Lesney Matchbox Superfast #9 Javelin AMX
Taking a close look at one of my favorite childhood models.
Before we explore this model in depth, I will explain that for over 20 years I was a collector of Lesney-era Matchbox vehicles. The main focus of my interest were the transitional Superfast models (I have at least one example of every casting), but I expanded that to include cars I had from my childhood, which were the 1970's.
The early 70's were quite a turning point for Matchbox. Many collectors of the previous 'regular' wheels were turned off by the unrealistic proportions, bizarre in-house designs and wild colours that Matchbox introduced to counter the roaring success of Hot Wheels. Then there were kids like me, who had no idea about the era of realism which we had just missed. As a child, I loved realistic models. Whenever my parents took me to the toy section in the local department store, I always chose an 'everyday' car over something with crazy graphics, giant wheels and/or huge engine sticking out of the hood. I couldn't stand the fantasy models then or now. I did like the speedy wheels though! When I began collecting and discovered the awesome thin-wheeled Superfast models I had missed for no other reason than having been born a bit too late, I was ecstatic and went on a tireless hunt for all those cool cars and trucks. But, I digress. Let's talk about this model that was introduced into the lineup in 1972.
The Javelin AMX debuted in metallic lime and sported opening doors, a chrome plastic hood scoop with attached dashboard/steering wheel, wide 5-spoke wheels, and with interiors which varied in shade from pale to light yellow. Soon after, the chrome scoop was changed to black and stayed that way for the remainder of the model run, which was 1972-77 and again from 1976-81 as part of the Two-Pack/900 series where it was paired with either a pony trailer, caravan, or Seafire boat with trailer.
First impressions of the casting show the problems Matchbox designers faced. Obviously it was more important that the model be compatible with the track sets than be a true representation of the actual car. It is clearly way too wide in scale than the real thing, but the general idea of the model is exaggerated in a way that one cannot mistake it for any other car. Although the scoop is purely a fantasy touch as the Javelin AMX had no such protrusion on its hood.
The real deal.
The model, shown in lime with yellow interior and 5 spoke wheels; and dark metallic green with dark yellow interior and 5-arch wheels.
There were quite a few variations of the Javelin AMX (or AMX Javelin as it reads on the base). Aside from the aforementioned hood scoop, there are various wheel styles including 5-spoke, 5-slot, maltese cross, and 5-arch. Interiors range from light to medium yellow to yellow-orange. Much rarer colours are orange, and white. The rarest interior colour by far (and the one I tried for years to acquire, but it eluded me) is blue.
The most prevalent paint colour is metallic lime ranging from light to medium and was used exclusively from 1972-77. When the car was introduced as part of the Two-Pack range, it was painted in light metallic blue. The harder to find shade is darker metallic blue. Dark metallic green is another rather scarce colour. The most difficult ones to find are reddish-orange and red. Doors were cast shut on all dark blue, dark green and orange/red models. Windows ranged from pale to dark amber. The model was released again from 1979-82 for the North American market but renamed Cam-Cracker. This version came only in gloss blue with white trim, and again, doors were cast shut. Bases for all models in both castings were generally unpainted, though silver-grey ones do exist across the range and are harder to find. The number 9 was omitted from the base of the cars with cast doors.
Though it is easy to spot fakes if you know what to look for, there are some very crafty and unscrupulous characters who will stop at nothing to create rare versions which never existed in the first place. Here are some tips: no models with cast doors came with 5 spoke or maltese cross wheels, those were early to mid 70's style wheels and were phased out on this model by the time of the Two-Pack era. The orange, white, and blue interiors were only found in lime painted cars. The chrome hood scoop also was available only on the light lime painted models.
Box style was the "I" type with various minute differences, but the two main versions either had the word 'new' on it in a red outline surrounding the model number or did not.
White interior with 5-slot wheels
Orange interior with 5-spoke wheels.
Lighter and darker blue paint. Light blue with opening doors, dark blue with cast shut doors.
With model number on base.
Without model number on base.
5-spoke and maltese cross wheels.