Atlas Editions is part of the DeAgostini Group which specialises in themed partwork publications and collectibles. Atlas offered several collections of diecast models on a subscription basis, including licenced reproductions of Dinky Toys cars and trucks, and the Great British Buses series in 1:76 scale. Atlas stopped taking orders for partwork collections in 2018, but many of the models remain available direct from DeAgostini.
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.
A range of models made in Fance until about 2000. That's all I know!
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, and controlled by the Conrad family since the mid 1950s. The Conrad brand gradually replaced the Gescha brand during the 1970s.
Crescent Toys was a UK toy manufacturer active between 1922 and 1980. Originating in a small workshop in de Beauvoir Crescent, London N1, the company relocated 3 times before the Second World War as the demand for its hollow-cast lead figures grew, ending up in Tottenham N15. Following the war the company turned its attention to diecast toys, the diecasting work being undertaken by nearby firm DCMT (Die Casting Machine Tools). In 1949, taking advantage of development grants, Crescent opened a new factory in Cwmcarn, Wales, and within 2 years all production had transferred there. At around the same time, DCMT split away from Crescent to manufacture and market toys in their own right under the Lone Star brand. As well as diecast vehicles, Crescent's post-war production included toy guns and plastic figures, as well as a version of the TV favourite Muffin The Mule.
Herpa is a German manufacturer, founded in 1949 as a producer of model railway accessories. Their plastic HO 1:87 scale cars appeared in 1978, followed by trucks in the 1980s, and in the 1990s Herpa Wings diecast aircraft were introduced. These two distinct ranges today form the mainstays of Herpa's production, and cover a variety of scales. The plastic vehicle models are highly accurate and detailed, often surpassing the best diecast equivalents, so we have included them in our diecast section!
Mattel's Hot Wheels cars were the first to have low-friction wheels for use on gravity tracks, and their enormous popularity forced rivals such as Matchbox and Corgi to adapt their existing ranges similarly in order to compete. Always offering a mixture of fantasy vehicles and models of actual cars, the Hot Wheels range offers marvellous detailing at a low price, thanks in part to modern tampo printing techniques.
The Lone Star brand was launched in 1951 by Diecast Machine Tools (DCMT), who had until 1949 been manufacturing on behalf of Crescent Toys. DCMT/Lone Star became well-known for its toy guns, but also produced hollow-cast lead and, later, plastic figures. The company joined the diecast vehicle bandwagon in 1956 with its Roadmaster series, with the Roadmaster Impy range following in 1966. Other ranges included OOO scale push-along and electric trains, which effectively pioneered todays N gauge model railways. DCMT went into receivership in 1983 and the Lone Star brand was acquired by a German company, production moving to Hong Kong in 1988. Nowadays the Lone Star name is owned by the Heinrich Bauer Group, a producer of toy guns.
Founded in 1967, Maisto produces a wide range of diecast vehicles in various scales. Maisto is part of the May Cheong Group (MC Toy), which also now owns the brands of former Italian manufacturers Polistil and Bburago.
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, Spot-On and Dinky Toys models amongst others. Much of Norev's production today is in China.
A US corporate identity and promotion company, Norscot offers scale models as part of a range of branded products it produces for its clients. Notable clients from the diecast collector's point of view include Caterpillar, Chevrolet and GMC.
Founded in Nuremberg in 1968, NZG is a family company specialisingin diecast models of heavy machinery, trucks and other equipment. Most of the current range is 1:50 scale but there are also some 1:87 models. During the 80s and 90s NZG also produced cars and vans in 1:43 scale. Many of NZG's models are promotional items for manufacturers of the real vehicles, and feature a high level of detailing.
A relative newcomer although with strong historical links to Corgi, Oxford Diecast was formed in 1993. UK based with subsidiary companies in China, Oxford Diecast continues to offer a very wide range covering road vehicles, railway rolling stock, ships and aircraft in scales from 1:18 to 1:1200.
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.
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.
Zylmex toys were made by Zyll Enterprises Ltd of Hong Kong from the 1960s until 1996. They were distributed in the US by Zee Toys, and appeared under various brand and series names including 'Windracers' and 'Dynawheels' or 'Dart Wheels'. Models were mainly around 1:64 scale, but some 1:87 toys were produced which were also marketed by Play Art. After 1996 some of the castings reappeared in the Motor Max range.