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Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4th Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Nigel Cooper...


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!!



22 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Hello Nigel, thanks for another excellent report.
    I would like to make a question to Mattel regarding the policy of producing thumbnails:
    The Matchbox cannot make racing cars since this is intended for Hotwheels, (which belongs to the same group) however hotwheels continues to create cars that Matchbox has created (for example: Porsche Panamera, Lamborghini Gallardo Polizia, and others...). There is something wrong? "I cannot produce yours but you can do mine?"
    They are losing money by making competition to each other? Or They Share molds? If one makes a car the other should spend money to do another miniatures not yet produced by any of the two ...

    Regarding the Blaze Blaster I prefer the Blaze Blitzer.... Is more European...
    Best regards

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    1. I think you will find the answer to your questions in some of the previous Matchbox reports from the past few weeks and months, as they have already clarified this.

      It is not that either (Matchbox & Hot Wheels) is excluded from replicating a given vehicle when the other has already done so, but that Hot Wheels generally sticks with racing cars or factory cars with added racing themes. Whereas Matchbox is producing 'Adventure' vehicles, under which factory stock vehicles fall into the city theme.

      The Porsche Panamera you mention for example, yes Matchbox has already released 3 variations of the sedan from Stuttgart (of which I own all) but it is, in my opinion, the truest representation of a factory Panamera that could be had in 1:64 at $1 price point. The new Hot Wheels Panamera is a more interpretive design in my opinion. It has less true to life dimensions in a number of measurements, most obvious are the top line of the rear windows is nearly flat, has a large fixed rear spoiler, among other things. So will either lose any money? Doubtful as they appeal to a different audience. I particularly love the Panamera but have no interest in buying the curious Hot Wheels version having seen it, and surely some die hard Hot Wheels fans may say the reverse?

      Hideous Panamera seen here: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-88iu4KuFG-4/UkMgA5NNEgI/AAAAAAABBAM/LgRsgTzLVqc/s1600/Porsche1n.jpg

      Additionally, sharing molds isn't feasible because the manufacturing facilities for both are in different countries and utilize different types of tooling. Hope this helps! :)

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    2. So they can do Racing Cars but only on road mode version?
      My question to Nigel is: "Why Matchbox cannot make road versions of racing cars since this is intended for Hotwheels, however Hotwheels continues to create road versions of cars that Matchbox has already created. Why?

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  3. Hello Nigel, good to see you again.
    Good thinking of the design for the Lamborghini. I know I like tempos to be on it, but it's OK.
    I have two remaining questions, "Will there be variations of some models this year?" and this question, "What is the batch for the Lamborghini?" You can comment or reply underneath so.

    But anyways, will there be a recolor for some models? I'd like to see the recolors.
    When I saw your report 5 , I checked it again yesterday and saw the last comment was looking forward to see the LR4 Discovery and the Evoque. Is the Evoque coming this year or 2015?

    But again, thanks for this report. Comment back...

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    1. No news on the LR4 Discovery or Evoque. There are licensing problems. They will not be released in 2014. It is too early to have your other questions answered but I will pass them on.

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  4. I don't know about anybody else, but I'm excited for the Chevy 1500 at stock ride height. Good looking truck, long open bed for lots of play value. I can see customizers having a heyday with this one, the same way they have enjoyed the recent Hot Wheels Datsun pickup. I can also see this one as a good candidate for a removable bed cover or camper shell of some sort.

    I like the general look of the Sea Spy, although I might've chosen a different color for the interior plastic. I might try to take it apart and repaint the white plastic to some other color--and if I decide to do any detailing, white should be a good base color for that.

    Nigel, thank you for including the pictures of previous Matchbox Original designs of boats and fire engines. It brings a helpful perspective: Matchbox has been coming up with their own designs for quite some time, and the styles have gone many different directions. The body of the upcoming Blaze Blaster looks realistic even if the monster-style tires don't--I'd like to see a customizer perform a chassis swap with that one. The yellow paint job looks good.

    The Wilton/New Haven FD livery looks good. It's nice to hear that the Matchbox team already has some thing of a working relationship with them. It makes me wonder: who else among the readers of this forum has connections with authentic liveries and would be willing to share them?

    This sounds promising: "For 2014 some, but not all, of the RWRs will be available but no recolors are planned. Only the packaging look will change." I hope that some more stores decide to carry the RWR again. I wish I'd gotten more of those while I could find them.

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    1. The sentence talking about the 2014 Chevy pickup is my comment from last time. I know you're excited too buddy, so am I.

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    2. I agree about the promising tone of the RWR availability, even if the colors sold in 2014 are merely recycled from previous years hopefully it will keep the line in sight of buyers and encourage future castings and recolors.

      Also agree about the Chevy 1500, lifted trucks are all well and good but they have flooded the lineup of Matchbox and Hot Wheels, just look at the demand for the Datsun 620 and Dodge A100, I think that's a sign the 2014 Chevy 1500 will be a hot seller with the right casting and tampo printing. I have no preference for a first color, however I would be glad to see it in the subtle Z51 trim and have front and rear printing on the first release. Save the side liveries for later 5 pack versions and so on.

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    3. OK, seriously, NOT JUST ME was excited of the Chevy 1500? I guess I'm embarrassed.

      But, who cares of the Chevy 1500? Instead, speaking of the Lambo, is a nice, nice, nice casting for the year. OK, I'll stop the tempos words.


      Nigel, you know you should make a Datsun car such as the 510 (which is really popular) or the 620 pickup (as a new model for 2014 Hot wheels).

      But thank you Nigel and Matchbox mattel for answering my question (comment).

      Please Nigel Comment back...

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    4. Thank you for your post. I have passed on your comments. I know absolutely nothing about Hot Wheels! I just pass on comments. I am not responsible for making new models.

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  5. Will be some Swedish cars in the next years in the 1-120 series?

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    1. I would be curious to know the same thing. Perhaps you can inquire Nigel? I love the Volvo C30 but it may have seen it's last recolor unless they re-tool it into the beautiful medium-light blue Polestar performance edition? That would be amazing, and a good 1:64 companion to the new BMW 1M!

      I imagine no Saab's will be seen. With the automakers future still in limbo I bet licensing would be a challenge? But boy would I love to see a 1952 Saab 92, 1960 Saab 93F GranTurismo 750, or 1960 Saab 96. Any Saab Sonnet would be great as well.

      I wonder if Matchbox has ever given Koenigsegg a thought? Mattel has not reproduced any in 1:64 yet, and it could certainly bring more new attention to Matchbox if they chose to do a 2014 Agera S!

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  6. Hello again Nigel, I'm back again.

    I'm tried guessing some of the designs for some of the 2014 cars. I'm NOT asking you to show something, I'm just guessing or imagining what the designs for some models.

    Is it true there will be the 2013 Dodge Dart, 2014 Chevy Corvette C7 (Stingray), and 2013 Ford Escape REALLY? Are these models really being released in sometime of 2014? I saw wiki (better keep searching or checking) and I clicked the models I answered above. Good heaven's sake they didn't tell it won't be changing to 2015. Can you ask the mattel to tell that they're REALLY, ABSULOTELY SURE that the 2013 Ford and Dodge and 2014 Corvette won't change to 2015? Why I'm asking cause' I like new models.

    Let me tell you one guess. I guess the 2013 Dodge Dart will have white rimed 5 spokes (the wheels the Dodge Charger Pursuit had this year), and it has the Dodge logo on the top of the front window (windshied)a

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    1. Is this the link ?
      http://matchbox.wikia.com/wiki/2014_Matchbox_1-120_List

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    2. The wiki list is not from Matchbox or Mattel. It is somebody's imagination. I can only pass on information I am given each week. I have no other knowledge of what will be issued. You are free to guess but Matchbox will not confirm or deny your guess. The Matchbox team is now working on the 2015 range.

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  7. Hello :
    My question to Nigel is: "Why Matchbox cannot make road versions of racing cars since this is intended for Hotwheels, however Hotwheels continues to create road versions of cars that Matchbox has already created. Why?

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    1. This is simply Mattel policy. Mattel decides what Matchbox can make in terms of themes..

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  8. That Lambo is a must have! Especially after Matchbox blew the previous one away with those ghastly red windows. I have a question for Matchbox: why not keep a 70:30 bias towards licensed vehicles? Because seriously, generics, even after taking the cost issue in consideration, aren't really helping in things. Because I've seen many times in stores in my city where people just don't bother with Matchbox because its 'too dull' for them. In fact, in one of the stores (where HW and MB are both available), I'm one of the few customers who buys Matchbox intentionally. Even children (who Matchbox toys are aimed at) prefer Hot Wheels. So my whole point is: Kids arent really interested in Matchbox as much as they are in Hot Wheels anyway. At least thats what the situation is around me. So why not turn MB it into a collector-aimed line instead (and let Hot Wheels handle the kids + the usual bombardments of Ferraris, Lambos, Chevys, Fords and Hondas) with some occasional generics? That way the collectors will all be very happy and Matchbox can go back to the good old days when they made everyday cars with great details and everybody liked them. What are your thoughts on this, Nigel? Can you pass this question to Matchbox?

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    1. I forgot to sign the above comment:

      - Black Wind.

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  9. For the MB Team: For two decades there's been an indecision between collectors and kids when it comes to the target market for the brand, so why not call a 50/50 split? For the 1-100 line: 1-50 should be vehicles designed for the collectors: Classic, Modern, Vintage vehicles with little to no tampo's, trim and lighting details, and normal color tones. 55-100 should be the "unstoppable" theme vehicles for the kids: Wild colors, graphics, and generic vehicles. 1-100 Chase vehicles: Similar to the Super Treasure Hunt Hot Wheels, a few select 1-100 vehicles created with metallic paint, rubber tires, and maybe a metal base; this should really keep the collectors coming to the brand each day. Same split for 5-packs and 9-packs: Some designed for collectors, while others for kids. Matchbox higher-end collectible line for the collectors (think Superfast, MB Collectibles, and MB Premiere). Finally, and this one is in response of the Tomica sets, how about a few playsets designed for collectors like a Car Wash, Drive-In, Dealership, etc. for those of us who like to display our vehicles while still providing the fun playsets for the kids.

    For the generic vehicles for 2013 like the MBX sports car, pickup, sedan, I was hoping they would look like the real vehicles on the road, only to find out that they are just another bunch of rally vehicles. Can you look into the possibility of making generics that look like actual road vehicles without impending on copyright issues?

    and since MB has a long history with the Ford Transit van's, can we expect to see the 2015 Ford Transit for the 2015 MB line?

    I know Hot Wheels may be stealing the show lately, but I know the Matchbox brand can come up with clever ways to amaze collectors and kids without interfering with the other brand. I just hope the MB team can take my ideas and put them into good use.

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  10. Is the 2014 Silverado in the 2014 mainline? Or the 2015 mainline?

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