Here we have list of the most commonly asked questions from collectors and those that are new to the hobby. Of course if you cant find the answer to your question here then feel free to contact us with your question and we will do out best to help get you the information you need.
- What does the code on the baseplate mean?
- What do the condition descriptions mean?
- Whats the difference between a Code 1, 2 or 3 model?
- My model is not listed, what now?
- How should I display models?
- What should I look for?
- How much is my model worth?
- Where can I source older models?
- Where can I get more information on Matchbox from?
- What should I collect?
In 2008 Mattel introduced a system of coding to be printed on each vehicle, the code consists of a single letter followed by 2 numbers (eg: B07).
Most likely used for tracking purposes the codes are a representation of the week of production.
The years are represented by the letter starting at A for 2008; ie:
2008 = A
2009 = B
2010 = C
2011 = D
2012 = E
2013 = F
2014 = G
2015 = H
2016 = J
2017 = K
2018 = L
2019 = M
2020 = N
The numbers simply reflect the week of production thus code F03 means that vehicle was produced during week 3 of 2013
NB: The letter ‘I’ was skipped to avoid confusion with the number ‘1’
MINT – Model is in the same condition as it was when it left the factory, this would be hard to achieve on older models
NEAR MINT – One or two tiny chips or box rubs, visible only on very close inspection.
VERY GOOD – Several small chips, scratches, or box rubs, visible on inspection.
GOOD – Several large chips or scratches, highly visible on inspection. Playwear highly evident.
POOR – Most paint missing. Has missing or broken features (Hitch, luggage, tyres, etc.). May have been painted by sloppy “budding junior artist”.
Code 2 models are those that have been altered in some way (ie: re-labelling, repainting etc) by a third party with the full permission of Matchbox or its registered owners, this would include the blanks Matchbox produced for companies such as Color Comp & ASAP.
Code 3 models are those that have been altered by a third party without the permission of Matchbox, although some code 3 models are genuinely produced, this also covers the many fakes out there of original code 1 or 2 models
2) If you are looking for mint models avoid chips and scratches
3) Check carefully for any discrete restoration. Repaints or even slight touching up severely affects the value of a model.
4) Sometimes the box may be absolutely fresh and mint but this is because it has been stored in a cupboard for years. The model itself may have been on display in a smoky, dusty room and may have suffered.
5) If you come across a colour scheme you are not expecting check for repaints but more importantly check for fading. Look at areas that would not be exposed to sunlight, for example under the seats. The sun can have an extreme effect on the colour of a model, both the plastic components and the metal body work. For example, the usual green of the Yesteryear Y05-1 Bentley can change from the usual British racing green to an alarming shade of blue!
6) Check that the box being sold with the model is the correct one for that issue. For example, a cream Yesteryear Y03-2 Benz was never sold in a pink and yellow window box. In order to avoid a mistake along these lines you really need to obtain a reference book like the White Book from M.I.C.A. to take with you for reference
7) Unusually coloured plastic components may have been swapped from other models or models from the giftware range. There are some devious traders out there so make sure you know what you are buying
8) If you are really lucky and come across what you suspect is a rare variation check that the model has not been ‘modified’.
9) Watch for damaged boxes. The card ‘Matchboxes’ have a tendency to dry out slightly and only a few opening and closing operations can be enough to separate the end flaps from the rest of the box. Faded boxes are also undesirable.
1) The rarity of the chosen model
2) The condition of the model and its box.
The highest prices are afforded to those models that are in mint boxed condition. That is the models must emerge from their boxes as fresh as the day they were manufactured and the boxes must be pristine and free from fading. Any deviation from this ideal will drastically reduce the value. Unlike some die-cast models, refurbishing a model by touching up chips etc. is a definite no-no and renders a model virtually worthless.
If the model no longer has its original box then the value may be reduced by as much as 50% that of a boxed example. Of course there are some exemptions to this, particularly rare examples, for some standard early models this can mean that the box is worth over AU$100.
Guide books such as the MICA White Book, Charlie Mack’s or John Ramsay’s price guide give an indication of dealer ‘values’ i.e. the amount of money required to purchase the model from a dealer at the time of publication only and probably should only be used as an accurate guide to rarity rather than actual value. The values given are for mint boxed examples only and these are values that probably should be used for insurance purposes.
To get a true current valuation the best way is to search your local eBay website for SOLD items only that match your model; that way you can see what people are actually going to pay.
There will also be some regional variations in the cost of a model. For example only a few first series Yesteryear models were originally exported from the UK and therefore tend to be scarcer in the American and Australian markets and hence in those areas you may pay a slightly higher price.
The occasional model can be found for sale at local markets but these tend to be in poor condition and for sale at a high price. I have found car boot sales totally disappointing when it comes to finding Yesteryears but you might be lucky!
Also there is always MICA; they produce a bimonthly magazine with a classified advertisement section that is free for members. Many Yesteryears can be seen for sale here and you might just find exactly what you have been looking for. You may also find models for sale from collectors and dealers advertising on the internet at sites such as eBay, Vectis, Facebook or on various Matchbox forum sites.
Another very good place to get information is by talking to other collectors and dealers at swap meets and toy fairs. Have a wander around several swap meets to see what is available or join a local Matchbox collectors club or the Matchbox International Collectors Association (M.I.C.A.).
Failing that there have been many very informative books published over the years by the likes of Charlie Mack, MICA and many others.
Some people specialise in just one range, the following lists some areas you may like to investigate:
* Models issued in ‘Matchboxes’
* Models issued before 1970 (before the introduction of ‘Superfast’ wheels)
* Models issued before 1982 (before the take over by Universal Matchbox)
* Models produced from 1970 onwards (after the introduction of ‘Superfast’ wheels)
* Preproduction models
* Commercial vehicles
* Giftware items
* Code 2 models
As an example, if you decide to collect ‘Models of Yesteryear’ there have been a vast number of items produced from 1956 to the present day that you might wish to obtain. Therefore, to make things more manageable and easier on the pocket, a lot of collectors tend to specialise in one particular area. Specialising also enables some expertise to be built up on your chosen field. For example, I restrict my ‘serious’ collecting to all ‘Models of Yesteryear’ and only ‘1-75’ miniatures from 1970 onwards. Someone else may wish to collect all commercial vehicles whereas fire engines may attract another collector. Many collectors try to collect as many different items as possible, whereas others are interested in minor casting variations of the same model. Another collector may wish to collect all newly released models, although so many are being released now by Matchbox that even the purchasing of new models can soon add up.
At the end of the day, the real answer I guess is that you should collect whatever makes you happy, only you can decide !!!