Wagon Mystery
by Doug Breithaupt (with help from Mark Foster)

Mercury Commuter - Matchbox

Mercury Commuter - Playart

Mercury Commuter (King Size) - Matchbox

1969 Ford Wagon - Yat Ming #1015
For many years I've wondered who copied who with the variety of late 1960's FOMOCO station wagons? A recent discussion of station wagons on the Matchbox Forum provided new information to share. Here's the story.

We begin with the Matchbox Mercury Commuter #73-C, first offered in 1968. While it was later offered in Superfast form, the original chrome-wheeled version is a great looking model. The two dogs in the back are a nice touch. Playart also offered the same car although it is not a copy of the Matchbox #73-C. It is very close and Mark Foster has suggested that Playart actually used the King Size Mercury Commuter produced by Matchbox as their inspiration. Note that both models lack front door handles.

Yat Ming also did the same wagon, #1015, but labeled as a Ford. It is very close to the Matchbox Mercury but not a direct copy. Note that the front side marker lights are missing on the Yat Ming. Mark Foster also provided the image of the crude TC Mercury/Ford wagon. I can't tell if it is a copy of one of these other castings.

The last chapter in this wagon saga also comes from Yat Ming. For some reason, they decided to re-cast the wagon with a 1971 grill. often seen with wood-siding tampos, this casting is still in production. In addition to the new grill (shared with the '71 Thunderbird by Yat Ming). the hood is changed, the base is metal instead of plastic and the rear bumper lost it's trailer hitch. Why did Yat Ming bother to update their wagon? It seems a curious thing to do unless either Matchbox or Playart pressured Yat Ming to make these changes. It would be interesting to know if Matchbox was aware of the Yat Ming and Playart models.

1971 Ford Wagon - Yat Ming #1015

Playart - Yat Ming 1015 1969 and 1971

Playart - Yat Ming 1015 1969 and 1971

Mercury - TC #886