April 10, 2020 by Doug Breithaupt
How often has any toy car collector wished that they could have a time machine to go back to 1968? Just one trip back to the corner drug store of the late 1960’s would allow us to grab up all the original Hot Wheels the time machine could hold. Sure it is just fantasy but look at the toy cars pictured here.
These toy cars are immediately familiar and then again, something is different. The wheels and colors are not what we expect to see. The shapes however, are just what you might have found in that corner drug store in the Age of Aquarius.
Some of you may have heard of the Muky story (For the complete Muky story as published in a 2004 article in Tales of a Toy Cars, click here). It is not completely clear how the tooling for these castings originated. Two things are clear. The tooling is not that used by Mattel for their Hot Wheels. These are not toy cars made from cast-off Mattel dies. At the same time, these are not treated as pirated castings. Did Muky pay Mattel for the right to produce these models? Does it really matter? We do know that Muky produced these models throughout the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, primarily for the Argentine market.
The toy cars you see here are direct from a discovered cache of Muky models, long forgotten at the original factory but found over 15 years back. They came fresh in pristine boxes, just like they did so many years ago. Bob Frassinetti is one of Argentina’s foremost diecast toy car experts. He discovered these models and made them available to collectors. I was fortunate enough to get a set of the twelve you see here back in 2004. It is interesting that the boxes show a Muky sponsored race car on the reverse. They also provide a list of Muky models #8 through #37. Most boxes also identify the car inside.
The quality of the Muky castings is not equal to the original Hot Wheels. Plastic bases, basic wheels, no interiors and modest paint quality are easy to see. At the same time, these models have a simple charm that only comes with vintage toys. Over 40 years ago, this was the level of quality for many small companies. Some models like the Cadillac Eldorado are quite good while the AMC AMX has a large gap between the front grill and hood.
One curious feature of these Muky models is the names that are used. Some are much the same as their Hot Wheel counterparts. Others have complete new identities like the Torero being labeled as a Lamborghini and the AMX as a Chevelle SS. Perhaps in Argentina, Muky thought a new name would have more appeal.
Two of the models shown here are not based on early Hot Wheel castings. The 40 Ford Coupe is inspired by the same Hot Wheels casting of the 1980’s. The VW Beetle does not appear to have any connection to another casting and as such is a unique Muky model.
The toy car companies of South America like Muky, Buby, Kiko and Galgo are long gone. Their models remain and the stories that go with them are fascinating. Perhaps some day the source of Muky’s mystery castings will identified.