Wednesday, July 23, 2014

First Look: 2014 Matchbox 1971 Pontiac Firebird Formula...

It is probably appropriate that this post hits this week.

We took these pics of the latest version of the Matchbox '71 Firebird last week, before leaving for the Gathering, and we wanted to use one older version for sake of comparison.  The model we chose was the recolor from 2011, in gold.

And a couple of days later, the person that made a classic gold Firebird iconic passed away.  James Garner, famous for his role on Rockford Files, and a serious gearhead himself, passed away at age 86 on Saturday.

So, while the focus of this post is the latest version of the '71 Firebird in green, consider it our tribute to Mr. Garner, who we loved in the Rockford Files, Maverick, and many other series.  It may not be his exact Firebird, but it'll do.  RIP James Garner.

With all that, don't overlook how great this latest version is.  Yeah, the wheels are more modern, but after several classic versions, this updated look really works.  Definitely worth picking up, or snagging on ebay...

Matchbox 1971 Pontiac Firebird Formula (2014 Mainline):

First Look: Matchbox 1993 Ford Mustang LX SSP (Special Service Package)...

Alright, Lamley readers, this will be fun.  We have a massive backup of cool things to showcase here on the blog.  Here is a smattering:

  1. Gathering Exclusive Toyota Tacoma & Dodge Charger Police
  2. Matchbox 2014 Silverado
  3. Matchbox Alfa Romeo 4C FEP
  4. Matchbox BMW 1M
  5. 2015 Matchbox 3D Prints, including the BMW M5, Porsche Cayman, Lamborghini LM002, and more.
  6. Tomica Limited Vintage BMW 325i 4-door
  7. Hot Wheels Datsun 510 Wagon standard issue & Super Treasure Hunt
And that isn't all.  There are a ton of TLV's waiting in the wings, some just-released Matchbox, a Hot Wheels US N Case Report, and more and more and more.  Plus Hot Wheels Batch P is just around the corner.  Oh, and two weeks of customs that we want to show.  That is a lot, and we plan to get to it all.  If there are some models you want to see sooner rather than later, let us know.

But with all that, there is one model we have been really excited to show first.  We wanted to wait for Nigel Cooper's final Ambassador Report before showing all the pics we have, and now we can.  We should also mention that these images come courtesy of Mattel, who allowed me to photograph all these upcoming models at the Gathering.

That model is the 1993 Ford Mustang SSP, which should be out in a just a few months.  It has been on the Matchbox Design Team's want list for some time, and when a gap emerged in the 2014 line after another new model had to be dropped, the team pounced.  The Mustang became a late addition to the range, and after seeing it, it might very well be our favorite of the 2014 line.  Funny how that happens.

The foxbody Mustang has gotten its fair share of love elsewhere, particularly Hot Wheels, when Jun Imai introduced the 1992 Mustang in the Modern Classics line.  Since then the casting has been very popular, showing up as a Treasure Hunt, RLC exclusive, HW Racing, and elsewhere.  We have to think the day will come when it appears as a Super Treasure Hunt as well.  We have even seen the '84 SVO in a few premium lines.  Not to mention an earlier version, the Turbo Mustang has been a lot as well.

But that is Hot Wheels.  It is now Matchbox's turn.  And this one definitely has the Matchbox touch.  A notchback, no low profile, no sporty rims.  It is a Mustang cop car, with the made-for-the-force Special Service Package.  It truly is Matchbox at its best.

And the culprit for this one is designer Miguel Lopez, who took Ryu Asada's spot at Matchbox when he crossed the hall to blue.  Miguel has been responsible for quite a few of the models we are seeing in 2014, and most of the 2015 line.  He has that same touch for realism, and it really shows here with the Mustang.  Just look at the clear plastic headlights, which are part of the window piece.

I first met Miguel last year at JCCS, and was able to spend a lot more time with him at the Matchbox Gathering last weekend.  Like Ryu, he is exactly the guy you want designing diecast cars.  He loves cars, knows a ton about them, and it a very talented artist.  Watching him ogle over some customs one of our Lamley friends brought was as good a sign as any what kind of passion Miguel has for little cars.  It will be fun to watch what he comes up with moving forward.

We are also happy to see this model debut in a real police livery, and an iconic livery at that:

CHP has graced a few Matchbox models (do I smell a future post?), and it looks great here, especially knowing the Mustang SSP was a model CHP used.  Of course, there is another SSP we would be interested in seeing, whether or not Greenlight already did it:

Am I too obsessed with the Utah Highway Patrol livery?  Probably, but the plain white with the beehive on the door really can't be beat.  And it has remained the same for years.

Anyway, here we are.  Real livery, on a really good-looking model.  Matchbox wants your love, collectors.  This is quite the love note.

Look for it in stores this fall.

(note: You may see a slight gap between the rear bumper and body.  Just something that this test model has, after a too-tight riveting.  It sits flush on the production model.)

Matchbox 1993 Ford Mustang LX SSP (2014 New Models):

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22 Matchbox Ambassador Report, by Nigel Cooper...

Nigel Cooper's final report as Matchbox Ambassador is below, with all the details from this year's Gathering, as well as a look at Matchbox in 2015.

We at Lamley want to join all the collector's in thanking Nigel for his year as Ambassador. Not only for the report, but especially for the histories he attached to each report, giving a perspective on Matchbox that only a few have. All of Nigel's reports and histories will remain on Lamley, and all can be accessed by clicking on the label "Nigel Cooper" under the label section to your right.

Once again, thanks Nigel, and welcome to the exclusive "Ambassador Emeritus" club. Larry Scaduto, it is on to you...

Ambassador Report 48


How quickly the year has passed and so this becomes my final report. I hand over the Ambassador reins to Larry Scaduto, a collector of many years who, I am sure, will maintain the high standards set by my predecessors. It just leaves me to show some of the colours for models to be released later this year and show some of the mock-ups for next year. These are shown with the kind permission of Mattel. I have trusted to memory with much of this report and so there may well be errors included for which I humbly apologize.

The Gathering models as has become the norm are excellent creations and tribute again has to be paid to the skills of Michael Heralda. The artwork on the Gathering models serves as an example of what Matchbox can do if given a free hand.


Robert Knox, a new member of the Matchbox marketing team, introduced some of the changes for 2015 in the form of a brand update. He started by saying that Matchbox models would be Guaranteed for Life and a child could return a broken model to Mattel for free of charge replacement any time during the child’s lifetime, thus emphasising the durability of the range. The four core themes of Adventure City, Explorers, Construction and Heroic Rescue will continue in 2015 with just a small change to the packaging, which will include the Guaranteed for Life markings. The Adventure City group was described as including all those vehicles one would expect to see in the city such as cars, delivery vans, repair vehicles and buses. Construction will include models such as mining trucks, farm vehicles and construction vehicles.   The Explorers group of models will include everything that can float or fly or go places normal vehicles would not be able drive.

A new feature will involve mystery models. At least six exclusively coloured models will be packed alongside standard models in small plastic “blind” bags. There will be a small window in the packaging to enable collectors to have a glimpse of what may be inside! 

It was promised that the website will be updated later this year because it was acknowledged that the videos and the product were outdated. It will include the current ranges as well as the Spring Promotion, along the lines of the 2014 promotion with National Geographic. Robert was delighted to announce that Matchbox was bringing back the Matchbox Die-cast Poster, available for download on the web. It was not clear how large the poster might be. 

Dave Weise, who joined the Matchbox team in 2005, is the manager for Matchbox Diecast vehicles, and works with the four members of the design team. As well as managing the traditional Matchbox Die-cast lines, his responsibilities include Creature Catchers, Real Working Rigs, Sky Busters and a new line of large scale trucks. It was good to hear that Michael Heralda, the senior graphics designer, is making excellent progress following his illness and it was especially pleasing that through the wonders of technology, he appeared on screen still displaying his inimitable sense of humour. His skills are particularly apparent on the special models designed for the Gatherings. We hope that it will not be too long before Mike is back at his desk.

Miguel Lopez was introduced as the new Super Hero Matchbox designer. He struck me as a man who wanted to make things happen and already he has had a major influence on the design of Matchbox miniatures. He spoke more about the generic creations that he had created for 2015 whilst  Dave spoke about the licensed models.
There had been pressure in 2013 and 2014 to ensure that Matchbox and the blue brand were kept apart and to that end Matchbox focused on tough-looking, industrial and unstoppable vehicles for Heroic Adventure.  This focus will be drawn back somewhat for 2015 as the aims for these type of vehicles have now been realised. Thus, there will be a return to more licensed vehicles and that will include licensed cars. Details are still sparse as the licensing process takes time to take place.

In total there will be 25 new tools and there will be 125 models – I presume that to include the 5 recolours. Several of the mock-ups are shown in this report but clearly there are several others in the pipeline. There will be five new tools for Skybusters and for this range some planes will be shared with Hot Wheels packaging. For the 1:24 scale trucks, they will continue with rubber tyres and diecast features with 10 models in total.There will also be a range of six 1:64 trucks with articulated wheels and a working feature. 


It was difficult to get a good photo of the models on display as they were enclosed in Perspex cases. However, John Lambert was able to take some individual photos to give a better idea as to what will be released in the future. I believe that the painted models are those to be released in 2014, but they are not necessarily the finished product. Some models for 2014 have not yet been finalized.

Eighteen of the 25 new castings for 2015 are shown. We are assured that there will be more cars in the missing seven models. There will be a new European car for next year but information cannot be released until next year. Mention was also made of a Spark Fire Truck loosely based around a Ford Concept vehicle. There will also be a new Jeep Cherokee for 2014  and a Jeep Police 4 x 4 Pick-up.

The generic Military Truck is shown above.

The Lamborghini Cheetah was an off-road prototype built in 1977 by the Italian carmaker Lamborghini. Sometimes referred to as L002, it was developed in competition with other manufacturers as a potential military vehicle. It was different because the engine was a Lamborghini Countach V12.

Generic Beach Buggy with possibly body boards or surf boards.

Cadillac Presidential Limousine, referred to as The Beast or Cadillac 1. 

Tesla Model S is the world's first premium electric sedan - designed from the ground up as an electric car

Roar by Four Dune Buggy with fins in the rear is a radical design.

Sure to be popular worldwide is the BMW 5 series Police Car by popular demand. It was suggested that it would also be very popular as a family saloon. 

From the construction segment comes the new Ford F-150 Pick-up Truck. It will be finished as a Contractor’s Truck.

In the Heroic Rescue group another classic Fire Engine will appear from the 1970s. Dave related that Matchbox had been pursuing America Le France Fire Truck but the company went out of business, thus scuppering licensing plans. This new classic Mack Fire Truck will remind collectors of more advanced years of the #29 in both the regular and Superfast series. 

The Crawler Hauler aka Critter Truck is a very tough truck for rugged areas. Its off-road qualities enables it to hold beasts and monsters and there will be some moulded in the back.

The Meter Made/Maid will be more familiar to some than others. I understand that they are a common sight in Japan when meter maids give out parking tickets and escape in a vehicle such as this.

This is a model of a real vehicle comes from Romania. It is called the Ghe-O Rescue Vehicle. More information regarding this all-terrain vehicle may be found on the internet. 

It will be possible on this vehicle to move the booms in and out and resembles a Crop Sprayer

The latest Ford Cargo has been redesigned and is already selling in Latin America. It is radical looking typifying Ford’s new styling with a hexagonal grille. It even has a slot for a Convoy Trailer but there are no plans to resurrect this range and so old trailers will have to be used.

This model is to be used in conjunction with Skybusters and may be called Airport Tractor.

The Fire Boat 

Porsche Cayman

This is a low profile Mining Dump Truck which features a moveable bucket. The proportions are very much akin to the real vehicle. Mountain Mover.


It will be a Diecast line called Supreme Hero and will feature Police, Emergency and Fire vehicles. Models will be fitted with two piece wheels with tyres on hubs. In total there will be 18 models and only one of these will be generic. The line up is not yet complete as only two types of wheels are being used and one or other has to fit all models chosen. Dave told me that already there were questions over three of the models originally selected and so the full range cannot be notified until later in the year. All vehicles will have realistic liveries, for example, California Highway Patrol. The main emphasis on these vehicles will be realism and authentic workings. No boxes will be included but the models will have a unique premium package with information on the rear regarding the real vehicle. Models will not be double diecast as in the past.
The 9 and 10 car packs will continue and there will be 8 different packs for 2015.
There will again be 12 Five packs available in 2015.


And so my time as Ambassador is over. I would like to thank every collector for so much support. I hope that I have covered something for everyone in terms of interest. I thank so many collectors who have shown their enthusiasm for the history section. In particular thanks are due to Graham Tomlinson, John Lambert and David Tilley for their help with these reports.
I wish Larry all the best and I am confident he will continue to highlight this brand that we all share a fondness for.

Anyone seen the 2013 recolour? Dave Weise tells me it has been produced.

Nigel Cooper      21st July 2014