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 A short history of the efforts behind the Bruce King Collection of Matchbox Toys

Vectis Auctions will be offering for sale a magnificent collection of Matchbox Toys from New Zealand. Many have never been on display or removed from the original packaging.

 The group includes some factory error models, i.e. incorrect wheels fitted, uncommon decal numbers, etc. In addition to the models there Matchbox magazines from both the UK and the USA, promotional pamphlets, and literature, which make invaluable reference volumes.


A bit about Bruce King, the collector -

“I was married and had two young boys at home when I became a professional musician in 1965. I began touring both locally and to Australia with various overseas acts such as Gene Pitney, The Bachelors, Little Millie Small, P J Proby, Sandie Shaw, etc.

It became a tradition to bring a small present home for the boys when I returned from a tour. It started with Dinky toys, but when I saw the damage the boys inflicted on these presents, I felt the cost could be reduced while still getting enjoyment out of the gifts.

So, the obsession with Matchbox began...

As a qualified engineer prior to my musical career, I marvelled at the miniaturisation, casting skill, and attention to detail that these models possessed.

By 1967 I had three sons to satisfy, and the continuing carnage and destruction especially around Guy Fawkes led me to begin purchasing  a “one for me – one for them” strategy.  Xmas was the time for Gift Sets, and packaging was eagerly ripped apart to gain access to new models. I did not have a clue that these sets often contained exclusively coloured, and now rare models.  Only recently I dug a yellow MB41 Ford GT out of a garden patch. Well, only the upper body actually

By 1969 and the introduction of Superfast, I was hooked. Pocket catalogues were eagerly awaited, and all models eventually ticked off after much searching through various retail outlets display stands.

Dedicated toy shops were not the only dealers in New Zealand, and dairies, bicycle shops, and stationery shops were sought out in all cities and towns I visited in the hope of finding “that” model!

I spent a year playing in bands in Sydney, Australia, in 1983, and moved into buying Models of Yesteryear, King-Size, and basically anything with the name Matchbox on it. It was here that I discovered collector’s shops and outlets that dealt with second-hand models.

I began filling in the gaps in my 1-75 Regular Wheel collection, and realising the importance of condition and boxes. It would mean a complete revision in future years of my entire collection and over-the-top spending resulting from my previous inexperience.

After returning to NZ in1984, second-hand shops, antique dealers, swap-meets, toy fairs, auction houses, occupied my waking hours much to my long-suffering wife’s dismay.

I was still touring in NZ and “hit the shops” at every opportunity while on the road. I developed a network of regular dealers who were probably delighted to see me due to my insatiable appetite for Matchbox.

I learned of the MICA group and on a trip to the UK in 2001 made a special detour to Chester to join the Association and marvel at their Museum. I made a very early morning journey from London to a Coventry swapmeet and was amazed at the size and scope of this event. It put our local 50 or so table events to shame. I was lucky enough to befriend a seller who invited me to his home in Kent, where I purchased a large box of toys which he kindly shipped back to NZ for me. We corresponded for some time and it affirmed that the Matchbox fraternity is like-minded in its dedication to the line.

By now my collection of Matchbox toys, literature, and reference books was so extensive and information therein absorbed, that  I felt it was time to take stock of my situation. Variations, wheels, decals, transfers, logos, moulding release spigots, took over my life. An introduction to the Internet and Ebay changed everything again.  I could now sit at home and shop for anything I liked, from anywhere in the world. It was all there, providing I had the funds and patience to obtain it. It was here that I learned a valuable lesson. The old adage “blood rushing to the head” applied to me as a newby at this computer thing, and it wasn’t long before I learned that not all dealers are honest, and it pays to ask questions first, and examine photos carefully. I got caught a couple of times, and from then on tried to deal with reputable or established sites and dealers, such as Vectis.

I attended the MICA Convention in Sydney, 2004, and thoroughly enjoyed the company of so many like-minded “fanatics”. Getting caught up in the Matchbox 50th Anniversary Logo cars frenzy of 2001, and finally collecting the entire Logo series, was the point I decided that this year was a good time to stop blanket purchasing, and concentrate on my Regular and Superfast box model improvements as a means to getting to the ultimate “mint and boxed” category whereever I could.

With my sons all departing the family home, it was not long before their empty rooms were filled with Matchbox toys. Thousands of them!  A visit to Vectis in the UK in 2006 persuaded me that this firm, and these people, in particular, the absolute knowledge of Julian Royse on Matchbox, was the way to go to pass on my collection to a future generation.

So, after more than 50 years of serious collecting it’s time to let go. My boys are not in a position to continue my passion, and I am grateful to Vectis for taking on this massive collection and hope that others may benefit and grow their collections from my endeavours. I am so grateful to have made many friends among the world-wide Matchbox fraternity.

I have enjoyed the journey, thrilled at the chase, supressed my anger and frustration at the last-second auction losses, watched the mail-box anxiously for the next “arrival”, and spent countless hours pouring over each and every model, appreciating their beauty and fascination, before giving them the final tick and classification in one of the many catalogues.

Happy collecting, Bruce King.”


For more information about any of the items in this sale please contact Matchbox Specialist Julian Royse on +44 (0) 1642 750616 or email

Click on the link to view Part One of the Bruce King New Zealand Matchbox Collection


Matchbox Regular Wheels 3b Bedford TK Tipper Truck - Stannard Code 9 - light grey cab & chassis without silver trim, red tipper body with base block, gloss black base with large model number cast, 45-tread grey plastic wheels - Near Mint (paint chip to loadbed) in Excellent type D2 box printed by Bowaters.
Estimate: £70 - £90 Sold For: £140
Matchbox Regular Wheels 19b MGA - Stannard Code 6 - off white body with mask sprayed silver trim, tan type B driver, red interior & base, 20-tread silver plastic wheels - Excellent in Excellent type B5 box.
Estimate: £120 - £150 Sold For: £300
Matchbox Regular Wheels 22b Vauxhall Cresta - Stannard Code 20 - metallic light gold body without rear silver trim but with red tail-lamps, turquoise green windows, gloss black base, 24-tread silver plastic wheels - Near Mint with tiny chip to each tail-lamp in Near Mint to Mint type D2 box printed by Bowaters. Nice example.
Estimate: £120 - £150 Sold For: £280