Right of reply

The MB Amby is a bit of a sensitive position these days – it is well documented that the last incumbent did not serve the position well – and more interested in the kudos as well as the gold Routemaster at the end of the tenure.

This year John Lammert is doing a far better job of being the Amby. His blog is going from strength to strength focusing on HW more than anything else, but it is still a sensitive role being the MB Amby – and one which does not like being challenged or criticised.

I wrote in a forum post on the MCF that the next Amby report will be all glossy and shiny as per usual as the Amby will not challenge Mattel on any aspect of the Matchbox line even if is crap; and why is there still no social media outlet for the brand (see other recent posts on the matter),

John replied, and I have returned the volley cross court: Thread detail below. What do you think of the conversation? My replies in highlighted blue.

jtl46 wrote:keef, you sure are critical of me.

Ah, greetings John. Don’t feel privileged – I like to challenge, so it is not just you. 

Sometimes you make good, valid points about what Mattel is doing, but they are polluted by such crass comments and general whining that I don’t think you will ever get the responses you want.

Er, this is my opinion John – am I not allowed to express as I feel necessary? Am I bovvered? No – could not give a flying toss. Next question please.

Why would anyone with any influence listen to your criticism about how 2013 is already here while 2012 isn’t done (valid observation by the way)

Thank you very much

when the general perception is that you don’t want the product anyway?

And what gives you that impression? Yes, I have said that I am done with MB before, but 2011 rekindled the flame – so I got back into the swing again. I haven’t said lately that I didn’t want the product…….or have I ? Refresh my memory.

Let me start with social media. I completely agree with you Keef.

Wunderbar – alles in Ordnung. 

They need a better presence on Facebook, on Twitter, and the like. They need it to promote the brand to a completely new group of collectors.

Indeed they do. It is not difficult – Corgi can do it. 

With all the bitching and moaning here, what is lost is the fact that you have been left behind. It is not the Matchbox you grew up with.

See, I disagree with this point. In 2011, I embraced the change and design and it got the MB Brand back to how it should be – this was truly a joy to witness and brought back fond memories of my first purchases of Matchbox. It was very smart and classy. The best thing El Segundo had done for many a year and whoever created that brand – bloody well done. 

Ok. It has tried to acknowledge the Lesney legacy, but the response among the old-school collectors is that it is not working.

Bloody oath it didn’t work – 

Fine, they move on. And they can do that with social media.

The gloom and doom you and many on MCCH scream of (did you ever think you and Mark Curtis would be such bedfellows?)

Fuck right off with that comment – I feel physically sick that I would share a bed with a fat ginger redneck . You know, he reminds of Big Boss Man from the WWF. 

is not shared by the diecast collecting community in general. Granted, many of the new collectors all over the world are not as invested in the Matchbox brand as the old-schoolers here, but they don’t need to be. There is an emerging group of collectors who buy what they want. They obsess over the coolest stuff from Top Gear, Speedhunters and JNC, find out that there are $1 versions of said cars, and head to their local bigbox to grab a HW Celica and AE86, a Matchbox BMW Bike, whatever. While they are there they see a cool Gran Torino on the blue card, and and EVO Police on the orange. They pick up those too. They could care less about collector numbers (notice that Hot Wheels has mixed new models into the entire line instead of being highlighted at the beginning of the checklist?). If they don’t like the truck with the crazy graphics, they pass by it to get the purple 911. The moms then pick up the truck for the 5-year-old.

I think you also misjudge this John TBH – you seem to be under the impression that a lot of folk who bitch and complain on the MCF seem to be sole MB collectors. Yet I collect all sorts of diecast. If I see it and I like it I get it. I mix and match as well. I have no clue about how HW work – nor do I actually give a monkey’s toss either. I have no clue about the different segments and such. Nor do I get anything about the Treasure Hunt cars. What I do know is that I like a casting, I get it. I pay very little attention to the packaging, only to see if it is a 2012 edition and that is about it. I do a tilley and just throw the packaging away – meaningless to me. 

In the mix goes Bburago, Tomica, Minichamps, AutoArt, Biante, LLedo Vanguards, the list goes on. 

(BTW, should anyone want HW blisters, do let me know – I am happy to send these on to you. )

So really John, I do fit in the mould for the collectors who buy what they want and are not exclusive to one brand like MB – methinks the majority here on the MCF do the same.

So that leads me to the other point that you and I agree on. I think the Ambassador position as constituted is not as valid as it used to be, and maybe it is time to shut it down.

Indeed – in general, the MB Amby is just Mattel’s Patsy – a block from people challenging Mattel as the gloss and happiness comes through the Chosen One for the year. Please take this to imply the MB Amby role NOT yourself John. 

Why the fuck can’t they just man up and answer themselves? Corgi manage to do it…..

Not because the Ambassador is supposed be a critic, as you suggest, but rather because he is distributing the info to the wrong audience.

No John, again you miss the point. Whilst interacting with Mattel, the MB Amby should also bat for the collector on the same wicket. It is all well and good asking for questions to present to Mattel, but when they come up with piss poor one word answers to important questions, surely that is your que to say “er, guys, wait a min – that answer is a bit shit – what is the deal, and can you give some more info”. And if not, why not? Or would the Amby be afraid of pissing them off?

The MCCH and MCF memberships just might not be the most important audiences anymore. The audience it needs to reach is a new group of different collectors who can’t get into MCCH because they have a free email address, and can’t integrate Facebook, and probably only want to be there to see what is new. And even if they do join here, or get into MCCH, why would they want to come back after reading a bunch of old dudes complaining about the current product?

I think the problem stems from the perceived elite status that the TOF once had. It is a no where near as good as it was – and a lot of good knowledge has left the site. Add to the fact that Adminstor has a very restrictive policy on entry (BTW, his free email policy is flawed completely – you can get on that site with a free email) then of course the MB brand is being kept amongst a few. 

The MCF (correct me if I am wrong Brad) does not purport to be a major force in collecting forums, so I have no idea why you are suggesting as such – it is still in its infancy……..there are other more established forums such as Swifty’s and such that are more bedded in and have as bigger rep as TOF. 

I just wish you guys could step back and see the atmosphere you have created here. It reeks of so much negativity that actual productive suggestions will get lost.

A metal base possibly, less plastic and normal colour schemes – or is that asking for far too much? The problem also stems at the £1 price point. What can matchbox produce to sell at approx. £1 as this would be considered a pocket money toy. Well, the answer is in the current range. Plastic keeps the cost down. But what if the RRP was £1.25 or £1.50 – would parents still buy these then? More importantly, were the parents of today brought up on diecast? I doubt it very much – I know from first hand experience that the parent does not give a rats arse about the brand – if it looks nice they buy it – they really couldn’t give a toss who made it. And the child does not care either. As long as it rolls, that it is all that matters. 

As collectors I am sure we would pay £1.50 for a metal based model – and if parents see that they are getting better VFM as well, I am sure they would buy them. But we are in a global recession and therefore the purse dictates what can be bought. 

In a way the collecting community are the architects of their own downfall – want the world but want to pay £1 for it. I disagree that the positive suggestions are lost – they are here for all to see. And reverse the negatives, and you know what the fixes are (ie. less plastic!) But then this raises the question are Mattel going to up the price bracket and get MB hitting into Siku territory….? 

Siku is bloody expensive – the product is top notch. In Europe, they shift (well, not ion France as the French are French and he pegs are dominated by Norev and Majorette). People are willing to pay a premo for them. Look at where HW and MB end up – a rotund display with them piled high. Peg space is halved. 

Maybe it is time that MB raised the stakes and just became a semi premo product at £1.50/AUD$2.50 – Corgi Toys’ new range is hitting in at £2 and is proving popular. As a parent myself, I would want a half decent product. I have seen the Chinese tut and it is a load of bollocks. I would rather spend an extra quid and get a bit of quality in the mixer. 

I am trying in my own little way to get the Ambassador reports out to new audiences by way of Facebook and the blog. It is very interesting to see who links the reports, and who is reading them. It is also interesting to see that the response is generally positive when it comes to what Matchbox is producing, except on MCCH and here. 

If Mattel kept a winning formula such as the line in 2011 then there would be nothing to complain about. Problem is John they have fucked up the re-brand. They really did not need to do so. 2011 was really going in the right direction, so why the need to change?

When we previewed the 60th Anniversary models a couple of months ago, MCF and MCCH got all hung up on the logo being part of the model’s design. No one can control your opinion, and if you didn’t like it you didn’t like it.

Could not give a toss about the 60th Anniversary models – the core range is all I am interested in. Why not just do what they did in 2002 and stick a logo on the core range? Just Mattel trying to squeeze out every last penny from those willing to pay a premium. And why not? They are a business after all out to make money. So it is fortunate that this line is of no interest as it saves me a few quid. 

But, nowhere else was the logo placement complained about, or for that matter even noted. I found that very interesting. So did some other folks I talk to. It suggests a new group of collectors should move in, and I implore Mattel to do something about it.

Bottom line is that Mattel won’t – they are too busy investing in HW. To kill of MB would be one of their most controversial decisions ever and may affect their share price. 

So keep criticizing me for being head cheerleader, or whatever. It doesn’t bother me. I think it is very important for me to champion the brand, and do what I can to bring new folks over.

Yes, but John, how are you doing this is the one outlet is your blog – how are new collectors directed to it? If you type in Matchbox into Google, the first place that comes up is the matchbox.com website – and we know that there is fuck all in terms of links to the Lamley blog and such there – 

Also, via your blog and Farcebook there are about 1100 followers, which is great stuff and quite an achievement for yourself. So congratulations on that. HW has 1.1m followers on FB – Matchbox has a very long – if not unfeasible – way to go to be on an equal footing. Which it should be. But Mattel refuse it airtime. 

The Amby role should be there to champion the brand (ok, then….) but also the collector. The Amby should not be a patsy – be a force and make the difference. By questioning some of the answers, it shows that the Amby is working deeper to understand the reasoning behind Mattel’s decisions and therefore give the collector – new and old – some manner of comprehension behind the rationale.

You and I can then be left behind to talk about the good old days…

We can – however chances are very slim, unless you come over to Europe – flying to the US&A at the moment is just not an option.


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