Thursday, May 19, 2016
Is the new Jeep Series the start of a cool new trend at Matchbox?
If you live in the US, and have set foot at a Walmart this week, there is a good chance you have come across the new Matchbox Jeep Series. Of course, if you live in Australia, you saw this set a few weeks ago.
Nonetheless, it is out. Here in the US, the Jeep Series is a Walmart exclusive, and is the first of two sets we know of. The second, a 6-model Land Rover set, will be out later this year.
And so far, the response that I have heard to the set has been very positive. Matchbox put out a Jeep Series last year, but there was an enormous problem with it. All the models were just repackaged basic Jeeps. We had seen them all before, only this time they sat on a different cardback.
Not this set. 8 models, all Jeeps, all with exclusive colors and decos - nicely understated at that - and all sitting on some fantastic cardart.
This set is more along the lines of the Hot Wheels exclusive sets we have seen a lot of the last couple of years. It seems every month a new 6 or 8-model assortment hits Walmart, and each has a different theme. The card art is unique, and so are the models and decos. Many are movie tie-ins, and others are just cool themes, like BMW and Porsche.
It looks like Walmart likes these enough with blue, that they would like to see them with orange. So like the Matrix sequels, we will act like last year's Jeep Series didn't happen, and call this Jeep set the first of what we hope is many. If this and the upcoming Land Rover set are any indication, we are in for some treats.
So let's talk Jeep. Do I like every model. Uh, no, but when did I expect to like every model in a series. For me, this could have been a 6-model set, with the Hurricane and Willys Concepts sitting it out. In fact, let's start with those and get them out of the way:
My guess is if any models will warm the pegs, it will be these two. They are very nice versions of two somewhat outdated models. Concepts are cool, but don't fit as well with the other six actual Jeeps, old and new.
Moving on, there are three models that for me are the stars of this set, so I will save them for last. These other three are great for different reasons. One is the iconic wartime Willys. It is a model that makes for a great Matchbox. I know I am not part of the greatest generation, so is it weird that the first image in my head when looking at this model is of one going over a cliff in the truck chase scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark? And that may not have even been a Jeep.
The other two are takes on the Wrangler. First, the Superlift, based on the Jeep Superlift that sported Matchbox livery at SEMA a few years ago. The Superlift has always been cool, and it is nice to see it promoting Matchbox's IG feed:
Next, the standard Wrangler with roof accessories. This has been around a few years, but I am gaining a new appreciation for accessories on $1 diecast. It makes the models more interesting, and I think we will see more models like it moving forward.
Now for my three favorites.
The Willys 4x4 was an instant fave when it was released last year, and I love this color, and the Trailhawk looks so nice in white with full front and rear tampos and hood detailing.
With all these nice looking models, however, it is the Grand Cherokee that takes the cake for me.
I have always like this casting, for some of the reasons I mentioned liking the Wrangler. The castings itself is a very nice replica of the Grand Cherokee, but what makes this model great is the rat on the roof. It takes what has historically been the most road-friendly of the Jeeps and takes it back to what its true purpose should be - to get you to a place that other cars can't take you.
I don't have all of the versions of this model, but I have always liked these three:
These three are great, but the new Jeep Series edition is stellar. Orange with black rims is so good-looking, and with a black raft on top. It is one of my favorite models of the year:
It's a great set. Hope to see more...