Vintage Matchbox Diecast For Sale
The Matchbox name originated in 1953 as a brand name of the British die-casting company, Lesney Products, whose reputation would be moulded by John W. “Jack” Odell (1920–2007), Leslie Charles Smith (1918–2005), and Rodney Smith (hence the name Lesney, a portmanteau of Leslie and Rodney Smith’s first names). Their first major sales success was the popular model of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation coach, which sold more than a million models. Shortly thereafter, Lesney co-owner Jack Odell created a toy that effectively paved the way for the company’s future success. It was designed for his daughter: her school only allowed children to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox, so Odell crafted a scaled-down version of the Lesney green and red road roller. This toy ultimately became the first of the 1-75 miniature range. A dump truck and a cement mixer completed the original three-model release that marked the starting point for the mass-market success of the Matchbox series. As a result of the inspiration for the toys’ size, the idea was born to sell the models in replica matchboxes — thus yielding the name of the series. It also resulted in the description of the models’ scales being “1:box” (as opposed to more mathematical scales such as 1:87, 1:64, or 1:43).
Additional models — mostly British at first — continued to be added to the line throughout the decade, including cars such as an MG Midget TD, a Vauxhall Cresta, a Ford Zodiac, and many others. As the collection grew, it also gradually became more international, including models of Volkswagens, a Citroën, and American makes. To make such miniatures, the designers took detailed photographs of the real models, even obtaining some original blueprints. This enabled them to make models with surprisingly high levels of detail, despite the small scale. The size of the models (and their clever packaging) allowed Matchbox to occupy a market niche barely touched by the competition (and certainly not by Dinky); the associated price advantage made Matchbox models affordable for every child, and helped establish Matchbox as a household word for small toy cars, whatever the brand. Although used generically, “MATCHBOX” (in capital letters and quotation marks) was registered as a worldwide trademark to protect the Matchbox brand from competition.
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