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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!

1937 Film from Chevy Explains Differential Gearing

One of the most admirable characteristics of any teacher is the ability to explain very complex concepts through very simple illustration. I can think of few better examples than this 1937 film that shows the layman how differential gearing works. If you’re not familiar with the term, differential gearing is the complex mechanism that allows both drive wheels of your car to turn at differing speeds, such as during a turn, or for one to turn while the other is stuck or immobilized. Very well-done Chevy.

Barbie Ferrari in Red or White

All throughout my youth my friends would talk about their dream cars. They wanted muscle cars or cars with exotic Italian names that you only saw on TV. This facet of childhood was never lost on toymakers and they are always quick to make sure that if kids are thinking about a car, their favorite toy is driving that car.

Barbie has driven many cars over the years, but as the 1980s peaked and started to end, one car was on every kid’s mind, The Ferrari.

Magnum PI red was the preferred color:

But it seems that it was not the only color available:

The Barbie Ferrari is no longer made, but if you have the cash you can pick one up in pretty good condition. Or you can stop living in the past and embrace the future in Barbie vehicles…

1977 Star Wars Toyota Celica

Back in 1977, when Star Wars was not yet still the cultural juggernaut it is today, Toyota and Fox partnered up to giveaway a brand new Star Wars themed Toyota Celica liftback. Would love to see this car cruising down the road with this Vader at the wheel 3PO at his side and Artoo in the back.

Why is Threepio looking under the hood? The transmission speaks only Bocce.

1977 Star Wars Celica GT Liftback on Flickr [via] Global Thermonuclear War