Thursday, January 22, 2015
The Last Golden Age of Matchbox: Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren...
Do we even care about Mercedes anymore?
That is probably a dumb question. Of course we do. But in our little world, when they are not showing up in a blister, we tend to focus elsewhere. On social media networks, everything BUT Mercedes is all the chatter. Speedhunters is showing modified Volvos, the BMW 2002 has its own day on Instagram, McLaren wants Honda motors, and Liberty Walk would rather work on a Bimmer than a Merc. It seems the only Mercedes magic right now is coming from these guys.
In world full of Porsche, BMW, and now Audi, doesn't it seem sometimes that we forget the Mercedes-Benz has made cool cars too?
We sure wouldn't forget if we had more miniature versions winding through our collections. But there aren't any. That would change very quickly if the MB folks would get their heads out of the sand and relax their licensing requirements a bit.
As we have discussed several times before, Mercedes requires that all companies making miniature versions of their models also attach a small hologram sticker with the MB logo to the packaging of every product. Most companies have said no, including Mattel, and we totally side with them. It is a stupid requirement. It costs a ton for licensing rights to cars already, and requiring that on top of everything else is pushing things too far. I don't blame Mattel and others for saying no. We wouldn't blame them if they were strict on what a casting looked like, or what colors and decos were used, but the damn sticker!?! C'mon....
And Mercedes is definitely missing out on some great marketing opportunities. Look at the Hot Wheels Heritage line. Five years ago it would have been all muscle and classic American cars. Now it is full of JDM, classic pickups, unique British cars, and vintage Euro, along with some great muscle as well. Wouldn't a mid-80's Mercedes Turbo Deisel Wagon fit in nicely? The party is jumpin', and Mercedes is still trying to get past the bouncer with their precious hologram sticker. Drop it guys! We want you here!
And that is just thinking about the new models we could see from manufacturers. What about the existing casting we would love to see return? Hot Wheels has a couple, but Matchbox has a ton. And none better than the SLR McLaren.
Unfortunately it is also the one model that was used the least. It was really a matter of timing. The SLR debuted in 2009, was recolored once, AAAAANNNNNNNNDD...it was gone. The Mattel/Mercedes licensing riff started right after. We know a blue SLR was slated for a 2010 5-pack, and our guess is we would have seen at least 5 or 6 versions since.
But no, we only have two, and that may never change. At least we have the two, and in two great colors. The Matchbox SLR actually came to be because of a collectors vote the year before, I think at a Design Preview in El Segundo (We weren't there, no matter where it was). The Design team told collectors they wanted to do a supercar, and they had five options, and asked the collectors to vote on what license to pursue. Also, according to our blurry, vague memories, another car won the vote (DT thinks it was a Maserati, I think it was a Rolls Royce), but the license was not able to be secured, so Matchbox went with the second choice, the SLR.
And they nailed the casting. Other diecast companies have tried to the do the SLR in 1:64, but Matchbox's was far and away the best. We just wish we would see more versions...
The SLR in both colors continues to get harder and harder to find, carded or loose. A search on eBay yielded only one result. Maybe this post will compel a few sellers to list a few for those that want them. Be prepared to pay a few dollars...
2009 Matchbox Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren: