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 via e-mail

"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."

J. Halsey

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."

James Price

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 brand.

"Hi Doug,

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!

Best regards,"

Rick Wilson

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 <>