The World Of Miniture
Die-Cast Cars Has A New Old Player
by Richard T. Writer
Richard T. Writer writes
about subjects of general interest and history. ...
When I was a young boy, my favorite toys were my collection of MATCHBOX®
cars. In the late fifties and early sixties, Matchbox cars were a basic
component of every little boy's toy collection and I was no exception.
It was always exciting to see what the next Christmas or birthday would
bring. Would it be a passenger car, a construction vehicle or sports
car? Whatever the result, there was a spot in my collector's case ready
MATCHBOX® cars were produced by the British firm; Lesney Products.
Although Lesney had been around since the '40's, the die-cast cars it
produced really took off during the 1950's and '60's, a period in which
they dominated the worldwide market. The MATCHBOX® collection was very
detailed and included accurate interiors along with plastic windows and
opening doors. The original standard series of MATCHBOX® cars was made
up of 75 models. When a new model was introduced, an existing model was
By the time my younger brother was old enough to enjoy miniature
die-cast cars, the Hot Wheels ® collection of cars supplemented the
MATCHBOX® series. Now there was a choice, with more of the sporty and
exotic cars founds among the Hot Wheels® product. Hot Wheels ® were a
product of Mattel. MATCHBOX® now had major competition coming from the
U.S. and the popularity of Hot Wheels® took off. Their design departed
from that of the MATCHBOX ® cars with brighter colors, wider tires and
car models more familiar to Americans. Mattel eventually bought
MATCHBOX® and markets both lines today.
Another player entered the miniature die-cast car market in 1970. Tomica
die-cast cars are of a similar scale as MATCHBOX® cars. Tomica is a
division of the Tomy toy company of Japan. Tomica die-cast cars first
appeared in the United States in 1974. They were called ‘pocket cars’
and during the first two years, only included Japanese models. The
company introduced American car models in 1976. Seventy different models
In 1993, production of Tomica miniature cars began shifting from Japan
to China. By 1997, that shift was complete. Most MATCHBOX® vehicles are
also produced in China as well.
Today, there are 120 models in the Tomica line. There is also a limited
collector series. There have not been regular sales of Tomica die cast
cars in U.S. toy stores since the mid-eighties. You can only obtain them
through specialty retailers.
Richard Truthteller writes about topics of interest including life,
American history, product reviews and politics. More information about
Tomica die-cast cars can be found at:
with examples of current models here:
Samples of a few Designs
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