Tin Toys List of Japanese Tinplate Toy Companies Trademarks / Logos

January 12th, 2013 9 comments

Japanese Tinplate Toy Companies Trademarks / Logos

This page lists various Japanese tinplate toy companies and the trademarks they used. The list is by no means complete and as such will be ‘work in progress’ and will be continuously developing as and when I come across more information and the time to grow the site.

At the same time I intend to expand the brief thumbnail description given on each company into a more rounded company listing to include pictures on the models they produced etc., at which point I will give that company its own page within the site.

Japanese Toy Trademarks & Logos


ALPS – Shojo

Formed in Tokyo in 1948 ALPS is generally regarded as producing some of the better quality tinplate toys throughout the post war years. Despite this success ALPS decided to change its emphasis in the early 1970′s and concentrate its efforts into the more profitable consumer and industrial electronics marketplace.

For detailed company information, including product images, see my seperate completed ALPS page listing.


ASC – Aoshin

Formed in Tokyo in 1950 its trademark logo had the letters of the company ‘ASC’ within a diamond. Although successful initially, when the market place changed from tin toys towards diecast in the 1970′s ASC switched to creating portrayals of animated and live-action heroes.

For detailed company information, including product images, see my seperate completed AOSHIN page listing.


ATC – Asahi

The Asahi toy company was founded in Tokyo in the late 1940′s, initially producing lithographed tinplate toys, but around 1959 the company became the first major Japanese company to produce a 1:43 diecast scale model range designed specifically for the Japanese home market. As well as producing tinplate and diecast toys the Asahi company also acted as the Japanese distributor for both Dinky and Corgi Toys.

The first company trade mark was used from around 1948 until 1955 whilst the lower trade mark shown of a Santa figure was used from around 1955 onwards.



Formed in Tokyo in 1950. Bandai had several trademarks over its lifetime, initially the one shown - the letter ‘B’ within an outer letter ‘C’  which represented ‘Bandai Company’. By 1980 Bandai was the major Japanese toy company and was to become the world’s third largest toy company.



Although perhapse best known for producing the original version of the ‘Musical Jolly Chimp’ a toy that was to be replicated by various American, Japanese and Chinese companies Daishin also produced numerous tin toy cars many of which were battery operated.


Daiya – Terai

Formed in Tokyo c1950 Daiya was most active from the mid – late 1950′s through to the late 1970′s, after which time the company appears to have dropped off the radar.

For detailed company information, including product images, see my seperate completed DAIYA page listing.


Haji / Mansei Toy Co

Formed in Tokyo in 1951 Haji was also known as the Mansei Toy Company. A small and relatively short lived toy maker producing a range of tinplate vehicles and tinplate novelties like ‘Strutting Sam’ a clockwork dancing figure.

For detailed company information, including product images, see my seperate completed HAJI – MANSEI page listing.



Formed in Tokyo in 1959 Horikawa, often thought of as a manufacturer of tin toys, is now believed to have been simply a reseller of products supplied by Metal House (Marumiya) which itself began life around 1943. Horikawa is best know for a prolific range of space toys noteably its space robots (Mr. Zerox, Attacking Martian, Fighting Robot) to name but three. Despite three decades of success Horikawa closed in the late 1980′s.

For detailed company information, including product images, see my seperate completed HORIKAWA page listing.


Ichiko Kogyo Co.

Founded in Tokyo in the 1950′s Ichiko was a relatively small Japanese tinplate toy maker who produced a nice range of tinplate vehicles. Although the company is still in existance today it ceased production of tinplate toys sometime during the mid – late 1970′s.

For detailed company information, including product images, see my seperate completed ICHIKO page listing.


Kuramochi Shoten

Founded in Tokyo, Kuramochi was producing a range of tinplate, lead and celluloid toys in the late 1920′s and early 1930′s and indeed Kuramochi was the largest supplier of Japanese toys prior to WWII exporting to both England and the USA where its products were distributed by the Geo. Borgfeldt Co. Following WWII two of its main employees left to form the Japanese toy companies of ALPS and Normura.


Marusan Shoten

Formed in Tokyo in 1947 Marusan was initially a wholeseller/reseller of mainly tinplate and optical toys. Its roots lay in an earlier company, Ishida Manufacturing, again producing tinplate and optical items and it was its founders two sons along with a third party who were to set up Marusan. The company name and logo derive from the Japanese ‘Maru’ = circle and ‘San’ = three. Marusan is now one of the oldest names in the Japanese toy industry. 

For detailed company information, including product images, see my seperate completed MARUSAN page listing.


Masudaya – Modern Toys

Masudaya was formed in Tokyo in 1924 and is widely regarded as the oldest of Japan’s toy makers. Masudaya was a leading manufacturer of tinplate toys, both mechanical and battery operated, in the post war era. Its logo incorporates the letters M-T and is often refered to as Modern Toys. Masudaya produced a wide range of tinplate toys, aircraft, racing cars, military and civilian vehicles, motorbikes and space toys one of which was the classic ‘Radicon Robot’ in 1957, regarded as the first remote controlled robot.

For detailed company information, including product images, see my seperate completed Masudaya Modern Toys page listing.



Formed in Tokyo in the mid 1940′s Nomura produced tinplate toys into the late 1970′s. The letters T-N within the logo means that the company is often referred to as TN – Toys Nomura. It was one of the biggest and most prolific of the postwar Japanese toy makers and produced a variety of mechanical and battery operated toys, military and civilian vehicles, novelty items and space toys.

For detailed company information, including product images, see my seperate completed TN NOMURA page listing. 


Yoneya – Yone

Formed in Tokyo Yoneya, more than often referred to simply as Yone, used the trademark of a diamond lozenge around the letters SY pre 1964 after which the trademark was changed to incorporate the name Yone again within a diamond. Yoneya produced a variety of tinplate toys including various novelty items like the Hippo Bank and several clockwork carousel type toys, military vehicles to include jeeps and tanks, civilian and racing cars as well as space toys and robots.



Founded in Tokyo in the 1950′s Yonezawa, sometimes known simply as ‘Y’, was one of the most prolific of all post war Japanese toy makers. Its trademark was the letter ‘Y’ within a 5 petal stylised lotus flower. Yonezawa manufactured a whole raft of different battery and mechanical tinplate toys in various catagories before it ceased production of its toys sometime in the 1970′s.

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Japanese Toy Companies : AOSHIN ( ASC ) TOYS

January 4th, 2013 No comments

ASC (Aoshin Shoten) 1950 – present

ASC was founded in Tokyo sometime around 1950 in what was then classed as occupied Japan. Its trademark / logo had the letters of its company name ASC within a diamond.

ASC produced a range of tinplate / mechanical toy vehicles, space toys, many of which were to become highly collectable as were several of their classic robot figures, along with many tinplate novelty items all marked with the ASC logo. Early post war clockwork items normally operated by means of a permanent key before, like many of its competitors, there was a move to battery operated toys which would allow for multi-action features.

The history of ASC mirrored that of many Japanese tinplate toy companies which saw a continued healthy growth from a birth in the early years following the end of WWII when the demand for inexpensive toys was high and continued to grow year on year. However the company was struggling in its traditional marketplace by the 1970′s, switching instead to creating portrayals of animated and live-action heroes.

< ASC Toys Toyota Crown Coupe Taxi

Large scale friction drive tinplate model. Yellow bodywork finish with orange trim, Nippon Taxi livery, roof sign, plated parts and detailed tinprinted interior c1970.


ASC Toys Secret Service Action Car >

The ‘Green Hornet’ secret service action car from ASC, tinplate battery operated model in black colourway with plated parts. Green Hornet decal to the bonnet, secret service lettering to doors and boot and secret agent figure to roof. Lithographed interior with driver figure. Mystery action with flashing and bursting machine guns and laser beam, realistic sound, c1960.

< ASC Toys Smoking Volkswagen

Large scale tinplate battery operated Volkswagen Beetle model with detailed tinprinted interior. Produced in various colourways, light blue, orange, red etc  with plated parts. ‘Stop and Go’ mystery action, lighted engine compartment and smoke emitting exhaust, 27cm.

ASC Toys Tremendous Mike Robot >

This is a very rare and classic robot from the early 1950′s. Made of tinplate with clockwork mechanism the robot came in just two colourway versions - orange/red and grey/red. Skirted robot will change direction – ‘turn and go’ action, has sparks in his chest and rotating antenna.

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Japanese Toy Companies : ALPS TOYS

December 26th, 2012 26 comments

ALPS (Shojo) 1948 – present

Generally regarded as being a producer of some of the better quality Japanese toys throughout the post war years ALPS was originally founded in occupied Tokyo, Japan in 1948 by a former employee of CK – Kuramochi Shoten, then the largest pre-war Japanese toy company. Its distinctive trademark / logo has the word ‘ALPS’ superimposed on a triple peaked mountain and makes it toys relatively easy to identify.

ALPS produced a range of tinplate / mechanical toy vehicles, space toys including robots along with numerous animated novelty animals. Many of their early toys had multiple action features which was to set Japanese toys apart from their European / American counterparts and it was this ingenuety which ensured the popularity and demand for Japanese toys in the early post war years. Many of which were either clockwork initially or later battery in operation.

Despite their obvious success in the toy market ALPS decided to abandon all this in the early 1970′s and to concentrate all their manufacturing efforts and expertise into the larger and more profitable consumer and industrial electronics marketplace.

< ALPS Toys Pontiac :

‘Made in occupied Japan’, a very early ALPS product, tinplate, red bodywork finish, white balloon wheels, plated parts, clockwork operation, permanent key, 15cm.

ALPS Toys Cubby the Reading Bear >

Clockwork bear figure dressed in dungarees, raises head and turns over pages of a tinplate book. Originally came in colourful illustrated card box.



< ALPS Toys Picnic Bear :

Seated grey bear on lithographed tin-printed base. Holds plastic cup in one hand and a bottle in the other. Battery operated toy, bottle pours and cup lifts to mouth and eyes light up. Originally came in colourful illustrated card box.




 ALPS Toys Plymouth Belvadere > 

Large scale tinplate battery operated American sedan. Red bodywork with cream panels and roof. Detailed tinprinting to interior, plated parts including hub caps to white wall tyres. Operating headlamps, steerable front wheels, 30cm.


< ALPS Toys Television Spaceman :

A 1960′s battery operated tinplate and plastic model. Grey with detailed tin-printing, walking action with moving arms. Illuminated mouth piece with rotating eyes. Moving space scenes to chest TV, antenna functions as on/off switch, 38cm. Came in colourful illustrated card box.


ALPS Toys Mercedes Racing Car >

Based on a Mercedes racing car this large scale ‘Speed Challenger’ racer from Alps was battery operated, tinplate in construction. Red with detailed tin-printing and carried the racing number 1. Plastic windshield and driver, plated parts including hub caps, fitted with rubber tyres and steerable front wheels. On/off switch fitted to side of cockpit. 30cm.       


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British Toy Companies : Charbens Toys

December 7th, 2012 4 comments

Charbens Toys - Vehicles

part 1 – Charbens pre-war production

Although Charbens were to produce throughout their history a variety of toys both metal, and later plastic, for this introduction to Charbens and Co. I am concentrating simply on the metal vehicle element of that production.

In part 1 – I am looking at their pre-war production of metal vehicles which will ignore the large horse & animal drawn models which I know are a great favorite of collectors and which I hope to come back to in detail at a later date.

Charbens and Co. was started in the early 1920′s by two brothers Charles and Benjamin (Ben) Reid and its not rocket science to work out where the company name came from. In 1928 the companys address was given as 34 Mitford Road in the N19 district of London, a year later the company had relocated a short distance and the works were now based at Andover Yard, 219 Hornsey Road, Holloway, London N7, an address which was to become the company base for over 40 odd years.

Interestingly that part of London was the home of several toy manufacturers and within one mile of Charbens you could find Britains, Taylor and Barrett, John Hill & Co. and the Crescent Toy Co.

A Charbens advert in a trade magazine of 1928 saw them described as ‘manufacturers and designers of metal and eltro-plated novelties and die-casters’. Included was a mention of various lead toys all of which were based around a farming theme which included not only figures and animals but also scenery in the form of trees, bridges, windmills and other ancillery farming equipment.

In 1929 Charbens were a listed exhibitor at the British Industries Fair (Stand No.C13) as a ‘Manufacturer of Metal Farmyard Models and Novelties, etc, Metal Soldiers, Metal Moneyboxes, Metal Plated Pincushions etc., etc.

Lead figures, it is true to say, were the mainstay of the Charbens production line and although vehicles did feature in their output they played something of a secondary role. Never-the-less for this posting I will limit my comments to that secondary aspect – the Charbens vehicle range.

All Charbens pre-war vehicles were made of lead and ran to a very limited range. Their lead items, more often found marked ‘RD’ but also marked Mimic Toy (which was a brand name they used in the 1930′s) to the underside or Charbens.

It is generally understood that the earliest Charbens motor vehicles were copies of the American Tootsietoy models.

The Mack truck group typically shown above : Searchlight truck, pale green cab and chassis, missing searchlight / Market Gardener’s truck, fawn cab and chassis, maroon back / another in orange and green colourway / Pipe Delivery truck, pale green cab and chassis. Models were somewhere between 2.75″ (70mm) - 3.25″ (82mm) in length and like Tootsietoys had the Mack badge to the front of the bonnet. The range also included a Mack Anti-Aircraft truck (same body as the searchlight truck but with black gun mount and silver gun to the rear) / Caterpillar Tractor in red colourway fitted with unpainted wheels with white rubber tracks and a Renault Tank in either olive brown or dark blue with unpainted wheels fitted with white rubber tracks.

Still pre-war c1934-1936 and following on from these early Tootsietoy copies came several vehicles without any particular theme behind them which included such models as : Large Ambulance – 3.25″ in cream with red cross cast in door / Large Racing Car – 4″ in dark green or red / Coupe – 4″ in dark red / Small Racing Car – 3.25″ in blue, green or red / Blue Bird Racing Car – 5″ in dark blue with crossed flags cast-in to nose / Aeroplane – 4.25″ in green or red with silver tail / Ambulance with man at the rear - 4″ in dark blue, dark green or brown / Armoured Car - 4″ in dark brown or brown/green camo. / Petrol Tanker (shown opposite) – 3.75″ in green, yellow, red or dark blue / Fire Engine – 95mm in red with driver cast in / Car and Caravan - 3.75″ car, 3.25″ caravan. Car comes in red, green or yellow with black wings , caravan in yellow/orange, yellow/green or green/blue / Motor Van – 4.25″ in light brown with green tilt.

Also included in the range were a couple of Police Motorcycles.

Police Motorcycle with seperate Police Rider - 2.75″ unpainted cycle with dark blue rider.

Police Motorcycle with Sidecar - 3.125″ unpainted cycle with dark blue sidecar, passenger and police rider.

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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’ – 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 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 vehicles with some of the Timpo dies taken up by Benbros.

By and large the Timpo range of vehicles were by any standards somewhat crude yet sturdy in their construction and perhapse 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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Wells Brimtoy – personal recollections

September 2nd, 2011 11 comments

Earlier this year I was contacted through this site by a lovely lady, a Ms. Rose King. Her father Jim it would seem had worked for A. Wells back in the fifties and had made certain notes of his time there and he also had some blueprints along with other items connected with Wells-Brimtoy. Was I interested ? – Was I not !!

In due course the correspondence arrived and I have decided after reading through them that rather than edit the notes her father made that in respect to both Rose and her father I would include them here in their entirety.

A.V. KING – 4 Years with A. Wells (1951 – 1954)

In 1951 I decided to have a change in employment and went to A. Wells & Co as a draughtsman. I had been working as a draughtsman since I left the British Army in 1946.

At that time wells was engaged in, amongst other things, the manufacture of mechanical – mainly tinplate – toys, including some toy train items. The design work covered the design of the product and of course the tooling necessary to produce them. The firm had a very comprehensive factory with an automatic machine section, a plastic moulding shop, press shop, assembly department and a well-equipped toolroom.

As our drawing office was responsible for the design of the product and the tooling, you can see that we had an overall picture of all aspects of production, as distinct from the commercial side, with which we had very little contact.

The individual draughtsman-cum-designer was left very much to himself and would be responsible to the Chief Draughtsman for the whole project. This was conducive to pleasant and happy working conditions. Although the Chief was a strict disciplinarian, he was very helpful and I can say that in my whole career I learnt more from him than from anyone else.

Here is an example of the complete freedom of design. One day I was approached by the Chief and told the firm wanted to produce a new line of toy lorry. They wanted short wheelbase, long wheelbase and articulated vehicles. I asked what size was required and was told ‘just to fit one of their standard carboard boxes’ !

With this information it was left to me. I started with research which meant visits and requests for information about dimensions and so forth from various vehicle manufacturers and dealers. I decided on the bedford lorry as a basis. I chose this type because although I was not, and never have been, au fait with the motor vehicle world, I got acquainted with various Army vehicles while an Armourer Sergeant during World War II, and the Bedford three-tonner had impressed me.

The next move was to make provisional sketches – to scale – of what I had in mind. This large sheet of nine sketches showed three of each type – low sided open, high sided open and covered, milk lorry, petrol lorry etc., all suitably coloured in.

The sheet was taken to a production meeting by the Chief, who then asked for a more detailed drawing of one of each of the three types. These detailed drawings were given to the Model Shop who produced 3D-prototypes. The Model Shop would solder the parts together (in production they would be ‘tabbed’) and make the plastic parts – the upper part of the cab – out of Perspex or similar material.

These models were examined and discussed at the next production meeting. After the meeting I was asked to ‘go into production’. I had to make tooling drawings, press tools for blanking, piercing, forming and deep drawing, plastic moulds for the cab tops, all necessary tooling for the turned parts plus hand assembly tools.

Of course many existing parts – pressed gears, springs and standard turned parts would be integrated into the whole. You can imagine that to cover the scheme from start to production made the job very satisfying as well as making it possible for the designer to make minor changes without upsetting other people or departments.

Two points arise when I think of tinplate work. One is the fact that when forming a tinprinted part it must not, in any way, be scratched or marked by the passage of the ‘forces’ – the top and bottom punch and die faces. Proper clearances must be maintained between the faces and all faces must be well polished, keeping the radii as large as possible.

The second point is the accuracy of the printed detail relative to the blank shape, so that the formed shape is correct. The artist produces the print shape but the correct information must be given to him. A straightforward example is a circular metal lid which may have lettering around the formed part.

The Bedford lorry cab base needed some thought as the deep form of this part was not constant. I worked on this by squaring off the area of the blank and calculating the change of shape die to forming. Sometimes the first try is not accurate and corrections have to be made. In this case the two headlights had to come out circular when the metal was formed. i was horrified to see that on my first try the headlights were not circular but slanting so my lorry looked as if it had Chinese eyes !

Now about the toy railway work – I started at Wells when a new train set was in its final stages of production. I didn’t have a hand in this but it was quite interesting. It had tinplate points and a variety of goods and passenger coaches. Critically I thought that the design of these vehicles ould have been better – more like Bing. The loco was reversing. This was not accomplished in the normal manner but by increasing the wheelbase (it was four-wheeled) so that the reversing idler pinion was engaged between a pinion on the axle and the next gear as the running wheels moved apart. Ingenious, but no improvement on the usual method.

I never saw this set in the shops. Maybe they all went for exort.

Of course one of the first things I did at Wells was to see their museum of existing manufactured items, but I was disappointed to find that there were none of the original Brimtoy range there, even in 1951, though I might have missed them.

Wells were however producing some of the more common items which are fairly well known, but the Brimtoy range must have been very wide. When I was quite young (in the 1920′s) I had a small number of Brimtoy items such as the little four-wheeled coach in the white and blue colours of the Furness Railway, a North BR covered van and a gas cylinder wagon, all of the same size as the LNWR motor car van which I managed to obtain at a very inflated price about 1989.

Some of the toy locos being produced in 1951 were unique in as much as the boiler/firebox/cab blank was of a constant width, the boiler having more curvature than the cab. the material was split to allow the different curvatures.

During this period I suggested that the toy locos and coaches could be printed in British Railways colours. Working with the tracer we sprayed a loco, tender and coach and repainted the loco in BR black with the totem. The coach was done in ‘Blood and Custard’. I believe the idea was adopted.

At that time Wells were producing the 6161 toy which had a very accurate representation of the Royal Scot 4-6-0 LMS locomotive. I remember it grieved me to see this altered – I was not asked to do this – to a garish tank loco printed in pale green with a very inaccurate design, including wheels that looked like rubber tyres ! The later BR tank, No.80025 – the same model – was an improvement.

Whilst at Wells I designed the plastic mould for the wheels which were used on later toys. These ran a lot better that the original tinplate ones, as Hornby’s O gauge ones did. The Hornby ones gave me a few ideas !

One interesting toy on which I worked was the Flying Saucer. This – unlike the imitations which followed – was completely metal. It consisted of an aluminium ring about 80mm in diameter with four ‘propeller’ blades. The ring had at its centre a boss with four teeth. The thumb power was delivered through a 0.4 tinplate box or frame in which ran a gear rack with a spring and a formed over thumb piece at the other end. Thumb pressure depressed the rack which engaged on a pinion attached to the driving teeth, rotated the blades which lifted vertically. The saucer rose to about room height, levelled out and flew level for a considerable distance. This toy was quite successful.

The tooling was very intesting. I managed to design the press tool for the frame so that 0.4 flat strip was fed in one end and the completed frame emerged at the rear. This frame had about six circular holes, four slots for tab assembly, plus ribbing etc, making six or seven stations in feeding.

A rather amusing incident occured while I was busy on the design of the forming tool for the propeller blades. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about some of the finer points so I made up a full sized model of what I had in mind in Harbutt’s Plasticine. Plasticine is a very useful medium in which to work as fine details can be produced by judicious use of a pen knife and I’ve used it many times in tool design.

 I finished the plasticine mock-up and put it to one side, intending to draw up the design the following day. Unfortunately I had to go out that day and didn’t return until a few days later. On my return I was amazed to find that my plasticine press tool had gone and in its place stood a beautifully carved plasticine rose. It was so well done that I hadn’t the heart to destroy it. I had to work the whole tool design again. Needless to say I had a few words to say about it, but I never found out who was responsible !

Another design project at Wells was the Atomic Spray Set-up. This was a coating process for giving a very fine chromium coating to the plastic model of the Morris Minor car. The model and the full sized car being very popular at the time. There was a big demand for the model – or toy – as Morris Minor owners would fit it to the bonnet as a mascot. When chromed it looked very good.

The chroming process was very complicated and included a final stoving oven. I remember that I had forgotten to include ventilation on this oven which was quite large. this omission was forcibly pointed out to me on the first trial run!

We did some large scale models of various cars – I recall the Vauxhall Velox and the Zephyr Zodiac. These involved drawing the form of the body in three planes accurately to scale. These drawings were used in the Tool Room where the body form was generated in 3-D using a pantograph.

The toy gears used at Wells were not milled or hobbed but the punch and die producing them were accurately cut, not to 20deg. involute form as is standard these days but to the clock gear form, the meshing of the smaller gears with pinions being 0.8mm. Thus the centres of any two gears would be the two outside diameters minus 0.8mm. A good crown wheel was made by pushing a spur gear through a die to form up the teeth.

Although I had studied gear design prior to my Wells period I increased my knowledge on this interesting and very important subject with the instruction given to me by the Chief Draughtsman at Wells. I had cause to thank him frequently in later years, especially when I worked for the South African Navy many years later.



I hope you will agree that the notes her father made of his time at Wells give an interesting and tantilising insight into just one aspect of what goes into producing a ‘simple’ toy.

After reading through these notes several times now there are a couple of things I am curious to know. Jim mentions the Chief Draughtsman and the influence he had yet doesn’t mention his name once .. what a pity .. I for one would love to know. And what about those coloured drawings of the Bedford lorries .. I’d love to have one or two of those !!

So many thanks once again Rose for getting in touch and providing a unique insight into the workings of the drawing office at Wells.

If anyone else has similar stories to tell of the life and times at Wells Brimtoy or any pictures of the people and factory etc. please get in touch, I’m sure we would all like to hear about it.

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Tri-ang Toys / Triang Pressed Steel Toys / Triang Pressed Steel Vehicles : Large-Scale

December 27th, 2010 19 comments

An Introduction to the Range of Large Scale Pressed Steel Commercials from Tri-ang Toys :

This post is meant as an introduction to the Tri-ang range of large-scale pressed steel lorries which were produced from the early 1930′s through to the demise of Tri-ang in the mid-1970′s. Please be aware that dates given for the vehice ranges are approximate and intended only as a guide.

During this time frame nine different ranges of lorry were produced along with trains and cranes although it should be mentioned that up to the mid 1950′s most of the trains produced were made from wood and between 1957 and 1970 Tri-ang brought out their iconic pressed steel buses which I may well return to at a later date.

1930 – 1937 saw Tri-angs first metal lorries range being produced, these were an open cab type vehicle with a long bonnet, radiators were either silver or black with thin metal wheels fitted with thin rubber tyres. Best described as a toy and not a model, relatively crude and nieve in their design and manufacture yet having said all that are today seen by many as being full of charm and character.

This first early series of metal lorries included a tipper truck, milk lorry and breakdown truck together with the timber lorry pictured above. To compliment the lorries a series of box vans in different liveries was also produced which included amongst others the Carter Paterson van shown opposite.


1937 – 1956 saw the arrival of the Bedford range of Tri-ang pressed steel lorries, so called as they were made to resemble the Bedford trucks of the day.

The range of vehicles produced was similar to the previous metal lorries range but now featured an enclosed cab and came complete with a load where appropriate. 

The ‘Bedfords’ could have any of  three different radiator grills fitted, a standard unpainted one or ones painted in either cream or black. As a rough rule of thumb the pre-war models came with thin metal disc wheels and tyres which were replaced post war with thick rubber tyres but as always there was some overlap as there were some Tri-ang vehicles produced even in 1950 with metal disc wheels. By far an easier way of identifying a pre-war Bedford series is to check the underside of its chassis. Pre-war this would be constructed using a single sheet of steel whereas post war versions would see the chassis having circular and/or rectangular sections cut out of it in order to save metal. Tyres on the Bedford series of lorries were always 7cm dia. except on the breakdown lorry where the diameter was increased to 9cm. (3.5″).

1948 – 1957 saw Tri-ang bring out their third series of pressed steel lorries known as the ’200′ series. In this series the lorries adopted the new square shaped forward control type cab. Initially three models, two tipping/builders lorries and a transport van made up the series with a petrol tanker and mobile crane being added later. Of the two tipping lorries one was manufactured with ‘remote control’ steering, this had a raised steering wheel at the rear and steered the front wheels via a universal coupling.

1955 – 1960 brought about Tri-ang’s ‘Diesel’ series. This Tri-ang series although smaller than the 200 series carried a much larger range of vehicles. Initially the series began with just two lorries, the first was the usual tipper lorry but the second was a much more unusual working cement mixer lorry which had a drum which was linked to the lorry axle and thus revolved as the lorry moved forwards. The drum could also be tipped to allow its load to be emptied through a rear trough just as on an actual cement mixer.

These lorries were in turn followed by the Express Delivery Lorry, a Breakdown Services lorry which had a working crane jib fitted with hoist along with a toolbox with tools. The range also included a Farm lorry complete with its load of plastic pigs, a Milk wagon with milk churns, a Petrol Tanker with ‘Shell’ logo to tank sides and rear and a Fire Engine complete with bell, rotating and extending ladder, fireman and working hose. The Diesel series also included several six-wheeled which included amongst others Military lorries and a Side-Tipping Ballast Truck. Around 1957 Triang also added several articulated lorries into the Diesel range which included a low loader with excavator and a car transporter.

1957 – 1963, as Triang lauched its articulated lorries in the Diesel series it dropped the ’200′ series lorries and launched a new ’300′ series (Still with me ?). Gone were the square cab shaped 200′s to be replaced by a more rounded cab, similar to the Diesel in some respects but now with front protruding wheel arches which reflected a more modern ’50′s styling.

The ’300′ series carried the same body styles to that of the ’200′ series but added to the range was now a mobile cafeteria van with side opening canopies and came complete with various plastic items including a jug and drinking glasses ! Later models included a horse transporter which came with two wooden horses, later changed to plastic and several six-wheel vehicles amongst which was a circus van together with various animals and a long distance transport van.

1959 – 1966 saw Tri-ang attempting to keep pace with the changing face of road transport of the day with a range of commercial vehicles which mirrored their modern day counterparts thus the Thames Trader range was launched.

Fifteen vehicles made up the Thames Trader range and included all the old favourites such as the tipper lorry, farm truck, milk lorry, delivery van, fire engine, breakdown lorry etc.etc. Also included in the range were several articulated lorries, the car transporter, low loader, rocket transporter, removals van, flat truck, open truck and petrol tanker.

Interestingly Tri-ang also added working headlights into some models which used small torch bulbs powered by batteries housed underneath the chassis and operated by a simple push-in switch located on the side of the chassis behind the cab.

1958 – 1967 was the time frame for Tri-ang’s Junior Series, launched with just seven commercial vehicles making up the range they always remind me of the big American trucks of the ’60′s with their high cabs and large radiator grills. The initial seven comprised the farm truck, tip lorry, petrol tanker, milk lorry, delivery van, open back truck and a breakdown lorry. All seven carried a header board sited on top of the cab with the Tri-ang name prominant.

A host of  other commercials were added to the series over time including some more unusual ones such as the army transport van with canvas tilt, a similar raf van, a police van, mobile shop van, musical ice cream van, a radar control truck and an airport crash tender. All in all over twenty different lorries were to make up the Junior series.

There were now three commercial ranges running simultaneously :

The smaller Junior Series / The medium Thames Trader Series / The larger ’300′ Series.

1962 – 1966 saw Tri-ang update the tiring ’300′ series with the addition of plastic bumpers and lights, side mirrors, air horns, plastic windows and windscreen wipers all under the Regal Roadster series banner. Colours were now in metallic paint rather than the usual red, blue and turquoise enamels and the vehicles now had grey plastic wheels and for novelty value a ‘clicker’ mechanism was fitted to the front axle of the commercial which made a noise as the lorry was pushed along.

All three of the Tri-ang commercial vehicle ranges that is the Junior, Thames Trader and Regal Roadster series all met their end at about the same time. Around 1966 they were dropped for a new Tri-ang range of vehicles which was the Hi-Way series and branded as ‘modern trucks for modern children’. This series would continue through to the demise of Tri-ang in 1973. This Hi-Way series was perhaps the worse that Tri-ang put out, garish in its looks and lacking in appeal the trucks were smaller than even the Junior commercials and comprised more plastic in their make-up yet gone were the plastic extras that proved so popular on the Regal Roadsters. A sad end to a once mighty toy maker.

a picture gallery of some of the rarer vehicles :




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Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School

December 17th, 2010 14 comments

Billy Bunter – larger than life !

I say you fellows do listen to a chap for a minute So began many a tale of a hero of mine good old William George Bunter of Greyfriars School.

I stumbled upon Billy Bunter quite by chance when I accompanied my mother to the local library one balmy summers evening many, many years ago, when summers were summers and winters were winters and I was still in short trousers (only the other day then I hear some wag remark !). Actually I would have been about nine or ten years old, in those days you didn’t wear long trousers until you went to senior school and then only in the second form. As there were no ‘Just William’ books on the library shelves my eye was caught by the title ‘Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School‘ and as it happens having read that one book I just couldn’t wait to get back the following fortnight for yet another dose of Billy (sounds painful, can you get anything for it ? ).

Billy Bunter or William George Bunter to give him his full name was the invention of Charles Hamilton and written under his pen name of Frank Richards. The schoolboy character originally featured in stories set at Greyfriars School in the boys weekly story paper ‘The Magnet’. First published in 1908 The Magnet was to continue through to 1940 with Bunter appearing in almost all the publications with Frank Richards writing the majority, but not all of the stories, although his pen name was applied to them all. Sadly the Second World War saw an end to The Magnet due to paper shortages.

Billy Bunter may have disappeared forever had it not been for publisher Charles Skilton who commissioned Charles Hamilton to write a series of books around Bunters adventures and those of the ‘Famous Five’ (no not the Enid Blyton ones these were the original ones, Wharton, Cherry, Bull, Newton and Hurree Jamset Ram Singh or Inky to his friends) at a fictitious private school in Kent …… Greyfriars.

38 hardback books were written in total and although all were produced with various coloured boards one thing remained constant, they all came with the distinctive yellow background dust jacket. Initially published by Skilton and then later by Cassells the first novel, ‘Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School’ saw light of day in 1947 and began a series which continued for the rest of Hamiltons life and certainly gave me enjoyment throughout mine. I will limit this post from the perspective of those 38 novels as the subject of Hamilton, Bunter, Greyfriars et all is just too large as to do otherwise but is a subject I will no doubt return to.

But what is it that endears one to the Billy Bunter stories ? Certainly Bunter is a most unlikely hero, addressed by his form master Mr. Quelch in one episode Bunter is told, ‘You are lazy, idle, greedy, undutiful, slack in class and slack at games – in no respect whatever a credit to this school.’ He goes even further, ‘Your stupidity I can excuse – I can make allowance for that. But your idleness – your slackness – your incorrigible untruthfulness – these are faults you could amend, if you chose. You are a disgrace to your form, Bunter’. Bunters response as always just makes you smile or indeed laugh out loud, ‘Not me Sir ! perhapse you are mixing me up with some other fellow sir, perhaps your thinking of Wharton or Cherry … -or-or Nugent .. -or Toddy !’  … Priceless, for Bunter is unable to see his own faults and anyone who points them out is regarded as a Beast ! particularly his form master Quelch who Bunter insists is prejudice against him. Yet despite all his faults, and in Bunters case they are many, one simply cannot help but feel sympathy for the character Charles Hamilton has created, however turn the page and read on and inevitably you feel like booting him yourself !

Bunter seems to have two main aims in life, one is to avoid work of any description indeed he will often spend twice as long trying to avoid it as doing it in the first place ! Instead he prefers to laze in a comfy armchair in front of a blazing fire eating a chunk of toffee .. for that is Bunters other concern .. food. By any standards Bunter is big, no lets be honest Bunter is fat, and his thoughts are almost always centred on feeding the inner Bunter. Bunters greediness knows no bounds, sticky buns and cake he can demolish at a sitting but its perhaps jam that has the ability to draw him like a magnet. Despite never having any money himself, although he is always expecting his infamous Postal Order to arrive, Bunter is a master scrounger up and down the Remove of anything from the odd copper or two to a sixpenny piece and in some exceptional cases the odd half-a-crown, anything with which to buy some sticky sweetmeats from the tuck shop and if all else fails he is quite capable of helping himself to comestables from other boys study cupboards ! all without a though for the rightful owner, inevitably Bunter is found out whereupon its whops from Quelch – Swipe ! .. ‘Yarooooh’, Swipe ! .. ‘Oh !  Ooooh !’, Swipe, Swipe, SWIPE ! .. ‘ Yow – Ow – WHOOOOOOOP !’ or a booting from his fellow Removites – ‘I- I say, you fellows, Yow-wow, Beasts, Oh-lor’ !’ neither of which has any effect on him except in the short term.

Bunter has the ability to wander from the truth without knowing that he has, he can repeat the tale that often that in the end he believes that his untruth is in fact a reality. In his opinion Bunter is ‘the goods’, the only decent fellow at Greyfriars and all the others are Beasts ! that is until he needs their help in one of his outrageous schemes which are usually greeted on their inception with Bunter cachinating ‘He-he-he !’. Bunter may be simple but he is cunning, unfortunately for him his schemes always have a habit of coming unstuck but invariably have the habit of turning out all right by the last page.

Apart from his circumference the other feature which made Bunter stand out in the crowd was his thick, round spectacles, which he wore as he was so amazingly short-sighted. These round spectacles gave him the appearance of an owl, hence the chaps often referred to him as the ‘fat owl of the remove’. His writing was appalling, often compared to that of a spider having dipped its legs in the ink pot and crawled across the page. As for his spelling, well lets leave that up to you to decide with a notice which Bunter posted on the wall of the Remove landing :



All my pals in the Remove are hearby rekwested to ralley rownd and help a chap out of a hoal.


Every fellow willing to help a pal in a bad phix, please stepp into No.7 Studdy, and put something in the bocks on the table. Smorl contribootions thankfully receeved. Shell out your bobbs and tanners and half-crowns.


                                                                                               W.G. Bunter.

P.S.       Kurrency noats will be welcome.

P.P.S.   Koppers not refewsed.

Bunter was rather pleased with that ‘notiss’….. Needless to say Quelch wasn’t !

 However beneath all this selfish exterior, when push comes to shove, Bunter does try his best to do the right thing, usually with hilarious results for all concerned. The one person Bunter does care for, apart from himself that is, is his mater, so when all is said and done the chap can’t be all that bad ! … CAN HE ?




If you are looking for any of the Billy Bunter series of books or any of the Billy Bunters Own series or indeed anything Billy Bunter related please let me know and I will see if we have it in stock.

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The Making of a Dinky Toy / Dinky Toys

December 10th, 2010 No comments

Unless you stumbled upon this site by accident or have landed on planet Earth, perhaps again by accident, then I am sure there is no need for me to introduce Dinky Toys to you. Practially everyone in Gt.Britain and indeed around the world knows of them and what’s more the words ‘Dinky Toys’ tends to be used nowadays by many people when referring to a small diecast car regardless of the manufacturer. Indeed its not that long ago that I spent one Sunday morning driving many a mile in order to buy some, what I was assured were Dinky Toys, only to find that when I got there I was confronted by a dining table full of Lledo vehicles ! – You just have to laugh, well only till you get back to the car, then you can say what you actually feel between gritted teeth !! 

So we are all clear what a Dinky Toy is right, but how many of us have given a second thought as to how the model is actually produced. In these days when you can just about build your own Dinky model from start to finish, including the box, out of a selection of brand new parts all available on the internet I thought I might take time out to run through how the Dinky Toy was produced back in the good old days of the 1940′s-50′s at the Meccano Works, Binns Road, Liverpool.

It should be noted at this point that what follows is a laymans guide only and names and dates may have been changed to protect the innocent.

part 1. – the die is cast

A Dinky Toy is a diecast metal model which means that they are made by forcing molten metal into a mould or ‘die’  that gives the metal the required shape when it cools and solidifies.

Sounds simple but as we all know its not going to be that simple – to begin with the die itself must be made with the utmost accuracy in order to produce an item of exactly the right dimensions. Also the actual design of the die is imperitive, as an ex-draughtsman in an earlier life I feel I should add extra emphasis at this point and say that the design element is crucial to the sucess of the project !

Generally the die may be of two main sections which when fitted together leave enough of a space for the molten metal to fill. That is all well and good if the part to be cast is of a basic shape when the die can be seperated and the casting required removed but becomes another story when the part being produced is subject to recesses or undercuts. (look at any Dinky lorry for reference at this point where the cab and chassis form one casting). When this is the case our hero draughtsman comes to our aid and modifies the design such that one of its two sections will now have further parts within it which will slide out sideways so as to allow the casting to be ejected from the mould. (pause for a fanfare of trumpets for the drawing office !).

Having produced the metal die the two sections are mounted in a Die-Casting machine. One section is bolted to the fixed platen of the machine the other is mounted onto a moving platen. It is this moving platen which when located in its final position closes the two halves of the die and allows casting to take place when a plunger, operated by compressed air, forces molten metal from a cylinder into the die where it fills the space left between the two sections. The metal solidifies almost immediately chilled by the metal of the die itself which in turn is constantly cooled by water flowing through openings bored through it.

Each die-cast machine is linked to a cast iron ‘pot’ that holds the molten metal from which the Dinky Toys are cast. Each ‘pot’ is heated by pressure gas flames, blue like those of a bunsen burner – do they still have bunsen burners in the chemistry lab ? – probably not allowed under Health & Safety legislation these sad days - how many times would someone turn on the gas tap in the middle of a lesson before another boy would shout ‘Sir, Sir, Please Sir I can smell gas !’ whereupon another idiot would appear to konk out. In the end it was felt best all round to have the bunsen burners constantly alight to avoid repititions of ‘I can smell gas’. This soon was replaced by ‘Sir, Sir, Please Sir someones set my homework on fire !’ whereupon another idiot would drop the burning exercise book in the sink and turn on the water tap. How on earth I got the O-Level without the aid of a safety net I will never know. These gas flames keep the metal molten, the supply is renewed from time to time by placing another ingot of metal into the ‘pot’ which relaces the metal used as the casting process continues.

The operation of the die-casting machine is generally controlled by the use of two levers which are interlocked to prevent molten metal being forced through the nozzle when the dies are apart. When the first lever is operated the platen carrying the moving part of the die travels until it is in contact with the die on the fixed platen. At this point the interlock is operated automatically to permit movement of the second lever. This second lever actuates the plunger that forces metal into the mould, the plunger is then raised, the mould is opened and the finished casting is ejected. I say finished casting but it does have attached to it the ‘runner’, this is surplus metal from the opening through which the molten metal entered the die.

part 2. - in fine ‘fettle’

In part 1 we dealt with actually producing the Dinky toy casting  and left it with its ‘runner’ still attached along with a certain amount of excess metal along what corresponded to the joint lines of the mould and is termed the ‘flash’. The runner is easily broken off but the ‘flash’ cannot be removed in this way. The solution is to put the castings through what is termed the ‘Roto-Finishing Process’. In this the castings, along with a quantity of water and small pebbles, are placed in large six-sided steel barrels fitted with rubber linings. As the barels rotate so the pebbles rub on the castings and wear off the ‘flash’. Once the process is complete the water can be drained off through a small mesh filter leaving behind the pebbles and castings.

This mixed load of pebbles and castings is then emptied and transferred to the seperation plant. Here by means of a wire grid, too small to allow the castings through but large enough to let the pebbles fall through the seperation takes place. The grid is vibrated rapidly backwards and forwards so the pebbles and castings run along it. By the time the end of the grid is reached the seperation is complete and the castings move onto the next stage whilst the pebbles are returned to the Roto-Finishing barrels to do their job once again.

part 3. – a quick wash and blow dry

The castings at this stage are smooth and look ready for enamelling but before that can take place they need to undergo a process which will give them protection against corrosion and also lightly etch the surface to provide a key for painting. This process is termed Bonderising.

Once more the castings are loaded into six-sided barrels, smaller than those used in the Roto-Finishing process and this time made from stainless steel with perforated sides. These barrels along with their load are carried on an endless chain and are dipped successively into three tanks. The first tank contains the actual bonderising liquid whilst the second and third tanks contain cold and hot water respectively which wash the castings. From here the barrels pass through drying ovens before the castings are emptied onto a conveyor belt for delivery to the next phase in their production. 

part 4. – a nice paint job

After an inspection process the castings move through to the automatic spraying machines. Here a circular table has around its rim a series of equally spaced pillars carrying holders. The castings are placed on the holders whilst the table rotates in stages. These stages bring each casting in turn into the spraying position where spray guns apply a fine even coat of enamel. At this point the holder and the casting itself rotate rapidly to ensure every bit is covered.

As the castings move on with the rotation of the table they are lifted off and placed on trays which are in turn placed on racks for transport through the drying ovens where they reach a temperature of 200 deg.F which not only dries but hardens the coating of enamel.

part 5. – a little touch up

Looking almost there but the spraying machine has only applied the basic colour and many Dinky Toys require a second colour, in many cases is just a case of the radiator grille, headlights or front and rear bumpers, in others its a colour flash to a rear wing but this now requires the use of a hand spray gun. It also involves the use of model ‘masks’ which will allow the application of the second colour, say aluminium for headlights, being applied where it is needed without contaminating other parts of the model. These hand gun stations are located along a conveyor table fitted with miniature spraying booths and the masks used will vary according to the needs of the particular model. Baking follows again to harden the enamel and then the model is ready for final assembly.

part 6. – by jove thats it !

Each Dinky Toy requires its own special assembly methods the majority will however require wheels and axles. The wheels themselves are diecast which are sprayed the necessary colour. Tyres are placed on them and they are fitted on the axles which are produced in the machine shop and are retained by rivet-shaped heads formed on the ends of the axles by means of a specially shaped riveting tool.

Baseplates are in almost all instances steel pressings and the necessary preparation for its assembly began back in its die casting where the casting would be made with small projecting spigots that fit into corresponding holes in the baseplate. The body and the base are then fitted together with the spigots projecting through the holes all that is then required is to spread the ends of the spigots to fix the two in position. This is accomplished by using a spinning tool specially shaped to press down and open out the ends of the spigot. Baseplates normally carry the Dinky Toys name as well as the model name and number all of which is embossed on the steel pressing.

Your Dinky Toy is now complete, just one final inspection then its off to the packing bay to be placed in the familiar Dinky Toys box which we all know and love.

I would like to think that the above post will in some small way make you appreciate even more what goes into the making of a Dinky Toy. I have tried to keep it simple so that even I can understand the process, I have omitted a lot by taking just one period in the Dinky Toys timeline and limited it to the production process. Sadly although I think I mentioned them in passing I have to say with a heavy heart I did not include the beginning of it all – the drawing/design office and the production of a Dinky model on the drawing board. Did I say I was an ex-draughtsman ? but if I had began there I would probably have got no further. My thanks in the compilation of this tome go in no small part to information I have gleaned from numerous issues of  Meccano Magazine and also to my various mechanical engineering technology lecturers (I always knew my H.N.C would come in useful one day).


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