Collecting Old Diecast
Corgi Cars - A Blast From The Past
by Roger Cantrell
Collecting die-cast cars
from the past is a hobby that is not just fun, its a whole window to the
not so long but in today's new world a very distant past.
To most red-blooded die-cast collectors just the mention of the words
dinky or corgi makes their eyes, sort of glaze over and a wry, almost
child like smile, wafts around his lower facial area. These names and
others were to dominate the metal cast toy car market for many years and
were played with by many a child since the 1930s.
The history of corgi is an interesting one that starts in 1934, Mettoy
Limited produced the first models but these were not die-cast yet, they
were made of tin-plate. During the second world war mettoy were engaged
in war production and due to this increased war production demand the
company had to move to bigger premises in Swansea.
In 1950 the first forerunners of Corgi cars were introduced and appeared
in the company's illustrated catalogue as "Entirely New Miniature
Numbers" Then in 1954 the first drawings for the new Corgi range were
produced with the first car being that of an Austin Cambridge, but it
took nearly two years of trial and error to get the casting technique
right and in 1956 the launch date for the corgi range of vehicles was
announced for the 9th of July that same year. A sister company "playcraft"
launched the name of corgi to the market, the name being taken from the
breed of dog of the same name.
Corgi knew that producing die-cast cars just like dinky would not
guarantee them market success so they planned a new marketing strategy
.. their toy cars unlike dinky would have glazed windows in them. The
next year (1957) corgi produced their first catalogue and also backed
this up with tv advertising and released their first gift set and in the
first year they sold over 2 million units.
Through the 1960s the company released many of the iconic classics that
we now compulsively collect today, and these models can change hands for
thousands in today's money.
In the 60s some of the more memorable cars that were produced were the
1965 James bond Aston martin db5, the next year, awards were given to
Corgi ... the "Queens Award to Industry" and the National Association of
Toy Retailers "Highest Standards Award". . 1968 saw the release of a
model from the movie of the same name - "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". and
the one toy car every one remembers from the hugely iconic 60s american
Batman TV series .. The Batmobile.
From its hay day in the 60s the company's fortunes started to change,
starting with a fire in the Swansea factory that resulted in a total
loss of at least a year's stock. in 1971 the Northampton factory closed
with a loss of over 900 jobs.
Corgi lasted till 1983 With the company in serious financial
difficulties the receivers were called in, but a management buy-out
meant that the the company was re-formed as Corgi Toys Limited in early
This new company's achievements were recognised in January 1987 when it
was voted British Toy Company of the Year by the National Association of
Toy Retailers. But 1989 the once great toy manufacturer was taken over
by the American based toy giant, Mattel. then 1990 saw the first corgis
to be made in china....
The age of great British made diecast model car was gone.
Copyright Roger Cantrell 2007.
For loads of information on restoring the classic die cast corgi 267
Batmobile go to
http://www.allbatman.com/ There are some great pictures and good
modeling tips there, as well as some spare parts for sale.. or if you
just like collecting go to
Samples of a few Designs
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