Have Fun With Dinky Toys


How My Life Went With Dinky Toys

By L. Lopes -
The Die-Cast models began life in 1934 and were manufactured in Liverpool, England by Meccano Ltd. The first collection consisted of a sports coupe, sports car, delivery van, truck, tank and tractor. Soon after, the Dinky toys range had been expanded to over two hundred different models. The models changed from categories to specific makes such as Daimler, Rolls Royce, Vauxhall and Chrysler Saloon. It was the nearest anyone in my neighborhood would ever get to a Rolls Royce!

There were also companies who loved to have models of their commercial vehicles, complete with company logo on the side. I remember having a Weetabix van and a Heinz van. The scale of the models actually went well with the train sets of the day, and many important supplies were delivered to the railway station via a Dinky toys delivery truck. Some models were built to a larger scale such as Horse boxes and cranes. Sometimes, I played in a bizarre scenario, putting my Indians in the back of the Horse box and attacking my fort in a surprise attack.

The UK caught the model bug seriously in the early 1950s. They were exported to the US and a French manufacturing division was formed. Kids everywhere loved Dinky toys. From 1956, Dinky had a competitive  rival when Corgi brought out its model collection. In response to Corgi designs, Dinky introduced doors and trunks which opened and fingertip steering. Later on, the Corgi cars connected to movies and TV shows were very popular.

Further competition came in the late 60s when US toy firm Mattel put their Hot Wheels on the market. Kids loved the maneuverability of the cars, so Dinky toys brought out its own version called Speedwheels. The competition between the toy makers in the market was good for the consumer. Whenever a rival came up with something new, Dinky tried to counter it.

By the end of the 1970s, the good times were over. The Dinky organization closed and was swallowed up by Matchbox. However, the name of Dinky toys carried status and Matchbox made models still under the Dinky name. These are made as models and not durable enough to be used as toys. That's a pity for people like me who never grew up!

I was a tomboy when I was a kid. I wasn't interested in dolls or dressing up. I wanted to play cowboys and Indians and trains. I also wanted to play with my cars, especially my Dinky toys. The miniature vehicles were models but also tough enough to be toys. Nowadays, they are valuable collector's items.

I have been to toy fairs and seen grown men almost swoon at models that remind them of their youth. People keep telling me I should have kept all the models. How did my generation know they were going to be worth something in years to come? Even the boxes can fetch a high price. The record sale happened in 1994 at Christie's auction house in London, when a 1937 delivery van sold for $19,355. Oh, if only I'd kept my Dinky toys collection.

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