently broadcast insurance commercial in the US! But then... we reach 2013 and the 9-pack with the exclusive '60th' blue 914 and it's half full of generic trucks? I suppose it's a pipe dream that we'll see exclusive 10-packs again in the future?
NO exclusive 10 packs (consisting of 10 cars with exclusive deco per pack) are planned for the future.

  • 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?
For every real car made in the world, royalties are required these days. The team has to carefully select the numbers of licensed models to use each year. This process is complicated and time consuming. We like inventing new car styles and it is well worth doing. We enjoy doing this because any toy company can do straight replication. It takes greater skill to create something new engaging and fun. Keep in mind that we must also ask permission from each licensor to replicate their models. They can say yes or no. We may not select your favorite models this year, but you might get lucky the following year.

  • And why not the topic Le Mans? Audi e-tron and the Toyota TS030 Hybrid. 
Matchbox cannot do racing. The others are subjective.

  • 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 (done through existing model WRC) etc . . .are great models for this theme.
You keep mentioning Racing which we cannot do. Hot Wheels does racing. We can do exploration, endurance, discovery , rescue and mission based experiences which includes military. We have not completely abandoned city vehicles which will still include sports cars, hatchbacks, luxury cars, delivery & service vehicles. These will still be included in the "Adventure City Segment".

  • Speaking of vehicles Unstoppable how about trucks? Kamaz, Iveco, M.A.N., Scania, new Mercedes Unimog U4000 or the Zetros?
Remember, no Mercedes Models. The other European manufacturers are good unstoppable choices. Thanks for the suggestions.
  • Retool the Desert Thunder (my favourite matchbox in recent years) to become a 6x6!
We cannot afford the 3rd axle unfortunately. It is a good suggestion, however.


Technology moves on so quickly so that it now easy for us to use the internet to find out what will soon be released by Matchbox. In the 1950s and 1960s, shopkeepers and collectors had to rely on the printed word. The next two photos showed what was available. Today we have to look behind pegs, rummage in bins and delve into plastic boxes on the bottom shelf. How much better were the displays fifty years ago! It was so much easier to see what you wanted.

I believe that the flyer shown below was given to shopkeepers to indicate what was to be released. I think it was produced in the Autumn (Fall) of 1957, indicating that neither a red Vauxhall or a tan Morris Minor had ever been planned. Jack Odell told me that he had no recollection of these colour schemes and it was probably they were just mistakes that no-one cared about. He was of the opinion that the painting of models was still being completed elsewhere but he could not remember when painting started in the Matchbox factories, but it was probably around this time. These errors sometimes happened and as these were just toys for children they were boxed and sent for distribution. He said that Berger paints, the main paint supplier for Matchbox, had produced the new colour of primrose yellow and the Victor looked splendid in that livery.

I wondered which other models might have been included in the Dino Adventure set. Here are two examples of colour schemes that were rejected. In the case of the Caravan, it could not be towed properly because of the height of the tow hole. The blue cab Volvo has the shark tank load that was transparent originally. Which other models might have been considered?


Our Mattel North American Division held a contest this year in the US called: Matchbox Heroes Wanted, which was part of the 60th Anniversary program.
Parents submitted photos of their kids dressed in Heroic gear along with a unique caption and we had a winner. His name is Jacob Carrick who is 7 years old. This lucky winner won a $60,000 Scholarship and a visit with his family to the Handler Team Center (Design center) in El Segundo , CA on Sept 13th.

We hosted the Carrick Family at the design center and they got to meet the design team and visit the Matchbox design area. Jacob's mom and dad were there along with his two younger brothers Jonah & Joshua.

The Carrick family had a fun time visiting California and the Mattel Design center and received their $60,000 scholarship award.

Attached is a collage sent by the Carrick family showing their fun time in California and thanking the Mattel team for their visit. Please share this image and the announcement above about our contest winner with the collector community.


I do have something to announce that should be of interest regarding the 60th Anniversary in the near future.

Nigel Cooper
September 30th 2013


  1. Nigel Thanks for another great report especially regarding questions and response Matell and for having put my questions to them.
    I was sad by the responses mainly because they can not do racing cars, however I hope you have been with some ideas from the Dakar for the next Adventure Pack ...especially regarding the mini Countryman
    I do not understand that they can not do retool the Desert Thunder for 3 axles :(

    keep up the good work ....

  2. Thanks for submitting my comments as well! Your write up this week is great and the look into the past is both interesting and a welcome diversion from the slight lack of really exciting new models hitting the shelves. Sad about Mercedes Benz licensing... a lot of good Matchbox models from that marquee in recent years. All about the pennies though, no 3rd axle's as stated above, less and less licensed models, etc. As a Matchbox enthusiast I wonder about the brand's future, many Toys 'R Us stores only make room for 2-4 pegs of mainline Matchbox now, and the revised diecast aisle layout at Walmart is headed the same way...

    I look forward to hearing the 60th Anniversary news! Also wondering if anyone has spotted the BMW 1M Coupe on the shelves yet or the UFO Mission Force pack with the T2 Volkswagen Van? (yes I'm looking forward to it, even with the green windows!)

  3. I really want to find something to like here, but the paint looks goopy and the plastic looks over-abundant and cheap.
    Thank you, Nigel, for the reminder of how good things used to be. The toys were designed and marketed to a standard, not a way-to-low price point.
    A good diecast toy car will be a desired plaything for the kids, yet still have appeal to the adults who make the purchase either as a toy for the kids, a collectible for their own, or a gift. Matchbox, in my opinion, has none of that left in it. It's a battered shell of it's former self, relying on the lowest price or some kind of marketing wishful thinking. We are told that anyone can make a realistic toy car, yet they fail with the cartoonish Buick and the BMW motorcycle. Even the generics are often design flops, so where lies the problem?
    Listen up, Mattel - As a parent, I want my kids to play with toys reflecting the real world (Matchbox), and toys customizing the real world (Hotwheels). Both brands core line-up look like the same side of a coin stuck in the mire of the bottom of a barrel.
    As a collector, I've turned to Siku, Autoworld, and M2. They make a desirable product, and so should you.


  4. As far as exploration, rescue, and military goes, why not something amphibious? Matchbox had a classic with the Alvis Stalwart, but other recognizable and interesting amphibians include the Schwimmwagen, the Seep, the DUKW, and the Gibbstech vehicles (Humdinga, Phibian, and especially the Aquada). Even a generic amphibian drawing on some of these as inspiration would be interesting to me--there are currently some really good wheels in the lineup that would go well on an amphibian. Several Russian amphibious vehicles exist that have a shape and style that would go well with the current off-road tires, but I'm not as familiar with their names. On a related note, Hot Wheels put out the Amphicar recently, but a more realistic Matchbox version of the same would be welcome.

    1. ...and yes, I understand that the Amphi-Flyer is amphibious; let me specify that I am talking about wheeled amphibious vehicles.

  5. Is there any chance of seeing Saabs anytime soon? Now that they have a new owner that's restarting production, I would think now is the time that would become a possibility. I'd love to see the 92, 99, 900, Sonett, etc., but I'd be happy just to see the new 9-3 if that's all that's possible.

  6. Did you know the Disney Cars line now has a Fiat Panda and Opel Corsa? That's on type of the Jaguar, Land Rovers, Civic, AMC's et al. containted in the line. All licensed models. And all for a flop of a movie. So tell me, why can't Matchbox get licenses?

  7. Let me start off by saying that I really like those posters. especially the one with the D-Type Jag and and the Maserati racer. I am a huge fan of Jaguar and Maserati, so that poster made my day.

    1. Glad you liked it, Kyle. I think there was some fabulous artwork in the early days of Matchbox and this was also one of my favourites. It was included in one of the painting books but could have been used to promote sales.

  8. Dear Nigel! Thanks for the great post! Especially the retrospective part, it's fun to look back. Can I ask you/Mattel here? I'd like to know about the 2014 list which was shown once then was erased from the net. It included Pierce Velocity Aerocity ladder fire truck, Scania airport fire truck, International Ambulance... was it a humbug or will they really part of the new castings? See e.g. here:

  9. Why are hot Wheels and Matchbox separate? Matchbox seams very strangled with regards to amount of metal used in a casting, SKU number things, tampo hits, licences, themes and cash from Mattel.

    These are meant for kids but it doesn't look like they are buying it.

  10. If they can't do racing then why are there two rally raid 4x4s in the Dino 5 pack?

  11. Having read some of the replies, I find it weird that they can't do racing, especially as a vast number of cars in recent times have been racing cars, with numbers and logos on them, is it that they were far more popular than the hideous Hotwheels so Mattel have yet again put the thumbscrews on Matchbox.

    Also, if they have permissions to do the Land Rovers, why can't they get permission to do the Jaguars, they are the same company, or is that they prefer to foist more US SUV's and generics, and it seems that it is mattel that is being awkward over the Mercedes requirements, and not Merc, after all all they want is a little sticker, all other model makers put them on, so whats the issue.

    As much as the designers get all excited over designing generics, they are not good, sorry if that offends, but I have loathed all generics as far back as I can remember, they look nothing like a real world product, and thusly deserve to be consigned to the bin.

    Why is it that nearly all other model makers can produce brilliant replicas, or all sectors of motoring, yet mattel fails to produce models that are generally everyday cars, where is the Ford Focus, Fusion/Mondeo, the VW range, Polo, Golf Jetta, or some up to date French cars, what about a few Fiats, MG's, if you want to to some older stuff, why not Rover's, they were.are world renown for quality back in the day.

    It seems that if you remove the US cars, the generics and SUV's you will be left with very little, and that does NOT appeal to the rest of the world, after all the USA is only a small piece of a large planet, and you can't rely on continued US sales.