The name Superfast was used by Matchbox for some of its small-scale diecast models in four different eras. As those four eras correspond to the four different owners of the Matchbox brand, the names of those brand owners can be used to distinguish these four incarnations of Superfast.
Superfast (Lesney) - 1969 to 1980 - Sub Series:
During that time period the Superfast name was applied to a large portion of the models in the basic Matchbox Miniatures range, i.e. most of those which were fitted with thin wire axles and low-friction wheels.
It has to be noted though that the Matchbox Miniatures range never consisted entirely of Superfast models, for it always included a few models with thick axles, first some which had been introduced before 1970 and never converted to Superfast chassis, then some new introductions with non-Superfast chassis issued from 1974 onward. The Rola-matics models with working features operated by pegs on the wheels were never officially called Superfast either.
In 1980 usage of the Superfast name was officially discontinued, although it remained cast on the baseplates of many models which continued in production for many years to come.
Superfast (Universal) - 1985 to 1990 - Series:
During that time period the Superfast name was applied to two sets of Miniatures models which were not part of the basic range but formed separate ranges in their own right. They were distinguished from the basic range models by having different wheels fitted: either 24 spoke a.k.a. starburst wheels or chrome disc hubbed wheels known as laser wheels. With these wheels and axles which were thinner than those used in the basic range, these models rolled somewhat faster than the basic range models of the same time period.
Some collectors use the names "Starburst Series" and "Laser Wheels" to denote the two subsets of this second incarnation of the Superfast name.
Superfast (Tyco) - 1994 to 1997 - Sub Series:
Tyco applied the Superfast name once again to some models which were part of the basic Matchbox Miniatures range, this time models fitted with either six spoke spiral or five spoke concave star wheels. These models had the Superfast name printed on their packaging, but never cast on their baseplates.
After Mattel had taken control of the Matchbox brand, this usage of the Superfast name ceased from 1998 onward.
Superfast (Mattel) - 2004 to 2009 - Series:
For the 35th anniversary of the original introduction of the Superfast name, Mattel began using the name once again. Similar to what had been done in the Universal era, the name was applied to a separate range distinct from the basic Miniatures range, and again the main distinguishing feature lay in the types of wheels used.
Most of these Superfast models had so-called five spoke slotted wheels, while some - mostly models of vintage cars - were fitted with five spoke wheels which look similar to the wheels most commonly used during the Lesney Superfast era in the 1970s but are most obviously distinguished from those by having a clearly visible tread pattern.
Later Superfast models had five spoke triangular wheels, so called due to the triangular shapes of the black sections of the hubcap design.
After 2009 the Superfast name was no longer used. More recent ranges of upmarket Miniatures were assigned different names.
Some collectors use the name "New Superfast" to denote this fourth incarnation of the Superfast name. This is somewhat unspecific and may be problematic as nobody knows if there will not be an even "newer" Superfast range in the future.
PLEASE NOTE: Many collectors are accustomed to applying the Superfast name to all Matchbox Miniatures models made after 1970, but as explained above, this is actually incorrect and may lead to misunderstandings.
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