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Matchbox Revamps Brand to Go Green, Starting with Tesla Roadster Toy

Wesley Wren Apr 15 2021

MATTEL / TERI WEBER

MATTEL / TERI WEBER

 

From the die-cast zinc to the paper packaging, your Matchbox cars are going to be better for the environment.

 

  • Matchbox is moving to use either recycled or recyclable materials in its toys and packaging by 2030.
  • Matchbox will also increase its EV presence in the company's lineup and include EV chargers in fuel-station play sets.
  • Matchbox's Tesla Roadster will launch in 2022.

 

With the spotlight pointed directly at sustainability, more and more companies have started taking alternative approaches to becoming more environmentally friendly. Car manufacturers are taking steps to make their machines easier on the environment, so it only makes sense for their scaled-down counterparts to follow their lead—like the announcement by Matchbox to move to almost exclusively recycled materials and bio-based plastics by 2030.

 

THIS TESLA ROADSTER WILL MAKE ITS WAY TO CONSUMERS IN 2022. MATTEL

THIS TESLA ROADSTER WILL MAKE ITS WAY TO CONSUMERS IN 2022. MATTEL

 

That's right, all corners of the Matchbox world are going to become more environmentally friendly, from the packaging to the toys themselves. This transition to more sustainable materials won't happen overnight, however. It's a timed plan that will roll out in stages. The first important step will be to eliminate plastic from the company's packaging. The folks at Matchbox have already started with its latest edition of the “Power Grabs” line. Matchbox went so far as to opt for Forest Stewardship Council certified paper and wood pulp for the line's packaging. The company is opting for water-based paints, too.

Why Matchbox? Why now? Well, Mattel's Roberto Stanichi explains, “Matchbox has always been about realism. It's a reflection of the world and the vehicles kids see driving on the road every day. As we were thinking about our brands, and thinking about where to begin, we thought, 'Well, if this world is evolving, so should Matchbox.' "

Stanichi expands, “It's not just about materials, and it's not just about materials usage, but it's also about the way that we bring different themes and play themes to kids that are also focusing on greener behaviors. So we felt that Matchbox was perfectly positioned to be the leading brand on the commitment to use 100 percent recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastics in all of our toys and packaging."

The team at Matchbox is also looking at revamping its scale car manufacturing holistically, from revamping its die-casting process to expanding the green car representation in its lineup, including simple things like electric vehicle chargers in its play sets. Not only does that mean the sets will be more environmentally conscious, but they'll also better reflect the changing vehicle landscape.

According to Stanichi, this transition to using more sustainable materials has not been easy. "Preparing our business and preparing our operations to meet this sustainability commitment is something that we've been doing for a year and a half," he says. "That includes a shift in operating the model and a shift in design thinking and mentality."

Going further, Stanichi says: "One of the challenges that we have, we're perfecting the heating process. Making sure that we have the right temperature going in, then also that the pressure that we could use when we were molding because the materials fold differently and have different properties. And then the cooling process. Sometimes the material would get too hot and warp. It would not hold the shape the way we wanted. So, we went through a number of iterations in order to get the die-cast molding to come out to what is our standard of quality and really make sure that we were delivering the quality that our customers have come to expect out of the Mattel die-cast cars. To make sure that this lasts for a lifetime and it's as durable as the products we've been offering before.”

That means Matchbox assures these more sustainable toys will be as durable as their traditionally manufactured counterparts. This should come as reassuring news for Matchbox devotees and die-cast collectors as a whole, especially those who might be interested in a more sustainable product but also with continued collectibility. After all, the best way to reduce waste is to keep the toys in circulation.

To that end, Matchbox is kicking off its more eco-friendly future with a special Tesla Roadster. This is the first Matchbox car made from 99 percent recycled materials. This scaled-down Tesla Roadster is made from 62 percent recycled zinc and 37 percent recycled plastic. Add those numbers up and you'll find the 99 percent recycled construction. The final 1 percent is stainless steel.

While this Tesla Roadster is a good looking toy—and a well-known piece of popular culture—Stanichi notes that the toy is more than just its materials. He says, "We love this casting of the Matchbox Tesla roadster because it represents two things. It's not just about the materials and usage of the materials that are more sustainable, but it's also about the themes that encourage environmental consciousness and really help kids experience greener behaviors in their play."

Adding to the environmentally friendly nature of this Tesla toy, Matchbox is buying carbon offsets to make sure that the latest toy in their stable is carbon neutral. "One thing that we really love about that is, with carbon offsets, the credits go to preservation projects, and we have two as part of this Tesla Roadster project. One for preserving grasslands in Colorado and another one in Montana," says Stanichi.

If you're wondering if this is stopping with Matchbox, it's not. This push is one part of Mattel's attempt at reaching its 2030 goal of using exclusively recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials. That means Hot Wheels and Barbie are eventually heading down the greener path, too.

This whole pivot to more sustainable materials will require some patience from die-cast collectors—Matchbox isn't releasing this carbon-neutral die-cast car until 2022. If this toy is a sample of what's to come, you should have just as much confidence in the future of Matchbox as you have in its past.

 

SOURCE: CAR AND DRIVER

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