2004 MATCHBOX LINE PREVIEW

Here is a preview of all the 2004 models that are expected to be released. I have collected this information from the Line Preview Meeting that was held at the Mattel's Headquarter in Mt. Laurel, NJ on December 17, 2003. I would like to thank John Y. of Matchbox Forum USA to give me the opportunity to represent the club at the Line Preview meeting again this year.

Now enjoy the news, Happy Hunting and don't lose your sleep if you cannot find any particular model. These are only toys. Trust me you will find all of them eventually. Also, note that all pictures on this report are taken by yours truly at the line preview.

GENERAL NEWS:

The 2004 Line is divided into three pieces - Core, Kid Collection, and Collectibles. Once again, 2004, like 2003 will feature only two markets: Domestic Collection & International Collection (ROW). There will be no special "CORE" models for Australia, Germany, or UK. However, Germany may still have a 3rd round of "STARS OF GERMANY" models. In the US Range, numbers 1-30 will be the "Ultra Heroe" models and from 31-75 will be the standard models. The first 15 models (i.e., 1-15) in the ROW range will have same Ultra Heroe models as the US range. However, they may not have the same numbers as the US. Numbers 16-30 will be ROW exclusive models. 31-75 in the ROW Range will be same as US models. Hence a total of 90 models all together in the miniature range. And, the most important news: --- There will be no logo models to hunt this year.

CORE LINE:
There will be 44 new toolings which include 30 Ultra Heroe Models (fantasy models).
There will be new packaging (we have already seen that)
There will be 12 five packs ( Haunted House , Fire, Construction, Rescue Vehicles, Airport plus more). Some of the five packs will have Ultra Hero models but these will be released in the later part of the year. In addition to the standard five packs, there will be TV Heroe five packs including Justice Leage, Looney Tunes, Nickelodeon plus some classic cartoon characters. The plans are still in the works.
A few 10 packs (nothing exciting about them)
There will be 4 Launcher sets - No new tooling just the recolors or a new mix. One was shown to us
Skybusters will be available in either single or 4 Packs with 3 new tools. The new tooling includes a DC3 and a trasnport plane (sorry forgot the name) plus one more. Set-1 and Set-2 were shown at the meeting.

Some of the re-color models include: Jeep , Mini Cooper , Group-1 , Group-2 , Group-3 .

The new (non-Ultra Hero) miniatures include (in no particular order): Honda Element , New Corvette , Checker Taxi , Pontiac Solstice , Ambulance , Nissan Z , School Bus , BMW Z4 , Jeep Compass and more.

The Ultra Hero models (not released so far) include (in no particular order): Fish School Bus , Fire Freezer , Rotwheeler, Grass Hopper Tow Truck , Gorilla Roller, Moto Helmet Cop , Web Crawler , Rumble Dozer , Squawkie Talkie , Pund Hound, Constuction Hat , Lock Boxer, Mush Puppy, and a Snail Mail Truck (no pun intended) to name a few.

I know I will hear from a lot of collectors on my next statement but I must say that I personally liked the Ultra Heroe models. I think they are nice addition to the line, they are colorful and different. Mattel told us that these were given a lot of thinking. The rational for the Ultra Hero models come from focus groups composed of children under six years old who were asked as to what do they see in a model involving police, animals, construction and fire equipments? The replies lead Mattel to make a Police Whistle, a Police Hat car, Buzz copter, a Rhino Dump truck etc. These models look like a vehicle that would have doors, wheels, and a place for passengers to sit. The new tools will have moving parts as necessary like the moving cement mixer. etc.

KID COLLECTION :
There will be an "Around the World" collection. This will have 4 categories with 36 models. The 4 categories are: International Cities, Postcard Places, Mysterious Journies and Natural Wonders. Each category will have its own color camera. The 4 camera colors are Red, Purple, Orange and Green. The first 100,000 will have a passport in the back that will list all the models and will have a place to post your sticker from the blister pack. International Cities will have two versions i.e., the same models will be available in a different color scheme. There will be 5 mail order models 1 for each category and one for the entire series. The four category models are: 1957 Chevy Bellair , 1962 VW Beetle , Model "A" Ford , Police SUV . The final model belongs to the whole series and it is a Fire Freezer . This makes 50 models in this series.

In addition to the above 50 models, there will be around the world 3-pack similar to the Across America 3-packs where you only get one exclusive model and two standard models. Plans are still in the works. Toys R Us (TRU) will have an exclusive bagpack with one exclusive model and 4 standard models from the standard Around the World range. Target will have a Car Carrier that could hold up to 9 models and will come with an exclusive model.

There will be some Groceries/Food & Drug store exclusive models to promote Matchbox. This includes: Mustang , Chevy , Ford .

Seasonal items include Egg Mobile, Bunny 3-Pack. Be on the look for different color schemes on the Bunny Head . Summer fun travel playsets (includes Beach, Camping and more), Ghost mobiles (2 car pack instead of 3 pack) and Secret Santa cars.

COLLECTIBLES:
Definitely new packaging and I think it is much better. You can see the model from all angles. For those collectors who do not open their models (including yours truly) storing will be a big problem as this new packing is not very storage friendly. The 1:43 scale models will also be moving from window boxes to blister packs hence a reduction in price by almost $3.00. Now here is some info for all the DLM4life members. Do you know that when you get your model out of the package and trash the packaging you are trashing a portion of your hard earned money - May be you guys want to join the other group :)-.

There will be only 1:64 scale and 1:43 scale models. No more 1:18 scale range as it is not getting much attention per Mattel. The 1:64 scale models will be limited to 7,500 pieces each but it does not say the quantity on the packaging (Thanks Mattel). The series includes My Classic Cars, Show Case, Barrett Jackson, Superfast and may be more. Some of the models there were on display at the meeting were: 1962 VW Beelte (Barrett-Jackson), 1962 VW Beetle (My Classic Cars), Mini Cooper (Show Case), Mustang GT (Show Case), Pontiac Vibe (Show Case), PT Cruiser (Show Case).

East 1:43 scale series will have 6 pieces but only 3 models as each model will have two color variations. The series includes Barrett Jackson, Mustang 40th Anniversary plus may be more. This is limited to 3,000 pieces for each color. Once again, the quantity is not printed on the packaging. Some of the models on display were: Ford Mustang (Barrett-Jackson), Tucket Torpedo (Barrett-Jackson), Ford Mustang (Mustang 40th Anniv).

Military Land & Air assortment will have 6 new tools for the planes. Fokker , Red Barron, F-86 Sabre Jet, Mig 15 , F104 Star Fighter, F100 Super Saver and Spad-13. There will be two waves of these planes. Each wave will have 3 new tools and 3 re-colors from the existing line. New packaging looks really cool.

The Military tanks will also have new packaging and only two new tools are included.

AVON will have Best Friends 2-Packs. This includes Blues Clues and Spongebob Squarepants. More are in the works

There will be more Simon & Schuster models. The first will be available in May with an exclusive Dump Truck. The other will be available in October. Sorry did not get the model on this.

Hopefully the Matchbox site will be updated for 2004. They have new plans for it (?????). Also, a question was asked about linking club sites to which Mattel responded that the reason they did not add links to these sites is because Mattel does not control the contents of these sites and they do not want to get into any legal issues. I think this is fair enough.

There will be exclusive models for the NY Toyfair as well as the Nuremburg Toyfair. These will be two different models. The US model will be in very limited quantity while the Nuremburg will be in quantity more than the NY Toyfair. All participant at the meeting were given one complimentary NY Toyfair model. Thank you Mattel as I don't have to buy one on eBay now.

Now at the end, the 2004 Matchbox show is planned for August 7 & 8 which conflicts with McGungie show but Mattel did not have much choice as most of the dates were booked. Mattel promised that they would have better dates in 2005.

I guess this is it for now. Pictures will follow later.

Enjoy and Happy Hunting.

Shabbir Malik / January 2004

The following is an addition to the 2005 Line Preview. Mattal decided to have a short preview meeting to reveal their new line of "Superfast" series. The meeting held at the Mattel's HQs on April 1st, 2004. Here is what I posted on the Matchbox Community Board.

I attended the “Superfast Preview” meeting last night representing Matchbox Forum. There were 10 collectors, 6 Mattel reps and Bill Shisler, of Color Comp, in the meeting. According to Mattel, the reason they are bringing back the word “Superfast” is because other manufacturers may copy the Matchbox miniature but no one can create “Superfast.” This is a Matchbox branded name. By re-introducing this name Mattel wants to promote Matchbox by bringing back the history.

The meeting was great. I enjoyed as Mattel wanted to know from the group about their opinion on different things. According to them this was one of the many sessions that Mattel would hold to get collectors feedback.

Introduction aside, the “Superfast” series will have 36 models in 2004. There will be 3 waves of 12 models each. The first 12 models are:
Ford Mustang (08-A)
VW 1500 (15-A)
Ford GT (41-A)
1968 Mercury Cougar (62-A)
1970 Plymouth Cuda
Chevy Avalanche
Mustang GT Concept
1969 Chevy Camaro
1971 Chevy Chevelle
PT Cruiser Convertible
Cadillac Escalade
Mini Cooper

The first four models are from the original Lesney era, however, these will be re-created with new Mattel (plastic) base plates. I do not recall any opening features but I may be wrong on this.

Here are some highlights in a bullet format:
All models will come in a very colorful blister pack with a picture box of the model. The box size will remain the same for all models. Unlike Lesney era where you could get either a small box or a bigger box based upon the casting.

The new Matchbox logo will be very prominent on the blister. However, “Superfast” logo will be prominent on the picture box. A one color Matchbox logo will show up on the box but it will not be very prominent.

The model may change color scheme or other variations but the picture on the box will stay the same, i.e., the picture on the box will not change until the model is retired from the range.

The color scheme will be as close to the factory colors as possible.

There will be new style wheels on these models using the modern wheel technology.

The original plan is to come up with 75 models in this range and keep the numbering system the same throughout the lifetime of the model. For example, if a model is released as #21 and stays in the line for a long time it will always be released with the same number even if there are variations over a period of time.

There will be 36 models for 2004. However, if the series shows favorable results there will be more models in 2005.

The 2005 series will start with #37. Hence the numbers 1-36 will be released for 2004.

The series will begin showing up in stores around June/July 2004 time frame. The second wave will hit the stores in September and the 3rd wave before the end of 2004.

Cost is $1.99 each available at most toy stores including TRU, Kmart, Walmart and some food chains. No contract with Target on this series so far.

If an original casting is used, i.e., from the original Lesney era, it would get the same number as the original Lesney number that is why the first 4 models have numbers (8,15,41&62). However, each of these 4 models will have their current version counter parts as well. I believe they will be release as the same number.

The series will only include cars at this time, i.e. no trucks, boats, planes etc.

These models are limited to 10,000 pieces and are exclusive to US market only.

The quantity will be listed on the blister pack only Ý I don’t like that. It would be very hard to find them in the stores for many of us.

All new castings will have “new model” listed on the blister next to the quantity. There will be six new models in this series for 2004.

The back of the blister pack for the first wave will have a listing of all 12 models in that wave. I am assuming the second wave will have listing of the next 12 models and so on.

There will be a 35th anniversary logo, similar to the 50th anniversary logo, on each blister pack for 2004. However, the models in 2005 will not have this logo on the blister pack because 2005 will not be the 35th anniversary anymore. I was glad to hear that there will be no logo hunt, i.e., the 35th anniversary logo will not be on the model.

The 36th model in the range will be a Corvette with rubber tires. This model will come in two different colors and the 10,000 piece limit will be divided between the two colors. This will be released as box #24.

In other news, The Duracell models with 2004 tempo are only released in Canada. They are not available in the US so get in touch with your contacts in Canada if you are a variation freak.

There will be another Duracell promotion this year with Home Depot (Yes! More batteries in the house) with 6 models. 4 of them will be Mustangs with 40th anniversary logo on them. This will be released sometimes in September 2004.

There will be only 36 Around the World models. No more color changes as previously mentioned. However, the series will be completed this year.

Hershey will have 2 Toy show models this year instead of one. There will be a 2004 Mustang and a 2005 Corvette. Since there are two models, the total quantity will be shared by the two models.

This is it from my notes. Hope I did not miss anything. No pictures at this time. I did not get home until 10:30pm so did not have the time to transfer them from my camera to the computer. Hope to have them ready in the next day or so.

This is it for now. I guess this will keep a lot of people busy during the year. I am looking forward to this line as I think it has a lot of good models for the collectors. Happy Hunting and Good Luck.

Shabbir Malik / April 2004



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