Ambassador Report 11
Recently the point was made that collectors would like to see authentic liveries where possible. I was contacted by a collector whose friend in Wilton, CT now owns an ex-New Haven Seagrave Fire Truck and who would be delighted for Matchbox to use the original design. He said: I can tell you my Fire Department, Wilton CT would more than welcome the chance to work with Matchbox again! Please feel free to past that along or contact me if any interest or pictures are needed.
I passed this suggestion on to Matchbox and received the reply: Thanks for the suggestion.
The Matchbox team has enjoyed working with the Wilton CT Fire Department. We would certainly consider working with them again in the near future.
I am grateful for all your comments either sent personally or through the message boards. No-one would claim that being a Matchbox collector is easy. Even during the 1960s there were popular models that sold out quickly. I remember how difficult it was to find the “E” Type Jaguar when it was released. I scoured the newsagents, corner shops and toy shops. I guess the difference then was that the model was issued for a few years and eventually there were enough for everyone and there were no “Scalpers” in those days.
There are comments today regarding the lack of cars in the range. When Lesney started, in both the Early Lesney and the miniature range, there was never any intention to manufacture cars. Odell felt there was much more play value in construction vehicles. Many kids had a sand pit or knew someone else who did. Disregarding the Land Rover, the first 18 models included no cars, only commercial vehicles and considerable argument ensued when Les Smith suggested cars should be included.
The photo of the range in1956 shows just two cars that Odell begrudgingly allowed and even in 1962 as the US flyer shows, the King Size range was made up exclusively of commercial vehicles.
I include below two prints from the Matchbox painting books and an advertisement which centre upon construction vehicles and their environment. Note that many of the Bronner advertisements urged children to send off for their free pocket catalogues in order to tick off which models they had and which were still to be collected.
The first model to appear in this report is another new 2014 tool called SEA SPY. This is a type of rigid inflatable boat. It was shown at The Gathering in New Mexico this year but here it is in its intended colour scheme.
Various boats have featured in the miniature range over the years. Often they have provided further play value by being placed on trailers.
The Blaze Blaster that will be used in the Fire Mission Force Pack for 2014. I expect opinions to vary considerably on this truck.
I include a sample of colour trial Fire Trucks produced in the past which were also generic. How would you compare imaginative Fire Trucks from the past with the model to be released in 2014?
This Boeing AH Apache™ Helicopter is a new Skybuster to be used in an upcoming 2014 Military Mission Force Pack.
Lastly we have the 2014 version of the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 which will feature in the regular line.
Mattel answers your questions
1. Could we see some WWII models, especially the current Willys Jeep in a WWII paint scheme with olive wheels? What about a Skybusters Huey helicopter? Or what about retooling some of the tanks and personnel carriers we saw in the '90s?
We will take these suggestions into consideration.
2. I've a question regarding to the 2013 Beach Rescue 5-pack (Y2631). Earlier this year, we were told the "Beach Rescue" 5 pack would include the MB731 Baja Bandit in maroon, the updated Dune Buggy in green, another updated model, the MB875 Hydroplane in orange, MB760 1969 Type 14 Karmann Ghia in blue and another updated casting, the MB870 Ford F-series with raft in yellow." as quoted by Dave Tilley. We got the 5-pack recently, but when opened, we didn't find the updated Hydroplane and Ford F-Series truck. In previous Ambassador report, MB875 should have a die-casting appendage, and MB870 should have a new name as "F-250 Super Duty" on base. However, these two are not in the 5-pack now. The yellow raft truck shares its name with MB590 as "Ford Dump/Utility Truck". It is different from the blue one of 2012 Outdoor Adventure 5pack (W5188), but it still does not show the new name of "F-250 Super Duty". Could you please ask the Matchbox Team at Mattel, whether the yellow truck is another variation of MB581 rather than the expected MB870?
Note that at the time this pack was first being produced the modified versions of the two castings: Ford F-Series with raft and Hydroplane were not ready yet. Midway through the production run the revised castings were added. This was a running change. The refurbished casting of the Ford (yellow color) is MB870 and has the new name (requested by the licensor) Ford F-250 Super Duty with Raft. This version has revised markings on the chassis that includes the 2013 Matchbox Logo, Thai Elephant, revised copyright year and Toy number.
You can further identify the MB870 casting by raising the ramp. The Ramp is now one piece instead of 2 separate pieces and the window has been modified to be part of the truck bed. The old casting had the truck bed that was die cast. You can only see these changes by taking it out of the package.
A question was also asked about the earlier casting that was blue with a similar wave graphic on the sides. The MB number on the chassis is MB450 which normally indicates the version of this truck with the dumper bed. But the raft version would use MB 581. Since the body chassis and window are the same for both versions the chassis markings often get interchanged.
3. Nigel could you ask the team if there are any plans to make anymore new military vehicles, I personally love them.
The Matchbox team will continue to add new military vehicles where applicable.
4. Is the pale blue Tree Trimming Truck the only new Real Working Rig single for 2013? Are there any to come for 2014? Can we please have some recolours on the early RWR in the future?
There will be more than just the tree trimming truck available for 2013. For 2014 some, but not all, of the RWRs will be available but no recolors are planned. Only the packaging look will change.
5. Some people are looking forward to see the design of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD. Can you please decide about the design this week or through the weekend to show the design of the Silverado? Plus I want it to be in metallic red.
We can’t show the design of the Chevrolet Silverado just yet, but we have made a change in the version we are doing. We will now be doing the 1500 version rather than the 2500 HD version. This will be a standard replica (no huge wheels or raised ride height. Chevy has a wide range of available colors for the Silverado which we will use.
US collectors don’t know how lucky they are! At least they can look up to see what is or what is not hanging on pegs. In the UK it helps to be a contortionist when hunting out Matchbox miniatures. Usually the models are placed in a plastic bin and the contents may be spread far and wide, but always on the bottom shelf. It almost always involves getting on hands and knees and joining the children in taking out all models from the bin to see what is available, often making a pile on the floor, if a new wave has just been put out. Strange looks from parents and worried shop staff ensue as the adult collector has to jostle with children, particularly if a three year old has taken a shine to one your models carefully placed in your pile and you have to resort to tug of war.
The aisle is only standard width and so when you are crouched there, other shoppers take the opportunity to test their manoeuvring skills with a trolley (cart) past your outstretched feet. If they fail this driving test and run over your feet, sometimes you will hear a mumbled apology but most times there is a grunt about you blocking the aisle or why a grown man should be on the floor next to children anyway.
Then there are the inevitable questions at the till:
Buying presents for the grandchildren? (It used to be “children” but you know you are getting old when the grandchildren are mentioned)
Do you actually collect these? (Always accompanied by a grin if it is a male or a sympathetic look if it is a female)
Just a little gift then? (This occurs when you just have one model in your hand and implies you are too mean to buy a proper and meaningful present)
If only we had these displays again, I would not have to get on all fours ever again!!