My first diecast cars were Matchbox. My earliest memories were of Matchbox vehicles. On my First Birthday cake I had a Matchbox Car. My earliest memory is being on a train holding onto a Matchbox Racing Car Transporter (K-5). I also had a Pickfords Removal van from the regular 1-75 range, which my parents would occasionally fill with Smarties. Between 1969 and 1970, Matchbox switched production form standard wheels to Superfast wheels to counter the competition from Hot Wheels, which had been introduced onto the market in 1968.
I don’t have any of my original cars, but I have bought a few that I used to play with as a child like the 8 Wheel Crane and the Iso Grifo in the photo. Since moving to Tbilisi in 2009, I have been collecting model cars at the rate of around a dozen a month from many manufacturers, which I hope to look at in further posts. I started with Matchbox because even today they are my favourite brand. As a child I collected them, as they were cheaper than Corgi and Dinky.
Lesney began making diecast toys after the Second World War in England. Their main focus was on the Matchbox 1-75 series was so named because there were always 75 different vehicles in the line, each packaged in a small box designed to look like those used for matches. These toys became so popular that “Matchbox” was widely used as a generic term for any diecast toy car, regardless of who the actual manufacturer was.
Matchbox are not to a strict scale but are around 1:64, measuring 3 inches long. In addition to the 1-75 range there are King Size models and Models of Yesteryear. In my collection I have about ninety-five Matchbox models, I have more Hot Wheels, but that is because they are more readily available, and also recent Hot Wheels releases (like 1963 Aston Martin DB5, Mars Curiosity Rover and Toyota 2000GT) have been more attractive to me than recent Matchbox models. Today I bought one Hot Wheels and one Matchbox model:
The Matchbox Fire Rig is an unlicensed model, meaning it is not based on an actual vehicle. The Hot Wheels ‘69 Dodge Charger Daytona is a crazy looking American muscle car, with a spoiler that resembles a shopping trolley handle.
When I am in England, I look in charity shops and car boot sales for older Matchbox cars and other diecast. In Tbilisi mostly I get new Matchbox from shops, there are very few shops stocking Matchbox here, and even those that do have a very limited selection. There is a flea market (Drybridge Market) for older models but I rarely find Matchbox cars there, it is better for old Soviet Produced cars…I did find a Jaguar SS100 Yesteryear model and three early Superfast vehicles there: AMX Javelin, Volks-Dragon and Beach Buggy
My favourite models tend to be sports cars from the sixties and early seventies, I don’t have many trucks. I don’t have any of the old boxes, nowadays they come in blister packs. I would like to have a few old boxes and realise the cars would be worth far more if they had their original boxes. I collect for pleasure not for profit. Sometimes I may exchange models at the fleamarket.
Update: I found two Matchbox cars with boxes. The Maserati Racer (no.52) on the left is a 1993 Chinese reproduction of an old Lesney model, the Ford GT Racer (No.41) on the right I found in an antiques shop in York for £20 and is original (Made in England) from about 1969 with regular wheels.
I look forward to any comments I may receive.