All of the first selection of Skybusters released in 1973 were models of real aircraft, and recognisable as such. 40 years later, under Mattel ownership, manyof the new releases were wildly fictional! The main reason for this is no doubt the changing tastes of the young audiences that the toys are aimed at, for whom fantasy and science-fiction genres have become commonplace. But when exactly did this change begin?
Continue reading “Matchbox Skybusters – Fantasy”
Fitting the Box
Matchbox, like other manufacturers of the time, made their models to fit the box. This was convenient for the manufacturer and retailers, because they could handle a single size of product, but as a consequence meant that models in the same range were produced to varying scales. In fact, the scale of an individual model is not usually stated.
What does this mean for Skybusters models? Let’s examine the question by taking two aircraft of widely differing size.
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In 1973, Matchbox introduced two new ranges of aircraft to the market. The first has already been covered in these pages – plastic construction kits. The second was a range of diecast models, the Skybusters.
Continue reading “Matchbox Skybusters – Introduction”
The packaging that a kit is supplied in fulfils a number of functions. Primarily it gathers and protects the contents of the kit from damage prior to sale, but of course it also has a role in both identifying the subject of the kit, and persuading you to buy it! In these latter regards, the most significant feature of the packaging is the colour illustration on the box top. Airfix blazed the way and are famous for the quality of their box art, especially the iconic images painted by Roy Cross. With this example in front of them, Matchbox had a lot to live up to, and live up to it they did!
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When manufacturers release kits of contemporary subjects, they usually represent the version currently in service. Sometimes, in the haste to release a kit of a new subject then in development, they have to base their research on prototypes. This can pose a problem of accuracy if the subsequent production version differs to any great degree. But even an accurate kit can find itself left behind if the subject it models is upgraded and visually altered during its service lifetime, as often happens with successful aircraft. What does a manufacturer do in this situation?
Continue reading “Matchbox Aircraft Kits – Updating”
Unique Selling Point
When it came to choosing subjects for their aircraft kits, Matchbox seems to have followed a policy of backing two horses. On the one hand, they followed the other major manufacturers in creating kits of the most well-known and popular aircraft but on the other, they also modelled some very unusual subjects.
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Choices are good. The more choices there are in a plastic construction kit, the more attractive it can seem, because the purchaser has agency over how the finished model turns out and the kit has more potential. Further, it may be worth buying multiple copies of the kit in order to create the different options. So, what sort of choices might a manufacturer offer? To look at this, let’s turn for a change to a largely civilian aircraft, the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter.
Continue reading “Matchbox Aircraft Kits – Options”