Category:Dinky Army Vehicles

From The Brighton Toy and Model Index

Dinky Toys produced three main ranges of green diecast military toy vehicles and accessories, the pre-war Mechanised Army range that was completed in 1939, a post-war range from 1953-~1970, and a further range during the 1970s with black plastic wheels.

1937-1939: Dinky Mechanised Army

The first proper Dinky army range started appearing in around 1937, with a further range of additional pieces arriving in 1939 during the run-up to World War Two (1939-45). This gave a range of models that were also available grouped into four sets, with one larger master-set, the Dinky Toys Mechanised Army set 156, containing the complete range. Heavy promotion started seriously in November 1939 with the actual outbreak of war, with full-page adverts appearing in Meccano Magazine.

Mechanised Army Set, showing the full range of Dinky army vehicles available in 1939, Dinky Toys 156, Meccano Magazine November 1939

November 1939 also seemed to mark the appearance and similarly heavy promotion of the new green Meccano Mechanised Army Outfit, for making models of military vehicles. Previously, the company had not obviously been particularly geared up to produce military toys, and had seemed to leave most of this sort of business to Britains Ltd. (in the UK) and Märklin (in Germany), both of whom had extensive military product ranges including field guns, and of course, in the case of Britains, toy soldiers. However, for a company trying to produce toy vehicles for its Dinky range that were new and current and relevant, ignoring the war would probably not have been an option, given that these vehicles were now increasingly visible on Britains's streets.

Military design and technology

Quite aside from the obvious "weaponised" units such as tanks, many of the associated military support vehicles were quite fascinating from an engineering perspective, clearly designed to carry out highly specialised tasks (such as towing vehicles across rough country) that were distinctly different to their civilian counterparts. These vehicles' solutions to specific engineering problems were often more obvious than in their civilian counterparts, as military specifications didn't require that a vehicle's design decisions be hidden behind polite consumer styling - the "look" of a military vehicle was more likely to be a raw reflection of exactly what role it was supposed to carry out, resulting in a small range of unusual and highly distinctive-looking standardised vehicles that were ideal subjects for modelling.

1939 advertising text:

Nowadays everybody is interested in the Mechanised Units of the British Army, and among the most popular Dinky Toys models are the two Royal Tank Corps Sets, which have been great favourites since their introduction into the Dinky Toys range in 1937. They have recently been followed by an accurately modelled Mobile Anti-Aircraft Unit, an 18-pounder Quick-Firing Field Gun Unit and Royal Artillery Personnel.

1950s-1960s post-war

Production of new members of the military vehicles range didn't restart until 1953, with the appearance of the 153a Jeep, which was followed by a surge of new vehicles numbered in the "600"'s. These were modelled to 1:60 scale, and were scaled pretty consistently, as some of these vehicles would be placed in groups in close proximity, where any scale mismatches would be obvious. Some of the "600s" range were consequently pretty large, and emphatically in the "Dinky Supertoys" class. However, the company's decisions to class certain pieces as "standard" Dinkies and others as "Supertoys" seem to have been somewhat fluid, with some models produced and promoted as "Dinky Toys" and as "Dinky Supertoys" at different times, with different box artwork and different lettering moulded into the cast metal bases.

Meccano Ltd's new determination to number Dinky Toys more logically, with similar items grouped together, meant that there were "reserved" numbers within the "600 Military" block, and having a higher number didn't necessarily indicate that a model was later. Some items were produced purely for foreign markets, and there were also some French Dinky military vehicles produced by Meccano France that were numbered into the 800 range.


The third wave of Dinky military vehicles appeared in the 1970s, after Lines Brothers/Triang (who had bought Meccano Ltd) declared insolvency in ~1971 and their various manufacturing businesses were reorganised ... however, these 1970s pieces are stylistically different and lie outside the museum's target date-range.

In the museum

The museum displays cover the first two of the three waves of Dinky military vehicles, 1937-199, and 1953-~1970. A 2017 acquisition of military Dinkies in "mint and boxed" condition means that we now have almost the complete set of pieces for these two ranges, with the exception of those produced for the US market. These additional pieces are expected to go onto display during Summer 2017, and we'll probably now be looking out to fill the last remaining "holes".

Listing by number, pre-1970s

  • 150 Royal Tank Corps Personnel
    • 150a Officer
    • 150b Private, sitting, ×2
    • 150c Private, standing, ×2
    • 150d Driver
    • 150e N.C.O.
  • 160 Royal Artillery Personnel
    • 160a N.C.O.
    • 160b Gunner, sitting, ×2
    • 160c Gunlayer
    • 160d Gunner, standing, ×2
  • 603 Army Private, seated

See also:

External links


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Media in category ‘Dinky Army Vehicles’

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