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Ambulance (1977)

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This article concerns the 1977 ambulance casting, first released in the1978 model year. You may be looking for a different ambulance casting.

Ambulance
Debut Series Superfast
Produced 1978-1981 (MB41-C), 1983-1991 and intermittently since 1991 (MB25-E)
Number MB41-C, MB25-E
41-C composite

The Ambulance (1977) (also listed as 1978 or 1979 in various sources, and listed as "Chevy Ambulance" in 1999 to distinguish it from the "Ford Ambulance" in that year's line up) is actually two very similar castings. The first casting (41-C) was released for 1978 (with a 1977 copyright), and was retired in 1981 or 1982. The second casting (25-E) was released in 1983, with minor variations in the base, and appeared steadily in the Superfast 1-75 lineup through 1991. This second casting retains the 1977 copyright date, and has continued to appear sporadically since then, sometimes only in multi-packs. Taken together, the castings reflect important changes at Matchbox and in ambulance design.

The castings have also seen use by third-party customizers, both due to their realistic depiction of an emergency vehicle, and for the large flat areas on the casting, which readily take customizers' stickers or paint. This article concerns those versions of this vehicle released directly by Matchbox.

BackgroundEdit

CastingEdit

The Ambulance (1977) casting has spanned many of the Matchbox company's changes, being originally cast in England, then later in Hong Kong, Macau and China as the company's fortunes varied. This model's construction is noteworthy for using only a single rivet, at the front, to hold it together; the rear is held
41-C, 25-E Rear 05202012

Rear view of casting 41-C, showing unobstructed patient-care compartment. 25-E similar. Josiah Carberry Collection

together by a tongue (in the base) fitting into a slot in the body. This construction allows the rear doors to open onto an unobstructed patient compartment. The interior does not extend to the driver's compartment, however; its absence there is hidden by frosted windows.

The decoration of this casting deserves comment for both its nature and its content. The earliest versions of the casting feature stickers, while later versions, reflecting the advance of technology, feature painted-on details. For content, note the addition of "Dial 911" in later editions of this casting. When the Ambulance was first released, each community had a different phone number for its ambulance service. Once universal access numbers were developed (911 in the United States, 112 in parts of Europe, etc) these numbers began to appear on real emergency vehicles, and on the Matchbox vehicles, like this one, that represented them.

It is also curious that, in an era when Matchbox assigned numbers to a model for the life of that model's run (instead of changing the number every year, as is the current practice), the 1977 ambulance has borne two numbers. When the casting was released, in 1978, it was number 41. It disappeared from the 1-75 collection for 1982, but on its return the following year, it was number 25. This change occurred at or about the same time that the switch was made from stickers to painted-on details.

Changing role of the ambulanceEdit

The casting also reflects what was, at the time of its initial release, a changing understanding of the role of the ambulance. Ambulance crews before the late 1970s were only concerned with rapidly transporting the patient to a hospital, where medical treatment would begin. Advances in medicine now allowed treatment to begin on scene, and to be continued in the ambulance. The low-roofed, hearse-like ambulances of the past were too cramped for medical care, and had been legislated out of existence in some countries toward the late 1970's, so new ambulance designs based on truck frames, such as that seen in this casting, were the result. Television shows in some countries like Emergency! popularized this new Emergency Medical Service, and it was natural for Matchbox to cater to the demand for modern ambulances.

This is an early version of the modern ambulance, though. Like many ambulances of the late 1970s and early 1980s, its only emergency lights are a pair of round beacons on the roof. Later ambulances, and many later Matchbox ambulances, would also feature emergency lights on the front, sides, and rear of the patient compartment, on the front fenders, and on the front grille. Also on this casting, we find a single flood light on each side of the casting (a circle cast in the center of the top of the side), for illuminating a scene beside the ambulance, rather than the multiple lights now used.

VersionsEdit

The Ambulance (1977) has come out in the following versions:

Casting 41-CEdit

Casting 41-C was catalogued as MB41 for its entire history in the 1-75 range. It was only made in England.

Col # Year Series Color Tampo Base Color Window Color Interior Color Wheel Type Toy # Country Notes / Variations Photo
MB41 1978 Superfast 1-75 White Red, White, Black "Ambulance" Sticker Unpainted / Metal Blue tint Grey M004f England 7841 Ambulance L
MB41 1979
1980
Superfast 1-75 White Sticker: Blue Print: "Emergency Medical Service" Unpainted / Metal Blue tint Gray M004f England 41-C EMS Sticker
MB41 (France) 1980 Special Issue in France for Paris-Dakar Rally Silver, with White or Grey Rear Doors Sticker: "Rallye Paris - Dakar 81," "SFP" Unpainted / Metal Blue tint Gray M004f England Ambulance (1980 France)
MB41 (Germany) 1981 Superfast 1-75 Red White, Painted, "Notarzt," "Tel. 112" Unpainted / Metal Blue tint Gray M004f England Image Not Available
MB41 1981
1982
Superfast 1-75 White Sticker: Blue, Yellow and Black, "Ambulance" and Star of Life Unpainted / Metal Blue tint Gray M004f England 41-C Blue Ambulance Sticker 05202012
MB41 1982 Code Red White Red, "Pacific Ambulance", "101", "Emergency" Silver-grey or unpainted metal Blue tint Tan M004f England This color scheme would reappear as the first issue of MB25-E Pacific Ambulance 101 05202012
41C and 25E comparison JSCC

Comparison of the bases of castings 41-C (top) and 25-E (bottom). Click to enlarge.

Casting 25-EEdit

After a year's hiatus, the ambulance returned for 1983. On first glance, the model appeared the same, even, in the United States, wearing the same livery as casting 41-C had retired in (Pacific Ambulance), but on the base there were minor differences. Though the tread-plate pattern around the text block was retained, gone was the "Superfast" logo, as Superfast wheels were now industry-standard. Lesney was replaced with Matchbox International, the company's new name; and No 41 was also gone, since the model was now number 25 in the line-up. Finally, reflecting the new place of manufacture, Made in Hong Kong (or Macau, or China, as appropriate) replaced Made in England. The 1977 copyright date remained, but was moved from the central text block to a space between the front wheels.

Col # Year Series Color Tampo Base Color Window Color Interior Color Wheel Type Toy # Country Notes / Variations Photo
MB25 1983 Superfast 1-75 White Red, "Pacific Ambulance", "101", "Emergency" Silver-grey or unpainted metal Blue tint Tan M004f Same colors as last issue of 41-C Pacific Ambulance 101 05202012
MB25 1984 1985 1989 1994 Superfast 1-75 White Orange striping, "E-11"; Blue "Paramedics" and star of life Gray Metal Blue tint Tan M004f 8525 Ambulance
MB25 1991 Superfast 1-75 White Red and Blue Striping, "Ambulance", "EMT", and Star of Life Gray Metal Blue tint Tan M004f 25-C EMT High Mileage 05202012
1991 Graffic Traffic White None White base Blue tint M004f All-white body and base Image Not Available
MB25 1992 Superfast 1-75 Yellow Orange striping, "E-11"; Blue "Paramedics" and star of life Gray Metal Blue tint Tan M004f Similar paint to the 1984 - '89 version, but with a yellow base color Image Not Available
1993 Intercom City Red- orange Blue and White striping and lettering, "Ambulance 7," Intercom City logo Black, with Intercom City contacts Blue tint Tan M004f Image Not Available
1996 1-75 White Red and Blue striping, Blue "Dial 911," "Ambulance," and Star of Life Silver-Gray Blue tint Tan M004f China Came with removable patient on stretcher Ambulance - 3404df
1996 5-Pack Red Black, White and Gold striping and lettering, "Fire Rescue" Black Blue tint Tan M004f Image Not Available
1997 City Streets 5-Pack White Orange and Blue striping, Blue "Matchbox," "Dial 911," "Ambulance," Star of Life and EKG tracing Siler-Gray Blue tint Tan M004f Image Not Available
MB34 1999 Law & Order 4/5 Black Gray lower section and stripes. MB County Sheriff, S.W.A.T., Unit MB-8 Metalflake Light Gray / Metal Blue tint White M004f 36498 China "Chevy Ambulance" on card Ambulance (1977) in SWAT livery 20120720 JSCC

See alsoEdit

External LinksEdit

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