Atlas Editions is part of the DeAgostini Group which specialises in themed partwork publications and collectibles. Atlas Editions has produced several series of diecast models for collectors, including licenced reproductions of Dinky Toys cars and trucks, and the Great British Buses series in 1:76 scale.
Originally set up as Martoys in 1974, Bburago produced diecast models in Burago di Molgora, Italy, between 1976 and 2005. The second 'B' in the name apparently refers to the Besana family, three brothers from which founded the company. They had previously operated the Mebetoys company which they ultimately sold to Mattel. Bburago made models in a variety of scales, particularly 1:43, 1:24 and 1:18; in the latter they dominated the market until the mid 1990s when East Asian manufactured brands began to catch up. Bburago struggled to compete and eventually called in the receivers in 2005. Bburago was purchased by May Cheong, owners of Maisto, and Bburago was relaunched in 2007 and continues as a brand although now manufactured in Thailand and China.
Benbros took its name from its founders, brothers Jack and Nathan Beneson. Formed after World War II, the company started diecast toy production in 1954 in Walthamstow, north-east London, with their 'T.V. Series' range which were similar in size to Lesney Matchbox toys and packed in boxes resembling early television sets. The range was subsequently renamed to 'Mighty Midgets'. Benbros also produced larger-scale models, some under the 'Qualitoy' trade mark and later as Zebra Toys which along with Mighty Midgets continued until the company was taken over in 1965 and ceased toy production.
Charbens was founded in the late 1920s by brothers Charles and Benjamin Reid. The company was based in North London, an area which was home to a number of diecast toy manufacturers including Britains. Pre-war production consisted of a range of hollow-cast lead figures, mainly civilian subjects, and included some horse-drawn vehicles. Zinc diecasting was introduced after the war and the range of models widened. In 1955 the 'Old Crocks' series of miniature veteran cars was introduced, a range which grew to around 35 models. Some plastic components and figures started to appear in the range during the 1960s, and in 1967 the majority of the diecast vehicles were discontinued in favour of plastic figures which continued in production until 1973.
Conrad, unusually, is a family-owned company that manufactures its diecast models in Germany. Conrad specialises in trucks, cranes, excavators and similar heavy plant in 1:50 scale, and is known for the quality and detail of the castings. The origins of the company lie in the Gescha toy company, established in 1923, which initially used the Conrad name as a brand before it gradually replaced the Gescha name during the 1970s.
John Hill & Co, known as Johillco, was founded in 1898 and based in Islington, North London. Between the wars it produced a large range of hollowcast soldiers and other figures, as well as promotional and novelty items, and was second only to Britains for quality. In the 1930s the company had over 400 employees. After the Second World War, the company was acquired by a Lancashire businessman and production was transferred to Burnley. The range was developed and expanded, and included space figures. However, John Hill was slow to make the transition to the use of plastic for its figures and finally ceased trading in 1960.
Founded in 1967, Maisto produces a wide range of diecast vehicles in various scales. Maisto is part of the May Cheong Group, which also now owns the brands of former Italian manufacturers Polistil and Bburago.
Milestone Miniatures produced hand-built white metal 1:43 collectors' models, including the Gems & Cobwebs brand. Based in Redruth, Cornwall, UK, the company traded in various manifestations from 1991 until 2010. They specialised in classic saloon and racing cars with a particular leaning towards Jaguars, and these highly-detailed models are now sought after.
The Morestone brand was started by Morris and Stone, a wholesaler in North London, to market items made by Modern Products. Morestone started its own die-casting operation in 1954 with Rodney Smith, co-founder of Lesney. The Morestone and, from 1959, Budgie ranges were produced until 1966 when Budgie Models Ltd went into liquidation. Modern Products stepped in and continued the Budgie miniatures range until 1969, after which the business turned to making a limited range of toys specifically for the London tourist trade - principally the Routemaster bus, FX4 taxi and Rolls Royce Silver Cloud.
Norev is a French model vehicle manufacturer, founded in 1946. Initially producing plastic models in 1:43 scale, Norev did not start using diecast metal until 1965. In recent years Norev has acquired the rights to a number of famous brands from the past, and has reissued CIJ and Spot-On models amongst others. Much of Norev's production today is in China.
Polistil originated as Politoys in Milan, Italy around 1960. Initially producing plastic cars in 1:41 scale, the company switched to diecast (via fibreglass) and 1:43 scale in the mid 1960s. About 1970 the company name was changed to Polistil and in the early 1970s other model ranges were introduced in larger and smaller scales. The focus was always on realistic models rather than 'fantasy' items. In the late 1980s Tonka acquired Polistil to market the larger scale models in the USA, but Polistil subsequently disappeared when Tonka dropped the brand in 1993.
Rextoys was launched in 1982 by Count Antonio Ginasanti Coluzzi, founder in 1947 of the renowned Fulgurex model train company of Switzerland. The Rextoys range was intended to represent the 'dream cars' of the 1930s in 1:43 scale. Initially made in Portugal, production quickly moved to France and around 100 different models were produced until the last releases in 2001. The company closed in 2004.
Although the Sieper company of Lüdenscheid, Germany, ws established in 1921, it was not until 1950 that it diversified into the manufacture of toys under the Siku brand. Siku is an abbreviation of Sieper Kunststoffe (Siku Plastics), and the original ranges of figures and vehicles were indeed all plastic. Diecast vehicles made of zinc alloy began to appear in 1963, marking a gradual shift away from plastic. The main vehicle range from 1958 was 1:60 scale, changing to 1:55 in 1975, although Siku went on to produce other ranges including the 1:32 Farm range in 1983. Today Siku remains a major producer of model vehicles and also owns the Wiking brand.
The famous French diecast brand, established in 1930 and still producing models today.
Originating in 1928 in Copenhagen, Denmark, as a manufacturer of constructional toys, Tekno started producing toy cars after World War II. Their models gained a reputation for detail and solid construction, and competed with Dinky and Corgi. Promotional models were part of the range from an early stage, and the company gradually shifted into the adult collectibles market, specialisiing in trucks and buses. In 1972 Tekno ceased production in Denmark; the tooling was sold to the Dutch firm Vanmin BV which continues to produce models under the Tekno brand.