Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28 Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Nigel Cooper

Ambassador Report 36
I have not been too well this week and so please forgive any errors in this report. ("We all hope you feel better Nigel",  Diecast Bliss)
  • With the news that the MB903 Land Rover LR4 was being delayed until next year, and the MB862 Dodge A100 Pickup taking its place this year, can we get an update on the MB896 Range Rover Evoque?  Is it still going to be released in 2014 as MB70, or is that also being delayed to next year?  If it is being delayed, are we getting a different MB70 to take its place? 
We cannot provide an update at this time.
  • It was mentioned that the ROW international short card range was short of a few models.  A previous Ambassador report stated they would be released on short card.  The ROW range is now on the 4th batch of 2014, and the 1966 Dodge A100 Pickup, VW Karmann Ghia Type 34, Deep Diver, BMW 1M and version 2 of the BMW R1200 R-TP Police Motorcycle in olive are still not out.  Are these 5 coming still or will they not appear on short card? 
These models should still be coming.
  • The Street Sweeper in a recent sneak peek is sporting updated looks.  It appears the interior has been deleted and the window section altered.  Surely this means it has a new MAN#, yet the listing we were provided with showed it still with the original MAN#.  Can you confirm whether it has a new MAN# or not? 
When the list was published the revised tool was not ready but it is now.  The new MAN# is MB943.
  • The Blizzard Buster was recently introduced in the Ice Mountain 5-pack, but almost immediately replaced by the Sand Shredder (assuming the casting got damaged).  It then re-appeared as a basic range model as MB43.  However, it has been noted the casting has been modified.  The side hydraulics which were cast as a part of the body have now been cast as a part of the base.  Does this mean this has a new MAN# too?  If so what is the new MAN#? 
It is 934.
  • Do we have a confirmed MAN# for the MB19 3-axle Dump Truck that was recently shown in the sneak peeks?  We were told the MAN# was missing in the 2014 list due to it being modified. 
It is MB931.
  • Can we get clarification on the vehicle shown in the sneak peeks that was green with a bike on the front and a tan cage on the back?  Is it Trail Tracker or Travel Tracker?  Different reports keep changing the name and both names are for new vehicles this year
It is Travel Tracker used in the Explorers segment.  Trail Tracker is the 3 axle rescue vehicle used in the Heroic Rescue Segment. The recolour for the Travel Tracker was shown last week.
  • Is the Ford Ambulance in red and Street Sweeper in brown the start of a new generic logo series?  Both sport the same crest and Tri-county insignia on them. 
It could be.
  • Are we getting any more of the mint National Parks series of models this year? 
Yes. The Road Tripper will get the National Parks treatment in the “Outdoor Sights” 5 pack this year.
The three models shown below are new liveries for this year.

A Little More History

Several Volkswagen vans have featured in the miniature range over the years. Of course this started with the Volkswagen Delivery Van with a die-cast body, a metal base and four metal wheels. After the release of this van in 1957, a Volkswagen model occupied the #34 spot in the range. In 1959 the metal wheels gave way to grey plastic and a just before it was deleted from the range a tiny number of vans were fitted with silver plastic wheels. A more detailed Volkswagen, a Caravette,  was one of the 1964 highlights as it was to a considerably larger scale and featured opening side doors and a cast interior revealing a picnic table. This Caravette was usually fitted with grey plastic or black plastic wheels but a very rare example was fitted with large silver plastic wheels. 
When rare regular wheel boxes are considered, one’s mind naturally tends towards the F box associated with the 22 Pontiac in red and the D boxes housing the 66 yellow Citroen, the 53 Aston Martin, 55 DUKW and 47 Tea Van. However, I believe that the rarest box is the 34 E box for the green Volkswagen Caravette. One wonders why it was produced at all because the Camper Van must have been ready to replace it immediately. 

A Camper van with a raised sun roof was the next model to occupy the #34 berth. It was quickly modifies, as was the box, to have a flat sunshine roof. Apparently the reason for this was linked to the window areas when sometimes flash, small quantities of infill metal, could spoil the overall appearance.
In late 1970 another Volkswagen Camper Van joined the range at #23. It was painted blue and featured an opening sunshine roof and a plastic interior. The very first releases had a petrol filler cap cast towards the rear of the body, but this was quickly removed and the early version is quite sought after. 
Following a livery change to orange the model was then withdrawn from the range only to reappear as a US only model in the form of a Pizza Van. It enjoyed a further incarnation when it was produced in olive green as a twin pack model.

In 1986 this Volkswagen Dormobile was one of ten obsolete models selected for production in Hungary with the proviso that it could only be manufactured for a year and sales were to be limited to within the Hungarian borders. The base was recast to show “Made in Hungary”. Strangely, the Pizza Van design was retained for all models. When different coloured roofs, interiors and tampo designs are taken into account, the six different body colours merely add to the huge number of variation possibilities. However, the metallic green and yellow versions are very rare and it is not thought that many more versions beyond those shown were actually manufactured. 
In recent years Mattel has produced a pleasing casting of the Volkswagen Van and it has been available in several guises both in the miniature range and as a limited release with rubber tyres fitted. It does not currently feature in the range but always seems to be a popular model and so it is hoped that it will be recoloured again. A few more Matchbox vans are shown below.

Nigel Cooper      28th April 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Latest Auto World Arrivals - Continued DiecastBliss can read my love of Autoworld in an earlier blog located at the url below but I just have to post more pictures. These were all found on a business trip in Orlando this week by just hitting pretty much every Walmart I know in the area...which equaled around 9 of them:)


Well, I will let the pictures do the talking....


Until the next finds.....

April 21 Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Nigel Cooper

Ambassador Report 35


Marcel Colijn has informed us that as from today British Pathe News now has a You Tube channel. It has more than 85,000 clips. Some of these include clips relating to Matchbox toys that have previously been unknown as they had remained in their archives. You may wish to look at:


With both the blue and orange sides of the aisle releasing some of the same licensed models (Panamera, for one and other Porsches as well), are there really two separate design teams developing separate versions of the SAME CAR? And, with all the explanations from the Matchbox team about the costs of the "tools" and the expense of adding one simple detail to basic models (any tampos for lights), is it economically rational to have TWO separate manufacturing processes and TWO separate molds/tools producing the same cars. I would hope we're not being duped and the Matchbox and HW models are actually made using the SAME tools!?

Your questions are bit conflicting. Yes we have two separate teams developing the same model such as this. While the manufacturing process is the same they are made in 2 separate countries. Both brands have different aesthetic and performance requirements. The orange and blue brands collaborate with each other on models such as this but both brands have different specifications so it requires two separate teams (already in place) that share information. We do not share tooling however. 

The Rolamatics were pretty clever in general without being too gimmicky and the added function didn't deteriorate anything aesthetically from the basic model as you sometimes get with extra features like that. I wonder how well a similar concept to Rolamatics would go down in this day and age if Mattel where to incorporate the idea into some of their current Utility/Emergency designs? I appreciate it's finding a way of doing it without adding too much cost on to the product but a spin-off series to replace the very retro Superfast range that we no longer have could work nicely ...

Food for thought.

Even though the 3D printer process has taken over from the old way of creating hand crafted prototypes do you happen to occasionally still create resin examples?

We use what works best.

That Ford Superlift Brush Truck is a home run. I always love the white/red combo. It is the nicest looking version yet. Just one question for the Matchbox team: in the line-up they gave for this year the Ford Superlift Brush is listed with man# 938 while the one that came out in 2012 was man# 837. Does that mean the casting's been modified and if so what's different with it?

Yes: this casting has been modified but it is very subtle. The rear bumper has now been added to the chassis instead of being part of the die cast body. You will have to look very closely to see this change.

We saw recent sneak peeks of the Dodge Charger Pursuit and now the BMW X5 with modified bodies to incorporate a light bar as a part of the window piece. Yet the Ford Interceptor still continues with a separate light bar. Will this become a policy?

We are making these changes on a car by car basis.

Is it me, or is the Sanitation design on the Road Sweeper very similar to the Ford Ambulance's design? I like that, as it sort of links them together and helps to build up a scenario. Is this deliberate?

Not entirely but it works for us in this case.

The only thing I am not keen on with the Ford Superlift is the fact the pipes are white. With the model being so white anyway, I feel that the pipes should have been a different colour, possibly red to help make them stand out. I think red would work as it is a part of the side design. Would you consider this?

Yes we would. Thanks for your suggestion.

That Ford Interceptor Police car with black wheels is a total mis-match.If our local police force started putting black bling wheels on their fleet of expensive German Police cars I would be camped outside the offices of the chief of police wanting to know why. Comment please?

Sorry this did not meet with your approval.

I'm from the US, but I've noticed that no Canadian emergency services agencies have ever been (officially) featured on a Matchbox model. Could Matchbox make a Toronto EMS Ford E-350 ambulance, or a British Columbia Ambulance Service Dodge Charger? I would have loved to have had this German Police Beetle shown last week if it had been released.

Could Matchbox make one using the current classic VW Beetle casting?

With regards to your question about Canadian liveries on our Matchbox emergency vehicles, you raise a good point. The brand has been somewhat remiss about adding some of these. As with replicating any real liveries however especially international ones, permission and agreements are required.

I see the Evoque has been released as a Hot Wheels model. Has the licence problem with Matchbox been resolved?

You are incorrect. Hot Wheels has never done a Range Rover Evoque.


Here at last is the new 63 Mack B fire engine as was shown at The Gathering in New Mexico last year.

Up next is the International Workstar Brush truck. It has been retooled with plastic body and die cast chassis and will be numbered MB939.

The third model for this week is a recolour of the Travel Tracker. I guess the “E” of Tracker must have been lost on its journey!

A Little More History

Last week we looked at some of the early Volkswagen Beetles. Wolfie Ginsburg reminded me that at first the English speaking Lesney staff could not even spell Volkswagen calling it wagon by mistake.

An interesting choice for an alternative to the Beetle was the Volkswagen 1600TL which was released in August 1967. Initially it was fitted with silver hubs on black wheels but there may have been a problem in production for a decision to change to black tyres fitted to silver hubs was soon implemented. It is easy to see which version is which by a glance inside the wheels. The one shown in red was produced with a roof rack for the G-4 Race & Rally Gift Set. Though red was the standard colour, when the Superfast initiative took place in 1969 a few of the recoloured metallic purple models were still fitted with regular wheels. Most of these found their way to Canada. Possibly even stranger was the fact that a few red painted models were fitted with Superfast wheels. All of these variations are quite sort after today.

It was decided that the Superfast version should be a bright metallic colour and the metallic blue version shown was eventually rejected in favour of the metallic mauve livery which was made in several different shades.

In 1976 a new Volkswagen joined the line in the form of a Golf. For enhanced play value, the model featured a clip on roof rack with surfboards. Several versions of this model were manufactured in a variety of colour schemes and just a sample is shown here. The roof rack was not fitted to later versions.

Some models were even fitted with heavy duty large wheels and various promotionals abounded.

In 1985 a later form of the Golf, a GTi, was introduced. This included an opening bonnet to reveal a detailed engine.

In 1977 an exclusive German version was painted yellow, modified to include an aerial and advertised ADAC.

Of course when the mould for the original Golf was shipped to Bulgaria the number of colours was prolific.

Next week I will look at some of the Volkswagen vans and campers.

Nigel Cooper 21st April 2014