Antiques expert Allan Blackburn looks back at childhood collectables...
This week it’s been my birthday - the big 70 and I have to admit to feeling quite nostalgic. I’ve mentioned my love of childhood collectables in this column before, and it was only a few weeks ago I talked about comics, always a boyhood favourite. To mark my birthday, I am going to mention this Dinky toy. It’s a 1960s die-cast model of a blue Mercedes and is on sale for £18.
I used to love my Dinky toys. I had a sand pit when I was little and I would put my Dinky dumper truck in the sand and transport it to the crane I had made out of Meccano. It was the worst possible thing I could have done to the truck, as the constant pushing back and forth in the sand wore all the paint off and it was in the most awful condition.
In fact, all my Dinky toys were in terrible condition. It’s ironic, really. If I knew what I knew now, I wouldn’t have even got them out of the box, let alone ruined them in the sand pit! I can often be found giving advice to my visitors about the merits of keeping things in mint condition and keeping toys safely packed away in boxes. I think it’s too late for me to take a piece of my own advice! Many people are unaware that Dinky cars were made by Meccano, which was owned by Hornby (as in trains).
Hornby’s first miniature vehicles were meant for railway decoration only. Introduced in 1933, these realistic copies of vans, tractors and sports cars were real success stories. The next year, they were launched in their own right as Meccano Dinky Toys. Many more models
appeared over the coming years and they continued to innovate with opening doors and springy wheels.
For over two decades, Dinky dominated the UK market and then came Corgi in 1955. Corgi was made by
another well-established manufacturer, Mettoy (as in metal toy)
Corgi cars had one amazingly innovative feature, they had windows made of plastic. It’s a matter of hot debate which manufacturer then became the most significant. Collectors from each camp will argue strongly, but for me, this was the point when Dinky lost its edge forever.
Whilst Dinky is very popular amongst collectors, there are relatively few left in mint condition. Boxes are important and any little certificates or instructions that came with the toy will all add to its value.