Corgi Toys & Corgi ClassicsCorgi Toys appeared in July 1956, manufactured by Mettoy Playcraft Ltd in Swansea, Wales. The Mettoy company had been founded by Philip Ullmann in 1933, who set up business in Northampton. In the '40s and '50s Mettoy produced die-cast model vehicles which, although crude, proved to be popular.
Their initial sales gimmick was to include plastic glazing which lent the models a greater authenticity, and they rapidly became known as 'the ones with windows'. Most models were initially issued in free-rolling form, or with friction drive motors. The Mechanical versions, as they were known, were indicated by an 'M' suffix in the model number and were available in different colour schemes and were made in far fewer numbers. They were phased out by 1960 - the final Mechanical model being the Ford Thunderbird (214M), and today command higher values amongst collectors.
Although undergoing a change of ownership during the 1990's, Corgi Classics are still produced and some newer models utilise old original 1960's and 1970's Castings, and Corgi now come under the Hornby family, so hopefully will be produced for future generations to enjoy.
DinkyDinky Toys are die-cast miniature model cars and trucks. They first appeared in early 1934 when Meccano Ltd of Liverpool introduced a new line of 'modelled miniatures' under the trade mark 'Meccano Dinky Toys'. In the early '50s a Dinky Toys craze hit the UK and it seemed that all boys (and some adults) had collections. 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. 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).
MatchboxThe Matchbox name started in 1953 as a brand name of the now-defunct British Lesney toy company, founded 1n 1947. later that year they received a request for parts to a toy gun, which proved to be a viable alternative in the low periods of industrial business, and they began making die-cast models. The great shift was a toy that Odell designed for his daughter: her school only allowed children to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox, so he crafted a scaled down version of a Lesney green and red road roller, thus becoming the first of the 1:75 miniature range.
Lesney Toys went bankrupt on June 11, 1982, went into receivership, and the Matchbox brand name was sold to Universal Toys. Although no longer British-owned, matchboxes still felt British, with limited production in England continuing until the mid-'80s. In May 1992, Universal sold the brand to Tyco Toys, whose toy division in turn was bought out by Mattel in 1996, uniting Matchbox with its long-time rival Hot Wheels. The smaller versions are approximately 1:64 scale and are the form most often seen in toy stores. However, Matchbox has also manufactured cars in 1:43 scale, called 'Major' or 'Super Kings', which are still made, but are primarily marketed as collectibles rather than toys.
Husky was a brand name for a line of small die-cast toy vehicles. They were manufactured by Mettoy Playcraft Ltd. which also made the larger Corgi Toys. The range was re-branded Corgi Juniors in 1970, and a further range called Corgi Rockets was developed to race on track sets.
The Husky line, introduced in 1964, was designed to compete in size with the "1-75 series" Matchbox, then the market leaders in small-scale vehicles. Husky cars and trucks were inexpensive and originally sold only at Woolworth's stores at a price which undercut their rival. The first 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 (Rixon 2005, pp. 32-33). Still, 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.