Matchbox Art

I loved Matchbox cars as a kid and have no doubt that they played a large part in developing my obsession for all things with engines and wheels. But it wasn’t just the miniature die-cast cars that fired my imagination in the early 70’s, it was also the boxes they came in. For the 1970s, Lesney Products, manufacturers of Matchbox toys, saw fit to replace the rather staid box designs of the 50’s and 60’s with colourful and dynamic ‘Superfast’ box artwork, most likely in an effort to compete with the then new Hotwheels cars from America. I think I particularly like the way the illustrations, whilst often adding realism such as chrome details, headlights and often lifelike backgrounds, are clearly pictures of the toys themselves complete with the occasionally odd proportioning of the toy and ‘superfast’ wheels. Right through the 1970s and into the start of the 80s, the cars continued to come in these wonderful picture boxes. But they were not to last. With the sale of the Matchbox brand to Universal Toys, the classic Matchbox packaging was replaced with boring plain light blue boxes with a clear plastic window though which the toy car could be viewed. Later, the boxes themselves gave way to the familiar, modern blister pack…

Matchbox, now owned by Mattel, attempted to cash in on resurrect the original Superfast picture boxes by launching a new line of 75 ‘premium’ Superfast cars in 2005, but whilst the idea seemed good, they somehow failed tocapture the magic of those early Superfast designs. They’re just …well, not quite as good……

I still have quite few original Superfast cars in their boxes among my ever expanding collection of toy cars, so I though it’d be nice to post up a gallery of some of the artwork used through the 1970’s.

One thought on “Matchbox Art”

  1. playing with these as a child, i recall the matchbox selection was typically prototypical or concept car oriented vs. hotwheels which were mostly fantasy. i probably did mix the two together, but it was the matchbox that provided a better glimpse into the real world of cars and machines


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