12 jun. 2016

The "Chilean Mini", one of the rarest Matchbox

I've never written about what The Lamley Blog calls the "Chilean Mini", but I should. This is still one of the rarest Matchbox from recent times, and it was me who made it known to the rest of the collecting world.

Image of the pack on the right, and closeups of the Mini, from The Lamley Blog.

It was back in 2009. The good old days of the MCCH, the Matchbox Collectors Community Hall online forum, a fantastic place in which the most knowledgeable experts in diecast used to discuss small scale models, old and new. I spent a lot of time there, as member "Viva Chile!"

So as I always do when at a shopping mall, I was hunting for diecast. I think it was at a Ripley store at the Florida Center mall in Santiago, where they had lots of Matchbox 3-packs, most (if not all) with three really nice models: A red Audi R8, the silver Nissan 350Z with "NISMO" deco, and a sweet looking Austin Mini Van 1965, in green...

As I had seen the first two cars already available as singles, I passed on getting the pack. I don't remember if I assumed that the Mini Van would eventually come as a single, since the other two cars had, or what, but I have never really been into collecting variations, only the cars I like, so it isn't a surprise to me that I left the pack right there on its peg.
But the Mini Van kept appearing on my mind later. I was starting to realize there was something odd about it. I didn't recall it going to appear on green, and the colour combination with the white roof and light/grille detail was very attractive. So I eventually decided to ask the MCCH about it. Do you know about a green Mini Van? Nothing special about them, right?
Wrong! Nobody knew about this green Mini Van. Still thinking that it would probably appear elsewhere eventually, I decided to get some packs, in case it was actually a rare model. But time had passed and I couldn't find more than a few packs at the store. I eventually, as the evidence was mounting that it was indeed rare, and people were asking me to get the Mini for them, visited other stores in other places of Santiago, without any luck.

I did help a couple collectors get one, specially friends at the MCCH. One of them (of Lamley fame) even helped me sell a Mini to a Japanese guy, for a good sum of money. The 3 pack with the Mini was eventually also reported in Switzerland, but what we know so far, is that it was part of a cancelled batch of some unknown line higher-spec models that was dumped into these packs with regular wheels.

Until typing this piece and researching a little, I didn't know that the Matchbox team at the time had announced collectors that they would use this cancelled Mini as a 10-pack exclusive, but nothing happened. I had no idea of that when I saw the 3-packs with the car, which is obviously how Mattel decided to use these cars that had no place to go.

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