I caught the model car collecting bug at a very early age in the late 1970s, an era that already had a fairly robust diecast car industry. Back then, there was substantial variety available in 1:43-scale, British stalwart Corgi had a virtual lock on the 1:36-scale market, and Italian upstart Bburago was in the midst of reshaping the hobby with a line of highly detailed (for the time) 1:18 scale models of European classics. For me, there has never been a world that didn’t include fine diecast cars.
As my enthusiasm for the hobby grew to the point that I decided to open my own diecast shop, I became increasingly curious about what came before. Within my lifetime, I’ve seen the level of detail and authenticity available in model cars improve exponentially; those big Bburagos that were state-of-the-art in 1984 now look rather quaint when placed next to current offerings from the geniuses at CMC and Truescale Miniatures. I wondered, what would thirty years of progress look like if we started with those same Bburagos and looked backwards? What about fifty years? One hundred?
Just how did we get here?
This week, we’ll take a look at the origins of the model car, from its roots in the great Nuremberg toy dynasties of the early 20th century and the advent of diecast cars in the 1920s and 1930s, to the postwar emergence of the diecast model as adult collectible and the subsequent boom in detailed 1:43 and larger scale cars throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
Our trip through time commences on Wednesday!
(Image: Malcolm Root, Meccano for the Toy Shop)