Category:Corgi Toys

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Corgi Toys logo, 1970.jpg

Corgi Toys

1956 -     

The popular "Corgi Toys" brand of diecast model cars and other wheeled road vehicles) was launched in 1956 by Mettoy-Playcraft, and quickly became one of Britain's leading toy brands.

Naming

The name "Corgi Toys" sounded distinctly reminiscent of "Dinky Toys", and while the name couldn't be mistaken for that of their more established competitor, the similarity of the name did signal that Corgi were aiming at the Dinky market.

While "dinky" meant "small", corgis were also associated with smallness (the Welsh corgi breed of dog is notably short-legged), corgis also have a royal association (the Queen famously owns some), and since the breed is Welsh, the name was also a reference ot the company's new factory in Wales.

Mettoy later used another Welsh name reference when they got into the home computer market many years later with the Dragon 32.

Corgi Toys vs Dinky Toys

By the 1950s, Meccano may have become somewhat complacent about the success of their Dinky Toys range, which had been introduced in the 1930s and which had had almost no significant UK competition. While companies such as Britains Ltd. had perfected lead-casting, the lead-casting making companies hadn't moved with the times and invested in new alloys and processes required to make good diecast toy cars. Meccano Ltd had done this (embracing the initially-problematic MAZAC alloy) and reaped the benefits, producing a range of hundreds of well-designed wheeled toys which made it difficult for smaller companies to enter the market. However, by the mid-Fifties a number of their larger competitors were enviously eyeing Meccano Ltd.'s market share and making plans, the first of these to make their move being Mettoy.

Mettoy, like Meccano Ltd., had a background in metal toymaking but their big advantage was that they chose to enter the market with the added advantage of a further generation of manufacturing technology - plastics. Mettoy's stroke of management genius in avoiding getting too "set in their ways" was to set up a completely separate company (Playcraft Ltd.) to manufacture plastic toys. Without their metal-fabricating colleagues looking over their shoulders, Playcraft was able to experiment and explore the new materials and establish an expertise in plastics manufacturing and processes, and when Mettoy's Arthur Katz considered Playcraft to be a mature company, he fused the two companies to produce Mettoy-Playcraft, with both sets of skills combining to produce The "Corgi Toys" Car.

"The Ones with Windows"

Rooted in the 1930's Dinky Toys had always had all-metal bodyshells with holes for windows, and the company's difficult experiences with early diecasting had led them toward a "safe" company style in how they interpreted car bodyshapes that was perhaps a little "clunky". Dinky's customers didn't seem to care until they saw Corgi's new next-generation products, which had more delicate lines and plastic inserts to produce coloured moulded seating and steering wheels, and clear windows.

Corgi's technical advantage was brutally driven home by their marketing slogan "The Ones with Windows", and suddenly the existing range of Dinky Toys started to look a little dated. Although Dinky updated some models and replaced others with new "windowed" designs, it took a while for them to respond to the Corgi intrusion into what had been a comparatively uncompetitive market.

New-era packaging

Corgi's use of plastics didn't stop with adding "windows" to their cars – they also added them to their boxes! While Dinky Toys had originally been sent to retailers in boxes of six and then sold loose, and then had been increasingly sold in individual cardboard boxes, Corgi created cutouts on their boxes, glazed over with clear plastic film so that the cars could be seen, exposed, behind shiny individual windows on the toyshop shelves. Corgi's packaging designers continued to "think outside the box" with designs that sometimes included header panels and side panels and a range of other presentational gimmicks that made the products seem more glamorous and desirable, and which made the act of unboxing a Corgi car for the first time a more exciting experience.

Competitors

Dinky's woes didn't end with the appearance of Corgi, as toy manufacturing giant Lines Brothers also had plastics capability through their ownership of Rovex Plastics, and soon brought out Spot-On their own competitor to Dinky and Corgi, again with a huge range and with windows, but with a fractionally larger nominal scale (1:42 rather than 1:43) and promotional material emphasising their superior fidelity. Although Lines Brothers killed off their own Spot-On range when they acquired Meccano Ltd. (and Dinky Toys), the market soon found itself also hosting Lledo models, Matchbox, and Mattel's 1:64-scale Hot Wheels, whose smaller, lighter models and low-friction axles allowed their cars to be skidded across hard schoolroom floors to provide a different sort of play.

In the museum:

The museum has a collection of around a hundred and fifty Corgi Toys (with packaging), almost all of which are in Arch Two.

A second Corgi display cabinet was added in January 2015.

See also:

Books

External links

Subcategories

This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total.