Thursday, 11 August 2016
Looking Back at the 'Best Of' Series: Matchbox Can Do Premium!
The 'Best Of' Matchbox 10-Car Set has been out awhile in the United States. International collectors such as myself, at least in Canada, are just beginning to see them on the pegs now. I already had a few models from the set and now I've got the rest I need, so it's a perfect time to review.
The 'Best Of' Matchbox line received a lot of hype initially because Matchbox hasn't released premium offerings for ages. The set takes 10 Matchbox models from different countries that are supposedly the 'best' Matchbox castings and doctors them up with fancy paint and wheels. By no means are the 10 models in the set actually the top 10 Matchbox castings out there, but they represent a very good sampling of Matchbox's better recent castings. The Dodge A100 is one of my personal favorite Matchbox castings, as is the BMW 1M and Cadillac DeVille. Other crowd favorites include the Land Rover Defender and Austin Mini Van.
Ultimately, the Best Of Series is imperfect, but a welcome beginning. Hot Wheels has maximized its potential for 'premium' adult collectible type releases in the $3-$6 range while Matchbox has barely scratched the surface. 'Best Of' tells me there's a ton of potential for Matchbox to do what Hot Wheels has done: better deco, more detail, fancier packaging and maybe metal bases for $4-$5.
We got to see 'Real Riders' on Matchbox vehicles for the first time in a long time and I welcome that. Unfortunately, the real riders they used were a tad knobby and off-roady for many of the models. While they looked perfect on the Lamborghini and the Land Rover they were incredibly disappointing on the BMW 1M and the Cadillac Sedan. The rims looked cool on most of the models, but weren't suited for the Mack Firetruck and other models. I'll be happy to see Matchbox continue with 2-piece Real Riders, but let's make them casting-specific.
Let's talk about the paint-schemes too. The blue on my Mustang looks like a super treasure hunt. There's no better way to describe it. It's perfect. The understated matte black/orange deco looks superb on the BMW 1M and the Cadillac's clean blue deco is spot on. The Ambulance livery on the Land Rover, while busy, is fitting. Some of the other models, however, suffer from decos that are just too busy. The Austin Mini and Dodge A100, both exceptional castings, suffer from having too much going on. Matchbox is best when it keeps things simple and future premium lines need to remember that.
To conclude, I'm impressed. I'm selective in what I purchase as I'm not picky about completing sets. In a line of 10 cars, I picked up 7. That means the line used 7 castings I collect, so I'm happy about the casting choice. Some of the models were perfect, like the '93 Mustang LX SSP and the Land Rover Defender. Others, such as the A100 needed less deco while models like the 1M suffered from poor wheel selection. If Matchbox continues to release premium offerings, I think we'll see collectors jump at them, especially if they can fine tune their wheel choice and deco while continuing with great casting selection.
Enjoy the Photos (I've gone in order of worst to best in my books) (Minus the 3 I didn't Buy)
'65 Austin Mini Van
'69 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
Dodge A100 Pickup
Land Rover Defender 110
'93 Ford Mustang LX SSP