I wrote an article last week about Hot Wheels cars, but upon posting it something started gnawing at me. While talking about Hot Wheels, I had completely neglected to mention Matchbox, the opposing brand. What makes this worse is that as a kid, I couldn’t distinguish between the two as both brands made little toy cars. They still do of course, so it’s only fair that I give you the other side of the story.
The Other Big Name In Toy Cars
What is the key difference that separates Matchbox cars with Hot Wheels cars? As far as I can tell, one has an imprint on the bottom that says “Matchbox” and one has an imprint that says “Hot Wheels.” This does not by any means imply that I believe one to be a knock-off or inferior or anything. Heck no, both brands are awesome and as a kid I was perfectly happy getting either. I happened to get most of my toy cars as hand-me-downs though, so it didn’t make much of a difference as long as the cars had wheels.
If I had to make a sweeping generalization about the differences, I’d say that Hot Wheels tend to be more fantastic in nature, emphasizing designs that are impossible such as a stegosaurus or a torpedo car, whereas Matchbox was more concerned with real world vehicles like ambulances and police cars. The playsets seemed to reflect this as well since I remember having Hot Wheels tracks meant for jumps but Matchbox sets like a city landscape or a triple-decker parking garage.
The important thing about all of this is that more brands mean more variety, and I already noted Hot Wheels’ incredible number of different vehicles to choose from. Matchbox may have even more than Hot Wheels if we’re talking variety of collectibles, but either way, it makes it even easier to have a collection entirely original to you and no one else.
One thing that I find really cool about Matchbox is the official website makes reference to the 100 new cars released this past year. Yes, 100 new cars to collect. They even provide a checklist for the hardcore collectors, and with a 20-car pack being priced at $19.99, that sounds like a fair challenge for the year. You’d be so lucky to only spend a C-note on toys each year.
I remember the time my uncle gave me an old tackle box filled with all the Matchbox cars he had as a kid. Some were busted pretty badly, but the majority were in perfect working condition. This equaled an awesome time of taking each car out of the tackle box and checking out what it was. Parents, make sure to pass down your toys as soon as possible to your kids. Few things are more enjoyable for the kid.
Do you have a favorite Matchbox car from your youth? Can you tell the big difference between Matchbox and Hot Wheels from a distance of twenty feet? Do you prefer one or the other? I want to know your thoughts. Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you once I’m done checking out my collectibles.