Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14th Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Nigel Cooper...

Ambassador Report 34


I have received a request to look at some of the Volkswagens which have featured in the range throughout the history of Matchbox. It is always interesting to see colour schemes which were considered but ultimately rejected. This week I will look at some of the early Beetles.


1.  Will the Dodge Monaco return next year? Is the Dodge Monaco retired or it will be back? For me it is one of the best castings of Matchbox of late.
Yes the Dodge Monaco will appear again in 2015. It has not been retired.
2.  Is/was there a 2014 Toy Fair model created for Matchbox?
Yes it was done last year. It was the Dump Dozer.
3.  Can you double check the MAN# for the re-tooled Sahara Survivor?   According to the new 2014 1-120 list, MB924 was supposed to be the new 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500. 
924 is the Silverado.  942 is the retool of the plastic body Sahara Survivor.
4. What is the point of the Sahara Survivor now being in a plastic body? It is already a generic so no licensing costs, surely by making it plastic you are only proving the point that the bean counters are determined to turn the Matchbox brand into nothing but a collection of plastic models. 
This is an unfortunate reality.  Yes bean counters are a fact of life and can be very influential in what we can make in Matchbox.
5. Are you aware if you live in a German speaking country the word Tripper is German for gonorrhea. Presumably this Mega Bus will be released in Germany. Could this not cause Matchbox some embarrassment?
Thank you very much for bringing this to the teams attention!  We will work to correct this issue.  Thanks again for your comments.
6. Your competitors are able to make real vehicles, usually with diecast bodies for roughly the same price. I am sure collectors and Mums would be happy to pay a little more fordiecast models of real vehicles. Is this being considered?
We already make “real vehicles” with die cast bodies.  Most of our plastic bodied vehicles thus far are non-licensed. Moms don’t always have the same mindset as collectors unfortunately, when it comes to price.
7.  I have a Question about the name of the BMW 1M why has it been changed? I thought BMW named it the 1M to avoid confusion with the M1.
We are not sure why BMW asked us to change the name but we must follow their request. We have no issues with doing this.
8.  It's really cool that you're going to make the Virgin Galactic Space Ship II. It represents exploration and adventure, which to me has long been a selling point for Matchbox and toys in general. I hope they incorporate the proper hinge action in the wings. Please comment.
We are very excited about doing the Virgin Galactic Space Ship II for the reasons you just described. It will indeed have the hinge/pivot action on the wings.
9. How difficult would it be for Mattel to produce a few 2 packs that would contain special models that you could only buy in the 2 pack?
It is not difficult but the team has to stay within budget.
10.  I've seen the new Sky Buster and Miniature pairings that have been selling here in the states at Wal-Mart (see attached).  They have no name to distinguish them as being part of a separate line but they do say "Mission:Combat" in the upper left hand corner.  Each pack contains one Sky Buster and one miniature, all of which are not unique to these packages. Is it possible Matchbox will be making more of these 'two-packs' under different Missions?  If so, will the models be unique liveries or just repacking of existing liveries?
Matchbox will continue to make these types of packs in the future. We cannot elaborate further at the moment.

Here are some more new images. These images are from this year’s 5 car packs. The first 3 are from the “Sea Rescue fivepack. These next 2 are from the “City Works” pack.

A Little More History

Although most of the regular wheel cars were of a British origin, there were some foreign cars included to reflect the worldwide market of Matchbox sales. Several American cars joined the range in the early 1960s but models of German trucks, vans and cars were also released and continued to feature in the range from then on.
The Volkswagen Sedan was released in 1960. It was the first example of a Volkswagen Beetle. Various other Beetles have featured in the range since then, but none perhaps had the same charm – especially with the opening engine cover to reveal the engine.
Even though this model was popular, it remained in the range for less than four years. However, it was probably not a poor seller, it was more likely that the mould wore out and it was decided not to make a replacement, as was often the case at this time. Later, in 1968, another Beetle was released and carried Monte Carlo advertisements on the front bumper and 137 labels on the doors. The versions shown here wereSuperfast colour trials which never made it, as was the “Polizei” version which would have suited the German market admirably.

This Volks-Dragon Beetle, first released in 1972, with exposed engine and air intake pipes, which partially followed the roof line, received several different liveries. The orange versions are in fact light and dark in colour and were used to test resistance to direct sunlight. The metallic blue model is particularly appealing but was never used. Early versions had smooth ribs on the engine intake section.

In 1983 the Volks-Dragon casting was modified to enable large wheels to be fitted, thus developing a 4 x 4 version called Sand Digger, which now had a T roof. It was later recoloured and renamed “Dune Man”.

Once the Dune Man had outlived its usefulness, the casting was shipped to Bulgaria where it enjoyed a resurgence in a wide variety of colours. The Ambulance version is particularly interesting!

This Flying Bug was clearly another Volkswagen Beetle casting but interestingly, it was not based on the Volks-Dragon as a comparison glance at the rear windows will verify. This model had a rear wing, plastic “engines” and a figure of the German Kaiser. It was one of several cartoon type modelsplanned with character drivers. In the event only two such models found their way into the range in 1973. All of the models shown were colour trial or pre-production in some way.

There was some controversy with the Flying Bug. There were comments in some quarters that the model was disrespectful to the German nation. I am unable to confirm whether this model was left out of the assortments which were sent to Germany, though this suggestion has been mooted.

As a footnote, the Flying Bug was released in 1973 and wasaccompanied by another cartoon car, the Mini Ha Ha, into the range in 1976.  At least two other cartoon cars might have joined them, with both a French and an American theme.

I am grateful to Hardy Ristau and Graham Tomlinson for providing some of the photos for this report.
There will be a further look at other Volkswagens next time.

Nigel Cooper      14th April 2014

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