Thursday, 14 July 2016

Which Vehicles Define the Matchbox Brand (and make it great)?

Ever since Mattel took over the Matchbox brand a number of years ago, it's gone in a few different directions: clean sports cars with bland decos, utility and work vehicles, over the top fantasy models, and realistic cars marred by splashy and wild tampo work.

I think there are two types of great Matchbox vehicles. Okay, there are probably more, but I'm going to class them this way. The first class is made up of real, licensed vehicles: sports cars, exotics, luxury cruisers, pickup trucks and civilian grocery getters. Preferably, these models have no tampo work beyond the front and rear lights/grilles/emblems. The perfect example of this type of 'great Matchbox model' is the recent Mazda MX-5 Miata.

As cool as the first class of cool Matchbox vehicles are, I think the second grouping is equally important. I call this second group of defining Matchbox models as 'utility vehicles'. This class of vehicles scream 'Matchbox' in the same way Spoilers scream 'Hot Wheels'. I don't really have a good label for this type of Matchbox release, but I think you'll get the point from the photos below. The class I call 'utility' encompasses all workhorse/utility/unique/one-off type Matchbox cars. They are 100% real vehicles and not fantasy models, but they find their real-life applications in construction, military, police, mining, firefighting and even sports. (Think Zamboni)

Unique utility vehicles also make exceptional Matchbox cars and are what define and separate the Matchbox brand. While your MX-5's and Evoque's make great Matchbox cars, they're nothing you wouldn't see from Tomica, Kyosho or Auto World. Conversely, I don't think you'll ever see a TLV Ghe-O Rescue or an Auto World Skid Steer. It just wouldn't make sense. But these models do make sense as Matchbox releases, and are totally collectible because they are 1:64 versions of real, existing models that we can't get from other diecast makers.

What makes a great Matchbox model? What types of models define Matchbox as a Brand? Let me know in the comments.

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