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38,383 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The following is a work in progress based on numerous resources across the net and individual member posts here and other diecast related sites. Feel free to add your comments, omissions, corrections and updates as we go along.

Lesney Products was founded in 1947 by Leslie G. Smith and Rodney Smith. They originally made diecast parts for industrial needs but soon began to make diecast toys.

The spoken legend is that Jack Odell another principle owner (?) cast a metal toy for his daughter's show and tell school project and put it inside a matchbox. From their the Lesney brand was formed and enjoyed many years of success as the leader of small scale diecast vehicles with little competition.

In 1953, Lesney released their first series of small diecast models packaged in boxes that looked like matchboxes. The models were a huge success, and "Matchbox" became the brand name.

A range of classic car models called "Models of Yesteryear" were introduced in 1956. Other series - "Major Packs", "King Size", and a wide range of accessories followed.

Prior to 1960, the range had simply been called "Matchbox Series". The Matchbox series name had become increasingly ambiguous due to the introduction of several separate ranges of diecast models by Lesney, which also used the Matchbox brand name - such as MB Accessories, MB Major Packs, and MB King Size. The decision was also made to restrict the basic range to a quantity of only 75 models each year that would be available at any one time.

The '1-75 Series' name was was officially used by the Lesney company from 1960 to 1974 to identify the basic Matchbox range.

In 1969, new ranges were introduced as "Superfast" and "Super Kings". These castings featured fast-rolling one-piece plastic wheels on thin axles. They were ment to compete with Mattels' Hot Wheels.

Some collectors also still only apply the name "1-75 Series" to the vehicle range made up to 1969, before the introduction of Superfast wheels. And then call the basic range made from 1970 on as "Matchbox Superfast". This is very inaccurate and misleading though, as the range never consisted entirely of Superfast models each year.

In 1968, Roly Toys became the Brazilian distributor of Matchbox. They started out importing finished models, but from around 1972 onward, they begain importing the parts instead and painting and assembling them locally. Assembly took place in the city of Manaus. In 1975, the company was renamed Inbrima and continued its associaion with Matchbox until around 1990.

In 1975, the series name was changed to "Matchbox 75". This name in turn remained in use until just after the end of Lesney in 1982.

In 1982 though, Lesney went bankrupt. Production of various Matchbox model car series did continue under a succesion of new owners.

In 1982, Univeral Products owned by David Yeh in Hong Kong purchased Matchbox. Operations ened in the UK and were transferred to a new factory facility in Macau.

For 1983 the name "Matchbox Miniatures" was introduced, and this has been used ever since until the present day.

Other collectors also apply the name "1-75 Series" to the whole basic Matchbox range made from 1953 to the present day. This is inaccurate as well, as the range did not always consist of 75 models. Prior to 1960 the quantity was smaller. And since 1998 the range has been expanded to include 100 and eventually 120 models. The recommended designation to be used for the range as a whole is "Matchbox Miniatures".

In 1986, a set of Collector Cards showing all models from the 1986 Matchbox Miniatures range were distributed inside of the Matchbox Miniatures window boxes, but only in the UK.

In 1988, a set of Chinese Matchbox Collection Cards were issued by SUTC showing the Matchbox Miniatures and Super GT models which were at the time made at the SUTC factory in Shanghai. Matched to their manufacturing numbers and since some models had already been phased out and others were being manufactured in Macau at the time, there are many gaps in the numbering used.

Also in 1988 White Rose Collectibles had Matchbox make specially detailed Code 2 type Matchbox toys primarily of sports team which they commissioned Matchbox to produce exclusively for them. After Mattel took over Matchbox in 1996, the association with White Rose ended in 1998.

In 1992, Matchbox Universal was sold to Tyco Toys. Tyco was an American slot car and toy maker.

In 1997, Mattel aquired Tyco and all of its subsidaries - including Matchbox.

Also In 1997, IBN International, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota was licensed by Mattel to market a 'Matchbox' labeled bath soap bars and shampoo products that included a Summer made casting within the package.

Today Matchbox is still a part of the Mattel brand. Castings were mainly made in England until the mid-1980s, then in Macau and since the 1990s in China and Thailand.

In the 1970s and 1980s though some Matchbox models were also produced under license by local manufacturers in Brazil, Bulgaria and Hungary.

In 2000, either one of two Matchbox castings (neither is identified specifically) were the promotional giveaways at Subway Sandwich Shops.

In 2005, Mikro '67 was still making Matchbox models as "Mikrobox" in Bulgaria.
Subway Sandwich Shop Promotionals

wip edit point

See Avon, Baravelli, Charon Toy, Dinky Toys, Edocar, Fred Bronner, Hallmark, IBN International, Inbrima, Irwin Toy, Kenner, Mattel, Metchy, Micro '67, Nutmeg Collectibels, Racing CHampions, Roly Toys, Strottman International, Summer, Tomica, Top-Gear, Teal, Universal Group, and White Rose Collectibles

Information in (****) needs to be confirmed.

Matchbox Ownership

1953 Moko Lesney
1982 Universal
(1982-1999 Lledo)
1993 Tyco
1997 Mattel

Matchbox Release History

Moko Lesney "Matchbox Series" #1-75 Era
1953 #1-4
1954 #1-7
1955 #1-18
1956 #1-29
1957 #1-42
1958 #1-60
1959-1970 #1-75.

Matchbox Acessory Packs 1956-1961

Matchbox Major Packs 1957-1965

Matchbox Models of Yesteryear MOY Series 1959-61, 1964, (1965), 1967-1980, 1987 and 1996

Matchbox King Size 1960-1970

Matchbox Motorway 1968-1973

Matchbox Flip Top Series 1970

Matchbox Superfast Series 1-75 Era 1971-1977

Rola-Matics 1973-1979

Choppers 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976

Twin Packs (1977)

Streakers 1978-1979

Matchbox Super Kings 1971-1980, (1981), 1982, 1987-1989

Matchbox Speed Kings 1971-1978

Matchbox Sky Busters Sky Busters 1973-1979, (1980), (1981), 1987-1988, (1989), 2014

Matchbox Battle Kings 1974-1979, (1980), (1981)

Matchbox Sea Kings 1976-1979, (1980)

Matchbox Adventure 2000 (1977-1979)

Matchbox 75 Series #1-75 1978-1981;
Core #41, France #41, Australia #76, 77, 78, 79, 1980
Two Packs 1978
900 Range 1979
Germany, 1981
Rest of the World - ROW, 1981; & USA, 1981
Auto-Steer 1968-1969

1980 Matchbox 75 Series
1981 Matchbox 75 Series
Matchbox Two Packs
Matchbox 900 Range

Matchbox Code Red Series 1981

Matchbox #1-75 Series Era 1982-2011
Australia - 1985, 1997, 1998, 2000-2001, 2002, 2009);
Core - 1982-1990, 1992-2003, 2005, 2009, 2011
Czech Republic - 2002
Germany - 1982, 1999-2001
Indonesian - 2009
Latin America - 2008, 2009
Japan - 1993
Mexico - 2011
Poland - 2002
United Kingdom - 2000-2001
USA - 1982-1990, 1991, 1992-1998, 2001, 2003, 2004-2005
Rest of the World ROW - 1982-1990, 1991, 1992-2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011
World Wide - 2006
"Matchbox 2000" Logo Stamp - 2000
"Matchbox 50th Anniversary" Logo Stamp - 2002
"Matchbox Hero City Logo Stamp" - 2003
"55th Anniversary" Recolor Trio - 2007 .

Lledo Series, 1982-1999, was a brand of diecast toys, founded in 1982 by Matchbox Jack Odell
Days Gone
Lledo Promotional Model
Land Speed Legends
Corgi Classics

Matchbox Connectibles 1989

Matchbox Convoys (1990)

Matchbox Indy 500 1990-1993

Matchbox Flip Top Series 1992

Matchbox Multi-Packs
2 Packs; 3 Packs; 5 Packs 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017
Licensed 5 Packs, 2010, 2011, 2012
9 Packs (USA), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017)
10 Packs (ROW), 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
Exclusives, 2015, 2017
25 Pack - 1997

Matchbox Premiere Collection 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
World Class
Select Class 4
Gift Sets - Chrysler, Corvette, Ford Mustang, Toys R Us, VW

Matchbox Jurassic Series
The Lost World: Jurassic Park, 1997
Jurassic World - 2 Packs, 5 Packs & Mission Force Set, 2015

Matchbox 75 Challenge 1997

Matchbox Taco Bell Promotion
Matchbox Madness 1998
Taco Bell Promotion, 2000 4 car sets

Matchbox 100 Series Era #1-100
Australia - 2008
Canada - 2008
New Zealand - 2008
USA - 1999-2000, 2008-2009, 2010, 2011
"Matchbox 2000" Logo Stamp

Matchbox Coca Cola Series (2001)

Matchbox 100 Year Ford Motor Company Exclusives, Mail Order Models and Hunts (2002)

Matchbox Stars of Germany Series (2000?)

Matchbox Stars of Cars Series 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008

Matchbox Euro Edition Series (200?)

Matchbox 50 Years Collection 2007

Matchbox 55th Anniversary Cars (2007)

Matchbox Best of British 2007, 2008, 2009

Matchbox Real Working Rigs 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014

Matchbox Superfasts 2008

"Matchbox Series" 40th Anniversary Superfast 2009

Mail in Promo, 2009

Matchbox Lesney Editions 2010 Lesney Edition (2010-2011)

Super Convoys 2010, 2011, 2012

Matchbox Hitch 'n' Haul 2011

Matchbox Playsets (2011-2012)
Multi-Range Sets (2011)
Easter Egg 6 Packs (2011)
2011 Adventure Sets,
Matchbox Playsets - Limousine, City Police Car, Emergency Response 4X4, Tow Truck, 2004 School Bus, Truck Camper (2011)
Police Car (2011)
Taxicab (2011)
Spongebob Tub Adventure (2011)
Mission Force Sets - Fire, Space, Crime, Military, Artic & Jungle Crews (2012-2014)
Cliff Hanger Play Sets (2012)
Shark Ship (2016)

Matchbox National Parks 2012

Matchbox 120 Series #1-120, 2012-2015
Re-colors, 2012
"60th Anniversary Logo Stamps, 2013

Matchbox 60th Anniversary Commemorative Cars 2013

Matchbox Exclusive 2015 Easter Set

Matchbox Jeep Series 2015

Jeep 75th Anniversary Edition, 2016.

Matchbox Power Grabs 2015-2017
Mystery Pillow Packs, 2015
Matchbox On a Mission, (2015)
Box Wave A, B, C & D, 2017

Matchbox Supreme Hero 2015

Matchbox 125 Segment Series #1-125, 2016-2017
Adventure City
Heroic Rescue

Best of Matchbox 2016-2017

Matchbox Land Rover Series 2016.

Matchbox Learning Blox Set 2016

Matchbox Shark Week Series 5 Pack, Shark Ship Play Set, 2016

Sourced references -

Matchbox | hobbyDB
1-75 Series (Matchbox) | hobbyDB
Encyclopedia of Small-Scale Diecast Motor Vehicle Manufacturers - Sahakangas, Foster & Weber (2006)
Matchbox Main Menu

19,875 Posts
I think there's much fine tuning to do here or omitted entirely perhaps.

First off, I can see you have "Superfast" listed as the parent name of the company.
Not even Matchbox was the parent name; it was under Lesney.

38,383 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the comments. I wondered about the Superfast and Lledo mentions in particular. Understand, I just combed this information from other sites and books along the way and often the language used is a jumbled - cut and paste - that are just strung together from other sources.

My own understanding is that Superfast was added to the Lesney Matchbox 'brand' reference about the time Hot Wheels came out and the new wheels were developed.

And that Lledo was another seperate company entirely, who bought most (if not all) the molds for the MOY series. But was started by one of the original Matchbox owners.

What do you know about Riko?

Did you get any further than just ownership.
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19,875 Posts
Yeah, that's kinda the way it read, info gathered together from different sources and strung together.
It's a start though.

And yes, late '69 SF was added from converted RWs known as transitionals, unofficially.
So Superfast was just a name added after Lesney Matchbox. Matchbox Superfast By Lesney.

A few vehicles remained as regular wheels after '69, but most were changed to SF by '70-'71.

The King Size line-up didn't "transition" to Super Kings until 1970...for the most part.

Rollamatics, Autosteer, Streakers and such are not considered separate lines.

Stuff after '82 when Lesney was sold, I'm not that familiar with

Don't quite understand your last sentence.


38,383 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the additional informaton. You also answered the last sentence in your response. I dont have any books on Matchbox, but there are a lot more web sites dedicated to the Lesney Era in particular. Fortunately someone has worked from the Matchbox Forum to update Wiki Fandom in the last 6 months so I was able to gather a lot of information from that person (groups) efforts on the more recent offerings. It is a shame there is so little focus on the newer cars. They have really put out a lot of really nice editions and castings in their more recent history.


19,875 Posts
You're more than welcome!

I think to most Lesney collectors there have been precious few cars with much realism past the 1969 era, but admittedly with several shining examples.

But not enough to hold "brand followers" to stay loyal to MB, therefore the spotty information.
In the '50's and '60s there were a relatively large group of adult Lesney collectors.
1970 is know as the beginning of the end of realism because of the effect of Hot Wheels.

Johnny Lighting then came out and rekindled us older guys love for realistic scale autos in the '90s.

Then Hot Wheels collectors tend to be a different breed in a way, generally speaking.

At least that's my take on it ~

38,383 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The only thing I can say is that you have missed out on a tremendous amount of other great castings and brands, but that is your choice. :cheers2:

19,875 Posts
You're right. I realize that now. Was unaware of other choices.
There we only a select few brands available in my rural area back then. MB, HW, & Topper was about it.
And the better brands or releases by the '70s and '80s were not on my radar.
Didn't know they existed. Plastic models and slot cars filled the void during the Diecast Dark Times.
I was either not actively collecting or sought out older Lesneys and 1968/9 Hot Wheels I wanted as a kid.
Anyway, 1:1s were my top prioritie$ and vocation when I turned 14, and since.
Buying, selling and driving old Cadillacs, Electras and Rivieras, and doing rust repair for neighbors and teachers.

Hobby Talk has shown me the amazing releases of the '70s & '80s that were not available in the deep pines of central Maine.

38,383 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Popped back in to this thread for a moment looking for information but it seems to still be same! If anyone has new resources let us know about them.

One point of clarification though is that the OP seems to be made up from information that was already cut and pasted from other resources.

I still need to weave that back into a more comprehensive history!
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