History Of Diecast Cars Trucks
Manufacturers such as Meccano (Dinky Toys) in the United Kingdom and Dowst Brothers (Tootsietoys) in the United States were the first to produce diecast replicas in the beginning of the 20th century. These first additions were very basic and due to impurities in the alloy process it is very difficult to find pieces that are not cracked or decomposing.
The “Matchbox” diecast appeared on the market in 1947. These toys became very popular and the name “Matchbox” was used regardless of who the actual manufacturer was. Lesney began making the 1-75 series that year. The series name came from the fact that there were 75 different vehicles in the line, each packaged in a small box designed to look like those used for matches.
In the 1950s collecting diecast cars trucks started to become a more popular past time. As a result, more companies entered the field, including the Corgi brand, produced by Mettoy, which appeared in 1956. This brand led the industry in new features like the use of interiors and clear plastic windows.
Marketers started to realize in the 1960s that children could influence a family’s decision as to what products to buy. Leveraging this notion they began to use diecast vehicles as promotional tools to help push their advertising. This can still be seen today. In 1968, Hot Wheels were introduced in the United States by Mattel, to address the complaint that they had no line of toys for boys to balance their line of Barbie dolls for girls. Because they looked fast and were fast (they were equipped with a low-friction wheel/axle assembly), Hot Wheels quickly gained an important niche in the diecast toy market, becoming one of the world’s top sellers and challenging the Matchbox 1-75 series in popularity.
By the mid ’70s it seemed like everyone wanted to get onto producing diecast vehicles. Marketers realized that adults were buying many of the vehicles as collectibles and not just as toys for their children. Many companies like Sears Roebuck, Kodak and McDonald’s commissioned the production of promotional models.Commercial replicas stared to take over the market. Matchbox was producing diecast toy trucks with Coca-Cola, Colman’s Mustard, and Cerebos Salt logos and paint schemes. Corgi expanded on this idea in the early ’80s by producing more than 50 versions of a 1920s era Thornycroft van.
Despite all the momentum from marketers to produce diecast replicas the economic environment forced Meccano (Dinky), Matchbox, and Corgi to file bankruptcy. There was a shift in production from Europe to China at this time. Many of the brand names were sold and then resold.
The 1990s brought with it a increase in demand for diecast largely do to the number of vehicles inspired by racing-related Nascar diecast trucks and cars in the US. These featured different racing teams, sponsors and even equipment used.
Today we enjoy a very diverse array of vehicles from cars, trucks, buses, agricultural implements, construction equipment, diecast aircraft and military models. The variety and scale you can get is endless. Although most of the original companies are no longer around diecast continues to thrive.