Category Archives: Dinky Toys

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.

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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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Dinky Toys Alfa Romeo 1900

By Terry Hardgrave

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

1959 was a momentous year for me, in my early days of collecting Dinky Toys. I was 14 and totally hooked on buying every new one I could afford, so I managed to acquire quite a few that year.

One of my favorites has always been the French produced 24j Alfa Romeo 1900 Super Sport. A superb diecast model, nicely painted in the proper red for this car.  Dinky renumbered their models later on so this one became 527, and at some point came also in blue before being cancelled in 1963.

One more photo with its box… amazingly, after almost 60 years, the original box is practically like new and still crisp.

The French factory shared the molds, so English Dinky also produced this Alfa as number 185 from 1961-63.   This version came in yellow with a red interior (or red with white interior).

photo credit: Karl Schnelle

Both factories made this great 1900 for just a short time, which is a bit strange because many Dinkys in the 1960’s were made for years and years!

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The ones that got away.

By Gunnar Bernstrup

All text by, and copyright of the Author. Photographs as acknowledged.

Opportunities missed. This thought came as I saw the beautiful Lansdowne model of the AC 16/80 in a friend’s collection.

Picture Credit: Brooklin Models


There are opportunities missed along the way for all of us. These thoughts concern mine about cars; real or models.

The AC 16/80 I missed in real life stood in a garage in southern Portugal. Not as bright red as the Lansdowne model, but very impressive, and well looked after by the owner of the garage. This was in the mid 1970’s. A year or two after ’The revolution of the roses’ when a lot of well off people fled the country and left houses and cars behind, afraid that the ‘reds’ would take over. The first free elections were to be held. Prices – on everything – were low.

”You can have it for 15 thousand”, said the owner. In Swedish currency. The pound was very low those days (We just had to pay 6-7 kronors for one pound in 1976-77. Today it’s double that price. So it’s difficult to make an exact evaluation of that offer. But perhaps one thousand two hundred pounds – £1,200.  Plus what time and inflation does of course. It was, however, a bargain.

Still, it was a lot of money for me. I tried to figure out how to get hold of the money and get it to Portugal (I was not easy to transfer big sums over the borders in a legal way ) and then drive the car all the way to southern Sweden. The project seemed too big for me. So I had to say no thank you.  And it didn’t take long before my economical situation had changed, when our radio show made a tremendous success. I had stopped myself and the opportunity was missed. And no, I didn’t buy the Landsdown model in time either!

By the way. There was an ‘Bond’ style Aston Martin in the garage too.  At ‘about’ twice the price for the AC!


Picture Credit:

Some forty-seven years ago (1971), I was ready to buy my first real car. It just had to be something different. I found a Mercedes-Benz 170 S – yes, a 1950 cab – on sale at around three-four thousand kronor, say three hundred UK pounds at the time. Since I then, as now, knew nothing about the technicalities of cars other than how to feed and drive them and about their history; I asked my good friend to join me when I looked at the wonderful object. He was a born engineer, so I could rely on him.

”It’s great fun, he said. But don’t buy it”. ”Useless brakes”,

So I didn’t. Since then, I cry every time I see such a car.

Photo Credit:

Instead, I bought a ‘Glas’. Nice, fast and rare, but worthless in quality. It only lasted 8 months.

In the early 1980’s, I missed several Dinky Toys Foden vans then sold for nothing – if you compare to today’s prices – because I thought the price was to high. This was in the early days of my collecting career when I had just discovered the hidden treasures in my mother’s attic. I, then, wasn’t even sure about the value of Dinky Supertoys since we never played with the big ones as kids. They were too expensive for our pocket money and even for our parents to buy as Christmas or birthday presents, I guess. Certainly too expensive for us to buy. Hence the lack of nostalgic feeling. A distant relative offered me a couple of well played Super Toys for free.

”I don’t collect them”, said I.

As the years go by, the offered collection has grown in quantity and quality. In my mind.

”How many Foden lorries, Guy vans … did I miss?” I ask myself .

I refuse to answer.

Picture Credit: Dinky

While thinking of it. We – four brothers – had lot’s of Dinky’s, Tekno, Märklin trains and such. Much was given away to younger relatives when we where teenagers and didn’t care. Nice gestures.

Picture Credit: MAR Online

The question is: How stupid can you get?!

Editor: I am sure that we all have memories of ones that got away. Things we saw but didn’t buy and have never seen again, or even nowadays ones that we lost eBay auctions for. Maybe other readers would like to share their own experiences! In my case I regret not breaking the Bank to buy several Pathfinder models which are now so expensive I will never be able to afford them.

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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!

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DeAgostini Dinky 518 Renault 4L

By Maz Woolley

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

DeAgostini Dinky Models seem to continue to be being sold by Tesco supermarkets here in the UK. This is very unusual as these cover mount publications usually become available by order only after part three. I would speculate that DeAgostini has a lot of the Italian Dinky collection left over and is trying very hard to sell them here in the UK. NB this is not overstocked Atlas product as the base plate does not have Atlas on it. This is part thirteen of the DeAgostini part work.

The Renault 4L from Atlas was covered on our old site and an article was brought over to this site and can be read here.  Atlas had the car painted in pale blue, a colour which never appeared on the UK market. Here DeAgostini has had it painted in brown in a colour that did appear briefly on the Dinky UK price list.

The Renault 4 was an important car for Renault to offer an option to  move to front wheel drive and the latest 5 door style. With a little more power than a Citroen 2CV or Ami, and a little more room, it is clear what the target was! At this time Renault and French Dinky cooperated on several models so that the model could be launched simultaneously with the car and this was the case with this model which was released in 1961 in several colours. Later it was used as the basis of a fire car and a post car.

The casting appears identical to the Atlas one and is a good replica of what was a fine casting.  French Dinky definitely set the standard for Dinky toys in the early sixties with quick releases of fine castings to a constant 1:43 in most cases. Sadly Dinky UK didn’t seem to see a need to produce in constant scale or to cover a wide range of new releases.

A nice period colour to add to the collection.

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Dinky Toys Triporteur

By Terry Hardgrave

Both the French and English Dinky Toys factories make a huge variety of models right before and after WWII.  Many of these were somewhat unusual. This is an example… this is neither a car nor a motorcycle, but a unique little vehicle called a Triporteur.

These were quite popular in France before the war, for use in the cities, for small delivery items. First made by the French Meccano factory in the late 1930’s, then made after the war until 1952.

The hinged lid is often missing, as it is held in place by a very thin metal pin.  This view below shows the hinged storage lid.

This Dinky was made in France from 1935-52 in a variety of colors and is numbered 14.

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Dinky Supertoys Guy Vans

By  Terry Hardgrave

All photographs copyright by the author.

In 1949, Meccano introduced the first Dinky Supertoys Guy van, in the famous “Slumberland” livery. This was a most attractive model, finished in bright red paint, and featuring exquisite decals, in gold with black border, showing the company name as well as the Royal Crest of King George VI. Many think this is the most attractive of the 6 Guy vans made over a period of several years. This was in production from 1949 through 1951.

The second issue in the series was the “Lyons Swiss Roll”, made for only one year, 1952, so now quite rare and hard to find. Finished in a beautiful violet/dark blue, with more wonderful multi-colored decals, it makes a handsome model.

In 1953, Meccano released the third version of the Dinky Supertoys Guy Van, in the iconic “Weetabix” livery. Very rare and expensive! Mint, boxed examples can run over US$3000. For many serious, diehard Dinky collectors, this is the Holy Grail. After searching for several years, I settled for this one in very good condition, not quite up to my usual collecting standards.

The fourth van was in the “Spratt’s” livery and was one of more common, best remembered of this famous series, made from 1954 through about 1956.

Around 1956, the Guy Van in “Ever Ready” livery made its first appearance and was the fifth model in this series. As Ever Ready batteries were sold everywhere, this model got wide recognition.

Of the six Dinky Supertoys Guy Vans that were produced, maybe the most striking was the Robertson “Golden Shred”, also the last in the series.  If you want to know the history of the ‘Golly’ doll on the side of the van, see wiki or here.

All the Guy Vans were very popular, beloved models, made for several years in the 1950’s.  Many think that they and the Foden’s represent the best commercial models made by Meccano in that Golden Era of 1946-1960.

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Old Dinky Toy Lorries

By Terry Hardgrave

In the pre-WWII days of diecasting, many Dinky Toys, especially trucks, were a blend of several makes that resulting in nice looking models. However, these were impossible to link to a particular manufacturer.

My first example of this is the 22c Motor Truck, first made around 1936, discontinued in 1941, then re-introduced in 1946 for a few more years.

Many ardent collectors have tried searching for a matching prototype, such as a Bedford, to no avail. Headlights, which were separate fixtures in those days, were especially difficult to model, so in some cases, Meccano simply left them off. This particular model is a very, very early 1946 issue, as it is still using the pre-war style white tires, the smooth, non-ridged black wheels, and the use of black fenders.

The next one is another very early post-war model from around 1945, of the 25s 6 Wheeled Covered Wagon. This model was first introduced around 1938, in a military version as the 151b Transport Wagon, and is a somewhat generic design, based on a couple of English trucks from that era. The reason I know it is from 1945:  the smooth, non-ridged black wheels, and the very lightly treaded tires… a pre-war item. They used up leftover stock for a very short time after production resumed in 1945.

About the earlier military version, one of the 1938 issues of the “Meccano Magazine”  stated that this model was “based on several vehicles made in the 6 wheel configuration for the government”.  Dinky collectors have found many different photos of similar military transport wagons of that era.  Two of the closest may be a Leyland Terrier (photo) or a Crossley (photo).

Even though these little models have no true identity, I still love the look and charm of a bygone era…..

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