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.
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
- 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)
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
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.