by Dave Weber, images courtesy of Matchbox/Mattel
1955 Cadillac Fleetwood 60
1956 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible
1960 Jeep Surrey
1957 Ford Thunderbird
In January of this year, I had the privilege to be one of about 25 invitees to attend the Matchbox 2001 product unveiling. This was conducted in Mt Laurel NJ at MB Headquarters. The meeting was to recognize the various collector clubs associated with MB. I was able to attend since I serve as an officer in one of these clubs.
In addition to the unveiling of the regular 1-75 line, a designer with whom I have become acquainted introduced us to the Elvis Graceland Collection. This set consists of 5 cars. Only the pre-production models had been prepared at that time, but those even models were very detailed. Each of the 5 cars is separately boxed in a large decorated window/ paperboard carton. Also inside the carton in addition to the car is a large plastic show box and at the rear of this plastic container is a 3 dimensional model of the Graceland Mansion . The car is fastened to the base of the plastic container by screws. Each of the cars have the same diorama background in addition to an informational collector card. My friend advised he had actually visited Graceland on occasion to obtain correct data etc, for each car. However, photographing the cars from all angles and obtaining the many additional measurements necessary to produce a scale model could not be accomplished at the Graceland Museum. Other similar cars were located in order to complete the preparatory work for miniature production. Matchbox is quite proud of this offering.
The 5 cars consist of a yellow '57 Thunderbird (which is a reissue of model # 42-g first issued in 1982). The other 4 models are new castings. They are a '60 Jeep Surrey, a '60 MG-A sports car, a '55 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 4 door sedan and a '56 Eldorado convertible with the top in the down position. The only change in the T-Bird is the paint color. The Jeep is the only model that in my opinion is lacking in detail when compared to the other cars. It is painted with alternating pink and white stripes. The MG and the Caddies are superbly detailed and are scaled correctly. The MG is in a solid bright red color. The '55 Caddy sedan is also painted in pink with white top and the '56 Convertible is coated in deep purple. This model also is equipped with side pipe exhausts and a Continental rear tire kit. Images of all 5 models can be found on the MB Website www.Matchbox toys.com and the Caddies were previously shown in the ToTC Cadillac article earlier this year.
I can find no fault with the MG and '55 Caddy. The Jeep seems to be larger and not in the same scale with the other cars. All the cars are equipped with wide rubber tires. The continental spare tire on the '56 is much too thin when compared to the 4 wheels that support this model. But in my book it is still a winner! Unfortunately none of these cars have hinged doors or hoods.
No one else has produced the two Caddies or this civilian Jeep in 1/64 scale. The MG was also issued by Johnny Lightning in their British Invasion set in 2000. Thus, I imagine some of these cars will be on collectors want lists. This leads to my biggest criticism. The cost is too much! These cars are about equal in quality to the premium collectible Motor Trend models from last year. Those models usually sold for about $9 each. The lowest asking price I have found to date is $60 for the 5 car set or possibly $12 each. A local discount toy chain was selling them for $15 each plus state sales tax. Thus a set of all 5 would cost almost $80! There seems to be a problem with overpricing! I realize the licensing and production costs for the extra included features noted above will add to the total charge; but are these models worth a possible $6 each over previous enhanced models? I think not! But the fact that some of these castings are new is a snare for collectors like me! If I want the model in my collection, I have to pay the price!
An interesting side note is that MB included 6 cars in each set by adding a second 55 Fleetwood to the set. Thus, there are twice as many 55 Fleetwoods available compared to the other 4 models! I expect to find the models on the store shelves for quite a while: especially the Fleetwood and T-Bird! The models were issued just before the MB Convention in Hershey PA in late June. I was able to find at least 1 of each of the cars in a local toy store, almost 3 weeks after after the cars became available! Usually the store would be sold out of a new less expensive model.
I did not appreciate spending so much money on such a small model, but the "must have" mentality won out over frugality! Unfortunately for the collector, it seems that MB is following in the footsteps of Hot Wheels Collectibles, the other Mattel diecast producer, with constantly increasing prices for extra nice enhanced models.