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Good news for the UK

MB1197-01 : Big Banana Car

Sorry that I haven’t blogged for a while, its been a few weeks but to be honest there has not been much to write about.  For years now the UK has simply been forgotten about when it comes to Matchbox but as I reported back at the end of August in my blog ”Matchbox comes home” Matchbox has returned to the UK with a new deal that Mattel have done with Tesco one of the countries largest retailers.

After somewhat of a shaky start with product arriving in only a select amount of stores and in limited release it appears that things are picking up.  Certainly in my area we started with 5 & 9 packs in one store & singles in a second store, the 3rd & 4th stores I visited had nothing.  So from this and reports of similar situations across the UK it looked very much like the Tesco deal was going to be somewhat similar to the mess MB1198 : 1994 Chevy Caprice Classic Policethat was the ASDA exclusive deal and we all know how that turned out.

For that reason there was not much to blog about and feel good about, it looked like a one off; thankfully it now seems that I and many others were wrong and too quick to judge. A recent trip now shows that I can get 5 packs, 9 packs & singles in 2 stores and 5 packs & singles in a 3rd; the 4th and smallest store still has nothing but things are looking up in more than just improved distribution, we have received Batch 1 of 2020 which seems to mean we are the first market in the world to get this release; this sort of coup would have to be the first time in decades that has been the case for the country that gave the world Matchbox

Reports from all over the UK are that this new batch is being found in many of the medium and larger Tesco stores; meaning that more and more people across the UK are now getting direct access to Matchbox something that we have been crying out for, for a long time. With this increased presence comes increased sales and hopefully that means the UK consumer getting direct access to even more of the great product that Mattel is scheduled to release like the new convoys or some of the premium releases.  We will of course wait and see but there is certainly more hope in that regard.

MB1220 : 1962 Mercedes-Benz 220 SE Sedan

Whilst on the topic of great new releases, getting Batch A means we are the first consumers to get our hands on the special release MB1220 Mercedes-Benz 220SE Sedan that was given to school girls in the USA a month or so back now to celebrate the fantastic achievements of Ewy Rosqvist, the Swedish rally driver.

So if you havent yet, get down to your local Tesco and hunt down this batch, as well as the 3 picture vehicles here there is so many more great cars to be found in this release like the recoloured 1957 Ford Thunderbird, the new casting of the 2016 Alfa Romeo Guila  or the 2003 Mini Cooper S and so many more great releases.

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HOW TO DISPLAY YOUR COLLECTIBLES

If you collect diecast, LEGO or anything then these are treasured items that you will want take good care of and display well so you and guests to your house can enjoy. This is particularly important if you collect rare or valuable items, as you will want to also protect them from any harm that may diminish their value. Instead of using an everyday household bookshelf there are much better ways to store and display your collection that will protect them from dust or the sticky little fingers of small children.

One of the better ways to protect your collection is to house them in a cabinet with glass doors that are sealed tight to help keep the dust out. If you cannot afford some of the more expensive wooden cabinets with glass shelves and sealed doors then there are still some great ways to show off your collection on a more modest budget, like the preformed Perspex (plexi-glass) cabinets that are available.

Diecast displays

 

There are many ways to display your items and you should decide according to what you like and what looks good for your house, but as an idea if you have one item that is valuable then you might consider putting that one piece in its own display, to make it stand out, rather than crowding it in with other parts of the collection. There are also other ways to enhance your display as well that are worth considering, like adding photos or brochures to the display. If you collect SIKU diecast vehicles you might consider adding one of the yearly brochures as an additional talking point, or photographs of real the real vehicles that you are displaying. If you collect only one marque then you might consider placing a Chevrolet cap amongst your collection of Chevrolet vehicles.

Lighting is another important consideration; some shelf displays come with built in lighting or at least have it as an option when you purchase your shelves. By using the appropriate lighting in your display you can easily recreate the look of a real car show room. When it comes to lighting though, remember to store your collection out of direct sunlight as natural sunlight can damage your collection, by fading colours and deteriorating plastics, even some older lighting systems can cause damage so if you can lean towards LED lighting.

So how do you display your collection? what other ideas do you have?

 

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Matchbox comes home

Well it seems that Mattel & Tesco were true to their word and Matchbox has finally returned home; It is still unclear just what else we can expect but early signs are good.  Reports have come in from all parts of the UK; where I am in the far North of Scotland I managed to get to 3 Tesco stores, 2 were completely empty but one come up with the goods for me where I picked up a range of singles.  Nothing else to be had just yet but you never know.

Matchbox 2019 UK

Other parts of country and across the rest of the UK some Tescos have nothing whilst others have either singles, 5 packs, 9 packs or a mix of those products.  So product is slowly getting out there and it look like before long we should have a good supply of current Matchbox in a range of issues; lets just hope it remains good and continues to grow and improve as we move forward.

For reference the singles set me back just £1.25 each so that is a great price and one I hope will stay with the range; at that price they should sell well to collectors and children alike and that will help sales o grow and stock to rotate through quicker.

Camo Convoy

As for me I am off to see if I can pick up another Camo Convoy, when I took the picture to use for this post I noticed the damaged front wheel; never even saw this when I picked it up.

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Oh Sh*t!!! (Review : Matchbox Poop King)

Matchbox Poop King

Matchbox for years has been great at providing kids with tools to help their imagination create a miniature world, they have always had fast cars and police vehicles for a great chase scene; trucks, road rollers and other construction base equipment for that realistic building or construction scene.

Well with this new release you can really have a completely realistic building site; modern health and safety rules mean that any building site must have toilet facilities and now Matchbox can deliver them.  Yes you read that correctly, with the release of a new casting called ”Poop King”, Matchbox help you to ensure your building site complies with modern regulations by providing two portable toilets loaded in the rear of a delivery truck.

Matchbox Poop King

I am sure the kids will love this one as will many collectors, it certainly is unique.  I dont know of any other diecast company that has covered this particular topic making this quite a unique casting and offering.  Another unusual part of this model is that it is clearly labelled as ”Poop King” on the left hand door but the right hand door is labelled ”Poo Konig” which I believe to be German.

What do you think? is this a good idea? a great addition to the range?Matchbox Poop King

 

Matchbox Poop King

 

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And there back…. sort of

Matchbox singles

Finally for those of us that live in the UK there seems to be a bit of good news.

A while back it was reported that we should see a return of Matchbox to the shelves in August and now here we are in the middle of the month and reports are starting to trickle in of sightings of Matchbox on the shelves of Tesco.  Finally it is looking like Matchbox has returned home at long last.

Of course the main bit of information that collectors have been dying to know is just what will we see in the UK.  After months and months of nothing most collectors will be happy to see anything but the reports so far mostly emanating form the South of England is that we will be getting singles, 5 packs & 9 packs.

Matchbox 5 packs

Nothing has been sighted in the Midlands, Northern England, Wales or Scotland as of yet but it looks like they are starting to filter through.

Prices of course will probably vary across the stores but so far the reports are that the singles seem to be in the range of £1.25 to £1.50, 5 Packs are between £5 to £7.50 and small amounts of 9 packs have also been purchased but no reports on what price they were.

So time to get out to your local Tesco as finally your collection can grow again .

Matchbox 9 packs

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5 Diecast Restoration Tips

We have all found that old model at a flea market that we had searched for years to find and now we have it there are some things we need to do to make our model perfect again.  Below are some quick tips to help you on your way.

1.     Paint Removal

So you need to remove the artistic work of a budding young DaVinci.  Well dont panic, its not difficult at all, the paint on the body will of course be removed when you strip the body ready for preparation prior to repainting, and the paint on the windows should easily come off if you soak the window component in some household over cleaner for a few hours, the paint should then simply slide off the windows.

2.     Baseplate rust

Removing that rust that forms on the baseplate is an overnight process but is simple.  Just place the baseplate in some vinegar overnight, and when it has finished soaking you simply brush away the rust with some soft wire wool or a soft wire brush.

3.     Axle replacement

Quite often the axle is bent from years of loving play, mostly straightening them is too difficult or just plain impossible and to be honest it is much easier to replace the axle and there are a couple of cost effective ways to do this, you could use the inner rod from a rivet or cut up an old metal coat hanger, just simply cut them to size and burr the ends

4.     Paint Matching

On an older model it is sometimes difficult to tell what the original colour was, this is because the vehicle has gone through years of play and most likely also suffered the effects of long exposure to sunlight.  If this is the case and you want to paint the model in its original colours, then simply look inside the model, usually there has been some overspray when it was originally made and being on the inside should not have faded or got dirty so will give you a good idea of the original colour.

5.     Broken Windscreen Pillars

One of the most common faults with an old model car is the windscreen pillars.  These are one of the weakest parts of the model and are prone to breaking, one of the easier ways to fix this is to replace the broken pillar by super gluing a thin piece of metal in place, an industrial or heavy duty staple works really well, simple cut the staple to the appropriate size before gluing.

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Why I dont do custom models

A lot of collectors also enjoy customising the models as part of their hobby.  They can add the small details that the manufacturer may have missed or simply due to cost neglected to include or they can be a complete strip down and rebuild to something that might barely resemble the vehicle they started with.

Over the years I have seen a lot of the great work from some of these customisers from all over the world and in personal meets I have been invited to even have go myself; well there is a reason I dont do custom models and this is it.

Just look at this work, this is the work of Sharon Tarshish; I have taken the images from his post on the MCF group and it is work like this that prevents me from doing customs myself.  How could I ever hope to be anywhere close to as good at this.  This is Sharons entry to the Custom contest that Matchbox run and will surely have to be a great contender for the top spot in that competition.

His work is absolutely stunning and is a complete work of art.

Custom Matchbox Subaru by Sharon Tarshish Custom Matchbox Subaru by Sharon Tarshish Custom Matchbox Subaru by Sharon Tarshish Custom Matchbox Subaru by Sharon Tarshish Custom Matchbox Subaru by Sharon Tarshish

 

 

 

 

 

Now how can anyone compete with that ?

 

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Do you own your car?

Do you own your own car? For me the answer is Yes; I do now and I love that it is possible.  Now by owning your own car I am not referring to the car in your driveway and whether it is owned, financed, borrowed or otherwise.  What I am talking about is your pride and joy in your driveway and do you own the miniature version of it in scaled diecast. 2005 BA2 FPV Pursuit

Over the years like many people I have owned a variety of cars and I would love to have a diecast example of each. I think it would make a great display in my model room, my own vehicle history in small scale but as we all know it is not always possible to have a diecast replica of our cars.  My first car was a Chrysler Centura and to my knowledge that particular car has never been produced by anyone in any scale but my latest pride & joy is an FPV Pursuit Ute from Australia, thankfully Ford Australia when contacted; happily provided me with the total production numbers and it is then that I found out that my particular model in the colour and trim combination that I have purchased was only produced a grand total of just 13 times, with other specifications (that cannot be seen in a diecast model) it is one of only two cars of this specification in the world.

2005 BA2 FPV PursuitNow with those figures in mind I was sure that it would be impossible to ever own my car in miniature, OK maybe I could get the same model but to find it in the same colour and trim as my own just will not happen, or will it?

Just arrived from an eBay seller in Australia is an exact replica in 1/43 scale of my car and in the right colour and trim combination and I could not be happier. I thought the chances were impossible but it is here. Thanks to Classic Carlectables I now own my car in a fantastically detailed 1/43 scaled version and so now I have one in the driveway and another in my toy room.

So what about you, do you own your car? or is it just impossible.

2005 BA2 FPV Pursuit

2005 BA2 FPV Pursuit

2005 BA2 FPV Pursuit

2005 BA2 FPV Pursuit

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How diecast models are made

Lots of us collect them, even more of us enjoyed them as kids, but exactly how do they make a diecast vehicle? Well quite simply as the name suggests they are cast in a die, hence the name. This means that molten metal has been poured into a pre-designed mold, and then allowed to cool before the finishing process takes place.  The majority of diecast vehicles and for that matter most diecast toys are made from a metal called Zamac, which is an alloy made from a mix of aluminium and zinc.  In the toy industries early days of using this technology the manufacturers mainly produced simple shell type castings that had no interior details, after World War II, higher grade alloys were used and this enabled some of the producers to create an interior as well, this was particularly the case in the toy car business.  Of course this became even more prevalent with the introduction of plastic as well.

The process of die casting consists of injecting the molten metal, under very high pressure into reusable steel molds, it is these molds that are known as dies.  Each die consists of two parts, a fixed half and an ejector part, the ejector part being to allow the finished product to be easily removed from the mold.  The diecast machine closes the two parts of the die together using hydraulic pressure, once the two halves are securely and firmly locked together, then injection of the molten metal can begin using one of the two available methods of injecting.How is a diecast car made

The two methods of injecting are known as either hot or cold chamber shot systems, the hot chamber method is what is used for metals that have a low melting point, such as Zinc or Magnesium.  In this method the injector mechanism is immersed in the molten metal and via the use of a plunger forces it into the cavity of the die through a gooseneck.  Once the metal within the mold has cooled the plunger is removed, the die is opened and the casting is then ejected.  The other method is the cold chamber method, this is used for metals with a much higher melting point, such as aluminium or aluminium alloys.  In this method the molten metal is poured into a cold chamber which is a cylindrical sleeve, that sleeve is then sealed by a hydraulically operated plunger, it is this plunger that forces the metal into the die.  Whichever method is used, they are both very fast.  The entire process for a small toy weighing less than about 28 grams, something like a Matchbox or Hot Wheels car can take just a few seconds, or less time than it took to read this article up to now. Of course for some of the larger products that weigh a couple of kilos or more that time frame maybe a few minutes, either way it is not that lengthy.

There are some advantages of using this method, high pressure casting using forces greater than 31000kpa (4500 psi) helps to produce high quality products with smooth surface finishes that are extremely accurate when compared to the original shape of the mold, also there are no separate parts, no welding or other form of joining and they are as strong and hard wearing as the original alloy.

Now that the actual casting has been produced it is then time to begin the finishing process, this is where the casting is then cleaned, primed and finished off before getting to you the consumer.  Firstly you remove the casting from the mold, if there are multiple castings per mold then that is more commonly referred to as a shot.  So you take the shot or casting and then have to clean up some of the excess that maybe attached to it, this would include things like the sprues, runners and flash.  These excess parts can be removed or cleaned up in several ways, it is often done using a hydraulic press and a special trim die, but can also be done using sawing or grinding, but by far the least labour intense method is to tumble the castings in much the same way as you would tumble dry clothes, any excess metal can then be remelted and re-used to make the next casting.

Now that the casting is complete it can then go on to the next process, and that is to paint, polish or plate the casting depending on what is required, this is a very simple process that just passes each casting through a painting machine to ensure that all sides are painted in the chosen manner, some manufacturers do this by running the castings through on a conveyor belt and others use the method of placing each casting on a rotating pole to ensure an even coverage all over the casting.
Once painted, the casting then moves on to the next stage, this will of course depend on the quality of the casting as to where it goes next, if you are looking at the detail of something like the vehicles produced by AutoArt, Revolution Model Cars or Minichamps then the next step would be more detailed painting or tampo printing, the more detailed painting can be done by hand or in most cases it is printed on using the tampo or pad printing method.  This method involves the vehicle being placed into a jig or a device to hold it in an exact position while the pad printing machine stamps the design onto the side of the vehicle in question, this process may have to be repeated several times to get different colours and designs to sit just right on the vehicle.

Once all painting and printing has taken place the vehicle can then be moved to the assembly stage of the process and have its other components fitted, again this process will slightly differ from manufacturer to manufacturer but basically if you consider the basic components of a Matchbox car, then it is during this stage that the car will be fitted with its windows, interior, wheels and base plate.  Once the fully assembled vehicle is ready, it is off to the packaging section of the factory to be boxed and shipped out to the customer.

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Matchbox 2020 review

As those that were lucky enough to attend the 2019 Matchbox Gathering are packing up to head home after what I am told was an absolutely fantastic three days, the rest of us get to look at pictures and ponder just what is ahead for the brand we all love for 2020.  So here are my thoughts and reviews on what was presented at the Gathering by the Matchbox team from Mattel and quite frankly I think its a bit of a mixed bag.

First up was the new Marketing Manager for the Matchbox brand who has only been in the job for about 4 months, sorry but I didn’t catch his name; not that I think it will matter as usually Matchbox appears to be used as a spring board for some of these people to climb up the Mattel corporate ladder so he probably wont be there very long and judging by what he said that might actually be a good thing in his case.  He starts by asking who in the room collects Matchbox, this would have to be the most ridiculous question to be asked at a gathering of Matchbox collectors so I am not sure what response he was expecting to get but for me, not off to a good start and in fact shows the lack of understanding of the brand that he is tasked with marketing which is very scary indeed as this is the biggest problem with the brand today.

Matchbox 2020 Samples

Across the world where they have distributors apparently sales are up more than 15%; this in itself is great news and I would think most if not all of the credit should go to the fantastic job the design team are doing because the feedback I get is that it is in no part due to anything that Marketing & distribution is responsible for.  To help increase this Mattel have announced that about 85% of the vehicles released in 2020 will be licensed leaving only a small amount of generics, this for the purists is fantastic news and to be honest I think is quite an acceptable level; but there will be some collectors who want 100% licensed but that to me is unrealistic.

They are working on distribution and creating new ways to display the product in stores and are working with more stores to get the product out to the people who want it, but unfortunately he never expanded on that so we are unsure if this refers to just the USA or the rest of the world as well. Will we also see some improvements?  I do know that starting next month there is a new deal with Tesco here in the UK but we are yet to see what that means in terms of product availability and ranging so I guess only time will tell.

There will be 6 sub-sets used in 2020 with a new design packaging, these will be Countryside, City, Mountain, Jungle, Coast & Highway.  Thew packaging is only slightly altered from what we see today and will again be available in a blister pack & a power grab box as well as 5 packs & 9 packs.  The ”mix” that is distributed will occur each two months from 2020 and will be a 100% refresh with each mix so that should help the sell through and keep the product moving.

Toward the end of his presentation it was also mentioned that there is something else described as ”really really big” coming in 2020 but as yet it is strictly confidential so no other details are available, I guess we shall have to wait and see.

The new models were then announced and as stated above the overwhelming majority are licensed vehicles so for 2020 we should see the following :

Originals : (Matchbox Generics)

  • MBX Self Driving Bus – A great excuse to use plastic by the looks of it and not sure this will work
  • MBX Cycle Trailer – This one has been a long time coming, a great way to add realism to the range in the form of a non-licensed generic model and a casting that can be used in conjunction with other models.  Well done to Mattel for this one
  • MBX Garbage Scout – I will reserve judgement on this one, not sure what it is or what it is supposed to be

Licensed:

  • 1994 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Police – Another US Police car so not very exciting
  • 2018 Jeep Renegade – Good choice and great addition to the range
  • Big Banana Car (Yes its a real thing) – WHY WHY WHY?  This although being real should be left to Hot Wheels, for me it doesn’t belong in the Matchbox range
  • 1971 MGB GT – I will like this one but will the kids?  A collector favourite I am sure but only for the older collectors
  • 2019 VW Beetle Convertible – Another good choice and with the last real one rolling off the line the other week, great timing
  • 2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia – A nice sporty little number and one that I am sure everyone; young & old will appreciate
  • 1956 Powell Sport Truck – ????  How many people have even heard of this? certainly the kids will not care too much for this one
  • 1962 Mercedes 220SE Rally – Another older model but in this case I think Mattel have made a great decision and the way in which it is due to be marketed in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz and promoted to little girls I think this is sure to be a hit with everyone. Well done!
  • 1976 Honda Civic CVCC – Another jolly for the older collector, as a kids line the younger collector and toy buying just wont care as much
  • Mercedes AMG GT 63 S Sedan – Brilliant choice and another hit on their hands with this one, smart, sporty & stylish; the kids and older collectors should snap this one up
  • Polaris RZR XP1000 – I know some collectors will disagree but I think this is a great choice and good way to round out the line with something other than a road car, for me collecting Matchbox is about learning about vehicles of all sorts form around the world and for all purposes so this is a great addition to the lineup
  • 2019 Mazda 3 – A regular car that you will see on the street and maybe in your driveway; this makes it the perfect addition to the range and what Matchbox is all about.
  • 2020 Chevy Corvette – Another winner for young and old, a cool looking sporty car that everyone will want
  • LEVC TX Taxi (Electric London Cab) – I am starting to sound repetitive but this is another great addition to the range, for those anywhere in the world the London cab is an iconic vehicle, everyone knows it and it has long been a staple of the basic range so an updated version is a perfect fit
  • Western Star 4900 – Who doesn’t love a big rig? Everyone loves a big rig and for me this is another great addition to the range and opens up some possibilities for Mattel to use the same casting with a trailer attached in other ranges.
  • 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 Roadster – Another one for the older collector, I am sure it will be a hit with them but for the kids maybe not so much
  • 1995 Nissan Hardbody Pickup – A slightly older model but one you might still see on the road today so a good choice for addition
  • Renault Kangoo Express – Now we are getting somewhere, this is a great choice.  Its a regular everyday small van seen all over the UK and Europe and most likely not so much elsewhere. Again this is what Matchbox is all about realistic vehicles from around the world, not only fun to play with but education to show kids what is out there in other countries, well done Mattel on adding this one
  • 1941 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible – I would ask why they keep adding these older models but I know, its for the older collector but this is a kids range and for me should reflect what is on the street today not 60 years ago.  Don’t get me wrong, I like them but I am also not a kid.  I will collect them but surely these older casting are better left for maybe their own range; you could call it ”Models of Yesteryear” or something similar….ooh wait a minute.
  • 1976 VW Golf Mk1 – Again an older model but an iconic one that I think anyone, anywhere in the world, young & old who knows anything even a little about cars will have an attachment to this so that makes it a smart choice to add to the range.
  • 2020 Jeep Gladiator – A nice new 4×4 and licensed so this one ticks all the boxes as well
  • 2018 Bugatti Divo – Everyone will want this one, a very stylish sports car and lets face it probably the only way any of us will ever get to own one

Some of the other new tools for 2020 that will be used in the ”opening parts” range are:

  • 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder (Opening rear deck lid)
  • 1948 Divco Milk Truck (Opening rear doors)
  • 2019 Lamborghini Aventador (Opening doors)
  • 2019 Ford Ranger Raptor (Opening bonnet)

Matchbox Convoy 2020

Matchbox Convoy 2020

Another return for the ”Superfast” branding will see three mixes released; each with 5 cars in each mix and with some newly designed tyres. Real Working Rigs will continue with some new decoration and include a street sweeper as a new casting.  The big news however on this front is that 2020 will see the return of the ”Convoy” range being released in the spring & autumn of 2020 with 4 rigs in each of the 2 mixes for a total of 8 trucks including some nods the original Convoy series with a rocket carrier, car transporter, log or pipe carrier and box trailers.

For the aircraft lovers, Skybusters will also continue in 2020 with a refresh on the packaging and new P51

Mustang tool

 

So what do you think?  what are your thoughts?  Is 2020 going to be great or will it be just another year that the majority of us will not be able to source this great product.