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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.



 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


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.


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.


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 !


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.


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. Paul Heeks
    October 27th, 2019 at 18:11 | #1

    Have just purchased my first Shackleton Foden FG. love it
    I live in Sydney Australia, and picked up my model on a recent trip to the UK and discovered that the model was originally sold in Vancouver BC Canada
    regards, Paul H

  2. dave
    October 29th, 2019 at 18:29 | #2

    Hi Paul I’m certain that Shackleton lorries were distributed worldwide although I don’t have any documentation to confirm this. Maybe someone out there can shed a bit of light on this aspect of the Shackleton story.

  3. Ron Fry
    October 30th, 2019 at 19:50 | #3

    Welcome to the world of Shackleton Paul..Can I suggest you keep a watchful eye on your local E-Bay several have appeared for sale from down under so they are not unknown down there..

    With regard to distribution….I would think that they were certainly sent out to what was then termed ” The Commonwealth” at the very least..

  4. dave
    October 31st, 2019 at 17:59 | #4

    Nice one Ron, thanks for joining in the conversation once again on Shackleton models.

  5. Steve Kerkes
    January 17th, 2020 at 21:01 | #5

    I have a Shackleton David Brown Crawler Tractor that I found years ago at a local yard sale.It is in very nice condition however the clock spring doesn’t wind. I haven’t tried to repair it. The paint is very nice. I am looking to sell. Any interest? I can send interested parties pictures if they would like.
    Thank you, Steve

  6. dave
    January 31st, 2020 at 17:24 | #6

    If anyone is interested in Steves’ model just message in and I will pass your details on.

  7. Rob L
    January 31st, 2020 at 22:11 | #7


    I’m interested in Steve’s model. Cheers

  8. dave
    February 3rd, 2020 at 22:04 | #8

    OK Rob, I’ve passed your details onto Steve and no doubt he will be in touch.
    Best of luck, David.

  9. Ron Fry
    February 16th, 2020 at 15:24 | #9

    Did the David Brown sell… any updates?

  10. dave
    March 7th, 2020 at 19:30 | #10

    Hi Ron, no updates on this from anyone.
    Cheers, David

  11. Keith Robson
    May 16th, 2020 at 13:03 | #11

    I have had a Shackleton Foden FG flatbed since circa 1950/52, however, it is in need of substantial restoration. It has several broken parts including the actual flatbed but also various suspension pieces, steering column, steering wheel and drive axle housing, mainly. I have found replacement parts but the flatbed is second hand and a different colour – blue when mine is light green – so, obviously it will need repainting. My question is: will I be able to get a colour match paint, and if so, where? Also, my trailer is a shade of mid-green and I have always regretted that the lorry and trailer were not matching colours. Since I will be painting the flatbed in any case, I could take the opportunity to paint the lorry the same as the trailer – but should I even be considering doing that?

  12. Keith Robson
    May 29th, 2020 at 19:51 | #12

    What is the correct way up to fit the rear bogie spring on a Shackleton Foden FG6 – the normal way for a semi-elliptic spring (as in the front springs) or inverted? I have looked at umpteen photos which illustrate them fitted either way up, though most of them do show the inverted installation.
    Casting my mind back to my early working days, my memory is that full size Fodens were fitted with inverted springs. Time, of course, can confuse memories, so mine might be a false one.

  13. dave
    May 30th, 2020 at 19:21 | #13

    OK, so who can give Keith a definitive answer on this question of the correct way to fit the rear bogie spring on the Shackleton Foden…
    Cheers, David.

  14. dave
    May 30th, 2020 at 19:33 | #14

    Hi there Keith as you know we have discussed this post between ourselves but I have posted it here to see if anyone can give us some idea on the correct paint reference to match that used on the original Shackleton Foden trucks.
    Any help you can give Keith on this appreciated.
    Cheers, David.

  15. Ron Fry
    June 13th, 2020 at 10:19 | #15

    Keith….I reckon when the models were new the rear springs had the full leaf at the lowest point, however whenever I replace any I prefer to match them with the short leaf lowest as per the fronts..Shackletons should always be displayed “propped up” regardless as even the original springs tended to bend… Re. the colour match, make friends with your local car repair paint supplier (not H*lfords) and take the item with you.. that gives them a chance to match it from their chip cards..

  16. paul
    June 29th, 2020 at 19:39 | #16

    Hi all,

    I been sorting through father in laws models due to bereavement and found a very smart Foden Shackleton lorry red and green flatbed has box in good condition all parts in place and very little ware no decals has key and brace all works when wound up just wondering what kind of value it has and how collectable these model toys are



  17. dave
    July 12th, 2020 at 10:00 | #17

    Hi again Ron and many thanks for your contribution I’m sure Keith and others including myself will appreciate your knowledge.
    All the best, stay safe, David.

  18. philip cavey
    July 19th, 2020 at 12:37 | #18

    Hi all, my Father in Law had a box of old toys that included a Shackleton Foden in a state of disrepair. It’s all original but has some broken suspension springs and is missing screws etc. The spring doesn’t wind up with the key but the drive does work OK. Are there any recommended sources of spares or is Ebay the place? Any contacts for someone who could look at the spring mechanism. I’d like to try and get it all going for him. Thanks all, Phil

  19. Keith Robson
    July 21st, 2020 at 11:52 | #19

    Ron. Many thanks for your contribution – your opinions are duly noted. On the matter of the paint, I have discovered a local (if 25 miles can be described as local) company that supplies paint matching to the motor trade but also for hobbyists. They do small batch mixing in aerosol cans. My colour sample is currently with them and I’m just waiting to hear if they’ve been able to help.

  20. dave
    July 23rd, 2020 at 10:04 | #20

    Hi there Paul,
    Its a bit like asking how long is a piece of string …. Shackleton models rather like all vintage toys vary greatly in price depending on numerous factors. You only have to look on any internet site to see what sells for a few pounds one week can sell for double the amount a few days later !
    The Shackleton Fodens are indeed highly collectable today, again like a lot of vintage toys, its the older generation who could not afford the models in their childhood (or should I say the parents could not afford them) but remember them with fondness and now have the resources to collect these items. You only have to visit any auction house where old toys are up for grabs to witness this.
    However like most collectables prices did take a bit of a dip. A few years ago the Fodens were highly sought after and fetched good prices at auction but then dropped back. As I said earlier prices are all over the place and just looking at recent prices realised at auction a Foden flatbed with box could fetch anything from £200 / £400 where as Internet auction prices tend to be higher with prices pushing £400 / £500+.
    Best of luck if you are selling, stay safe, David.

  21. dave
    July 23rd, 2020 at 18:29 | #21

    Hi again Keith and thanks for the update.

  22. dave
    July 23rd, 2020 at 18:58 | #22

    Hi there Phil,
    I’ve not dealt with anyone direct on Shackleton spares so reluctant to pass on names but if anyone has some useful info on this happy to post for Phil to pick up on.
    I have noticed that there does seem to be more and more spares for Shackleton Fodens being listed on Ebay but the only word of warning is to check that they are original and not recast items. I’ve had one or two comments that some recast components leave a lot to be desired.
    As always there are several of our regular contributors who offer a wealth of knowledge regarding Shackleton models … so watch this space Phil !
    All the best, stay safe, David.

  23. Ron Fry
    August 3rd, 2020 at 10:48 | #23

    Hello Philip

    , The man for motors is “Railgrinder” who sells Shackleton parts on E-BAY..The screws used are 8BA Brass Cheese head, also available on E-B..probably best to get long ones and trim to length as several lengths are used on the model.

  24. dave
    August 8th, 2020 at 15:22 | #24

    Here you go Phil – knew someone would help out and if anyone can Ron can !
    Thanks again for your input Ron, appreciated.

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