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Diecast toys are detailed replicas, often to scale, of actual cars, boats, planes, trains and other popular childhood playthings. They are manufactured by the diecast process and are made of metal and plastic and finished in great detail to realistically resemble their larger scale counterparts.
The process of diecasting toys allows manufacturers to shape metal into a desired form with a high degree of dimensional accuracy. The die casting method of manufacturing involves forcing hot, molten metal into reusable molds called dies. As the hot metals cools in the molds, it hardens and forms into the preferred shape.
The metal used is in diecasting is a mixture of zinc and aluminum, most commonly called zamak but sometimes referred to as white metal or pot metal. Diecast toys are very durable and heat resistant.
Thousands of diecast toys can be produced at a time. Diecast toys are among the highest volume of items mass produced by the metal working industry. The diecasting process yields a very detailed and accurate result.
Diecast toys were first introduced to the U.S. market as early as the 20th century by the Dowst Brothers. They were sold under the brand name of Tootsietoys. At that time the practice of producing quality zamak had not yet been perfected. This resulted in poor quality toys that cracked and broke easily. In 1947, a company called Leshey began making a diecast toy they called “Matchbox” cars. They were very popular coming in 75 different types of vehicles and packaged in boxes resembling matchboxes. The term “matchbox car” became so widely used, it is now considered the generic name for this type of diecast toy.
Diecast toys hit their height of popularity around 1968. Mattel marketed a line of diecast toy cars and trucks sold under the brand name of Hot Wheels® that went on to become one of the world’s top selling toys. Many of the early editions of Hot Wheels® are now valuable collector’s items.
Diecast toys are popular today as both children’s playthings as well as collector’s items. Originally packaged vintage diecast toys are highly prized and quite valuable to many collectors and brokers. Common themes of collectible diecast toys include air craft, construction and farm equipment, military vehicles, trucks and cars.
The most common diecast toys of the 2000’s are those appealing to the NASCAR fan base. Reproductions of actual cars have had a resurgent effect on diecast auto sales.
My kids, both my son and daughter, have always loved little die cast cars. Plus, they aren’t expensive. That’s how I made it a habit that if they were well behaved when we went out to the store that both of them could choose a little car for their effort.
It was only a couple of bucks, and the cars would keep them busy forever.
However, I did learn one little thing about these handy toys. They were great with my kids, who were old enough not to stick them in their mouths constantly.
They were not so great for our new puppy, though. He didn’t seem to understand that metal was not a nutritious snack.
We learned rather quickly to keep the cars up high enough that the little fellow couldn’t chew them. I’m not sure if he had puppy PICA or what, but he seemed bent on eating all toy diecast cars in exsistence one at the time.
Oh boy! Die cast cars are a huge winner in my house!
I’m telling you that my son loves them with all of his little heart. I would say that at this point he has a collection of at least a hundred, perhaps more. Of course, I’m referring to the little matchbox cars.
This article struck a real chord with me, though, because I had no idea that some of these were valuable. Now, if all of his cars and trucks and trains and planes had come from the local store, I would have just kept on reading without stopping.
However, last Christmas my mother found a collection of about fifty antique die cast cars at an
older man’s yard sale. She was out of town, and just stopped on a whim. Well, the man sold her the entire collection for five bucks.
She thought that was an excellent price for these new looking, although obviously old cars. She gave them to my son, and I’ve let him drag them every place.
Now I’m wondering if I ought to take a second look to see if there is one that could pay for his college education!
Not literally, of course, but I had no idea that they could be valuable.
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