History of Diecast Toys
Just walking by an antique store can bring feelings of nostalgia for toys of the past. The fond memories flood forward of play days from your childhood. Few toy lines have the longevity experienced by diecast toys.
The history behind the cars
The first diecast cars were produced in 1910, and the first generation was very basic. By 1947, Lesney started its line of Matchbox cars, named because they were small enough to fit in matchboxes. Eventually, they became such a popular brand that Matchbox was a term used to describe all cars regardless of the manufacturer. By 1950, the detail and quality of the product improved, sparking the collecting craze. This resulted in more companies entering the field. In 1968, Mattel introduced its line of Hot Wheels; these cars were equipped with a low friction component that made them move faster. By 1960, diecast toys were ordered as promotional items for various companies. In 1980, businesses commissioned toymakers to design models sporting the logos of their companies. From then to now, billions of these tiny autos were manufactured.
A hobby of yesterday and today
Composed of metal and plastic and built to specific scales, diecast toys are a favorite collectible for many people. Bought, sold and traded daily on websites, these cars are also featured in books and magazines that support the hobby. A current Beckett guide is a must for serious collectors. This guide provides pictures and information to help collectors identify their finds. Diecast toys made prior to World War II are rare because the impurities in the alloy they were casted with resulted in cracking.
The expensive models
The 40th anniversary of Mattel’s Hot Wheels diecast car line was celebrated in 2008. The company kicked off the event at the New York Toy Fair. To celebrate the production of the four billionth Hot Wheels car produced, Jason of Beverly Hills, a celebrity jeweler, designed a car for Mattel. Built on the 1:64 scale, it was a sparkling masterpiece. The body of the car was cast in 18-karat white gold. There were 2,700 diamond of various colors decorating the car, that weighed in at 23 carats. Red rubies depicted the tail lights.The car had a functional hood that when opened, revealed a black and white diamond covered engine. The value of the car was estimated at $140,000. Prior to the creation of this car, the most expensive hot wheel car went for $70,000; it was a rare, rear-loading Beach Bomb.
Collecting die-cast cars is a great hobby for the young and old to share together. The cost of new cars is still around a dollar. The cars of yesterday can show up when you least expect them at flea markets or garage sales. Keep an eye out, you just never know what treasures you might find.