Ambassador Report 21
It’s back to work for most of us and the Matchbox team has made it a priority to answer your questions so that their answers may be included in this report. At the moment I do not have many questions for forthcoming reports and so I would be grateful if you would either make comments on a message board or send them directly to me at email@example.com. The Matchbox team cannot guarantee an answer but they will do their best. The questions submitted recently have been an interesting mixture and responses from Matchbox are included below.
The UK had some very good economic news at the weekend with a major upsurge in sales of Jaguar Land Rover creating many more jobs – just a pity that ownership of the company has moved into Indian hands! In particular, growth had been impressive in India, Brazil, USA and Germany. I am sure that all collectors are looking forward to the release of the Matchbox Range Rover Evoque and the Land Rover 4 and we all hope that licensing problems have been resolved for these two models and that they will be included in this year’s releases.
In 1964 there were four Jaguars in the miniature range of 75 but by 1968, there was not one, as shown by the comparison of models in those two years.
However, until recently Jaguars did feature in the range and as my history section this week is a question and answer format, I have sprinkled some Jaguars throughout the report with the earliest examples being pre-production in one way or another. I understand that the Jaguar “F” Type is achieving remarkable sales in the US because of its build quality, acceleration and engine noise. The Matchbox R & D department could certainly do a lot worse than including in the 2015 range the “F” Type, XF and XJ saloons and a reintroduction of the XK and some of the older Jaguar castings.
MATCHBOX ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
- I have noticed the copyright date on the base of the 2013 series Dune Dog (MW818) is 2007. Strange since this model was released in 2011 and that copyright date is 2010. How could Mattel make such an odd change or possibly an error? Thank you for any input on this matter. This appears to be an error.
You are correct. This is an error. Copyright should be 2010. Errors do occur occasionally. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
- This is for the Ambassador; he asked for us to submit cars that we had access to and would not have licensing difficulty. This is my 1967 AMC Marlin and of course I would love a 1/64 version. AMC no longer exists so I don't know how that affects licensing. If you could please forward this to him? I couldn't find a contact. Thank you, Dan
Thanks for the suggestion but Chrysler owns the rights to AMC models.
- Mattel; Due to the new, large 4x4 design wheels being used on the majority of 4x4 style vehicles in the range, will we not be seeing the previous large 4x4 design wheel (as used on the Ford Bronco, Quarry King, Scraper, Dirt Hauler etc) chosen for these new designs also? If not, perhaps there a possibility you could scale this older design down to the standard size used on castings such as the Guzzler, Street Cleaner, Land Rover Defender, Desert Thunder, Hummer H2 and various pick-ups such as the forthcoming Toyota Tacoma and incorporate it here, as the wheel design generally chosen for these kind of vehicles could do with being a bit more rugged looking. I think the original, large 4x4 wheel you came up with a while ago is the best of all the designs and has a typically Matchbox look, it would really compliment more Real, 4x4 / Utility / Emergency castings in the series if made a more appropriate size for them. It would be nice to see the design more prominently used in a variety of sizes actually and on a variety of vehicles. Please would you comment?
We prefer to use our newer designs whenever possible. In some cases older designs may be used if there are capacity issues with the newer ones. We will take your suggestion under consideration.
- Dream Halloween always produced some excellent Matchbox models with amazing designs. For the past two years Hot Wheels has continued to produce Halloween models but not Matchbox. Will this change for 2014?
This is still to be determined.
- Please could you explain why there are now so many 2014 models released and we are still awaiting about 15 models from 2013?
Which 2013 models are you referring too?
AMBASSADOR & David Tilley – The fifteen models are in fact now seven. The international short card (or as collectors call it, the ROW range) series for 2013 is still missing a number of brand new castings (BMW 1M, VW Karmann Ghia, Deep Diver, Whiplash, Dodge A100 Pickup, MBX Coupe) as well as the second version of the BMW R1200TP Police Motorcycle in olive. Are these coming on short card? Until close to the end of the year the short card range was pretty much in line with the US long card range, but the last few batches things just seemed to fall apart. The worst thing is, the missing models (apart from the BMW bike) are all brand new castings, which are often hotly anticipated and sell well for the debut releases.
- Could you please pass on these suggestions for the MBX range. The MB693 UTILITY TRUCK is what I would call one of the better generics. I think it could be better utilized by the addition of 1 or 2 pc plastic loads. I provide pics of some possible variations which would be cost effective - Cement Truck, Flat Bed, Pick-up etc. Box from Volvo Box Truck or stakes from the Dodge Stake Truck.
It is possible that the Utility Tanker Truck could be modified sometime in the future in some way as you have described. A cement truck would not be possible (with rotating barrel) but other variations are possible. Thanks for your suggestions.
- My questions for Mattel/Matchbox:
a. Will the Matchbox Range Rover Evoque be the 4-door or 2-door model?
It will be the 2 –door model.
b. Are the Evoque and LR4 slated for 2014 or 2015?
We are shooting for this year.
c. When will the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado arrive? Early/mid/late 2014?
d. Has everything with the VW Bulli been worked out? Will it be the concept model, or will there be a production version?
It will be the concept version as requested by the licensor.
- The Toyota Tacoma Life Guard is a perfect model for Matchbox. We have been told time and time again to make suggestions that fit under the Unstoppable tagline, and this is mine. The Bowler Nemesis is a stellar car. It has received tons of exclamation from BBC Top Gear hosts, particularly Richard Hammond. Many car magazines and reviewers have made positive remarks on the car, calling it a beast for its supercar-like speed on rocks, dirt, and streams. It is damn-well unstoppable. It is 4x4, it is off-road, it has mad styling, and is a licensed model. It is all-around great for both kids and collectors. And, Matchbox has a great relationship with Land Rover, who has a great relationship with Bowler, so it could only go well in my eyes.
Thanks for the suggestion.
- A collector received a Christmas card (shown above) from Mattel showing Barbie, Hot Wheels, Max Steel and Fisher Price but no reference to Matchbox. Did someone just forget or was there a special card.
Sadly Matchbox was not represented on the card. Someone is going to get a lump of coal in their stocking from the Matchbox team!
- Can you please explain why MB36 & 72 are of the same casting? It does seem rather unusual situation having two of the same vehicle in the range. In the past we had the Tyrone Malone Super Boss and Bandag Bandit together and they were the same casting. Did something happen with a planned license that warranted a last minute change.
- A new casting with an opening part - The Questor - Awesome I must say I am more than happy to see opening/moving parts, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Can’t wait to see this in person but based on those photos, as generics go this one might just be passable, what does it look like from the other side with the lid closed? Does the hinge look out of place or have they designed it in such a way that it looks even when compared to the non-hinge side?
We do what works. It looks fine.
- Now to the serious stuff, the Questor does raise some questions though. Based purely on what Mattel keep telling us a model can only have 4 parts (not counting wheels) so I take it this model has no interior then as that would be 5 parts in total? (1. body, 2. base, 3. windows, 4. interior, 5. rear lid) - Due to safety laws/rules/regulations, moving parts are no longer viable so please explain.
We have not completely eliminated moving parts from Matchbox vehicles (with the exception of die cast doors and hoods). This is a tooling and labor cost issue not a safety issue. We still have moving parts on dump trucks, pivoting ladders on fire engines and in some cases working suspensions.
- I am pleased that for 2014 the numbers have returned to the small packaging. Unfortunately in my area there has been a run on the sale of magnifying glasses, though no-one can explain why. Is there any chance that for 2015 the size of the number could be increased to make it readable for those unable to see their magnifying glass?
Glad that you have a sense of humor!
- What is the fate of the international white and orange brush fire truck is only on eBay at high prices?
Not determined as of yet.
- Are there any plans to make common US cars so that a child could buy a model of what his father drives?
It depends on what the father drives. We currently make “common US cars” but we sometimes like the uncommon ones.
- Regarding to the new Ground Breaker, your text read as "The 5 pack models include the Ground Breaker BDV50 MB948, Skidster BFN37 MB789 and Tractor Shovel BFN38 MB029. " Does it mean we will get a retooled model based on MB707? Please advise. Thank you.
Only the Ground Breaker has been retooled. It looks that same but is now assembled differently.
- Why is it that some generic models have a scale of 1:64 cast into the base, when they are clearly figments of someone's talented imagination whilst others do not have a scale imprinted?
We reserve the right to not include the scale markings. In some cases the licensor may request this.
A Little More History
Instead of some paragraphs on the history of Matchbox, I include a few answers given by Jack Odell to questions that may have been intriguing collectors for years.
- Why were the roof windows of the Volkswagen Camper reduced to the same height as the roof?
The windows suffered from “flash”, unwanted metal flakes, that were not completely removed in the fettling process. This led to too many models being scrapped and so the sunshine roof was lowered.
- Why was the Aston Martin and later the Ferrari Berlinetta of a larger scale than other cars.
These were both mistakes. The Aston Martin was designed with the wrong calibrations for the pantograph. Both of these models were a “tight fit” for their boxes.
- Why do some Ferrari Berlinettas have headlight cowls above the headlights?
This is also “flash” which built up on the moulds. More than one mould was used.
- Were there any models that you were dissatisfied with?
Yes: the Snow Trac was an awful model. Lesney had to buy in the tracks and there were often delays. The supplier could not make enough tracks. To save on costs we stopped using decals and instead cast the word “Snow-Trac” on the sides.
- Why were so many of the cars in the range replaced after a comparatively short period of time in comparison with commercial vehicles?
We were continually looking to improve models and so it was easier to increase the scale such as with the Prime Mover, Ambulance, Caterpillars and buses. Cars like the Ford Prefect, Morris Minor and Wolseley 1500 were not particularly interesting and so we replaced these with completely different cars with more features.
- Was the weight of models important in any way?
Yes: if a smaller amount of metal was needed, it saved the company money. For instance, the Commer Ice Cream Truck made us a great deal of money because it was so light but we did enhance play value by a detailed interior and a sun roof.
- Why do some Ice Cream men in the Commer Ice Cream Truck have legs below their coat and others have no legs?
Two different interior moulds were used.
- Why was the hook on the Diesel Road Roller replaced by just a hole?
The hook kept bending which led to too much wastage and so it was simply removed. There was nothing for the Road Roller to tow anyway.
- Why were there some models painted in different colours which are so rare today such as the green Tanker, red Vauxhall Victor, tan Morris Minor & and cream Mercury Cougar?
Probably just a mistake. Someone mis-heard or mis-read a colour and it would be put right but as these were just toys and they had been finished, we just packed them as usual. These were toys for children. No-one complained.
- Were you aware of collectors in the 1960s?
Oh yes. They would come knocking at the door but I would tell them to p… off. They were all mad.
I am grateful for those collectors and administrators who post this report on various message boards. If this could be done as soon as possible, it will enable me to collate the comments and questions more easily.
Nigel Cooper 13th January 2014