Archive for the ‘General Discussion’ Category

British Toy Companies : Scamold – Scale Models Ltd.

March 2nd, 2018 2 comments

Scale Models Ltd. produced a range of racing cars under the SCAMOLD brand name, the model name being taken direct from the abbreviated company name.

These cars were produced between 1939 and 1950 at the Brooklands Race Track site in Weybridge, part of which was already the site of the Vickers factory. The models themselves were extremely accurate, produced at 1:35 scale, with their original measurements being taken direct from the real racing cars which could often be seen at Brooklands, then the mecca of motor racing in the UK.

The diecast models were as near ‘true-to-scale’ as it was perhaps possible to manufacture. Each model had fine surface detailing and the casting was outstanding with numerous features including removable exhausts, spring suspension, dashboards and steering wheels. In addition the back axle could be exchanged for one containing a clockwork motor which was wound up by a long starting handle.  The wheel axles were crimped and the hubs were either brass (early models) or aluminium (later) with black tread rubber tyres. Each model was clearly marked within the body of the casting both with ‘Scamold’ and ‘Made in England’ along with the manufacturers part number and the name of the model.

The Scamold models produced were inspired by the cars that were regularly showing their paces at Brooklands and were available in a selection of colours.

101 – 1939-50 ERA. (English Racing Automobile) : British racing green, works light green, yellow, royal blue, light blue, black, white.

103 – 1939-50 MASERATI : Maserati red, bright red, dark blue, dark green, mid-green, silver.

105 – 1939-50 ALTA : Light blue, pale sky blue, light green, dark green, silver, white.

Models were supplied in a blue card picture box and although the range was limited to the three models of ERA, Maserati and Alta it was no doubt intended to be larger as the box carried three other logos of Austin, MG and Bugatti. After the War the Brooklands part of the address was dropped from the box.

A small group of Scamold aluminium kits were also briefly available, listed were :

202 – Austin / 204 – MG / 206 – Bugatti / 207 – ERA ‘E’ Type / 208 – Bentley / 209 – Riley

However it is not known if all were actually produced.

After the War the price of the Scamold racing cars was around 8/- (40p) in comparison to a Dinky racing car of the time at 3/- (15p). Production costs weren’t sustainable and in July of 1950 the moulds and jigs etc were put up for sale.

Mr. E.J.D. Tilley, the proprietor of Scale Models, wound up the business in the 1960′s.



Green body with black radiator and steering wheel. Fitted with brass hubs with black rubber tyres.







Red body with silver radiator grill and exhaust. Brass concave hubs with black rubber tyres.






Green bodywork with blue radiator and silver exhaust. Brass hubs with black rubber tyres.

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June 23rd, 2017 No comments

Scalextric Race Game

For the purpose of this post I don’t intend to cover the full history of Scalextric in all its forms. To do so would take forever, so I am concentrating my efforts from its inception until around 2000 or so.

My brother and myself had a set given to us as our main Christmas present when I was about 10 or 11 years old, which would have been way back in the early 1960′s or so. The set could be made up into a figure of eight with a bridge under which ran a chicane. The cars were the Jaguar D types, one green and one blue with a head and shoulders driver-in, manufactured from moulded plastic.

My brother and myself plus a couple of mates would spread ourselves on the living room floor, those not actually ‘racing’ were the marshals, it was their job to place the cars back on the circuit if they came off … on average about every other lap !

We both thought it was the best thing since sliced bread ! Not sure if our parents agreed with that especially after about 3 hours of non stop racing ! !

Enough of that … lets look at some of the facts …

Scalextric came out of the ‘Scalex’ racing car models of Minimodels Ltd, which was a clockwork powered race car system that first appeared in 1952. When their inventor, “Freddie” Francis (who sadly died of cancer in 1998), added an electric motor to these models they became Scalex -electric or Scalextric cars. These were first shown at the annual UK- Harrogate Toy Fair in 1957, the first set contained metal models of a blue Maserati and a green Ferrari and were an instant hit with the dealers. In 1958, the brand was sold to Lines Bros., which operated as Tri-ang Toys.

Tri-ang’s subsidiary Rovex, which specialised in plastic, then developed Scalextric for the mass market, converting the metal cars to easier and cheaper to mould plastic versions. The track, which was originally a rubber compound, later became moulded plastic. Production continued at Minimodels in Havant, Hampshire until 1967, when it moved to Rovex’s own site.

When Lines Bros collapsed, its subsidiary Rovex-Triang, which handled Scalextric and the Triang railway brand, was sold off, eventually becoming Hornby Railways. Although Scalextric remains based in the UK, most of the products are now made in China.

The Sets :

Original sets came with pieces of interconnecting track made from rubber and two metal model racing cars.

The cars chosen for the first sets in 1957 were a Ferrari 375 and a Maserati 250F – then driven by big name Grand Prix rivals like Stirling Moss, Juan Fangio and Alberto Ascari.

The tracks and cars were built to a scale of 1:32 – and the cars were capable of a scale speed of 130mph.

The speed of the cars was determined by handheld controllers and to make racing more fun the sets came with two small bottles, one of silicone ‘skid patch fluid’ to create on-track hazards and another of light oil to lubricate the model.

A 1957 set cost five pounds, 17 shillings and six pence ( £5/17/6d ) – the equivalent of around £120 in today’s money.

Scalextric is typically sold as a set containing enough track to make a circuit, the necessary power supply and throttles and two cars. The cars are usually based on real vehicles from Formula 1, A1 Grand Prix, Nascar, rallying, touring, or Le Mans, or simply based on ordinary road going cars.

Most Scalextric models are 1:32 scale, though between 1968 and 1970 Super124 cars and track were manufactured at 1:24 scale. In the late 1990s, Micro Scalextric at 1:64 scale was introduced. Needless to say cars and track are not compatible between scales.

The Track :

Standard track consists of several straights of various lengths and corners of different radii and degree of turn. Special track includes several different styles of chicane, cross-over tracks, crossroad track and humpback bridges.

There are five generations of 1/32 scale Scalextric track. 

  1. Original Scalextric Track (Mk. 1): This was made from rubber with thin, vertical electrical connectors, and held together with separate metal clips. This track had white lines between the lanes.
  2. Original Scalextric Track (Mk. 2): Released in 1962, the material became plastic, electrical connections were through wider, horizontal pins, and the track was held together by two integrated circular, spoon-shaped pins and sockets moulded into each end. Converter pieces were available to link the two types. It is now known as Classic track. Classic track is compatible with another leading brand, SCX’s classic track.
  3. No major track developments until we saw the introduction of the smooth surfaced plastic track, released around 2001 termed the Scalextric Sport. The track connectors were now square and slotted into place and ‘converter’ pieces were now available to allow the link to Classic track.
  4. A leap forward for Scalextric in 2004 with the Scalextric Digital, compatible with Sport it allowed up to 6 cars on a 2 lane track at any one time, with each car fully controllable.
  5. Scalextric Start released in 2010 it was supposedly a basic track for children (funny I thought that was where I started out in the late 1950′s).
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Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School – Book Illustration Errors ?

June 11th, 2017 No comments

Yellow Jacket Book Illustration Mistakes – Back to the Drawing Board !


Now anybody that has followed any of my previous posts will know that the ‘Fat Owl of the Remove’ is a massive hero of mine. There’s nothing I like better when the winds blowing a gale outside and the rain is lashing against the window pane than sitting down in a comfortable armchair with a glass of something strong and one of my Billy Bunter ‘yellow jacket’ books.

However, having read my Cassell and Skilton books many times over, I began to look more closely at the illustrations they contained. The more I looked the more I noticed how many of these illustrations actually contained errors, some only minor some more glaringly different to the text they actually related to.

The illustration that first caught my eye and sent me along this pointless path was the one shown opposite !

Taken from ‘Billy Bunter’s Double’ and illustrated by R.J. Macdonald it depicted Billy Bunter batting in the practice match that had been arranged especially for him. If he proved his quality Bunter was going into the eleven to play Highcliffe.

Vernon Smith, fielding in the slips, was determined to catch Bunter out. His chance came as Bunter’s flashing willow met the leather and the ball whizzed between the slips. The bounder was on it like lightening, perhaps too eagerly, stumbling as his hand went up to meet the ball it cracked on his wrist rather than landing in his eager hand. So severe a crack that it sounded almost like a shot … the ball dropped. Smithy picked  up the ball with his left, he could not use his right.

Now coming from Yorkshire I reckon I know where the slips should stand and its not where Macdonald has drawn Smithy, but I’ll let that go and put it down to artist licence. However, no matter how you look at it, Smithy is definitely holding his injured LEFT wrist ! and not his RIGHT !!

Not only that but it looks to me like Bunter is now batting LEFT HANDED !

In this case was it a drafting error or was it simply a case of the printer reversing the plate by mistake ? BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD METHINKS !                                                                      

Or how about this one taken from ‘Billy Bunter’s Brain-Wave’.

After having had his head smacked by Loder of the Sixth whilst attempting to deliver a message from Wingate, Bunter decides to console himself with a quiet smoke in his study. But when he rolled into No.7 in the remove, he found his study-mates, Peter Todd and Tom Dutton there, making preparations for tea.

Now by my reckoning, Billy Bunter, Peter Todd and Tom Dutton, who together make up the usual occupants of No.7 study in the remove total three chaps. Yet the illustration clearly shows three schoolboys around the table plus Bunter … making four in total.

Not only that but a little further on in the same chapter we are told, ‘Evidently there was nothing for Bunter, in No.7 Study, but bread and marger, and a share in Peter’s sardines. He hoped to make it the lion’s share. But Peter, with the selfishness to which Bunter was sadly accustomed, apportioned the sardines in three equal portions on three plates – a proceeding which Bunter eyed with deep disgust.

So there we have it, the written evidence – the usual Study crowd of Bunter, Dutton and Todd, the three portions divided onto three plates – yet in the illustration we have four chaps around the table ! BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD Mr. Macdonald !

Not quite so obvious to the casual observer is my next offering taken from ‘Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School’.

Bunter, having purloined a jar of plum jam from Smithy, took shelter in Mr. Quelch’s Study, a safe retreat in which to devour his ill gotten gains. Quelch had gone out for a walk in the quad after class, a fact which Harry Wharton had passed on to Bunter, a fact which Bunter had made use of in order to elude the clutches of the wrathful Smithy. Bunter was safe – till Quelch came in and in the meantime there was the jam.

Sitting in Mr. Quelch’s armchair, Bunter opened that pot of jam. Unluckily he had no spoon, but on Mr. Quelch’s table lay a paper-knife which answered the purpose fairly well. With that implement Bunter scooped out jam and conveyed it to a large mouth : and chunk after chunk of delicious plum jam followed the downward path. It was a happy, sticky Bunter that cleaned out the jam-jar with the ivory paper-knife.

There was still a spot of jam at the bottom of the jar, and it was not easy to extract it with a paper-knife.

Unfortunately for Bunter, Mr. Quelch came back in, Bunter bounded out of the armchair, the jam-jar rolled on the hearth-rug. The sticky paper-knife dropped on the carpet.

So according to the text we have a cleaned out jam-jar which had fallen on the hearth rug and an ivory paper-knife which had dropped on the carpet of Mr. Quelch’s Study.

The illustration gives us a contrasting picture of a jam-jar still containing jam with a substantial quantity oozing out onto the floor. Several large spots of jam nearby with what appears to be a spoon. Gone is the hearth rug and I will assume the armchair is somewhere behind the study table.

What can I say Mr. Macdonald but BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD !

And finally for the moment comes this effort taken from ‘Billy Bunter’s Bodyguard’.

The Famous Five were several miles out of school bounds, Harry Wharton and Co. were taking a rest before riding homesitting on a low wall facing the sea and cheerily sharing a bag of dough-nuts. Five bicycles were parked against the wall a few yards away. It was a lonely but very attractive spot. Only one building was in sight – a bungalow far back from the beach, with a garden surrounded by a low brick wall – on which they were sitting in a cheery row.

Suddenly they were confronted by the sight of two figures coming along the beach which reminded them that Greyfriars juniors caught several miles out of school bounds were booked for a spot of trouble. One of the figures was tall and angular, that of Mr. Quelch, master of the Remove. The other was shorter and plumper, easily recognizable as Mr. Prout, master of the Fifth. All five quickly slipped off the wall on the inner side, ducking their heads below the level of the wall and crouching behind the numerous laurel bushes that were growing in the garden between the wall and the bungalow. Unfortunately for the Five, Prout and Quelch did not pass by, but instead stopped at the garden gate. Quelch had once again walked the legs off Prout who had decided he was in need of a rest before continuing and as there was a garden seat in the garden Prout was determined to make use of it for a few minutes. Five breathless juniors, huddled in the laurels under the wall, watched as Quelch walked up the gravel path to the door of the bungalow in order to ask permission to rest on the garden seat. Quelch knocked at the door which was opened by a man known to the masters and Quelch called for Prout to join him.

I need go no further, the scene has been set. The Famous Five hiding behind laurel bushes in the garden of a bungalow. Quelch and Prout standing at the door of the bungalow being greeted by its occupant. Look closely above the head of Quelch and behold what do you see, why nothing less than a first floor window. Someone should have told the artist, Mr. Chapman this time, that it was a bungalow and not a house that was required – BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD !

That is all for the moment but I intend to add to this post as there are many more yet to be included !!

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Chad Valley Games – Escalado Horse Racing Game

February 21st, 2015 6 comments

Chad Valley – Escalado


Let me start with an apology : I said I would try to give some guide as to dating the popular Chad Valley  game of Escalado in response to a request from a visitor to the site. However, like lots of things in life, it is never as straight-forward as you might at first imagine. So I have tried to steer a course through the last 80 something odd years of Escalado and attempted to keep this post somewhat simplistic and give just a superficial guide as to the dating of any edition.


The game has always been sold under the Chad Valley name, although more recently other parent companies or associated companies may have also been printed on the box. ie the Palitoy take over in 1978  / the Chad Valley name acquired by Woolworth in 1988 / and finally the Home Retail Group purchasing the brand in 2009 so that now the Chad Valley name is only available through the Argos catalogue, all these had an impact on the wording to be found on the box.

Many of the editions of the game would also have included a ‘Royal Warrant’ printed on the box which again would give an indication as to date.

Early editions also showed a difference in the horses themselves. Initially having a high lead content meant they were more malleable than their modern day counterparts which resulted in the legs tending to bend as the horse was pressed down in order to ‘seat’ the horse firmly to the course. Horses themselves were heavier due to their composition, initially approx. 100gsm. and cast with finer detail with the jockeys holding whips. Whereas the slightly later editions of the early 1930′s saw the weight of the horses reduced slightly, to around 92gsm., and the jockeys no longer sported their whips. Still with the horses, and early editions had cast into the underside a shortened version of ‘Copyright of the Proprietors’ which reads ‘Copyri of the Propri’. The word ‘England’ could also be found, again in raised letters, to the inside front left leg of the horse. Later editions simply had ‘Chad Valley’ in raised letters to the underside.

By the 1960′s the horses were of a lighter metal alloy manufacture and by the 1990′s were to be found moulded in plastic.

With regards to the Escalado box, before 1938 Chad Valley held no ‘Royal Warrant’ and so boxes pre-1938 carried no ‘By Appointment’ notation or ‘Coats of Arms’ insignia.

1937 saw King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later the Queen Mother) ascend to the throne and in the following year Chad Valley were approved a ‘British Royal Warrant of Appointment’.

From that date, all Chad Valley toys displayed a label stating ’Toy-makers to Her Majesty the Queen’, this was until 1953 when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned.

During the war years 1939-1945 toy production throughout the UK was either suspended completely or drastically reduced.

In 1953-‘By appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’ was a newly named Royal Warrant held by Chad Valley which reflected her new title.

The earliest editions of the game used a coated linen race cloth and tension straps, with wooden studs/obstacles, lead horses, and a wooden vibrator box.

Later editions from the late 1960′s then started using plastic vibrator boxes and straps, synthetic linen cloths with plastic studs/obstacles, and metal alloy horses.

The latest editions, from the 1990′s used all plastic track, vibrator boxes, straps and horses.

 < Early 1940′s Edition

 Box lid carries the Royal Crest with the wording ‘By Appointment Toymakers to Her Majesty the  Queen’.




Late 1940′s Edition >

Later 1940′s version again with Royal Crest surrounded by the wording ‘By Appointment Toymakers to Her Majesty the Queen’.




< 1950′s Edition

Same box design as previous but on this the Royal Warrant is by ‘Appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.’



Early 1960′s Edition >

This red box design would date to around the late 1950′s to the early 1960′s.





< 1960′s Edition

1960′s pre decimal edition of the game. Graphic illustration to lid with Escalado wording in perspective.



1960′s – 1970′s Edition >

Barclay Securities edition after their buy out of the company in 1971, this version assumed to date from around 1972 – 1978.


It should be noted that these are by no means the only boxes produced in which the game of Escalado were sold. Indeed Escalado was marketed for export all over the world and from that point alone there was potential for any number of box colours and labels. Although I have stopped at the 1970′s version the game was produced for many years afterwards, indeed right up to and including todays version, but by the late ’70′s the Chad Valley name would feature alongside another on the box, that of its new owner. So it is at that point that I am limiting this look at one of the most iconic table top games there has been.

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Corgi Toys – Corgi Boxes a History 1956 – 1983

February 8th, 2015 No comments


Corgi Toys from the outset were looking to gain an edge over the competition, in the case of its models it secured that by introducing window glazing, as its advertising boldly stated : Corgi Toys – ‘The Ones with Windows’. Not only did Corgi Toys look to go one better than the competition with its models, but unlike its main competitor Dinky Toys, Corgi made a marketing decision to steal a march on its rivals and supply its models in individual boxes with an illustration of the model inside incorporated into the box design. Dinky Toys initially sold their vehicles in trade packs of six to the retailer, who then in turn sold them on seperately to the customer.

Corgi Toys as we all know, based in Wales, took their name from that breed of Welsh dogs and took the Corgi dog as its logo which was to be found on virtually all of its future packaging.

July 1956Corgi’s original box design, now commonly referred to as the ‘Blue Box’ simply because that’s exactly what it is. An all blue card box with black lettering in the main along with an identifying illustration of the model it contained.

These early ‘blue box’ models also came with a concertina leaflet along with an invitation to join the ‘Corgi Club’ by means of an enrolment form.

The card box had two small end flaps and one large ‘tuck-in’ flap to each end on which was printed both the model and its identifying model number.

January 1959Introduces us to what is now the iconic Corgi Yellow/Blue box design.

This box design was to last right through until 1966 and again kept things simple with the standard card box as before, but now brought bang up to date with a much more eye catching blue and yellow theme, typical of the early sixties. It also kept  with the idea of illustrating the model within by means of a coloured line drawing superimposed over the yellow background yet just pushing into the blue giving the impression of movement. Simple but effective. The artwork was brilliant and was only beaten in my opinion by that of the Airfix models. (No doubt someone will have something to say about that !)

December 1966  - A sad day I have to say as we see the demise of the all card illustrated box as Corgi introduce the first of their ‘Window’ boxes.

The previous blue and yellow box colour scheme was retained but now the model was clearly visible through a plastic ‘window’ incorporated into the box design. Initially limited to just a few models but extended to include the full range by 1968.  These boxes, now often referred to as the ‘slimline’ boxes, still illustrated the model in artwork form to the rear panel of the box.

However in 1970 the blue and yellow window boxes for ‘Whizzwheels’ cars changed to red and yellow.

May 1973Saw a more drastic change to the box design with the introduction of an angled inner card plinth. This had the effect of tilting the model towards the front of the box making the box much taller than its ‘slimline’ predecessor.

The box itself saw a radical change in colour, now a deep blue with three coloured bands around the window which varied from red, orange, yellow, purple or cyan. Sadly gone forever was the glorious Corgi box artwork now replaced on the rear panel with a simple bland photograph of the vehicle contained within.

1981 - Saw yet another revamp with the window box, now changing colour from predominantly blue to yellow, red and black. Black box with broad colour band around the ‘window’, yellow to the front face merging into red to its top face. The box was significantly larger so as to accommodate the model being placed on the skew and mounted on an inner yellow card plinth. For the first time the identifying model number was no longer printed on the outer box, instead the model number and title were printed on the inner plinth. This meant a significant cost saving as the outer box could now be used for several models within the range.

So there you have it … perhaps its my age and I dare say some will disagree with me but to my mind the above represents the gradual decline in the general presentation of the Corgi toy. Not that this is confined just to the Corgi brand in the name of cost saving as most of the major diecast toy companies followed a sad but similar path.

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Dan Dare

January 25th, 2015 2 comments

Dan Dare .. Toys .. Part 3


Welcome back to yet another of my listings covering just some of the amazing number of Dan Dare toys.

Since the early days of my original posts detailing Dan Dare toys, see parts 1 and 2, I have been asked on numerous occasions about other toys bearing the name of the ‘Pilot of the Future’ so here are some more to whet your appetite.


< Dan Dare Magnetic Darts

The Magnetic Darts game, officially licensed by the ‘Eagle’ comic, was produced in England by the Chad Valley toy company in the 1950′s.

Consisted of a full colour tinprinted target on a three legged stand with 3 lightweight magnetic darts.

Dan Dare Atomic Jet Gun >

Produced by Crescent Toys the Atomic Jet Gun (water pistol) was an officially licensed product by ‘Eagle’ comics.

A red and yellow plastic pistol with ‘Dan Dare’ yellow transfer lettering to the top of the barrel and ‘Atomic Jet Gun’ to the sides. Claimed to give 50 shots at one filling of water. Rare item and even harder to find in its illustrated box.

< Dan Dare Spaceship Film Viewer

Fully licensed by the ‘Eagle’ comic this film strip viewer came in the shape of a plastic spaceship. Made in England by J. & L. Randall under their ‘Merit’ toys banner.

Dan Dare Jig-Saw Puzzle >

One of several Dan Dare jigsaw puzzles available. This particular one – ‘Dan Dare and Sondar Capture a Space Ship’ – of unknown manufacture – perhaps by Peter Pan ? measures 13.75″ x 9.75″. Licensed by the ‘Eagle’ comic.

< Dan Dare Space Ship Builder  

Manufactured by A. & M. Bartram this licensed product was a metal construction set which allowed you to build your own space ship.

Metal components came in red, black and silver from which a variety of different space ships could be built.

Another rare item especially boxed.


Dan Dare’s Race in Space >

This fully licensed product this was a board game produced by Chad Valley in the 1950′s. Nothing complicated about this game just a case of starting from Earth, using your plastic rocket counter, its the first to reach planet Mercury whilst avoiding various obstacles on the way.


To be continued …………..

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British Toy Companies : Mettoy Castoys

December 18th, 2014 8 comments


The Mettoy company, which went on to launch Corgi Toys, was originally founded in 1933 by Phillip Ullmann who had settled in the UK the year before. Ullmann came to the UK from Germany where he had set up the renowned tinplate toy company Tipp & Co., based in Nuremburg. Ullmann was initially given space to work in a subsidiary company of Bassett-Lowke, a company highly respected in engineering model making. He was joined soon afterwards by Arthur Katz, who also had a background with the German toy makers Tipp & Co. The Mettoy name itself was derived from METal TOY, the company being initially involved in producing tin plate toys, from a factory based in Stimpson Avenue, Northampton, employing a workforce of around 50. By 1937 the company had expanded into larger premises 4 miles away in Harleston Road.

1939 and the Second World War saw an end to toy making and Mettoy, like many other toy makers, saw their tin plate production transferred to shell cases and the like for the war effort. Demand for war materials was now so great that once again larger manufacturing premises was essential and by 1944 the Ministry of Supply had earmarked a factory site of 28,000 sq.ft. for Mettoy to lease at Fforestfach, Swansea, for further production of munitions.

1945 and with the end of WWII Mettoy was able to switch production back to toy making as the defence contracts began to dwindle. By 1948 the company had begun to build a massive new modern factory, some 115,000 sq.ft., at Fforestfach to cater for their expansion plans. The factory was officially opened one year later by King George VI and it was during this phase of the company’s history (1948) that Mettoy produced its first cast metal toys, aptly named ‘Castoys’. The ‘Castoys’ range were produced in zinc alloy with clockwork drive motors retained from the earlier tinplate vehicles and made for the retailer Marks & Spencer who particularly wanted a robust, long lasting toy.

The model number allocated to the ‘Castoys’ range of vehicles usually appeared as the registration number thus the 718 Paxton Observation Coach would bear the registration plate MTY 718.

The majority of models produced at this time were between 15cm. -20cm. in length at roughly 1:35 scale.

The ‘CASTOYS’ name would normally be impressed in capitals on the baseplate of the model. Wheels were usually black rubber tyres on cast metal hubs and models generally were fitted with a clockwork drive & brake.

Production of the ‘Castoys’ range ceased in 1959.

‘CASTOY’ Models Included :


Model came in blue upper and gold lower bodywork finish. Red plastic door opens to reveal brown plastic passenger. Fitted with perspex windows and part roof. Reg. No. MTY 718.

Model measures 7.5″/19cm in length.

( Having visited Scarborough many times and driven past the well known coach builder at Eastfield I have often wondered whether the ‘Paxton’ name should not in fact be that of the well known coach builder ‘Plaxton’ ? )

                                                                           <  810  LIMOUSINE

Based on the Jowett Javelin the saloon came in cream, red or green bodywork colour finish with contrasting tinplate interior. Clockwork in operation the vehicle came fitted with solid black rubber wheels. Reg. No. MTY 810.

Model measures 17cm. in length.



    820  STREAMLINE BUS  >

Vehicle came in either cream, red or green colourway finish with red tinplate seating. Fitted with black solid rubber wheels. Reg. No. MTY 820.

Model measures 19cm. in length.



                                                                     <  830  MECHANICAL RACER

Die-cast body with detailed tinprinted green balloon wheels. Racing car with clockwork drive and brake, came in either cream, red or green bodywork finish with silver grille and steerable front wheels.

Model measures 18cm. in length.






Model comes in metallic blue cab, silver grille with grey rear body colourway finish. Fitted with a clockwork motor and lever brake. Reg. No. MTY 840.

Model measures 18cm. in length.


Red body with silver grille and bumpers. Silver ladders mounted to rear. Model fitted with black solid rubber wheels and clockwork motor drive.

Model measures 19cm. in length.

                                                                       <  860  FARM TRACTOR

Unable to find any information on this item apart from this picture of the box the tractor was issued in along with the plastic driver figure.

Model was fitted with a clockwork motor and brake.






Tractor in red and blue colourway finish. Tractor based on the Ferguson TE20.

Trailer in yellow colourway finish with red hubs.

Model came with painted plastic driver figure.


The number 870 was designated to several vans in the ‘CASTOYS’ range. Basically the same model but in different colourways and with different logos to side panels.



Blue or yellow bodywork colour finish with red interior.

‘Express Delivery’ to sides in red, silver grille, headlights and bumpers. Clockwork drive, black solid wheels.    

Model is 15cm. in length.                                                                   



Green bodywork colour finish with red interior. White lettering and Royal crest in gold. Silver grille, bumpers and headlights. Two piece extending ladders to roof. Clockwork motor, black solid wheels.

Model is 15cm. in length.



               ’ROYAL MAIL’ VAN  >

Morris ‘Z’ Royal Mail van in red colourway finish with silver grille, headlights and bumpers. Black ‘Royal Mail’ lettering to side panels with gold Royal crest.

Opening rear doors.

Clockwork motor, black solid wheels.

Model length 15cm.


                ‘AMBULANCE’ VAN  >

Ambulance in cream bodywork finish, with blue, red and white decals to side panels.

Headlights, grille and bumpers in silver.

Clockwork motor, black solid wheels.

Model is 15cm. in length.




Model in dark blue bodywork finish with blue interior. Silver grille, headlights, bumpers and wheel hubs. ‘Fly by BOAC’ lettering to roof along with ‘BOAC’ logo and lettering to side panels. Black rubber tyres.

15cm. in length.

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Kemlow Toys

October 26th, 2014 No comments

Kemlow Diecasting Products


A relatively small die-casting company formed in 1946 by Charles Kempster and William Lowe – a combination of part of each surname producing the ’KEMLOW’ name – with the intention of producing die-cast miniature toys. Kemlow worked out of premises in Westbury Avenue, Wood Green, London producing a relatively small range of models, both civilian and military, and were also involved in producing and distributing die-cast models under the ‘Master-Models’ and Wardie Products’ labels.

some examples of Kemlow vehicles :  



Kemlow produced both a stand alone armoured car plus a combination of armoured car with field gun.

Both items came in either unpainted bare metal finish or light green and black camouflage finish. The bare metal model was fitted with smooth brass hubs, whilst the camouflaged model had similar painted hubs.



Kemlow Guy delivery van in ‘Pickfords’ livery. Model in dark blue colourway finish with white roof. ‘Pickfords’ transfer decals to both sides, cab-over front panel and rear doors. Vehicle fitted with smooth brass hubs with black tyres.



The streamlined saloon car and caravan came as either seperate models in their own right or as part of the ‘Fleetmaster Saloon Car Set’.

The saloon car was loosely based on the American Chevrolet saloon and came in either all blue or all green colourway finish, the metal wheels finished in the same colour as the bodywork.

The streamlined caravan came in cream finish, shaped window to both sides and rear, windows cut out to represent tied-back curtained windows. Bare metal wheels are covered by caravan sides.


The road roller came in either predominantly red or green bodywork finish with a gold engine cover. All bare metal front roller, the rear roller sides usually painted in pale blue. A rather crude figure of a driver cast-in.


Kemlow also went on to  produce a boxed ‘Dinky Toys’ size range of diecast vehicles under their own Kemlow name or alternatively marketed under the ‘Automec’ brand name. These vehicles were better detailed than previous and were fitted with rubber tyres.

Interestingly some of the Automec vehicles were also produced in kit form for the purchaser to build it themselves.

< Automec Bedford Truck – Road Gritter







                           Automec Bedford Truck – Lime Spreader >


Initially plain card boxes were used with the model type printed to end flap. The Automec name printed to box sides with ‘Highway Models’ underneath.

The lorries, whether civilian or military, were based on the good old Bedford truck and were for the most part the same vehicle but with different colourways and given different functions ! Alternatively the same cab/chassis arrangement was used but with a different back. (as below)




< Automec Bedford Truck – Flat Back




Later card boxes were coloured and carried basic coloured lorry drawings to the sides with the generic model type it housed being printed in large letters to the box sides. Again this was a case of one box suits all, the actual model enclosed within the box being identified on the box end flaps.                                                                                                

< Automec 3-Ton Open Wagon                                                                                                                             


Kemlow – Sentry Box Series. >

A small scale range of military vehicles were produced by Kemlow to compete with the ‘Matchbox’ range, these were marketed under the brand name ‘Sentry Box Series’ although neither the box nor the model actually carried the Kemlow name.

Each model came housed in a card box in the form of a sentry box complete with a picture of guardsman to its side and like the early ‘matchbox’ models the Sentry Box Series models all came with grey metal wheels.

Kemlow as a diecasting company is still trading today but no longer involved in the toy business.

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British Toy Companies : Burnett Toys – Burnett Ltd.

December 5th, 2013 14 comments



The short lived British toy company of Burnett Ltd. was founded by F. Burnett and E. Satchwell in 1914 and were based at 53a Aldersgate Street, London EC1. Burnett produced a variety of tinplate toys, various motor vehicles – cars, trucks and emergency vehicles as well as aircraft and locomotives. They were probably most famous for their ‘Ubilda’ series of tinplate construction kits.

They were a listed exhibitor at both the 1922 and 1929 British Industries Fairs held at the White City. In 1922 they were given as manufacturers of metal mechanical toys (such as Motor Cars, Lorries, Omnibuses), Metal Money Boxes in fancy designs, Decorated Metalware (Tea Trays, Firescreens) and occupied Stand No. F46. In 1929 Metal Toys (such as Cannons, Pistols), Constructional Toys (Ubilda Car, Aeroplane, Theatre), Toy Cash Boxes, Children’s Paint Boxes were added to the list, the company occupying Stand C24.

Interesting to note that at the Industries Fairs they were listed as ‘Manufacturers’ of toys whereas it is often quoted that they produced nothing themselves and subcontracted manufacturing to Barringer, Wallis and Manners Co. of Mansfield. ‘Barringers’, as they were known locally, were later to become the Metal Box Co. and certainly produced a variety of tin money boxes etc. in their own right.

The company ran into financial difficulties and in 1939 their tooling was acquired by the Chad Valley Co. (see my separate listing) who continued to produce many of the Burnett vehicles as well as the ‘Ubilda’ range of toys.

Other tenuous links to Barringer, Wallis and Manners and the Metal Box Co. was that in 1949 Burnett Ltd. was voluntarily wound up and amalgamated with the Metal Box Company. Also items like the Chad Valley ‘Carrs’ biscuit tin bus were in fact manufactured by Barringer, Wallis and Manners.

some examples of Burnett vehicles :


Scarce pre-war tinplate Royal Mail van. Van is predominantly red with black roof and wings. Clockwork in operation, fitted with permanent key, 15cm long.


Scarce pre-war, c1920, large scale tinplate bus. Clockwork in operation, fitted with a permanent key, motor driving rear wheels. Model came in two colourway finishes, example shown is the harder to find deep yellow version, alternative is the more common red colourway finish. In both cases cream finish to upper bodywork with black chassis and wings. ‘Lands End to John O’Groats’ to side destination boards. Burnett circular logo to both sides. Interior bench seating with steps to the rear for boarding purposes. Fitted with tinplate balloon type wheels. O/all length 36cm.


Another scarce Burnett model, this example dating to c1930 is of a tinplate, clockwork driven Military Ambulance. Predominantly grey bodywork colourway finish with green lower ‘plank’ effect. Black cab portion with grey radiator, black wings/running boards edged white. Ambulance roundals to the sides. Tinplate wheels with black hubs. Vehicle is fitted with a permanent key. Length 16cm.


                                                        SEDAN >

Pre war tinplate clockwork Sedan. Light blue bodywork finish and wings with cream detailing and cream roof. Fitted with balloon wheels and permanent key. Length 18cm. o/all.





Pre war tinplate Fordson Tipper Truck with clockwork drive mechanism. Cab and bodywork in light green colourway finish with black chassis and large grey radiator to front of cab. Simple lever tipping mechanism to body with hinged tailgate. Grey balloon wheels with light green hubs. Permanent key 18cm.


Burnett Open Tourer, blue bodywork finish with cream bonnet and detailing, large grey radiator. Black wings, running boards and rear hood. Fitted with maroon interior. Grey tin wheels with black hubs.



A scarce pre war example of a tinplate Express Delivery Van from Burnett. Grey bodywork finish with cream roof. Grey radiator to front, black wings and running boards. Grey tin wheels with black hubs. Clockwork drive motor fitted with permanent key. 16cm.


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British Toy Companies : CHAD VALLEY TOYS

July 23rd, 2013 23 comments


This long established British toy company has its roots set in a stationery business set up by Joseph and Alfred Johnson (Johnson Bros.) in 1860 on George Street, in Birminghams’ city centre although its origins date back even further to a printing and book binding business set up by their father Anthony Bunn Johnson sometime around 1820.

In 1897 the company relocates to a new purpose built premises in Rose Road, Harborne, a district of Birmingham, a mere 3 miles from the city centre close to the Chad Brook and adjacent to









.a branch-line railway. This railway line brought raw materials to the site with most of the toys produced leaving by the same route. The firm now trading as Johnson Bros. (Harborne) Ltd., making stationers’ sundries and cardboard games and their new factory was known as The Chad Valley Works, named after the nearby stream. They later took the name of Chad Valley as their registered trademark and the building was to remain as the company headquarters for over seventy years.

With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 toys and games were no longer being imported giving a boost to the British toy industry and Johnson Bros. seized the opportunity, despite wartime restrictions, to expand its range of cardboard games and simple toys. A year later in 1915 the company was producing its first soft toys, a range of traditional plush Teddy Bears with jointed limbs and by 1916 it was to patent a machine for stuffing these soft toys.

In these early days the companys aim was to complement the range of paper and card based products, which had been born out of their printing business, with more ambitious toys using different materials however a strong emphasis on the printed word remained and at a time when it was unusual for most ‘ordinary’ children to be given toys it was little wonder that output was targeted squarely towards affluent families with their well educated children.

Such was the rate of the companys’ expansion since the early war years that in 1919 it was to acquire the nearby Harborne Village Institute which was used as their printing works producing box covers and labels for their toys and games. The companys’ soft toy production was relocated in 1920 to a new factory, the Wrekin Toy Works, at Wellington, Shropshire, where a new range of fabric dolls were introduced and all three factories were merged to become The Chad Valley Co. Ltd. In that same year both the Wellington and Harborne works were extended as business continued to increase.

The soft toy range they produced all carried a sew-in label, well known by collectors of today, with most reading ‘Hygienic Toys / Made in England / Chad Valley Co. or Chad Valley Co. Ltd.’ some simply ‘Hygienic Toys England’.

In 1922 Chad Valley was a Listed Exhibitor at the British Industries Fair (Stand F.35) Indoor Games, Puzzles, Christmas Crackers and Stockings, Toys of all Description including Playing Balls, Teddy Bears, Fabric Dolls and other Soft Toys, Rattles, Mascots etc. Interestingly enough they also featured (Stand Nos. K.35 and K.60) Listed as Manufacturers of Stationers’ Carded Sundries and Fancy Goods, Labels and Tickets, Office Appliances, Motorists’ Trunks, Fur Rugs and Gauntlets, Picnic Cases.

Further expansion took place again in 1928 with a new factory adjoining the main works at Harborne, and again in 1932 with the acquisition of the long established London toy making firm of Peacock & Company which added new capabilities and allowed them to offer tinplate products, including toy cars and clockwork train sets.

During the 1920′s and 1930′s the Wrekin toy works produced a steady stream of new dolls, these dolls were dressed in authentic materials and Chad Valley even brought out several boy dolls suitably attired in tweed sports jackets with felt collars, neck ties and of course the obligatory gun bag as befits the children of the country squire. It was this attention to detail which set them apart from the competition but they were not cheap, typically selling for somewhere between 5/- and 30/- which would equate to around £20 – £100 in todays money.

In 1938 Chad Valley were granted the prestigeous Royal Warrant of Appointment – ‘Toymakers to Her Majesty the Queen’, a relatively rare honour for a toy maker at this time. This may have had something to do with the fact that earlier in a bold move the Palace had been approached by Chad Valley executives for permission to produce dolls of the Royal Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. It was with some surprise that the company received a note back from the Queen agreeing to the proposal along with suggested dates for the two princesses to sit for the proposed dolls. Fortunately for Chad Valley the dolls proved an instant hit, selling in large numbers not only at home but right across the then British Empire and so for the next fourteen years all Chad Valley toys carried the words ‘Toymakers to H.M. The Queen’. This was later amended to ‘Toymakers to H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’ when Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne in 1952.

Around the 1939-1940 period Chad Valley acquired the tooling of tinplate toymakers Burnett of London who had got into financial difficulties and continued to manufacture many of that companys product lines well after the second world war probably the most well know of which was the ‘Ubilda’ tinplate model kits.

War, sadly again, played a part in the fortunes of the company in the 1940′s. The Second World War resulted in production of toys being dramatically cut as the Chad Valley factories concentrated their output to the war effort with government contracts for the production of such items as wooden instrument cases and cases for use in anti-aircraft guns, hospital tables and tent poles, auto-pilots and charts. However one factory was retained by the government for toy manufacture, specialising in the production of jigsaws, chess sets, draughts and dominoes for use in military hospitals and the Forces generally.

With the ending of the war the Chad Valley factories quickly returned to toy production and the company went from strength to strength adding both metal and rubber toys to their range. In 1950 it stopped being a family business and became a public limited company.

Over the next ten years or so they go on to expand by acquiring several companies including in 1951 the metal toy manufacturers of Hall and Lane, in 1954 the family business of Robert Brothers (Gloucester) Ltd., trading as ‘Glevum’ Toys and in 1958 the metal toy makers Acme Stopper and Box Co. The Glevum range of toys and games were to be produced in Harborne at an additionally factory, the Wee-Kin Works, on the banks of the Chad. By 1960 Chad Valley comprised seven factories and employed over 1,000 people and was considered to be at its peak of manufacturing by this time.

H.G. Stone and Co. Ltd. ( Chiltern Toys ) was the final company to be taken over in 1967 despite Chad Valley beginning to feel the onset of stiff foreign competition and recession.

1971 saw the company sold to John Bentley of Barclay Securities for £600,000 who came with the reputation of streamlining and rationalising companies under his control. Within a year the sales catalogue now lists only 250 products half of which were new lines whilst the remainder had been updated and repackaged. The main Harborne factory closes and was eventually demolished and boxed game production moves to the Hall & Lane factory site in central Birmingham. Three out of the nine factories are to close with the resultant redundancies.

After 1975 only two factories remained whilst the manufacture of soft toys was relocated to Pontypool in South Wales.

In 1978 the company was taken over by Palitoy of Leicester and a year later in 1979 the closure of the Hall & Lane site ended Chad Valley’s long established links with Birmingham.

In 1988 the trade name of Chad Valley was acquired by Woolworths and remained in use until that company’s closure due to insolvency. Home Retail Group, the parent company of retailers Homebase and Argos, purchased the brand for a reputed £5 million in 2009. The Chad Valley brand is now available exclusively through Argos catalogues.


further examples of Chad Valley toys :




An excellently illustrated Chad Valley boxed board game manufactured c1912. The object of the game was to move, by means of a spinning dice, around the board starting at London and finishing at Windsor Castle travelling via such places and cities as Dublin, Montreal, Paris, Japan and New Zealand. Board has lovely illustrations of the sights of London and other cities and counters are in the form of early Bleriot type aircraft.


                                    RACE TO THE OCEAN COAST >

Dating to around the 1920′s is this Chad Valley GWR railway racing board game. An attractively illustrated board showing a map of Great Western railway tracks covering the West Country and Wales. Various metal locomotive and saloon car counters compete in this race to the coast.



Without doubt the table top horse racing game of Escalado was one of those iconic games produced by Chad Valley. Introduced in 1928 the game was a constant best seller well into the 1960′s. Originally consisted of 5 lead race horses with jockeys, a green cloth fabric track with clamps and a mechanical winding mechanism along with a staking sheet on which one placed ones bets. Over the years the illustrated box top changed and reflected the decade, opposite shows a pre-war box lid.


Originally dating to the late 1940′s this Chad Valley game is a complete miniature table top game of cricket. Contains a bat, ball, pair of stumps, scoreboard and numbers, 9 fielders and a firing action bowler. The bowler figure is used by one player to toss a wooden ball at the wickets whilst the other player attempts to hit the ball into play avoiding the wooden fielders. Shown here is an illustration of the 1950′s version of the game.



Chad Valley ‘Wee-Kin’ motorised toy model of a Rolls Royce Razor Edge Saloon car. Diecast vehicle fitted with a key-wound clockwork motor produced between 1949-1953. Model came in various colouways in a card illustrated box at 1:43 scale.




This Chad Valley clockwork driven toy comes as a cable laying vehicle, again produced around 1949 – 1953. Lorry came in red cab and chassis colourway finish with green bed mounted with a cable drum, coloured string acting as the cable.



Wee-Kin van type refuse wagon, diecast clockwork model in van type configuration has green cab and body and fitted with grey tinplate sliding shutters. Again produced between 1949 – 1953.

Note : The first Wee-Kin diecast toy vehicles were produced around 1949 and had ‘CV 1949′ as the registration number.

 I hope to cover the ‘Wee-Kin’ element of the Chad Valley range in more detail at a later date along with further images.

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