Matchbox Matchcaps

Mike Pigott looks at this colourful 1990s range of diecast cars from Matchbox which included a number of collectible ‘POG’ discs in each pack.During the 1990s, one of the big collecting crazes was POGs, collectible discs that could be swapped or played with competitively. To capitalise on this massive craze, Matchbox produced a line of miniature cars in vivid colours which included four discs in every pack.

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The Lost World: Jurassic Park by Matchbox

Mike Pigott looks at the toy dinosaurs and vehicles produced by Matchbox to tie in with the second film in the Jurassic Park franchise, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.163 (2)To tie in with the first Jurassic Park film, toy company Kenner released a range of collectible miniature dinosaur figures. The license for the second film went to Matchbox, which also produced some well-made dinosaur models, accompanied by some very dubious diecast cars.

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Thunderbirds by Bandai

Mike Pigott looks at a littleknown range of Thunderbirds models produced by Bandai of Japan in the 1990s. 

K_The Bandai models were packaged in attractive boxes with Japanese and English textWhile there are a number of well-known models based on Gerry Anderson’s legendary TV show Thunderbirds by manufacturers such as Dinky, Matchbox and Corgi, there are also some great models that were not as familiar. One range that largely fell under the radar of collectors in the West is a series made by Bandai in the 1990s that included large models of Thunderbirds 1, 2 and 4, plus the Mole and several other vehicles.

 

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View-Master / Matchbox Grand Prix Game

Mike Pigott looks at a rare game that combines a board, a View-Master viewer and reels and four Matchbox Superfast cars.

Viewmaster Game BoardDuring the 1970s GAF, the manufacturer of View-Master, entered the toy market with a range of games incorporating 3D viewers and reels. One of these was a race game that had the novel idea of using Matchbox cars as playing pieces. What makes this product of interest is the fact that some of the cars included were exclusive to the set and were not available separately, resulting in them being among the rarest Matchbox models of all time.

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SUPERFAST…BY DINKY!

Superfast cars by Dinky? Mike Pigott gives us the story behind this small range of Matchbox Superfast cars released under the Dinky trademark.

Dinky packagingIt goes without saying that Dinky Toys is one of the most iconic names in the history of diecast models. The company dominated the model car scene in Britain and France for over three decades, and produced a huge number of legendary models. However, by 1982 the Dinky name had disappeared from the marketplace. But there were plans to bring it back… by the owners of Matchbox!

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Gerry Anderson’s TV21 vehicles in diecast

Mike Pigott gives a concise but detailed history on all of the diecast models based on Gerry Anderson’s futuristic TV programmes, from the 1960s through to the present day.

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Over the past 60 years, the television programmes produced by Gerry Anderson and AP Films (later TV Century 21) have entertained and fascinated several generations of children, and have remained firm favourites with those who grew up with them. From the The Adventures of Twizzle in the 1950s, through to the current Thunderbirds Are Go!, Anderson’s programmes have captivated children all around the world. Many of his shows had science fiction themes and were set in the future. The ingeniously designed future vehicles featured in the shows have been reproduced as toys, including many in diecast. This article gives a detailed overview of the diecast metal models produced by a number of diverse toy and hobby companies over the past six decades, including many little-known foreign releases.

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Thunderbirds by Matchbox

Mike Pigott looks at the Thunderbirds models made by Matchbox in the 1990s.

FAB-1 (3)

The best-known models from Gerry Anderson’s futuristic puppet show Thunderbirds would have to be those manufactured by Dinky Toys in the 1960s. After Dinky went broke in 1981, there were no diecast Thunderbirds toys on the market for many years. However, Thunderbirds was given a new lease of life in 1991 when the show was re-run on British television. Another generation of kids was introduced to International Rescue, no doubt encouraged by parents who enjoyed the show in their youth. A new wave of Thunderbirds-mania swept the nation, and shops were full of a wide range of merchandise, including a line of diecast toys. This time the franchise was awarded to Matchbox, then owned by Universal Toys of Hong Kong. Matchbox produced several different Thunderbirds lines; in addition the diecast items, there were action figures and various plastic vehicles.

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Japanese Baseball Vans by Matchbox

Mike Pigott takes us out to the ball game to look at this range of baseball-themed models made for the Japanese market.

Tokyo Giants vans seen from both sides

In 1985, Matchbox International took the unusual step of producing a diecast range based on Japanese baseball. Matchbox had been targeting the Japanese market for some time, and had recently introduced a new 100-model range exclusive to Japan that included four models of local cars. These four castings (Mitsubishi Galant, Nissan Fairlady Z, Mazda Savannah RX-7 and Toyota Celica XX) were only available in Japan, and later the USA and Australia, but were not sold in the UK and Europe. Matchbox was now owned by Hong Kong company Universal Toys, which was probably better attuned to the demands of the Far Eastern market, resulting in this line of baseball models. Continue reading “Japanese Baseball Vans by Matchbox”

MATCHBOX SOOPER DOOPER HOOPER LOOPER

Mike Pigott looks at this Matchbox Superfast spin-off game from the 1970s made by Lesney’s Canadian subsidiary.

Sooper Dooper Hooper Looper

Back in the 1960s and ’70s, there were a lot of fad toys around. Perennial favourites, such as yo-yos and hula hoops vied with newer fads such as ‘clackers’. Kids loved to break records: how many times they could go ‘round the world’ with their yo-yo; how many times they could spin their hula hoops. In particular, girls loved these types of challenges; they were often seen in school playgrounds trying to set new world records for the number of times they could jump their skipping ropes.

In 1970, Lesney came up with a new entry to the ‘fad toys’ market, the snappily-named Sooper Dooper Hooper Looper. As Lesney only made diecast toys and accessories, this new game was based on Superfast cars and their related tracks.

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Code Red by Matchbox

Mike Pigott looks at a licensed range from Matchbox, based on a fire-fighting themed TV show that was aimed at the American market.

 

Code Red packaging

Over the years there have been very few character models in the Matchbox range. Unlike Corgi and Dinky, both of which had great success with TV and movie inspired character models, Lesney was very reluctant to pay royalty fees. It wasn’t until the late 1970s, when the company was desperate to increase sales in the USA that licensed toys were introduced, including lines based on Disney and Popeye characters. In 1982, Matchbox released a range of eight models based on a new television show centred on a team of Los Angeles fire-fighters called Code Red. A line of TV-related fire engines would seem to be a winning combination, but unfortunately, this was not the case; the TV series was short lived, and the models were poor. Matchbox put very little effort into making the models authentic, just using existing castings that were slightly modified or recoloured.

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