Matchbox Posts

Knockoffs and Copies are Surprisingly Common (And Collectible)

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

A while back we took a look at how certain model cars featured unusual discrepancies that were also found on earlier models of that car by different companies.  In these cases, even if the maker of the newer model was authorized to create a model of that particular vehicle, they incorrectly based some of their decisions on another model instead of the real car. It’s a fun phenomenon to track once you see it.

Here we’re taking a look at a different kind of copy, the kind that can only be called blatant theft. Knockoffs and copies are surprisingly common and sometimes collectible depending on type of vehicle and of course, quality and rarity.

Ford Cortina Estates by Matchbox (left) and Fleetwood Toys

Ford Cortina Estates by Corgi and Fleetwood Toys

See these models of a Ford Cortina Estate? They look a lot alike, yet the one on the right is a little… off.. The details are a bit muddier than on the Corgi car, because Fleetwood Toys most likely used the original toy as the basis for a mold, which would blur some finer details. But there’s a really obvious clue if you have one in your hand instead of just looking at a photo: The entire car is made of plastic instead of having diecast metal parts. The question is, did they figure Corgi would be unaware of the theft, or just not care enough to do anything about it?

Bedford trucks by Corgi (left) and unknown Hong Kong company

Bedford trucks by Corgi and unknown Hong Kong company

These Bedford trucks present another interesting case. Again, the base model is from Corgi, in the form of a semi tractor, and an unknown company from Hong Kong copied the mold in plastic. But added the new models featured their own twist… their truck could be had as a milk truck, garbage hauler or other versions. It’s not clear whether they borrowed these features from other vehicles or created them from scratch. In this case, the second company is unknown, as they probably sold these toys as commodity items.

Pumper Trucks by Matchbox (left) and Gordy Mite

Pumper Trucks by Matchbox and Gordy Mite

Matchbox has offered many fire engines over the years, and one of the most iconic is the Model 29 Fire Pumper. The details are a bit crude by Matchbox standards, and the white plastic hose reels on the top usually warped over time. But that didn’t stop the folks at Gordy Mite from making their own version. In this case, some of the details that had been molded into the base of the original were transferred to the body casting, possibly to simplify production, possibly to avoid being guilty of a direct copy. Who knows?

Coomer Delivery vans by (from left) Matchbox, Blue Box and Blue Bow.

Coomer Delivery vans by Matchbox, Blue Box and Blue Bow.

Finally, the Matchbox Commer Van is the victim of a really interesting case of theft… A company calling themselves “Blue Box” stole the mold and made a slightly inferior plastic version, complete with similar sized box. But then another company not only knocked Blue Box’ model, but their box design and even the name. The result was called “Blue Bow” models. Yep, it’s a copy of a copy, right down to the typeface in the logo, with the expected degradation of detail along the way.

If you know of any others, let us know in the comments below!

Meet Modern Mattel Matchbox Maven John Lambert

lamley group matchboxWe have a new expert on board to help us wrangle one of the most popular diecast brands into shape in our Catalog. John Lambert will be member of hobbyDB’s Advisory Board as an expert on newer Matchbox vehicles.

matchbox ford mustang police car

Lambert started the Lamley Group as a blog with David Tilley to discuss just about any brand of diecast vehicles. (The Lamley name combines part of each of the surnames.) Their blog evolved mostly into musings about the newer Mattel era Matchbox cars.  “We started it mainly as a joke when we realized that he and I both had a knowledge of Mattel era Matchbox that matched the knowledge of some of the Regular and Superfast-era experts. Nothing came of it until I decided to start a blog to showcase my photos.”

His pictures aren’t just well-lit and focused, they are often creatively staged with scenery and props, such as this dealership diorama full of Toyota Land Cruisers.

matchbox toyota land cruiser

As for his favorite all time casting, well that’s a moving target. “I’ve tried hard to pick one favorite casting, and it’s near impossible… One day it’s the BMW 1M, but I have a feeling the upcoming ’71 Nissan Skyline will take its place.”

He displays a “small portion of my collection loose on custom wall cases”, in his Salt Lake City home. How many Matchbox models would you guess he has? “I have no idea.  I have never counted. I am probably a little afraid to know.”

In 2013, Lambert was named the 8th “Matchbox Ambassador To Collectors” at the annual Matchbox Collector’s Community Hall International Gathering Of Friends.

matchbox off road fire engine

Diecast Drift Track Lets You Play With Cars at Work

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

One of the best things about working at hobbyDB? You can play with toys at work and nobody gets mad. And if someone does call you out, you can claim you were studying it for cataloging purposes.

Well, let’s get ready to rip open some Hot Wheels blister packs! This diecast drift track set from Tyotoys allows you make your favorite 1:64 scale vehicles “drift” around the corners in a just barely controlled set of slides. They come in a few different sizes, but the small set, at 18 x 9.5 inches, should fit on your desktop for plenty of worktime “research” into friction, speed, aerodynamics, and any other scientific principle you can think of that justfies playing with cars on the job. It even has screws to adjust the banking.

Here’s a short video showing the track in action. Some skill and practice and the right vehicle set up are actually called for, so it never gets boring. And for you fans of Kidrobot vinyl art toys… you will be pleased when you hit the 1:00 minute mark. Trust us!

Tracks are for sale on Tyotoys’ website.

How Do They Make Those Wonderful Toys?

Ever wonder how your favorite diecast vehicles are made? Well, here’s how Matchbox did it over 50 years ago.

These two short films come from the Pathé archives, a treasure trove of amazing old clips. See how many of these cars t you can recognize! (The Jaguar XKE is featured prominently.)  The idea that the prototype is built 5 times the final size and scaled down with a pantograph is mind-blowing!






See the Future with these Matchbox Pre-Production Models

This is the Ambassador’s Report from the Matchbox Gathering, July 22nd, 2015. Lots of new models were announded for 2016, some of which you can see below.

This Volkswagen 1990 Crew Cab Transports, aka "Doka" is coming soon from Matchbox.

This Volkswagen 1990 Crew Cab Transports, aka “Doka” is coming soon from Matchbox.

By Larry Scaduto

Good day to everyone! This report is the one you have been waiting for! We all get to see the new product for the rest of this year and into the following year. 2015 has been a year of change! There’s a new Matchbox Team in place, although the faces may have changed, the desire to improve the brand has never been more of a priority than it is today. Dave Weise, Michael Heralda and the rest of the gang set the wheels in motion to put Matchbox back on track. Gerry Cody and his team will keep going what these fine gentlemen started. 2016 models are already selected and 2017 is now the focus with collectors in mind. The proof of this is in the desire of Matchbox to listen to our ideas. The results of the Collector’s Poll are in this report. These are the models voters decided they would like to see made and the candidates will be posted in the War Room for consideration. Well I’ve talked enough for now. Onto the Gathering Report.

Thank you for reading…..Larry

2015 Matchbox Gathering Report

2015 & 2016 are looking great by what I’ve seen and heard. Not only did the dinner presentation provide us with a lot of information, but the seminar before that hosted by the Matchbox Team was an informal meeting of the minds that revealed even more information! Let’s jump right in shall we???? Matchbox is now under a new umbrella (or group) that is called The Toy Box! What that means to us is that we are no longer associated with the blue brand and that will give us freedom to pursue just about any model we wish without approval from them. Now it’s up to Mattel to let MBX accomplish this without restrictions. Are you listening Mattel??? To start out in mid-August there will be an exclusive Jeep Collection available at Wal-Mart.