Found in the Letterbox
The following are e-mail responses to 'Tales
of Toy Cars' and The Breithaupt
Miniature Motorcar Museum. Your letters are welcome and may be submitted
"I completely agree with your editorial regarding Matchbox.
I am a 35 year old lifelong collector with over 8000 1/64 scale cars in
my collection. I love cars from all over the world, but like you - enjoy
some of the off-beat non-traditional castings. Every time I have gone to
stores this year I keep waiting for some new Matchbox cars to arrive. Instead
I see street cleaning machines, golf-carts, snowmobiles, etc. I even look
forward to some paint and wheel variations of the familiar castings. Nothing
interesting here either. I haven't seen any Premieres except for the ones
retailing for $7.99. I take my chances on them and hope I can eventually
find some on clearance somewhere.
They need to seriously look at where their market share is going and
where the growth is in the field. Johnny Lightning, Racing Champions, and
Revell have taken over the realistic new and historical 1/64 market - however
their prices are at least 3 times what a typical Matchbox goes for. There
is plenty of room for realistic castings with decent paint and interiors
in this segment. Matchbox had better figure this out before Maisto wipes
them off the map.
As a parent of a 5 year old boy who loves cars almost as much as his
dad, I have first hand experience of what kids like to buy and play with.
He has never expressed any interest whatsoever in street cleaners, grain
harvesters, or any of the other non-automotive items. The production of
these items is best left to a small volume manufacturer."
Editor's reply: My six year-old son agrees with your son.
"Hello Doug, I recently read your article "E tu Matchbox"
in "Tales of Toy Cars", and I agree completely. Matchbox seemed
on track last year with a range of 100 cars and trucks, but this year, as
you know, the line has been pared down, and many models discountinued and
replaced with fantasy trucks. It is very, very disappointing to see.
Traditionalists who want to see the line remain at 75 cars are foolish,
because they severely limit the choice of models. Additionally, because
Matchbox now introduced over twenty models each year, models remain in production
for only short periods of time. It seems like a complete waste because
I recently read that molds are expensive ($25,000 to $100,000), and many
models have been produced for only a year or two.
Had Matchbox remained on the marketing course of realistic cars that
it set last year, the company's products would have been the ideal complement
for corporate sibling Hot Wheels. I don't completely agree that Matchbox
will be left to whither and die, but I do see that it is becoming the lesser
Mattel toy brand.
My main focus is Majorette, because the company seems to remain quite
traditional. I was glad to see your article about Majorette in the last
"Tales of Toy Cars" issue."
Editor's reply: Matchbox is clearly the lesser Mattel toy car brand already.
Based on data from the Mattel Annual Report for 2000, Matchbox is in a no-growth
marketing phase. Mattel has some plans for a 50th anniversary of Matchbox
in 2002. Let's see if they use this milestone to re-charge the Matchbox
As a collector specializing in HW Ferraris, I enjoyed your short article
about yellow HW Ferraris. I think you mentioned all of the yellow variation
Ferraris but one: the 1997 issue of the 308GTS (#604) which came in yellow
& black with either wire spoke or 5-spoke wheels. As you know, this
was the former Corgi casting of the 308GTS that Mattel first issued in red
(#496) in 1996. The yellow 308GTS is a bit tougher to find, especially
with the wire spoke wheels. Tomart's Guide books the carded car at $4, but
the occasional yellow & black 308GTS with WSP typically goes for much
more on eBay. I realized that the 1999 Treasure Hunt Ferrari 512M technically
represents yet another yellow HW Ferrari. I think that covers them all!
Thanks again for the article. And I agree: I'd love to see a re-release
of either the 312 or 512!
Editor's reply: Thanks for the information. I don't think I ever saw
the Corgi casting of the 308 GTS in yellow. I did see that the 312 model
was done in yellow but finding one would be a challenge. I still do not
have the 512 show car, some day!
" Hello Doug - Was glad to see the May Issue - look forward to your
magazine every month and was worried when I did not see the May issue for
a while. You are a great resource for information.
SIKU 2001 - Would love to see the pics of the new machinery from SIKU if
you have them.
Matchbox 2001 - I agree and disagree with your comments regarding Mattel's
"playing" with Matchbox. I agree that Mattel is truly taking Matchbox
down a different road. They have dumped many great castings unveiled over
the past couple years in pursuit of an extensive line of boats, motorcycles
and snowmobiles. Although a couple of their in-house designs are decent
the fact that they are straying away from traditional vehicles does scare
me - I am sure the licensing royalties got to be too much so they opted
for original designs and those other casting items. I think they are going
to realize quickly that they are not big sellers. I respectfully disagree
with your comments about the Street Sweeper - on the contrary, I think this
is probably one of the most accurate and ingenious castings they have done.
The working collection tank and the adjustable side brushes - did ya know
they are movable, many do not. I think there is a void of this type of equipment
in this scale. I collect what I like these days, centering mostly on accurate
castings from all manufacturers. I enjoy the cars and the pickups but when
you get in to equipment no one has ventured into this area in a decent manner.
The above pieces(Siku) are too big for this scale and if you want to find
something fairly close you have to move into the HO scales and pay $35 for
a decent piece. The Ford F350 Utility Dump Box is a nice piece as is the
Mail Truck, I think the dropping of the GMC Bucket Utility from last year
was a mistake though. I think they should drop the monstrous snowmobiles
and motorcycles and even one or two of their boats and get into more pieces
of this nature - pavers of this scale, better dump trucks, maybe a step
van and some things of that nature. I think they would do well with the
line complimenting the muscle cars and such on the Hot Wheels side. I am
anxiously awaiting some of the new pieces scheduled for the remainder of
the year - Road Roller, Wall Eater, New Bulldozer and am hopeful. What
are with all these boats and why are we still seeing that mission helicopter
that debuted in 1979? If Mattel truly wants to be successful with both
lines they need to start establishing line between them instead of just
producing vehicles to produce vehicles. I think the branding of the two
items has gotten to blurred and it is confusing to the collector and the
kids who buy these things. The lines are simple (generally) - the obsessed
collector, scalpers and muscle car enthusiasts go for the Hot Wheels -
always have and always will - the true diecast enthusiast and the kids
looking for realism tend to go for Matchbox and then the rest of us float
somewhere in between. Just my two cents - take care."
Mark Boemer Minneapolis, MN
Editor's reply: Mark makes some good points here. I have no problem with
the Street Sweeper as part of the line if it is balanced with other models
that will be more attractive to the marketplace. The Siku Website is at