One of the most recognisable pieces of royal memorabilia has been recreated to mark both King Charles’ Coronation and the 70th anniversary of Matchbox. Strictly made to order, a 1:64 scale model of the Gold State Coach has been announced by the toy car brand, which owes its foundation to the coach used in the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Seventy years ago, London-based diecasting business Lesney sold over 1 million of its 11.8cm Coronation Coach produced to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. Its sales success enabled Lesney to fund the launch of the Matchbox brand. Today the diecast brand has produced more than 3 billion cars and counting.
The 2023 Matchbox diecast set measures 23cm long and captures the majestic presence of the 261-year-old, four-tonne Gold State Coach. This specific coach has been a prominent feature in every Coronation since King George IV in 1821.
Roberto Stanichi, Global Head of Vehicles, Mattel said: “Not only is 2023 a pivotal moment in UK history, but it also marks an important one for Matchbox. Celebrating 70 years of rich design heritage, Matchbox is launching an exclusive Coronation Coach that evolves the brand’s signature craftsmanship while drawing on innovation and cutting-edge technology to write a new and exciting chapter in our history. Being built to order, we expect this coach to be one of the most exclusive models Matchbox has ever created.”
With the goal to create a model ‘fit for a king’, Matchbox creators set out to produce its most detailed version of the coach to date. Its designers pored over hundreds of images taken by Senior Manager of Matchbox Product Design Julian Payne during a visit to the Royal Mews, together with hours of footage of the most important royal celebrations in recent times, to faithfully reproduce the giltwood coach, 8 ‘Windsor Grey’ horses and 4 coachmen.
The intensive four-month design process was a true blend of old design practices and some of the most innovative techniques used today. The team used the latest 3D scanners to capture the incredibly detailed sculpted form of the horses and riders from the original Lesney model. Prototype parts were then created in real time using 3D printing.
Packed with features, it is the most comprehensive edition of the four iterations to date, including ‘tampo printed’ reins on the diecast horses, rolling wheels with a front turning axle, windows – a first for a Matchbox Coronation Coach – and, inside the detailed red interior, metal figures of King Charles III and the Queen.
The designers also seized the opportunity to correct elements of the original 1952 model. The tritons on the front of the coach are now accurately depicted as blowing horns, while the painted side panels are represented for the first time with additional printed decoration. Collectors searching for more detail will be pleased to find that the designers of Matchbox have, for the first time, incorporated three cherubs, representing England, Scotland and Ireland, on the roof.
Ideal for display, the coach can be removed from its custom display box and textured plinth; the latter is modelled to reflect the surface of The Mall. As a nod to the very first model, the 2023 Gold State Coach features the draw chains between the 4 pairs of horses and comes in a red presentation box.
“The original State Coach is a pivotal piece of Matchbox heritage, and crucial to the brand’s destiny,” comments Giles Chapman, author of Britain’s Toy Car Wars (published by The History Press – www.thehistorypress.co.uk). “Lesney’s design genius Jack Odell already had a terrific reputation for accurate detail but this gleaming horse-drawn vehicle – often used as a cake decoration at parties to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s coronation – opened his eyes to ultra-miniaturisation. It was the forerunner to the phenomenally successful Matchbox 1-75 series launched in 1953 that put toy cars and trucks into the eager hands of all children, not just those lucky enough to have wealthy parents. The little coach was the blockbuster product that started it all.”
The 2023 Matchbox Gold State Coach is available to order between April 26 and May 18, priced at £60 via MattelCreations.com