Matchbox Skybusters – Variants

Makeover Magic

Versions

As we have seen before on this website (for example, with Solido and Wiking), manufacturers love to release their models many times over, by changing the colour schemes and/or the accessories. Completist collectors can be driven to distraction by this practice – so many models with so many variations to find, and some of them exceedingly rare! Luckily, I don’t share this mania because some of the Skybuster range have many, many variants. But nonetheless, let’s take a look at the practice, using just a few of the most easily available models, to see what fun can be had.

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Skybirds – Airports

Housing the Aircraft

Airports

Aircraft generally spend less time flying than on the ground, and this was especially true in the early years when flying at night was difficult. Most of the time they were parked at airports, either in the open or within a hangar. It’s not surprising then that Skybirds were quick off the mark to produce a range of airport buildings to complement their aircraft kits. Unlike the kits, these were finished models.

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Matchbox 1-75 – Introduction

Pocket Wonders

Matchbox 1-75

The famous Matchbox brand was created by Lesney Products in the years after WW2. So the story goes, the idea was hatched when the daughter of one of the owners wanted a toy to take to school. The problem was that only toys small enough to fit into a matchbox were allowed!

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Skybirds – Identification

Is It a Skybird?

Skybirds

As you might expect, Skybirds tend to be rare nowadays, especially if you want one in good condition. Moreover, most Skybirds kits were assembled by relatively unskilled hands (sometimes by children) to varying qualities. And if the constructed models are hard to find, unmade kits are as rare as hens teeth! Most of the time, therefore, the collector has to be content with constructed models of indifferent quality.

This, in turn, prompts a question: how do you know if the models you possess are by Skybirds, and not another make? The name is often applied to wooden models of that era as a sort of catch-all description, but without cast-iron provenance or the original packaging, how can you be sure? To illustrate the problem, let’s take a look at a famous warplane of the Great War, the S.E.5.

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Matchbox Skybusters – Fantasy

Flights of Fancy

Imagination

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?

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Wiking Ships – Relaunch

Modernising the Range

After the War

Following the dislocation and destruction of WW2, the German economy and Wiking itself slowly recovered. The moulds for most of the pre-war ships seem to have survived the war, and some were made available again. However, the real profits were made from new ventures making plastic models of aircraft and vehicles, and in fact it is the range of 1/87 vehicles for which Wiking became famous in post-war Germany.

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