Category Archives: Dinky Toys

The Dinky Mighty Antar

The Three Versions of the Dinky Supertoys Mighty Antar Transporter – A Hit for Meccano Ltd.

By Terry Hardgrave

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Please click on the photos to get a larger view.

The 1950’s were fun times for many young boys, and most were fascinated with military models. Meccano saw that interest develop with the start of World War II, and was quick to bring out several Dinky Toys models that became very popular, both right before and right after the war. By the early 1950’s, the old pre-war style military vehicles were obsolete, so starting in 1954, several new models were introduced. But the really big play for Meccano was unveiling the new Dinky Supertoys #660 Tank Transporter in May-June 1956. Based on the very large Thorneycroft Mighty Antar truck, this was a most imposing model for that era, measuring over 13” with its rear ramps down, and loaded with play value.

In spite of its high sales price of $4.50 in the US (very expensive in 1956), it was a must-have for many boys, and, from all indications, Dinky amped up production and made these by the thousands. This is a story about the original Mighty Antar vehicle and the three versions that Dinky made over a period of 8 years.

The Thorneycroft Mighty Antar

Development of this outsize truck really began in the late 1940’s, as a suitable vehicle for oilfield work, transporting oversize pipe hundreds of miles in the desert. This called for many abilities: being able to traverse rough, unpaved terrain; climbing mountainous grades; and hauling large capacity loads. So the chassis was designed as a 6×4 layout, with a large V-8 engine to provide power. The engine was designed by Rolls-Royce, was a cut-down version of the V-12 used in tanks, and was called the Meteorite. This engine displaced 18 liters and ran on gasoline. Rover ended up making these engines, to the Rolls-Royce specifications. Later in production, a diesel version was developed.

A rare photo of a civilian version, being used in the desert in Libya. Picture from Internet. Copyright acknowledged.

The first customer, and whom the truck was really designed for, was the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. That is significant when one considers the name, Mighty Antar… the name Antar was a reference to Antar Ibn Shaddad, a pre-Islamic poet-warrior, so using that name was very flattering.

A great photo of an early Mighty Antar Tank Transporter, virtually identical with the Dinky Supertoys model. Picture from Internet. Copyright acknowledged.

Shortly after the initial trucks were produced, it was quickly considered to be ideal as a tank transporter, to carry the then somewhat new British Centurion Tanks, and this is where it garnered most of its fame and use.

A good closeup view of the Mighty Antar Tractor. Picture from Copyright acknowledged.


Production: 1951-1964
Weight of the tractor: 44,220 lbs
Length of the tractor: 27’
Width: 9.25’
Height: 10.25’
Trailer capacity: 50-60 tons
Engine: Rolls-Royce designed Meteorite, V-8, 18 liters
Top speed: 28 mph
Transmission: 4 speed, with a 3 speed transfer case
Versions: MK 1, MK 2, MK 3 (the Dinky's are the MK 1)

The Dinky Supertoys #660 Tank Transporter

Introduced in May-June of 1956 to much fanfare, this was the first of the three Mighty Antar versions produced by Meccano, and was in production until 1964. When first made, it featured a driver, an attached trailer, no windows, and was made to a scale of about 1:51. In most ways, this is a very accurate model of the real vehicle, with a couple of exceptions: in the 1950’s, Meccano insisted on using single rear tires and wheels, when many trucks had duals. It wasn’t until later in the 1960’s that they finally came around on this detail, which would have looked much better on this model. The other slight error was using the same size tire and wheel for the trailer. The photo of the original clearly shows the trailer wheels and tires being of a smaller size than the tractor.

The first announcement of the new Mighty Antar Transporter, in June 1956.

Around 1959, Dinky Toys decided to allow the trailer to become detached from the tractor unit….originally it was pinned in place. And in March of 1961, windows were finally added. In 1957, Meccano wisely decided to offer the Tank Transporter together with the #651 Centurion Tank… a gift set #698 which sold for $6.95 in the US. This was produced until 1965.

The Dinky Supertoys #986 Mighty Antar Low Loader with Propeller

Following on the great success of the Tank Transporter, Meccano saw an opportunity to get some more mileage out of its Mighty Antar unit, so in June of 1959 they introduced the Low Loader with Propeller version. This used the same Mighty Antar tractor unit but was now paired with a new low loader type of trailer, upon which rested a realistic model of a large brass ships propeller. As was common with Dinky Toys in the 1950’s, this was in painted bright colors, that appealed to young boys, so the cab was finished in red, with the trailer in grey.

The June 1959 announcement for the new Mighty Antar Low Loader with Propeller.

Early versions had the trailer permanently attached to the tractor unit, as well as no windows, but by 1961 it had both. I believe this was the very first Dinky Toys to use plastic in some form, as the propeller was made of polystyrene, and has the word “Scimitar” on a decal, referring to the manufacturer. When introduced, this model was also $4.50, making it somewhat out of reach as an ordinary toy, but it made a fine Christmas gift. While not as popular as the tank transporter, it still sold quite well, and was discontinued in 1964.

The Dinky Supertoys #908 Mighty Antar
with Transformer

By 1962, the Mighty Antar model had been around for some time and had, understandably, lost some of its allure. So it was probably a bit surprising when Meccano announced that they would make one more version of this iconic model… they would revert back to the original military version, with its tank trailer, but would convert it to civilian livery, and add a somewhat unique load….a very large 5,000KVA transformer. What is interesting about this is that the French Meccano factory was also re-purposing its Berliet Tank Transporter to a similar version, carrying the very same transformer. This transformer was another early use of plastic, and was actually made in France, and included with the model in a plastic bag, needing assembly.

Since the tank was quite heavy and could easily sit on the trailer, Meccano engineers had to design some way to keep the much lighter transformer from sliding around during play. So they wisely decided to add some mounting brackets or flanges to the bed of the trailer, and the transformer fits snugly in those. The French did not do this for their version, so the transformer does in fact slide around.

By the time this was introduced, the market for toys was rapidly changing, with much more competition, and this look was also quite dated by 1962, so this model was never a big seller, and Meccano discontinued it in 1964. All of these came with both windows and the detachable trailer, and since they were never a big seller, are now quite hard to find and expensive for mint copies.

By the early 1960’s, Meccano Ltd was in serious trouble, with mounting debt, out of control costs, and rising competition on many fronts. By 1964 things had deteriorated so badly that the company was forced to accept a bid by Lines Brothers to take over the company, and so over half a century ownership by the Hornby family ceased.

Post-Meccano Versions

By 1968, things had worsened even more, and the company decided to sell off some of its die making and tooling equipment, especially on some of the older, obsolete models. In 1968, a quantity of tooling and dies were sold to the Indian firm S. Kumar and Company, trading as Atamco Private Ltd. in Calcutta, along with a license to use them. But subsequent quality control was so poor that Meccano, upon seeing the work, insisted that the names Dinky Toys be removed from the baseplates, and new boxes designed and used. These were then named Nicky Toys, and were sold for some time.

These toys did use the original Meccano Dinky Toys dies, but were assembled, painted and packaged by others, to different standards, so they are considered to be a subset of real Dinky Toys, but are, nonetheless, collected by hobbyists. One of the more striking examples was their re-issue of the Mighty Antar Transporter, finished in a similar color scheme used on the Meccano Transformer version, but now without the transformer.

More recently, French based DAN-Toys has reproduced several of the Dinky Toys models, from their factory in China. These are pretty well made and very closely match the original Dinky Toys. Because they employ new technology and techniques not available in the 1950’s and 1960’s, they always appear to be finished to a higher standard… some would argue too nice. To date, they have made copies of both the Mighty Antar Low Loader with Propeller and the Mighty Antar Transporter with Transformer. Below is a photo of the latter, with its transformer still boxed and unassembled.

Alfa Romeo Guilia Part Four

By Robin Godwin

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Finally we’ll look at one of Italy’s older toymakers, Mercury, and a relative newcomer, Mebetoys. With lots of time to examine real prototypes, and for Mercury at least, with many years of diecast experience behind them, one would expect nothing short of perfection. Alas, these two examples are among the worst.

Mercury #4 was introduced in 1965, according to Mercury Tutta la Produzione, by Bocco, Clemente, Coen, Pereo and Pontoni, published in 2005. It is identified as a Giulia Super on the box, but as a Giulia TI on the base (Alfa Romeo made a Giulia TI, a Giulia TI Super, and a Giulia Super, all different). Perhaps pedantic, but according to Wikipedia, the Giulia TI Super was a special lightened road going (but produced for racing) version introduced in 1963. Only 501 were built, all white save for one red and one grey version. They were easily identified by having mesh grills in place of the inner two headlights, and no overriders on the bumpers. The Giulia Super was introduced at the March 1965 Geneva Auto Show and was a regular road-going sedan that incorporated some of the performance features of the earlier Giulia TI Super. My guess is the tooling was underway for a regular Giulia TI when the Giulia Super was introduced at Geneva. It was easy to change the box printing to give the impression that they were first with the latest model, but they never updated the base of the model. That said, they also managed to put a three-spoke plastic steering wheel into the interior, which was a standard Giulia Super feature. But that is the only discernable feature in 1:43. Enough history. The model is otherwise pretty abysmal with half opening doors and a totally incorrect rear window profile. They completely missed the notchback styling with wrap around rear window. The top rear passenger side window profile is incorrect as well, being too rounded.

A Super box but with a TI inside. Colour illustration shows a properly drawn rear notchback whereas line drawing shows the incorrect lines actually modelled

The model comes with opening doors and a separate detailed engine part underneath the opening bonnet. Jewelled headlights adorn the front but rear lights are painted. There is a separate oil pan/ transmission housing casting screwed into the base plate. Bumpers are separate chrome plastic pieces. There is a reasonable attempt at the Alfa Romeo steel wheels. That they are chromed is a good thing, as that provides a barrier between plastic wheels and rubber tires. There is evidence of wheel melt on the inner surfaces of my wheels, but that does not affect displayability.

Totally wrong rear window treatment. Correct-for-a-Super three spoked steering wheel just visible here. I have seen a white steering wheel version on eBay but could not tell if it was two spoke or three spoke

Mercury issued a rallye Giulia version, also as model #4 in 1971. Bumpers were removed with the holes thru the body filled in, and additional spotlights were cast in the grill. Jewelled headlights were deleted, but the remainder of the casting looks unchanged. I have seen one of these on eBay for hundreds of euros, possibly the most expensive early Giulia you can buy. I have seen replacement racing decals online, so caution must be exercised if one is in the market for an original version. Although the Mercury scale is listed as 1:43, it is noticeably larger than the Edil and French Dinky 1:43 versions. The wheelbase is exaggerated, being longer than the (claimed) 1:42 Mebetoys and also longer than the two 1:41 plastic models from Politoys and INGAP, so something was amiss at the design stage.

Mercury Giulia rallye version (photo: from internet search)

Mebetoys was the most prolific of the early Giulia modelers, producing a regular TI in many versions starting in 1966, a Giulia Super from 1968, and later, a Nuova Giulia with horrible whizzwheels from 1978. I have not seen in the flesh a Giulia Super from Mebetoys and suspect it may be a nomenclature version (or just the addition of a three spoke steering wheel). The Nuova is a casting change. If anybody has a Super, can they please send a photo to the editor. I have seen a Nuova with earlier more accurate wheels on eBay, but suspect it may be a fake. The base on the Mebetoys attaches with screws, so all bets are off when it comes to purported wheel and interior colour variations.

Mebetoys A7 Giulia TI Carabinieri with early domed wheels from 1967. Body shape is just too squared and casting is a bit rough

The model came with opening front doors, less quarter windows, chromed plastic bumpers, front and rear, a chromed one-piece plastic insert for the headlights and grill, and working suspension. There were no jewelled headlights, like most of the other models in this review. The scale is cast as 1/42 on the base, and when placed alongside the French Dinky and Edil, seems about correct – the Mebetoys has a slightly longer wheelbase and body. Curiously, the box is marked 1/43.

Mebetoys base with SCALA 1/42 cast in
Mebetoys box indicating 1/43

I don’t have a later variation of the model, so cannot say if the scale on the base was eventually changed to match the box, or vice versa. The improved wheels appeared sometime after 1967, which was the issue date of the model pictured. They look to be quite accurate renditions of the Alfa Romeo steel wheels.

Mebetoys, left, and Mercury. This picture does not really show the size difference between the two

I talked about the Edil moulds moving to Turkey, but of course it is well known that Politoys  (plastic, fibreglass, and metal) and Mebetoys moulds also travelled to different countries. However, I have never seen a Giulia TI from these early issues reproduced in their new homes. If any reader has proof otherwise, please send a photo to the editor.

So there is a summary of the contemporary models issued shortly after the first Giulia TI rolled off the assembly lines. We have highlighted six companies that produced miniatures, some very well, and others less so. I was fortunate to start collecting these in the eighties, since they have more recently become extremely sought after and, accordingly, very expensive.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Part Three

By Robin Godwin

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

1966 saw a giant in the industry, French Dinky Toys, and a newcomer, Edil Toys of Italy, enter the Giulia TI fray with the best two miniatures in this review. Both were produced to 1:43 scale and both got the complex lines of the car almost perfect, and way better than the competition. French Dinky is actually the only company that got the most major details correct, by which I mean they included the quarter window frames, which nobody else did. Unfortunately, the only thing that spoils the Dinky is the standard dished wheel, common at the time. However, it features well fitting opening hood and trunk (bonnet/boot), along with driver and passenger side windows that operate. Suspension, the fairy crude but effective Dinky steering, and jeweled headlights/ruby taillights clearly place this model in the late 60s. Bumpers and grill are part of the body casting which has generated some unsightly casting join lines on the body. One year later, Dinky released a Rallye version, #1401, in red with period decals, and a casting variation to the front grill, incorporating extra spotlights, also jeweled. Both of these versions have been reproduced accurately in the Atlas Dinky series, nice alternatives to the now very expensive originals.

Original French Dinky #514 was also available in metallic grey. Right is the Atlas reproduction #1401 Rallye version. The Atlas is a much cleaner casting with no mould join lines visible. Tough to see in the photo, but mould lines aft of the headlights on the fender, and aft of the rear door panel are evident on the original
Again, the original casting showing some rough edges, whereas the Atlas is beautiful and smooth. Atlas, similar to Dinky, also went to the effort of modifying the die to incorporate additional headlights on the Rallye version. Note bumpers and grill cast as part of the body

The Edil Toys Giulia Polizia, #5 in this small Italian range, is an absolute gem, with everything opening and accurate wheels (with no axle protrusions on the early versions. An Italian website shows protruding axles on a later version), only missing the quarter window frames. While most others in this comparison (Politoys and, to come, Mercury) only did “half doors,” Edil modelled the window surrounds. It also features suspension, but no steering. Rear taillights are the most accurate of the lot, if only represented by decals, a point to note when buying online. The engine representation under the bonnet is a separate insert (unlike the Dinky which is part of the body casting), and is done in silver. I can’t really tell is this is plastic or metal, but the fine engine detail makes me lean towards plastic. It is much more detailed than the French Dinky engine representation.  Bumpers and grill are separate chromed plastic pieces. Front seat backs also tilt forward, and all four doors have inner door panels in plastic. A note of caution is that the rear plastic inner door panel is part of the door hinge structure, so careful handling is required. If the plastic were to be damaged, the door would not sit correctly. Only the oversize antenna and lack of quarter window frame detract, but the regular sedan, ie, the non-police version (#4), would be close to perfection for its time.

Two “Goldilocks” models – just right. Edil Polizia, left and French Dinky sedan

The regular Edil sedan came in several colours. Edil’s previous history involved plastic construction buildings, similar to LEGO. Edil jumped into the diecast market at that period when manufacturers were competing with operable features. They clearly had to be special to take on the likes of Mercury, Politoys, and Mebetoys. Hence, everything opened, including all four doors for the appropriate sedans in the range. However, they did not survive, with production ceasing in 1968, and the dies passing to Orfey of Turkey. As is usually the case with second owners of the dies, the Orfeys were a bit cruder, and came with “Whizzwheel” style wheels. Bases were modified, but some apparently still had Made in Italy cast in. Anything Edil is now very difficult to find and expensive to acquire. Despite the Orfey Giulia having bad wheels, it is even more difficult to find and more expensive that the original Edil.     

Nicely actuating doors with no “dogleg” hinges. Better than lots of larger scale stuff available today
Taillights are decals on the Edil, as is the Polizia 777 plate. Dinky has ruby taillights

An Orfey Giulia TI from original Edil moulds. Simplified a bit with non-chrome bumpers and grill, but everything still opens

The French Dinky Toys Peugeot 403 Pair

An unusual offering from Meccano

By Terry Hardgrave

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Producing two versions of the same basic automobile was not something that Dinky Toys normally did, but in the 1950’s, the French Meccano factory in Bobigny did just that. Part of the fabled 24 series of motorcars, the 24B Peugeot 403 Berline was introduced in June of 1956: the sixth new model to be released up to that point that year, followed by the 24F Peugeot 403 Familiale wagon in 1958.

The 403 Berline sedan was a very nicely done model of the real car that incorporated a feature not seen prior to 1956 on Dinky Toys: the appearance of a separate vent window, with a realistic thin vertical piece. This model of an early 403 also did not show the later front indicator lights, as the real car was first built with semaphore signals.

This model was first issued in black, followed by blue, then light grey, and yellow. Like other French produced Dinky automobiles in the mid-1950’s, this always came with white tires.

There were few changes made along the way, but the early versions did not have the towing eye at the rear of the baseplate, which was added later. Another change was adding clear plastic windows in 1960. Like all French made Dinky Toys, this one was also re-numbered in 1959, to 521. It was discontinued in 1961.

From the 1959 French Dinky Toys Catalog

The 24F Peugeot 403 Familiale was introduced by the French Meccano company in 1958, but along with several other new models, it was relegated to the back page of that catalog, and shown in a color never used, black.

As usual the French Dinky Toys factory did a masterful job of very faithfully creating an accurate model, and since this was issued a couple of years later then the Berline sedan, it showed the new front indicator lights. As opposed to the Berline, this was always furnished with black tires, and was never issued with plastic windows.

The polished wheels were originally convex, then later changed to the concave design. Colors were limited to two choices, a lavender blue or a later grey-blue. (A very rare, limited production all red version was issued for members of the French Dinky Toys Club.) Like the other French models, this was also re-numbered in 1959 to 525. There were no changes made during its run, which ended with it being discontinued in 1962.

From the 1959 French Dinky Toys Catalog

The Peugeot 403—a brief history

The Peugeot 403 made its debut in April, 1955 at a Paris auto show, and was offered for sale shortly after. It was styled by Pininfarina, and was designed with several interesting features: it came standard with a sunroof, the rear doors opened a full 90 degrees, and the rear door windows also fully retracted. The front seats were designed to fully recline, level with the rear seats.

The engine was an enlarged version used in the previous 203, and was a 4 cylinder displacing 1.5 liters, developing 65 hp. A short time later a diesel engine was offered as an option, one of the first French cars to do so. A four speed all synchromesh transmission was standard, with an optional automatic clutch offered later. There were three basic body styles offered: the Berline or sedan, the Familiale or station wagon, and a 2 door Cabriolet.

The Familiale had a 10” longer wheelbase and had a third row seat installed. The Cabriolet was intended to be a more luxurious, sporty vehicle, and featured an all-leather interior. Its sales price was much higher than the standard 403, so it was discontinued in 1961, and is now quite rare. Many people will remember the American TV series Columbo, where Peter Falk drove one of these, albeit a pretty shabby one. The 403 was produced until 1966, when it was superseded by the new Peugeot 404 model. Counting all models, including some small truck and van versions, a total of 1,214,121 were produced – the first Peugeot to exceed the million mark!

The 40 Series: Early Post-War English Saloon Cars Made by Dinky Toys

By Terry Hardgrave

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

With all toy production halted during World War II, Meccano Ltd. was anxious to start up again, and in early 1946 production resumed, albeit at a fairly low level. At first, almost all of these Dinky Toys were re-issues of pre-war models that were easy to put into production or use up existing stocks of leftover parts. But very quickly, a decision was made to design and build a new series of models, which would feature the latest English production cars, as the automotive industry was also getting back on its feet. New, modern cars were going to be in demand, and young boys would want the latest Dinky Toys that modeled them.

So, starting in 1947, and ending in 1954, ten new models were introduced, which were to prove very popular, and along with new models of American cars, propelled Meccano into it’s best sales years ever by the mid-1950’s. These new models comprised the 40 Series, and along with two other cars labeled 140a and 140b, are the subject of this article. These models were very long lived in the Dinky Toys lineup… they were in production for 7 to 12 years and were arguably one of the most important series of models that Dinky Toys produced. Dinky did a masterful job in modeling each of these to very high standards for that era.

The first 40 series model Dinky Toys introduced, in 1947, was 40a, the Riley Saloon. The real car was a Riley RMA 4-door sedan, which was introduced in 1945 and in production until 1952. This car really retained pre-war styling, and the body was still framed with wood. Dinky Toys finished it in several shades of green, grey, or blue, and it was re-numbered in 1954 to 158. Like most of the 40 series of models, it was discontinued in 1960.

The next model, introduced in 1948, was 40b, the Triumph 1800 Saloon. The real car was also known as the Renown, and it was introduced in 1946 and was famous for its “razor edge styling”. Looking very much like a smaller Bentley, these were comfortable and well built cars, and Dinky was very quick to design and build a model of it. It was offered in grey, black (very rare), fawn, and two shades of blue, and was re-numbered in 1954 to 151. Also in production until 1960. This is my personal favorite of this series of models.

Next was 40e, the Standard Vanguard Saloon, also introduced in 1948. This was a model of a brand new car introduced in England in 1947, and it was made in several different versions until 1963. The early Dinky models had open rear wheel arches and a unique rear axle clip. In 1950, the model was changed to show covered spats or wheelcovers at the rear, and the rear axle clip was discontinued. Colors were several shades of tan, two shades of blue, cream, or maroon. In 1954 it was re-numbered to 153, and it remained in production until 1960.

Next in line for 1949 was 40d, the Austin Devon Saloon. The actual car was called the Austin A-40 Devon and was an all-new design introduced in late 1947. It continued until 1952 when it was replaced by the Somerset model. This Dinky model was also re-numbered in 1954 to 152. Available colors were red, maroon, green, tan, several shades of blue, or a later two tone scheme. Discontinued in 1960.

1950 saw the introduction of 40g, the Morris Oxford Saloon. The actual car was called an Oxford Series MO and was in production from 1948 through 1954, when it was replaced by the Oxford Series II. Another Dinky Toys re-numbered in 1954 to 159. Colors from Dinky were dark green, fawn, grey, light tan, or a later two tone scheme. Discontinued in 1960.

40h, the Austin Taxi, was introduced in 1951. The actual vehicle was named the Austin FX3 Metropolitan Taxi and was first shown in 1948, then produced starting in 1949. It was a very popular taxi in London and was made until 1958, when it was replaced by the FX4. Renumbered in 1954 to 254. Colors from Dinky were dark blue, black, yellow and a later two tone scheme. Discontinued in 1962.

The other model Dinky Toys released in 1951 was 40f, the Hillman Minx Saloon. The actual car, the Hillman Minx Mark IV, was introduced in 1949. Over the subsequent years, several newer versions were built. Renumbered in 1954 to 154. Dinky colors were light or dark tan, pale or dark green, and a later two tone scheme. Discontinued in 1958.

The last of the 40 series of saloon cars was 40j, the Austin Somerset Saloon, brought out in 1954. It was quickly re-numbered later in the year to 161. The real car was called the Austin A-40 Somerset and was produced from 1952-1954, when it was replaced by the then new Austin A-40 Cambridge. Colors available from Dinky included red, blue, or a later two tone scheme. Also discontinued in 1960.

I have included the next two models, even though they are not technically part of the 40 Series, as shown above. But they were issued at the same time and are also British automobiles of that period, so they rightly belong here.

140a, the Austin Atlantic Convertible, was introduced in 1951 and was the first Dinky Toys convertible to feature a fully detailed interior, including a dashboard. The actual car was labeled the Austin A90 Atlantic and was made in several versions. This was a nice, more sporting car, aimed largely at the US market, but the introduction of the all-new Jaguar XK120 at the same time basically doomed this car to very mediocre sales; it was only made from 1949-1952. Renumbered in 1954 to 106. Dinky Toys produced this in blue, pink, or black, and rare red or medium blue export versions. It was discontinued in 1958.

140b, the Rover 75 Saloon, was also introduced by Dinky Toys in 1951. It was based on the Rover P4 75 model, first shown in late 1949 at the Earl’s Court Motor Show and then available in 1950. It was an upscale automobile, with styling influenced by the early 1950’s Studebaker’s. This version was made until 1954 and was very highly regarded as a quality automobile. Renumbered in 1954 to 156. Dinky Toys colors were maroon, cream, or a later two tone scheme. Discontinued in 1958.

Footnote: The keen reader will observe that 40c was never issued but was planned to be a Jowett Javelin. 40i was skipped perhaps because it was too similar to the letter j.

Dinky Toys French Ford Trash Truck

By Terry Hardgrave

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

This is another favorite Dinky Toys model of mine, this time made by the French factory from 1952 to 1955. It is the French Ford Refuse Truck, or Trash Truck, number 25v, and features the tilting rear bed, with sliding covers and the opening rear compartment door. In French, it was called the Ford Benne à Ordures. This is another one that I bought directly from H. Hudson Dobson in the US.

One of my early Dinky Toy “jewels”… why do I call it a jewel? Because I bought this when I was only about 14, and I was immediately impressed with how solid and impressive it was. This refuse or trash truck is somewhat smaller than the English Bedford version, but, to me, it is just more impressive. It has a rack to raise the rear bed, the sliding covers are a much more precise, and tighter fit, and the dark green finish looks like it was poured on.

This was my very first Dinky Toys French commercial vehicle bought  in 1959, during a crazy two year stint where I bought dozens and dozens of new Dinky’s.  And, after almost 60 years, it is still one of my favorites.  As a young boy, I was immediately struck and impressed with this French Ford trash truck… first, and most noticeable, was the gleaming, mile-deep dark green paint. 

But I was also impressed with the snug, closely fit sliding doors on the top. Sliding them open, then closed, was amazing; they were so smooth… very different than its English cousin, the Bedford trash truck.  Then, there was the tilting mechanism, with a rack and gear operation, that was also so smooth and precise.  There was a lot going on, in a fairly small package!

Years later, I would aspire to slowly collect the other French Ford trucks, a rather unique set of about 8 different models, with two different wheelbases: a short and a long version.  Great little trucks from a bygone era, but this is the one that really caught my attention, so long ago… and it is still almost pristine!

Alfa Romeo Giulia Part One

By Robin Godwin

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

I’m not what’s commonly known as an “Alfista,” I’m merely a collector who likes a particular style of automobile and the corresponding classic contemporary models. I was first introduced to the Alfa Romeo Giulia four-door sedan in the early eighties while stationed in Germany. A friend had one, a little rough perhaps, but still a very handsome sedan. I mostly observed it in his driveway, with the hood (bonnet) up, apparently with an unending requirement for maintenance. 

The first release was the Giulia TI (for Turismo Internazionale, an Italian racing series), in 1962 with a 1570cc twin cam four cylinder motor. Production continued until 1977, using various designations that usually referred to engine size. Visually, the basic car changed little except for headlight configuration. The TI had twin headlights, two regular size and two slightly smaller. The Giulia 1300 four cylinder (1290cc) was introduced in 1965, with single headlamps, and the Nuova Giulia was introduced in 1975 with twin headlights all the same size. The Nuova also had flat hood and trunk lids, and, in my opinion, lost some of the original style in the transition. Of course there were lots of other differences between the vehicles over the years, but these generally are not evident in 1:43 scale models of the time.

I bought my first model Giulia in 1989, Mebetoys #A7, TI in Carabinieri guise. It comes in other police guises as well as a regular civilian sedan with colour variations. It’s not my intent to detail all the variations, (and I probably couldn’t come close anyway), but this model launched me on a quest to acquire at least one version of all the contemporary, as in 1960s original issues, 1:43(ish) models, all but one of Italian origin. I was recently very lucky in acquiring the last model on my list – an INGAP Giulia TI in plastic. I’ll cover these early models in a general sense, but won’t progress to the many Progetto K Alfas of the 1980s and 1990s, or any of the current diecasts or resins (covered recently by Alex Marsden in the September 2018 issue of Diecast Collector magazine).

I acknowledge that early Giulia models have been covered before in the collecting press: Karl Schnelle and Koen Beekmann covered the TOGI Giulia in part 4 of their excellent ongoing series on TOGI history in MAR Online. This was a contemporary model with an introduction date of 1963, but I don’t collect “big stuff” so it will not be further covered in this article. Frequent MAR contributor, Bruno Boracco, while editor of Miniauto & Collectors magazine (an Italian model magazine, which no longer seems to be in print, did a profile on Giulia TIs, including the early issues, in issue 5, 2002. At least I assume it was Bruno as the article was unattributed). [Ed: Bruno has been closely involved with the Italian Piccole Grandi Ruote web site which covers real and model vehicles in recent years]. A nagging feeling in the back of my mind tells me that someone, perhaps Bruno, also did a photo summary of the Giulia for an early print issue of MAR, and doubtless I’ll find it just as soon as this article is posted. Release dates are sourced from Paolo Rampini’s superb Golden Book of Model Cars 1900 – 1975 and I’ll cover models from the following companies, which are all Giulia TIs except as noted later in the text:

  • INGAP (Industia Nationale Giocattoli Automatici Padova)
  • Politoys/Penny (plastic and metal models, and the Penny is 1:66 scale)
  • Edil Toys
  • French Dinky Toys
  • Mebetoys
  • Mercury

Left to right: Polistil/Penny Sedan, Politoys Carabinieri, Politoys Sedan, Politoys Sedan in plastic, INGAP Sedan, French Dinky Sedan, Mercury Sedan, Edil Polizia, Mebetoys Carabinieri

The last addition to my small collection was the first to be issued in 1963, a Giulia TI by INGAP of Italy. INGAP was founded as a toy company in 1919, but produced mostly plastic and tin toys. Many collectors will be familiar with their set of smaller scale cars, probably around 1:65 scale, which were sold in sets. The larger Giulia was sold as one of a “serie 77” consisting of six cars in 1:41 scale. I’m not sure if they were ever sold individually. It was true to form in plastic, with rubber tires, and mine exhibits the slightest evidence of wheel melt (an incompatibility between the plastic rim and rubber tire), but after 55 years it likely won’t degrade any further. This is quite a good model from a company not previously known for “collector scale” toys. These are exceptionally hard to find outside of Italy and now command high prices, as do all the Giulias I will be discussing here.

Colours I have seen are a creamy beige  (shown on hobbyDB), my red car, and a light blue one illustrated in an article by Andrew Ralston in Model Collector October 2011 (along with the box and the other five cars in serie 77). I’m not convinced that the racing decals on my red version are factory issue, as they seem overscale. I suspect they were added by a collector. But I’ll continue to search the internet for a while to see if another one pops up with decals before removing them. Despite most continental European model cars of 1963 having interiors, this model is lacking (as are the other five in serie 77). Except for axles, wheels and tires, it is a four-piece model – body, base (including rear bumper), windows, and a one-piece, silver painted bumper/front grill/headlight unit, which, in all likelihood, locks the base to the body. Body shut lines are indented, and the overall shape is very good, until you look at the tail of the model. The rear bumper is crudely overscale, and there has been no effort whatsoever to model the taillights. One would think that the brittle plastic used in construction would lead to warping or cracking over time (and it still might in strong sunlight), but my example is as true as the day it came out of the mould. INGAP also produced a 1:15 scale tin clockwork Giulia in its Eurotoys range, but this is beyond the scope of this article.

The difficult lines of the sedan are well captured, but windows may be too small
Lack of rear end detail detracts, as does crude bumper, likely needed as structural support to hold base in position
What a difference a year makes in details. Politoys plastic 1:41 Giulia from 1964, right, includes jewelled headlights, separate chromed grill and bumper and full interior

To be continued….

Another Dinky Garage

By John F. Quilter

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Terry Hardgrave wrote about some very early Dinky Toy garages in  November for MAR Online. Here is a later version that has been in my collection since the early 1960s. It’s a French Dinky model and is moulded in plastic. It has an operating feature, when the chimney is pressed down the door opens and the car rolls back into the garage on a tilted driveway. Mine is so old I must figure out how the rubber bands that controlled the door work and fit new ones as the originals have long since perished. It is French Dinky number 502. I even have the box but it is showing some considerable attic storage wear and tear but the $1.25 price tag is still showing! The car is a French Dinky Renault Dauphine number 24E.

Dinky Thunderbolts

By Terry Hardgrave and Karl Schnelle

All text is copyright of the Authors.  All photographs are copyright of Terry Hardgrave.

Those two silver record cars are the same vehicle, but Dinky Toys  finished them differently over time, one pre-war and one post-war.

The car was called the Thunderbolt speed car and was owned and driven by Capt. George Eyston.  In the late 1930’s it held the land speed record for awhile, at something like 350 mph, before John Cobb surpassed it.

The real car was quite interesting: very large and heavy, and quite complex.  The men that drove these at Bonneville had to be part crazy!

This Dinky is a bit crude, although a fair representation of the real thing. The pre-war version (shown with its box below) was never imported to the US, to my knowledge, so these are fairly rare over here today.

Dinky brought out their first version, number 23m,  around 1938, and it was the most accurate. It had black accents and also had a Union Jack flag painted on the tail fin.  The 23m was only made in this color combination.  This version was made pre-war; Mike and Sue Richardson (1981) report it was made 1938-41.

The Dinky Toys name was also changed from Thunderbolt to Streamlined Racing Car and the car re-numbered 23s in 1939.  They may have done this  because the record was already two years old or perhaps because it wasn’t the record holder anymore, so Dinky chose to make it “generic” in name.  It was painted either green or blue, with no Union Jack.

After WWII, Dinky decided to re-issue 23s, and at that time they also painted it in silver, with blue, red, or green trim, like the one shown in blue above.  When they changed their numbering scheme, it was renumbered again as 222 and lasted until 1957.

The early pre-war version also came in a nice box, with a nice description of the real car and its accomplishments.  Here is a closeup of the box end.

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Dinky Toys’ Limited Venture into Tinplate

By Terry Hardgrave

All text and photographs copyright of the author.

Dinky Toys were introduced around 1933-1934, by Meccano Ltd., at that time a very well-known English toymaker, based in Liverpool. At first, there were just a few models, of trucks, cars, and farm tractor. But public interest soon caught on, and by 1937, there were over 200 models in the range.

In 1935, Meccano decided to diversify the Dinky range a bit, with some simple structures that would add to play value, and hopefully sell more toys too. Since everything up until then was diecast, this meant using tinplate construction. Tinplate had already been around for many years, with other toy makers even making simple models out of it… it was much easier than having precision dies made.

Little is known about how Meccano produced tinplate items, but I am quite sure they bought the tinplate in sheets, stamped it out to their required dimensions, that lithographed the various scenes on it. After that, it was a simple task to assemble, using tabs that were
part of the design.

There were two tinplate items that were featured as Dinky Toys: the #45 Garage, and the #48 Filling and Service Station. Meccano also made two other small hut like structures that were much smaller, that won’t be discussed here.

According to references, the Filling Station and Garage appeared first, around mid-1935, followed a few months later by the Garage in
late 1935. Both of these were only made during this pre-war period, from 1935-1941.

The big limousine pictured with the garage is the Dinky Toys 30 series Daimler Saloon, an early post-war example with pre-war style, open baseplate, smooth wheels, and white tires – all pre-war carryovers..

In 1941, with World War II having started, and with England fighting off Hitler, all toy production ceased, and the plants were temporarily converted over to producing wartime goods. When the war ended, and production resumed in late 1945-1946, many Dinky Toys were
re-issued, some for several more years. Others, such as these two items, were never produced again, so they were only made for a few years, and finding examples today is not easy nor inexpensive.

The Garage was only made in one color scheme: cream, with green opening doors, and an orange roof. It does feature splendid lithographed details, with windows and plants adorning the sides and rear. As mentioned, the two doors do open, and have a type of latch to secure them. There is room enough to squeeze two cars inside.

The Filling and Service Station is more elaborate and larger in size. It was finished with yellow walls, green or blue base, and brown or yellow roof.

It features detailed scenes on both sides and the front… looking through the windows to see the goods stocked inside. The front even features a young man heading outside.

A natural accompaniment for the Filling and Service Station was a set of gas or petrol pumps, so the Dinky Toys #49 Petrol Pumps were created at the same time. They were not included with the station but could be purchased separately.

To complete the scene, here is a Dinky Toys pulling up to be serviced! I have included these in the photos, as they certainly add a lot to the scene.

Both of these would have been wonderful toys for young boys, who likely already had several Dinky Toys automobiles. To me, they also represent a long ago era, where the simple charm of these lithographed scenes remains today.

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