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British Toy Companies : Shackleton Toys

April 25th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Shackleton Toys

Formed by Maurice Shackleton in 1939 the company originally traded as James Shackleton & Sons Ltd producing a range of wooden toys such as dolls houses and lorries.

The company was based at the ‘Wheatsheaf Works’, Malkins Bank, Sandbach, Cheshire and its original pre-war wooden lorries were of a simple design with a wooden chassis and body. These toys were based on the Foden trucks of the day, its no coincidence as the Foden factory was just down the road and Maurice, prior to embarking on his toy making enterprise, actually worked there. The lorries carried a pressed metal radiator to the front of the cab and were also easily identifiable by means of their green Shackleton name badge which was applied to the rear of the cab.

Although established as a manufacturer of wooden toys, today Shackleton are without doubt best known for their range of diecast models. Each model was manufactured using seperate parts which could in turn be taken apart and then reassembled by means of a basic tool kit. This tool kit simply consisted of a spanner and screwdriver and was included with each model.

It was in 1948 that Shackleton launched this range of ready assembled diecast constructional models based on the Foden FG 6 wheel lorry. Each scale model came housed in a lift-off lidded card box.

No one can doubt that the Foden diecast lorries produced by Shackleton were of high quality. All the components required to build the lorries were made in-house and that included the clockwork motor. The motor was located inside the cab itself and power was transferred through a drive shaft to the vehicles rear wheels. The downside of all this attention to detail and the subsequent labour costs involved meant that the final price of the vehicle was not cheap, on the contrary the first boxed Fodens were retailing at a whopping £2/19s/6d (£2.97 1/2p) well outside the price range of the average schoolboy, at a time when the equivalent Dinky Supertoy Fodens of the day could be picked up at your local toy store for around 10/- (50p) !

No doubt it was these high production costs together with other associated factors that resulted in the production of these high quality toys continuing for just four years before the company was forced to close its doors in 1952.

SHACKLETON MODELS INCLUDED :

    < SHACKLETON FODEN FG6 TIPPER LORRY

 This particular model is finished in orange cab and tipping body colourway with red mudguards and a light grey chassis, lights detailed in silver finish. Various other colourways available included : lime green cab/back with red mudguards, light blue cab/back with red mudguards, light green cab/back with red mudguards, grey cab/back with red mudguards, red cab and mudguards with green back, dark blue cab/back with red mudguards, yellow cab/back with red mudguards, emerald green cab/back with red mudguards, pale blue cab/back with dark blue mudguards, red cab/back with red mudguards

SHACKLETON FODEN FG PLATFORM LORRY > 

Model shown detailed in yellow cab and flatbed colourway on a red chassis with grey mudguards. Lights and radiator grille detailed in silver finish. Other colourway versions included : dark green cab/platform on grey chassis with red mudguards, light blue cab/platform on grey chassis with dark blue mudguards, yellow cab/platform on grey chassis with blue mudguards, dark blue cab/platform on grey chassis with red mudguards, light grey cab/platform on grey chassis with red mudguards, dark blue cab/platform on red chassis with black mudguards, dark blue cab/platform on red chassis with grey mudguards, yellow cab/platform on grey chassis with red mudguards, pale green cab/platform on grey chassis with red mudguards.

< SHACKLETON 8 TON DYSON TRAILER

The Shackleton 8 ton Dyson trailer could be used alongside any of the Shacklton Fodens. As with the Foden lorries the Dyson flatbed trailer came in a variety of colourways, the one shown opposite in dark blue flatbed finish with grey chassis and red mudguards with towing eye to the front. The thick card picture box came with two small end flaps and one large tuck-in flap to both ends.

SHACKLETON ‘DAVID BROWN’ TRACKMASTER 30 > 

Like the Shackleton Foden models this ‘David Brown’ Trackmaster 30 came with a clockwork motor drive. Crawler tractor in red colourway finish ( I have only come across this colourway finish but that does not mean to say it was the only finish available ), with black rubber tracks and chimney. Model came complete within a picture card box with lift off lid.

Above is a typical advertisement of the day for Shackleton Foden models which were placed in publications such as Meccano Mgazine etc. Interesting to note that the retailer must have placed the original advertisement as it is their name that appears with no mention of the manufacturer !

NOT QUITE THE END OF THE STORY !

In 1958 the Foden factory saw the introduction of lightweight glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) used in cab production. The first Foden GRP cab was the distinctly styled S21 model with its large split windscreen and bulbous front wheelarches. The S21 was initially nicknamed the ‘Spaceship’ or ‘Sputnik’ by the commercial press, but it is its other endearing nickname of ‘Mickey Mouse’ which seems to have outlasted them all. Not certain how the ‘Mickey Mouse’ name came about, the names that last tend to stick often come from the drivers of the vehicles themselves. Did they think that the S21 looked nothing like a conventional lorry ? or perhapse some wag though that head on it did resemble the cartoon character ? whatever it was the S21 which re-emerged as a ‘Shackleton’ model sometime in the 1990′s.

 < REPRODUCTION ‘SHACKLETON’ LTD. EDITION S21 PLATFORM LORRY

The S21 Mickey Mouse cabbed platform lorry was produced as a limited edition reproduction ‘Shackleton’ model in the late ’90′s by Frank Hardern using original tooling and dies. Produced in dark green colourway finish the model was produced with a resin cab, pressed steel chassis with a wooden platform body. Unlike the originals which were clockwork driven the S21 was powered by an electric motor turning through universal drive shafts to the rear bogie.

The models came in a brown, lift-off lidded card box, with an applied printed paper label. The limited edition certificate, which came with each model, was in the form of a reproduction log book.

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  1. Ron Fry
    May 25th, 2013 at 22:27 | #1

    1st series clockwork 6-wheeled flatbed models had 5 leaf front springs.
    Screw nut steering wheel.
    Smaller diameter prop shaft.
    No crescent cut out to the back of the cab.
    ————————————————-
    2nd series;6 leaf front springs(but they still bent!!).
    8ba screw to attach steering wheel to shaft.
    Thicker prop shaft with 6ba thread.
    Cab now had cut out to back to allow prop shaft coupling.
    Cab often had a small dia. hole to rear as it was also used
    on the then introduced tipper which used the hole to secure the
    spare wheel.

    Not all models came with a FODEN transfer on the rear o/s mudguard either

    Hope this is of some use. R.F.

  2. dave
    May 26th, 2013 at 21:39 | #2

    Thanks for sharing that knowledge with us Ron, your input and info on Shackleton models is much appreciated.
    David.

  3. Eleanna
    June 9th, 2013 at 18:52 | #3

    Dear David,
    My name is Eleanna and I am a student director in London. At the moment I am directing a short film which the main part is taking place at an old toy shop where one of the characters was making mechanical toys for 20years.

    I just saw your page, which is marvelous by the way, and I took the liberty to ask you where we could find old toys to dress our set.

    The shop should be a magical place, with lots & lots of toys which are mechanical or have a hand made look…

    We have only a small budget for the props but we really want to make a great job.
    Could you please suggest me, if that is possible where we could find great toys in London that they are very cheap or that we could borrow for a week???

    Thank you very much for your help in advance.

    Sincerely,
    Eleanna

  4. dave
    June 10th, 2013 at 16:50 | #4

    Hi there Eleanna, my wife and daughter have helped out local theatre groups in the past with low cost glass and ceramic items etc., to be used just the once for various plays, condition was not important as they would only be seen from a distance, however your request is somewhat different to that. I would suggest that the majority of vintage small mechanical toys were of tinplate construction, larger items could introduce wood as the main construction material. No doubt you are looking for a mixture with one or two large statement pieces. The problem you have is that original vintage pieces will also carry a premium price which means that you need to be looking at reproduction pieces to stand a chance and it doesn’t matter if they work or don’t ! I always look more closely at films/plays/adverts on the TV where toys are included – amazing how many times the tinplate american saloon cars from India crop up, these are brand new but look c1950′s ! Seriously you don’t need me to tell you that your budget is going to be your biggest problem !!
    Internet could be the way forward if you only wanted one or two items but not much use when you require a shop full.
    Don’t have any dealer contacts in the London area either so thats a dead end.
    Have you approached any toy museums in your area who may help you out with loan items for some form of mention in your credits.
    Alternatively look for and visit any toy fairs locally and see if you can find a friendly dealer who may help you out on a rental basis.
    Sorry I know its not much help but thats the best I can come up with.
    However if anyone reading this post can help out I will be happy to put the two parties together. David.

  5. David Shackleton
    November 23rd, 2014 at 20:42 | #5

    Dear David,

    Just found your website and noticed the above request of 2013 for help.

    I am the eldest (now 68) of Maurice and Joan Shackleton’s four children. If you would be interested in being in touch with us in connection with requests such as the above or any other matters to do with our Dad’s business at Malkins Bank, please get in touch.

    Best wishes,

    David

  6. Tom Matthewa
    January 6th, 2015 at 11:03 | #6

    Hi David, for the last 60 years I have owned a Shackleton Toy Foden FG Lorry in yellow with red mudguards. It is still boxed and has hot been played with a lot as it was always “too good”. It still has the tools but I think the wind up key is from an antique clock – it is much too ornate!The condition is good except today I noticed for the first time that there is a chip to the cab roof about one cm diameter. I do not intend selling it but would like an idea of its value and wonder if there are any others in the London area with a Shackleton Toy Foden FG? Thanks. Tom

  7. dave
    January 7th, 2015 at 10:52 | #7

    Happy New Year to you Tom, as I’m constantly saying its almost impossible to give a value on any specific toy as there are far too many variables. However as a price guide I would estimate that your Foden, working and in good condition in a good box, should realise somewhere around £200 – £300. For a better estimate your local auction house that has specific toy sales would give you a better guide. By the way I hope the chip you mention is 1mm. rather than the 1cm. you state !
    Cheers, David

  8. dave
    February 4th, 2015 at 18:34 | #8

    Hi David and thanks for the kind offer !
    As you know I have already messaged you privately on this and will keep in touch.
    So far we have been able to handle the requests for info. etc on Shackleton items but if anyone has a particular sticking question, Shackleton related, then just message us and we will take it from there.
    Please note that any requests for help or info will only go through this site, on no account will we give out direct contact details for Mr. Shackleton.
    Thanks David once again for your comments, David

  9. Michael Hayes
    December 16th, 2015 at 18:40 | #9

    David

    I also have a Shackleton Foden lorry. Fairly good condition but some parts have got detached and we are missing some of the small brass nuts and bolts. Any idea where we could obtain some that would work (eg.Hex heads will not)?

    Michael

  10. dave
    December 24th, 2015 at 11:51 | #10

    Hi there Mike, as you know I have contacted David Shackleton on this and will keep you updated on any feedback we get. However I am posting your question just in case any of our visitors to the site can help out. Cheers for now, David.

  11. Tony Lodge
    April 22nd, 2016 at 16:18 | #11

    I have a collection of about eighty Shackleton lorries and about thirty trailers. I was lucky enough to have one as a child, which I still have in near perfect condition. My collecting bug started in 1978, when I saw one for sale for £30, at the classic car show. My original lorry came with an Abbey Corinthian Games parts list which is dated 1957, which is still in the box. I visited them in 1967 and met a chap who remembered the models and told me the last models were all thrown away because of the metal fatigue problems. Prior to getting my lorry a friend of my father, who worked for David Brown, gave me a four wheel David Brown tractor. Sadly I was too young to have this and took in apart and it was wrecked! I do remember it came in a green box with a picture on the lid. It was certainly made in the Shackleton style and have always wondered if these were made by Maurice Shackleton. My older brother was also given one and his survived in very good order until his wife gave it to their son to play with in about 1980! Sadly that was the end of that.
    I noticed someone was after some 8BA brass nuts and bolts. Clerkenwell Screws Ltd can supply these and can be contacted on 020774056504.
    Any information is always interesting
    Many thanks
    Tony

  12. dave
    May 5th, 2016 at 19:23 | #12

    Hi Tony and thanks for that info, much appreciated.
    David.

  13. Graeme Ellis
    October 1st, 2016 at 19:52 | #13

    Hi David
    I have a Shackleton clockwork lorry but my young son knocked it off the shelf and Both ends of the flatbed have broken off,is there anywhere that make replacement flatbeds

    Many thanks

    Graeme

  14. dave
    October 1st, 2016 at 21:14 | #14

    Graeme, Sorry I don’t know of anyone making replacement flatbeds at the moment but will post this request for help and hope someone may be able to come up with some info. for you !
    You could try ‘toysintime’ through my LINKS section who do Shackleton spares but don’t think they list the flatbed but they may be prepared to cast one ? worth a try. Please mention this site when you try them.
    All the best David.

  15. Ron Fry
    November 20th, 2016 at 22:21 | #15

    Tony, I believe the model you recall was made by Denzil Skinner.

    If you do a Google search you will find several examples………..

  16. dave
    December 1st, 2016 at 19:38 | #16

    Further to the earlier post from Tony which included a reference to a David Brown tractor and its pedigree I can only agree with the comment from Ron that it was in fact not a Shackleton model but in fact one produced by the model maker Denzil Skinner.
    Lt. Col. Denzil Robert Skinner, had a very successful Army career which included in his later years being involved with armoured vehicle design development. After his retirement from the military he joined Vivian Loyd Tractors and in 1961 founded Denzil Skinner & Co. Ltd., model makers.

    Denzil Skinner models were ‘proper’ diecast vehicles, heavy and highly detailed and I can well understand you thinking it may have a Shackleton connection. David Brown Tractors were protective of their reputation and only gave license to toy manufacturers to produce models of their vehicles very occasionally. However Denzil Skinner were commissioned to manufacture a model of the DB 25D tractor.
    Hope that helps Tony and thanks for the back-up once again Ron.

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