by Koen Beekmann and Karl Schnelle
In Part I of this series, we looked at the founding of Togi and its first 2 cars. #1 Cursor and #2 Turbo Special were introduced around 1958. NOTE: Koen Beekmann took all the photos unless otherwise noted. He also did all the research which we are compiling here.
Here is a little more information on the Turbo Special. They are still made today and accompanied by a drawing in the box. The current castings are diecast using zamac alloy, but the original ones were aluminum or some other light-weight alloy. Two versions of the drawings are shown below with the different front steering mechanism. The curved arms are the earlier design on the left are Photoshopped from the original on the right. To determine if the original design could easily fit into the newer drawing, Koen tried it (and it does)!
And here is the mold for the Turbo Special; it looks like the earlier casting before the wrap-around windshield and is from the original owner, Mr Lorenzini.
The rest of Part II will concentrate on the next two models that came out.
After the first two cars, Togi moved on to reproducing actual automobiles. All were Alfa Romeos in 1:23 scale (except for a Lancia). Perhaps to keep the cars in the same size range as the first two, Mr. Lorenzini chose the unusual scale of 1:23. In the late 1950’s, there weren’t any 1:24 or 1:25 scale cars, so why not 1:23?
Thus, the third model was a 1:23 1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint. The development of this first Alfa model was delayed due to funding until 1959 or 60 and was finally on sale by 1962 (Rampini). The earliest casting might not have Togi in the bottom and could in fact be a Trilor, Mr Lorenzini’s first company. An Italian collector has one in his collection that he thinks is a Trilor (no name on the baseplate). If this is the case, then Rampini could be mistaken and perhaps the first three cars were all made as Trilors first? We may never know for sure…
Two generations of the #3 Giulietta Sprint are shown below. The box calls it a Sprint Veloce (the higher horsepower version):
The first generation (in green on the left) has no interior, tight side windows, large wheels and metal headlights. The second generation (white) has interior, no side windows, silver lower side body trim, clear headlights, and smaller wheels with wheel nuts. Look and compare. That beautiful box belongs to the old model. Here is the green model again:
This first Alfa seems a little toy-like and rounder than it should be, maybe that was the influence of their first two streamlined cars. Here is a drawing included in the box of a later version:
The Giulietta Sprint was really not a very accurate model. Perhaps this was the best that Togi could do at the time. The next Togi models will get better and better as they learned how to create more accurate model cars and still keep the toy characteristics (take-off wheels, suspension, and steering). Togi was the abbreviation of Tonino GIocattoli – Little Tony’s Toys – after all!
According to Rampini, both the the 159 Formula One car and Giulietta SS were introduced in 1962. These two Alfa Romeos are beautiful model cars and a big improvement on the Sprint. We will examine the 159 next.
The 159 ‘Alfetta’ raced in Formula One and a few other races during the 1951 season. Coming out 11 years later did not matter, as this was an iconic race car. However, Koen believes the #4 Togi 159 was developed earlier than 1962, sometime in 1959 or early 1960. After the Corsar, the Turbo Special and the Giulietta Sprint, this was the fourth model from the Milanese manufacturer.
Simple spoke wheels were developed for this model, which were then carried over to the first two Togi’s. Furthermore, it is still evident that it is just an old-style toy car: the design has been carried out very broadly, with some remarkable details such as operating steering wheel that moves the front wheels and working wing nuts on the wheels. The Togi, like the real 159, was only made in red, although the color differed over the years. The three 159’s below each have a different red color (and different wheels).
Like the other Togis, this Alfa was also available as a kit: nice for a model from the early 1960s but very simple as a kit! What’s more fun than having a copy of the famous Fangio’s race car with racing numbers? However, this model used fantasy race numbers, placed in the correct location on the body. The oldest versions are shown below:
The old 159 has never disappeared from the Togi range and is still being produced. Somewhere in the early 1970’s, the model was fitted with new open spoke wheels. These chrome wheels were still very simple and similar to the spoke wheels on Dinky’s at that time. In fact, the much nicer Revival race cars, from back then, still do not command the high prices that these Togi’s do now. Here are closeups of the two older ones:
Apparently, Togi looked to see what low-cost improvements could be made to the 159. A new perforated protective plate was added to the side exhaust pipes, but the metal exhaust was no longer chromed. The new spoke wheels were changed to black as well. A unusual choice because the wheels of the real 159 were always silver. Here is the newer version, bought in 1995 (photo by Karl):
Also, here is the original mold for the 159 from Mr Lorenzini; no reason for Togi to update that!
In 2011 or just before that, Togi announced a chrome 159, actually a nickel-plated model. The prototype is shown below.
Several years later, it came to production and is listed on their website currently. Three versions are shown: gold, ‘black’ nickel, and ‘white’ nickel. This is a photo from Togi before it was released:
Many of the later Togi came with a plastic display case inside the outer box. Similar to the Turbo Special, a nice drawing was also included in the box, in case an enterprising kid wanted to take apart the 159 and hopefully put it back together:
Koen did an internet search and found at least five box types (not in any particular order):
- nice red drawing of the 159 (original silver wheels)
- color stripes on cardboard box (black wheel version)
- yellow box with small window on the edge (silver or black wheels)
- Styrofoam box with red/yellow sticker, inside is a clear plastic display box with brown base (black wheels)
- Togi in white letters inside a red stripe on a sticker on a thin cardboard box (silver or black wheel versions)
Next time in Part III, we will continue the Togi story with the Giulietta SS.
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