Matchbox is Alive and Well in 2002
by Dave Weber
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On December 11, I was one of 23 people that had the privilege to attend the yearly Matchbox/ Mattel Open House in Mt Laurel, NJ. This event is presented to select members representing official MB Collectors Clubs. The 'core line' consists of the 1-75 cars. Again, a portion of the new tools (castings), are generic in design. These include the Limousine # 66 and new police car # 53. My regret is that these 2 cars should have been produced as realistic models. For example, a Ford Interceptor ( Crown Vic) and new Lincoln stretch Town Car would have been nice. Maybe next year! However, the VW Concept Microbus # 72 and the GM concept vehicles including the GMC Terradine #62 and Chevy SSR P/up # 70 are highly detailed and realistic in appearance!

The big emphasis for MB in 2002 is the 50th Anniversary celebration which will lead up to the convention in NY in August. There will be a 4 car International set consisting of a VW Beetle, Model A Panel Truck, London Taxi and Firetruck. The International (ROW) window boxes will not be discontinued as was rumored. However, the individual country issues peculiar to such areas as Germany and Australia will not be produced. But there will be a special set of 12 BMW's only available as promotionals from the automobile dealers.

In connection with the US 50th Anniversary celebration are the 50 State cars to be issued from the set 'Matchbox across America' An additional 6 cars will also be available from McDonalds Happy Meal program . These cars will be modified castings of 6 of the regular State cars for safety reasons ( use by under 3 year olds). Also in conjunction with the celebration will be a special issue of selected cars in a burgundy and cream paint scheme. These will be enhanced productions of existing castings.

There will be a new 4 car set of cars entitled 'Elvis at the Drive-in', which will be in a diorama setting The cars are very realistic models in 1/64 scale of a Cobra Roadster, 57 Lincoln Premiere convertible, 56 Ford Sunliner and Dodge Dart- all with their tops down and each parked next to a post with the portable speaker box attached, in front of a movie screen portraying an Elvis movie title. These were my favorite new castings! However,only the Lincoln and Cobra were present for view. These models are to be available in May or June at $10 each.

A set of Barrett-Jackson classic car auction cars are being produced. The '68 Mustang, '55 Chevy, VW Bus and '71 Camaro will all be offered with special paint and wheels. Also in June, MB will issue 4 cars in the Soprano set, taken from the popular TV series on HBO. MB will use existing castings for these models.

Last, but not least was the introduction of the ultimate in small models. It is a representation of a new cab over engine Seagrave 'Meanstick' Ladder Fire Truck. The detail and enhancement are superb! The ladder rotates and extends to almost 12 inches as I recall. At least it appeared to be that high when I viewed it up close. One of these models will be cast in 24 k gold and is expected to be auctioned off for about $10,000 to benefit a charity. The regular issue models as part of the celebration will also be painted in burgundy and cream and will sell for $8 each. I don't collect fire apparatus, but I am tempted to add this model to my diecast collection! It will also be available in June.

I was also informed about the 2001 Jeep Liberty # 71 and Hummer2 # 69 from the 2001 1-75 line . The Liberty , previously issued as a promotional by Jeep from DaimlerChrysler in silver, will become available in red in January 2002. The Hummer2 has been canceled and will not be made due to licensing issues.

Matchbox display at 2002 New York Toy Fair
Barrett-Jackson classic cars

Barrett-Jackson classic cars