1971 die-cast models and art from Matchbox

Curious. Does anyone else think the mountain race track peak looks like Batman?

Art vs Photography and the two combined

I’ve mentioned before that some of my favourite toy advertising images come from the 1960s and 1970s. This is because many products back then were advertised using original art – often drawn by in-house company artists, rather than the product photography style which became popular in the years that followed. That’s not to say photograph adverts were employed pre-1980s, they were, but perhaps it was cheaper to produce ad materials with drawings rather than photos back then?

The following images from the 1971 Matchbox Collectors Catalogue illustrate perfectly, and with some charm, how products might capture the imagination of the buyer when rendered as art. As well, some images feature both art and photography. The ideal mix, perhaps.

Cover. Matchbox Collectors Catalogue. 1971. France.

Matchbox Speed kings. 1971.

Matchbox Autopark. 1971.



Matchbox Track


Matchbox various models, play sets, Supersets, Steer-N-Go, Zoom-Around, Sky-Jack.


Matchbox Mike and the Model Makers book. 1971.

Matchbox Sooper Dooper Hooper Looper. 1971.


Thanks for Matchbox-ing along with us! For more vintage Matchbox models see here

20 thoughts on “1971 die-cast models and art from Matchbox

      • I love the name! Even if it might be a bit … erm … obvious. It’s not like marketing teams these days do a much better job. Got milk, just do it, She Can Have A Tummy… And Still Look Yummy!, The Beer That Beer Would Drink, Cheat On Your Girlfriend, Not On Your Workout, The More You Play With It, The Harder It Gets … It’s so hard to stop! There should be a post on this 😉

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      • Well, I would like to see a post like that! Be fun 🙂
        Can think of: ‘My Dog Has Fleas’ (literally a depressed-looking Basset Hound type dog with plastic fleas you have to eject from him by turning his tail), in France called Sacapuce: (Flea Bag).

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  1. Hi TVTA, another great haul of pictures and this time you have managed to answer a long held mystery for me. I owned the Mercedes Benz Ambulance and I had the “Pea Green Station Wagon” which I always called my “Falcon Crest car” cos it was like the vehicle from that show’s opening credits but it was the Super Steer and Go that you just named for me. I was given one of these toys as a present by my coalman (we used to have an open coal fire when I was a kid – I’m that old 😀 ) and I loved the “magic of driving” that VW Beetle around the roadway. However I never knew what the toy was called as it didn’t have a box when I got it. I had looked online for years and never found the info. Thanks for solving it for me!

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    • Excellent. Always good to find the name of a long lost toy! The catalogue is just amazing, with so many memories brought back from my childhood. (ha, and I can just about remember the coalman as my nan had an open fire too 😀) As an aside, it was a New Years Eve tradition there to give a lump of coal and slice of bread to the neighbours to wish warmth and food for the coming year.
      Re: the track layouts shown – I was certain I had the brand ‘Darda Motor’ track building sets as a kid, but now I think it was actually the Matchbox Track (very similar style and layouts). Had a lot of fun with those, especially combining two kits to make extra super long tracks!

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      • Hi again, I had a “Garage and Roadway” set that consisted of a multi-storey parking garage that had floor plates and tower girders but the roadway I remember was weird. It was made of a rubbery plastic with two sets of grooves moulded on the bottom into which you slotted small plastic plates that acted as connectors. There were also ramp parts you could slot onto the end of a road section and various junction shaped plates. The weird part was that the road sections were only “one lane” and had big kerb rails to hold the car on the road.
        The only Matchbox track or accessories we had was the “Launcher” which was a large (about 16in/40cm long) plastic tunnel. It had an opening in the roof and the track attached at one end of the tube while at the other end was a very large red plunger you pulled back like a pinball machine to prime the launcher. You then inserted a car into the rooftop opening onto a slide mechanism which then released the plunger and fired the car onto the track. It was LETHAL….you could easily loose a finger in the contraption. I think you could also launch the Matchbox Alpine Skier /Ski Jumper figure from it too.

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      • Yes, some lethal toys back then! I had this huge Battlestar Galactica launch pad which shot Vipers along a runway… luckily the Vipers were made of rubber with ‘blunted’ noses, because they shot out like bullets!
        And I have a distant memory of Ricochet Racers being a bit lethal too, as the cars were like lead weights.
        And also a foam Rupert Bear toy which when it finally perished sprung out all sorts of sharp wires.
        How did we ever survive our childhood lol!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi again, sorry for the double post but I just had a quick Google and I found the car launcher! I was mistaken slightly, it was a Corgi Toy but if you want to take a look at it search for “Corgi Rockets Super Booster 1970’s” and you will see the evil thing – it looks even scarier now than it did back then!
        p.s. it also had a track system and the track supports were hollow flasks that you had to fill with sand or water to weigh them down such was the velocity of the cars when they got sent down the track.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep! That’s the one alright.The image labelled “Vitesse….voltige….” shows the launcher. And those cones were flasks that needed to be weighted with sand or water. Having seen your images of the length of the track I now totally understand why the mechanism/spring was so powerful to get the cars all the way round the track. I’m having nightmares!

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    • Yes, that’s sometimes the case when the packaging and ads are way better than what’s inside. Overall I remember Matchbox being a quality choice, the cars at least. Easy to collect too as they were in the pocket money range, whereas the bigger scale (especially Corgi models) were reserved for birthdays and Christmas.

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  2. Man, these are brilliant. I like the fact that you can tell it’s art! The modern stuff doesn’t hold a candle to this genuinity of art style. Art is suppose to look like art! /preachingover lol Thank you for sharing this one, TVTA. 🤠

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Wibi. In childhood, between friends and family, we must have had hundreds of Matchbox and Corgi cars. I can never get tired of posting images for them for all the good memories 😎
      My next die-cast car post will be for Dinky Toys – I only ever had a few from that brand, but like Corgi and Matchbox they made outstanding toys.

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