Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The 11th and final (for now) Matchbox Ambassador Bus, plus a second tribute to outgoing Dirk Schleuer...

It is always a treat to see the outgoing Ambassador claim the gold bus at the Matchbox Gathering.

Each of the last 11 years, the Matchbox will bring that person up and present them with what is a very unique, but very recognizable Matchbox model - the Routemaster Bus, in gold, with the name of the Ambassador included in the deco.

This year was slightly different, however.  The last 10 years, they have followed that presentation up with the announcement of the next Ambassador.  Only this year they didn't.  What was announced, however, was that the Ambassador program has been put on hold.

On one hand, that is a total bummer.  It has been a treat to see a collector selected each year to be the liaison between the Matchbox Team and the collector community.  Back in the day, the Ambassador would hold a monthly phone call with the team, where details on upcoming lines and models were shared.  The Ambassador would then prepare a newsletter that would be emailed to heads of Matchbox clubs and posted in various forums.

That method seems ancient now.  Since then, the methods for distributing the report have advanced, and thousands more are able to read the report.  They were also released more frequently for a time.  The news was getting out.

But that really changed when the @matchboxworld Instagram account was formed.  And that is the other hand.

All of a sudden, the Matchbox Team was able to post news, photos, and other tidbits to their heart's content.  Preproductions and FEP's of upcoming models were shown.  They held a custom contest.  They asked for ideas.  And more and more people followed.

And as that played out, the need for an Ambassador essentially dissipated.  Being able to interact directly with the Matchbox Team is better, and they can get the news out a lot faster.

But still, being able to recognize a collector each year is a cool deal, so the Team is looking for a way to maybe do that, even without the Ambassador Program.  We will see what they come up with.

For now, it is on hiatus, and Dirk Schleuer, the 11th Ambassador, has returned home with the last Ambassador Bus.

But not before he handed it off to me to take a few photographs.  And as always, it's a beauty.

This one is the first with disk hubs.  It also has front and rear details, which the last few have not.  There are differences with all 11, some more subtle than others, so one day it would be nice to see all together.

So Dirk rides into the sunset with his Bus, but that isn't all that signifies his time as Ambassador.  Later this year, the mainline Ford Bronco will sport a tribute to Dirk, with his initials and a mention of Leipzig, Germany.

You wonder if we will see more references like this.  Whether we do or not, it is a cool tribute to Dirk, and the 11-year run of the Ambassadors...

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