Perceived Value - New Matchbox Superfast

Posted by: Doug in Member Blogs

There you stand at the toy show, looking at a particular toy car, perhaps one you have wanted for years. You flip it over to see what the current owner thinks it is worth. If you are like me, your response is one of three choices. The best response is "Great, that's a price that fits for this model", perhaps it even seems a bargain. The second possible response is "That seems a bit high but perhaps a more reasonable counter offer will be accepted." At toy shows, bargaining is expected and prices are often set accordingly. A reduction of 25% is common and even 50% is possible, especially as closing time nears. Returning to bargain on a high-priced item near closing time is often a good strategy. The third reaction is "You must be joking! That price is so high that even bargaining would only reduce it to many times more than it is worth." On occasion I will inquire how such a high price was decided, hoping to help the seller see the error of their ways. This seldom works but it does make me feel better about leaving the item in question.


The point here is that we know what a toy car should be worth. Sure, everyone loves a bargain but it is usually necessary to pay a fair price in order to get what we want. While this is the case with sales at toy shows, retail sales don't work that way. The cashier at Toys-R-Us would be shocked to hear me ask for a discount on the latest item from Mattel and the odds of success would be as likely as finding Red-Lines in the $.25 cent box. The only exception to this is in the case of a damaged item where a discount is almost always offered if requested.



How do toy car makers set prices for their products. Do they consider all the design, production, packaging, marketing and distribution costs, add a reasonable profit and then set a wholesale price? The retailer will usually want a 50-100% mark-up from wholesale. Do manufacturers look at the prices for products from their competition and set their prices accordingly? Perhaps the manufacturer simply decides that the market will accept a specific price based on their perceptions of the most the consumer will pay? I'm sure all of these factors may be part of the pricing process. Do we end up with fair prices as a result?



A recent example of perceived value has been the introduction of new Superfast models by Matchbox. When this series was announced, considerable interest was shown by the collecting community. With limited production and the 'Superfast' tag that is clearly targeted at the baby-boom generation, Matchbox aimed this product squarely at collectors. The actual product includes a mix of new and old castings. Some of the castings are new but have been made to remind collectors of old Superfast models. The real gimmick is the packaging. Each blister includes original artwork, specific to each model. The colors and style are intended to remind collectors of actual Superfast packaging from the early 1970's. The best part is the inclusion of the box that made the Matchbox name a household word. A real, usable 'Superfast' box is included in the package. The style is intended to generate memories of the 'Superfast' boxes of old and it includes a picture of the model. Curiously, the box art shows the cars to have more detailed paint and better wheels. Did Matchbox decide later to pinch some pennies with less detailed paint and plastic wheels? So far I have only found 12 of the first 24 models.


Three versions of the 1971 Camaro show the best to be the Barrett Jackson model with the new Superfast version only slightly more detailed than the 1-75 model.








The models themselves are much like same models offered in the regular 1-75 line. Some in fact are offered in both lines with only changes in color and packaging to make them different. Their are no rubber tires and the paint detail, while better than the regular line, is no better than average and not even to the standards of Real Toy, Welly or other budget Asian brands. Some of the 'Superfast' models have a new version of the old 'Superfast' wheels but most have a hard plastic low-profile wheel and tire. While this look reasonable on something like the BMW X5, it looks odd and out-of-place on a 1956 Cadillac Eldorado. It would have been far better to use the retro-Superfast wheel on all the models.










What are these neo-Superfast models worth. Scalpers seem to think they will be worth more than the retail price as most disappeared quickly from the shelves. Retail stores had them priced from $1.99 at Toys-R-Us to $4.99 at smaller hobby outlets. This compares with a price of $2.99 for the recent Matchbox Collectibles or 'premier' models, complete with rubber tires and much more detailed paint. One thing to be certain of is that the new castings from the 'Superfast' series will be offered in many more variations and colors, spanning the full range of Matchbox products. If you missed them this first time round, don't worry, they will be back. While the initial run is limited to 10,000 pieces, this does not preclude more runs in different colors. It is also likely that the success of this product will convince Matchbox to increase future run limits by 100 to 200 percent.

The new casting of the Matchbox Ford GT40 model is an interesting mix of old and new. The body and base have more detail than the original version. The nose is especially nice. The original included a separate metal engine and exhaust, complete with those eight velocity stacks, to be seen through the back window. The new model has the interior and engine all as one piece of red plastic. Silver paint has been used to add some detail on what passes for the velocity stacks,

The new castings is too long, making the car appear narrow. The blue stripe tampo includes s spot in the NACA duct. The headlights are silver with odd white bars on the top that include black squiggles. Compared to the recent casting of the same car by Hot Wheels, the Matchbox version is the loser due to the length and engine detail. Still, for Matchbox, it is at least a new casting of a realistic car, something we have seen far to seldom in recent years. 

For the collector, the question is if the packaging is worth the premium of 100 to 400 percent being asked by retailers? Scalpers will want even more. My decision was to pay the $1.99 price for those eight models of the 24 released so far, that I could find at TRU. I expect the marketplace will soon decide that an extra dollar for the cardboard box is plenty and settle in this price-range. I can wait, can you?


Tags: Vehicles, Tales of Toy Cars

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