Jack Odell, OBE (1920-2007) had a basic education but described himself as "a born engineer". Finding himself too "bloody-minded" to last long in most jobs as an employee, Odell emerged from his time in the Royal Army Service Corps determined to make a living from his aptitude for dealing with and fixing machinery, and got a job at Die Casting Machine Tools (DCMT), who made and sold diecasting equipment, produced diecast pieces for other companies as a subcontractor, and then produced their own branded toy line, Lone Star.
Having learned diecasting machinery and the diecasting business, Odell (typically!) decided that he could do better himself, and after having trouble getting permission to set up his own facilities, agreed to join forces with Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith, who had just started their own diecasting business, Lesney Products.
When Rodney Smith then left the company not long after its creation over concerns about the fledgling company's future, Odell became co-partner with the remaining Smith, and designed the company's first major-selling product (Lesney's Coronation Coach), and then a miniature version of the company's existing steamroller model for his daughter, which (after a rapturous reception from her school classmates) became the first of the company's subsequent hugely-successful range of Matchbox Series diecast toys.
When Matchbox ran into financial difficulties competing with the new Mattel Hotwheels range in the 1970s, Odell came out of retirement, bought some of the mouldings and set up a new company of his own, Lledo, producing a nostalgic "Days Gone" range that echoed the Matchbox Models of Yesteryear Series.