Matchbox is a popular toy brand which was introduced by Lesney Products in 1953 and is now owned by Mattel, Inc. The brand was so named as the original die-cast Matchbox toys were sold in boxes similar in style and size to those in which matches were sold. Subsequently the brand would encompass a broad range of toys including larger scale die-cast models and various non die-cast lines such as plastic model kits and action figures.
During the 1980s, Matchbox started to switch to the more conventional plastic and cardboard “blister packs” that were used by other die cast toy brands such as Hot Wheels. The box style packaging was re-introduced for the collectors’ market in recent years, particularly with the release of the “35th Anniversary of Superfast” series in 2004.
The Matchbox name started in 1953 as a brand name of the British die-casting company, Lesney Products. Lesney’s reputation would be moulded by Jack Odell, Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith (hence the name “Lesney”); their first major sales success was the million-selling model of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation Coach.
Shortly thereafter, Lesney co-owner Jack Odell (b. 1920 – d. 2007) created a toy that effectively provided the final, missing link to the company’s future. It was designed for his daughter: her school only allowed children to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox, so Odell crafted a scaled-down version of the Lesney green and red road roller. This toy ultimately became the first of the 1-75 miniature range; a dump truck and a cement mixer completed the original three-model release that marked the starting point of the mass-market success story of the Matchbox series. As mentioned above, because the one defining factor for the toys was that each model had to fit in a match-box, the idea was born to sell the models in replica matchboxes — thus yielding the name of the series. It also resulted in the description of the models’ scales being “1:box” (as opposed to more “serious” scales such as 1:87, 1:64, or 1:43).
Matchbox Lesney vehicle are always something you will find in our shops. Many collectors in Australia know that VIP Toys always has the good quality stuff. You can expect to see at least 50 – 100 dies cast vehicles at any one time in our cabinets.