MRAdvent 20 Dec: behind the scenes at Matchbox

Matchbox

What is it about toy cars? Long before we’re old enough to appreciate what a real car is, we get genuine joy out of pushing a fun-size replica across the living room floor, probably making ‘broom-broom’ noises at the same time.

As adults, we still appreciate miniature cars, although most of us stop short of making ‘broom-broom’ noises. Some of us don’t even get as far as taking the cars out of their boxes. Face it, everybody loves a toy car.

Which is why we’re keen to share these fabulous videos from the British Pathé archives. The footage from 1962 shows the journey of a Matchbox car, from initial design, to the creation of a wooden model, right through to the finished article.

[bctt tweet=”We still appreciate miniature cars, although some of us stop short of making ‘broom-broom’ noises.”]

At the time, Matchbox was making a million models a week and had already topped the 250 million mark. And you thought the Nissan Qashqai was successful. We especially like the method used to paint the cars, with two coats applied using a spinning mechanism, almost as though the cars are going through a super-fast spray tan booth.

The backstory is just as wonderful, with Matchbox established just after the war when two ex-serviceman started making miniatures in a near-derelict pub. Having designed the machines themselves, the men sold over a million coronation coaches, giving the company a firm platform for future growth.

Three years later, production continued in Hackney and there’s another chance to see the cars being painted. At the time, Matchbox generated around £1 million by exporting models across the globe. Small cars, big profits.

Finally, if only to prove we’re not complete Matchbox fanboys, we head over to the Dinky Toys factory in Liverpool. Established in 1935, the company lived on until 1979.

Here we see the latest edition to the Dinky range was a Pathé News camera car, just one of several million produced every week, with half going for export.

As you’ll see around 50 seconds into the video, the camera cars aren’t handled using baby gloves. The cars shoot down a little slide, with collisions occurring at the end. If you always wondered why your Pathé News camera car was dented at the front, now you know.

We don’t know about you, but if we were to receive a Matchbox or Dinky Toy this Christmas, we’d be made up. Little things mean a lot.

1 reply
  1. Murgatroyd
    Murgatroyd says:

    British diecast toys led the world for 20 years from the early 1950s to the early 1970s. Then the rot set in and by the end of the ’70s the industry was in ruins, thanks to a combination of lack of investment, poor management and chaotic labour relations. As a child of the late ’70s/early ’80s I never bothered much with Corgi, Dinky and Matchbox after the age of about 9 as by then imported products (Majorette, Solido, Polistil, Gama etc.) were better. Even at that age I could recognise that Dinky were cheap and nasty.

    Reply

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