Popgun collaborated with Mattel’s Matchbox team on a long overdue major brand overhaul. The challenge was to create a visual identity that remained true to the brand’s values and could set Matchbox apart from the other wheels brands at retail. The project began by redefining the target audience, brand personality and attributes. Rugged, Heroic and Unstoppable were guiding key words that described the Matchbox vehicle lineup and spoke directly to boys’ imaginations and how they interact with their toys. Our challenge was to build a structured yet flexible system to insure a cohesive brand statement with a design language and illustration style that could work across all segments.


Our starting point was the Matchbox identity. After an extensive exploration, it was decided to retain the equity in the existing 70′s Matchbox letterforms, but update the weight and finish to align with the new brand values and positioning.

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Packaging followed and we explored the structure as the purest expression of the brand to the consumer, examining colors, typography and textures. Inspired by automotive and industrial elements, we incorporated angular riveted metal details that fit with the rugged feeling of the established logo. After some experimentation with forms that fit the utility truck and car world, we came back to a strong, simplified shape that allowed us to maximize the brand name and create an impactful shelf presence.




To convey the appropriate blend of energy, enthusiasm and real-world automotive details we explored a variety of illustration styles that would move away from the flat, comic book style approach used by Matchbox in the past. Our workflow started with child’s point of view— young boys are in awe of big vehicles. We transformed Matchbox’s 3D production files from grey scale models with little detail, into vivid vehicle illustrations, that, combined with evocative backgrounds, brought together an over the top sense of realism.


Extending beyond the core Matchbox rebrand, we were able to address the brand extensions, adding personality and playfulness into the “Cliffhanger” logo and playset illustrations.
The rebranded Matchbox line of products launched in 2012 across all segments. It successfully embodied the new core values of unstoppable, heroic adventure while remaining fun and approachable to its audience of 3-7 year old boys and their imaginations. With a new rebrand, Popgun ensured Matchbox stays relevant and competitive in the transportation toy segment for years to come.