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British Toy Companies : Mettoy Castoys

December 18th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to 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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  1. Larry coyle
    May 3rd, 2015 at 13:35 | #1

    Hi
    I have an 830 that is branded Mettoy on the base and is white.
    Are you sure that they only came in red and green?

    Can you advise of the possibly of spare parts?

  2. dave
    May 5th, 2015 at 10:38 | #2

    Ooops … Larry ! In the words of a Capt. Mainwairing from ‘Dads Army’ ” I wondered how long it would be before someone spotted that !! ”
    You are 100% correct of course the Mettoy mechanical racer also came in cream colourway finish and I don’t have a clue why I said just red or green in the post. All the racers did have one thing in common, green tinplate balloon wheels.
    So for the record the Mettoy 830 Mechanical Racer came in either cream, green or red bodywork finish ….. unless you know otherwise ! .. and the post will be adjusted accordingly.
    As for spares for these models ? personally I have never seen a site with Mettoy spares offered, there again I don’t know of any site offering genuine spares for toys of this era … now there’s an opening for some enterprising person. I usually suggest a decent toy fair as being the best chance as its usually the wheels that are needed and quite often you can find the odd box labelled ‘for spares or repair’.
    Thanks again for your message Larry, at least one person is reading my listings !
    David.

  3. Walter Herter
    June 13th, 2015 at 14:54 | #3

    Hi Roger,

    I have a red Mettoy Racer very similar to the 830 Mechanical Racer but without clockwork drive and with a plastic driver behind the wheel. The racer carries a racing number 7 on a paper disc on the left side behind the driver. And the models has the same wheels as the 1958 M&S Vanwall with silver diecast rims and black rubber tyres.

    Do you know when this model was released?

    Thanks and best regards
    Walter

  4. dave
    June 14th, 2015 at 10:41 | #4

    Hi there Walter, thanks for the full description of your Mettoy racer and as far as I know it was a derivative of the standard Mettoy 830 mechanical racer. It was sold under the ‘Castoys’ banner using the same bodywork styling but as you say was fitted with diecast ‘spoke’ effect hubs fitted with black rubber treaded tyres. No drive as such was fitted to the model just came as a free running racer. Unlike the standard mechanical racer your version is much harder to come by, probably because this wasn’t a particularly good seller for the company and as for date I can’t be specific but would guess it dates to the late 1950′s.
    Hope that helps a little, David.

  5. Chris Calver
    October 21st, 2016 at 22:27 | #5

    Hi.I was out clearing a fence line (stone) and came across a MTY 840 Lorry cab. Where can I find a picture of the complete unit? The cab is light blue with a red grill andred bottom. Tires are gone and motor is rusted. I have found a few old toys and place them on my bookshelf. They are just nice to look at. I will search around the same area for the lorry part. This area I live in has been settled for 200-300 years so a lot of history here. THX. Chris

  6. dave
    November 2nd, 2016 at 10:17 | #6

    Hi there Chris, the lorry is certainly by Mettoy.
    Diecast articulated vehicle with a clockwork motor which drove the rear 2 wheels of the 4 wheeled cab unit. As you say light blue bodywork cab unit with red metal baseplate. Registration plate MTY840 cast-in.
    Don’t have a picture to hand but will do my best to source one and add it to this post so please keep a watch for it appearing. By the way are you in the UK ?
    Cheers for now, David.

  7. Alistair McCarlie
    April 4th, 2018 at 01:47 | #7

    hi David ,i have a Paxton 718 coach and can’t see anywhere on it for a clockwork mechnism. Did this model not have one? It has all the other features you describe includeing the reg plate.
    cheers
    Alistair

  8. dave
    April 28th, 2018 at 16:10 | #8

    Hi there Alistair, the blue/gold Mettoy Castoys Luxury Observation Coach 718 as far as I am aware was never fitted with a clockwork drive and was not produced with a ‘key hole’ to it side but as just a ‘free running’ model. No doubt someone will let me know soon enough if this info is incorrect. Will try to add a picture on the site for reference.
    David.

  9. Danny
    October 13th, 2018 at 00:11 | #9

    Hi David I was hoping u could she’d some light on an 840 lorry that I have. It’s been finished in green which I can’t find any mention of that colour on one anywere. Even inside of the cab is green… Can u please help ????

    @dave

  10. dave
    October 15th, 2018 at 14:17 | #10

    Danny, everything I have relating to the Mettoy Castoys articulated trucks, either the 6 or 8 wheel version, gives me any other production colour other than that of a blue cab with silver trailer. I have seen a green cab version but this on closer inspection proved to be a repaint over the original blue. Sorry I can’t give you any further assistance on this, I will keep checking other sources and if I find anything I will add it to the post.
    All the best, David.

  11. Danny
    October 17th, 2018 at 14:37 | #11

    @dave
    Thank you David I appreciate your time perhaps I could send u some pictures so you could hopefully determine weather or not its been repainted or not. Thanks again ????

  12. dave
    November 16th, 2018 at 19:48 | #12

    Sorry I’ve been a while responding Danny and to be honest pictures would not help much in telling one if its a repaint, really need hands on for that. Best bet is to look up your local toy fair and take your model with you, someone there would be only too happy to give you an honest opinion. Alternatively try your local auction house that deals with toys, again they will be only too happy to give you their thoughts.
    Let us know how you get on, David.

  13. Andrew Minney
    March 6th, 2019 at 17:13 | #13

    Hi just bought a Mettoy 2 door coupe but minus caravan! Condition is not good but aa good wipe and liberal use of WD40 should help!
    Is it possible to get the caravan separately (condition not crucial)? Or is it a case of keeping your eyes open.
    I have been hooked on old toy model cars for some time collecting at least one example of every obscure/obsolete model I come across.

  14. dave
    March 7th, 2019 at 10:34 | #14

    Hi there Andrew and thanks for your question. Phew ! Mettoy cars and caravans could fill up several pages in their own right but I’ll try and keep it brief.
    Firstly, Mettoy cars are the harder of the two pieces in the combination to find and the most expensive element. Whilst the caravans tend to be easier to come across and the least expensive of the two components. However the downside is that the hitching bar to the caravan is quite often missing.
    Mettoy did a range of Car and Caravan ‘sets’.
    The most common of these car and caravan sets was the good old ‘Woody Wagon’ as he tends to get called. Basic tin plate push along model that we probably see the most of at fairs, car boots and auctions, although at auctions they

    are more often than not included in ‘job lots’, its only when they come with the caravan that they get lotted as an individual item. The car comes in green and wood effect panelling, the caravan in a similar, but paler, green and cream finish. Windows were stamped out and a sliding opening to the roof. It should be noted that I said the car was a push along model, which is the majority of models you will come across, but Mettoy did do the same model but fitted with a clockwork motor.

    Moving on and Mettoy did some super clockwork driven two door saloon cars. These models dwarfed the ‘Woody’ model although the caravans by and large remained the same.


    The saloon cars came in several colourway finishes, some had drivers in some without, some were classed as limousines some as saloons. As I said earlier there were multiple variants but I think I am right in saying most were fitted with a permanent key. ( I expect I’ll get messages correcting me on that ! ) And just like the cars the caravans they towed came in several different versions. Although basically the same some vans, rather than having the windows stamped out, did have them tin-printed in black with curtains showing.
    As I said at the beginning of this piece you should be able to pick up a suitable van quite easily, not looked on dreaded Ebay yet but they do come up quite regularly. You should definitely come across one at a good toy fair without any problem.
    Hope that is of some use, all the best, David.

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