Thursday, September 30, 2010

Matchbox cars – How It Started

I thought we should go back this week and see how Matchbox cars started.  It was in 1953 when an England based company, Lesney Products & Co. Ltd, started to produce a new toy line known as Matchbox cars. Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith were the co-founders. The two are not related but have been friends since they had been in school together and joined the Royal Navy in World War II. John Jack Odell joined the two partners and became the engineer responsible for the unique designs of Matchbox cars. Odell designed an old steamroller in 1952 for his daughter who took the toy to school and this proved to be a big hit among her friends. 

Another milestone is when the company released a replica of the Royal State Coach in 1953 when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. It came in two versions; a large scale model and a smaller one. It became a massive success at that time and profits of the sale gave valuable capital for further investments. 

A Moko Lesney product appeared eventually. Lesney partnered with Moses Kohnstam to market and distribute its toys. But that did not last since Lesney bought Moko after a decade. In mid-60s, Matchbox was the largest brand of die cast model vehicles all over the world. 

However, England went through economic recession in the 1980s. The strong reversal of fortunes in the British economy also brought the global economic crisis. Lesney Products & Co. Ltd was among the many businesses that got affected.  Lesney went bankrupt.  The Matchbox brand was sold to and became a division of Universal Holdings/Universal Toys, where the company re-formed as "Matchbox International Ltd." Production was moved to Macau. At present, Matchbox brand is owned by Mattel, the creators of Hot Wheels.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Matchbox Sky Busters

Matchbox ventured in producing die cast airplanes in response to the competition created by new companies who decided to join the bandwagon of the model car market. They wanted to regain their popularity and reap more benefits by doing something else that others were not doing. 

Maurice Landi joined Lesney Products and he designed the aircraft line for the Matchbox Collectibles. Rox Huxley was hired as an illustrator to draw the box-art and provide the attractive packaging. 

Matchbox Sky Busters was released and the models were not only for children for those who love to collect models. Exact replica of aircrafts of varied airlines were produced and as the brand awareness increased, the quality became better and the price began to rise for Matchbox Collectibles.

Sky Busters has a range of current and historic private, commercial, and military planes under the Matchbox brand which was initially owned by Lesney Products and later on by Mattel. The Battle Kings military models, Sea Kings naval models, Adventure 2000 science fiction models, and the Two Packs series, which revisited the traditional Matchbox idea of a model and an associated trailer were released in the market in the early 70s in London, England. The brand kept coming on and off the market until the 2000s, when Mattel decided to release the models each year.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Matchbox Collectibles - What Are They Worth?

Matchbox cars became popular in the early 1950s. It was first made in England by Lesney Products in 1953. The cars were sold in Matchboxes at that time. The earlier version were bigger and then came the smaller ones, at four inches long which became a huge hit. 

Matchbox cars are the classic miniature toys and it has been one of the most popular collectibles worldwide for the young and old. If you are one of them like myself, finding the value for Matchbox cars and collectibles should be of concern to you. Collectors rely on all sources available including the web, price guides and even fellow collectors. Knowledge is the key to a serious collector.

Matchbox cars are highly prized by collectors for their bright, detailed paint jobs and high-quality, die-cast construction. The condition and rarity is the key to a matchbox collectibles worth. Serious collectors collect catalogs, display units, carry cases, collector buttons and boxes too.

For any collectibles, no one can track the rise and fall of its market value. It is best to search for complete listings of auctions and price guides to make sure you priced your Matchbox collectible correctly. The price guides will give a collector a comprehensive and visual record of the car's value even as time passes. 

A Matchbox Collector should also check out die-cast dealer shows whether you intend to buy, sell or just to learn about the Matchbox car values.

Many Matchbox pieces like cars, trucks & planes are worth hundreds of times their original issue price and prices vary significantly according to rarity and condition. This is a popular and very well established collectible niche where buyers and sellers definitely know their stuff.