'Evil creatures from the tail of Halley's Comet.'
Monsters from space that hide inside the shells of everyday vehicles was a pretty neat idea at the time.
They were first showcased in the Matchbox 1985 retailers catalogue with the tag line, 'Parasites - Masters of Disguise'.
The models were designed by Stephen Lee working with California R&D and sold to Matchbox. Stephen Lee was also responsible for designing the alien creatures for MEGO's Micronauts line. If you look at the Parasites long enough it becomes apparent there's style and form similarities.
Unfortunately beyond that is where this toy line starts to fall off the rails. Bar the amazing card art that included a character bio, Matchbox didn't appear to commit to the product with subpar build quality in all areas. Their tried and true 1/65 scale vehicle bodies, something Matchbox should have excelled in feel like a budget offering. The casting is below standard and paint application is thin and uneven. The undersides are plastic and on models where that section makes up part of the vehicle's grille, the area is grey plastic not chromed giving them an unfinished feel. The creature bodies do show a lot of chrome, however its application is patchy and pitted.
There's a stark design realisation difference in the line as well. Three of the figures are comparatively well made with metal rivets and screws securing limbs and providing articulation. The other three are snap together-plastic and regularly suffered from loose joints, even fresh off card. Anecdotally California R&D were disappointed with Matchbox's handling of their designs and while future models were prototyped, they didn't go into production.
Even though many may remember the, 'Can you collect them before they collect you?' TV advert, Parasites weren't a success for Matchbox. Interesting designs, a solid idea and far more enjoyable now as an adult, Parasites are a prime example of a company that didn't properly back its product.