Dinky Toys

Dinky Toys is a toy brand created in 1934 in the United Kingdom . The toys are then made in the UK and France by Meccano Ltd. , which produced miniature cars first of lead then zamac , but also some trains, planes, boats and various figurines and road accessories. The brand was very successful during the years 1950 to 1970 . It has since been bought by other toy brands.

The name “Dinky Toys” could be translated as “cute toys”.


In 1932, the first English lead models were close figures of 1/43 th , representing characters from everyday life and station staff and train, then in 1933 a series of 6 vehicles: a roadster , a sport coupe , pick-up truck, small truck, tractor and tank, all under the name “Hornby Series – Modeled Miniatures”.

All these objects had the primary function of brightening the Hornby miniature railway tracks.

Then running 1934 appears the name “Dinky Toys” …

A French series of Dinky Toys was produced in France in 1934 under the brand Meccano Miniatures, then other vehicles, cars and trucks, whose molds were more or less close to the English molds will take the name of “Dinky Toys”

Many French children who did not know a word of English pronounced it “Dainky To-hiss”.

The Dinky Toys were not invented by Meccano, Franck Hornby was inspired by Tootsietoys made in Chicago since the early 1920s.

According to the models, the Dinky Toys were made at scales ranging from 1/8 for a lawnmower to 1/2000 for liners. The most common scales were 1/48, 1/45 and 1/43.

Some rare or very rare models can reach record auctions in auction rooms, but most remain at affordable rates. The current record is  14,000 for a promotional van.

During the war , the factory Meccano France is requisitioned by the occupant and must work for its competitor Märklin .

The brand was very successful until the end of the 1960s . Its main competitors were CIJ , JRD, Solido (zamak) and Norev (plastic) in France, Corgi Toys in the UK, Schuco and Märklin in Germany, Mercury in Italy, Tekno in Denmark … We know that in 1951 the factory in Bobigny produced 7,000,000 Dinky Toys.

In 1967 Lines Brothers bought Meccano and ceased the manufacture of its excellent Spot On miniatures, launched in 1959 by the Belfast factory and all made on a scale of 1 / 42nd, keeping only the brand Dinky Toys. Production under the Spot On brand will continue until 1969 by the New Zealand subsidiary.

In 1971 Airfix buys Meccano and closes the Bobigny factory . Some military Dinky are manufactured in Calais for a short time. The brand DINKY TOYS disappears and is replaced by DINKY®. The brand DINKY TOYS has not been used since that date. From 1974 , the French Dinky Toys are only produced in Spain after a contract with the firm Auto-Pilen. The year 1979 seems to be the end of the brand; yet in 1981 still two miniatures bearing engraved under their floor the brand Dinky, a Ford Fiesta and a Simca 1308 GT These are not Dinky but Auto-Pilen sold under the brand Dinky.

In 1986 , Hong Kong’s Universal Holdings, which already owns Matchbox, becomes the owner of the Dinky brand, which will be taken over by Mattel, but Matchbox will produce Hong Kong’s “Dinky Collection”.

In 2006 Mattel will produce four Matchbox models under the Dinky brand.

In 2008, the license was ceded to Atlas for the production in China of Dinky Toys reissues of the years 1950/60.

Notes and references

See also


  • Jean-Michel Roulet, “THE Dinky Toys and French Supertoys, 1934-1981”. Atlas Editions 2012. ( ISBN  978-2-7312-4907-1 )
  • In ) Kenneth D. Brown, “Factory of Dreams has history of Meccano Ltd.” Crucible Books, 2007, 230 pp., ( ISBN  978-1-905472-08-6 ) .
  • Fr ) ( in ) Jacques Dujardin, “Dinky Toys Encyclopaedia” .2015, 3000 color pages on DVD. ( ISBN  978-2-7466-3115-1 )
  • In ) Mike and Sue Richardson. “DINKY TOYS & MODELLED MINIATURES”. The Hornby Companion Series, New Cavendish Books
  • Rampini Paolo, 1995, The Golden Book of Modelcars 1900-1975, Edizioni Paolo Rampini
  • Claude Wagner and Jacques Dujardin. “DINKY TOYS FRENCH MODELS 1934 – 1940” .2015, 300 color pages. ( ISBN  978-2-9544359-0-9 )

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