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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Holy Grail letdown... Matchbox Lesney Rover 3500 - civilian and police

Every collector has an item that they've chased for a long time but it always eludes them and they seemingly never get it... 

For me, this Rover 3500 is that thing - that Holy Grail.  I've been wanting this car for about 25 years- it may be the last unique Matchbox casting (at least in the 75 series 1:64 scale) that I didn't have, from the mid '60s through the present day (and excluding some of the really weird or uncollectible stuff). 

I first saw it in the first Matchbox collecting book by Dana Johnson and thought that I'd like to have it.  Unfortunately there are very few of them around (I'm guessing that they were sold more in the UK than in the US) and so I just didn't stumble across them the way I did other models.  The years and then decades went by, and my collection grew and grew.  It no longer became a question of what models I had, but of what models I didn't have.  And this Rover became more and more of one of the few cars I didn't have, and then finally, the only car I didn't have. 

I finally got the less desirable (my opinion) police car about 6 months ago, but only just got the civilian version recently. 

There is often a let-down feeling after getting something you've been chasing for a long time - and that was the case for this car.  I was disappointed to find that the base was plastic -  very unusual for the lesney era - it must have been one of the very first plastic baseplate castings that they did. 

The sunroof opens - but it flops around a lot and often opens crookedly.  The cars have a tow hook and the detailing is reasonable - but not exceptional.  Corgi Juniors also did a 3500 in the same era, and while I haven't done a formal comparison, I think the Corgi may be the nicer piece.

My Corgi is red with an opening hatchback, the typically stiff suspension and standard Corgi wheels.  I'm generally not a huge fan of Husky and Corgi Juniors models - the Huskys are too small in scale, and the Corgis (even marked with Whizawheels) don't generally have the supple suspension that you would expect them to have.  The detailing is low and they generally feel like the company didn't work too hard on them.  So I was surprised to find that I might like the Corgi Junior 3500 more than the Matchbox 3500....  Interestingly this typical quality differential of Matchbox over Corgi is NOT true for the larger scale  toys - full scale Corgis are often nicer than equivalent Matchbox Super Kings. 

In sum, the Holy Grail was found....!  ...and identified as having a plastic baseplate....   All in all, a bit of a letdown...


  1. At this moment i got one in my colection the civil version and i like it.

  2. At this moment i got one in my colection the civil version and i like it.