I have had a rather miserable weekend, thanks to a very painful neck injury. Doing all the housework is less fun when you can’t move your neck, left arm, or bend down, or breathe without there being a nasty grinding pain at the back of your head! Fortunately, the new Best of World series by Matchbox has come to cheer me up. Although, to be honest, I’m a bit nervous…
I never collected the first BoTW series, and don’t particularly feel a desperation to have those models in my collection (though they were beautiful models) although I am expecting to have the Lamborghini LM002, Foxbody Mustang and Cadillac at some point from a friend. When I saw the 2017 set revealed, I fell in love. It was an excellent choice of castings. I hope it is a reflection of Matchbox’s future. I also love the boxes, very much. The retro feeling is worth as much as the cars.
I also hope you enjoy the photos in this feature review as much as I enjoyed taking them! Here is a set that any true Matchbox collector needs to have, and I can’t wait for the third BoTW series, which is supposedly coming this Autumn. This Spring’s set contained the Range Rover Sport, Lamborghini Miura P400s, Mercedes-Benz CLS 500, Volkswagen T2 Bus, BMW M5 Police, and the Porsche 911 GT3.
1968 Lamborghini Miura P400S. Groovy!
No teasers here, and no suspense – this is what most people will have been looking forward to. The Lamborghini Miura is one of Mattel’s best offerings, being both an homage to and improvement on the original Lesney Lamborghini Miura.
It is probably what most people know designer Ryu Asada for. My other favourite of his would be the Hot Wheels Fiat 500 – super cute! And what a great job he did with this one – it captures the story perfectly… the marque that was created because a Ferrari just wasn’t good enough!
And, yes… while the Lesney Matchbox Lamborghini Miura is great, and I love it, Ryu Asada’s design manages to capture the car perfectly. The stance is low, the lower portion of the grille is the right shape, and the two-tone side rocker panels are enforced. Other than that, the shape is overall better – a natural consequence of modern tools, of course. There is little to say, since the photos speak for themselves.
The colour of this car is certainly something to behold, and reminds me something of the Yakuza “Miara”, the parody of the Miura, that appeared in the GTA2 game a long time ago. The blue is gorgeous and adds another to the “Beautiful in Blue” theme I was inspired to start from the return of the Ford Panel Delivery truck. What is better, is that it is offset by stunning gold trim, and especially those gold lace wheels. I learned that to counter the complaints of last year’s BoTW series regarding the chunky off-road tyres, Matchbox has this time used Real Riders from their sister division, Hot Wheels. It works. But is it reason for concern? Hmm, maybe I will wait until I review the Porsche to decide.
The front and back tampo application looks beautiful on the Matchbox Miura, however, I would have preferred if they had made the license plate a more contrasting background colour, such as yellow or white. Oh well. The car branding looks great though, and even the rather simple rear light tampos work well. The hips of the car reflect the light superbly. Plastic works well at times, for example here, where it was used to make more accurate exhausts. The blue doesn’t exactly match up, but that is a non-issue for me.
Naturally I had to take some photos with the last release of the Lamborghini Miura, the gold/grey 5-pack release. Both are stunning, but I think I’d drive the blue one.
I hope to see a very long and successful run of this casting. It is simply too gorgeous for us not to have it!
2005 Land Rover Range Rover Sport – Quite!
I say! I don’t think Her Majesty the Queen would deign to drive the Range Rover Sport, but she might have to take a second glance at this one before coming to that conclusion. The Range Rover Sport has had a long and successful run in the Mattelbox line since its 2006 debut, and goodness me, isn’t it nice to see it again after a dreary few years? Olive green wouldn’t have been my first choice, but… I guess it works.
Have you been attentive? No? Well, that’s okay. I only have two other versions of the Range Rover Sport in my collection, both very recent too. Since I wasn’t collecting around the time they came out, the only place I can really get the casting is eBay, and my gosh, the prices for these in their blister is immense. I’ve snatched up the other two I have for quite a reasonable price. I think the yellow one looks great. I’ll also grab the orange Superfast release, if I ever see it, or can work out a trade – which is highly unlikely.
This Range Rover will enter as one of my favourites though. The colour is growing on me by the minute. It pops. I think the tail light tampos are kind of weird, because they’re missing their silver bits (it all went on the roof, for some reason – I think they already used too many colours with the black license plate and details).
However, looking at the back of the car, everything else is there – the Range Rover logos and branding and the license plate looks sharp. I get the BestOTW thing, but realistic license plates, like the ones on the Porsche and the Volkswagen, look better.
I know not everybody came to like this casting. I don’t know why. Some said its shape was a little “off”. But I disagree. I think, apart from the coloured roof pillars, it looks very accurate to the real cars (and I see so many of them, I ought to know!). Also, having coloured roof pillars isn’t a big deal, as the people who drive the RR Sport are the kind of people who would have them the same colour as the car. I once had a landlord who had chrome roof pillars…
Also, check out those wheels! Super awesome! Black 6-spokes with off-road tread make this Chelsea Tractor look like a mountaineer’s dream ride. Also, the little splash of green helps to break them up, which is a cool feature.
I wasn’t so keen on the Matchbox logo on the rear panel of the car at first, but, I don’t mind it now. I just wouldn’t expect it on a real car is all. I like the fact they coloured in the side vents though – but why not remove the Matchbox logo, and colour in the door handles?
The first issue of the Range Rover Sport casting was this gloss black one, with the saw-blade wheels. It was a great colour for the car’s debut. I believe the last version was also a metalflake black.
You’ll notice that the newest model doesn’t have silver on the grille. I think that’s a little disappointing, but the rest of the tampo application is spot on. Also, I think with the colour, adding silver might have made it look very fussy. I noted most of the colourful models in the run didn’t have silver on the grille.
At the rear, the Best of the World model looks better. That’s my opinion. But the colour might be a little controversial on this model. Personally I love it… but I’ve been known to love the unloveable! Which also kind of goes for the Range Rover Evoque, which has been something of a love-hate affair since its release. Thank goodness Matchbox have also got that one out, to further encourage more Range Rovers. I hope they get to do the LR3 or LR4… that one would make a great Matchbox car.
BMW M5 Police. Gerechtigkeit!
This one is a relatively new casting, having been released in 2015 in Polizei livery. Who on earth in their right mind could complain about a BMW M car being released? Not me. Just look at the BMW 1M M series 1 M1. That little car is adorable! There is no Matchbox BMW M3, just a 3 series coupe from a long time ago. Hot Wheels have the lovely M4, but they just can’t seem to get the tampos spot-on with that one. And now we have an M5… in police livery! What! Well, I wasn’t too crazy about it, actually, because we all know it debuted in Polizei livery, and lacked front and rear lights. That was a turn off. However the livery was otherwise cool.
But then… BAM! This was just what we needed. A full-tampo version! I hope Matchbox regret making this a dedicated police casting. Look at that front – absolutely gorgeous! The personality of the car is important, and it’s usually in the headlights – Matchbox headlight tampos are by far the best on the market, and with the BMW M cars, they work brilliantly. Gosh… imagine this in flat blue, or metalflake red, or forest green… ah, so many missed opportunities. Oh well… back to having no headlights it is after this.
The car does not cease to look amazing round the back. This has to be one of the coolest Matchbox police cars ever produced. Shame it is so hard to come across.
But it would be too easy to fall into the trap of complaining about Matchbox distribution. Hot Wheels are in every store, Matchbox aren’t. Funny how the same company can’t sort that. Maybe they don’t want to.
Ah well. For UK collectors like me, you just have to get to them by other means. Now I’m coming to rely on American collectors for trading.
This BMW M5 has to have rapidly jumped into the list of my favourite all-time models, thanks to this livery. I keep looking at it, thinking how stunning it is. I love that they made Battenburg markings, very European!
I’ve put it with the first release of the M5 in 2015. It was still a gorgeous model, and look at those wheels! But… when a model car doesn’t have his headlights, it makes him look asleep, to me. A police car needs to be awake, and alert! Perhaps it is one for customisers. I have not yet been able to advance past a simple slab of silver.
Another beautiful new casting from the Matchbox team though, and hope for the future that things are bright – that is, if they can address their glaring distribution problem.
1970 Volkswagen T2 Bus – Radical!
Everybody loves Volkswagens. Everybody! Classic Volkswagens, that is. New ones have kind of gotten a bad reputation. But classic ones are beloved and timeless – look at the Beetle, look how long that ran for. 65 years! A design from 1938 that lasted into the 21st century with over 21 million units built. But as much as I love the story of the ugly little success, I think I love VW buses even more.
Especially this 1970 T2, which debuted in the Matchbox line in orange back in 2008 – a time when 78 out of the 100 released were fully licensed castings (Last year in 2016, there were 50 licensed models, out of a total of 125 vehicles… there are still some issues). I don’t have any of the first three series models – the red, green, and orange – they just get snatched up online. But I do have the Lesney Edition blue/white with metal base. Drat! I don’t have it with me. I promise you a photoshoot with it by next week.
That, unfortunately, means there won’t be as many photos of this model as some of the others. But that doesn’t matter, because this version of the T2 is so cool, you don’t need as many photos to appreciate it. It just looks that good.
The side tampos are a total blast from the past. Super retro with the checks and stripes, and the Volkswagen livery. The Matchbox logo actually works well on this model, too. And those wheels are fantastic. The clear glass and simple colour scheme really make this model stand out as something gorgeous.
And the full tampo treatment means this van gets an awesome rear license plate and tail lights. That always makes a model look better.
And what is it that makes the Volkswagen Bus so cool? It’s the original veritable home on wheels. Even the interior piece makes a superb reference to the fact these camper vans can be driven out into the wild and lived in. I’m sure most of us have at some point imagined leaving everything behind to go adventuring in one of these vans, watching the sun set over a new landscape every night. Matchbox captured the spirit of the van perfectly, and their production of many Volkswagens over the years – especially the recent 1990 Transporter crew-cab – shows dedication to one of motoring’s coolest legacies.
2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS 500 – Klasse!
The return of the Mercedes-Benz license to Matchbox is one of the most welcome events in recent Matchbox history, and Matchbox look to be celebrating in style, with the return of the McLaren Mercedes SLR, the highly anticipated 6×6 and now the return of one of my favourite models, the CLS 500.
One of the worst periods of car design for me was the period which spanned around 1990-2005. So many cars from that period are just drab and shapeless. Even supposedly exciting cars like the Oldsmobile Aurora, Toyota Supra, and Lotus Esprit just look sort of… bad. Not to mention all those miserable blob-sedans like the Buick LeSabre, Ford Crown Victoria, and the Vauxhall Cavalier. I can appreciate the good parts of the cars, but 90s styling cues are just not in my good books.
Then, in 2004, things started to look up. The daylight running LED wasn’t in the market yet, but I think Mercedes-Benz were spearheading great design after a very dreary period of lacklustre design and patchy reliability – which is weird, because Bruno Sacco was still working for Daimler-Benz up until 1999, and he’s one of the world’s greatest car designers. He did better work in the 70s and 80s.
It was Michael Fink who set Mercedes on the sort-of-right track in the noughties, with designs like the CLK (also covered by Matchbox). With the CLS class, he really worked out the design cues that would make this car work. Fortunately, Matchbox has also captured these design cues well – especially in this Best of World version.
It starts with those teardrop headlights, beautifully captured by Matchbox’s tampo design. Following them, the eye is drawn along that sumptuous bone-line to the car’s rear-end, emphasising its long, low roofline. Like the Citroëns of the days gone, Mercedes used a duck-billed rear end to create a swift looking cut-off look. And the shape is captured wonderfully here in this model. And those gold six spoke rims just look amazing – almost as nice as the Miura’s lace wheels.
The CLS 500 debuted in the MBX Metal line in 2006 in metalflake brown/maroon with a tan interior, and it looked great. The casting went through ten colours before now, and it’s good to see it is still in good shape. I hope we see a new model of it each year from now. I especially want to see it return in gunmetal grey and silver – very German colours, although this metalflake green pops just wonderfully.
The best part of the CLS? The side profile, where you get to see that sensual body-line from head to tail. The gold wheels off set that green perfectly. Full headlight and tail light tampos are the only acceptable livery on this Mercedes. Thank goodness they did lose the Mercedes license – imagine this car plastered with tasteless graphics. Yeah, I didn’t think so.
My thinking is Mercedes-Benz saw that Matchbox was moving back to “craptacular” around 2010/2011, decided to pull their license, and now that the new Matchbox team are pushing for realism, Benz has decided they’ll risk giving Mattel some opportunity with their image again. Let’s pray they make the best of it – I want some more of these models.
tampo application on this 2017 release is fairly identical to the original 2006 debut (with the exception of the BoTW license plate).
The casting looks as good today as it did over ten years ago… surely one of Matchbox’s finest hours!
Porsche 911 GT3 – Schnell!
I mentioned at the start of this very, very long blog post, that I was a little bit nervous. Hopefully you will understand after I talk a little about this model. It’s rather a missed opportunity for me… there’s just something about it that, I think, is… too much.
First, I want to start off with the elephant in the room. That “Spectraflame” paint. Yes, it pops beautifully, and yes, it looks great on photos, and yes, it’s a Matchbox orange. But it’s way too… Hot Wheels, for me anyway. This looks too much like a Hot Wheels.
I guess the license plate does a little to assuage that fear, but I have this prejudice in my mind that keeps telling me: Porsches are Hot Wheels territory. Ferraris are Hot Wheels territory. If Matchbox is going to do a Porsche, I expect something like the 914 – something unexpected, a car which has a more interesting story. The 911 GT3 is hip, modern, and everybody has done it. Which is why Matchbox shouldn’t.
Not that there aren’t some great Matchboxy features to this car – the high detail and retro Porsche motifs are now traditional Matchbox touches.
But this is where I come back to the wheel choices, this time without praise. Suddenly, we are seeing Hot Wheels wheels on Matchbox cars. Now, it may work for some of the models here – the Miura and CLS spring to mind. But, despite all the good news coming from El Segundo California, we have seen two periods under Mattel rule where Matchbox has become craptacular – what is to stop a third time? We saw what happened with the Corgi brand in the 1990s – Mattel bought it out, and placed all the old Corgi moulds into Hot Wheels blisters sporting Hot Wheels paint and wheels. If Matchbox are sporting Hot Wheels wheels today – what is to stop them sporting Hot Wheels paint in a few years? What about Hot Wheels packaging? The reason this Porsche worries me so much, is that it looks like it came out of a Hot Matchbox Wheels blister pack. No thanks – keep it Matchbox. I sure hope they do.
I guess my distrust and dislike of this model isn’t helped by the fact I am just not that into Porsches. I don’t know – they strike me as a mid-life crisis kind of car that your husband gets into. The Mazda Mx5 Convertible is the other mid-life crisis car, but that at least has its cuteness going for it. The Porsche just looks like… well, a Porsche.
Still, it’s hard not to admire the execution of the model. It’s all very well done. But the paint is still a bit of a miss for me. Too brash. Something a bit more tasteful, like a flat blue or yellow like the debut, would have worked better for my eyes.
I didn’t have any other versions of this Matchbox casting, so I’ve put it next to the Majorette Porsche 911 GT3 that came in a Racing 3-pack from last year. I think the execution on the Matchbox is nicer, but the Majorette happens to be a more fun model, thanks to the bouncy suspension. Go figure.
I am sorry to end on a downer about the Porsche, so let me claw this back: this is a fantastic set, and improves massively on last year’s BoTW series. The boxes are an amazing throwback, and I wish more Matchbox series came with boxes (and that they were available in the UK, gosh darn it!)
The model choices are superb (well, 83% of them are superb) and I love the colours, for the most part. The premium lines are great – I wish I had access to more of them. And with what we’re hearing from the USA, this is the new direction for Matchbox. An end to the crappy generics that don’t interest anyone – not even the kids.
Any serious Matchbox collector should get their hands on these models – snatch up that Lamborghini Miura. It is superb. The jewel in this crown. I can’t wait for Autumn’s set.
Thanks for reading!