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, 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:


  1. Nice model. The Unimog also disappeared although having an earlier start there are more versions available.

    A pity Mattel couldn't meet Mercedes' requirements (and costs?) other makers have the stickers, even budget brands such as Real Toy.

    On one hand I can understand licencing but I feel that greed on the 1:1 makers part means they sometimes loose out from the airing and juvenile awareness of their brand.

    However the plus side is that we end up with other also ran brands such as Morgan, Mastretta etc.

    Happy hunting for this one.


  2. This is one of the best Matchbox casting indeed, but i guess that you forgot that Kyosho & Minichamps algo brought this casting, and for me, the Minichamps was the best SLR replica in 1:64 (right)

  3. The Unimog is the one I'd want back. Matchbox has had a number of great Unimogs, and the most recent one was no exception.

    I wouldn't say no to bringing back the Actros 1857, the RWR Cement Mixer, or several others, either. And I'd be all over a diesel wagon if they decided to build that, too.

    1. I guess the only consolation there is that Tomica's UGN-series Unimog casting is just about as good -- if not better than -- the Matchbox.

      Wonder if Tomy's fitting the hologram decal, or if that's just urban folklore...

  4. Picked up a loose silver model back in '13 - got it off of Ebay for a winning bid of $1.69 - no joke.. just double checked my purchase archives.
    Only regret is that I wished I had gotten one in black. Looks nice silver but sexy in black. Some MB models look great in black for some reason.
    Car maker to blame or Diecast manufacturer.. Why does MB need a silly sticker for it's packages?
    Maybe the hard heads will come to their senses.

  5. I don't like modern supercars, and I hate almost all Mercedes made after about 1993. However, I love this model. Why? Because it's perfect in every way.

  6. Its more on Mattel's end the Licencing issue, if Real Toy and Maisto, which are way cheaper than Hot Wheels and more tampo passes than Matchbox can do it I don't see why Mattel can't.

    I would certainly help sales that are struggling, because Merc's are popular with the kids, and Mattel doesn't have many kid orientated models. I don't know how many kids like 64 Impalas or the multitude of generic coupes in the HW line that all look the same. So for the past few c case clip strips that have been put out near me, the Vandetta, Saltshaker, Fast 4wd and Torque Twister haven't sold after a few weeks of the clip strip being replenished.

    So Mattel really needs to review their licencing and use castings that require full lights and grill tampos, because its the popular cars with the younger kids that aren't getting made (no Agera or Ferrari now in the mainline, no hot hatches and many modern mundane cars that kids see every day) or rarely used (Nissan GT-R, Original mini) that they can go drive in a video game.

  7. This is why I love this blog, because you keep posting things like this! The SLR is, according to me, one the best casting Matchbox has ever made. But the history behind this model is even more interesting! There was no way I could have known about this licensing issues and how the SLR was made because collectors chose it (sort of). I would have otherwise mostly presumed Matchbox did the SLR because Hot Wheels made the Carrera GT. While Hot Wheels' attempt at the Carrera GT was okay at best, Matchbox totally outdid themselves with this. It deserves a full 10/10. I really wish we could see more of it. Come on, Mercedes, just sod off with that stupid hologram and let Matchbox continue making more Mercedes models. There's so many of them that would fit very well in the Matchbox line-up (G Wagen 6x6, SLS AMG). Anyway, enough with my ranting. I'll just enjoy the pictures of the car I do not have and probably will never have, unless Matchbox gets the permission to do so again. I really want to see a blue version that was going to be in the 5 pack.

  8. I am lucky enough to have a few of both they are awsome castings. I cant believe Mattel could not just put a hologram sticker on packages. HW compressor was a grat casying also. MB did Benz justice though...

  9. Tomica SLS or bust. Many will say bust, of course, but still.

  10. I'd love to see some accurately modeled classic pre-1980s Mercedes sedans from Mattel. These cars are amazingly overlooked in 1/64.