Matchbox Goes Retro with New Vintage-Inspired Super Service Cente

The 80’s and early 90’s were an amazing time for toys. From Transformers to POGS, wacky Crash Dummies, Tomagachis, fight-inducing Super Soakers, and the amazing Game Boy: us 90’s kids knew how to kick inside-recess’ ass. To me, these were the golden days of toys, before everything became completely app-based and social media focused. Some of my favorite things to play with were my Hot Wheels tracks and Matchbox Motor City playsets — and now Mattel is letting us diecast fans relive some of those memories with their new line of retro inspired products.

While the 80’s-90’s weren’t the best to Matchbox (they ended up getting bought by rival Mattel in 1997), their playsets were awesome. While Hot Wheels went full 80s/90s with turbo/laser/race/California Customs, Matchbox stayed the course with a more utilitarian approach, making more realistic-themed playsets.

Matchbox had some truly great playsets – like the above Car Dealership set from 1989 – and I have fond memories playing with them. They also had a killer SuperChargers monster truck playset, the Convoy truck stop, Construction Yard, Car Wash and more….so you can guess how absolutely thrilled I was when I stumbled upon the new retro playset AND cars today at Target.

Buy the Target exclusive retro Super Service Center

This is the first wave of retro Matchbox stuff at Target, and includes the Super Service Center playset and the first six of a 12-car series. I found everything except one of the retro cars; the Mercedes S 123 Wagon was already snatched up. I was able to take home the five others, which include a Lamborghini Miura, a ’68 Mustang, Jeep 4×4, Land Rover 90, and the ’89 Blazer.

The card and box art for this line is downright beautiful. The way the Matchbox design team redesigned the retro art and made it more current is masterful. I have a few of the older cars and it was cool seeing them side-by-side, especially the Blazer because it was one of the retro cars.

The retro cars were a haul in themselves, but the playset is what I was really hunting for. This thing is retro gold – it uses many parts and design cues from the old service center playsets.

The set does come with a car, but I busted out a bunch of vintage Matchbox castings to help show-off the playset, and it took me twice as long to photograph them because the urge to play was strong…which is definitely good for Matchbox because this set was made for action. It has a ton of features to keep you and/or your little person busy for hours.

For starters, the playmat is a game changer. Vintage playsets had cardboard or thin plastic/vinyl as their play surface, but this one is a heavier-duty material that reminds me of one of the recyclable grocery bags. It’s thin, but feels sturdy, and has good colors. The surface is a little slick, so it makes drifting a breeze.

The playmat comes folded and sits pretty flat once the service center is placed on top of it.

The playmat comes folded and sits pretty flat once the service center is placed on top of it.

The playmat art is strong and so are the stickers. The center comes with some of the tougher to place stickers already on it, and the rest are on a sticker sheet for your placement. It only took a minute or two to finish the job, and really made the set come together. Some of the stickers are almost exact recreations of some of the retro playsets’, which I thought was a very nice touch.

While some of the stickers are vintage, the others are new. The ground floor has a tire shop (check out that ABS plastic tires sign lol), tune-up station, car wash, a corner store, and a coffee shop. The coffee shop is a nice touch – I found myself setting up a mini Cars & Coffee meet almost immediately.

The second level is where the performance tuning happens. A vehicle elevator takes a single car up, and has an ejection function built-in that tips the ramp up to get the car moving.

The top level also holds three service bays: a wheel alignment rack and lift, a standard vehicle lift, and a wrenching spot. There are a few extra parking spaces for cars, and a dyno to help measure that power. The dyno spins the back tires of a car via a toothed-gear you spin with your finger. Very old school.

A ramp leading down from the top level to the street level is how cars exit the rooftop, and leads down to the separate gas station that comes with the set.

Overall I am extremely happy with this playset. From the retro inspired box art to the old-school feel of the entire playset, this is a solid buy — and I’m excited to get my nephew one so the next generation can relive some of the happiness I experienced 🏁

Click the Youtube link below to see an unboxing and assembly video of the retro Super Service Center:

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