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Dinky toys history

Dinky Toys are die-cast miniature model cars and trucks. They first appeared in early 1934 when Meccano Ltd of Liverpool, England introduced a new line of "modelled miniatures" under the trade mark "Meccano Dinky Toys". The first announcement for the new line was made in the April 1934 issue of Meccano Magazine. 

Dinky collections
In the early 1950s a Dinky Toys craze hit the United Kingdom and it seemed that all boys (and some adults) had collections. Their dual role as toy and model had no peers at the time. Most of the Dinky Toys models were in a scale of approximately 1:48, which blended in with O scale railway sets, but many buses and lorries (trucks) were scaled down further so that they were around 4 inches long. Larger models (Dinky Super Toys) were not scaled down, and started to have more action features. Notable favourites are the Coles Mobile Crane and the Horse Box (with opening doors). In 1954, the Dinky Toys line was reorganized: cars were now sold in individual boxes, and there were no series of models differentiated by a letter. A separate line of models were also made in France . Both English and French Dinky Toys were exported to the United States. 

Dinky Toys trade
Nowadays there is a healthy trade in old Dinky Toys, particularly the earlier models. Condition is all important. A mint-in-box Dinky Toys car from around 1960 can easily command 10 times the price of a played with (used) one. The post-war Dinky Toys cars themselves are all but indestructible, although the tires disintegrate with age and the paint chips. Pre-war Dinky Toys vehicles used a weaker alloy and can suffer from metal-fatigue, and thus models from the 1930s in good condition are particularly rare and sought after. Having the original Dinky Toys box increases the value considerably - the boxes by themselves sometimes command prices comparable to the models. Some collectors even collect the "trade boxes" that were never meant for customers, but were the packing for the models to go in to the store. There is nothing on the market now that share the two roles of model and toy car as well as the Dinky Toys of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. South-Africa In the mid-1950s, Meccano Ltd shipped to South Africa a limited edition set of military vehicles for the South African Defence Force. They were all painted military green and included a Motor Truck, a Covered Wagon, an Ambulance, a Dispatch Rider and a Van. When South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth in 1961, they imposed a luxury goods import tax, making Dinky Toys very expensive, a potential loss for Meccano Ltd. To resolve this problem, in 1962 Meccano Ltd began shipping Dinky Toy parts to South Africa where models were assembled and painted locally. The importing of unfinished goods were not subject to import tax. These models were sold in South Africa between 1962 and 1963 and it is believed that only one batch of each model was produced, making South African Dinky Toys very rare. South Africa also imported Dinky Toy parts from the French factory in 1966 and six models were assembled and painted locally. - The base plates have a glossy finish, whereas the same models released in the UK have matt black base plates. - The colours are often different from those on the same models assembled in the UK.
Some of the disguising features of South African Dinky Toys are:
- The boxes have Afrikaans lettering at the one end and 'Printed in South Africa' on the side.


The Husky line, introduced in 1964, was designed to compete in size with the "1-75 series" Matchbox, which were the market leaders in small-scale vehicles at that time. Husky cars and trucks manufactured by Mettoy Playcraft Ltd and originally sold only at Woolworth's stores at a price which undercut their rival. The models featured dark gray one-piece plastic wheels and chromed plastic bases. These cheaper bases made the models lighter and less durable than the equivalent Matchbox cars, but their construction did allow for a simple suspension system to be installed by means of the axle being positioned to be sandwiched between the main base and a section of the plastic base which was cut away on three of sides to form a plastic tongue, which acted as a crude springing mechanism.

The Husky line numbered about 75 vehicles at its peak, the same number as Matchbox, although unlike the Lesney product Huskys were sold in blister packs allowing the model to be clearly seen when on display. The original style of these blister cards featured a simplistic red and white design on the front with the range's logo - the head of a Husky dog featuring prominently, and a list of the models in the range printed as a tick-list on the rear. The design changed with the upgrading of the range in 1969 to a yellow, red and white colour scheme with the name "Husky" now featuring more prominently. Like Matchbox, they also offered accessory items for children, such as carrying/storage cases for the cars, and even catalogues in the late 1960s.

Some car brands, like the Studebaker Lark Wagonaire, were also produced by Matchbox at about the same time. Though different castings, one wonders at the story behind two separate companies coming up with such similar choices; which couldn't have occurred by chance. Both versions had the sliding rear roof panel, though the Husky's was clear plastic while the Matchbox's was metal.

In 1969 Mettoy re-designed and improved the quality of the models. Die cast metal bases, better suspension and two-piece separate hub and tyre wheels were fitted to upgrade existing models along with a variety of new models that were added to the range.

Source: Wikipedia



SIKU is the range of toy vehicles and related products produced by the German company Sieper Ludenscheid GmbH & Co. KG. There is quite a variety within the range, but the Super Series 1:55 die-cast vehicles is the core product and is the highlight among collectors.


The Sieper company was founded in 1921. It was originally a manufacturer of metal tools and, later on, badges, medals, buckles for belts, buttons, and etc. It was not until 1950 that the company started producing toys and registered the trademark SIKU for its toy products. The name SIKU originates from abbreviating the name of the founder of the company, Richard Sieper, and the German word for plastic, Kunststoffe. Originally, SIKU toys were of great variety and consisted of plastic vehicles among all else, such as plastic figures and animals. Starting in 1955, a dedicated line of car models were produced, and subsequently in 1958, SIKU became an exclusive range of plastic vehicles.

Source: Wikipedia

Majorette is a French toy manufacturer which mostly produces small die-cast cars, particularly in 1:64 scale


Founded in 1961 by Emile Véron, Majorette became the first French manufacturer of miniature cars. Since then, the company has produced a significant number of licensed vehicles, focusing especially in everyday cars, French and European models in particular. The standard size was about three inches long, the scale varying in size. Obviously, the main toy competition was Matchbox of Hackney, London. Though French cars like Peugeot and Renault were commonly reproduced, other marques covered by Majorette include North American vehicles from General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler and the Japanese brands Nissan and Toyota.

Besides their important domestic presence, through large commercial channels, Majorette relies heavily on sales to foreign markets. In 1982 Majorette USA was established in Miami, Florida, though Majorette models have not been available in the US since the late 1990s. After being purchased by Smoby in 2003 to become Smoby-Majorette, the company is to be divorced in 2008 from Smoby again and is to be sold to MI29, a French investment fund which owns Bigben Interactive for €3,900,000. In 2009 Majorette was insolvent again, and through a tribunal at the commercial court of Paris, a sale was granted to Simba-Dickie, who bought Smoby (Majorette's previous owner).


Over the years, Majorette has adapted to increasing competition, with mixed results.

By the early 1970's Majorette established a reputation of making detailed, heavy cars of good quality, incorporating features like opening doors and hoods, translucent plastic parts, and a sprung suspension system. In contrast to today, mid 1970s Majorettes were superior models to Norev Minijet cars, as demonstrated by the Citroen CX models from both firms - the paint finish on the Majorette is more consistent, and less thickly applied compared to the Norev. Doors on Majorettes are sprung as is the suspension. Number plates and detailed plastic parts set the older Majorettes apart from Norevs. Later, Norev became superior in quality. More plastic parts are now featured on the Norev cars and metal bases are common on new castings, in contrast to Majorette which has moved downmarket with plastic bases, and tampo printing for headlamps instead of clear plastic pieces. Norev wheels are detailed replicas of the real thing compared to Majorette's generic offerings.

Towards the 1980s, as a marketing strategy, the design was geared to emphasize the toy appeal of the cars. This included brighter paints, large tampos and slightly exaggerated bodies. However, this was well executed, and even if the cars lost some realism, they gained a particular, attractive styling. In 1980 they bought their competitor Solido, without their military models division.

The 1990s brought financial troubles, which had a tremendous impact in the quality of the miniatures. After bankruptcy and a takeover, most production was relocated to Thailand. One exception were the Portuguese NOVACAR models which were acquired by Majorette. These were well-executed models with plastic bodies and metal bases. At this time, Majorettes lost the proud 'Made in France' on their base; actually, the shiny metal base itself was missing from new models, replaced by ordinary black plastic, a solution previously used in lesser brands. The loss was not only visual or tactile: the Majorettes lost their characteristic weight, which gave them consistence and body.

Fortunately, the rest of the old Majorette brand survives. Entering the 21st century, batches of better castings have been introduced, as well as an image facelift that includes a modified logo, and a toning down of the aesthetics of the 1980s and 1990s, in touch with the automobile industry's trend of using deep, metallic paints. Despite some occasional poor paint choices, and an intriguing fixation with the silver grey, the style change has been successful.

 Source: Wikipedia

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