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Five Fun Matchbox Toys From Back in the Day

Growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s, Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars were a big part of my play time.  Both lines produced a lot of really fun cars and play sets, and here are just five of my favorites from the Matchbox side of things through the years.  Don’t worry, I’ll cover the Hot Wheels side of things at another time.

Matchbox Super Spin Car Wash

Super Spin Car Wash

After a long day of play in the dirt and mud of the hills around our house, a good car wash was just what the cars and trucks needed.  This car wash was kind of automatic…as in you had to get the car in the wash and then turn a crank and it would go all the way through.  It featured real water jets, a foam roller “scrub” brush, and a spin dry feature.  The perfect play set for getting all of your cars clean before packing them away for another day.

Matchbox Days of Thunder Cars From Hardees

Days of Thunder

In 1990, Jerry Bruckheimer’s Days of Thunder movie starring Tom Cruise hit theaters to a great reaction, and merchandise based on the movie started to flow.  One of the better pieces of merchandise to come along were the replica cars from Hardees based on the stock cars from the movie.  The five main cars featured in the movie were in the set, which allowed us younger viewers of the film to recreate all the action at home.

Matchbox Cars Based on the Code Red Television Show

Code Red

In 1981, CBS debuted the little remembered Code Red TV Show.  It featured Lorne Green as the Father of a firefighting family in Los Angeles, and the Chief of the one of the many stations in the city.  The show only lasted one season, but Matchbox produced a series of cars featuring the iconic vehicles from the show.  There were two fire trucks, the Chief’s car, motorcycle, fire boat, helicopter, ambulance, and police car.  As a kid whose Dad was a fireman, this set was one of my absolute favorite toys to play with in the 80’s.

Matchbox Connectables

Matchbox Connectables

One of the cooler concepts that came along in the 80’s toy landscape were these Connectables cars from Matchbox.  Each car was in at least two pieces, and connected in the middle.  This allowed you to interchange parts of different vehicles to create all new cars and trucks to play with.  There were also packs of other car parts available so you could even extend the new cars into total monstrosities if you wanted to!  You could make a big rig limo, or a drag car with tank treads!  With these cars, you could take your imagination and play to a whole other level.

Matchbox Trains

Matchbox Trains

Matchbox released a series of train cars in the early 80’s to go along with all of their already awesome car collection. There were various engines in different colors, along with box cars, passenger cars, flat cars, and cabooses.  The really fun aspect of this series was you could hook any of the cars to any of the other cars, meaning you could make many different configurations with varying train cars.  They weren’t exactly in scale with the rest of the line, as they were each about the size of one of their normal cars.  I used to love these things!  My brother and I would hook all of ours together and make an imaginary track all through the house.  We could get hours and hours of fun out of these trains.

So what about you?  Did you have any of these awesome Matchbox toys?  Did we leave out your favorite Matchbox toy?  Tell us in the comments!

The Retro Rambler
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The Retro Rambler

The Retro Rambler was born in '78, raised in the 80's, came of age in the 90's, and started missing it all in the 00's! These days, he spends his time writing about and sharing all the things that he loved back when, and showing his kids how everything from then is better than stuff these days.He also makes really good spaghetti.

If you want to talk about the good old days with The Retro Rambler, check him out on Facebook or Twitter.
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4 thoughts on “Five Fun Matchbox Toys From Back in the Day

  1. Eagles409 says:

    I had the Matchbox car wash when I was a kid, but my favorite Matchbox toy was the Matchbox Country Playset, I loved that thing.

  2. Yeah, the Country Playset was pretty fun too. There was also some kind of stunt playset they put out in the 70’s that was pretty cool, but I’ve never been able to find a picture of it. I remember it featured two hills for jumping between them.

  3. Eagles409 says:

    The best way to play with matchbox cars is still the orange connectable tracks, although I think those were made by Hot Wheels.

  4. Jeremiah Jones-Goldstein says:

    I had several of the Matchbox train cars including two of the ones pictured. They were indeed a lot of fun. For my brother and I small die cast cars were all “Matchbox” cars. We probably had hot wheels and others but we called them all Matchbox cars.

    This was mostly likely because many of our cars were purchased at the local stationary store that had the old style Matchbox displays where you could see the car and ask the clerk for specific ones and they would pull from their storage by number. I believe it was a round display that sat on the counter and spun around.

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