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design department of Lesney from the mid 1970s and up to the company’s decline. He regularly posts photos of preproduction models and colour trials. He also runs ‘Carr Collectables’, selling a great many old Matchbox items.

UK distribution gripes Returning to the current situation, Mattel has now started to bring things back to a higher standard. Models are better considered, and the number of licensed real vehicles are more prevalent. However, the biggest problem is availability. Within the last two years Mattel decided to appoint Asda as it’s ‘exclusive’ vendor in the UK. Up until then, Matchbox could be seen in a number of places, including Morrison’s supermarkets. Sadly, availability and general condition of display has been dire – a situation much discussed on the MCF Facebook page.

Packaging: the long and the short of it... Fortunately, a saviour has existed in the form of Poundland, the high street discount chain. It never stopped selling Matchbox, presumably buying its stock in a different fashion on the world market. And it does a great job, now getting in stock that is actually more up to date than that found

“There are many fantastic new models coming for 2018 (when Mattel will be celebrating the brand’s 65th birthday), including a very nice looking MGB and a Jaguar XK140” in Asda! It also displays the products properly (as they should be, on pegs). In addition, the Matchbox models that Poundland sell are on what are referred to as ‘longcards’ (the card backing to the protective clear plastic bubble that the cars are encapsulated in). This may seem unimportant, but the longcards look more impressive and show off the artwork far better than the shortcards that Asda sell.

Showtime Things are improving for this once mighty toy brand. Mattel organizes, along with collectors in the USA (the design team are based in El Segundo, California ), an annual ‘Matchbox Gathering of Friends.’ This is when the design and marketing team show the assembled guests (made up of buyers,

distributors and collectors) forthcoming models and ranges. For the last two years they have also used the occasion to announce the winners of the #matchbox customcontest – an opportunity for the collectors who customise Matchbox models old and new to show their work. All this takes place on Instagram (use the hashtag mentioned), and the lucky winners have been sent pre-production castings that are unfi nished. They are then given free reign to customise

these and the end results are displayed by the Matchbox team at the Japanese Classic Car Show in Long Beach, California. I was one of the lucky winners last year and again this year.

New models for 2018 There are many fantastic new models coming in 2018 (when Mattel will be celebrating the brand’s 65th birthday), including a very nice looking MGB and a Jaguar XK140. So, this much-loved brand continues on, and is bringing joy to not only the children for who they are primarily designed for, but also us oldies who never stopped our collecting of the MC marvellous Matchbox!

Mark’s winning entry in this year’s #matchboxcustomcontest: a 1970 releasee of the Matchbox Rolls Royce Silver Shadow in a fictional period rally scheme.. All parts were made from items in my spares box or scratch built (e.g. the rubber er mudflaps, the window netting). The model el now has a revised interior with Recaro style seats, a fire extinguisher and a reserve fuel tank.

The Matchbox ‘longcards’ ‘longcard (the card backing to the protective clear plastic bubble that the ca cars are encapsulated in) look more impressive and show off the artwork far better than the shortcards, points out Mark.

Further info Want to know more and stay bang up to date with all things Matchbox? Below are some great sources of info that are just a few clicks away… ● www.facebook.com/groups/ MatchboxCollectorsForum/ ● www.instagram.com/matchboxworld/ ● www.instagram.com/explore/tags/ matchboxcustomcontest2017/ #matchboxcustomcontest2017 • Instagram photos and videos

october 2017 | www.modelcollector.com

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