We got such a positive response from Ron Ruelle’s first look at some obscure diecast brands, that we asked him to do another. Ron is one of the gurus at hobbyDB, and when your goal is to catalog all diecast, you are going to encounter a strange brand or two.
A few weeks ago, we shared a list of unusual car brands with strange histories. The response we got was terrific, so here’s another batch model and toy cars you may have forgotten if you ever heard of them at all. All in all, these models come from seven different countries if you’re counting!
There’s something familiar about Muky model cars, even if you’re not at all familiar with them… Many of their models bear a (ahem) strong resemblance to various Hot Wheels offerings. These cars were obvious knock-offs from Argentina, but the mold and decoration quality suggests a copy of a copy of the original. Or were they? Some Hot Wheels historians believe the molds were sold to this company, and that Mattel no longer owns them.
Approximately 1:43 scale, these models are molded in bright, soft plastic with oversized wheels and cartoonish proportions. The design and materials of these cars resemble the rubbery plastic cars of the ’50s, but they are much newer than that. This Swedish company began in the mid ’60s and has produced much more recent models including late 1980s Volvos (did we mention they’re Swedish?)
Why settle for Matchbox when you can have Best Box? This Dutch company designed them to be cheap competitors to the 1960s Matchbox offerings, but these less detailed cars didn’t make the leap into Superfast territory. The brand was later renamed into Efsi and the molds are now owned by Holland-Oto but are not in production anymore.
What. The. Truck? This very strange series of models inspired by Japanese anime includes some really weird mashups of overly cute animals and cars/trucks/buses. The series also features some almost but not quite realistic models, which seem out of place at first. These other cars are based on illustrations from the Initial D comics and cartoons, so they actually fit in.
The scale on these cars is hard to pin down… from the side, they are slightly larger than a Micro Machines car, but as you turn towards the front, they are about twice as wide as they should be. The effect can be sort of dizzying.
These plastic 1/87 scale cars from Spain are ideal for a model railroad but might need a little work to fit in. The detail is very basic, and they had a tendency to melt and warp over the years. Still, these represent some fairly unusual models, so improving them might be worth it. Or you could try to find the Eko versions of these cars… This better-known company bought the molds in the mid-60s and continued to produce some of them using better materials.
This company made numerous dealer promo cars in the 1960s for marques such as Rambler, Studebaker and DeSoto, as well as ambulances and hearses. The molds were only in use for one year as promos, so someone at Jo-Han had the brilliant idea of re-releasing many of them as kits, an idea for which we should all be grateful. The original castings were usually curbside models with no opening features, but the kits often were modified to include underhood detail. Jo-Han kits enjoyed a resurgence in the 1980s and were most recently produced sometime around 2013.
Sabra was a model car company from Israel that produced some very nice models of mostly American cars from the late ’60s through the early ‘70s. The full name of this line, “Gamda Koor Sabra,” translates roughly to “Israeli-born midget toys.” Given the ongoing state of conflict in the area, their model of a 1964 Chevelle station wagon in United Nations livery seems appropriate.
Like many other companies in the immediate post WWII era, A&E Tool And Gage Company found themselves scrambling to keep their machines running after their military products were no longer needed. As mold makers for Structo Toys, who made 1:12 and other large scale vehicles, they decided to apply the same technology to a smaller scale around 1:64 or so. Since the bodies were created with a simple two part mold, detail was seriously compromised, but in a way that’s actually kind of charming and fun. Many of their vehicles featured full wheel skirts which made production easier, and gave them a sort of futuristic look.
These were similar in construction to the Midgetoys, right down to the hidden wheels. Made in the 1930s, the designs were not based on any specific models and the brand is largely forgotten. But seriously, when’s the last time you saw a Bakelite model sports car with a clockwork motor?
Speaking of windup cars, we hope to bring you a list of odd brands of action cars in a few weeks… battery operated, wind up, rubber-band driven, you name it. Let us know if you have any suggestions!
Ron Ruelle is Social Media Guru for hobbyDB.com, a database and marketplace for anything and everything collectible. He has been having strange dreams about anthropomorphic Japanese cars for some reason.
7 Replies to “More Odd Brands From the Island of Forgotten Toy Cars, by Ron Ruelle of hobbyDB”
Hey, these Phat Boyz are kinda cool!
Dream Tomica is still a thing… kinda. I do remember seeing 829Japan filled with updates on that line.
I have some Phat Boyz and Dream Tomicas here. I actually never knew that they're called Phat Boyz until I read this.
“This Dutch company designed them to be cheap competitors to the 1960s Matchbox offerings, but these less detailed cars didn’t make the leap into Superfast territory.”
The one on the left looks more detailed than current Matchbox.
Hey John! Yet another interesting article on cars that have been long forgotten or unknown! I especially remember those Phat Boyz! When our town used to have an Albertsons, they used to be hung up on clips in certain aisles. Brings back childhood memories!
Just to let you know, I have a Youtube channel by the name of CJ HotWheels. I just posted a video today showcasing the Lamley's Leaks Ford F-150 SVT Raptor! I think you should take a look at it and see what you think! I'll provide a link to the video and my channel below just in case if you're interested. Also, you should subscribe to my channel since I post videos every week! I mention your blog a lot in most of my videos as shout-outs or for any newcomers to recommend visiting your blog! That's how much I enjoy your blog! This is where I find the latest and greatest news and trends in the diecast world! And it's so great to see a Matchbox that's completely dedicated to your blog! And I'm very proud to have one! Here's to you John! Happy collecting and keep up the great work!
Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESZ5eK4aKV0
Link to channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/HotWheelsDude14/videos
Being Dutch, I used to have a lot of Best-box cars as a kid – unfortunately most of them are broken now, much like Majorettes from the late '60s, they weren't very robust. 🙁
(unlike my Matchboxes from that same era, almost all of which are still intact today)
The weird stuff–what I really enjoy.
Muky, is definitely interesting. I have noticed that the eBay prices for them are up there with the actual HWs. And not to mention, the shipping cost from Argentina!
I do have a couple of Efsi. The castings are very nicely detailed, but can be fragile. I had a wheel pop loose on a Commer 302 when straightening an axle.
Dream Tomica. I have been interested mostly in the Peanuts models they did here in the past couple of years. Otherwise, way too fantastical for my collection.
I think I may have had a few Phat Boys as a kid.
Anguplas. I do have the Eko version of the Jeep Wagon. Pretty nicely done. I am glad to hear they don’t have the warpage issues of the original Anguplas–I guess because they chose not to use the horrible cellulose acetate plastics of the era.
I’d love to see the Jo-Han Cadillac ambulance re-released. Been trying to find a built one for cheap.
Sabra/Cragstan is one manufacturer on my shortlist.
I have a Midgetoy ambulance. I was told that every single vehicle they made (other than one space ship) was based-off a real life vehicle. I’m wondering what the basis was for the ambulance and the pickup shown here? Econoline, Chevy van? Some of the weird turbine concepts out of the ’60s?
That Winnatoy car scares the living heck out of me. It’s Bakelite, which means that it breaks if you look at it funny. I have been afraid of Bakelite ever since I dropped an early Dremel; which shattered all over the place.