Mandarin appears to have been extant sometime through the 60s and 70s. The two models I have are of a Chevy Camaro and Fair Lady (Z car). The Camaro is bigger than the Datsun, which is circa 1:66, but not as large as a 1:43 (around 1:55 perhaps?). The exterior and the interior are both crude, with wheels that are way too small for the car. The bottom reads "Mandarin, No 108, Chevrolet Camaro, Made in Singapore." The Datsun is closer to Matchbox-sized, and although it is crude as well, it isn't as glaring on the smaller size.. The doors have deep cuts in them and look as if they should open, but they don't. I have heard that this is a copy or reuses the casting of another make with doors that do open. Brian, in another article, speculates that Mandarin was influenced by the Tomica. Does anyone know if this was just influence or a direct copy (as the deep indentations in the doors may suggest)? Another interesting thing is that both the Camaro and the Datsun have yellow interiors -- was that the only color the interiors came in? The text on the bottom of the Datsun (No. 114) is similar to the Camaro.
As an aside, I just bought a car this last weekend (February 27, 2005) at a toy show that was made in Singapore -- a Gama BMW #894.
Toy company Marushin isknown for diecast airplanes, and action figures. I have a Lamborghini Silhouette, silver with black plastic interior, top and engine cover (which opens). It's not incredibly accurate (vent windows in the doors are particularly bad), but it has a couple of interesting features, neither of which I knew were on it when I bought it. First, there are black buttons beside each door. Push one, and the door pops open. Push a metal button under the front of the car, and the headlights pop up (though the headlights themselves are just stick-ons). I've seen the push button on another Marushin model, a Fiat Abarth 200 which has a canopy that opens this way.
The only other models I can find references to are a Lancia Stratos and a Porsche (perhaps in kit form).
McGregor was apparently the manufacturer of Politoys in Mexico -- whether is was a division of the Italian company or a company contracted to make Politoys in Mexico, I can't say. The car I have is a Cadillac in a strange gray. The front doors open. The bottom says ""Politoys No 69, Scala 1/41, Mexico, Cadillac Special Sedan." There is also a McGregor script beneath the gas tank imprint.
Mebetoys/Gran Toros/Hot Wheels (Italy)
According to grantoros.com, Mebetoys was formed by Marion Besana in Milan in 1966. The name stands for MEccanica BEsana TOYS. Grantoros.com says that the company was sold to Mattel in 1969, while. modellautohomepage.de says either 1970 or 1973. So the late Sixties, early Seventies anyway, when it became known as Mebetoys Mattel, with many of the cars marked as Gran Toros. Finally, the cars became Hot Wheels in 1982 until the factory closed down in 1985. For an excellent rundown of the history of Gran Toros, turn to grantoros.com, and for an overall view of Mebetoys, take a look at mebetoys.com.
Interestingly, Mario Besana also formed Martoys (MARio TOYS) in 1974, which then became Bburago (Besana BURAGO Molgora (referring to Burago Molgora, near Turin).
Apparently copies of Mebetoy cars are being made in Russia now, perhaps from the original molds.
Meboto used the molds of Edil (Italy, 1965-1970), making cruder copies than the originals. In fact, you will still see the Edil name on the bottom of the models.
The Mercedes 250 SE is the car most often seen for sale, but I've also seen a Lamborghini Marzal, a Fiat 1500, a Ferarri 275, and a Lancia Flavia Coupe.
There is a great article by Craig Mueller on Doug Breithaupt's Web site on Mercury. According to Craig, Mercury was based in Torino (Turin) from 1932 to 1980.... and, once again, I learned something new -- they also made Matchbox-sized models (1:66) under the name Speedy. Please take a look at the site to see lots of pictures and information.
Models using older Mercury molds have been released as Scottoy (you can see a list of the models on Model Auto Review).
Mercury Innocenti bottom
Metalbox GMK (Hungary)
The company at some point changed it's name to "Osul" (anybody know why, or what it means?), and then to "Metosul" (in the 1970s, according to 8thscale.info) when they turned to metal cars instead of plastic (METal OSUL).
July 3, 2008: I received an email from Joao-Manuel Mimoso, with some very helpful information:
"...I read a note in your site about Luso Celulóide/ Metosul with some interrogations in it. "Luso Celuloide" means "Portuguese Celluloid". The classical name of Portugal is "Lusitania" (the name of a Roman Province encompassing a large part of Portugal) and "Luso" is an adjective meaning "Portuguese". Celluloid is a plastic developped in the XIX century and nowadays only used in table tennis balls but very widely used in the first half of the XX century to manufacture photographic film and toys. Celluloid was available in sheets of several colours and could be heated and air-pressured against shaped moulds to form toys with minimal technology. One very common use was in the manufacture of dolls formed from thin pink-coloured sheets. "OSUL" is "luso" written backwards, a brand "Luso Celuloide" used for plastic toys. Metosul (from "Metal" & "Osul") was the brand of their metal diecasts."
Micro Models (New Zealand)
Well, all of them, of course! But I settled for two or three...
As usual, I'm the first to say, "I'm wrong" (though certainly never the last!). I originally populated this listing with direct quotes found all over the Interent (as I stated, I'm a firm believer in giving credit, but the information had been used so many times vertabatim, I don't know whom to credit). The following information was kindly emailed to me by Ian Cousins of New Zealand. I've kept the orignal listing in n italics, with Ian's comments in red:
"E D DAW has written an extensive history
of the Micro make which started in
The following should be attributed to E D Daw as
it is taken directly from
There are 6 ranges:
1956-1960 Lincoln , NZ (founder was Lincoln Laidlaw, founder for
"Lincoln Laidlaw was the son of the founder
of 'The Farmers. a department
1970s Matai/Torro. Note: I can't find any background information
"This was the
Meates Family - they produced Micro during this period but
1982-83 Plastic models out of Perth.
"These are the Gosnells models."
1980s Repros made in Sydney. Note: I don't know if these were plastic or metal.
"Inspired by Pier Van Netten of Melbourne
there were clearly marked Micro
1994 Christchurch, NZ (Meates family) -Note: these models were made
"This is the Meates second "ownership"
of the Micro model range - they
In addition, modelcollector.co.uk adds that the "Meates family" refers to K.F. Meates and Co. Ltd.
An Internet check of Mike and Sue's names brought up this listing of several books by the couple and by Mike Richardson alone and with others. I'm assuming the diecast collector books are indeed by this Mike Richardson; I don't know if he has written any of the other books.
These models aren't known for their exact proportions; in fact, the most often quoted complaint are the "off" proportions. But this is not unusual for a boutique maker, especially in the latter part of the last century). The worst thing about my model (#17, a 1953 Studebaker) is the fact that I had to paint and build it. And let me be clear about this. There is a reason I always bought pre-built diecast cars and not plastic models. I suck as a model builder. I must have bought my model around 1984, because I specifically painted the model to match the 1955 Commander Sedan (the big kind) that I had at the time. Actually, beyond my poor building skills, there are other problems with the model. I've never been able to get the chassis to connect to the rest of the car -- the holes for the screws weren't properly drilled out. Two of the tires have also split.
Still, it's a nice addition to my collection of oddities.
Mikro Auto (Czech Republic)
Milton/Miltan/Mini Auto Cars (India)
I have a Studebaker Hawk which I have seen described on the net as being from the Dinky molds or a copy, but it think it's also a Corgi. Look at this photo of the bottom of the Corgi version, and compare with the Milton version. It seems the dies were severely wearing out by the time my Studebaker was made -- the driver's side fender is truncated and rounded off, and all the edges are generally rough.
The boxes of Milton models often say "Mini Auto" -- don't get them confused with either Ziss or Kaden, who also use the name. Sometimes the box fronts say "Milton Mini-Auto Cars," or "Milton Toys," and sometimes they don't say anything, just have the picture. You'll also often find writing on the flap which says "Miltan Mini-Toys," and yes, that is spelled with an "a."
Visit this site for photos of Simcas by Minialuxe.
Miniature Model Planning/Ebbro (China for Japan)
You can visit Great Eagle Trading Company to see what 1:43 cars are presently available. According to the site, "Ebbro is the trademark of Miniature Model Planning Limited (MMP Ltd.) of Shizuoka Japan. The director of MMP Ltd. is Mr. Makoto Kiya. He has appointed Great Eagle Trading Company of Hong Kong to be the non-Japanese countries exporter."
MMP has apparently also made some 1:87 models.
Ebbro/MMP Toyopet Crown
If you're interested in Latin Jeeps, be sure to check out this site. This site also mentions that "Jue" is a predecessor of Minibrindes. I've not been able to track down any information on this company.
Mini Réplicas (Argentina)
There was a telepone number and an email email address on the bottom of the inner box, so I contacted the address. I got an email back from Leonardo Vicentini in Argentina:
"I´m a 1/64 die cast collector. I made models (in) resin (of)
the classic Argentinian cars like the Valiant IV. I have (also made models
of the) Ford Falcon, Chevy Nova, Fiat 600 and more. I made alls the models
Leonardo lives in Córdoba, Argentina, and is an enthusiastic diecast collector. He presently has 11 models:
Torino (ex-Rambler American) 380 w
Many of the modesl are in various also available as taxis, ambulances, police and fire cars, all handmade and boxed. You can reach Leonardo at email@example.com
Truthfully, the model I have is a little crude, but that's to be expected with a handmade object in this scale. The point is that somone is dedicated enough to even do it! Any of Leonardo's models would be a great additon to any collection.
Mira (Spain, China)
You can read a history of Solido (and the Mira connection) at this site. Cars using the Mira name are, of course, now made in China.
According to the site, Modeline came into being on July 10th, 1996. They made hand made 1:24 miniatures of the Palio (a Fiat ute). And they seem to be available for hire: "Nowadays we are capable of doing miniatures of any product in the miniaturizing scale wished by our clients and this justifies the statement: 'Whatever you think big Modeline does it small.'" Their English is not the best -- but it's better than my Portuguese.
Modeline Corsa bottom
"Muky of Argentina is one other mystery within the history of toys made in our country. For collectors these are the Argentinean Hotwheels for the similarity with the American models. And ever since they first got hold of one of Muky’s models there’s been a constant doubt about the origin and production of these miniature wonders. Some say the castings were stole form the Mattel plant many years ago, and then brought to our southern country to begin production of a similar item under another brand name. Some others, the most uncontroversial ones prefer to believe that the similarity is the result of some god knows what coincidences. However most of us, without choosing either solution want to know the truth for sure, whether they were stolen, sold or copied, how and where did it happen, and most of all why.
"In order to solve that mystery, the Buenos Aires Toy museum, who has been working on the reconstruction of the Argentinean toy industry’s history for many years now, began to work on a deep and complicated research process. The first and foremost difficulty we had to face in advance was the lack of public or private information about this matter. Due to a continuum of political and economical critical situations the registration of most industrial activities of the 60s, 70s and 80s are not much.
"Confronted to the lack of records and in need of answers we began to trace down information lines we collected from fellow collector, who remembered to have heard someone saying something about Muky.
"Our hard work paid off, and we were able to contact Muky’s
owners with which we had the honor of interviewing.
Among the many other differences within the models is the box and blister packages alternatives, the full blue and white package is from the second Era in the production of Muky, while the more eclectic and colorful packages belong to the first Era.
But our goal was fixed in the main mystery we were looking to solve:
the castings origin. When asking Muky’s most recent owner about
the castings, he replied that the newest ones –the latest numbers
in the series- were made by them in Argentina with local craftsmen, who
were inspired in many of the cars they saw every day on the streets. He
added that many of the first models were bought together with the company
already producing them. He thought the previous owners had bought them
in the States and brought them to Argentina to work with. But he had no
further information on the matter.
Therefore, Muky of Argentina, aka the Argentinean Hotwheels share the same original castings with the Mattel diecasts, but not only where they not stolen, but they were legitimately bought and put into production.
One highlight about the Muky models is an outstanding difference with
most of the 70s Argentinean diecasts, for they had produced an interesting
number of concept diecast cars. A line of visionary models which were
to come in the international market and that would be a design breakthrough
within the industry that was anticipated in the world of toys. And one
of those avant-garde companies was Muky. A highly treasured item very
appreciated in the world of collectibles.
Copyright 2013 by Keith Bickford. All rights reserved. No portion of this site may be reproduced without written permission. Quoted passages reamain the proper of the respective authors.