Matchbox USA (2001) 20th Annual Convention Review

For the first time in four years I attended the Matchbox USA Convention dinner. It was one of the longest nights for convention but it was worth the time. The club's 20th annual convention (the longest running Matchbox convention) was held once again at the "Parsippany Hilton" in NJ on the weekend of June 2nd & 3rd 2001. It was a great weekend both weather wise and toy hunting wise and was enjoyed by all collectors. I left home around 11:00 in the morning on Saturday. Despite the fact that there was a lot of traffic in Manhattan it took me only 55 minutes to get to the hotel. I was at the hotel by noon time. Charlie was as usual busy doing the registration for the evening dinner. A lot of promotional models were done for this year's convention/toy show. Most of them were done by Color Comp. The first model (not part of the convention) was released just a week before the convention. It is my web site's 5th anniversary model. Yes! the site is up and running for the last 5 years. The model is superbly done by Color Comp Inc. It has a dark blue background on the sides reflecting the background of my site with the enterance gates. It says "All You Need to Know About Matchbox Toys" with the URL and "Best Web Site on the Net by Shabbir." The roof has a Matchbox logo and reads "Shabbir Web site's 5th Anniversary." A really great job done by Color Comp. The models could be ordered by sending and email to yours truly.

All the other models are discussed through out the report. Charlie was the first person I met. Unlike the last three years, I decided to attended the dinner on Saturday as I had more time available to me this year. The show model is a White VW Transporter with tempo printing done by Color Comp. This model is also availabe in metallic blue color with white base but was done only in a limited run of 8 pieces. The white model is a 250 piece run. Right after the registration, I headed towards the rooms where a few people have opened their doors for in-room trading. I was kind of surprised that not many people were around for in-room trading this year. In the past I have seen a lot of collectors floating around in the hallways. In any event, I was able to pickup a few models from my Want List.

At 1:00 pm there were a couple of races. Gordon Stevens of Connecticut won the Modified race while Tom Sarlitto of Midwest Diecast Miniatures won the Stock Car race. This year Charlie gave away Chevy Bellair Hard Top to all participants at the race. The two races lasted around 30 minutes. At 2:00 there was a conference from Color Comp Inc. Bill Shisler of Color Comp Inc. did a very nice job explaining what is the company about and how they do the promotional models. The room was filled with 50+ collectors who asked many questions. During the Q&A Bill Shisler distributed a blank Chevy Panel Van and decals for everyone to create their own one of a kind promo. Charlie has also done a conference special Mercedes Benz E-Class. The model was, originally in charcoal, dyed to a pink color and Color Comp did a nice job on tempo printing. Charlie also did some trial run models in Blue, Charcoal & Silver however, they were done in smaller quantities so don't go crazy looking for them. The conference lasted almost 70 minutes. After the conference, in-room trading continued till 5:00pm.

Dinner started promptly at 7:00pm. I think the food was of good quality for the $35 price we paid. Desert included a nice cake with Matchbox USA 20th Anniversary written on it. For the first time in many years a representative from Mattel attended the Matchbox USA Convention. David Bryla, VP Marketing of Mattel, did a nice job answering questions. He also did a 2002 Line Preview to about 100 members attending the dinner. The main rumor he cleared for everyone was the fact that Matchbox is not in the process of being phased out. This was emphasized by David by saying that Mattel has just put a brand new factory in China a year ago and that Mattel has big plans for 2002 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Matchbox. Q&A continues throughout his 2002 mini Line Preview presentation. According to him #92 & #93 logo cars from 2000 may not have been made. However, some pre-production models may have sneaked out in the market so don't lose your sleep looking for them.


Mattel has big plans to celebrate next year as Matchbox 50th birthday. There will be plenty of new styles for 2002 models. All packaging will bear a 50th anniversary seal including blister packs and window boxes. The first 10,000 pieces of the entire range will have a 50th anniversary seal somewhere on the body (similar to the 2000 Logo line). The line would be called, "MB50 Seal" cars. 1-75 line will be maintained in US, Germany, Australia and ROW. On top of that a series (limited to 50 models) called, "Matchbox Across America" would be released. This is not a limited edition series and should be available easily throughout the country. Inspired by the "States Quarters" popularity Mattel came up with this bright idea to release 50 models for each state in the Union and would be numbered according to when they joined the Union. it would take anyone only 12 months instead of 12 years to complete the series. These will be core miniatures with special tampoing and coloring along with special blister packs. In each pack will be a replica of each States official license plate. The first license plate would be Deleware with "DE001" (DE the postal code for Delaware and 001 being the first state) on it emphasizing the first state. I think this is a good idea for all the history fans to have such a collection and other people to easily remember the number their state joined the Union. A display board will be available at Target to display the license plates.

In April 2002 Matchbox models would be available through the McDonald's Happy Meals. The models will be available in poly bags with the meal (not sure if you have to buy them or they come free with the meal). However, collectors would be able to buy or oder the blister packed models at "" before April or before the promotion begins. There will be 30 million of these models produced so don't rush and pay to the scalpers. There will be six cars in this range and the first one will have "ILLINOIS" on it as McDonald's is based in Illinois. Something new to learn.........

As part of the 50th Anniversary celebration two caravans will be touring different states between April & September. They will set up in parking lot or places like KMart lawns with Rescue Activities for children. Special models including a tractor trailer modeled after the rigs will be offered. At this point no retail store has signed up for this event however, David assured us that some if not all of the activities related to the Matchbox Caravan will happen.

After the mini 2002 line preview some spot prizes were given away followed by a few awards. The first award went to six club members (John Clark, Gerry Gleason, Jim Dickinson, Mike Appnel, Bob Porcja and Neil Waldmann for a perfect attendance. The name of these club members are also printed on the roof of the toy show VW Bus. John Clark presented each of 6 club members with a shirt with their names on them.Three non-members (Joyce Appned, Steve Gal and Eva Gal) for similar feat. Guess what? Charlie Mack's name is not on the list. The reason being simple he is always the host so he had no excuse to be absent. However, he did not get any awards. May be on 25th anniversary. A special merit award was given to Christian Falkensteiner in appreciation of his knowledge on Matchbox that he constantly shares with collectors on the internet and proof reading of the Encyclopedia.

Sunday began the Toy Show. The dealer set up was at 7:00am with show starting at 9:00am. I got to the show at around 10:00. There were many dealers and collectors with their stalls. I did not find a lot of new items due to the fact that I had purchased most of the new items a day before. Nonetheless I was able to pick up some older models from my Want List. As usual there were die cast items from Matchbox, Corgi, Tomy, Racing Champion, White Rose, Johnny Lightning, Hot Wheels and others. Just like last year, Color Comp Inc. had a stall where they did a VW Concept Car in red (from the left over inventory of Target Glitter) as a demo model. This model is available in both old 5 spoke wheels and the new 5 spoke wheels. They also did another demo car using a Crown Victoria Police Car. This is done very nicely by using neon orange stripes and CERT (Color Comp Emergency Response Team) tempo. They also had a few of their other promotions for sale. By noon time the hall was pretty empty. I left at 1:30 but the show was scheduled to end at 3:00pm. The best part of the day was when I saw the London Bus in Gold with "Swinging London" label. This is the first time I saw this model for sale but the price was out of my reach for the time being so I passed on to this Golden (no pun intended) opportunity. I am sure I would be able to obtain this model in my collection one day.

Overall, I enjoyed the in-room trading, convention and the toy show. To me this show is better than the Hershey show as the opportunity to interact with other collectors is more. The in-room trading is a plus. I must say that no matter what Charlie does the convention is not picking up. Charlie has already mentioned about giving up his dinner for next year. That is going to be a big blow to the weekend but I must say that there is no way Charlie can cover the price from his pocket every year. I think we should all send our suggestions to Charlie regarding how to make this weekend a great weekend for Matchbox. I personally think that Charlie should consider moving his his show very close to Hearshy i.e., a weekend before or a weekend after so that the collectors who come from out of the country can accommodate both shows in one trip or move the show a month away from Hearshy so that the show keeps its identity. I think it is upto Charlie to decide. However, I must say that Charlie is doing a great job year after year and my hats off to him. I wish him well and Good Luck for his next year's show.

Now is the time to end this review. I hope everyone who attended the convention or who was unable to attend enjoyed this report. Please feel free to make comments and let me know of any concerns you may have.

Shabbir Malik (6/2001)./

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