MATCHBOX SUPERFAST MB21 (Lesney Products, England) - Renault 5TL car mint & boxed (c.1980)
Postage is extra.
For sale is a Matchbox Superfast RENAULT 5TL car, made by Lesney Products & Company Ltd of England. Matchbox 75 Series.
I've added an outline history of the early years of the Lesney company to the end of this page - please scroll down to end.
Size (box): about 3 1/8" x 1 1/2" x 1 1/16" (78mm x 38mm x 27mm).
Materials (model): diecast metal alloy, steel axels & plastics.
Finish: please see photographs.
Approximate age: 1980 - 1981
Model in mint condition. Box in near mint condition with only minor signs of storage wear.
Please see photograph(s), these form part of the description.
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Lesney & Company - the early days:
Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith had been friends since their school days in the 1920’s and during the war, Leslie served in the Royal Navy and Rodney in the Royal Engineers where he gained a mechanical training. By 1946, Rodney was working for the Die Cast machine Tools (DCMT) company and Leslie gaining experience in finance and business administration as a carpet export buyer. Their combined business skills and talents were complementary and between them, they gathered a capital sum of £500 to start their own diecasting business. On 19th January 1947 they formed Lesney Products (an amalgamation from the LESlie and RODney names) then began operating from the basement of a dilapidated pub called The Rifleman, in Edmonton, North London. Later in that same year 1947, Jack Odell another former employee of DCMT joined the company, bringing with him an expertise in tool-making and diecasting. Lesney Products was now a three-way partnership manufacturing all sorts of small die-cast components for a wide variety of industry. But as yet, toy vehicles were not a part of their business.
A tentative entry into toy manufacturing and a national break through with Woolworth stores:
It was during slack periods of manufacture that Lesney Products began to become involved in the toy market by producing components for toy guns and toy handcuffs and which opened their eyes to the wider toy market and its products. Influenced by the success of Dinky Toys and the Tootsie Toy range in the USA, Lesney Products began to make a number of diecast miniature vehicles such as a road-roller, cement mixer, caterpillar tractor with relatively fine detail and precision. Sporadic production of components for these toy vehicles helped fill in production downtime and the models were assembled, brightly painted and made ready for sale, mainly through local shops (North London) and at a third of the price for an equivalent Dinky model. The breakthrough came when Woolworths discovered Lesney’s toy vehicles and signed a contract to sell them nationally through their stores. This put the Lesney company on a more secure financial footing and became incorporated in 1949 as Lesley Products Ltd, soon moving to a larger and more suitable factory premises. By end of 1949 two new products had been introduced to the range: the horse-drawn milk-float and the soapbox racer. In 1951 Lesney produced the horse-drawn Royal Stage Coach intended to be released in conjunction with the Festival of Britain but the outbreak of the Korean War meant a ban on zinc and this put a heavy restriction on “non-essential” diecasting manufacture as a whole. It was in this year that Rodney left the business and sold his third-share to Jack and Leslie.
Teaming up with J. Kohnstam & Company and the QEII Coronation Coach:
The usage ban on zinc was short-lived and business picked up quickly. Lesney had set up a toy making division but at this time toys were only a smaller part of their overall business in diecasting components. In 1951, Lesney teamed up with J. Kohnstam & Company who were given responsibility for the marketing and distribution of Lesney products, including toys. The next milestone for the Lesney toy business came with the Queen Elizabeth II coronation in 1953 and already having the Queen’s Coach dies at-hand, the same model was relaunched and would sell over 32,000 examples as well as over a million miniature models of the coach, the latter being only 4.5 inches length and selling for 2s 11d each.
The MATCHBOX SERIES developed during 1953:
The next milestone was the Matchbox Series, developed from an idea by Jack Odell who envisaged producing miniature diecast vehicles and all scaled down to a size that would fit into a specific matchbox size. The printed matchboxes were initially sourced from the Czechoslovakian Norvic Match Company and the Aveling-Barford road roller was the first Matchbox Series model, given the number 1. Their marketing and wholesalers Kohnstam saw the potential and were fully behind the idea distributing the new models nationally and later exporting abroad too. These new Matchbox Series were first sold under the MOKO brand (an amalgamation from the MOses KOhnstam name). There followed the Muir-Hill Site Dumper (No. 2), the Cement Mixer lorry (No.3) and so on. Thus in early 1953, the Matchbox Series was born and were to be the backbone of Lesney Products & Company Ltd for decades to come. Incidentally, the first cars in the Matchbox Series did not come until 1956 when a Vauxhall Crests E-type (No.22) was produced, prior to this all were working vehicles.
ZAMAK diecast metal alloy:
The metal alloy used in the manufacture of diecast cars and toy figures was known as ZAMAK, the word being an acronym made up from its alloy constituents: Zinc (about 95%), Aluminium (3%-4%), Magnesium (<<1%), And Copper (1%-2%). German for copper = Kuper.
www.all-originals.co.uk/matchbox-lesney-die-cast-model-toys.html (Listing of Matchbox 75 Series produced by Lesney).