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British Toy Companies : Mettoy Castoys

December 18th, 2014 6 comments

METTOY CASTOYS

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 :

718  PAXTON OBSERVATION COACH.

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.

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    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.

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                                                                     <  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.

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840  8 WHEEL LORRY

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.

850  FIRE ENGINE

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.

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863  TRACTOR AND TRAILER SET

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.

870  DELIVERY VAN

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.

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< ‘EXPRESS DELIVERY’ VAN

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.                                                                   

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< ‘POST OFFICE TELEPHONES’ VAN

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.

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               ’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.

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                ‘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.

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<  ’BOAC’ VAN

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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