Memories of Matchbox

When I started making models at the age of about 8 or 9 (I'm 38 now) I soon
discovered that Airfix models were poorly moulded (or rather the filling if
the moulds wasn't exactly quality controlled). So, in common with my friends
I stuck to Matchbox. The parts were well defined, the instructions were
clear and thanks to the tri-colour system they really didn't need painting!
OK, the last part about the non-requirement of paint was a lie. Anyway,
Matchbox models were widely available and seemed to be still popular when
girls, music and Dungeons And Dragons started to distract me away from model
So, when my interest in modelling picked up again three years ago imagine my
disappointment when I find Matchbox went under taking their wonderful plastc
scale models with them.
So, I'm now trying out Revell models. They seem quite good. Comparable in
style and quality to the Matchbox range and I'm sure I may well try out a
Tamiya model or two (as I seem to remember I occasionally did when I was a
"Come on, JJ! What's your point?" I hear you cry.
Well, I was wondering where my old favourite Matchbox range sits with
everyone else's affections? Of course when anyone mentions scale models the
first name that springs to mind is Airfix. That's always the cliche anyway
but I always hated them and Matchbox always seemed more popular.
Looking in the shops I'd say the split is 40% Revell, 40% Tamiya, 20%
Does this reflect the relative quality?
Did Matchbox 'deserve' to disappear from our shelves?
Were Airfix as poor as I remember them (in fact should it have been them
that went under instead of Matchbox)?
A vague and rambling post I know, but perhaps it might provoke
discussion...and hopefully galvanise a company in to buying up and
re-releasing the Matchbox range properly (I'm aware someof the old models
have appeared but it's not many!)
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Matchbox kits are still kicking around in some parts. I also think that some of the early Revell of Germany kits are former Matchbox armor kits. I know I have a jet fighter that is an ex-Matchbox kit minus the stand and the pilot. Rob Gronovius Modern US armor at
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Rob Gronovius
If you look real close JJ you'll find that Matchbox models are still with us in body if not in spirit. Some of the Revell kits your'e enjoying are actually re-boxes of Matchbox. For me Matchbox stood out because of some of their subjects. Of course they did the Me109 and the Spitfire which are the "meat and potatos" of the kit seller but they also took risks. The Stranraer, the Heyford, the Seafox and such were real leaps of faith. As with every kit maker the ranges were like the curates egg (good in parts) Personally I found some of their early kits fell short of Airfix's better offerings. The massive incised panel lines were, frankly, a turn off compare with some of the delicate (admittedly) raised Airfix panel line. Airfix did produce some dogs but when they got it right the kit was a treasure, The re-tooled Lysander and the Henschal 126 were wonderful to name a couple. I remember both companies offerings with affection, bound up as they were with my childhood and my relationship with my Father. As children we accepted the kit as it came and as we got older we looked for more from them, accuracy and as a starting point to demonstrate our skills. Now we view them nostagically. There's only one thing that puzzles me how did you manage to combine D&D and girls?
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Les Pickstock
The stands! I'd forgotten the stands! They were lovely yet rubbish. A lovely idea I mean but they just never quite worked did they?
But the dioramas for the tanks WERE great! There was a North African scene I remember complete with a palm which model did that go with...?
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Oh really?! Bet they don't have the extras though (the stands/dioramas reminded by another post)
I don't remember any of those. In fact, I must admit I've never even heard of the planes.
Didn't Matchbox do a Lysander too? I definitely made one of them. Funny looking little planes that, IIRC, could land/take off in a very small space.
Well, I didn't. I had NO success with girls until I reached my twenty's in fact! But the interest was still there...
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yes, 76th scale but with 72nd figures and states 72nd
yes, got one up stairs, along with Airfix and Frogs Lizzie
Thats sad, very sad.
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JJ- As a youngster growing up in the US in the early 60's, Airfix and Frog kits, to me, were the apex of 1/72 scale a/c models. Yes, Revell, Aurora and Monogram were around over here, but for sheer variety and number of kits, as well as reputation, you couldn't beat Airfix and Frog. I still enjoy building these old kits. Matchbox kits came along a bit later(mid 70's?) and were geared more towards younger builders. They too had there share of pretty good or unique kits however (F3D, Privateer,Halifax to name a few). The new kits today are light years ahead of these oldies, but if you like building model a/c, each brand, old or new, has it's own charm.
Ron S.
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lovely ju188. 6 bucks each and i ran like hell.
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I like that Bf 110. Airfix's 110 is the one from which you should run! ;)
JJ, I love Matchbox kits. I have a shelf full of unbuilt ones and many are duplicates. I also have a shelf full of Airfix stuff, a shelf full of Revell and a shelf full of Heller. There are other shelves full but they're mixed brands.
Seriously, Matchbox did models that no one else attempted and many Mbox kits are now available from Revell AG.
Bill Banaszak, MFE
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Bill Banaszak
Yes, yes it is. (Git)
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I agree, I still have a few kicking around and recently built the A-34 Comet for a UK armor group build.
Some of the ones I have on hand and can recall are the tank transporter, Monte's caravan, French Char Bis, British Challenger, US Halftrack, Churchill AVRE, and I believe a German WW2 Desert Recon set.
Got a bunch of the planes like the Harrier, some German plane with floats, another German plane with a hornet's face, several Spitfires, B-25 Mitchell, B-17 Flying Fortress, a couple of AH-1G Cobras, CH-47 Chinook, Brewster Buffalo, A-10 Thunderbolt II, P-38 Lightning, and at least one 1/48 scale kit. I think this is an FJ Fury.
I do vaguely recall having a dio set with a palm tree, but couldn't tell you which vehicle it came with.
Rob Gronovius Modern US armor at
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Rob Gronovius
i forget wgich although i had that too.
I liked the Jadpanther going thru a wall with a hole in, also one with a railway line but forget which.
I have found a lot quite cheap so gonna get some again, i saw a pic of the A10, but no cannon in the box art, i know it was a prototype issue
The 32nd Venom is a nice kit, been working on it for a couple of years, even in that alrge scale several options were given.
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SdKfz124 Wespe. A typical Matchbox subject, in that it wasn't a Sherman or a Panther and it probably didn't sell too well. I remember them with affection, although their choice of subjects was commercially suicidal in the end. You can still buy them second hand from
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depending on what they have in stock; I'm building a Heinkel 115 I got from them at the moment.
Dave Rogers
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Dave Rogers
All: When I started I remember getting on my pushbike and pedalling down the newsagents to pick up a Matchbox kit - still remember getting that massive Spitfire kit for christmas one year - a Mark 22 I think - used to love them, darned cheap too! I keep a lookout for the re-boxing of those old kits, Revell put out the Swordfish and Ouragan a short while back. Good memories those - Matchbox, Airfix and Otaki were the three I kicked off on - bit simpler than adding resin and photoetched details too. Andrew
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Well JJ,
As some others allready have ansvered, Matchbox is still partly with us. Revell has reissued some of their 1:32 scale planes (in all grey plastic and with a little more sinkage) and also their 1:72 scale Flower class corvette. The 1:72 scale planes I don't follow as I mainly build 1:32, but I belive they are also partly available. And as someone said, there is plenty of parts and the general outline and shape is good and so is the fit, so I meight jump for them still, especially if they are decent priced, there are some new kit's around that are pretty good, but are plagued by a "pretty good price too".
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Claus Gustafsen
You're treading dangerous ground here, taking a hack at Airfix...
Not over here. In small scale, there were Airfix, Matchbox, Revell and Frog/Novo. The latter two were largely crap (apologies to Frog; I've been frustrated by way too many disintegration Novo decals, and the plastic wasn't any worse than the others). Matchbox always seemed strudier to me, Airfix by and large had a better range.
No, it just had different defects.
The Matchbox bases are an all time favourite with me. I rarely build aircraft on bases now, but when I do, I always try to dig up a Matchbox base for it. (Incidenty, I'm running out of them, so if anyone knows where to find a bunch...) The diorama bases were lovely. I beieve the one with the palm tree came with the Wasp tank, and I'm certain the railroad bit came with the US halftrack (if necessary, I could verify this by visiting the stash).
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Rob van Riel
Bill, I'm with you. Matchbox was the staple of childhood modelling. Despite their (newly realised!) faults, they went together well, were strong enough to play with (I always got into my Starfighter - what was an F-104 to a 10 year old? - to fly to the dinner table) and (most) can be built up these days into something approaching a scale model. And they've got some off-beat subjects in the range. A 1/32nd Lysander? Why? 'Cause they could, I guess (I admit to owning one.... and looking). And their big Tiger Moth is the only game in town if you want a large model of what must be the most famous biplane of all time. And the big Spitfire 22 (IIRC). And their Graf Spee (which is a beautiful little kit). And probably more that I can't remember right now, coz I'm getting all sentimental...
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Rob Grinberg
Not affiliated with the store but isn.t that it?
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memories (36 yrs old myself) Pavlos
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plastic, latex, rubber, leather and skin. skin jobs cost the most.
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that stranraer kit looks really nice. some guts and wires will make it purty. the walrus kit is also nice dressed up. i haven't done the ju188, but aside from the 2" thick canopy, it looks bashable.
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