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Monday, October 13, 2014

Matchbox Ford F-350 Stake Bed, F-550 Mini Pumper, and 1999 F-350 Dump Truck



If you look at any job sites across the nation in the United States, or as a matter of fact in a few other countries as well, you'll find quite a few Ford Trucks, especially the heavy duty Super Duty line that ranges from the F-350 to the F-550.  These trucks haul and tow big loads with no sweat, and come in various configuration with or without a pickup bed for starters.  Matchbox has presented four different versions of the Super Duty since 1999.  The one not shown is the Matchbox Collectibles version shown in 2000 that was based on a regular cab duallie with rubber tires and opening hood.  It was also based on the 1:18 scale version as well; both had very limited lives as they were only used for one year.  These basic line vehicles show have a more longer lifespan, though.



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Separating the herd

After the radical, car-like smooth styling of the 1997 F-150 and F-250 many Ford loyalist complained that the styling was too-soft and wanted their macho square truck back.  Ford obliged and made the heavy duty versions more bigger and squared-up with unique styling and a new name for the line: Super-Duty.  The grille is bigger with nostrils, square headlights, butchier body panels, and some softness from the round wheelwells and taillights shared with the F-150.  The interior shares the same gauges and steering wheel as the F-150, but uses a more larger and squarer dash design.  Introducing in 1999 also allowed four doors on the extended cab from the start, or you can choose the crew cab versions.  Engines start with the 5.4L SOHC V8 from the F-150 making 255hp., a 6.8L SOHC V-10 making 310 hp., or a 7.3L Powerstroke turbodiesel V8 making 235 hp., the latter gone through several variations by International-Navistar before Ford finally built their own turbodiesel V8 after numerous problems with the Navistar units prior.  The V-10 is still being made, but would reserve duty for the F-450/F-550 models that were introduced in 2005.  The truck remained the same with mild styling updates and interiors that followed the F-150's updates.


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In 2008 a new front-end has larger headlights that was touted as being reminded of a locomotive.  All sections of the body panels were vastly updated, as does the interior that shares little with the F-150.  In 2011 the grille was revised with the parenthesis look and the headlights now have a larger frame, eliminating the middle stripe in the previous version.  Looking into the future the next Super Duty in 2016 or 2017 will try out the new aluminum body panels that the new 2015 F-150 is expecting to wear.



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The Stake Bed

Matchbox has done numerous versions of the current Super Duty: F-550 Mini Pumper (we'll look at that one later on) and the Superlift F-350 fire truck based on the actual concept.  The newest is the stake bed truck.  Apparently there was a need for a stake bed truck in the Matchbox line since the last one that I can recall was back in 1999 when Matchbox revived the Dodge Stake Bed (with cows in the back) from the 1970's.  This one uses a smaller, but modern Stake Bed with sturdier end panels (complete with window slots for rearview visibility) with the rear one opening up dump-truck lid style.  The stake raises up like a dump truck; keep pulling rearward and the stake bed comes off to reveal a chassis cab F-350.  Need a flatbed? No problem, just find a flatbed to mount in the back.  The cab is nicely-detailed with the roof lights, side vents, door panels, running boards, and check out the details on the large mirrors.  This cab is based on the 2008-2010 version, yet the grille is based on the newer grille design, and the front bumper should be pushed out a little further as it makes the front looked short-chinned.  The 6-spoke wheels look proper, as does the plenty of ground clearance, but just like the Toyota Tacoma Lifeguard truck it fails to impress with no interior (just blacked-out windows) and a base with questionable details (like why is there a skidplate over the rear axle???).


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F-350 Dump Truck/Raft Truck

The story behind this one started in 1998 in the special Sound Machines (?) series that featured several new tools with lights and sounds by the press of the front-axle.  The new tools were planned to be converted into the regular basic line in 1999.  However, only the UFO spaceship and Missile Launcher made it; the last few from number 95 to 98 never made it and was replaced by alternatives.  The F-350 fire truck was planned, but was eventually replaced by the 1993 Camaro police car.  Size factor or maybe tooling issues was the possible factors for the last-minute change.  In 2000, Matchbox introduced the revised F-350 in the form of a mini dump truck.  The front has a rather small body but with plenty of proper details and an interior.  The chassis also has the proper details.  In the back is a utility bed with a dump truck lid that tilts back, though i'm confused as why the opening lid was left off in the back, making the dump truck use pointless to carry large loads of dirt.  Even underneath the dump lid you can see the details of the hydraulic arm.


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Compared to the stake bed, this is loaded with proper details, but after the 2001 recolor (shown) Matchbox also introduced one with a raft ramp in the back using the raft that was used on the roof of the Jeep Grand Cherokee back in 2000.  Since then the raft truck has been used quite often and the dump truck was never seen again.


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F-550 Mini-Pumper

This was the first diecast of the newly-updated 2011 Super Duty line with the larger headlights and revised grille.  The casting is a bit narrow but packed with plenty of details, including push bumpers at the front, light bar in the roof (part of the window piece), and a utility bed showing plenty of details from the diamond plate covers to the hoses and pump accessories.  Some day I would like to see the pumper piece in the back decked in chrome.  The wheels look even proper, with the front wheelwells flared out to give the F-550 an aggressive look.  The interior is small, but packed with as much details as possible.  This 2014 recolor is my favorite with body-color wheels, detailed door handles, logos, and PowerStroke logo on the front doors.


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While not the best Super Duty casting, the new Stake Bed truck should hopefully win kids and collectors over with the functional stake bed operation.

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