Category:Matchbox Series

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Moko Lesney Matchbox Series, box lid artwork.jpg

Matchbox Series

1953 -     

Lesney Products' Matchbox Series range of small diecast vehicles appeared in 1953, and were one of the classic ranges of "playground, carpet, garden and sandpit" toys. With no pretence at even attempting to use a common scale, Matchbox toys were individually sized to fit a matchbox, and were sold in matchbox-styled packaging.

Even though these were very much marketed as simple toys rather than models, the level of detailing specific to the original vehicle was pretty impressive, and the earliest-released models are particularly revered for their charm and attractiveness.

1956 "Matchbox Series" artwork, from the catalogue cover

The "1-75" Series

The range of "playground and sandpit" toy vehicles became a runaway success, and after the initial launch in 1953 of three models, grew to eighteen in 1955, seventy-two in 1959, and finally seventy-five in 19xx. Seventy-five was considered a reasonable upper limit to the number of models that a retailer could be asked to handle, and not having a range in the hundreds meant that all the vehicles could be fairly distinctive, and make it easier for the customer to succumb to an impulse purchase without being confused by an overwhelming degree of choice.

At seventy-five models, the range "froze", with newcomers to the 1-75 Series" displacing older models. For retailers, this had the advantage that the existing point-of-sale display stands (with unlettered spaces marked 1-75) didn't need to be changed when the range changed.


The Matchbox range defiantly ignored any concept of unified scale, or an obvious unified theme, as typified by the initial three models, a diesel roller, a dumper truck and ... a static cement mixer (why a cement mixer, nobody knows, but it appeared to be perfectly scaled for gauge 0, and consequently appears on a lot of gauge 0 model railway layouts). The requirement that all models be roughly the same size meant that a Matchbox double decker bus was around the same size as a single-seater racecar (or a cement mixer!).

The 1959 range:

We've taken these scans from the 1959 catalogue, as representative of the early range – it's still only about six years after the initial launch, but has a range that almost reaches the magical "75" (72). Some models had already been changed by this point – the #1 Diesel Road Roller now had more modern slanted front roof supports, and the "Caterpillar Inc." vehicles had different engine cowlings (D4 rather than D2?)

  • 4 – Massey Harris Tractor, red
  • 5 – Red Double-Decker Bus, "Player's Please"
  • 6-B – Euclid Quarry Truck, yellow
  • 7 – Horse-Drawn Milk Float, red
  • 8-B – Caterpillar (D4?) Tractor, yellow
  • 9 – Dennis Fire Engine (listed as "Fire Escape"), red
  • 10 – Scammell Scarab Mechanical Horse, red cab
  • 11 – Road Petrol Tanker, red
  • 12 – Land Rover (with towbar)
  • 13 – Fordson Thames Wreck Truck, crane
  • 14Daimler Ambulance, Red Cross, cream
  • 15 – Prime Mover six-wheeler truck cab, red
  • 16 – Atlantic Vehicle Transporter Trailer, orange
  • 17 – Bedford Removals Van, "Matchbox Removals Service", green
  • 18 – Caterpillar (D4?) Bulldozer, yellow with green tracks


Lesney went bust in 1982, after which Jack Odell came out of retirement, bought some of the more "retro" Matchbox moulds and produced a new Days Gone range under the name Lledo.

See also:

External links


This category has the following 10 subcategories, out of 10 total.





Media in category ‘Matchbox Series’

The following 124 files are in this category, out of 124 total.