By Karl Schnelle and Chris Sweetman
This article is the final part of the Dugu story, as far as we know. The end of the company is a bit murky, but this final chapter has been pieced together from reference books, catalogs, and websites.
Parts I – III are based on the original article, which appeared online in 2015 by Alberto Spano in Italian. The author kindly gave his permission for the English translations. Part I covered background and history, Part II covered the MiniautoToys Series. and Part III the Museo Series. Finally, this Part covers SISPLA, catalogs, and other topics.
Around 1973, Dugu moved from Varallo Sesia to Quarona Sesia and soon after closed down. SISPLA took over around 1974 (or Dugu was just renamed then). They issued one catalog (seen online) identical to the last Dugu one, except the name SISPLA was on the cover. Then, SISPLA only lasted until 1975 or so, when Old Cars took over some (all?) of their equipment and business.
The price list shown below has 1973 hand-written on it and no other date. Notice the company name and address at the top!
Tractors and Trucks
If we back up to the circa 1969 Dugu catalog (see below), we see one tractor pictured: the Same Centuaro from 1966. Dugu listed it as 1/15 scale. Force (1992) lists another tractor: the Fiat 550 plus four trucks in 1/43 scale. He lists them all under the name SISPLA. However, Rampini (1992) shows them as four Dugu tractors: the Fiat 550 plus a Fiat 600, Fiat 640, and a Someca 640. So perhaps there were five tractors in total? They all look to be the same orange tractor with different decals.
Both Force and Rampini show the 4 trucks (sold as Sispla or Dugu or both?): Fiat 697N 6-wheel dump truck, Fiat 90NC open truck, OM N100 with the same open truck bed, and a Fiat 90NC oil tanker “Olio Fiat”.
Notification of the first Dugu truck model also appeared in the British Scale Models magazine, July 1974. Reg Miles provides confirmation that this was released under the Dugu brand. An illustration is also included of a Fiat 90 NC tipping truck. In the Scale Models’July 1976 issue, there is an advert from Auto Replicas which states that they are sole distributors of the Dugu range of trucks. Furthermore, the August 1976 issue of Scale Models features illustrations of the four types of trucks available including the 697 tipper, and Reg Miles still refers to these models as being from Dugu. He also notes that the firm recently went out of business.
FIAT 697N LOW SIDED TIPPER LORRY (photos by Chris Sweetman)
The 6-wheel dump truck or tipper lorry is marked ‘SISPLA’ on the cab base. However, Dugu’s owl symbol is cast in the base of the engine block as is ‘Made in Italy’. After Sispla collapsed, this truck became part of the fledgling Old Cars range.
This model seems to be designed from the outset as a promotional model to be used by Fiat. Hence this model features detailing not found on contemporary toy trucks. Most notable are the wheel hubs. These are exactly the same as used on the full scale Fiat. Also the tyres are prototypical with Pirelli neatly featuring on the side walls.
The cab is die-cast zinc alloy with interior detailing featuring seats and steering wheel in the RHD position. Separate plated plastic door handles are inset into the doors and a similar method is used for the grill. A Fiat badge is also a separate item applied just above the grill area. Surprisingly the chassis is made from plastic and this component includes the front bumper area. On the bumper are the headlights which are another separate item represented in clear plastic. The fuel tank has a plated plastic cap. For the low sided tipper body and for the hinged tail board zinc-alloy is the material selected. Underside details have not been neglected either with neat representations of the suspension system, axles and prop shafts.
The tipping action comprises of a plastic component with one end featuring a hook shape and the other an extended arm pivots on a metal bar in a central location on the chassis. One end of this bar is shaped as a handle. Operating this handle releases the hook and the arm raises the tipper body. The action is not as smooth as the ‘hydraulic’ styles found on contemporary toy tippers but is still effective.
The model was issued in an all card Fiat promotional box. There are no references on the box to Sispla or Dugu as being the model manufacturer.
Connection to Old Cars
The 4-5 tractors and 4 trucks are rare and infrequently appear on ebay. Rampini says Old Cars started in 1975 in Quarona Sesia, which is a big coincidence. He pictures the Fiat 697 and 90NC trucks, as well as two orange tractors (Fiat and Someco) as Old Cars!
Interestingly, Old Cars also produced 4 different vintage cars around 1976: 1931 Bugatti, 1907 Ford Model T, 1909 Opel, and 1905 Fiat 24 HP (open and closed versions). Both Rampini and Force show these with very cheap silver plated, spoked wheels; not up to Dugu’s level of detail or finesse. So we assume that Old Cars did not continue any of the Dugu vintage cars, but they tried to reduce costs and introduce an even cheaper range.
So it seems Old Cars continued the tractors and trucks as they increased their range of Italian vans, buses large trucks, etc. When Rampini published his book in 1992, he lists them as still releasing many new products! And to this day, they still do: see www.oldcars.it.
The following catalog dates are estimated based on release dates of the models contained in each one. Year of release is taken from Alberto Spano’s original Italian article.
Front and back are shown. This is a three-color, two-fold catalog.
1966 is lightly larger than the previous year and is a three-fold catalog. Similar photos are shown of both series.
The catalogs now fold along the long side and are in color. Front and back are shown below. This and the rest of the catalogs now show each model with a photo backdrop.
New for 1968
A 2-page catalog (front and back) with new items only is shown below.
The same style catalog was produced for ~1969 with the full ranges shown. Front and back are shown, then the middle page.
Finally, the last one we have is a 1-page insert (front and back shown) from circa 1972 that was placed in the 1969 catalog. Three new models were shown.
With two of the catalogs, these small inserts were included. Perhaps they were originally inserted in the box with the specific model?
That brings us to the end of our four part series on Dugu. If you have any additional information, please contact the Editors at the locations noted below.
Check out hobbyDB to see if any other catalogs have been found.
Force, Edward, Classic Miniature Vehicles: Made in Italy, Schiffer, 1992.
Rampini, Paulo, Automodelli 1/43 Made in Italy, 1900-1991, Edizioni Paolo Rampini, 1992.
We welcome your comments and questions. Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page, or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.