Matchbox in Europe is becoming one of the biggest jokes in the realms of diecast of late. The distribution of the 1-75 range over the last 3/4 years has been absolutely shocking despite the good work that the MB team at El Segundo have done in terms of new models.
Such discussions are now banned on the MCCH message board. Nothing can be said about the situation as it is claimed that this damages the goodwill that Mattel give the board….I think that there is a little more to it than that, but will blog about it at a later date.
Ok, so going back to the topic, the ability to get the right models aligned to the correct year for the 1-75 range is near enough impossible. However, besides the US&A the next best market to get 1-75 models is Aussie. When first arrive in Sydney, the shelf space in Myer was full of 2010 models, which were established in terms of availability for some time. As previously blogged, it was not until the last two days of the trip that I – by sheer chance – cleaned up at the Market St branch of Myer.
In total I picked 26 models from the 1-100 range (Aussie along with the Yanks get the 1-100 range rather than the traditional 1-75 range) with some dupes selected for the reason viewing and reviewing, which I have noted my thoughts below.
The first thing you notice and strikes you about the 2011 range is the packaging. One of the most pleasing things about the 2011 range is the introduction of model specific artwork for each model. Absolutely wonderful!! For once, it seems that Mattel have got it right. My previous blog – http://keefyd.blogspot.com/2011/02/2011-matchbox-1-75-thoughts-so-far.html – set out my first thoughts about the range, but now having the actual packaging in my hands, they are truly marvellous pieces of art , an really give it the edge over other brands of diecast, esp. over the sister brand Hot Wheels, which in comparison looks tacky, vulgar and classless…
Why such artwork was not introduced sooner to the range is a bit of mystery…it was more of a token effort on the other “premium” matchbox ranges, and as blogged before the style of the packaging actually was of little value as to open up the packaging and get the model out simply ‘tore into’ the artwork. Careful removal of the blister shell on the 2011 range means that the artwork can still be kept intact, and one can marvel at the intricate nature it. And to think that this has been done individually for 100 models. Amazing and sterling work!! On the reverse of the packaging is a little ditty about the model, but what I would really have liked to see is pictures of 3 or 4 models from the range on the back which would have truly given the range a heritage feeling. But no matter, it will do. For those in the ROW markets, on a short blister you may find that the actual blister cuts in to the artwork
– like the premo Lesney/Superfast models…..so a little dilemma – to keep closed or to keep open? Better still get a spare (Mattel will love that…)
A little cheesetastic, but a hell of a lot better than what would usually be produced! Have a look at some of the photos of some of the photos from the 2011 1-75 range – quite brilliant I think, and hope that it is not lost on the market that it is aimed at….
Don’t stop guys, you are on a winner with this stuff!!
So what about the actual models themselves? For those not in the know, I like to keep my 1-75’s within their packaging to ensure that they are kept in good condition, and also to chart the evolution of the packaging of the range, something which I consider to be very important. If I am interested in a particular model, a duplicate is bought, so that it can be ‘used’ and be playworn.
Before reviewing the models, have a look at the underside of the models – note the little elephant added to the base denoting where the model was made – Thailand
– quite a nifty little touch (although I would still like them to be made in England, but let’s be realistic about that thought –it ain’t gonna happen).
The four models that really stood out are the Pontiac firebird Formula, Lamborghini Muira 400s, Range Rover Sport and Dodge Monaco police.
Although I do love the castings of the Pontiac and Lamborghini, they do disappoint and I will tell you why. Lack of metal (diecast) base. For some reason I was expecting the Pontiac to be the 2011 version of MB4 Pontiac Firebird (http://www.matchbox1-75.com/images/1976/1976_4.jpg) but the weight of the 2011 shattered that dream of having a true modern interpretation of the classic. Gutted. Same applies to the Lamborghini – although not re-created in the range of the 70s, a metal base would have added to the credibility of the model as it would have been the type of casting that would have been used in yesteryear. Don’t get me wrong, they are not bad castings, and a plastic base is used to keep costs down to around about the £1 mark, BUT I think I would be prepared to pay around the £2 mark for a little more addition like a metal base.
You have to wonder how they can keep the models around this psychological £1 has mark, as this has traditionally been the price point of the 1-75 range for a very long time, but as other things have risen in price, should the price of these little cars do so as well?
The Dodge Monaco Police Car is a rather nice casting in terms of the livery.
It smacks bang on the real California Highway Patrol vehicles seen in such TV programmes as CHiPs.
OK, so the lightbar is not dual tone in colour (unlike the real car, and Matchbox did actually manage it with MB51 Ford LTD…..laziness/cost custting??ave been nice to see the roof in white as well. The roof is not a massive thing, as a bit of good masking tape and some good acrylic paint will ensure that the detail is up to the job. but where the model fall apart a little is the chassis. As you can see from the photos, the track of the axle is really disproportionate to that of the car, which makes it look very odd.
It would have been far better to have the chassis fill out the body of the car, which would have given it far more presence, and added a lot more credibility. Good, but by no means great.
The best one by far has to be the drug-dealer Range Rover Sport.
Someone in El Segundo must have been on a real trip with this one. I love it! The blinged black 5 spokes and the black body make this look rather a menacing model, and it looks mean in every aspect. The tampo-ing is a little suspect at the back, but again, I have to remind myself that these are play-things for children, and NOT collectors cars. As stated in my HW blog recently, it is the collector that elevates these models to more than their intentional purpose. One could easily customise this model to add that extra value, but as it is, it is a very tidy car and a good inclusion.
Overall, I think the 2011 1-75 carries on where the 2010 range left off. The models are of a good standard, but those expecting more (in terms of really going back to the original true diecast of the 70s & 80s) will feel short-changed, in that it almost so delivers the product. What really makes the 2011 range stand out more than anything else is the artwork on the packaging, which really tugs on you and just draws you to the model – just like they used to in the 70s and 80s when this was standard throughout the range. I will post some more photos of the other models that I grabbed as well.
17/04/11: It is pleasing to hear/read only recently that Asda in the UK seem to be getting a whole new batch of the 2011 range into their stores, and I think I will have to make a wee pilgrimage at some stage in July. But again, I have to ask the question, WHY cannot Mattel push these model in Europe harder, when they seem to have no issue with Hot Wheels…….despite the proclamations, are we now just marking time before Matchbox 1-75 is finally laid to rest….? There are only so many collectors (who are – lets face it between the ages of 30-60) at this time buying the models, and with the new generation being brought up on a diet of PlayStation, Premier League Football, and reality TV, does the traditional diecast toy still have a place in the lives of today’s children?