Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10 Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Nigel Cooper...

Ambassador Report 29

The new listing for 2014 prompted more hits and messages on notice-boards than usual. There were plenty of comments proving that collectors still care passionately about the brand and feel moved sufficiently to “put pen to paper”. Many collectors outside of the US have enquired about the BMW 1M. All that I can do is to include an image of the BMW 1M as it seems this car, which would surely be the most popular vehicle in the range were it to be released here, may not actually appear in Europe. We can but hope that the missing wave may find its way to these shores eventually.

The Ambassador Report last week was so long that I had to remove the last section on Bulgarian Mark IV Cortinas and so at the end of this Report I have included some photos to pacify those people who requested a viewing. 


1.  With the success of the INC construction series, is there a possibility of seeing the Street Cleaner in INC Construction colors? It would be great to have a 5 pack in this livery next year. Is there any chance? 

The Street Cleaner could have INC markings in the future but we normally use INC on vehicles in the construction segments.  The Street Cleaner is usually in the Adventure City segment. We will take your suggestion into consideration however.  Thanks.

2. My most depressing part about the 2014 list is the reduction in cars. When it was increased from 100 to 120 the other year, it was purely to add cars in to the mix. The range had been set up with 100 non-cars, and they decided last minute to sprinkle in 20 cars. Last year, they kept it at 20 cars in the series. But this year it has been reduced to a paltry 9. I felt 20 was too little as they make up the majority of what you see out and about. I understand they are trying to get variety, but cars are important.  Will 2015 see a larger intake of actual road cars in the range?  


3. #9 is listed as MB807 Caterham Superlight R500, is it the MB802 Caterham or is this in fact meant to be MB807 Holden VE Ute? Please say it’s the Ute. 

Sorry but there was a typo. The correct number should be MB802. You have a keen eye. Thank you for pointing out the error. It should not be the MB number for the Holden.

4. I hope it is the model name they got wrong (I know you’re most likely right though) that way we would get the MB868 Travel Trailer at #26 instead of the MB865 : Torque Titan but again I think it’s the MAN they have incorrect, the trailer would be a far better inclusion into the main line than that hideous Torque Titan. Can you please comment? 

Thanks for pointing out yet another typo on our part. The correct MB# should be 865 for the fantastic Torque Titan. You will be happy to know that the Travel Trailer will be included in this year’s 5 pack.  

5. Regarding the Mini Dozer I feel compelled to remind you it is a "bucket" or a "loader". A "DOZER" is a blade, of which I learned at a very early age BECAUSE of Matchbox. Actually a single arm skid steer loader is a real machine. If you google 1110t JCB you can see some pictures. I say skid steer, but this is really a compact track loader. The MB track layout is not the same as JCB, but they probably cannot do an exact copy. I do agree the radiator out front is way in it should be in the back. I also agree that it is not a dozer. This always bugs me when the news cannot get this right either. Any comment? 

You are overthinking this. Sorry if it keeps you up at night. At Matchbox we reserve the right to call our vehicles whatever we want. We designed it so we get to choose the name even if folks aren’t happy with it. Sorry about that. 

6. I'd rather see either of the two new Fiats, the Mini Clubman, a modern Corvette Stingray, a Koenig's Egg, a modern Ford Fiesta, a 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker, the new Dodge Dart or any number of another 20 or so vehicles before seeing some of the generic creations.  I just miss the regular cars and more than that, I miss newer regular cars. I like the heritage cars we see from the '50s, '60s, '70s and even '80s in terms of the Toyota 4Runner, but the type of "modern" cars MBX is running out there right now are a 2007 GT500, a 2008 ZR1…...come on, MBX. Get back up to speed on some of the daily drivers, lower-end (i.e. semi-affordable in real life) sports cars and add a few eye-catching exotics. I appreciate where you're coming from, but I think that is the Matchbox brand of the past... A Skoda Octavia isn't a bad choice for an "international" police car. A quick image search shows it in liveries from Iceland, Switzerland, Holland, Portugal, Egypt, Israel, Hungary and, of course, the Czech Republic. It's also on sale in China and India so you just about justify liveries for there as well.  Are you able to act on our suggestions?

 Not at the moment. You have some good suggestions but we can only acquire a certain number of licensed vehicles each year. We have a limit.  As the team has stated before, just because we want to do certain licensed vehicles does not mean we can. We have to get permission from licensors first. Sometimes they say no.  Sometimes it can take a very, very long time to receive information about new vehicles which can delay development. Much effort is required to develop any vehicle especially licensed ones. Licensing is complex these days.  Finally, there can often be language barriers. Obtaining international licenses can often be challenging because of translation issues. If you can find someone that can speak 16 different languages please let us know. Cheers.

7. Did Matchbox base their model on an existing real vehicle

The Matchbox team always scours the world of vehicles for inspiration. We were influenced by many innovative vehicles when we created the MBX Coupe not just the Local Motors machine.

8. Is it possible to fit in your plans for 2015 Ford S-Max, any new Audi, Mini Countryman Dakar or Paceman, any Lamborghini, Mclaren, or Rolls Royce in your city adventure segment? Or how about the MG B Coupe, Ford Transit MK1, Fiat, Lancia and others would be good .... 

Thanks for the suggestions.

9. Anyways, I got another question, one that the people at Matchbox are probably tired to hear, but I still have to ask... Are there any plans to bring the brand back to Brazil? Or rather, were there ever any attempts at bringing Matchbox back to Brazil, or it was settled that the brand would not be coming back once it was removed? It's unfortunate that the collecting landscape in Brazil probably wouldn't be able to support both Matchbox and Hot Wheels when only HW is a good seller among kids, but I've started seeing MBX playsets in stores recently and became curious. 

For the moment Brazil appears to be Hot Wheels territory. Perhaps in the future this will change in terms of the availability of Matchbox vehicles. 


There are no new images available to show this week. I hope to have more in my next report. The Matchbox team wanted to make a comment about the Torque Titan. It appears that our collectors are giving our Torque Titan truck a bad rap thinking it is an over the top version of a big rig from our fertile imaginations.  While it is over the top, it may surprise these folks to learn that it is actually inspired by real trucks that are used in oil fields today. Attached are images that inspired the team to create the Torque Titan.  Love it or hate it, it does have real world relevance and it is over the top. 

A Little More History

As the miniature range expanded during the 1950s and sales were increasing at an amazing rate around the world, it was natural that some countries would request specific models. It was not usually Lesney’s policy to respond to such demands. New models were generally at Jack Odell’s discretion, although he sometimes listened to suggestions and France was a major market at this time. As I have mentioned before, there was no committee or “think tank”; if Odell thought that the idea was a good one, the model would be made. The Citroen DS19 followed the pattern of previous saloons in the range in that it consisted of a separate body and base which were attached to the wheels. There were no specific features at this time. All the models were painted yellow with earlier examples in a darker shade than later versions. The baseplates were painted gloss black whilst the silver trim to the headlights and bumpers were applied by spray machines.

Shortly before the Citroen was withdrawn from in October 1962, a few models were fitted with silver plastic wheels. This version is quite rare. A picture box of the Citroen must have been produced shortly before it was replaced as it is one of the rarest Matchbox boxes and has been known to fetch over £1000 at auction if in perfect condition and containing the silver wheeled car. 

The 1959 range showed the Citroen DS for the first time.

The Citroen probably did not sell well and its deletion from the range after a period of just over three years confirms this. It was not until the Citroen SM was introduced in 1973 that another French car was to make its mark. The body colour was different from any previous colour used and could best be described as metallic orange or bronze. The first issue was fitted with an orange interior but this unlikely combination was quickly changed when the interior was altered to cream.

In 1975 ten of the models in the range were given a more colourful treatment and termed “Streakers”. (This was before Erica Roe appeared at Twickenham!!). Previously decals or labels had been used to improve the decoration. These models were the first to benefit from a tampo printing process, whereby a rubber pad transferred ink from a plate directly on to the model. The roof design included a Number 8 whilst the familiar Citroen chevrons adorned the bonnet. During the production of the Citroen Streaker it was found that the tampo printing could be blemished when the base was riveted to the body. To overcome this, the design on the boot was adapted to a “V” shape, usually referred to as a “fish-tail”. A few models were found without any tampo print.

Although the Citroen was replaced in 1978 by a Combine Harvester, it reappeared in TP-21 towing a trailer carrying three plastic motor-cycles. To avoid confusion with the new number 51, the model number was removed from the baseplate. The model continued to be painted in metallic blue but in a darker shade. It included a black plastic roof rack into which had been moulded two shovels and two tyres. This was not a new component. It had been used in different colours as early as 1968 on the Ford Cortina Mk II and the Volkswagen 1600 TL. Interestingly, instead of tampo printing, Lesney reverted back to a bonnet label. The glue was not of the best quality and today it shows signs of weeping.

In 1984 the Citroen became one of the first five models produced under an annual licence in Bulgaria. It was produced in many different body and interior colours. In 1987 the mould was leased to Hungary under a similar agreement. Production was limited to a matter of months before all production was stopped, though not before a variety of body colours had been manufactured. A selection of Bulgarian and then Hungarian models are shown below.

Recently the 1968 Citroen DS was reintroduced into the range and two examples are shown here. This model certainly had an appeal in Europe.

Next week I will cover two unissued Citroens and two which did find their way into the line. Here are the 150 different Bulgarian Mark IV Cortinas with a close up of just a few.

Nigel Cooper      10th March 2014


  1. I think you forgot a Citroen, the Citroen CX and the CX Break.

    1. It will be in the next report - there was not enough space this week. I will also mention 2 unissued Citroens.

  2. I don't know why these reports even exist, the Mattel Rep makes it clear how he, and the company he represents feel about not only collectors, but consumers in general.

    1. I agree entirely. This is a completely unacceptable tone to take with consumers, of any brand's products, much less where a loyal customer is politely providing feedback as to the inaccuracy in the naming the product and they essentially reply to sod off!

      Their response to the poorly named "Mini Dozer" seen above:
      "You are overthinking this. Sorry if it keeps you up at night. At Matchbox we reserve the right to call our vehicles whatever we want. We designed it so we get to choose the name even if folks aren’t happy with it. Sorry about that."

      To show complete lack of concern for what a vehicle is titled is unacceptable for a brand like Matchbox. Surely someone has invested quality time to design the model in question, which is good as far as generics go, and they don't even have the time/cost/frustration of licensing so you'd expect they could do a little research into construction machines when they account for nearly 1/4 of the current line. This would be as ignorant as a company who only knew/made construction models coming out with a cabrio/convertible sports car; calling it an estate/wagon, and then acting like everyone else was idiots when they called to offer a polite correction?

      Never mind the dis-service to children who assume a vehicle actually is what it says on the package and so forth.

      I am ready to give up on the entire Matchbox brand & Mattel for myself and family if this is how receptive they are to their loyal customers.

    2. I have given up on Matchbox for the time being. The French brands NOREV and Majorette are so much better. They make both real-life and concept cars and they are so detailed (and heavy) in comparison to the rubbish Matchbox is creating. Their castings make Matchbox's BMW 1M look bad...

    3. I have wished many times in recent years that Majorette vehicles were still being sold in the United States. Does anybody know of a good outlet for them on this side of the ocean?

    4. To Anonymous @ 11:18, that's a good point, I have taken to buying NOREV models as well, including the 1:43, & 1:18 scales. Very good value for the dollar with a lot of very unique offerings. Still wish I could spend a few more on Matchbox, if only they weren't turning all the models into rubbish. The wide array of classic & modern British cars offered as recently as 2010 are no where to be seen for example. The problems at Mattel with Matchbox have seemingly progressed so far that a serious restructuring is in order at this point, minor adjustments will be of limited value.

    5. Mavanerick, I went to Argentina (on this side of the ocean then =p) last year, in Buenos Aires I found some Majorette models, which I gladly bought.
      Their models look great, and their line-up based mainly on real cars (with proper detailed tampos) is great.
      Majorette.... I highly recommend their miniatures.
      Good thing is, they cost the same as Hot Wheels' cars.
      Down side is, it's hard to find them to buy :/

  3. Hi Nigel, good to see you again.

    So anyway, I've been assured that I've been thinking of some questions Mattel or Matchbox could answer next report.

    1. Could these models be great ideas to have in the future: Mazda 6 sedan, BMW M3\M5, Nissan Maxima, Honda Civic Si, 2012 Dodge Charger (PLAIN but not police version), Mercedes Benz SLS AMG, 2015 Ford F-350 Raptor edition, 2014 Buick Regal GX, and bla bla bla... that's all my ideas. Most of them are civilian modes (which I am also looking forward to look, and I agreed once with somebody's idea too), so I'm hoping for this in the future. I didn't say any of them for this year, I said, IN THE FUTURE.

    So that's it, so see you Nigel.

  4. How ignorant are these people, if any of my staff answered a question from a customer (Q5) like that, I would have them for gross misconduct, the attitude of Mattel has without doubt become a "don't care" about the brand or the collectors, well, Matchbox is becoming a joke, and Mattel has done that, they are destroying a once great brand.

    And there is less and less of my money going Mattel way, especially as the BMW does not even look like coming to Europe, HOW Thick are these people.

    1. Precisely, I hope Nigel passes on what you've said to Matchbox. This is unacceptable, especially from a company in the toys & collectibles business, one that should receptive to their customer base. When did Mattel become a big bad evil corporation?

    2. I have given up on Matchbox. There are better companies out there that actually make quality real life castings. An example of this is Matchbox's Renault Master, which is plastic and unrealistic. Majorette and NOREV's are metal and realistic.

    3. The Disney Cars line has more licensed cars and many authentic looking liveries then Matchbox.

  5. Any chance of the '70 El Camino, '70 Camaro, Infiniti G37, Corvette T-Top, Dodge A100 pickup, and VW Type 2 Bus returning to the lineup in 2015? I'd especially like to see the first three castings as they haven't made an appearance as a single release or in a multipack in a few years.

  6. I have to make this comment, because I feel an urge to do so.

    Matchbox, please come back to Brazil!

    It's amazingly frustrating to go out to malls and stores to only find Hot Wheels sitting on the shelves. It makes me hate Mattel for being such a big company. Mattel could very well give us buyers one more option than just throwing Hot Wheels into our faces.
    OF COURSE Mattel will say "Ya, Brazil is a Hot Wheels market, we sell lots of HW down there!"
    And why is that!? Hot Wheels is the only die-cast car available in most cities in Brazil.
    It's been over a decade that Majorette left the country, circa 2007 same period when Matchbox left Brazil.
    Maisto is yet to make a reasonable ammount of 1:64 models that look good and appeal the children.
    Greenlight models are only found in the biggest cities in this country of mine, and their distribution ain't good.
    Welly is found in a few cities, and their distribution is far from being good. You harldy see Welly miniatures hanging on the shelves of a store that also sells Hot Wheels.
    OF COURSE Brazil is a "Hot Wheels territory", because there's no proper competition for HW in here.

    Mattel saying that there's no room for Matchbox in Brazil, because Hot Wheels sells a lot in here, is an awful answer, and treat us like we're a bunch of fools.
    And thanks to this Hot Wheels dominace in here, when HW models don't sell, they hang on the pegs for years. I say years, as in bloody years. It's easy to go out and find 2011, 2012 models still available to buy.
    Thus, leaving the market with no other options whatsoever when it comes to toy cars.
    It's plain awesome, isn't it?
    I'm not the kind of person that leaves sad comments about complaining about "oh how bitter life is, I hate everything meh meh meh"... no.
    I'm just tired of having no options when it comes to buying miniatures where I live.
    I love to collect miniatures, I'm buying toy cars since I was 6.
    I'm almost 23, and I still buy them. But gosh, it got tiresome.
    I'm tired of expecting Matchbox to return to Brazil, and always reading that nope, not this year.
    I'm getting tired of seeing Hot Wheels everywhere I go.
    And I say, I'm not the only one who thinks this way in here.
    I'm not the only one that feels the same about Mattel and Hot Wheels in here.
    And I sure am not the only one in Brazil that awaits ludicrously for a return of Matchbox to Brazil.... that would be glorious.
    We're suffocating, we're drowning on HotWheels in here, Mattel. And this is starting to kill a great market share.. and it wouldn't be good for us, not for Mattel nor collectors

    If this message could get to Mattel/HotWHeels/Matchbox people, I'd be very glad.

  7. Are the amounts produced for all model the same? For example, a store might be drowning in a certain model, but it may have one of a very desirable model (the Seagrave, in my case). It seemed as though last year, I could only find one each of the Dodge Charger, International MXT-MVA, and Dodge A100, but I found three or four of the 1M.

  8. They've become a very niche brand matchbox, barely any shops carry them any more in their HOME country which Mattel ignores, but they think the US is MBs home country. I know they are a kids brand but they obviously are buying them as most sales are kids but its the models aimed at them that are the ones that hang in the shops for months.

  9. At first I didn't really think very much of the Citroen DS. But when I finally bought one, it changed the way I thought about the real car. It really is an interesting car, and Matchbox did their part to do a very precise model.

    1. I agree. The Citroen DS is a beautiful car, and expertly reproduced casting. It took me a while to turn up both of the rear license plate variations on the olive green version from a few years ago. & the dark dark red metallic 10-pack exclusive...

      Walking the canals of Amsterdam and spotting ~10 of them from various years without really searching them out is relatively easy even today, impressive for a car of it's age! It certainly shows the sheer volume and importance of the DS in countries like the Netherlands & France where it sold so well!

  10. MB space is dwindling in most stores and this guy takes the attitude of we don't care what you think. If my company was run like that I'd be out of business but if a rep from my company was caught giving attitude to potential consumers that employee would be at the unemployment office. This guy probably had a five to six figure salary and is arrogant as well you know. Listen start making what the consumer wants and earn your paycheck. Keep wuth the arrogance and MB will end up where Playing Mantis ended up. Your lucky enough to have a job because of us little people you pompass @#$.

  11. Could anyone stop refusing about Matchbox? I have no idea what all of you'e minds are talking about. I am sorry for those of you who hasn't collected the first batch, second, and third cases of 2014 Matchbox in your stores. But me, 2014 has arrivered at some Wal-Marts here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, but are only some annoying construction vehicles (which I am not intrested and really hate to collect). So poor me too. What is all of you thinking. Do any of you have reasons for this point?

    Well, if any of you disagree, I am sorry for Matchbox. Hating Matchbox, but what happens if Hot Wheels is also gonna get worst in the future. You need to chill dudes.

    Nigel, my comment will be an apolegy to Matchbox.