Models of Non-Specified Original Cars
Up to the 1930s many model cars did not copy a specified original car, but were made
to represent typical body styles or typical kinds of vehicles. Several companies have
released re-editions of such model cars in recent years. But sometimes there is no
indication of the original vehicle make even on modern miniatures, for instance on inexpensive
promotional models. With such models a manufacturer can evade the licence fees claimed by the
producers of the original vehicles.
In my collection there are several
models of non-specified original cars. As information about original cars or scales is
unavailable or incomplete, these models are not listed in the model database, but are shown on this page.
Chicago, 1911: The world's first diecast model car?
In 1911, the Dowst company from Chicago issued a tiny limousine. It is possibly the world’s first "true" diecast model car. The company, which later marketed
its models under the Tootsietoy
name, had already made three-dimensional reproductions of cars in
a series of cast lead figurines some years before, but the limousine was the first miniature with turning wheels and axles.
|Dowst no. 4528: Limousine|
|The model is only 5 cm long and made of lead – zinc alloys were only introduced in the 1930s. It remained in the company’s catalogue until 1928; more recent items
from the 1920s have disc wheels instead of the original spoke wheels. It was also copied by other manufacturers, including SR
The German company Schuco
has produced replicas of their historic tinplate models since
the 1980s. The models are originally dating from the 1930s to the 1960s, are usually
featuring clockwork motors and are partly manufactured with old original tools. Besides
exact copies of historic models, similar newly developed tinplate models are also made by
|The first Examico was produced in 1936. The model is featuring four forward gears, neutral and reverse
gear, clutch, handbrake and steering. The body reminds of the BMW 328. Length of the model: 143 mm.|
|Turning car 1010|
|The turning car was also originally released in the 1930s and looks like a Maybach streamlined sedan.
Due to a driving wheel at right angles, the model automatically makes a left turn when it drives up to the edge of a table.
Length of the model: 139 mm.|
Dinky Toys Copies
Early models made by the English manufacturer Dinky Toys
are sold at very high prices today. But
you can also get copies of these very rare models from the 1930s. Since the 1970s, several manufacturers have released
such copies, e.g. Dave Gilbert who later also added his own models in the style of pre-war Dinky Toys to his D.G. Models range.
But on most Dinky Toys copies no manufacturer is indicated. These models are mostly exact
copies, but still they can easily be distinguished from the original models: They are made of
white metal instead of diecast, so they are slightly heavier. Furthermore, contrarily to the copies (of course), most original pre-war
Dinky Toys suffer from metal fatigue.
|Article No. 24c, produced from 1934 to 1940. This is an accurate copy of a very early British Dinky Toys car. Length of the model: 97 mm.|
|Royal Mail Van|
|Article No. 34b, produced from 1938 to 1940 and from 1948 to 1952. This item is easily recognizable as a copy because of its wheels,
different from the original Dinky Toys. The manufacturer of the copy is indicated on the baseplate.
There it says: "Model Road Productions - Morris Van - Nr. 4".
Length of the model: 83 mm. |
|Royal Air Mail Service Car|
|Article No. 34a, produced from 1935 to 1940. This model is inspired by a real vehicle, an advertising car
used by the British Royal Air Mail service in the mid-1930s. Length of the model: 83 mm. |
Wooden cars from the French Jura region
Making wooden toys is a traditional industry in the Southern part of the French Jura region. Until the 19th century, most craftsmen were farmers having a workshop at home.
Between 1890 and 1930 the first industrial enterprises specialized in toys appeared, and the small city of Moirans-en-Montagne became a centre of the French toy industry.
In the 1950s and 1960s several local companies changed over to plastic products, but others such as Vilac, L'Arbre à Jouer, Charliluce, Janod and Jeujura kept up the production
of wooden toys until present days. Car models made of painted wood are namely made by Vilac
(founded by Narcisse Villet under the
name of "Villet Frères" in 1911) and Foulon
(founded in 1953). Usually these models are generic replicas of vehicles, without a specified prototype. Racing cars are
particularly popular; among others, Vilac makes a wide range of such cars in various forms, colours and sizes. The history of toy production in the French Jura region
is extensively documented in the Moirans-en-Montagne toy museum
|Vilac "Old Sport"|
|The Vilac "Old Sport" car has been inspired by the single-seated racing cars of the 1930s. In addition to the black version (article no. 2286K), the model is also
available in other colours. It features a massive wooden body, metal axles and wheels, and rubber tyres. Length of the model: 20 cm. |
|Foulon "Formule 1"|
|The Foulon "Formule 1" car represents a more modern racing car with the engine behind the driver and rear wing. The pictured model (article no. 8052)
measures 22 cm in length, but there is also a smaller version (14 cm long). Both versions are available in blue or red. Body and wheels are made of beechwood.|
Playsam Streamliner - Children's toy and design classic
The original aim of the Swedish company Playsam
, founded in Kalmar in 1984, was to produce well-designed
high quality wooden toys for children. The "Streamliner", designed by Ulf Hanses, was their first and most famous product: a piece of wood without sharp edges and angles on
four wheels, painted with high lustre paint. Thanks to its clear and simple lines, the toy also caught the interest of adult people interested in Scandinavian design and was
selected as a design classic by the Swedish National Museum. The Streamliner became the base of a whole product range including single seaters, two-seaters, convertibles and
even buses. The minimalist approach of the Streamliner is also characteristic of the models of real cars released by Playsam, which just capture the essential lines of their
prototypes, but remain clearly identifiable.
|Playsam Streamliner "Espresso"|
|Playsam Streamliners have been produced in many different colours. The classic schemes are black with red wheels and red with black wheels. The "espresso"
version with dark brown body and cream wheels (article no. 12656) was released in 2012. Length of the model: 13.5 cm.|
UEFA Euro 2008 Promotional Models
Major sporting events can be quite interesting for model car collectors, as commemorative models can sometimes
be found among the piles of promotional merchandise. This was also the case at the UEFA Euro 2008, the European
football championship which took place in Switzerland and Austria in June 2008. Three truck and bus models
officially licensed by the UEFA were on sale, an 1/87th scale advertising truck with the logo of the event
and drawings of the Euro 2008 mascots Trix and Flix, a similar truck in 1/64th scale, and a team coach also
in 1/64th scale.
The models were made in China for M&S Global International
from Waldenhofen, Germany, and distributed by a
company named Living Picture
. According to the package, all models have been released in 16 different
liveries, each representing one of the participating countries. However, there seem to be models for England,
whose team didn’t qualify for the Euro 2008, but no models for Russia, who not only participated, but reached
the semi finals. In Switzerland the red and white trucks and buses of the Swiss team were available in
large quantities at many shops, whereas the models of the other teams remained very rare. In Austria it
was easier to find models from various teams.
The truck models come on a blue blister card. The quality is on a par with the inexpensive promotional
trucks made for breweries and other companies by manufacturers such as
cabs are diecast metal, all other parts are plastic. The internet address of the distributor, Living
), is stamped
on the baseplates of both models. There is no indication
of the truck makes on the models, but the 1/87th scale model looks like a Scania and the 1/64th scale model
seems to be a Mercedes-Benz Actros.
The team coach is a generic modern diecast bus with very large wheels and wide tyres. This model comes
in a blue window box. The manufacturer indicated on the baseplate is 2BToys
, a Dutch company which
usually distributes model cars and buses finished with logos of European football clubs and cycle racing
teams. But the model was originally made by Maisto
who released buses using the same casting some years ago.
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