Many of the toys of the past were designed to fit in with model railway systems, most notable being Dinky Toys created for the Hornby Railways system. This led to 1/43rd (the scale of O gauge model railways) becoming popular for cars and small commercials.
Likewise Tri-ang Minic tin plate toys would fit alongside O gauge railways. The pre-war long bonneted van was available in the colours of the 'Big Four' (Southern, LMS, LNER and GWR), while British Railways crimson and cream (blood and custard) appeared on both the long-bonneted and short-bonneted (post-war) versions. In addition to their low (pocket money) price, many of the Matchbox Toys were suitable for OO gauge model railways; Dinky Toys produced their own, albeit short-lived, series of Dublo Dinky Toys, while Exclusive First Editions (EFE) keeps to the same 1/76th scale.
There is also an interest in models of vehicles used by the railway companies. An earlyDinky Toy was an mechanical horse available in the liveries of the four main railway companies. Many toy (and model) manufacturers have included a Scammell Scarab in the range, a vehicle which at one time was almost synonymous with British Railways.
A range of 43rd scale vintage and veteran cars produced in France from 1958 to 1969. The cars modelled were those in a museum situated on the outskirts of Lyon. The models were produced by JMK of Haute-Saone, who gave them the brand name of RAMI from Les Retrospectives Automobiles Miniature. It is believed that the dies were acquired by the German company Ziss.
Based in Yorkshire, this company produced a number of clockwork toys made of bakelite. This is an early form of plastic, but is very brittle. Items known include a Golden Arrow land speed record car, an Austin saloon, a Sunbeam saloon and a petrol pump.
A rubber-like substance used mainly for kits. Care should be taken, as excessive handling can distort models made of resin.
While much that is produced today is intended for the collector, and so might be assumed will remain in unblemished condition, toys were clearly made to be played with. As a result, much that comes onto the market might have the paint chipped, or be missing certain components. The question arises whether it is best to leave the toy as it is, or to improve its looks by restoration. The answer is largely subjective. Very rare toys are probably best left alone. However, there may be cases where it is felt that a repaint, or replacing lost or damaged parts, will improve the look of the toy when on display. Nevertheless, avoid simply 'touching up': if a toy is only slightly chipped, it is probably best left in that state. Clearly there is a need to judge one's own capabilities in undertaking such projects. Patience is certainly vital; hurried projects are often clearly evident. Equally do not expect the result to be a toy with an enhanced selling value: the reward will be the pleasure of the exercise and the satisfaction at the result. Advice on restoration ican be available: take care to dismantle the toy carefully, noting the method of construction for reassembly. Materials are available for stripping old paintwork (but match the new paint with the colour before stripping).
Paints that often match the original colours are available. Likewise several companies provide spare parts for components that are most easily lost or damaged, such as windscreens. Equally transfers are available for many of the decals found on older toys, particularly for the more collectable ranges such as Corgi, Dinky and Matchbox Toys and Tri-ang Spot-On. Replacement wheels (tyres) are also available. Restoration projects take time: for example, at each stage of painting ensure all is perfectly dry before proceeding.
Many of these comments apply equally when building kits.
A German manufacturer in plastic to 1/87th scale.
Launched in the early 1960s by the Tattarletti brothers, this company, situated not far from Milan in Italy, has always been proud of the quality and accuracy of its 1/43rd scale die-cast models. The focus has generally been on older vehicles, with the initial releases all being veteran cars. In 1973 one of the brothers left the company to set up his own model business, Brumm. In 2004 Rio was acquired by M4 (owners of Best and Art Models).
Formed in Italy in 1945 this company was founded by Messrs Riva and Rossi. While best known for model railways, the company has produced plastic vehicles in 1/43rd and 1/87th scales.
A small range of die-cast cars of the early 1950s in 1/40th scale and of a series of trucks (and some locomotives) produced by Jordan and Lewden Ltd of East London. Later some of the cars were produced by Lincoln in New Zealand, while in the 1960s many of the dies were sold to Gamda of Israel.
The company Rovex Scale Model Co was acquired by Lines Bros in 1951, later amalgamating with Tri-ang. The name of Rovex was mainly associated with Pedigree dolls and Tri-ang model railways.
The AEC RT probably shares with the Routemaster the description of the ubiquitous London bus. However, fewer true likenesses have been produced in toy or model form compared with the RM. The most accurate looking mass production versions come from Dandy (in Japan) at 1/43rd scale, from Solido (in France) at 1/50th scale, and from Exclusive First Editions in 1/76th scale. There was also a superb 1/43rd scale white metal kit produced by Jim Varney.
RW and Ziss
A range produced in Germany by a Mr Wittek operating from a suburb of Düsseldorf, largely noted for its models of vintage and veteran cars. However, a good selection of other vehicles, including modern cars, was also produced. Manufacture was essentially during the 1960s. The products were first released as RW-Modell, and subsequently as Ziss-Modell. After the death of Mr Wittek, his son continued die-cast production with the Ziss brand name.
Founded in 1968, Sablon produced a small range of die-cast 1/43rd scale cars just south of Brussels in Belgium. At first the models were sold in conjunction with the chocolate manufacturer Jacques.
Nine different castings were produced, with four being of BMW cars, plus Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Lamborghini and NSU.
Safir came into being in 1961, taking over the reins of the company called Jadali, which had produced models of older (mainly French) cars. In 1969 it launched a series of mainly 1/43rd scale sports and racing cars under the brand name of 'Champion'. In 1971 it produced the toys which had previously appeared under the name of France Jouets. Its final products appeared in 1977, being of Formula One cars.
Began producing model vehicles in 1958, this Italian company focused on racing and speed record cars in 1/43rd and 1/87th scales. Some commercial and military vehicles were also produced in 1/43rd or 1/50th scales.
The relationship in size between the model and the actual vehicle. The scale refers to the fraction of each measurement of the actual item. Thus 1/43rd scale means that each measurement of the model is 1/43rd that of the actual vehicle. So if a component of the actual vehicle is 43cm long, that component on the model will be 1cm long. Scales are sometimes shown as fractions or as 1:43. Frequently encountered scales are 1/76th (relates to OO gauge on model railways - popular for model buses), 1/43rd (relates to O gauge on model railways - popular for cars and small commercials), 1/50th (popular for large commercials), plus larger scales such as 1/18th and 1/25th.
On the Continent 1/87th (relating to HO gauge on model railways) is more frequently encountered. In the United States 1/64th scale is popular for heavy commercials. Many of the toy producers in fact compromised slightly on scale. Keeping all measurements strictly to scale can mean that a toy looks too narrow.
To make the end product visually acceptable, often they were slightly too wide.
A series of three 1/35th scale racing cars - ERA, Maserati and Alta - made by Scale Models at Brooklands.
See slot cars.
Schabak was founded in 1966 and is located at Nuremberg. It particularly developed its range of 1/43rd scale die-cast cars when Schuco ran into difficulties. Many of the car models produced have been of Audi or Volkswagen, although it has enjoyed a special relationship with Ford, producing a model of the Ford Sierra in 1988.
It continues to offer an excellent range of cars, and has also produced an extensive selection of model aircraft, being one of the leading manufacturers in this field.
The story of Schuco starts with Heinrich Muller, who, with his brother, made tin plate models of aircraft, cars and Zeppelins. Later he was to join Bing, a toy company, leaving in 1912 to be joined by Heinrich Schreyer. Together they formed Schreyer and Co in Nuremberg (the name Schuco, which was introduced later, is derived from the company name), and started producing toys.
After the First World War Schreyer resigned from the company. Muller therefore teamed up with a toy wholesaler, and the business continued to prosper. One of the more interesting of the Schuco tin plate ranges is the 1/90th scale Piccolo series of cars, at first rather disregarded but now more highly thought of.
All was well until the 1960s, by which time tin plate toys had ceased to be fashionable. Despite a move to plastic and die-cast, with greater detailing, the company was to run into financial difficulties. It was a time when competition in the die-cast toy market was fierce. One range produced from the mid 1950s to the end of the 1960s was called Micro-Racers, being die-cast clockwork cars to 1/45th scale. In 1977 the company was acquired by Dunbee Combex Mark, which soon after encountered its own financial problems. Some of the Schuco dies and moulds were sold to GAMA (Georg Adam Mangold), and indeed a number of the original Schuco tin plate toys have since re-appeared. Later the Mangold family were to sell the GAMA (and also Trix) ranges, but kept Schuco. Other dies were also sold to the Brazilian company REI, while some found their way to the Soviet Union and others to France (Norev). Many of the Schuco models are tin plate, although plastic was also used. There were also 1/43rd and 1/66th scale die-cast products. The 1/43rd scale were of German cars, with great attention to detail. The 1/66th scale comprised a wide range of subjects, with many cars, some fine racing cars, and a good selection of commercial vehicles including the Ford Transit van, and buses. There was even a 1/66th scale ferry, which could carry the car models.
Today Schuco provides re-runs of many of the original tin plate models, plus a range of vehicles die-cast in 1/43rd and 1/87th scales.
What must have been every boy's dream in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the beautiful model of a Foden truck made by Shackleton. It was widely advertised in the Meccano Magazine.
Shelvoke and Drewry
Established in 1922, this company has specialised in public service vehicles, such as for refuse collection. A number of models exist of these vehicles (eg, from Corgi and Matchbox).
Siku is the brand name of the range of die-cast toys made in Germany by Sieper Werke, whose plant is situated at Lüdenscheid, where the company started in 1921.
The founder of the company was Richard Sieper, and initially made goods in aluminium.
In 1949 it moved over toy production in plastic, although the vehicles were fairly basic. The name Siku is derived from Sieper and Kunststoffe (meaning plastic). In 1955 the company launched a range of vehicles and accessories, using a constant 1/60th scale. The plastic toys continued in production until 1967.
There was also a range of 1/250th scale aircraft. In 1963 the company's first die-cast toys appeared: at first these were also to 1/60th scale, until 1973 when the scale was changed to 1/55th. A range of farm equipment was introduced in 1983: this was to 1/32nd scale, the same as used by Britains for their farm models. In 1990 a series of smaller toys was launched. Siku have for a long time incorporated various operating features into their toys.
The company also produces the predominantly 1/87th scale (there are also 1/43rd scale models) range of plastic vehicles sold under the name of Wiking.
A range of model aircraft, introduced by Matchbox in 1973.
The idea of being able to race cars more effectively than simply pushing them along first developed in 1912. Lionel, noted for its model railways, produced two 1/24th scale cars than ran along railway track. Indeed, running cars on rails proved particularly successful in the United States. A little later the idea was taken further by the Scale Model Equipment Company who produced wooden cars in 1/32nd scale. However, the name most closely associated with slot cars is that of Scalextric. It came about in 1947 when Mini Models produced two series of tin plate clockwork cars called Scalex and Startex. As sales of these cars started to decline in the 1950s, they were converted to a slot car system, and in 1957 Scalextric was born. The system was acquired by Tri-ang in 1968, and proved highly successful during the 1960s. In fact, there is a school of thought that believes that the range of products produced by Tri-ang for Scalextric overstretched the company and led to its downfall.
A major change made by Tri-ang was to use plastic instead of tin plate: the first plastic Scalextric car was a Lotus 16. In addition to cars, Go-Karts and motorcycles were also produced.
The scarcest of the Scalextric models is the Bugatti 59, as only trade samples were ever produced. However, subsequently replicas have been made, so care is needed.
The favoured scale has always been 1/32nd, although a larger 1/24th scale was tried. Scalextric followed the path of many of the Tri-ang range, and eventually was produced by Hornby Hobbies, who still successfully market the range, albeit actual manufacture has moved from Margate to the Far East.
The fortunes of slot cars have varied, sometimes competing with radio controlled models However, enthusiasm is still strong and there are now many companies competing with Scalextric, including Fly and Ninco.
A. Smith Automodels
Producers of white metal models of heavy commercials in 1/48th scale.
Smith, Lesley and Rodney
The two unrelated school friends who founded Lesney (derived from their names Lesley and Rodney), makers of the famous Matchbox Toys. Rodney was also part owner of R. Smith (Diecastings) Ltd - see Budgie Toys.
Scale Model Technical Services is a company producing 1/43rd scale model cars in white metal.
Solido started life in 1932 at Ivry la Bataille (about 50 miles from Paris), and the name still continues to this day. The company was founded by Ferdinand de Vazeilles, and from the outset was involved in die-cast toy production. The first offerings were constructional toys, often generic in design, and with clockwork motors. Three basic scales were chosen: 1/35th, 1/40th and 1/50th.
Wartime brought the understandable suspension of production. After the war production of the two smaller scales continued. In 1952 the toys became more accurate, to 1/60th scale, but still needed to be bolted together. Fully finished toys came in 1957, and were to 1/43rd scale. These were to provide a new level of detailing, with windows, suspension and figures, and to establish Solido as a leading producer. Military and commercial vehicles were later added in 1/50th scale, plus larger scale cars, smaller scale farm equipment, and even model aircraft.
In 1972 came a very popular series of 1/43rd scale classic cars called 'Age d'Or'. Some of the Solido dies were used by Dalia of Spain, using the brand name of Dynam. In the late 1980s Solido was acquired by Majorette. Following the take-over, some of the older Solido dies were re-used under the brand name of Verem. In 1993 Solido and Majorette were acquired by the Ideal Loisirs Group.
In more recent years the company has moved into larger scale models. Particularly noteworthy is the excellent model of the London Transport AEC Regent (RT) in 1/50th scale. It was somewhat surprising that it should take a French company to provide the first accurate die-cast model of this famous London bus. Solido has also produced several of its models linked with Coca-Cola.
Today the Solido product is divided into several series, which include fire, circus, older and modern cars.
Producers of 1/43rd scale white metal cars, the company was established in 1978 by the late Doug McHard. Doug's interest was kindled while working for Meccano Ltd. He realised there was a demand for models of cars which the major manufacturers could not contemplate. The name for the business came from his father's name: Andrew Somerville McHard. The first model in the range was a London FX4 taxi, followed by the Austin Allegro. At first both kits and fully built were available, but after three years the company decided to concentrate solely on the hand-built products.
The series of 1/42nd scale die-cast toys produced by Tri-ang from their factory in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Production ceased in Belfast in 1967, whereupon some of the dies were sent to the Lines Bros' factory in New Zealand, but the models so produced tended to be of poorer quality. The uniform scale was very unusual at the time, and led to toys of unaccustomed sizes. While the cars were more or less than same size as those from Corgi or Dinky Toys, clearly the heavy commercials looked very much larger. Tri-ang provided a good selection of vehicles, including 'bubble' cars, many other cars, often choosing prototypes not offered by the other toy producers, and many fine commercial vehicles.
The London Transport Routemaster is a very acceptable rendition, although the choice of the Mulliner coach was somewhat strange. The cars often come in a choice of colours: indeed, a definitive list of the colours produced has never appeared.
At the time of their release, these toys were not over popular. They were quite well detailed, so perhaps should have been regarded more as models than toys. The price was obviously felt by many youngsters to be too high. Today, they have a devoted collector following.
Storing models is very important. If for whatever reason it is not possible to display the entire collection in cabinets, then models are often kept within their original boxes, and stored in further larger boxes. These should be kept in an atmosphere which is free from damp, and with fairly constant temperatures. Lofts and garages should be viewed with great caution, unless steps have been taken to ensure fairly stable conditions. Even if display cabinets are used, boxes often need to be stored separately. Again ensure that the conditions for such storage are suitable.
Ferdinand Strauss was born in Germany but emigrated to America. In the early 1900s he became a toy importer, but when the First World War prevented the import of German toys, he started producing his own. He gained a reputation for his mechanical toys.
Mainly producing model cars in larger scales, the company also re-launched the Vitesse range, including re-using many of the former dies. An strong appeal has been made to the British collector with a 1/24th scale model of the London Routemaster bus.
Larger toys in the Dinky Toys range which were introduced in the late 1940s. Particularly popular with collectors have been versions of the Guy Vixen van in such liveries as Weetabix and Lyons Swiss Rolls, among others, and the Big Bedford in Heinz livery (showing either a tomato ketchup bottle or baked beans can).
A company based on the outskirts of Leeds which, after the First World War, produced a number of tin plate toy boats.
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Posted 15 January 2010 - 04:15 AM
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