16 September 2022
At the annual Matchbox Gathering convention we hear the brand’s plans for 2023
Depending on your perspective it’s the best of times to be a Matchbox collector, or the worst. We’ve enjoyed a string of great new models in recent years, with more to come in 2023, while the previous flood of generic ‘Matchbox Originals’ castings is now a trickle. But distribution in the UK, as in many other countries, has been patchy. Tesco remains the main retailer, but hasn’t received every mix, nor stocked popular lines like Moving Parts or the Collectors series. Will the coming year bring better news?
At the Matchbox Gathering in Albuquerque this summer, we sat down with staff designer, Abe Lugo, the driving force behind the brand’s recent renaissance. The plans for 2023 include around 25 new castings in the mainline (or basic) range – he was able to show about 20 for which licences had already been approved. Highlights include a Morris Minor saloon, Volvo 240, Mazda RX-8, Porsche Macan and Mercedes-AMG SL.
One change in particular is set to help UK collectors in 2023. After a few years issuing only six mixes a year of mostly all-new models, Matchbox is switching back to its previous business model of 13 mixes a year, each split between new models and some carried forward from a previous batch. The goal is to provide more consistency of stock, reduce the number of ‘pegwarmer’ releases packed two or three to a case, and increase the chances of finding that model you really want.
Five-pack distribution will also change, with cartons now containing one each of different five-packs instead of three of each style. Again, the aim is greater variety on the shelf at any one time, which benefits consumers and Matchbox, as five-packs are important earners for the brand. You should also be able to find the pack you want over a wider window of time.
Less clear is the fate of the more detailed Moving Parts and Collectors series in the UK. Up to now, these have only been reliably available from online retailers such as Modelmatic or HW Models, but, according to Lugo, the longer-term plan is for Moving Parts to be marketed as Matchbox’s lead item, in place of the basics. He’d like to see the range grow from the current 50 to 75, but the tool bank needs to be expanded first. There will be at least 15 new tools for 2023.
Examples of mainline cars already being recreated in Moving Parts include the Corvette C8, Tesla Roadster and Toyota FJ40. We’re sure there are plenty of collectors who would welcome seeing Moving Parts as Matchbox’s primary line, albeit at a higher price point, but at this point there’s no word on a regular UK stockist for 2023. Amazon in the US is now carrying multi-packs of Matchbox, including Moving Parts, and some sets with exclusive models, so this may be one channel to keep an eye on in the UK as well.
One thing we will see more of is electric vehicles. Matchbox is at the forefront of Mattel’s initiative to make its toys more sustainable. That means the increased use of recycled materials in construction and of compostable materials in packaging, as well as more EVs in the range of cars being made, reflecting new vehicles on the road.
The premium releases offered online through Mattel Creations have sold well and will also continue. Some of the models issued so far, like the Draggin’ Wheels Volkswagen, have been fantastic, others less impressive. Lugo would like to see more special tools used in this line, but they must take their place in the queue with all the other new tools he’s trying to create, including some new wheel designs.
Matchbox recently announced a tie-up with SpaceX and while exact product plans have yet to be communicated, it’s likely that one of the SpaceX releases will be a high-end product sold through Mattel Creations. The same will likely apply to one of the platinum-themed models being created to celebrate Matchbox’s 70th anniversary. Other anniversary editions will include a mail-in Routemaster bus, mainline cars and a special five-pack, standalone anniversary releases, a US Walmart series and a premium Collectors mix of castings that include new versions of two Lesney classics, the Jaguar D-Type and Porsche 910. We really hope that distribution can be improved to enable collectors to enjoy all of these great new products.
Upcoming Matchbox models coming in 2023:
- Toyota 4Runner
- Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing
- Ford GT40 (Moving Parts/Collectors)
- Morris Minor 1000
- Volkswagen ID.4
- Renault Mégane
- Porsche 911 Super Chase
- Citroën Ami/Renault Twizy
- Teslas/Tesla Roadster
- 1985 Volvo 240
- Volkswagen Karmann Ghia/Mazda RX-8
- AMC Eagle/Koenigsegg Gemera
- Volkswagen Golf Mk.III
You can read more about Matchbox's upcoming releases in the November 2022 issue of Diecast Collector, with a short review of all the models mentioned above. On sale on 4th October, you can order your copy here.