All posts by Karl Schnelle

1/43 diecast collector

Matchbox Camaro in 1:43!

By Frank Koh

Believe it or not, this exquisite 1:43 scale 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Super Sport is a Matchbox product, specifically from the Matchbox Collectibles line from 18 years ago.

The Matchbox Collectibles 1968 Camaros were 1/43 scale miniatures of the ultra-desirable RS/SS cars. The Super Sport (SS) package was a performance option group which offered a choice of a 350 cubic inch Small Block V8 or a 396 cubic inch Big Block V8, plus performance-oriented suspension components.

The Rally Sport (RS) package was an appearance and luxury option group with special trim, upscale interior appointments, an all-red tail light and separate, under-the-bumper reverse light setup, and those famous hidden headlights. When a first generation Camaro had both RS and SS packages, it was the SS emblems that were used on the car.

Those faux hood louvers that looked like a quartet of square velocity stacks per side were exclusive to the 1968 Camaro SS equipped with the Big Block V8s, and all 1969 Camaro SS variants. For model year 1968, the hood louver trim on the Small Block 350 cubic inch V8 SS Camaros were different: they featured multiple lengthwise vents / vanes that were earlier used on all 1967 Camaro SS models.

A Vinyl Top, Hockey Stick Stripes and Rallye Rims were popular options on well-equipped first generation Camaros!

This exact same Camaro casting was shared with the Hot Wheels Classics series from that era, but because of the use of the signature Hot Wheels chrome-like “Spectraflame” colors, the Matchbox cars were a lot more realistic.  Several bright blue Hot Wheels versions are available online, even now nearly 20 years later…

Once upon a time, Matchbox and Hot Wheels were fierce competitors. For more than two decades now, however, both brands have Mattel as their mother company; hence they could be considered “complimentary” to each other. Such is the way of the corporate world. The baseplate says it all: this is a Matchbox model made by Mattel from 2000.

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The History of Roly Toys, Part II

By Miguel Stefanelli and Sergio Luis dos Santos

In Part I, we gave a little history of the company, the people,  and the toys.  Now we concentrate on the Roly Toys Catalog.  [All photos are copyright of Miguel Stefanelli.]

The Catalog

The only known catalog of the Roly Toys showed photos and the numbers for miniatures 1 to 7.

Just remembering which miniatures refer to which numbers:

Nº 1 – Willys Interlagos (in street and racing car versions).

Nº 2 – DKW Vemaguet (in street car versions, in Departamento Nacional de Estradas de Rodagem – DNER (National Department of Roads), and in Unit AP-18 Fire Brigade.

Nº 3 – VW Kombi (street car version, Medical Assistance, and Unit AP-18 Firemen’s vehicle ).

Nº 4 – Scania-Vabis L76 – Tipper truck, with working dumper mechanism.

Nº 5 – VW ‘sedan’ – Volkswagen made the Beetle, nicknamed the Fusca, in Brazil in 1200, 1300, 1500 and 1600 models! The Roly Toys came in two versions:  opening or fixed doors.

Nº 6 – Jeep Willys – Multi-purpose utility vehicle.

Nº 7 – Mercedes-Benz LP 321 – Tank truck, in the colours of Esso, Shell and Texaco fuel distributors.

Later on, they launched miniatures Nr. 8 to 11, but they were not recorded in any catalogs.

It should be noted that the miniatures of Nr. 1 to Nr. 6 were sold in cardboard boxes. Miniatures from Nr. 7 to Nr. 11 were sold in plastic boxes, with a base and lid.

The details of the miniatures, more pictures and the boxes will be the subject of Part III! See you later!

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The History of Roly Toys, Part I

By Miguel Stefanelli and Sergio Luis dos Santos

About the Company

ROLY TOYS INDÚSTRIA E COMÉRCIO DE BRINQUEDOS LTDA was established in 1964 in the city of Rio de Janeiro, with the purpose of producing miniatures vehicles in metal, using the metal alloy Zamac, an acronym for the chemical elements that constitute it: zinc (its major component at about 95% of the alloy), aluminum, magnesium and copper. The strength and durability of the Zamac alloy would be reflected in the words printed on their small cardboard boxes: “Practically unbreakable”. [All photos are copyright of Miguel Stefanelli.]

Its founder was Mr. Maurício Nhuch, an entrepreneur who, seeing the success, acceptance and explosion of Matchbox miniatures, decided to create his own company.  His priority was the production of miniature vehicles manufactured in Brazil.

In his endeavor he had the valuable support of Mr. David Kupperman, a chemical engineer who had responsibility for all the technical parts of the company, and who had an important role in the development of the designs of the molds and the specification of the paint to be applied in the miniatures.  Another prominent company official was Mr Kurt Adolf Hamberger, who was responsible for the polishing and finishing of the cast parts. In this division of labor, Mauricio led the company’s management, as well as the commercial dividion (Soares, Tumminelli and Santos, 2002).

Products Manufactured

The company produced its own miniatures, because of the people mentioned above, during a very short period: from 1964 to the beginning of 1970.  Roly Toys  produced only eleven miniature models, which received numbers stamped on the chassis from Nr. 1 to Nr. 11.

According to the Roly Toys Catalog of the time, the following miniatures were identified:

Nr. 1 – Willys Interlagos, in the versions of car of walking and the reproduction of the model of a race car of Interlagos Nr. 22 of Team Willys of Racing, where, Emerson Fittipaldi (“Emmo”), had started his brilliant career of racing pilot.

Nr. 2 – DKW Vemaguet, in versions for street, fire, and DNER (National Highway Department).

Nr. 3 – VW Kombi, in street, fire and ambulance versions.

Nr. 4 – Scania-Vabis, reproduction of the L-76 tipper truck.

Nr 5 – VW Sedan, reproduction of the Volkswagen 1200.

Nr. 6 – Willys Jeep.

Nr. 7 – Mercedes-Benz, reproduction of the LP-321 tank truck, with the colors of the gasoline companies: ESSO, SHELL and TEXACO.

At that time the catalog mentioned that the Mercedes-Benz was still in preparation, but it was indeed manufactured.

Subsequently, other products were manufactured by Roly Toys, the following models are known:

No. 8 – Centurion tank.

No. 9 – VW Karmann-Ghia, in the convertible version.

Nº 9 – VW Karmann-Ghia, convertible model, of the series called “Bólidos”.

Nº 10 – Willys Interlagos.

Nº 10 – Willys Interlagos, of the series “Bólidos”.

Nº 11 – Scania-Vabis, reproduction of model L-76, tipper truck, with some light modifications from the model nr. 4.

There is no knowledge of any other Roly Toys Catalog, which might have included a more complete list of the actual vehicles produced.

We intend to return again with more information about these Brazilian “pearls”, bringing to you details about measurements and scales.  At this moment, it is important to say that the scale of the cars is about 1:64. The trucks’ scale is 1:100.

In the next part, we’ll show you more details about chassis, scales and a lot of new photos.  Bye!

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at

Gama Mercedes-Benz 300TD

By Frank Koh

This old diecast Mercedes-Benz 300TD diesel wagon was introduced by Gama in the late 1970s. From the 50s thru the very early 90s, this West German toy company established by George Adam Mangold produced some very interesting miniatures from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Opel, Audi/NSU, Volkswagen, and even an occasional non-German marque. Gama was even commissioned by the German auto manufacturers to produce some official dealer promotional models, mostly in diecast metal, but a few Gama cars were made in plastic and were battery-operated or friction-powered.

Personal favorites of mine from the Gama line included the Mercedes-Benz and Opel vehicles. In the late eighties and early nineties, many European manufacturers were hit hard by globalization, and Gama was one of the better known casualties. I miss this brand.

Like the real W123 series Mercedes-Benz station wagon, this 1:26-ish scale diecast model is built to last. The real 300TD was manufactured from 1978-85, so perhaps Gama stopped producing this one as well around 1985.   It is also the first factory-built Mercedes-Benz station wagon of modern times!

This Gama is all-metal construction, including a heavy chassis plate, resulted in a little car that can become a deadly weapon in the wrong hands.

In the quarter of a century that I have owned it, I have taken great care to avoid having this exceptionally heavy miniature roll off the table and land on my foot. Truth be told, they really don’t make model vehicles the way they used too.

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at


Dinky Streamlined Fire Engine

By Terry Hardgrave

One of the longest lived models in Dinky Toys history was the 25h (250)  Streamlined Fire Engine. First introduced around 1936, halted in 1941 due to WWII, then re-introduced in 1946, and made until 1957.  Some report that it was still made up until 1962.

One of the earliest versions was the 25k Streamlined Fire Engine with Firemen. This little model featured 6 stamped, embossed tinplate firemen, with hand painted faces and helmets. Only made from around 1939 through 1941, then discontinued.  Here is a close-up of the firemen:

The early post war models had plain black wheels, and a baseplate with simulated drive train, early 1950’s versions had red wheels, and finally, from the mid-1950’s they had a silver painted ladder, and the last ones also had treaded tires.

The early post war baseplate, with simulated drive train:

The later 1950’s plain baseplate:

The next photo shows all of these four major versions……..

In trying to find the original prototype that Dinky Toys based this toy on, a collector found a photo in the Meccano Magazine from April 1935.  Talkmodeltoys  (2003-11) showed this photo of the Merryweather and Sons Ltd of London fire engine:

Photograph by David John Busfield. Copyright Acknowledged.

Planetdiecast (2011-12) also discussed the prototype fire engine.  so this truck was a very popular model for a very long time and collectors continue to talk about it!

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at


Supermini and Minimac – more photos

By Karl Schnelle

In our previous post about these Brazilian model trucks, we asked if any readers knew more about them.  Several replied with many, many photos.  Since these diecast from Brazil are not well documented anywhere that we know about, we will show them here.

Arpra Trucks

Here are several more 1:50 Supermini Mercedes trucks (made by Arpra).  Three different versions of the Mercedes 1513 refrigerated box are below, from Ivan a collector in Brazil, collector Robert  Brodowski in the US, and the author. It’s fun to see them all together (at least in print).

Many of Robert’s have been sold off over the years, but he still has these photos.  Here is his Mercedes 1513 dump truck (same cab as above).

This next Arpra Supermini Mercedes Benz 1924A truck tractor was not sold in the US as a cab unit, but was very popular in the 1980s as a delivery truck (with single round headlights) and well into the 1990s with rectangular headlights like this one.

Here are the round and square headlight versions together.

Two Scanias from Robert are the LKS 141 and Talbert dump trailer (sold as a set or separately)…

and the 112M truck tractor and gas trailer.

The boxes from the dump truck set are very nice and reflect the ’80s!

Minimac Construction

Robert says most collectors will be familiar with the excellent construction models from Conrad, NZG, and Norscott. There are many other lesser known but just as good (or even better) brands such as Minimac from Brazil. This Dresser A450E motorgrader from Minimac is so well done with the best articulation he’s ever seen on a 1:50 scale model.

Arpra Catalogs

Robert, Ivan, and Sergio Sergio Luis Dos Santos from Brazil sent us photocopies of catalogs that have been in their collections.  We have some very knowledgeable MAR Online readers!

Here is a black and white sheet, taken in 2 photos.

A second sheet (or the backside of the one above) shows that Arpra sold the cabs and trailers separately.

These color sheets show some of the same models and could be folded up to include in the box.  No dates are evident on these catalogs, so the black and white sheets might be older?

Finally, another box insert is shown below.  Here is the full view.

Each section is blown up below.

Thanks again to our readers for supplying these images!

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Supermini and Minimac – A Blast from the ’80s!

By Karl Schnelle and Maz Woolley

One of our readers asked the Editors if they had more information on some specific 1:50 Brazilian trucks from our retrospective reviews of the 1985 (Mercedes fire appliance) and 1989 Model Auto Reviews (the Coca-Cola Scania).  Both Editors dug into it and discovered a little bit about each one.

The two trucks originally were made in Brazil.  Actually the Mercedes is a Brazilian/English ‘hybrid’.  Here is what MAR reported in the 1980’s about these two trucks and the companies that made them.

Sun Motor Mercedes Fire Appliance (Supermini base)

The Mercedes fire appliance was a Sun Motor Co 1/50 handbuilt. The chassis/cab was from Arpra/Supermini of Brazil, while the resin body and diecast fittings came from from Britain. It was to be a  limited edition of 150, according to MAR back in 1985.

Sun Motor Co was owned by Rod Ward at that time; he is now the MAR Online Consultant Editor and Founder.  Here is what he says about these models: “Yes, we handled Arpra Supermini in the UK at that time, and we had a lot of fire appliance collectors who couldn’t get enough different and interesting models. We commissioned a pattern from Geoff Moorhouse for a resin body and other parts. I think Geoff actually built them for us as well. It was a pleasing little model, and it sold out quickly. I can’t remember the total quantity actually made – it depended on how many of the Arpra Mercedes we could get hold of. It was certainly no more than 100, maybe only 60 or so, as that was the expected life of a resin mould at that time.”

“It was in the early days of the Sun Motor Co, when we mostly made up the range from adaptations of diecast, etc., models (like this one) or models adopted from defunct or moribund ranges (like Geoff’s AGM range, from which we adopted a number of models, including the DeSoto and Bristol 450). Geoff made a few more patterns for us, before he began his own new truck range, and we moved on to other pattern makers.”

The Modelauto shop, also owned by Rod, were the importers of the Brazilian models into UK at the time and also used them as a basis for their own conversions. Sadly the Sun Motor Company built models are very scarce as they were made in such small numbers and were sold by mail order all over the world.

Minimac Scania

The Coca-Cola Scania L76 was by Minimac of Brazil, also in 1:50 scale.  In 1989, this was a restock item at Modelauto. No other information was shown, but it appeared in color twice in Mar in 1989.

A Jeep 4×4 was also shown in similar Coca-Cola livery.

At that time, Modelauto was also selling the Scania is Plus Vita livery.

More Information

Digging around some more in the old 1980’s issues of MAR, two articles were found on Brazilian models.   In MAR #3, Winter 1982, many pages of a then-current Supermini catalog were published: trucks, construction equipment, and a bus.

Then, in MAR #11,  Extra 1984, frequent contributor Clive Chick wrote a two-page summary of Brazilian cars and trucks from a  recent trip of his.   He pictured Supermini and Minimac on the first page.

He also found Muky, Corgi Juniors by Kiko, Schuco-REI, and Solido, all made in Brazil

We would love to hear from other readers who collect these older Brazilian toys or know the history of these companies.

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at






Bathurst Holden Commodore

By Frank Koh

Here’s an Australian racing legend that looked a lot like an Opel Rekord, but this Holden was capable of doing great things that four and six cylinder Opels could never have dreamed of. The Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon were domestic-engineered, locally-built high performance V8 muscle cars that dominated the road racing scene in Australia (and neighboring New Zealand).

While at present there are no more Australian-built V8 muscle cars, Australian diecast brand Trax Models immortalizes these iconic vehicles in 1/43 scale.  Along with competitors Biante Models and Classic Carlectables, the Australian model car scene is bustling with activity, and there are many exclusive-to-Australia-and-New-Zealand diecast and resin miniatures that embody the unbridled passion for performance that the cars from that part of the world possess.

This 1984 Holden VH Commodore was a formidable, if not exceptionally colorful, competitor at the Bathurst racing circuit in Australia. Trax Models released this beautiful car as part of its line of 1/43 scale cars that raced at Bathurst. Today the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) remains one of the most popular racing series, but with the closure of the Holden factory last year, the era of the Australian-Built V8 Powered Muscle Car has come to an end.

We welcome your comments and questions.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page or email the Editors at maronlineeditor at

Model Auto Review 1989 – Part Two

By Karl Schnelle

The second half of 1989 saw three issues,  39 – 41, published.   Continuing the same format as before, Rod Ward used different cover designs featuring various cars and trucks.  All three back covers were ads for Modelauto Wholesale Supply, Rod and Val’s company back then in Leeds.

If you see any interesting articles in the Contents (or photos) from any of these articles, please let us know and we will re-publish them in MAR Online.

No 39 Extra 89 August/September

The Extra summer issue had a blue theme for the cover with 1:43 resin and handbuilts from France, Switzerland, and UK.  The Krupp truck is actually a 1:87 Brekina.

The Contents reflect the same Editorial decisions as previous issues:  a mix of articles on cars and trucks, mostly 1/43.    Being a Tekno Denmark collector from way back when,  Clive Chick’s article on Made in Denmark piqued my curiosity.   On a personal note,  I met him many years later at the Chicago Toy Show.    I recognized his name from MAR 30 years later!  Of course, the best article of 1989 (and perhaps of all time) was on p. 1790.  Seriously,  Rod was nice enough to publish my Marklin RAK article and even added his own footnote.

The inside color cover shows 1:50 scale construction and fire equipment.  Some 1:87 plastic buses are at the bottom. [Click on the photo to read the Contents more easily using the larger image.]

The back cover has an international mix available in the UK in 1989 from Argentina, Brazil, France, Japan, and Spain!

No 40 Autumn 89 October/November

The Autumn cover had an appropriate brown theme with cars and trucks (kits and handbuilts) again.  A MAR tradition started with the very 1st Competition – what is the brown motor car on the cover?  (answer below).

The inside cover had mostly buses this time in various scales.  Contents were similar to the previous issue.  Clive Chick continued his Denmark series;  four other continuing series were published as well.

The back cover has some nice 1/43 diecast Collectors Classics shown from Argentina.

No 41 Christmas 89 December/January

The final issue of the year has a red and green theme, naturally.   The vintage Santas were made from old Barclay molds!   As an Alfa Romeo collector, I should have picked up one of the Milestone Models Disco Volantes (black or red), but they were over my price range.

The Editorial was moved for this issue to the next page.  Rod had a lot to say about the MAR Competition, missing parts, and the economic downturn.  The brown car from #40 was a 1917 Chalmers Seven from The Saturday Evening Post.

For the Christmas issue, it was nice to see photos of Rod and Val and all their staff on the back cover.  I think those are the only photos I have ever seen of them.

I hope you enjoy this nostalgic peak at the hardcopy MARs.  We will continue to review them as time goes on:  we have 100’s to go!

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