Die-cast toys, usually made from a zinc alloy know as Mazak, are mainly of automotive interest. This sector of the toy collecting, probably best illustrates the broad diversity of miniature transport from the 1930s, when Dinky Toys started production, through to the present day. Almost every country in the industrialsed world had its own die-cast toy productions.
Tootsietoys, the first die-cast toys to be produced, were made by Dowst who made their first generic car in 1910. This was very popular and led to the production of the Model T Ford in 1914. Tootsietoys are still made to this day.
In 1933, Dinky Toys started production on their first set of road vehicles. A range of military vehicles was introduced in 1937, and in 1949 they became the first manufacturer to produce a gift set.
The 1950s saw a period of increased competition from toy manufacturers and in response to this the Dinky Toy Club was launched. In a further measure to retain their market share, they introduced their first model with plastic windows in 1958, and during the following year produced their first model with suspension. In 1979 the Binns Road factory ceased production, thus ending a significant era in the history of tin toys.
The Mettoy Company was set up in 1933 by Mr Philipp Ullmann, to produce tin toys. Mr Ullmann had already had 21 years of experience in the toy industry, having owned and run the famous German toy manufacturer of Tipp & Company.
During 1948 Mettoy produced their first die-cast toy and continued production until 1954. Two years later, Mettroy used the Corgi brand name when launching eight new models, three of which were mechanical. Corgi started the Corgi Model Club and an accompanying newsletter. Since their launch, Corgi have been the forerunners of many interesting features such as windows, jewelled lights, folding seats and opening doors.
The Lesney partnership was formed in 1947 by Leslie and Rodney Smith (not related). Two years later, Lesney prodcued and sold the first cars. In 1953, Lesney formed an association with Moses Kohnstams who provided 50% of the companys financial backing. It was from Moses Kohnstams that the famous brand name MOKO originated. 1953 also the registration of the Matchbox name and the beginning of the well known 1 to 75 series.
Micromodel toys were made in Australasia. Production started during 1952 and ceased in 1961. In late 1974, in New Zealand, thirteen Micromodels were re-released by Matai Industries. Production eventually ceased in 1976.
They were mainly toys representing Australian cars and trucks, but also produced models on British and American vehicles.
They are fairly rare nowadays and are becoming increasingly collectable.
In 1959 Spot-On, manufactured by Lines Brothers Limited, were first produced. This manufacturer was unique in that all models were made to one scale only. They were considered the best quality and most accurately detailed die-cast toys in the world.