Category Archives: Matchbox

Matchbox Camaro in 1:43!

By Frank Koh

Believe it or not, this exquisite 1:43 scale 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Super Sport is a Matchbox product, specifically from the Matchbox Collectibles line from 18 years ago.

The Matchbox Collectibles 1968 Camaros were 1/43 scale miniatures of the ultra-desirable RS/SS cars. The Super Sport (SS) package was a performance option group which offered a choice of a 350 cubic inch Small Block V8 or a 396 cubic inch Big Block V8, plus performance-oriented suspension components.

The Rally Sport (RS) package was an appearance and luxury option group with special trim, upscale interior appointments, an all-red tail light and separate, under-the-bumper reverse light setup, and those famous hidden headlights. When a first generation Camaro had both RS and SS packages, it was the SS emblems that were used on the car.

Those faux hood louvers that looked like a quartet of square velocity stacks per side were exclusive to the 1968 Camaro SS equipped with the Big Block V8s, and all 1969 Camaro SS variants. For model year 1968, the hood louver trim on the Small Block 350 cubic inch V8 SS Camaros were different: they featured multiple lengthwise vents / vanes that were earlier used on all 1967 Camaro SS models.

A Vinyl Top, Hockey Stick Stripes and Rallye Rims were popular options on well-equipped first generation Camaros!

This exact same Camaro casting was shared with the Hot Wheels Classics series from that era, but because of the use of the signature Hot Wheels chrome-like “Spectraflame” colors, the Matchbox cars were a lot more realistic.  Several bright blue Hot Wheels versions are available online, even now nearly 20 years later…

Once upon a time, Matchbox and Hot Wheels were fierce competitors. For more than two decades now, however, both brands have Mattel as their mother company; hence they could be considered “complimentary” to each other. Such is the way of the corporate world. The baseplate says it all: this is a Matchbox model made by Mattel from 2000.


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The Ford in Miniature – 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra Concept

By Dave Turner

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

When Ford celebrated their Centenary in 2003 a whole series of concepts were unleashed, along with the many other related events. Most, if not all, these special productions were conceived to recall one of the memorable and significant vehicles of Ford’s past.

Among these was the Shelby Cobra that resulted when Carroll Shelby inserted a big US Ford V8, first a 4.2 and for production a 4.7, into the front of an unsuspecting AC Ace. This had previously been the home of the old 6 cylinder 2 litre AC engine that dated back to the 1920s and from April 1956 there was the option of a straight 6 Bristol 2 litre. For just over a couple of years from March 1961 the 2,553cc Ford straight 6 was employed.

Since the production of the first Cobras ended in Jan 1969 there have been many copies and kit cars replicating the Cobra, in fact Carroll Shelby produced a very limited number of 2 seater roadsters in the late 1990s that had a degree of GM content and called simply Shelby Cobra.

The 2004 Concept car was produced by Ford and featured an all-aluminium 6.4 litre V10 engine that was claimed to be able to propel the car to 267mph – although it was actually electronically limited to 100mph. Its chassis was based on that of a Ford GT, modified to be front engined but with the transmission in the rear. It was not registered for road use but was subsequently purchased by one of its designers, Chris Theodore, at auction for $825,000, the proceeds going towards the restoration of Henry Fords Fairlane Estate.

Models of the Shelby Concept as might be expected appeared in the few years following the real cars appearance. Auto Art gave us no less than three quite different models, a big 1:17 scale diecast and much smaller one in 1:64 and in between a plastic slot car in 1:32. Mattel also produced the model in two sizes, their Hot Wheels examples came in at least eleven versions and in many cases almost being little models rather than pure toys. Their larger 1:18 diecast were excellent despite coming in a variety of colours, the real car was only ever silver.

Matchbox also issued a small diecast Shelby that looks very like the Hot Wheels version and it came in at least six versions. Minichamps issued their 1:43 Shelby in a three part “The Ford Power Trilogy” set in 2005 along with 2005 Mustang and 2005 GT, all finished in the silver/white stripe colour scheme. The Shelby was then issued separately for a couple of years.

Model Listing

Auto Art  China 20541 1:64 diecast
Auto Art  China 13101 slot car 1:32 plastic
Auto Art China 73031 228mm 1:17 diecast
Mattel  Malaysia G6687 67mm 1:60 diecast
Mattel  Malaysia H3051 215mm 1:18 diecast
Matchbox 42 1:60 diecast
Minichamps  China 146430 93mm  1:43 diecast

Illustrations 2004 Ford Shelby Cobra Concept

 

Mattel Hot Wheels 1:60 diecast from Malaysia: G6687, in authentic colour scheme.
Minichamps 1:43 diecast from China: 146430, also came in set 402 058000 “The Ford Power Trilogy”
Rear of Minichamps

 

Interior of Minichamps

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Station Wagons Make Great Ambulances, Sometimes

An In-Depth Review of the Matchbox Super Kings Volvo Ambulance
By Frank Koh

The Matchbox Super Kings K-96 Volvo Ambulance was made by Lesney, England, starting in 1982.  With this ambulance, one would be responding to medical emergencies in style.

When Matchbox released its Super Kings K-74 Volvo Estate casting in 1979, coming out with a meat wagon variant was a logical consequence. Raise the roof by way of a plastic hump fitted with a light bar, antenna and even a diecast horn/loudspeaker, spray on some eye-catching ambulance graphics and throw in a pair of vinyl paramedics carrying a sick/injured bloke lying on a stretcher for maximum play value.

Don’t forget to modify the interior by ditching the rear seats and fitting a lengthwise platform where the patient on the stretcher can be secured. Even though this model features tinted windows presumably to ensure privacy, the overall effect is like that of a well-stocked sushi display chiller in a Japanese restaurant. Looking at the contents is free, but doing something about it will cost you money.

Very imposing, exceptionally convincing, ambulance graphics are on this Volvo Super Kings model by Lesney. It is joined in the photos by a dark red civilian Volvo Estate, reportedly the most common variant in the K-74 lineup, and the very, very rare K-69 Volvo and Caravan set. The latter brings forth the questionable logic of a Volvo station wagon packing just a little more than a hundred horsepower pulling a camper trailer that weighs several thousand pounds. Well, that’s the nice thing about toy cars… a great deal of the fun is derived from letting the imagination reach its outer limits. Now, would the glacial acceleration of the Volvo 240 series enable the ambulance crew to get the unfortunate patient to the hospital in time?

My research yielded two variants for the poor patient on the stretcher. The first one featured a patient who was secured in the supine position by what looked like a thick blanket. That version was nicely detail painted. Then there’s this unpainted, molded-in-white version of what appears to be a severely injured accident victim, complete with a makeshift cast on the left leg, a head bandage, a thick pillow that serves as a neck support and a tourniquet on the right arm. It’s difficult to see it in the pic, but the figure’s facial expression is that of agony, perhaps even abject fear of leaving the physical world too soon. And if you allow your imagination to go to the next level, then it wouldn’t be difficult to convert your take on this meaningful accessory from “emergency patient” to “mummified remains”. Macabre indeed, but in a cool, almost comical, way.

Aside from the tinted glass which appears to have been exclusive to the K-96 Volvo Ambulance, the plastic interior casting was different from all other K-74 Volvo Estate variants. The patient-on-the-stretcher figure fit nicely into the platform on the left of the vehicle, which means that diners could view the smorgasbord delights that lay behind the left-hand side windows, in traditional “turo-turo” fashion.

Two other features defy logic and prudence as well: (1) An all-orange interior (color last seen on the actual 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Indianapolis 500 Pace Car) that would have caused severe eyestrain to all those on board; (2) A sunroof/skylight on the roof extension of the model would have been more appropriate on a camper van than on an ambulance.

While the real Volvo 240/245 Estate was a roomy, comfortable conveyance, its adaptation to ambulance duties was questionable without substantial modifications to the internal/external dimensions of the vehicle, not to mention its anemic four cylinder inline engine.

Despite the evident lack of wisdom in planning and producing a real Volvo 240/245 Ambulance in this particular iteration, this Lesney Super Kings model has become a favorite of mine. Heartfelt thanks go out to my good friends Alexander and Kit for procuring this lovely piece from the Netherlands and sending it to me.


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Britain’s Toy Car Wars: A Book Review

By Karl Schnelle

Giles Chapman has written a book on his childhood toy cars combined with a fascinating history of ‘the big three’ in the Golden Era of British Toy Cars. The three British toy car companies are the obvious ones listed on the cover (below), and the Golden Age was the 1960’s, as the author calls it. Mr. Chapman is a well-published author, so he brings a good perspective.

This new book is the same format as his previous books like 100 cars that Britain can be proud of and  My Dad had one of those.  His books are known for a sound coverage of the subjects and some well chosen and presented pictures. Chapman has written over 40 books and is a well known motoring journalist and author in the UK; he has now turned his attention from real cars to model cars.

Britain’s Toy Car Wars might be the first book that tries to tie the big three together in a historical and toy collector context. Many books have been written about the copious output of each company, so do not expect a review of their entire toy car production. I was expecting some side-by-side comparisons and timelines of who did what when, or who came out first with a certain feature and how did the others react. There is some of that, but mostly it is the author’s reminiscing about his childhood toys and then explaining the background of the company that produced them. In fact, many of the nice photos are of play-worn cars, which reinforces the readers’ nostalgia for their childhood.

If you are a specialist collector of Dinky, or Matchbox, or Corgi, then you will get a better understanding of the other two companies.  As a kid, I collected all three and have read a lot about their history since then.  So I did not learn a lot of new information about them, but several interesting facts did pop out from Chapman’s research.

I had realized that Meccano was much older and more conservative in their approach to selling Dinky Toys, but I did not know that Dinkys were sold in only 6000 approved stores while Matchbox and Corgi were everywhere, in more than 20,000 shops.  Chapman portrays Smith and Odell as the ‘young guns’: they disrupted Meccano’s domination with Dinkys by selling pocket toys at a much cheaper price, available all over Britain at the time.

There has been a lot written about Hornby, Smith, and Odell, but this book also includes some history of the people at Mettoy.    Van Cleemput is already well-known and is covered here.  However, I learned a lot about the Ullmann and the Katz families and their involvement with the success of Corgi Toys.  In fact, Giles Chapman wrote Arthur Katz’ obituary for the Independent (1999).

If you would like the read about all three companies and their high-level rivalries, please read this book.  The author writes in a very engaging style and brings both the history and nostalgia into the story.


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New Matchbox Casting – Chevrolet Wagon

By Robin Godwin

 

Matchbox has recently introduced a new casting. This is of a 1959 Chevy Wagon (estate) – in Brookwood trim level. It is a great model for the $1.00 Canadian it is sold at in WalMart, about 60 UK pence at current exchange rates. It features the correct Brookwood side trim and even includes the side mounted fuel filler cover, something that Brooklin failed to include on their Brookwood Wagon.

The windows have a dark tint to conceal the lack of interior. The brown plastic canoe mounted to the rooftop luggage box is moulded in one piece. A one piece chromed plastic base includes both bumpers. Superfast type wheels are a bit of a let down in that they are way too large (diameter and width), but at least they are toned down somewhat. Scale is not a real concern for Mattel in this range, but it is slightly smaller than 1:64.

The photographs above show the new release beside the original Matchbox #57 Chevrolet Impala, which was first illustrated as a line diagram in the second version of the 1960 catalogue. The original was listed as 1:80 scale.

This new Matchbox casting is a nice addition to an inexpensive range.


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