Hot Wheels or Matchbox?

In 1997 Matchbox was bought out by Mattel makers of rival diecasts Hot Wheels.The rivalry between the Hot Wheels and Matchbox brands is not only a battle fought by the companies; collectors of each of the brands feel strongly about the qualities of their brand of choice.  Early concerns of collectors were countered by assurances from Mattel that (a) Matchbox would continue to develop their product line independently from Hot Wheels, and (b) that it was intended that Matchbox represent “real” and traditional vehicles, while fantasy would primarily be placed firmly in Hot Wheels territory. 

Matchbox certainly has more trucks than Hot Wheels in their current range, but sometimes the cars seem to be issued under the “wrong” brand.

Hot Wheels Aston DB5 and Matchbox Ford Mustang GT500 Convertible

Hot Wheels Aston DB5 and Matchbox Ford Mustang GT500 Convertible

The Aston here would seem ideal for inclusion in the Matchbox range, even though Matchbox are no longer “Made in England by Lesney“. Matchbox issued a Jaguar E Type in 2005, the Aston Martin DB5, looks great parked along side.

Matchbox Jaguar E-Type and Hot Wheels Aston Martin DB5

Matchbox Jaguar E-Type and Hot Wheels Aston Martin DB5

The Mustang would seem more fitting with Hot Wheels which has hundreds of American Muscle cars. Matchbox have had some highly desirable  Mustangs and Cougars in their line up before (like Wild Cat and Rat Rod), but now the brands are under the same owner, it would seem more appropriate for the GT500 Convertible to be a Hot Wheels, would it not? In my last post I photographed my entire Matchbox collection except for the GT500, I had overlooked it, assuming it to be a Hot Wheels.

Hot Wheels Mustang GT 500 and Matchbox GT500 Convertible

Hot Wheels Mustang GT 500 and Matchbox GT500 Convertible

If I were in charge of Mattel I would like to see British Sports cars like the Jaguar E Type and the Aston Martin DB5 branded “Matchbox” and American Muscle Cars like the Mustang GT500 branded Hot Wheels.

Maisto and Bburago are in a similar position. The Italian manufacturer Bburago was taken over by the May Cheong Group which owns Maisto in 2007. The Bburago brand now focuses on European cars, while Maisto carries a more global selection. There is some overlap, they both manufacture Lamborghinis, as do Hot Wheels and Matchbox.

Here two Mustangs, little to choose between them, the Hot Wheels looks slightly more custom, with more stripes and larger rear wheels, the Matchbox more street, but both are sweet looking models.

Hot Wheels '67 Mustang Coupe and Matchbox '68 Mustang Coupe

Hot Wheels ’67 Mustang Coupe and Matchbox ’68 Mustang Coupe

When Matchbox were still made in England back in the early seventies they produced these two hot rods and others in response to the threat posed by the new kid on the block, Hot Wheels (launched 1968).

Matchbox Rat Rod and Wild Cat

Matchbox Rat Rod and Wild Cat

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5 thoughts on “Hot Wheels or Matchbox?

  1. There was Flying Bug and Mini Ha Ha… a couple of others were planned, too…these were a response by Matchbox to competition from Hot Wheels which had a lot of cars created by a designer’s imagination….Hot Wheels were introduced in 1968 and effectively destroyed the market in the USA for Matchbox…who responded with Superfast wheels, hot rods and weird cars like Mini Ha Ha…but it was too late…
    The current Matchbox range has a lot of trucks, some based on real trucks others non licensed (licensing is another obstacle today for diecast manufacturers), and only a few cars…Hot Wheels have been producing some great non American cars in the last few years (They’d always been great on American Muscle cars) like Toyota 2000GT, Aston Martin DB5, Chevrolet Opala SS (Brazilian car), Porsche 911 GT3RS, Acura NSX etc…

  2. I have noticed that quite often Hot Wheels models have paint errors or chips and things and I make sure not to buy those if that is the case. I always have to inspect Hot Wheels carefully. But I have never yet, fingers crossed, found a Matchbox with any quality control issues.

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