Archive for October, 2012

British Toy Companies : Benbros Toys

October 28th, 2012 No comments

Benbros Toys – Vehicles :

‘TV Series’ / ‘Mighty Midgets’ / ‘Zebra Toys’ / ‘Qualitoys’

Working out of Walthamstow in N.E. London Benbros was formed in 1940 by brothers Jack and Nathan Beneson manufacturing diecast metal toys and lead soldiers. Originally called Benson Bros. its not rocket science to work out how they arrived by 1951 at their adopted company name of Benbros.

Around this time, the early 1950’s, Benbros somewhat limited range of vehicles was expanded with the addition of re-issues of several Timpo models for which they had aquired the dies following Timpo Toys decision to discontinue production of diecast vehicles.

From the picture opposite  of Benbros lorries its quite easy to see that the three articulated vehicles came out of the Timpo range. The articulated petrol tanker now with a SHELL logo and delivering to a Benbros garage, the articulated removals van, no longer Pickfords but in the livery of Benbros Removals and Storage and the articulated low loader. The Euclid Dumper Lorry was a copy of the Dinky #965. 

Late 1954 and Benbros introduced their ‘TV Series’ of small Matchbox sized models packaged in boxes resembling upright TV sets of the time.

These models continued in this format for several years before the series was updated with a new name – ‘Mighty Midget’ – the packaging changed to a more modern red and yellow  box with a line drawing of the model it contained, reflecting the style of the ‘Matchbox’ series, these small scale models having an average length of around the 2″/50mm. mark.

The Mighty Midget series was available up to 1965.

In an attempt to update their larger scale models in the 1960’s with a range which contained finer detail and more features such as detailed plastic interiors, plastic windows in some and jewelled headlights, Benbros brought out their ‘Zebra’ range of models.

The Zebra range came packaged in a distinctive black and white striped boxes along with a coloured line illustration of the model it contained.

Running alongside the Zebra range were other Benbros vehicles carrying the ‘Qualitoy’ name to the boxes.

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British Toy Companies : Timpo Toys

October 26th, 2012 14 comments

Timpo Toys – History ( Vehicles )

Although Timpo produced a variety of toys both metal, and later plastic, for this introduction to Timpo Toys I am concentrating purely on the metal vehicle element of the company.

Timpo Toys Ltd. operated out of No.26 Westbourne Grove, London W2., the name of Timpo came out of ‘Toy Importers Ltd’ and was to become the Company Trademark, as the name implies an importer of toys rather than a toy manufacture and was founded  in 1938 by Sally Gawrylovitz (1907-2000) a Jewish refugee from Frankfurt, Germany . With the outbreak of the Second World War importing became impossible and in order to continue Timpo began to manufacture for themselves. In saying that materials were scarce for toy production at that time, never-the-less four models were produced during those war years, namely the hollow cast  MG Record Car and the diecast/zamac Streamlined Saloon,  Pick-up Truck and Light Saloon. It wasn’t until 1946 that more models were to see the light of day.

1946 -1947 saw the range grow with the addition of various racing cars / saloons / utility vans / commercial vehicles and articulated box vans and trucks.

Timpo Toys were represented at the British Industries Toy Fair held at Olympia in 1947 and were advertised as a manufacturer of cast metal toys both mechanical and non-mechanical

More saloons, trucks and vans followed from 1948 through to 1950 with the introduction of friction drive motors from 1948 into both existing and new models. These later production models also saw an increase in the finished quality of the vehicles but sadly the ban in the use of zinc in the manufacturing process around 1951-’52 meant that Timpo discontinued all their diecast/zamac vehicles with some of the Timpo dies taken up by Benbros. (AEC Slumberland / Bedford Commer Moving Van / Fordson Tractor amongst others).

1953 saw Toy Importers moving production to Shotts, Lanarkshire, Scotland and changed its name to Model Toys but retained the Timpo trademark.

By and large the Timpo range of vehicles were by any standards somewhat crude yet sturdy in their construction and perhaps for that reason are viewed today as being rather attractive in their simplicity. View for yourselves and make up your own mind.



Here we have three TIMPO  SALOONS >





<  On the left a selection of TIMPO RACING CARS



Below are two examples of Timpo articulated box vans in the livery of United Dairies and Pickfords both these would date to 1947. As you can see from the images the castings are the same. Simply a matter of different colourways and decals to effect a different model.  


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