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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Matchbox is now doing trucks the way Matchbox should be doing trucks...

Find the latest Matchbox at Wheel Collectors...

Oh no, this is another of those posts when Lamley waxes poetic about the return of Matchbox.  Where is that Robert Downey Jr meme where he is rolling his eyes when we need it?  Puh-leeeease, we have heard it all before.

Yes, you have heard it all before.  But it's true.  Matchbox is hitting home runs again, and I am pretty happy about it.  But Matchbox being back isn't all about cooler licensed sports cars and street cars.  It is about all facets of the brand returning to realism.

And that includes the trucks, or pickups, or off-roaders, or whatever you want to call them.

Besides the crazy colors and graphics, the biggest indicator of Matchbox losing its way was with all the exaggerated castings.  Many collectors complained that the line was overwhelmed by too many off-road vehicles.  And while that was true, it would have been a lot easier to deal with if those off-roaders were realistic looking.

I clamor on and on about realism in the Matchbox brand, and to me MBX at its best is when the line resembles what you see on the streets.  Real cars mixed with pickups, utility vehicles, emergency vehicles, construction, and that occasional head-turning sports car.  That should be the basic range, and premium ranges, and even playsets.  It is time to see Matchbox gas stations and garages and police stations and such.  Looking realistic of course.  Matchbox cars don't need to escape haunted dragons through skeleton heads.  They need to park and get gas.

The first Matchbox batch for 2016 is out, and that sense of realism is there.  It isn't perfect, but it is there.  We have already featured the Alfa Romeo 4C recolor and fantastic Jaguar F-Type, but the trucks are a highlight too.  They are all existing real licensed castings, all looking like they should.  (With one exception, which we will get to in a second.)


It starts with the A100, in a simple, side design that doesn't look out of place.  And it is an actual licensed logo.  Then to the Toyota Tacoma Life Guard Truck, which looks exactly like it should.  Next is the Silverado, which I am thrilled to see in a standard color with no logo on the side.  Between the two 2014 versions and this one, it is nice to have three versions with front and rear tampos only.  The side logos are sure to come, but these three stock versions are great.

Lastly, and maybe the one exception, is the Land Cruiser.  On one hand, it looks great in a matte orange with racing deco.  On the other, it is the modified casting that we first saw on the Jurassic World version.  The front grill and fenders are now plastic, which is a bummer.  I would have been fine with maybe the grill and headlights going plastic, but not the fenders.  It just seems careless.

The Land Cruiser I will collect no matter what, and like I said this model is a looker.  But I hold out hope that future versions will be the old tool.  This mod happened before the new team came in, and I know this team is committed to making the bodies diecast as best they can, and maybe they can be convinced that an iconic casting like the Land Cruiser deserves to have just a bit more metal than some of the other models.  We will see.

Nonetheless, this is a nice looking batch of trucks.  Trucks you might see down the road.  That is how it should be...

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14 comments:

  1. those ARE cool- have a couple of the A100, and they're dreamy

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  2. I agree about the plastic, too much and it takes the realism away - if i was to have my say, i would be happy to have as much of the generic nasty rubbish as plastic as you want, and have the real stuff diecast, that way you get the best of both worlds, the real cars are even more real, and the generics which as far as i am concerned, are all kids toys, will be plastic and cheap to produce - why no one at Mattel Towers has ever thought of that before, is anyone's guess.

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    1. John I can promise you that the folks at Matchbox think of that often, and it is always something considered. Remember this change to the Land Cruiser was probably approved two years ago. The ideas the team is rolling with now won't be seen until mid to late 2016. I think what it is presented at this year's Gathering will be very interesting to say the least.

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    2. From an outsider (and one with manufacturing background), it appeared that there were greater influences going into the model than the look and design. These being a parts count, assembly time, weight etc. All of these essential cost reduced the quality out of the models. Not that they fell apart but they no longer were a quality product in terms of customer expectations.

      I hope the new team can make it work. For my models I want to see sharp castings, solid body (can be either plastic or diecast if done well), realistic paint and logos (no colors to attract kids eyes just for the sake of lots of variations on the pegs), transparent windows and interiors, chrome where there should be chrome. Bring back the roof mounted lights. They allowed multiple versions of the same casting for more variety: civilian vs emergency and the like. Consider the 4 sided tampos. I wish we could get back masking paint jobs as well. And please get rid of the ink jet tampos.

      I think for a while it was about quantity at Mattel Wheels. How many new models can we release? How many variations can we do? The volume seemed to dilute the products. We always heard about the cost of molds was high which is why lost of models cant be made. But in the same breathe they are making new molds of existing models. While at the same time I see inferior Maisto castings of realistic cars flying off the pegs. The same castings that have been around for decades. That is a return on investment.

      The trucks are good. I find myself picking them up even though they aren't my main focus. Yes good models come home with me. I do wish we would get the A100 in a solid color with front and rear light tampos. There is a lot of blank metal there. Like your feelings on the modified Toyota, I look at that new fire truck and I just can't wrap my head around it. It is terrible with the plastic and metal combo.

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    3. I totally agree with Jon and Jeff. Jeff made a good point with Maisto. Their quality is not great but yet I find myself buying a lot of them simply for the fact that Maisto is doing mainly real cars and in solid colors with good tampo. Realism is what I'm after. Im am tired of both MBX and HW focusing on releasing the same castings and sacrificing good headlight/twilight/emblem tampo for ridiculous tampo designs that scream out to kids, "Hey buy me because I'm flashy and gaudy!" Who does HW and MBX hold gatherings for I ask you. For adult collectors. Are little kids getting into their cars and driving to these events? NO! So I think Mattel needs to focus on quality when it comes to real models and leave the plastic and wild tampos for the fantasy cars.

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    4. Plastic does not make a scale model less realistic or with less detail. On the contrary. Small details are much easier to cast and come out a lot better and crisp in plastic. The issue with plastic is the perceived "feel" of the model (is there a better way to put it?). We who grew up with metal-metal cars perceive the use of plastic as being cheap, without realizing its many benefits. I have come to terms with the use of plastic on models, as long as it brings original detail as designed by either the real world industry or the in-house designer, and as long as my cars remain a buck (a quid, a peso).
      Let me give you a recent example on how metal isn't always better: The Hot Wheels Greenbrier van. The surfboards and brackets that hold them are metal-cast, and painted metallic blue! has anyone ever seen a metalflake blue surfboard?! To me this completely messed up this otherwise great casting. These parts would have looked a lot better, a lot more realistic in plastic, separate from the body, like in Matchbox's Tacoma, which by the way, it seems to be a modular design in the sense that the rack/surfboard plastic piece can be interchanged with something different (a 4-Trax maybe?, etc.)in future releases. Same with the Ford Stake Bed and F-150 Contractor trucks and other castings. This is very creative and requires the smart use of plastic parts.

      Colors are another big factor for using plastic. A plastic part is cast with in color. You don't have to paint it afterwards (which robs detail). This reduces production costs considerably.

      Having said that, as an adult, I fail to see the point in selecting red for the base of the Land Cruiser, but I guess colors make the difference between a kid wanting the car or not caring...

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    5. I see your point about plastics and I agree with you too. However, I think they should only resort to plastics when a higher level of detail is needed OR if the real size counterpart is also made out of something other than metal. I don't think they should replace parts with plastics simply just to save on costs. Plastic is great for things such as rear wings but looks like HW is going the opposite way and replacing plastic wings with attached metal wings, which is so unrealistic.

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    6. ok when it comes to HW MBX or any other company putting out the minitures we love it is about DIE-CAST for most of us that collect them. Me and I have been saying this for some time. They are just as if not more dangerious for children tha moving parts. I would never buy them for a child and I have passed on many because of them being plastic. Sorry but MBX ruined the International brush truck and I haven't bought one since the change. The plastic is much more dangerous to kids. How can they put a plastic product in a package and sell it as die-cast? With all that said I do think MBX is moving in the right direction. Change dose not happen over night but you can see that things are changing. Tempos are a bit of a problem but I also see some good stuff coming out my advice be patient give them time then bitch and moan.

      Yours Truly
      Die-cast is not plastic

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  3. Only Corvettes should be cast with plastic body's :-)

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    1. So any new Ford F-150 Mattel model should be cast in...aluminum? (lol!)

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  4. Matchbox doing trucks the way Matchbox should...really John that's a very big stretch even for you. Matchbox hasn't done trucks the right way since they killed the convoy line and until it returns no one in their right mind can suggest they are doing it right.
    Sure the newer designs are better and a vast improvement but while they continue to be made from plastic they will continue to be held in very low regard as to the value of the car. For those that want to hold on to the $1 price point it is you that is killing Matchbox, the rest of the world, that is every where outside the USA, yes people there is more to the world pay a much higher price. The $1 price is unrealistic and has stayed that way for decades and it is ludicrous to want it to remain at that point. The price needs to rise NOW, the plastic needs to be reduced NOW and the distribution needs to be fixed NOW, until then Matchbox is and will remain a second rate product

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  5. Why can't MBX reserve the original Land Cruiser for limited production runs like they did for the 60th Anniversary line a couple years ago, and run with the butchered, bean counter plastic model for the kiddies in the mainline?
    This cost cutting crap is getting old yet is becoming the norm. You know the manufacturer isn't going to take the blow in the profit department so there is an obvious reason for the reduction of metal and the use of more lightweight, cost cutting plastic.
    It's not just in diecast cars like we see with Mattel it's happening everywhere with all types of products. Inferiority in products for consumers is becoming a common deal and I hate to say it.. but I kinda' think it's because the CEO's and heads of companies are trying to squeeze every penny out of it's products in order to make more profit. Just look at the things you purchase today.. electronics, appliances and even the vehicles we drive, thry seem to be produced as unreliable and disposable. You can say i'm out of order but we didn't grow up with diecast cars full of plastic like they are now.
    I'd rather get a Land Cruiser in all it's full metal glory (even for my son as well) and pay a higher price for it!

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  6. I have to agree with you on the Land Cruiser casting re-vamp, its just gross and any logical reasoning for the change eludes me. I won't be buying any of this version (where I have almost every one of the original casting).

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