Tag Archives: Tekno

Catalog Corner: Tekno Part II

by Karl Schnelle

Part II of this series focuses on the more unusual Tekno catalogs:   from France, Japan, and Holland.  Maybe they are not so much unusual but just different from the normal catalogs shown in Part I.

As in Part I, most of these catalogs have no dates listed, so their dates are approximated based on the newest models shown.

France

I have seen three leaflets from France, all printed in blue or black ink. All three were produced by Solido, because they had a marketing and production agreement with Tekno.  In fact, the regular Solido catalogs (in French) from 1966-71 had 3-5 pages each of Tekno models.  The 1972 catalog did not, so perhaps their agreement ended in 1971.

Around 1962, this 1-page, black & white sheet came out from Solivac, the parent company of Solido.  Click image below for larger version.

Then, in 1964 or 65, this blue and black printed sheet came out.  The Solido and Tekno names were shown in equal proportions this time.

A year later or so (65 or 66), this blue and black tri-fold page came out in French with no mention of Solido. Notice that the traditional Tekno script has been changed, and they are now refereed to as marvelous Danish miniatures!

Japan

I assume the Japanese importer produced these catalogs.   From 1964-65, the next catalog is a completely different size and color than any other Tekno catalogs.  It is only 4 pages and measures 26cm x 18cm.

Next up is a smaller multi-fold brochure from 1971 that resembles some of the colors that Kirk used (black background, close up photos, etc).  Kirk produced Tekno cars under Tekno and then Kirk brands for a while.  The front of the 16 pages shows a Toronado with black hood (bonnet), while the back shows a nice shot of a disassembled Mercedes bus!  Both of these were made by Kirk, in fact,

Finally, the regular 1968-69 catalog has been seen with Japanese characters.   Were the other newer catalogs also translated into Japanese?  The cover is identical to the one in Part I.  [Photo credits: Tom Eitnier]

Holland

 After Tekno Denmark went out of business, Tekno Holland bought out the name and some of the models and started operations again in 1974.   Living in Copenhagen in 1981, I went to every toy store I could find to see if they had any Danish old stock left.  In one former toy store that was completely empty, there  was this sticker still on the window.  “Tekno Again” announced that Teknos were being sold again in Denmark after an hiatus of 2 years.  The dimensions of the sticker are  exactly the same as the previous three catalogs.

Just to finish the story, a  few years later, this multi-fold catalog was included in Tekno boxes from Holland.  The same Tekno Holland orange is used! The front and back are shown below.

This brings us to the end of my catalog story.  As a keen collector, I am still searching for more examples of Tekno Denmark catalogs. I am sure there are more out there somewhere!

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Catalog Corner: Tekno Part I

by Karl Schnelle

A year ago, we published Catalog Corner: Marklin RAK, so it is about time for another!  This time, Karl’s Katalog Korner will be about Tekno, mostly from Denmark.   Part II will mention Tekno Holland. Even though Tekno started pre-war in Copenhagen, my catalogs only go back to the late 1950s.  Let us know if you have any earlier ones!  I also have seen a few other catalogs pictured online so I know there are more out there than what are shown here.  See  tekno-vilmer.dk for example

The Royal Library in Denmark has 2 remarkable catalogs, from 1940 and 1958.  I have never seen them for sale.   The blue 1940 has construction kits, doll furniture, and wooden toys, but only the last few pages have vehicles: tinplate fire trucks and a tinplate ambulance plane. The tall, skinny red calalog from 1958 has many diecast cars and trucks but is from 18 years later!

The red one is also on this Danish site, along with a larger dealers catalog (undated) in a red binder, but only the cover is shown.

Tekno made a lot of engineering or construction sets (like Meccano) – their catalogs and instruction manuals are not included in this review.

1956

The first two catalog sheets are dated by the models shown on them, so 1956 is just an estimate.  (Click on all images for larger versions.) They are both large two-sided, single sheets that fold up to small rectangles (the middle section with the blue Thunderbird).    This one is in English.

1957

Because this one has the new Ford Taunus van, I dated it to 1957 when that van was introduced by Tekno.   It’s the same size as the previous one but easy to tell the difference by the color of the car in the middle; a green Thunderbird.  This one is in French, so I assume that these 2 sheets came in multiple languages each.

1958/59

These next two are other early catalogs that I have and are very similar to each other but much smaller than the previous two.  Really they are just 4-section foldouts with the back being a pricelist and the middle drawings of more cars with their reference numbers.  The one on the left has English/French/German text inside (no prices), but the one on the right is for the Swedish market (with prices in Swedish krona).   The three trucks on the right are also Swedish versions of more common Teknos. The catalogs are dated to around 1958 or 59 by the newest cars pictured inside.

1961

The next three catalogs are the same size as the previous (10 cm x 15.5 cm) but are now in booklet form.  They are again dated by when the newest cars illustrated were released. They are easy to put in order because they have numbers circled on the top right of the cover.  From what I have gathered, these are not catalog numbers (if so, where are 1 to 24?) but are the price in Danish øre (100 øre per kroner).

This catalog has a collector’s name stamped on it, I think, as opposed to the more common dealer or store stamp (see the 2nd catalog above).   The Scania-Vabis fire truck is a beautiful example of their work in the 1960s.  I also love the different versions of the Mercedes-Benz ambulance:  black Falck ambulance and black/red fire department ambulance.  The yellow metal flag is sitting in a hole on the roof and is usually missing now-a-days, if you can find one at all.

1963

The following year (more or less) saw the same format but with different cars and trucks on the cover.  Plus, price increased to 30 øre.  The Scania-Vabis excavator is pictured in the common colors it came in, but the two Mercedes-Benz 300 SLs are much brighter and more colorful than any Tekno I have seen.

The bar at the bottom of the cover changes to yellow background, where symbols for features are described in six languages: suspension, steering, and interior seats!  [Ed. Note:  Date was corrected to 1963 per Peter Frandsen.]

1966

The third in this little series again has a Scania-Vabis truck plus a car on the cover.  The front and back cover are shown above. Price goes up to 35 øre, and seven languages are now on the yellow bar!

The back of my copy (with six airplanes) is stamped Schuco Toy Company Inc, New York, – an interesting connection!

1968-69

Tekno modernized in 1968 by going to color photography and adding a date to their catalogs.  Two Ford D-800 dump trucks are featured as well as two very serious-looking Danish kids.    A newer Mustang and Monza are shown (opening features not shown!).  The older Scania-Vabis Esso tanker is shown in the background as well as half an old beetle on the left.  The size increases to 20 cm x 15 cm, as well, for this one, as well as the next two.

1970-71

These three larger catalogs all have two years printed on their covers – perhaps they were made for the Christmas season which was always huge for Tekno.  In any case, 70-71 was very hard to find years ago but now seems to be just as common as the other two on current auction sites.  On the cover is another kid who is playing with the Scania CR-76 bus.  Lots of play value was included with this bus:  opening doors, steering, and driver!   Even as a kid, I always liked the skylights so you could peek in and see the seats and full interior!  I never had this catalog as a kid, but I did have the bus!

1971-72

I did find a few of these catalogs as a kid, in two toy stores on the Walking Street in Copenhagen in 1972.   The Ford D-800 appears again but with cargo bed this time.  The rear sides fold down, as well as the rear tailgate.  The rear bed is all plastic but adds lots of play value.  Doors open and cab tips up, but this is not shown in the cover photo.

These are all the common catalogs I have seen.  In Part II (coming soon), we will explore the Japanese, French, and Dutch connections.


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Find them on

Tekno Wossat

By Robin Godwin

 

Looking back through old print copies of MAR, I came across North American Editor Karl Schnelle’s article on Tekno models in MAR #205 (Where Did All The Tekno Go?). It was an excellent summary of a great marque, and even included Tekno derivatives, such as Joal in Spain (and later of Macau, when Joal moved manufacture to Asia). In a post-script, MAR Editor Rod Ward mentioned that there had been earlier discussion as to whether the Joals were cast from the original Tekno moulds, or were copies, but it was never fully confirmed or denied.

I hauled out my (Macau made, but no different than the Spanish made except for “Made in Macau” on the base) Joal E-Type and compared it to my Tekno original. Without using a micrometer, I found 23 casting differences, all fairly obvious. The biggest appears to be the steering, which was retained, but changed enough that it became almost useless. The Tekno MacPherson strut type assembly (actually wrongly modelled, as E-Type suspension featured upper and lower “A-arms”) tilts back about 20 degrees, so that the top of the strut is “behind” the bottom. This allows a rotation of the king pin around that canted axis when pressure is applied, allowing the steering function, giving that quirky Tekno “left pressure for right steering”. Joal made the struts vertical, so pressure on one side or the other does not provide the rotation essential for the king pin. You can make the steering work by physically turning the wheels with your hand, but not by manoeuvring the car while rolling it on the floor, so play value is much reduced. I won’t bore readers with a list of all 23 differences on the E-Type (unless Karl wants to see them), but this fact puts me in the “copy camp” instead of the original mould camp. I don’t know for sure, but perhaps the Tekno steering carried a patent, necessitating a change big enough to avoid infringement (assuming a copy). I don’t have sufficient other Tekno/Joal models to compare.

This leads me to fairly recent eBay purchase, which is a completely unmarked diecast copy of the Tekno E-Type that I had never seen before. Examine the pictures (shown below with commentary) closely and it is obviously copied from the Tekno, and the big differences are very evident – no opening features or steering, and the base is cut from tinplate, without markings. It would appear to be an industrial product – the casting is good, but not Tekno good, and the tinplate base is obviously die cut – nothing hand build about this model.

There are two threaded screw holes inboard of the two base rivets, so the model likely came on a plinth of sorts. A third, larger hole seems to serve no purpose, unless there was originally some intent to mechanise the model with a wind up motor and this would be the keyhole. I don’t really think this this would have been possible in the small vertical cavity offered by the body casting. Again, I think this is a copy and not from an original Tekno mould (even allowing for closing of all the opening features on the Tekno). A couple of obvious differences include fewer bonnet vents (13 vs 14 on the Tekno), and a larger Jaguar font cast into the boot. Perhaps this last point is a partial clue to when this model was made, since it at least includes the Jaguar logo, whereas the Joal does not. Karl mentioned that he had heard rumours that someone in Eastern Europe had bought the old moulds and were going to reissue Teknos – could this be one of those?

2314-joal-and-tekno

Joal Macau left, and Tekno original right. Note “mirror imaging” of base cast details

2293-joal-detail

Joal detail

2302-tekno-sterring-mechanism

Tekno steering mechanism. Note backwards of the strut – this enables the steering function

2299-the-mystery-model
The mystery model – Tekno copy

 

2300-overhead-view-of-tekno-top-and-copy-bottom

Overhead view with Tekno on top and copy on bottom. Differences noted in text are clearly visible

2296-joal-base-top-tekno-copy-bottom
Joal base, top. Tekno copy bottom. The copy base is clearly die cut

 


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Nacoral vs. Tekno – a Volvo FB89 comparison

by Karl Schnelle

In my last post, I talked about the first Tekno car; now I would like to discuss the last Tekno truck!  Volvo came out with their 3-axle FB 88 heavy truck in 1965 and Tekno’s version appeared in their 1968-69 catalog as new and with a photo of the real double-truck (3-axle truck + 2-axle trailer).   Their 1970-71 and 1971-72 catalogs  showed the actual toy in 2 versions: ASG transport-spedition and transport-spedition.

However, in 1972 a larger 12 liter turbodiesel engine was introduced by Volvo, easily distinguished by its wider black radiator – this was called the FB 89.   The same year in August, Tekno Denmark was declared bankrupt and sadly out of business, so the FB 89 never made it into a catalog.    This version must have been made for only a few months so could be the very last Tekno truck from Denmark!

I have had a #425 Tekno FB 89 for many years and have heard rumors that Nacoral of Spain copied Tekno’s.  So I recently acquired a copy to do the face-to-face comparison.  Volvo ended the series in 1977 so I assume the two companies made their 1:50 versions around the same time frame.  The orange Nacoral is on the left (below) and the blue Tekno on the right.

Volvo FB89 f

The front of the cabs show that the Nacoral has slightly smaller windows and an air intake behind the cab.  This version of the Tekno has a signboard (other versions did not).  The front bumper design is very different as well.  Both cabs tip to reveal the big engine.

The doors of the Nacoral have window frames – more delicate and nicer than the Tekno, I think.  the canopy is plastic (Tekno’s is tinplate).

Nacoral Volvo FB89

The Tekno has the nice paint job and decals of a real Swedish transport company, ASG.  This same version as well as plain ones was released by Tekno Holland and shown in their 77/78 catalog.  So The Dutch did acquire the Danish molds for this truck and trailer.

Tekno Volvo FB89

Like the front, the rear ends are different.  The rear lights on the Nacoral are plastic lenses, not decals.  The design details of the entire rear are different as well. Both have a tow hook for the trailer that both also made to go with the truck.

Volvo FB89 b

Finally the undersides reveal several similarities and differences.  The truck frames are similar but not identical with plastic parts hanging off on different sides.  The Tekno has sophisticated steering while the Nacoral is much simplified with a plain front axle.   The printing on the cab is in the same location and the rear suspension is the same design.

Tekno Nacoral Volvos

Everything so far could be accounted for by two companies making a good quality 1:50 scale toy of the same truck – similarities in the toy design are bound to happen when the prototype is the same thing.  However, if you look at the mechanism that hold the rear axle up (not needed when the truck has no load), that extra play feature looks identical.   The Tekno has the sliding bar engaged; the Nacoral has the axle free and the bar slid to the right.

In conclusion, I think that Nacoral took the Tekno design as inspiration and improved it (window frames, more detailed front and rear bumpers, etc) but liked the sliding axle mechanism and kept that design exactly as-is.  Tekno had it on their FB 88 since 1968, while Nacoral probably introduced theirs around 1973 (source: http://nacoral.jimdo.com/inter-cars/).  That’s just my opinion; what do you think?


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The Very First Tekno Cars?

by Karl Schnelle

Miraco Gyro

Andreas Siegumfeldt, a former plumber, started making various tinplate toys in his basement on the outskirts of Copenhagen, DK, in 1928.  He switched to metal construction sets similar to Meccano from England or to Marklin from Germany in 1932 and called them Tekno! Finally, in 1937, he expanded his business and started to make tinplate fire engines, based on a Bedford with many sporting the famous  Danish Falck logo.  They lasted until after the war, until 1955.  During WWII, tinplate was hard to come by so they switched to wooden toys.   The first Tekno cars then were made sometime between ’37 and ’55, but probably not during the war.

The dark green metallic one pictured here is the MIRACO car, as identified on the front of the car is raised lettering.   On the opposite side is a hole for the key to windup the mechanism.  Underneath are five wheels: four metal ones on the outside and a very small rubber-tires on in the middle.  the small middle one is perpendicular to the other four and sits right in front of the rear wheel sin the middle.  As the car goes over the edge of the table, the front falls off and this little central wheel catches and drives the car to one side; hence, a miracle happens and the car does not fall off the table!

Miraco

I do not have a key to dare try it, but the mechanism seems to be still working . I have read that Siegumfeldt collaborated with Schuco of Germany to use this design for this car.  I am not sure if that is true nor not.  See this link for Schuco’s Mirakocar 1001 (Mirako with a k!) – I can not see any real differences except for the printing on the baseplate and Schuco in place of MIRACO on the front!  The Schuco does say Made in US Zone – Germany on the baseplate which was 1945 to up to perhaps 1955, so maybe these Teknos are post-war only.


The lighter green car pictured is the identical body but has GYRO printed on the front grill.  As with the MIRACO, the only ID on the baseplate is Tekno Denmark.  The tires are white rubber and there is not a fifth wheel underneath.  Not a windup either (no hole), so it must be a pull-back mechanism.  Mine is frozen up (two rear wheels), but I dare not open up the tinplate tabs underneath to investigate.

Gyro n

Perhaps Siegumfeldt  tried to improve on the key windup mechanism and brought out a second type?  He was known to have not liked the idea because the mechanisms were not sturdy enough (Teknosamleren, 2013).  Perhaps this issue drove him to start doing diecast cars, a great win-win for us collectors!!!

These two cars came in a few other colors and I am assuming these are the first Tekno cars.  Documentation on their origins is hard to come by.  A French collector/dealer did find another version of the MIRACO, made by Mecline in Norway.  Mecline assembled several Tekno cars and vans to avoid paying high import duties into Norway on foreign toys in the 1950s.


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The Brown Box Mystery!

Highway Travel, Lakeside Press, USA, 1965

 

booklet1

[photo source: Marcel Colijn]

Background

Over the last 8 years, I have been finding these common 1:43 cars in plain brown boxes in different places around the USA.  They are all from various manufacturers.  All I know about this series is what is printed on the enclosed pamphlets; the Lakeside Press was planning to publish a new series of Highway maps of the US, so perhaps they used these European model cars as a form of advertisement or incentive? Copyright 1965.  The back of the brochures all had similar text, as seen in the photo below.

booklet2

[photo source: Marcel Colijn]

All models came in the identical brown box with soft foam packing. Did they have permission to use these models? What other castings were in the series? Lakeside was part of R R Donnelley & Sons of Chicago, famous for printing the Sears catalog, the Yellow Pages, etc.

brown box Tekno Jag 2 Highway

I have found seven so far in the series, all by mainstream European 1/43 diecast makers, all for sale in or just before 1965.  Did Donnelley buy these from a US distributors and re-package, or directly from the manufacturers?   How many were distributed and why?

I found three of them online back in 2008 and have been looking for more ever since.  In 2011, I found the DUGU Fiat broken in half but reparable. Also, this one did not come with a brochure for itself, but for numbers 6 and 7!   Next, I went digging around the internet and found a  google book,  Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1965: July-December,  that lists a 32-page booklet and 8 items under “the changing world of highway travel”, all with a copyright date of July 1965.  I would love to find a copy of that booklet.

brown box Solido l'age d'or MOY Highway

So now the evidence points to eight cars being planned, one for each decade.

Most Recent Finds

Finally in 2015, a fellow collector in the Chicago-land area pointed me to three of the series being for sale.  I quickly contacted the seller and had three more in hand – two new ones and one duplicate.  However, these had no brochures with them or any label on the brown box.   There was a story behind them though!   The seller got them as a boy in 1970 from his uncle. The uncle worked for R R Donnelley as a truck driver to delivery air cargo from the printing presses to O’Hare airport at night. Like most of their employees back then, he received many employee gifts – Christmas hams, thee three toy cars, etc. The nephew never played with them and does not know anything more about them.  So did these brown box models go to employees only, or also to customers, or were they for sale to the public next to their booklets and maps?  Many questions remain unanswered…

The following table lists all the known models and when they were introduced in their original packaging by their manufacturers.

# Decade Model Model Introduced
1 pre-1900 RAMI #19 1898 Hautier electric taxi 1964
2 1900 RAMI #16 1907 Ford Model T 1963
2? 1900 DUGU #4 1907 Fiat GP (w 6,7 brochure) 1964
3 1910 Models of Yesteryear #11 1912 Packard Landaulet 1964
4 1920 SOLIDO #132 1928 Mercedes SS, top up 1964
5 1930 RIO #13 1932 Fiat Balilla, blue 1965
6 1940 pictures a WW-II Jeep
7 1950 pictures a ’61 Thunderbird but refers to being introduced in ’54
8? 1960 TEKNO #926 1961 Jaguar E type, open top, gray 1964

All the models listed in the table above are described below.

 

The Models

  1. The RAMI Hautier is the first in the series and was one of the first brown box models I found. It’s not too easy to find the normal issue but does not seem to be very collectible as they aren’t too pricey.  The photo below shows the corner of the box with a small sticker: The Lakeside Press symbol (a native American with a brown/cream graphic behind it). The green brochure cover shows the Hautier and a ‘mystery’ Jaguar E Type.

Highway Travel 1898 Hautier brown

RAMI were made in France from 1956 to 72.  They were documented in Model Auto Review 5,6 and 7 many years ago.  This example has opening front doors and was a very early electric taxi!

2. The second model is also by RAMI, a FORD Model T.   The white wheels, this time, really contrast with the black body.  This Model T has strange cut-outs instead of front doors.

Highway Travel Model T brown

The corner of the box is shown again with an inside page of the brochure.  All the brochures showed a drawing of the model with some words about that decade related to the actual car.  No mention of the model itself though.

An alternate #2 is the broken DUGU Fiat that I found in the brown box but without a brochure.   Perhaps this was planned as the second one but never realized? I assume that it could have been considered for #2 because it is 1907 Fiat and thus fits that decade. DUGU were made in Italy from 1962-73 (Rampini, 1992).

DUGU F-2 Highway Traveler brown

3.  The Matchbox Models of Yesteryear comes next, no more RAMIs.  The Packard is one of the first issues, with metal steering wheel and 4-point spare wheel holder.  An inside page of the brochure is pictured at the top.

yest1

[photo source: Marcel Colijn]

Mine came in a plain brown box with no small sticker or brochure.

4.  From Solido of France comes the 1920’s models, the Mercedes SS.  Like the Yesteryear, this is a very early version with metal bumpers and a license plate sticker.

Highway Travel Mercedes SS brownHighway Travel Mercedes SS 2 brown

Solido produced these starting in 1964 in their l’Age d’Or series. It is also pictured above in the text with the Packard.

5. Again, another manufacturer produced the next model, Rio of Italy.  The Fiat Balilla is in a  nice shade of blue and represents the 1930’s.

Highway Travel Fiat Balilla brown

6.  Both 6 and 7 are still mysteries but luckily I have their brochures. Perhaps they were never produced and only planned?  I have no idea, but this sixth one seems to be  a WW-II era Jeep.  In or just before 1965, who made a diecast 1/43 Jeep?

I asked the ‘vintage automobile models’ and ‘The Vintage Diecast Cars Club’ groups on Facebook and they suggested many good examples: Sam-Toys and Politoys in plastic, Champion (France), Lone Star, and Dinky of course.  My best guess might be the French Dinky #816 1956 Army Jeep (Hotchkiss-Willys M201) which came out in 1962.  Or the slightly older Danish Tekno #814 1952 Army Jeep (Willys M38A1) came out in 1958 (Clausager, 1990).  Both of these are post-war Jeeps which does not fit the decade.  Perhaps a brown box version was not ever released?

7.  The other mystery is the 1950s decade with a brochure picturing a 1961 Ford Thunderbird but refers to being introduced in ’54.  Solido made the #128 1961 FORD Thunderbird which came out in 1963,  That’s the closest I can come to estimating what might have been!

8.  This one came in a plain brown box with no brochure, so I wonder if it was ever released?   It’s a typical Tekno Jaguar E Type in grey. It fits the 1960s decade so must be #8!  The brochures I have show it on the cover with the Hautier, so perhaps these are the first and last planned models in the series.

brown box Tekno Jag

The Jag was packed like all the other models, in foam cut to fit the models.

brown box Tekno Jag Highway

This brings us to the end of the brown boxes.  When and if I learn more, I will let you know.  And please contact us on Facebook if you have any of the answers!


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The Story of Berico and Tekno in the 1950’s and 60’s

By Peter Frandsen

Translated by Karl Schnelle, May 2014

This article has been translated from the original article narrated by Peter Frandsen which appears at teknosamleren.dk and which was written in January 2013.  It was translated by Karl Schnelle for Model Auto Review (with a little help from Google Translator).

Berico Background: a Meeting is Arranged

Berico was a Swedish toy wholesaler and the Swedish importer of, among other items, Danish Tekno toy cars and trucks. Berico was a significant factor in the success of Tekno; Sweden was an important market, as evidenced by the many Swedish-based Tekno models.

I got in touch with the owner of Berico when I bought some sales material on Tradera, the Swedish version of eBay. The seller, Anders Christensson, explained to me that the material came from Berico, where he had worked as a salesperson, as did his father, Kjell Christensson.  Kjell worked at Berico from 1956 to 1977; Anders worked for them from 1983 to 1994.

From Anders, I found out that the owner of Berico, Ivan Andersson, was still living and lived in Malmö. We managed via Ivan’s son, Ulf Andersson, who had also been employed at the company to arrange a meeting with all four of them.

We would meet on 15 November 2009 at Ivan Andersson’s home. His son Ulf had explained to me that his father was very weak, and I could at most expect him to be able to withstand a half hour of conversation. I stayed for 3 ½ hours, and he was still in high spirits. The subject of Tekno can be motivational for many people!  Ulf told me later that he had not seen his father in such a good mood for many years.

I met with Anders and Kjell in Malmö and we drove together to Ivan’s address. It was in an apartment complex in a residential area in Malmö with many tall buildings. In Denmark, we would call it public housing, a bit like Brøndby Strand or Bellahoj.


 

Boligbyggeri

Ivan Andersson’s Apartment


Ivan lived in an 11-floor building, and as I came into the entrance hallway I was amazed. There was a small area within the hall with some upholstered furniture. The elevator was neat and tidy with wallpaper on the walls and carpet on the floor.  I had been in stairwells and elevators in Denmark in similar buildings where there was concrete everywhere, old bicycles, and graffiti.  Denmark and Sweden are so close, yet so far away.

We did not have to meet in his apartment, instead we met in the communal area on the 12th floor, where there was glass everywhere, nice furniture and stunning views of Malmö – unthinkable in Denmark that the best space would be used for communal activities.

Then all five of us had a fantastic afternoon, where it was very difficult to keep Ivan and Kjell on track. They were constantly in deep conversation. Kjell had worked as a salesman at Berico starting in the 1950s and they had not seen each other since the company closed.   I brought a picture book about Tekno, Teknobog, and the Tekno Traffic game (small suitcase with Tekno cars to help school children learn the rules of the road).  Both were enthusiastically discussed.


 

Boligbyggeri

Ivan Andersson in green jacket and Kjell Christensson in blue.

Boligbyggeri

Anders Christensson in the blue jacket and Ulf Andersson writing.


Here is the story I pieced together during the interview and by studying the material they had in the apartment.

The Founding of Berico

Ivan Andersson founded the company AB Arsani in 1953 with a Dane named Poul Jensen. The company was based in a street called Gråbrödersgatan in Malmö. Later AB Berico was founded because it was appropriate to have one company for production and another for sales. They were involved with toys right from the start. Jensen was a toolmaker, who did most of the manufacturing of plastic toys in the basement of the building. Ivan, who was better with words, took care of sales and dealing with customers. In the beginning most of the toys were produced by Arsani themselves, but some were imported, such as a crash helmet from Moto Salto, which caused the company to lose 2,822 SEK (Swedish Kronor) in 1953. It was not a successful start. They also had a company called Arbe, but how the structure of the companies fitted together is not known.


Ivan AnderssonIvan Andersson at Arsani, 1955.

Poul JensenPoul Jensen, at Arsani, 1955.


Shortly after being established, the company moved to Vattenverksvägen 1, Malmo.

In 1954 Berico started selling cycling accessories, which was not a great success but at least it made a profit of 73 SEK.

In 1956, Kjell Christensson was employed as a salesman, where he remained until the company closed in 1993.

Until 1957, there was not much growth in the company. The firm dealt with various toys, diving goggles, bicycle equipment, etc, but at the beginning of 1957 Andersson contacted Kai Reisler and begin to sell their products: plastic toy cowboys and indians, and soldiers.  Reisler was a Danish manufacturer of plastic figures.  The business went well because Reisler figures were in demand in Sweden. In fact it was Reisler who introduced Tekno to Berico. Poul Fjeldgaard, the Tekno Sales Manager, contacted Berico because Tekno was looking for a new wholesaler in Sweden.


Display

Andersson at a trade show with a variety of products. Note the Reisler figures.


Agreement with Tekno and Growth

Tekno had been previously represented in Sweden by Erland Falk, Malmo, who in 1950 had founded the company Svenska Tech AB. In 1952, they changed their name to Leksaksfabrikken, Tekno Aktiebolag. This company, as their name suggests, sold Tekno products in Sweden until 1957, when Tekno and Erland Falk parted ways after legal issues concerning taxes.  Berico was very interested in cooperating with Tekno, which was a major player in the toy market, and thus they took over their Swedish business from Falk. This deal did not include the wooden toys that Tekno produced in collaboration with Brio in Osby, Sweden.

Neither the two salesmen nor Ivan Andersson remember anything about any wooden toys at all, but Kjell believes that he had a wooden Klods Hans from the Hans Christian Andersen story and two other wooden items as prototype models, but he never sold any. The same was true for the Tekno metal construction sets; Berico had them in their range but they did not sell well. The dealers preferred Meccano sets.

While Berico got Tekno and Reisler, they also got Damtrolden (Danish plastic trolls), produced by Dansk Vakuum, and Hansa who made Danish wooden toys.

Ivan Andersson describes the relationship with the Tekno Sales Manager, Poul Fjeldgaard, as fantastic. They had an incredibly good collaboration from the outset, until Fjeldgaard left Tekno in 1966.

The agreement between Tekno, Reisler, and Berico/Arsani was signed on 7 August 1957 by Ivan Andersson, Poul Jensen, Kai Reisler, and Andreas Siegumfeldt (Tekno’s owner). The agreement, which is only three pages long, contains all the usual legal terminology, but there is an interesting covenant in it between Tekno and Reisler. None of one firm’s products may disadvantage the other.  In the case of Reisler, a clause specifies that Arsani is allowed to produce Reisler figures, but Arsani cannot ‘overcharge’ in relation to Berico.

I had to read it a couple of times because Arsani and Berico have the same owner, but it is about Reisler dealing with Berico and not with Arsani, which could cause problems if Andersson and Jensen chose to overcharge for the Reisler products they made under licence, causing Berico’s earnings to fall.  This would affect Reisler’s profits negatively. Thus Kai Reisler did a good job drawing up this contract.

The contract also contains a reference to details of Berico’s business practices, which seems a little unusual, but Andersson was probably forced to accept this deal by Tekno and/or Reisler.  Tekno would provide support for sales and advertising. It is so loosely worded that exactly what Tekno supply or what Berico had to pay was not stated. The reality was that Tekno, and especially Poul Fjeldgaard, took this very seriously. In fact, it is probably why they could settle for only a three page contract. They trusted each other, and a gentleman’s agreement was sufficient.

Andersson explained to me that all promotional material (catalogues, etc) was developed by Tekno with Swedish text. All materials were also printed in Denmark. Berico and Tekno agreed on a 50/50 split most of the time. Berico was very pleased with this part of the deal with Tekno. Berico were also allowed to put their own logo on products and in advertising in Svensk Leksaksrevy, the Swedish toy dealers’ association magazine.

It was also Poul Fjeldgaard who contacted Swedish companies to arrange for Tekno to model their products and place their names on the toys as well, as they had done with other manufacturers. One of the biggest was Åkerman who paid a large part of the cost of their excavator model, approximately 40,000 SEK.  Åkerman was also willing to pay for the tools for the production of their new hydraulic model in 1969 and in addition 1 SEK per model sold! A great deal that did not materialise.

The contract excluded Volvo models. Tekno could freely deal with the Volvo factories directly. Andersson also discovered that Tekno cars were supplied directly to some firms in Sweden, such as Scania and Saab, and Tekno Jeeps to Svensk Redningstjenst (Swedish Rescue Service).  Berico was never involved. Tekno was such a big supplier that Andersson chose to turn a blind eye.

In the period from 1 August to 31 December 1957 Berico had a revenue of 124,103 SEK, which assured the company’s success.  In 1958 came a big increase in the sale of Tekno cars, when revenue increased to 483,001 SEK.

With the collaboration of Tekno, it was much easier for Andersson to negotiate deals with other toy manufacturers. In 1960 they added Lindberg plastic kits, and plastic figures from Timpo Toys. In 1963 came BILOfix toys from Denmark and total revenue increased to 2 million SEK.  Reisler gave permission to Berico to negotiate with Timpo Toys, as their products could have been regarded as competing with Reisler, which was forbidden under the contract between Tekno and Reisler. Andersson at one point contacted Dinky Toys, but took negotiations no further for the same reason.

It was now possible for Berico to strengthen their equity by putting money aside and settling debts accrued in the lean years of 1953 to 1957. Besides the toys manufactured by Arsani themselves, they managed to patent a lemon squeezer, which was then sold to the United States. They also sold mudguards, which were popular products at the time.

From the beginning of the contract Arsani produced a scale model Taarup forage harvester for Tekno. It was made like a plastic model kit and glued together at the factory. The harvester was nicely made but easily broken, so Tekno dropped it, and Arsani continued production of it without the Tekno logo.

In 1964 the company moved into its own premises on Scheelegatan, Malmö. In 1965, Berico also became distributors for Sani-Toys (figures), Bestbox (1:87 model cars, because Tekno did not make that scale), and Solido, which was imported by Tekno. Revenue in 1965 was 2 million SEK. In 1966, the shares were split up so that Andersson got Berico and Jensen got Arsani.

Strained Relationship with Tekno

In 1966, Poul Fjeldgaard left Tekno. He had been a good partner to Berico; communication and service from Copenhagen became much more difficult after he left. Fjeldgaard had been very responsive in supplying the cars Berico needed quickly. That ceased in 1966. Andersson remembers that before Christmas the next year he drove to Tekno in Denmark in his own car and demanded the goods he had ordered. After a long discussion, he obtained the goods, which could then be distributed to the stores. Andersson said that he never met or even talked directly to Andreas Siegumfeldt, Tekno’s owner, which seems curious.


Ivan Andersson and Esther Siegumfeldt3 September 1967 – two months after A. Siegumfeldt died.


Andersson does not remember the event at which the photo above was taken. Standing on the right is Andersson and seated on the right is Esther Siegumfeldt, Andreas Siegumfeldt’s daughter. I do not know the gentleman on the left, but guess that he is the Tekno sales manager. I have seen him on other photos from Tekno.

In 1967 Heljan kits were added to the range, and in 1968 the Televinken doll, which would be produced by Arsani using the original moulds. The doll would become a huge success.

The Traffic Game

After Fjeldgaard left Tekno he had an idea for a traffic game, suggested because Sweden was switching to driving on the right side of the road in 1967.

Fjeldgaard had previously had disagreements with Andreas Siegumfeldt and his daughter Esther, so he knew that he could not buy model cars direct from Tekno. But he could buy them from Berico!  It was agreed that Fjeldgaard would have the suitcase, packing materials, instructions and game plans made. The other contents of the suitcase would be supplied by Andersson. He ordered cars from Tekno, figures from Corgi, and tractors from Matchbox. That was possible at the time because it was a large order. The plastic cyclists were made by Arsani from the original Reisler moulds.  Andersson believes that 5,000 or more sets were made.


Model cars and figuresBerico Traffic Game, 1967


He believes, however, that Fjeldgaard is mistaken when he claims that the whole thing was outsourced. Andersson remembers that the Andersson and Fjeldgaard families gathered in Malmö to pack the suitcases, and that many sets were made over a long period of time. It would have been very difficult for Tekno to deliver so many cars in such a short time.

Andersson was responsible for the switch to Norstedts publishing house in Malmö for marketing the game; they already specialised in printed material on transport and traffic conditions. Norstedts also had offices in Gothenburg and Stockholm.  The game was a huge success and the curious thing is that the Berico name is nowhere to be seen on it. Now, years later, Andersson has no explanation why.

Tekno Toys and Berico – Decline in the relationship

The relationship with Tekno did not go well after Fjeldgaard left. There were major problems getting deliveries on time, and in being supplied the correct products. The quality level dropped considerably and there were also problems with the modified version of the Åkerman excavator. Tekno had removed the screw on the lower arm that raised and lowered the bucket. Now the children themselves had to perform this by hand which meant that many toys were broken. Berico received a high level of returns, something they had not seen before. There were also problems with doors and hinges breaking on the Volvo F88 lorry and the Volvo 144 (and later 164) cars.


Excavator from TeknoTekno Åkerman excavator


Crisis meetings were held with Tekno in Copenhagen with the new sales manager, O K Nielsen, and N Mørkegaard. They agreed that Berico could make a swivel stand which differed from the standard display stand produced by Tekno.


Techno CarsBerico’s Swivel Stand


Berico was also unhappy with the box for the Oldsmobile Toronado, because it was different from the boxes of other models in the range and did not have the Tekno name showing clearly. This was later changed to the standard Tekno box.


 

Teknobil  Teknobil

Original Toronado Box

Teknobil

Updated Toronado Box


Actually Tekno was printed on the end flap of the original box, but it is true that the box did not look like any other Tekno box.

Another problem was that Berico had not received a number of Mercedes-Benz buses for promotional purposes which Tekno had promised.


Mercedes TeknobilTekno Mercedes Bus


At that time, there was a discussion about who should pay for an advertisment in Kalle Anker (Swedish Donald Duck children’s magazine). It cost 7,735 SEK, of which Volvo paid 1,500. The remainder was paid equally between Berico and Tekno.

Berico discovered that SAS had changed the text on their Caravelle airliner, and he wanted this livery changed on the model. This was carried out by Tekno. The text was changed from Scandinavian to Scandinavian Airlines System.

Berico ordered 3,000 Koppartrans fuel trucks and 3,000 Scania SJ buses, but they were delayed or never received. Berico chased down the Tekno sales manager to find out when they could expect to get the models, but his reply is not known.  Both the Koppartrans and SJ buses are available on the secondary market now, so at least some were delivered by Tekno to Berico.

Tekno showed a prototype of the Scania bus with battery-powered headlights, tail-lights, and interior lights in a gift box with traffic signs and passengers. Berico was very interested in this item, but it was never produced. The prototype, however, is known to exist somewhere in Denmark.


LorryScania Koppartrans Tanker with Petrol Pump key ring


It was Berico, not Tekno, who put the little key ring in the box.

There was a desire that all Tekno cars be delivered in window boxes, which Berico estimated would increase sales by 50%.  In addition Berico wanted more sales material sent to them.

Another meeting was held on 1 October 1969 in Copenhagen; Esther Siegumfeldt, who had taken over the running of Tekno from her father, as well as O K Nielsen and N Mørkegaard attended.  Tekno had continued to fail to deliver goods that were promised to Berico, to a value of 322,000 SEK.  The new Tekno Volkswagen Beetle Herbie and NSU Ro80 models were also outstanding, which Berico estimated cost them two million SEK, including shipping.


Tekno Volvo 166, NSU, and Volvo 144 Taxi


Supply of the NSU, Volvo 164, and Volvo 144 Taxa (Swedish taxi) was discussed. The VW Herbie models were needed before the movie Cassen i Bottom (The Love Bug) premiered in Malmö on 17 October. Berico wanted the delivery of the models before the premiere, so that they could create an advertising campaign for the car. Tekno were asked to supply flyers with Danish and Swedish text before 17 October.  It was noted that there would be a Herbie advertisement in Kalle Anker magazine on 11 November 1969.

Tekno presented Berico with some sample gift packs containing several cars. Berico could let vendors display them in their stores, but Andersson thought they were too expensive.


ReklamebilHerbie, the Love Bug


Berico wanted to continue to sell accessories to add to the Tekno trucks such as beer crates, containers and milk churns, because these items had sold well. However, Tekno had no more suitable boxes, but Berico was pleased with the plastic bags with just the text Tekno parts. (If they were ever delivered and sold that way, it is not known.)


 

Tekno accessories – tyres, beer cases, and a box of four containers


After the meeting, Andersson sent a letter to Tekno on 29 October 1969, in which Andersson said Berico wanted the Volvo 144 in mustard, which was the original colour. A white or yellow taxi was not suitable. (To everyone’s surprise, the red is not mentioned).

Andersson wanted to know when Saab 99 would be finished, because he wanted to issue catalogues. He also thought that selling two cars in one gift set would be too expensive for customers. Berico also negotiated with Scania and Disney about a truck to haul Herbie but without any success.

Tekno replied to this letter on 31 October 1969 stating that the Saab 99 was coming in January 1970 and that Tekno would lower the price of the gift sets with the 425/452 Volvo truck and trailer, 835/815 Volvo 144 and Sprite Musketeer caravan, and  860/861 Volvo flatbed truck and Åkerman excavator. (I have never seen a box containing a Volvo 144 and a caravan. It was probably never made).

The sales list shows that Berico, despite these problems, managed to sell 273,625 Tekno vehicles by 11 December 1969, with a turnover of 1,938,000 SEK. Of those sales, the Volvo 144 made up 53,033 units. 19 models out of the 62 models that Berico sold accounted for 80% of sales. Tekno models provided about 67% of Berico’s total revenue.


Ford MustangBerico advertising for the Mustang


Some of the issues, Andersson notes, were probably caused by Fjeldgaard travelling around Sweden and negotiating with various Swedish companies himself. Normally it was Fjeldgaard who contacted Swedish companies like Cloetta, Fyttes, Koppartrans, and Åkermann encouraging them to request that their name be applied on the Tekno models, but when Fjeldgaard left the company in 1966 things went wrong for the Tekno sales organisation.  After he left, Berico and Andersson contacted the Swedish companies themselves.

Andersson was responsible, however, for negotiations with Disney about the Herbie model, and subsequently with Scania, who had issues with Volkswagen. Disney was totally impossible to deal with and Andersson was happy that they managed to sell the Herbie Volkswagen at all. He tried to get Disney and Scania to pay part of the cost, but it was unsuccessful. It was a bit easier negotiating with Volvo, who were prepared to pay for small proportion of the advertising.

Berico sold 7,300 units of the Herbie model in Sweden in the last months of 1969, but that is just a small fraction of the 4,900,000 Corgi sold of James Bond’s Aston Martin from the film Goldfinger. Somewhat surprisingly, only 125 of the 870 Honest John and 120 of the 826 Ford Taunus were sold. That compares with 13,465 Saab 96s.

The End of the Berico – Tekno Relationship

Andersson had always felt that all had not gone as smoothly as it should have done with Tekno, and he was really not happy when Algrema took over Tekno on 1 June 1970. After the takeover shortfalls in deliveries and quality issues became even worse, though many vehicles continued to be delivered from Algrema-Tekno.

In June 1970 Berico entered an agreement with Kirk to sell their models under the name Model Products.  Kirk had previously made all the 700 and 900 series models for Tekno.

From 1970 to 1973 Berico was the Swedish agent for Tamiya, Majorette, and Heller. At the time Algrema-Tekno went bankrupt in 1972 the models they supplied generated a third of Berico’s total revenue. With distribution of the three new brands they managed to keep sales above 5 million SEK in 1974.

In 1976 Tekno Holland was created when the Dutch company Vanmin bought Tekno. The models were marketed in Denmark by H Wittrock A/S in Bagsvaerd. This company stocked many of the same products as Berico, and there was good co-operation between the companies, but Tekno was never really a big player any more.  Their product range was greatly reduced and in 1980 all marketing of Tekno model vehicles by Berico came to an end.

From 1977 to 1993

  • In 1977 Berico moved to new premises on Höjdrodergatan.
  • In 1978 an agreement was made with Trudi.
  • In 1980 an agreement was made with Wiking plastic models which ended in 1987.
  • In 1982 Solido came back and turnover passed the 10 million SEK level.
  • In 1983 Berico signed up the Italian Lima and UK Britains brands. Their share capital increased to 500,000 SEK.
  • In 1986 20 million SEK in sales is accomplished.
  • In 1988 Berico signed three new ranges: Bluebird, SES and Grazioli.
  • In 1980 30 million SEK in sales was reached.
  • In 1990 Bluebird’s product Polly-Pocket sells six million SEK worth in six months. Sales eventually reach 37 million!
  • Berico went bankrupt in 1993 and was bought by new owners.

Other Discussion


Prototype Tekno Holland truck for Berico


The model above is a sample of a Scania truck from Tekno Holland, where Andersson proposed to make a promotional truck with the Berico logo. It never materialised.


Scania truckPrototype Solido bus for IKEA


Berico made this sample based on a Solido bus in an attempt to have it marketed by IKEA, who at the time had their advertisements on buses. It was offered to IKEA, but they did not want to contribute to the advertising costs, so it was also dropped.

Kjell Christensson added that Sweden was divided into six sales districts, where Stockholm was covered by Bengt Ringblom. Kjell dealt with southern Sweden. The salesmen had a large suitcase to take to the shops with samples of the model vehicles. The shops filled out an order form with the models they wanted to buy. Kjell made some of the promotional material himself by taking pictures of a lot of cars and collecting them in a folder. It was not possible to fit all the Tekno vehicles in the suitcase.


 

Salesman’s suitcase and photos from the salesman’s folder


At the end of the interview, I asked Ivan Andersson why he had not represented the other large Danish toy company, Lego, as well. He said he would have liked to work with them, and he had tried many times without success.


Postscript

It is with sadness that we have to report that Ivan Andersson died 29 June 2012 at 94 years of age.  We are greatly indebted to him and the other three gentlemen for this interview and for helping us to document the history of Berico and the relationship with Tekno.

More examples of Berico’s sales material and letters can be seen at teknosamleren.dk


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