Long after the boat or railway appeared on the scene, the car came along.  Unlike today where practically every home owns at least one car, when it was first launched onto the market, car ownership was very rare.

It has been the same with Model Cars really, apart from the wonderful old tinplate models of cars, both model railways and model boats/ships were well established before the model car came along.

Some of the most admired model cars which make an interesting and worthy collection, is the much collected Tinplate Cars made by makers such as the famous Schuco Company.  Originally, tinplate cars and toys were stamped out of and moulded by hand-operated devices, these models were then decorated by hand which, as I am sure you can understand, is a very time consuming process indeed.  However, later on powered machinery began to take over these processes.

The biggest producers of Tin Toys and Cars was Nuremberg, Germany.  It was the historic centre of the toy industry in general.  Tin Toy production from all other countries began, possibly due to the shortages caused by the onset of the First World War (not forgetting here that during this period of time, all German products, and that included teddy bears and toys, were banned). When the war ended, other countries tried to take over the Tin Toy market, including Japan but not very successfully and, after just a relatively short period of time, Germany regained it’s lead in the Tin Toy market.  This, had to be because German Tin Toys were so very well made, innovative and were quite reasonably priced.  Germany governed the market then until the outbreak of the Second World War when, once again, German products were banned.  This time, however, when the war ceased in 1945, they found it much more difficult to recover, probably due to the severe shortage of materials.

Later on it was Japanese toys that started to take over the Tinplate market.  By now their Tin Toys were made to a much higher standard but also by now, many of their Tinplate Toys were powered by battery which meant that not only could they move, but they also had flashing lights and could make strange and rather exciting noises. This was new to children and they loved it.

With the arrival of the 1950’s/early 1960’s, the tin toy market had started to heavily decline, partly due to safety standards being put into place on all children’s toys.  TinplateToys had metal tabs which were deemed as no longer very safe for children.  Also, a new medium was being used to make toys, especially model cars and this new medium was plastic. Plastic models were modern, economical and safer than tinplate.

Today, the collectors market is big in Old Tinplate Cars, certainly some of these old models are a work of art in their own right and are desired by men and boys the whole world over.  They make a wonderful and worthy collection which are admired by all.

When the age of plastics came about in the world of toys, we found that cars could be made using interesting plastic kits.  Foremost amongst the plastic kits market was the American businesses man called Lew Glaser.  At the end of the Second World War, Glaser bought a plastics company and then launched Precision Specialities, a company that was to make plastic novelties.  In 1946, Glaser started producing toys, firstly marketing a Minnie Mouse Washing Machine that was to prove a huge success and later on he followed this with a plastic Maxwell Automobile pull along toy.   After attending a toy fair in 1950, Glaser found himself inundated with new orders.  Someone suggested he make a model kit version to help the company keep up with orders as, even if the company produced ten thousand of the Maxwell models per day, they would still be short.  However, Glaser  ignored this suggestion.

Ironically, some twelve months later, when the sales of the Maxwell declined, Glaser decided to look into the ‘model kit’ suggestion.  Glaser risked everything and went whole-heartedly into the model kit business.  This gamble certainly paid off, however and in 1951, the sales of Glaser’s company – Revell Inc. – soared.  The rest, as they say is history .  Plastic kits have always been very popular with men and boys of all ages and there really can be no let up in this.  Not only do you learn to work with your hands putting these models together but the end result is usually a wonderful model that the maker can be proud of.

These inventions also led the way to the famous Slot Cars.  Today, not only are Slot Cars used for racing, but they have also become collectible in their own right as some of them are superb models and collectors now just show them off in cabinets just like their rival Tinplate Cars and Plastic Model Kits mentioned above.

Diecast Models –  The term die-cast refers to models that have been made using the die-cast method.  Plastic, rubber or glass can be added to these models for detail.  Usually the metal used is lead alloy (in the first toys) or much more common, Zamak (or Mazak in the United Kingdom).  This is an alloy of zinc with small quantities of aluminium and copper.

Diecast Models were first produced in the 20th century by makers such as Meccano (Dinky Toys) in the United Kingdom and Dowst Brothers (Tootsie Toys) in the United States.  Today, makers all across the world produce remarkable diecast models of a very high quality.

These models are now collected all over the world and recently I have seen some amazing Ferrari Models – Ixo La Storia Ferrari Formula 1 Models – which provide not only a brilliant model of a famous Ferrari that raced in Formula 1 together with all details of the car but also an analysis of the driver.  Truly a wonderful collectors item.

Today, Model Car Collectors certainly have a good choice of Model Cars, they have old and new and a range of different mediums to choose from.

I personally have a selection of old and new, tinplate and diecast models in my collection and I think (and so do my friends) that they all look rather cool when displayed together.


Gino loves fast cars, especially fast italian cars.  Gino also loves anything Italian. Gino also heads an old teddy bear site which is full of adorable old teddy bears and their friends.

Please visit his website at www.ginosbears.co.uk

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