Matchbox, the toy car brand
A great British toy brand, Matchbox was originally launched by the Lesney company founded by Jack Odell and Leslie and Rodney Smith. The famous brand came to life because of the strict rules at the school Odell´s daughter attended which stipulated that only toys small enough to fit into a matchbox could be taken in. As a result Odell designed a small version of the company´s popular die-cast road roller and when a dump truck and cement mixer made up a three-toy set, its phenomenal popularity led to the birth of a famous name.
Lesney had already found mass appeal with its model of the Queen´s coronation coach and by 1968 its Matchbox brand would become the biggest selling small scale toy cars in the world.
Changing tastes and the threat of computer games saw Lesney go bankrupt in 1982 with the Matchbox brand having a succession of owners before being bought by Tyco, which was subsequently acquired by Mattel in 1997.
Hot Wheels vs. Matchbox
Despite the horror of collectors traditionally hostile to Mattel´s trademark Hot Wheels toys, the Matchbox brand has been successfully revived by the US giant and today traditional lines like toy cars are supplemented by the Sky Busters aeroplane range – including the must-have aircraft carrier model – and the transforming talking Big Rig Buddies series.
It seems old favorites never die!