Disney Lesney/Matchbox Cars from 1979

I love die-cast cars and especially if they contain a Disney character in the driver’s seat. I found two examples from the same line recently and was able to catch up with them while they were on the ‘open road’:

I think Donald is tailgating!

This line was produced by the Lesney Products & Company Limited for Matchbox. The cars themselves are the usual size for a Matchbox vehicle but the figures are obviously oversized! Let’s have a closer look:

Goofy seems to be driving a Volkswagen Beetle while Donald may be driving a Volkswagen Dune Buggy.

    

Coming and going

I don’t know how many cars were released in each series but I did find out that Series 1 had Mickey Mouse in a red fire truck.

These are indeed die-cast cars as plastic hadn’t taken over yet back in 1979, and thank goodness! There is one last detail to point out:

Can you read this license plate?

Could it be VB-5 standing for Volkswagen Beetle 5, the ‘5’ relating to its order in the car release schedule? That’s the best I can figure. Do you have another idea?

The Three Caballeros Road Trip in a Volkswagen

These three amigos first traveled together in 1944 although Donald and José Carioca met two years earlier in 1942. But it wasn’t until 1957 that along with Panchito Pistoles the three friends were ready for their first Canadian road trip:

1957 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

Being birds-of-a-feather they agreed to buy a classic open-top car. How appropriate! This way they would feel the wind in their feathers even though they were driving and not flying. Above and below we see them trying out their choice in the showroom:

         

Looking ready for fun!

So after sealing the deal and packing the trunk with all the luggage and bird seed they needed, they piled into their new ride:

Preparing to leave the car port

Panchito called shotgun so that left Donald to sit in the back seat, but that’s OK, as that’s where he liked to do most of his driving anyway!

With their maps marked for adventure the three were finally under way! But would they turn left or right at the end of the driveway?

Right it was = East!

Here’s hoping they had lots of good driving weather! I remember getting a postcard from them which I have kept to this day:

S A L U D O S    A M I G O !

H E L L O     F R I E N D !

Book Review: Herbie the Love Bug Goes to Monte Carlo

by Vic Crume
Scholastic Book Services
1977
This great little paperback novel only cost me $4 even, and it’s turned out to be worth every penny. Of course, at $4, that isn’t saying much!
But seriously, the cover art alone is worth the price, along with the black and white photographs from the movie inside. The story is written in a simplified way for children, but gives some interesting insights into Herbie that didn’t come across in the movie.
Novel adaption of the third Herbie movie
To give you an idea of the style of writing, and how the book helps us to see Herbie in a more intimate way, here is a reprint of the opening lines:
What a sight!
Swinging safely in a cargo net from the big ship’s unloading crane, Herbie had a bird’s-eye view of the busy docks below. In fact, he could see quite a lot of the port city of Le Havre, France.
Herbie is a white Volkswagen bug with a big, bright “53” painted on his hood and sides, and the view wasn’t quite what he’d expected. A small frown crept between his pistons. Not a race track in sight! Odd! Herbie was sure that Jim Douglas, his driver, and Wheely Applegate, his mechanic, had brought him across the Atlantic Ocean especially to race. Then the cargo net started to descend, and Herbie spotted his friends down on the docks. He’d soon find out where he’d be taking them!
(break)
“There he is!” Wheely sang out when he saw the VW. “Look out Europe! Here comes Herbie!” They broke into a fast trot.
They knew their little white bug, Herbie, was someone extra special. Wheely knew every inch of Herbie  – from front to back bumper – and he had never located anything unusual tucked away in the fierce little racer, but he and Jim were sure that Herbie had a mind and a heart of his own hidden somewhere. No wonder they rushed to the unloading dock to meet Car 53.
I’m planning on reading the entire novel soon to enjoy more insights into Disney’s most famous car.
Stills from the movie
With all of the merchandise out there, I’m surprised that I have never come across a die cast model of Herbie, or rarely seen any type of Herbie collectible! For such a huge franchise, one would expect more product.
Be that as it may, I’m glad I found this book!
To conclude this post, I’ll leave you with the closing lines, that give us yet more insight into Herbie… and one of his co-stars:
In the shadows, two sets of headlights blinked gently on and off. Herbie and Giselle!
As they (Jim and Diane) watched, there was a gentle thump of two doors touching.
Softly, the Mediterranean moon beamed silvery light upon two silvery door handles. There was no doubt about it –
Herbie and Giselle were holding doors!
All together now: Awww!