Mainline Matchbox models, also known as Matchbox Series, Superfast, Matchbox 75, 1-75, 1-100, 1-120, and 1-125 models, are individually released, regular-issue, small scale models of cars, trucks and other vehicles. The mainline series originated with four models in 1953, growing to 75 models by 1960, and staying at 75 for almost fifty years (for a few years in the early 1980s an extra two or three models had been included in the line-up), leading to the mainline range also being known as the 1-75 series.
Years 1999 and 2000 saw 100 mainline vehicles, creating some confusion as to what to call the series, but this only lasted for two years; in 2001 the series returned to 75 vehicles. Matchbox offered 100 vehicles again from 2008 through 2011, then 120 from 2012 to 2015, 125 from 2016 to 2018, and then back to 100 again for 2019. The Superfast label returned as a collector's edition, separate from the mainline collection, in 2004 and once again for 2019.
The makeup of the mainline series has changed greatly over its 60 plus years of existence. Initially the collection simply grew, but in 1956 the first substitution of a new model for an old one occurred when the original Road Roller was replaced as No. 1 in the range by a more modern example. Since that time replacements have become routine, with castings retired as their molds wore out, when they proved unpopular, or simply to make way for a new casting. Some retired castings have later returned, either essentially unchanged (e.g. Ambulance (1977)) or with minor (e.g. Chevy Pro Stocker) or significant changes (e.g. Mobile Home). In some cases entirely new castings were created for the same subject vehicle (e.g. '57 Chevy, 1957 Chevrolet). The practice of issuing established castings in new colors, now de rigueur, didn't occur until several years on.
In 1960, Matchbox introduced their King Size vehicles. These larger cars and trucks were numbered independently of the regular vehicles. Several other series have been sold at different time alongside the mainline 1-75 vehicles, including Battle Kings, Sea Kings, Five Packs, the Premiere collections, and many others, but the mainline series have consistently appeared.
Further confusing the issue are the Rest of World (ROW) issues, also known as International or INT. As Matchbox became a global brand, they found value in tailoring their offerings to different markets. Most often this has fallen along continental lines, with The United States and Canada receiving the USA version, and the rest of the world receiving an ROW version. Thus, the 1-75 lineup in Germany may differ from the lineup in Canada. See the ROW article for greater discussion on this topic.
Other Matchbox series
Other series sold under the Matchbox name include, but are not limited to, the following:
- King Size - larger vehicles from the 1960s and 70s
- Convoys - A range of tractor trailers in a similar scale to mainline vehicles, introduced in 1982.
- Real Working Rigs and Super Convoy - larger-sized trucks introduced circa 2008. Real Working Rigs are straight trucks, while Super Convoys are tractor trailers; taken together, the two fill a market niche similar to the older Super Kings
- Sky Busters - aircraft from the 1970s, later reintroduced.
- The First Matchbox Catalogue, www.robertnewson.co.uk Retrieved 11 May 2019
- Matchbox Catalogue 1979/80