Monday, August 1, 2016

Matchbox wants you to learn your A - B - C's, by Chuck Wiersma...

There is a new Matchbox set out at Target, and it is definitely unique.  I haven't seen it yet, but my good friend and former Matchbox Ambassador Chuck Wiersma picked one up near his home in Cleveland.  Chuck was kind enough to take some pics and give us a rundown of the Alphabet set and its killer packaging design.

(And by the way, if you are not following Chuck on Instagram, I would do that now.  His IG feed may be the best Matchbox history education you can get.  Trust me.)

A photo posted by Chuck Wiersma (@cwiersma63) on

Anyway, give it a read, and if you have a little one learning their A - B - C's, maybe a run to Target is in order.

(Thanks Chuck.)

Matchbox Learning Blox

Within the past week, Target department stores in the U.S. have started their summer reset of the toy department. Among the new products to appear is the Matchbox Learning Blox Set (DRC47). The set includes what appears to be 26 standard 2016 Matchbox miniatures along with unique cardboard boxes matching to each vehicle in the set. The theme of the set, learning your ABC’s, is based on the English alphabet so there is one box for each of alphabet’s 26 letters. Each box is unique in design to both a specific letter of the alphabet and a specific vehicle in the set whose name or description starts with that letter. For example, the Letter A’s box depicts an “A” and an Ambulance. In this case, the ambulance is the Ford E-350 Ambulance (MB 944). Some of the letter choices do not necessarily match the specific name of the Matchbox vehicle but rather the generic type of vehicle. For instance, A for Ambulance and not A for Ford E-350 Ambulance. Unlike the Power Grabs boxes, these boxes have end flap tabs so they can be closed and opened numerous times. Each of the boxes has a unique design on each of its six sides:
  • Letter of alphabet with image of vehicle
  • Matchbox Learning Blox logo
  • Name of vehicle
  • Alphabet letter and legal trademark verbiage
  • Alphabet letter and name of vehicle (end flap)
  • Letter of the alphabet (end flap)
Only the boxes for the letter A, B, and C are preassembled, the remaining boxes for letters D through Z are folded flat within the set pack. The cardboard is fairly sturdy but will not last under heavy play like the old wooden or plastic alphabet blocks have in previous generations.

But what about the models?! Well, as I said, the models appear to be standard 2016 line models with 8 of the 26 models being licensed. A handful of newly released models might catch the most attention with the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type 34 (MB 883) in light green enamel being the biggest attention grabber. Another model making its inaugural appearance is the MB 1015 Hydro Cruiser. This boat model has no wheels and sports a separate plastic piece simulating water waves. New livery models include the MB 884 Dump Dozer in blue with orange dump, the MB 962 Moto Tracker in green, the MB 937 Urban Tow Truck in blue Michael Heralda 5000 Support Team design, and the BMW Police Motorcycle in green military police livery. None of the models appear to have any significant casting changes. I will leave to others to discern any shade variances.

Here is a list of the models in alphabetic order:
  • A​ - Ambulance​​​ - Ford E-350 Ambulance ​
  • B​ - Boat​​​​ - Bay Brigade (boat)
  • C​ - Camper​​​​ - Travel Tracker
  • D​ - Dump Truck​​ - ​Dumper Dozer
  • E​ - Excavator​​​ - Quarry King
  • F ​ - Fire Truck​​​ - Pierce Dash Fire Engine
  • G​ - Garbage Truck​​​ - Garbage Gulper
  • H​ - Helicopter​​​ - Sea Hunter helicopter
  • I​ - Ice Vehicle​​​ - Wing Chiller
  • J​ - Jeep​​​ - ​Jeep Wrangler Superlift
  • K​ - Karmann Ghia​​​ - VW Karmann Ghia Type 34 (NEW)
  • L  - ​Locomotive​​ - ​Heavy Freighter
  • M​ - Motorcycle​​​ - BMW Police Motorcycle (military police)
  • N​ - News Van​ - ​​’14 Ford Transit News Van
  • O​ - Off Road Vehicle​​ - Cliff Hanger (green army livery)
  • P​ - Police Car​​​ - BMW M5 Police
  • Q​ - Quad Bike​​​ - Moto Tracker
  • R​ - Road Roller​​​ - Road Roller
  • S​ - SWAT Truck​​ - ​S.W.A.T. Truck
  • T​ - Tow Truck​​ - ​Urban Tow Truck (Michael Heralda 5000 Support Team)
  • U​ - Underwater Submarine​​ - Deep Diver
  • V​ - Van​​​​ - MBX Moving Van
  • W​ - Water Vehicle​​ - ​Swamp Commander
  • X​ - X-Ray Truck​​ - ​XCanner (x-ray truck)
  • Y​ - Yacht​​​​ - Hydro Cruiser (NEW)​​
  • Z​ - Zamboni​​​ - Zamboni
The set is priced at $29.99 U.S. which comes to about $1.15 per car – and that includes a unique box for each vehicle as well. The overall concept seems fairly sound, that is, for children who may have a motivation to learn through association with vehicles. I do have a tough time seeing a child learning the letter K by associating it with a Karmann Ghia Type 34 sports car. But if I know some of you fellow collectors well enough, if you got this set your child will never see that model.

Whether it is just another way to package Matchbox models or a new spin on an educational tool, I think it is cool because it brings a unique type of fun back to the models. I bought it.



  1. If we took the Karmann Ghia, the kids wouldn't be able to learn the letter "K".

    It is quite tempting though; it's the sweetest model in the bunch!

    1. That's why you buy a common older version of the car to substitute in ;)

      At least that's what I would do, lol

  2. I would love this set - but it will never come to the UK - so another set we will miss out on.....

  3. awesome set! On the lookout for this now.

  4. Jon - if it doesn't sell then it may end up in Poundland in 18 months!

  5. LOL - yeah, Poundland will have them, at buy one get one free.. LOL, was in there a couple of days ago, and they had a big basket full oh Hot Wheels, ALL damaged, ripped car, broken plastic, it was like someone stood on the top and jumped up and down - needless to say i didnt buy any

  6. I appreciate the old-school styling! Looks like something from the 70s! I've been liking how many companies ranging from cereal to toys have been using old-school design techniques for their new products!

    As for the content though, I'm not too impressed. Although it's meant for kids, Matchbox should have diversified it a little bit more. Really the Karmann Ghia is the only one that stands out. Everything else seems to be generic pegwarmers.

  7. Outstanding set!!!! Didn't see this one coming. Nice job Matchbox Team!!!!

  8. Not impressed. With the cars Matchbox has been releasing lately, i see no reason why the new Miata, the 300, the BMW M5 in civilan clothes, the Vette? Diversify the set, please. There's tons of cars that are out there,like the new Caddy CTSV, The new Charger,how about a i8, or some Audis,or the new AMG's, Matchbox? I understand some folks like the variety, but maybe I'm craving for the Matchbox I used to love.

  9. My four year old son would love this! I think it's a great idea. By the way, the green on the Karmann Ghia is gorgeous.

  10. Great idea from Matchbox! Now the reason for making the Zamboni and Yacht (Hydro Cruiser) is revealed.