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Studies have shown that boys and grown men’s fascination with the automobile isn’t limited to mankind. Experiments from universities in Texas have proven that also male apes prefer toy cars over other toys such as dolls.

It’s believed this has something to do with the hormone testosterone, which men of course have in abundance. It gives the male an enhanced interest in mechanical function and movement, which in turn explains my own fascination with a spinning washing machine or the hypnotising effect of a slowly rotating ceiling fan.

Model cars are cute and lovable, captivating to hold and admire, and I simply can’t get enough of them. So on this dull Monday morning, I’ve found an old film from 1965 showing the production of the legendary Matchbox toy cars being developed and produced from the factory in the London Borough of Hackney.

The Matchbox name originates back to 1953 as a division of the British die-casting company Lesney Products. Its first major sales success was a model of the Royal State Coach used by Queen Elizabeth II during her coronation in 1953. The model sold in more than of one million units and effectively paved the way for the company’s further expansion and success. Next, Jack Odell – one of the three partners behind Lesney Products – got the idea for a series of small-scale toy vehicles when he wanted to come up with a toy which his daughter could bring to school. The school only allowed toys if they were small enough to fit into a matchbox.

Odell created a much scaled down version of a die-cast Road Roller which Lesney Products had previously produced. It was a perfect fit for a Matchbox, and thus the very basis of future Matchbox toys had been established – including of course the name. To stick with the concept which inspired the small die-cast vehicles, they were sold in small boxes largely resembling a matchbox. This also resulted in the company coining the phrase “scale 1:box” rather than the normally used model scales 1:87, 1:64 or 1:43.

The rest as they say, is history…


2 Responses

  1. Tony Wawryk

    This takes me back…I used to save my weekly pocket money to buy either Matchbox cars or, if I had enough money, the larger Corgi or Dinky models. I had a decent-sized box full of them, but of course they were used to simulate races – and therefore crashes (few races ended with more than a couple of finishers) – around my bedroom floor, resulting in them getting pretty scratched and generally damaged. Gave them all away to my neighbour’s young son when I went to university.

  2. YrHmblHst

    LOVE matchbox cars! Or any toy car actually, but Matchboxes hold a special place in my heart. Still have mine – as well as HotWheels, and several Corgi/Dinky/Tekno/etc larger ones – and while the HotWheels are worth more money, I actually prefer my Matchboxes.
    My very first Matchbox car was given to me by my ‘Aunt Irene’ – tho technically she was no kin. Apparently I had an inordinate affection for / fascination with her new car, there are several photos of me in diapers playing with the spinners on the hubcaps or just leaning against before I could walk reliably. She saw a toy car almost exactly like hers – same colour even – and bought it for me. It was a blue 59 Impala as pictured above. And yes, i still have it.


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