|What's This Site About?
This site is for all modelers and collectors with an interest in vintage Matchbox plastic model kits.
It is dedicated to the memory of the founders, engineers and illustrators who made these wonderful kits come to life.
Use the categories on the left to browse through the various ranges of kits. The search box is handy to find information about specific kits or models.
Besides browsing the pictured information of each of the kits you may also find it useful to look through the original catalogues which
have been listed by year.
Scroll down to see what 's since Feb 3rd 2013...
A short history of Matchbox plastic modeling kits
Matchbox kits originated in 1972 when Jack Odell and Leslie Smith, the management of Lesney Products & Co ltd,
decided they wanted a share of the plastic model kits market. This is where Maurice Landi, a keen aircraft person, came in.
Lesney management hired him to design a range of Matchbox plastic modeling kits.
It was his job as project engineer to come up with subjects which could be found, measured and photographed.
In other words those aircraft which he had access to. When he had prototypes made up by their own staff, they would be presented
to the owners Odell and Smith. Lesney management would decide under his advice and give him the budget to realize the kits.
To provide attractive packaging Roy Huxley was hired as illustrator to draw the box-art for the kits.
Later other illustrators, Doug Post, Ross Wardle and Ken Rush, also worked on some of the Matchbox kit packaging.
The majority of illustrations however remained to be drawn by Roy Huxley.
The early years -
The first appearance of Matchbox kits was in 1973 when they appeared in the Matchbox Collectors Catalogue.
The main range of Matchbox toys were die cast model cars. The first plastic model kits were a range of twenty aircraft
in what was to be known as "the purple range" numbered PK-1 to PK-20. From the start Matchbox kits were designed to be attractive
to the younger modeler by casting them in multiple colors.
Already in 1974 the plastic model kit range had grown so much that a separate catalogue appeared "Matchbox Kits Catalogue 1974-75".
In a few years time the model range had grown to over 30 models in the two-colored purple range and extended into many other ranges
of larger aircraft and ships and vehicles as well. The majority of the aircraft kit ranges were molded in three colors.
This gave a good looking appearance even when the model was finished without painting.
Each model was molded in a set of colors that was chosen to give an appearance as realistic as possible in this way.
Expansion and recession -
In 1979 Lesney bought AMT, after which we saw combined AMT/Matchbox catalogues appear.
Several attempts were made to integrate the ranges. A recession in the UK brought a less fortunate period for Lesney.
On September 24th, 1982 the Matchbox kit range was taken over by Universal Toys, a Hong Kong based firm owned by David Yeh.
The Universal Group bought Matchbox Toys Ltd. and the marketing companies for France, Germany and Australia for 16.5 million pounds.
In Hong Kong a holding company was formed for them, called Matchbox International Ltd. Later Universal Matchbox Group.
David Yeh engineered this takeover of UK-based toy manufacturer, Lesney (Matchbox) Group.
Those days, it was almost unthinkable for a Hong Kong based manufacturer in a British colony to take over a star enterprise in the UK.
This however, was only the first in a series of takeovers.
Part of this info was shared by Ted Taylor, IPMS UK, who knew Maurice Landi personally.
Thank you so much for filling many gaps in our knowledge!
Scope of our attention
Matchbox as a brand name for plastic modeling kits has gone through a couple of curves.
The classic British period practically ended with the receivership of Lesney.
The Universal period still added kits that extended the ranges in the same Matchbox spirit.
We do focus on the kits that were released under the Matchbox label.
For a couple of years Lesney owned AMT and both ranges were joined. AMT kits however are regarded out of scope for
this reference. For a brief period original Matchbox kits have been sold in the US under the AMT brand.
We show a just few examples of these and provide more detail in our catalogue area.
Multi-colored Matchbox kits have been produced up to 1990, but Revell continued the range and revamped it during their ten year lease period.
This neatly sets our ultimate boundary as this is the event horizon for plastic modeling kits issues under the Matchbox brand.
In 1991 Revell bought the molds for the whole range of kits and got a ten year lease to use the Matchbox brand name
from 1991 up to 2001. See our guided tours section for more details. Under Revell-Matchbox you find all kits released in this period.
After 2001 a number of the Matchbox kits have been released under the Revell brand. You will likely
see a number of these models to be available in your local shop right now. Notice that some of these kits have been
remodeled since or released with new decal sets.
From a pure modeling perspective these kits may even be preferable to the serious modeler as having the whole kit
supplied in one color will make it easier to obtain a homogeneous paintjob. Vintage Matchbox kits can be found on auction
sites like EBay where your fellow modelers, who likely have huge stashes of unbuilt kits, offer them to the highest bidder.
In this site you can find
Pictures of all Matchbox kits throughout the years up to 1999:
The Aircraft kit ranges by year of issue
The Armour kit ranges
The 1-700 Ships ranges
Revell-Matchbox 40000 ranges
Matchbox and AMT/Matchbox catalogues
a classification guide with examples of box layouts and variations
Tip: use the Quick Find box to quickly find all variants of kits made for a specific aircraft. For example search for "tomcat".
Press the looking glass to list all kits that match your keywords.
In the red range automotive series we have added pictures of kits built by Nigel Langridge.
A couple of long wanted additions:
With the help of Roy Huxley we have been able to identify for many kits the artists who drew the boxart. In some cases the artist signature is a dead giveaway, but others are not so obvious. The vast majority of kits from the Lesney and Matchbox International era now contain unambiguous references.
Derek Stowe was so kind to contact us and clarify the origins of the "Impulse Puzzles". Please visit guided tour number 8 to read the Impulse Puzzles story.
We have recently been in contact with Roy Huxley about his current endeavors. See our guided tour number 11 on recent artwork by Roy Huxley.
A series of contributions we are happy to share:
The 1974 and 1976 Japanese Catalogue editions - contributed by Akira Shiomi.
Type 2 box variations with small windows for PK 7 Lysander, PK 24 Buffalo and PK 25 Siskin - contributed by Petr Hayek.
The collection of "Action Puzzles" in guided tour 08 has been extended thanks to Steve Brown.
Pictures of "Kit Pak" packaging have been added to several purple range kits in the Revell-Matchbox section. Special 09 has been extended with several examples of German and UK variations - thanks to Dirk Ommert.
A few more plates with artwork by Roy Huxley in guided tour 11. Some of the subjects will be nobrainers for you, but can you distinguish each and every aircraft's make and model?
The Matchboxkits.org site now has it's own icon that will appear with the bookmarks you create - thanks to Mario Wens.
We have added a few more sets of instructions sheets and a couple of new additions:
Catalogues - the English version of the 1979/80 catalogue and improved pictures of the English version of the 1982/83 catalogue. Many thanks to Asoka Indrasoma.
Aircraft - instruction sheets for PK-29, PK-41, PK-126, PK-128, new variations on the PK-19 Mikoyan MiG-21 and PK-29 A-4M Skyhawk that show how gradual the changes in box type and design took place.
The ex-Otaki 1 TO 48 scale range - We have added pictures and instruction sheets for all four kits in this range from PK-460 to PK-463.
Specials - A special last run of the Mirage IIIB for an Italian magazine in 1995 by Revell and a limited edition of the BAC 167 Mk.80 Strikemaster issued by Revell in 2011.
The latter was made for the special occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Dutch IPMS and the 10th anniversary of the German DPMV.
We are happy to show a wide range of contributions covering several areas:
Catalogues - the English versions of 1974 and 1982/83 catalogues; the first Matchbox International Catalogue of 1983; dealer versions of the 1982 and 1983 catalogues.
Ships - we finally got hold of the instruction sheets of the PK-901 Flower Class Corvette.
Aircraft - an interesting variation of the 1976 issue of the PK-29 A-4M Skyhawk, the earliest packaging that shows two USA colour schemes.
Also interesting is what happened to the PK-117 Hawker Hunter when the colour scheme was changed to include a "Blue Diamonds" display team version.
An intermediate version of the boxart shows the "Aerobatic Teams" emblem but still with the camouflaged aircraft on the box.
For the PK-503 Dauntless we added a nice build that shows what can be achieved from this kit.
Armour - We are happy to add an excellent build for each and every armour kit in the Lesney ranges. It makes it almost hard to believe these are in 1 to 76 scale.
Special issues - Kits marketed as "Exclusiv modell", kits with free glue, "Super Value" kits, "Tesco Twin Packs", "Kit Paks", gift packs, paint packs and the PK-1001 Counter Attack playkit.
We also collected a slideshow of unpainted models in the Guided Tours section that features many builds that have just recently been added to the site:
PK-006 Focke-Wulf Fw 190A
PK-013 Mustang Mk IV
PK-017 Messerschmitt Bf 109E
PK-037 BAe Sea Harrier FRS1
PK-040 Starfighter TF-104G
PK-042 T-2C Buckeye
PK-102 BAC S Jaguar
PK-104 Curtiss SB2C-1 Helldiver
PK-111 Junkers Ju 87
PK-115 Messerschmitt Bf 110
PK-132 Heinkel He 70
PK-406 Grumman F-14A Tomcat
We have added several small improvements and updates.
For some of the exotic kits added during the Revell-Matchbox period we have been able to trace the origins: see kits 40143, 40147, 40148, 40200 and 40201.
A couple of box variations popped up, some through contributors who contacted us (many thanks!), which we now can show:
PK-21 Me262 in type 4 packaging (reissue '79);
PK-406 Grumman F-14A Tomcat in its initial type 3 packaging of 1976;
Orange range armour series PK-171, PK172 and PK-173 in their initial packaging and
PK-310 Citroen Legere in its initial type 3 packaging.
We have added:
more instruction sheets for orange and purple aircraft kits, thanks to Kostas Kolivakis;
more instruction sheets for the orange armour kits;
two more kits to complete the series of six purple range aircraft kits that were reissued in the first type 5 box design for the USA market in 1980;
a section with the figures in the yellow ranges in 1 to 32 and 1 to 76 scale;
more to see in the guided tours section.
For the kits from non-Matchbox origins that appeared during the Revell lease period we would like to clarify and validate the actual origins of the kits.
If you have both the Matchbox kit and the kit as issued by its initial manufacturer we sure would like to see pictures comparing both sprues.
Please drop us a note in the 'Contact Us' section if you can help us out!
We have added a separate section on Revell's ten year lease period. All kits released with a 40000 number belong to this period.
This section shows the appearance of box type 7 among continued kits with familiar boxart.
The type 7 boxes were only introduced when changes were made to the kit contents, often specifically the decal sheets.
On the former box designs there was just the change to a 40000 number and the addition of a "Grüner Punkt" recycling symbol that was introduced in 1990.
Note that the Copyright dates were just left unchanged compared to the original box designs.
Many thanks to Dirk Ommert for the pictures and research provided.
A box type classification has been added in which we distinguish the major types of box layout.
Thanks to Mike Dean for a fruitful collaboration!
Some categories have meanwhile been adjusted on the site, PK-20 does seem to have appeared only on the second batch!
We will extend the details per box type in the future, so this is just the beginning...
If you have new information on things we missed out on or mixed up please contact us.
The guided tour section had a new wing built to our museum in which we show some of the work of Roy Huxley from new angles.
Impulse puzzles featuring Matchbox boxart
Royal Doulton plates with paintings by Roy Huxley
We have a few new AMT packaging variations: the Mig-21 and the P-40 Warhawk.
On multiple request.. we finally got the instruction sheet details in for all the 1:32 scale aircraft kits in the Green range:
PK-501 Spitfire Mk22/24
PK-502 Messerschmitt BF 109
PK-503 Dauntless SBD-5
PK-504 Westland Lysander
PK-505 Tiger Moth
PK-506 De Havilland Sea Venom
PK-507 Puma Helicopter
A short guided tour has been added on the topic of gift packs.
We have new variations of packaging on display for PK-81, PK-83, PK-28 and PK-35.
Also we have an example of AMT packaging of the U.S.S. San Diego.
A whole new category has been added for the purple aircraft range that we somehow completely missed out before...
The 1980 reissue boxes came with free patches on the back. More interesting they contained completely new boxart,
at least for some of the kits as we now have on display.
Surprisingly this artwork does not reappear on later reissues by Matchbox International.
Issues from 1983 and later reverted to the boxart that was familiar before this 1980 reissue.
Perhaps a copyrights issue (who knows?) or the new owners may have preferred the earlier work by Roy Huxley.
PK-12 Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter
PK-28 Lockheed Starfighter Cf-104/F-104G
PK-32 North American F-86A-5 Sabre
Splendidly built, precision gluework and polished bare plastic feature the models built by Robert Kaps:
PK-27 Hawk, PK-32 Sabre, PK-125 Norseman, PK-127 Twin Otter and PK-505 Tiger Moth
Instruction sheet have been added for some of the most wanted Matchbox kits:
PK-32 North American F-86A-5 Sabre (1975/78)
PK-42 T-2C Buckeye (1987)
PK-108 Westland Lynx (1974/1975)
PK-109 Junkers Ju 188D-1 (1974/1975)
PK-121 Fairchild A-10A Thunderbolt II (1978)
PK-124 Grumman F9F-4/F9F-5 Panther Blue Angels (1979/1980)
PK-125 Norseman IV/UC-64A (1981)
PK-127 De Havilland Twin Otter (1983/86)
This will take out the guesswork incase you lost the paperwork.
We reconfigured some of our material around reissues in the Aircraft Orange area. Just compare the following:
1976 issue and the reissue'79 of the PK-111 Junkers Ju 87 D-3/G-1 (search for Ju 87)
1976 issue and the reissue'79 of the PK-115 Messerschmitt Bf 110 C-3/D-2 (search for Bf 110)
1976 issue and the reissue'79 of the PK-113 Messerschmitt Me 410 A-2/U4, B-1 (search for Me 410)
Added a guided tour on the whereabouts of the Matchbox brand name in the nineties when licenced to Revell.
Here you find some fascinating details about this period. Based on first hand experiences, drawn up by Dirk Ommert.
English catalogues added for the years 1986 to 1989 that surprisingly show differences with catalogues issued in other languages.
Courtesy of Tony Benstead.
Aircraft - PK-20 reissue of 1977
Ships - PK-61 and PK 351
Automotive - Four AMT/Matchbox reissues
A whole collection of Matchbox catalogues has been added.
These complement our range of catalogues well into the nineties.
A number of gaps that we had in the eighties range have now been closed as well.
Courtesy of Dirk Ommert.
Several pictures added in the ranges Automotive, Ships, Aircraft and Armour:
PK-301, 302, 303, 304, 306, 307, 312, 451, 452
PK-405, AMT 7117
PK-72, 76, 79, 82 and 172
Many thanks to the support by the Classic British Kits SIG, operating on the Unofficial Airfix Modellers Forum, and their fabulous PK-2008 project.
Besides the many pictures that have been offered generously by the builders we have many pictures taken at Telford by Oliver Holmes.
Our aim to collect pictures of built kits has therefore been coming along nicely.
We are now able to show a variety of painted and unpainted models with the listed boxart.
In our guided tours section a topic has been added to show an overview of the PK-2008 display as it was seen at Scale Model World, November 15 and 16 2008 at Telford UK.
Pictures of built kits can now be seen for as good as all kits that existed in 1978 and many more:
Aircraft Purple range up to PK-35
Aircraft Orange range up to PK-121
Aircraft Red range up to PK-409
Aircraft Green range up to PK-504
Ships kits up to PK-163, also the PK-901 Flower Class Corvette
The Automotive Blue range up to PK-306
A majority of the Purple and Orange ranges of the military armour kits
Our virtual shelfspace has been significantly expanded. And our traffic limit has expanded likewise. That means we are adding more pictures to the site.
We have included pictures of sprues, instruction sheets and decals for many kits.
The catalogue range has been expanded extensively, ranging to the AMT/Matchbox merger up to the last catalogue produced under licence by Revell in 1998.
During the summer of 2008 quite a few AMT-Matchbox kits arrived from the USA. Which allows us to show some more of these package variations that originated around 1979.
Check out the category Aircraft/AMT-Matchbox! For a complete overview the 1979 and 1981 AMT Hobby Kits Catalogues have been included in the catalogues area.
The range of Armour kits has been added. Also some pictures of built aircraft.
The launch of the site after three years of ideas and preparation! The first content contained a range of catalogues and almost all Matchbox aircraft kits.
Let us know what you think. Do you like the site? Use the Contact Us form to send us your input.
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