A Brief History of Diecast Manufacturers
Matchbox Diecast Models / Lesney Diecast Models This range was launched in 1953 by the Lesney company and continued until the company went bankrupt in 1982 with production continuing into 1983 under the Lesney brand. Over this time the model numbers were re-used as old models were deleted and new ones added, there were some continuing themes like road rollers, bulldozers and fire engines which inherited the same number for a time but there does not appear to be a long term pattern. Below you will see the models which occupied these places in the 1-75 number range over the Lesney years. Each line is in chronological order reading left to right. The letter suffixes (7A, 23B e.t.c. which refer to the sequence of release of the models, are not part of the Matchbox numbering system but seem to be accepted by and common to most sources & collectors.
The big milestone came in 1969 when in response to the launch of Hot Wheels by Mattel Matchbox came up with Superfast which was their own version of the low friction wheels that made Hot Wheels such a success. Prior to this the models had a range of styles of regular wheels on thick mild steel axles. Regular wheels had been initially grey metal, later grey or silver plastic and latterly black plastic. Some models had plastic tyres with plastic or spoked wheel discs, but these are not too successful, the tyres are always loose.
The models with regular (i.e. not Superfast) have a peach coloured background. The transitional models, those which began life with regular wheels and were later adapted to Superfast, or spanned the change, have an orange background. The Superfast era models are shown with a blue background. Click on a thumbnail to go to a page about the model showing more pictures. Where I have a number of variations on the model they are shown on the model's own page. This is the fun of collecting Matchboxes, the production seems to have been so chaotic in terms of paint colours, wheel styles, decals etc that the variations are almost infinite. Some of the rare ones are valuable too! Click here for Lesney Diecast Models or Click here for Matchbox Diecast Models
Corgi Diecast Model Toys is the name of a range of diecast toy vehicles produced by Mettoy Playcraft Ltd. in the United Kingdom. The Mettoy (Metal Toy) company was founded in 1933 by Philip Ullmann in Northampton, England, where he was later joined by South African-born German Arthur Katz, who had previously worked for Ulmann at his toy company Tipp and Co of Nuremberg. They decided to market a range of toy vehicles as competition to Meccano's Dinky Toys model vehicles, which had dominated the British market for many years. Corgi Toys were introduced in the UK in July 1956 and were manufactured in Swansea Wales for twenty seven years before the company went into liquidation.
The range was exported worldwide and sold in large numbers. Some of the best known and most popular models were of cars made famous in film and television such as the Batmobile, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 – which remains the largest selling toy car ever produced. Although the largest single vehicle type featured in the Corgi Toys range were models of cars from manufacturers around the world. Click here for Corgi Diecast Models
Dinky Diecast Model Toys are diecast zamac miniature vehicles which were produced by Meccano Ltd, the makers of Hornby Trains, which were named after founder Frank Hornby. Dinky Toys in England were made from 1935 to 1979, the factory was at Binns Road, Liverpool, England.
Dinky Toys were among the most popular diecast vehicles ever made and predate other diecast marques, including Corgi Diecast Models, Matchbox Diecast Models, and Mattel's Hot Wheels Diecast Models. Click here for Diecast Models
Lledo Diecast Model Toys was started in 1982. It was the end of era Lesney Products (Matchbox Toys Ltd.), this company had gone bankrupt on June 11, 1982. Universal Toys , owned by David Yeh, came up as the buyer on September 24, 1982 and move factory to Hong Kong. During a few years ˝Lesney Products“ was removed from all molds.
Jack Odell (who was the ex-president of Matchbox) along with Bert Russel created a new diecast model company which they named “Lledo“ ( Odell spelled bacwards). Odell believed that British models for British collectors could still be profitably produced in England. In the summer of 1982 Jack and Bert bought up much of the Lesney tooling and machinery from Matchbox factory in Enfield, Essex and and they set about an eight month tooling-up programme for six models which became known as the 'Days Gone' series. Click here for Lledo Diecast models
Hot Wheels Diecast Model Toys is a brand of 1:64, 1:43, 1:18 and 1:50 scale die-cast toy cars introduced by American toy maker Mattel in 1968. It was the primary competitor of Matchbox until 1997 when Mattel bought Tyco Toys, then-owner of Matchbox.
In the 1960s, Elliot Handler, a cofounder of Mattel, Inc., envisioned a die-cast car to surpass the popular English Matchbox brand. He wanted a line of toy cars to dominate Mattel’s boys’ division just as its Barbie doll had become the strongest brand in its girls’ division. Handler insisted that the toy cars look authentic, so the project enlisted Harry Bradley, a top auto designer from Chevrolet, to lead the toy design team. What Handler really wanted was not the cars of Detroit, but the radical versions altered by custom-car shops—like vehicles he often saw on California’s highways. And Handler wanted his little cars to zoom. So, Mattel engineers produced “muscle” cars with thick, plastic mag wheels built for speed and minimal friction axles that featured “torsion-bar suspension,” which gave the cars shock absorbency and wheel bounce. Kids coveted the 16 muscle models—custom Barracudas, Camaro's, Corvettes, Cougars, Firebirds, and others—that Mattel first offered in 1968. Mattel’s designers enhanced the cars’ appeal with the candy colours of Spectraflame, a painting process that revealed the shiny metal beneath the colours. The toy company developed flexible, plastic tracks for racing Hot Wheels, complete with the famous loop that became the symbol of the brand to several generations of kids.
Hot Wheels’ success increased with each year’s new models. Combining popular models with speed made the miniature cars even more appealing than Mattel or Handler could have imagined. Sales topped 16 million in the first year and have hardly slowed since. Mattel has produced upwards of three billion cars, outdistancing the combined output of the Big Three automakers. More than 800 models and 11,000 variations of Hot Wheels have been manufactured, and these days—according to Mattel—eight cars are sold every second.
Many automobile manufacturers have licensed Hot Wheels to make scale models of their cars, allowing the use of original design blueprints and detailing. Although Hot Wheels were originally intended for children and young adults, they have become popular with adult collectors, for whom limited edition models are now made available. Click here for Hot Wheels Diecast Models
Burago Dieacst Model Toys products are amongst the best value for money in the diecast industry. The quality of their models is nothing short of stunning given the asking price. Typically their 1:18 replicas are about a third of the price of that asked by competing diecast brands, although we would say that their models are no more than 10% lower in quality. Burago has a Ferrari licence, and so produces many modern and classic replicas from the Italian marque, in both 1:18 and 1:43 scale. The company makes modern and road car replicas for many other car manufacturers as well.
Currently BBurago catalogue features approximately 400 model cars with metal bodywork and plastic finish parts, produced in 1:43, 1:24 and 1:18 scales, both in ready-assembled and kit versions.
Models are exclusively produced in Italy and come stylishly packaged, underlining the typical Italian design of BBurago products.
BBurago has an ongoing commitment to producing new models, which are often launched at the same time as the actual cars of which they are miniatures. The choice of which models to be reproduced is taken by mutual agreement between Bburago and the automobile companies, which issue licenses to produce models of their vehicles. BBurago's production policy, however, focuses unfalteringly on its customers because the company is committed to offering unbeatable quality at competitive prices. Click here for Burago Diecast Models