Category Archives: Dinky Toys

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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The Volvo 265 Estate in 1/43

The 1976-81 Volvo 265 Estate
The Rapid Transit System for Families with Class

by Frank Koh

It was the top-of-the-line Volvo station wagon of its era, and the first-ever Volvo estate powered by a six-cylinder engine. As the flagship of the 240 series estate fleet, most 265 models were heavily-optioned to justify their upscale yet no less utilitarian character. Unfortunately, the 2.7 liter “Douvrin” V6 that Volvo shared with the Peugeot 604 and Renault 30 TS highline models was plagued with lubrication issues that often led to premature valve train failure. Coincidentally that same engine was used in the ill-fated DeLorean sports car. While the Volvo 240 series remained in production thru 1993, the rare and desirable 265 was phased out when the all-new Volvo 760 GLE Estate debuted in 1982.

Leather interior and “Corona” alloy wheels were two popular options that most Volvo 265 variants were equipped with. Only the contemporary limited edition Volvo 262C Bertone coupe was more expensive than the 265.

Atlas Editions

Even Volvo 265 model miniatures are rare.  This black 1/43 scale diecast is from the Europe-only Volvo Atlas Editions line and could be obtained only by subscription a few years ago.  Even today, it seldom turns up on the secondary market.  Aside from this Atlas Editions 265, the only other genuine Volvo 265 model miniatures are the vintage Norev 1/43 scale wagon erroneously labeled as a “264” sedan (the Norev wagon and sedan use the same baseplate) and the even older Dinky Volvo 265 DL Estate in 1/36 scale, one of my all-time favorites.

The raised leading edge of the”Coffin Nose” hood and exclusive grille of the 264 sedan and the 265 wagon (used also in some early-to-mid eighties North American-spec 240 four cylinder models) exuded elegance and power. The less expensive four cylinder Volvos from this range had a flat hood and less chrome on their grilles.

The Atlas Edition Volvo models came with a really cool black plinth that featured a separate plastic chrome Volvo emblem. Unfortunately, the Atlas Volvos did not come with their own clear acrylic cases.

Dinky Toys

This is the COMPLETE line of Dinky Toys Volvo 265 DL Estate variants, produced from around 1977 thru 1979 when the original Dinky Toys entity owned by Meccano Ltd. went out of business. All the Dinky models in this pic were made in England, except two, namely the orange civilian car in the center and the white police car on the extreme right, which were made in Italy because the Dinky Binns Road factory in the U.K. had closed down by then.


In the late seventies/early eighties Norev of France came out with a 1/43 scale Volvo 264 sedan, and soon after a Volvo 265 wagon variant was released. The latter was erroneously labeled also as a “264” because both sedan and wagon used the same “Volvo 264” baseplate. While most of these vintage Norev pieces were made in France, this particular example has a baseplate that says “Made in Portugal”. Strange indeed. This is the only Norev model I know of that was made in Portugal.

My Own Car

This Atlas Editions, Dinky Toys, and Norev are joined in this topic by another Volvo wagon,  my personal 1:1 scale Volvo 240 wagon, a 1992 U.S.-spec 5-speed manual car named Queenie.  My wife likes the car because its lack of performance keeps me out of trouble!

If you notice the #409 Wine Red Metallic Dinky in the photo above,  it is customized with the same paint as my car in the background.  We used the same paint to re-shoot Queenie last year.

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Dinky Small Auto Set

by Terry Hardgrave

The 1953 US Dinky Toys catalog pictures a small red racing car that many collectors might not have seen before.

In fact there are other cars in a little set. These were originally introduced in 1936 and called the Small Auto Set, and numbered 35a, 35b, 35c, and 35d. They were tiny, only a little over 1″ long, and made to OO scale. All of these were discontinued in 1941, due to the war, then re-introduced in 1946.

35a is called the Saloon Car and has the appearance of an early Triumph. It was made until 1952. 35b is the Midget Car Racer and is modeled after an MG Type R race car, and was the longest made, being deleted in 1957. 35c is the MG Sports Car and based on the MG Midget or Type P. This was deleted in 1952.  35d is the Austin 7 car, modeled on the Austin 7 Opal 2-seat touring car. One source says it was deleted in 1948, but it appears in the 1951 US Dinky Toys catalog.

The pre-war 35d models only came with a wire windscreen … postwar without. My example,shown below on the right, is the only pre-war model of this set that I have, and it also shows the pre-war style white tires and thinner axles.

The price lists from the early 1950’s catalogs show these as being priced at $0.35 each, and they always came in trade boxes of 6.
Here is another photo of this little, very antiquated set of tiny Dinky cars!

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De Agostini Dinky UK Series – 157 Jaguar XK120

By Maz Woolley

Photographs by, and copyright of, the Author. 

DeAgostini is still releasing it’s new Dinky Series to the news trade here in the UK though I suspect that it will shortly go on subscription and advance order only. So I bought part 5 of the series, a replica of Dinky 157 Jaguar XK120, to compare with the Atlas Dinky series. The Atlas collection also featured this model but in  a later form in two-tone yellow and white which can be seen here.

The boxes shown below show the two colours initially available at the launch red and green and the box has a green dot printed on it to replicate the factory markings appropriate for this model.

Looking on the box we can see that where Atlas once features DeAgostini is listed in both UK and Italy where this series is currently running. If only one could understand their Lot codes, does 2016 mean that this has been sitting in a warehouse since then for distribution here and in Italy?

The XK120 was made between 1948 and 1954 with the Fixed Head Coupe arriving in 1951. It was an outstanding success looking more beautiful than the products of many coachbuilders at a fraction of the cost and fitted with a superb straight six engine that would go on to power the E Type. It was widely bought to race both in the US and UK.

The DeAgostini have had their replica painted in the earlier plain colours which were available from the launch in 1954 to around 1956 when they were “jazzed up” with two tone colours.

The wheels are painted in a brown shade similar to the hubs on the Dinky Standard Vanguard which makes a slightly strange impression. However, this combination is entirely correct for an early model.

This Dinky captures the sensuous curves of the XK120 very well and must have been a very popular toy at the time because there are still many to be seen at toy fairs in a variety of conditions.

The next model to be issued by DeAgostini in this range is the Renault Dauphine in Minicab livery from 1962 with adverts printed on it which is an attractive model.

Editor’s correction: Reader Ian Hunt has pointed out that there is an insert in the magazine which says that instead of the next model shown on the back cover the next model will actually be a Fiat 600. 

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Dinky Toys and H. Hudson Dobson (1891-1975) – Part II

By Terry Hardgrave

Continued from Part I.


Henry and Helen Dobson lived out their remaining years in Elizabeth, New Jersey, with Helen passing away in September, 1967, followed by Henry Dobson in September 1975, and thus the end of a long era. Henry Hudson Dobson’s long association with Meccano stretched for nearly 47 years. I also noted that on one of the U.S. Census forms, it asked when he immigrated to the U.S. He answered in 1913…..the same year that Meccano set up an office in the U.S. So here is my overall assumption and summary of his career with Meccano Ltd.:

1913 He is hired by Meccano Ltd. on the pretense of agreeing to immigrate to the U.S. to open up and run an import office, which will be located in New York City. He apparently lives in New York until around 1921, when he relocates, with his family, to Elizabeth, New Jersey.

1917 Henry Dobson enlists in the Royal Flying Corps, in Toronto, Canada, on October 2, 1917

1918 Henry Dobson is discharged from the Royal Flying Corps, to accept a temporary commission in the Royal Air Force, on May 22, 1918. No other information, but WWI is over on November 11, 1918, so would assume he left the service around that time.

1922 Meccano Ltd. has decided to open up an manufacturing facility in the United States for the purpose of fabricating Meccano Construction sets, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Why New Jersey we do not know, as their office was in New York. By then, Henry is married and has started his family, and he has already moved to New Jersey and is involved in the operation there.

1928 Meccano Ltd. made a decision to sell or transfer the U.S. rights to the Meccano sets to the A.C. Gilbert Company, and abandons making the product in the U.S. Henry Dobson has a family to support, so shortly after finds employment as President of the Fleuron Pottery company, in North Tonawanda, New York. It is possible that he is still representing Meccano Ltd. in some lesser capacity.

1931 Henry Dobson applies for Naturalization, in New York, in 1931.

1933 Henry Dobson and his family leave North Tonawanda, New York, and return to Elizabeth, New Jersey, presumably to return working fulltime for Meccano Ltd., who are ready to introduce a new line of toys (Modelled Miniatures, and shortly later, Dinky Toys)

1935 Meccano Ltd. introduces Dinky Toys and they already have an office in New York City, called the Meccano Company of America, Inc. At least by 1933, H. Hudson Dobson has been back working for them, in the office in New York City, which is now importing the new toy lines. In 1937 he sails once again to England to meet with Meccano staff.

1938 or earlier. A decision has been made for Henry Dobson to form the H. Hudson Dobson Company, for the express purpose of being the sole U.S. distributor for Meccano Ltd. and Dinky Toys. It is not clear if Henry Dobson financed this venture himself, or if Meccano Ltd. owned a piece of it. Having a separate import agent will likely allow Meccano a wider distribution of Dinky Toys throughout the U.S. and also with someone who understand the retail marketing there. At some point in time, I am guessing after WWII, H. Hudson Dobson became a corporation.

1941-1945 During these war years, Meccano Ltd., and virtually all other toy manufacturers cease production, and instead, help with producing items vital for the war effort. There will be few toys to even sell. We have no idea what H. Hudson Dobson does during this time frame, or what his ongoing relationship with Meccano Ltd. consisted of.

1938 (or earlier)-1950 H. Hudson Dobson, Inc., is located in New York, New York.

1951-1952 H. Hudson Dobson, Inc., is located in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

1953-1960 H. Hudson Dobson, Inc. is located in Kenilworth, New Jersey.

1946-1959 The post war years were generally very good ones for Meccano Ltd. and H. Hudson Dobson, with sales particularly very good in the mid-1950’s. But by 1959, the market has changed considerably, with increased competition from many other toy manufacturers and Meccano is increasingly unable to adapt, and their market share and profit drops dramatically. Some toy stores in the U.S. are not selling Dinky Toys any longer and selling off their existing stock. Henry Hudson Dobson is now 68 years old, and his Dinky Toys importing business has fallen off the last two years. He sails to Liverpool one last time in January, to discuss winding down his affairs with Meccano Ltd. This will be the last year he is listed on the U.S. catalog, and my last piece of correspondence with H. Hudson Dobson is dated May, 1960.

So it appears that sometime in the latter part of 1960 his business relationship with Meccano Ltd. ends, and H. Hudson Dobson, Inc. ceases to exist.

Some Final Thoughts

The big surprise to me, at least, is that apparently he worked for or had an association with Meccano Ltd. for well over twenty years before Dinky Toys were even introduced. He also made fourteen trips by ship and one by airplane, to England, during his lifetime. I do not think many people in the Dinky Toys community had any knowledge of these facts.

Very telling is that Henry Dobson does not make any trips from New York to Liverpool between 1926 and 1937. This is a strong indication that after the Meccano operation closed in New Jersey, he had at best a minimal position with Meccano, and had to augment his income by working elsewhere from 1928 until 1933.

In addition to researching Henry Dobson, I also decided to take another look at the founder of Meccano Ltd., Frank Hornby. In doing so, I was astounded to discover that he also made many sailing trips to New York, starting in 1912 with the last being in 1930. There was another trip scheduled for 1935, but was cancelled, I am sure due to ill health, as he died shortly after. In all, Frank Hornby made sixteen trips to New York, mostly by himself, with his wife on a few, and son Roland on only one.

In preparing this, I was able to track down a descendent of Henry Dobson, a grand nephew, living in the U.S. He and others of his age knew of Henry Dobson and had visited at his home in New Jersey as a child, but knew nothing of the business, other than he had imported Dinky Toys. Sadly, only the one picture of him remains. Henry’s oldest son, Henry Hudson Dobson Jr., appears to have worked in some capacity in his father’s company, from 1951-1960, and later moved to Texas, where he died in 1999. The younger son, James Dobson, was listed in a New Jersey directory in the 1950’s as a salesman for H. Hudson Dobson, Inc. He died in 1975, and did not appear to be much of a factor in the business. Sadly, none of Henry Dobson’s three children are living to help uncover more of this story.

Most of this, the timeline portion, is based on known facts, but what exactly happened and why is based on assumptions that make sense to me. It would be great if others have facts or information to either add to or refute what I have found. Other catalog references or pre-war boxes that can add information to this are most welcome. The Dinky Toys or Meccano archives in Liverpool would be wonderful to research to see if there is any mention of H. Hudson Dobson and his role with Meccano. For a man who spent most of his life associated with the company, there is precious little left to share.

Sources and Acknowledgments U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Provo, UT., USA. Operations Inc., 2005 1920 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT., USA. Operations Inc., 2012 1930 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT., USA. Operations Inc., 2012 1940 United States Federal Census. Provo, UT., USA. Operations Inc., 2012 New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1960. Provo, UT., USA. Operations Inc., 2010 1911 England Census. Provo, UT., USA. Operations Inc., 2011 U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995. Provo, UT., USA. Operations Inc., 2011 U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Provo, UT., USA. Operations Inc., 2011 website titled “Meccano in the United States”

Dinky Toys catalogs and original H. Hudson Dobson correspondence from the personal collection of Terry Hardgrave U.K., Royal Air Force Airmen Records 1918-1940 New York Western-Naturalization Index

Several newspaper clippings discovered on the internet, by Skip Johnson and myself, related to Henry Hudson Dobson……thanks for any and all contributions.

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Dinky Toys and H. Hudson Dobson (1891-1975) – Part I

By Terry Hardgrave

Most American boys who collected Dinky Toys in the 1950’s had seen the name H. Hudson Dobson Inc., either on the front of catalogs, or printed on the side of Dinky Toys boxes. Many probably just assumed that was the name of a company, without any regard of who H. Hudson Dobson really was. There are two H. Hudson Dobson’s…..the company, last located in Kenilworth, New Jersey, and the man it was founded and named for……also H. Hudson Dobson.

Trying to find out much about either the company or the man is somewhat difficult, both due to the passage of time, but also just the fact that scant information survives. For someone who had a history with the parent company, Meccano Ltd., of Liverpool, England, for about 40 years, it is both odd and strange almost nothing of him is even mentioned in books written about Dinky Toys, leaving us to piece together the history from extant records and documents that survive.

From England to New Jersey

Henry Hudson Dobson was born on April 9, 1891, in Liverpool, England. His father passed away when he was a young boy, and by the 1911 British Census, he is listed as working as a “ledger clerk” for a photography supplier (likely Eastman Kodak, as was later learned). The very next record of him is arriving on a ship in 1913, in New York City, as a “commercial traveler”. This is followed by another arrival in New York City in Sept. 1914, also listed as a traveler, but with a destination of Chicago. Then, a big break, as in August 1916, he again arrives, but this time his occupation is listed as “Secretary”. I was then left to wonder what “Secretary” meant for a young man?

Then another clue came when in June of 1917, he registered for the U.S. military draft, due to World War I. This document asks for much more specific information on each individual, so now he lists his occupation as “Secretary/Treasurer”, and his employer as “Meccano Incorporated”. So now we know he has been working for Meccano Ltd. since at least 1916, and Secretary or Secretary/Treasurer is normally an officer position within a company…..interesting!

A brief interlude from his employment at Meccano Ltd., was his enlistment in the Royal Flying Corps, in Toronto, Canada, on October 2, 1917. He was then discharged on May 22, 1918, to accept a commission in the Royal Air Force. No other information was found on his service, and World War I ended on November 11, 1918, so would assume he left the service around that time.

In the 1920 U.S. Census, he is listed as living in New York City, single, and working as a “Sales Manager for Toys”. Shortly after this, he marries Helen Fowler, an American born woman, working as a secretary….did he marry someone from their office? Then, in short order, he starts a family, with son Henry Hudson Dobson Jr. born in 1921, followed by daughter Marian Barbara Dobson in 1923, and finally son James Dobson, born in 1935. All of the children were born in New Jersey, so he has moved from New York, to New Jersey by 1921.

Meccano and the Start of Dinky Toys

In the meantime, I have found out that the Meccano Company of America Inc. was formed in 1913, in New York, but not producing anything, just an office and warehouse that also imported Meccano Construction sets (Meccano Construction sets are very similar in design and purpose to the American Erector Sets). Then in 1922, Meccano set up a factory in Elizabeth, New Jersey, for the express purpose of manufacturing Meccano construction sets in America. So it now appears that H. Hudson Dobson was initially involved with the New York office, then likely was instrumental in setting up and managing the factory in New Jersey, and this also explains his move from New York to New Jersey. Around 1928, Frank Hornby (founder and owner of Meccano Ltd.) made a decision to sell or transfer the American production rights for Meccano to A.C. Gilbert (the American manufacturer of Erector Sets, and later, American Flyer trains), so that plant was not used by Meccano after that, but Gilbert did for some time, then moved his operation to Connecticut.

This likely explains why the 1930 U.S. Census shows H. Hudson Dobson as President of a pottery works named Fleuron Pottery, located in Tonawanda, New York. A newspaper article from North Tonawanda in 1933 states that his family is now moving back to New Jersey, where apparently he is once again either working for or representing Meccano Ltd. During this period from 1928 to 1933, there were no Dinky Toys yet, and Meccano construction sets were no longer being manufactured there, so apparently, he had to temporarily find employment elsewhere. In 1937, he again sails to England, now listed as Toy Manufacturer. Since Dinky Toys were introduced around 1934-1935, it would be natural for him to manage the imports to the U.S.

The first recorded instance of there being an H. Hudson Dobson Co., is in the 1938 Meccano catalog, where that name is shown on the front cover, but my assumption is he was back with Meccano Ltd around 1933, as new products were being rapidly developed, and they would need his services again. So I am also guessing that around that time, he ceased being just an employee of Meccano, and started his distribution company, H. Hudson Dobson, based in New York City. A newspaper article from May, 1939, states that, as a member of the Volunteer Speaker’s Committee of the New York World’s Fair, he will speak before the Rochester Ad Club, his topic “The World’s Fair—Its inner significance”. This article also states that he was educated at Stonyhurst College, in Blackburn, England, and had previous business experience with Eastman Kodak Company in London, and Meccano Ltd. in Liverpool, and had served in the Royal Air Corp in England.

From 1940 through 1959, he will make seven trips by ship and one by airplane, to visit Liverpool, England, presumably to visit Meccano Ltd. and discuss or plan business operations. On one of those trips, in 1956, he took his wife along, but normally he traveled alone, and was gone 4-6 weeks each time. His very last recorded trip to England was in January, 1959, and by then, Meccano was already beginning to experience sales problems with all of their products, including Dinky Toys, Hornby model trains, and the Meccano Construction sets, which ultimately led to their demise only a few years later. At this time, Henry Dobson was about 68 years old, and for those times, an old man indeed. We can only guess that this trip was likely about him winding down his business with Meccano and retiring, but there is no written record of what actually transpired as to closing his business.

There are surviving letters from his firm dated in mid to late 1960, so my guess is that H. Hudson Dobson, Inc., ceased to exist by the end of 1960. Further proof of this is the fact that the 1959 U.S. Dinky Toys catalog was the last one listing him as the distributor. Just a few years later, in 1963, the A.C. Gilbert Company is briefly listed as the new distributor. But we do not really know exactly when the business was closed, or the exact reason. Another newspaper clipping concerning his oldest son, H. Hudson Dobson, Jr., mentions that he “ran” his dad’s company from 1951-1960, which leads one to wonder why this son did not continue the company, even if his father was ready to retire. A possible reason was that H. Hudson Dobson, Inc., with declining Dinky Toys sales, really was not doing that well by the end of 1960, and closing it the only option. One another note, we also do not really know the exact relationship between Henry Dobson and Meccano Ltd. It is very possible that Meccano Ltd. owned part of H. Hudson Dobson, Inc., meaning decisions could have come from Liverpool, England and not just New Jersey.

Please continue reading the rest of the story  in Part II.

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