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Toy Brands and Manufacturers

Playcraft, logo (1950s).jpg
Playcraft logo (MM 1966-10).jpg


1949 -     

Playcraft was founded in 1949 by Arthur Katz, who had worked in the toy business in southern Germany, and had then left Germany for England and co-founded Mettoy to make metal toys.

While Mettoy had been based on Katz' core experience of classic German metal toymaking, Playcraft was a more experimental business distributing and selling other types of toy – almost anything that Mettoy didn't already produce – such as art supplies and moulded plastic.

Playcraft also produced model railway sets under the name Playcraft Railways, with manufacturing subcontracted to Jouef in France.

Brands and branding

The subject of branding and Playcraft gets quite confused, as Playcraft (or at least their distribution arm) acted as distributors for Mettoy, as well as for Playcraft and a number of other brands. So Corgi Toys (initially manufactured by Mettoy or Playcraft, depending on which promotional materials you read, and then by Mettoy-Playcraft) were distributed by Playcraft as a Playcraft brand, along with Mettoy Playthings ("Playcraft Mettoy"!). Aurora Plastic Kits, an independent US company distributed in the UK by Playcraft were branded in the UK with "Playcraft" added to the edge of the main Aurora logo.

With the success of Corgi Toys, the Corgi brand became so powerful that it eclipsed both Mettoy and Playcraft, and nobody really cared any more what the exact name of the company was that manufactured the toy cars – as far as buyers were concerned, Corgi Toys were made by Corgi.


Craft Kits

Playcraft produced a range of paint-by-numbers sets (Junior Artist) and some "Picture Carving" sets that were briefly advertised on Hobbies Annual.

Aurora Plastic Kits

This was a range of kits broadly similar to those form Airfix or Revell).


Playtown was a range of plastic clip-together kits that included the walls, roofs, doors, windows and signage needed to make a variety of town buildings.

Playcraft Railways

Playcraft went on (in around ~1961) to distribute a range of inexpensive mostly-plastic H0-scale model railways and pieces, manufactured by the French company Jouef.

Slotcar systems

Playcraft sold an 00-gauge (1:76-scale) slotcar system manufactured for them by Jouef ( Highways / Model Motoring ), which was then taken over by US-based Aurora and developed further, as Aurora Model Motoring (eventually evolving into the Aurora AFX system in the 1970s.

A couple of years after losing "Model Motoring", Playcraft replaced it in their range with a larger, roughly ~1:40-scale slotcar system (Champion).

Mettoy-Playcraft and Corgi Toys

The main historical significance of Playcraft is that Katz then merged the company with Mettoy, producing Mettoy-Playcraft, whose combined experience with metal and plastics then allowed them to create Corgi Toys, manufactured at a new factory in Wales. Corgi's success as a brand eclipsed all the earlier Mettoy and Playcraft toy ranges. Playcraft's experience of working with plastics meant that Corgi's diecast metal toy vehicles, with plastic interiors and clear plastic windows, had a critical advantage over Meccano Ltd.'s Dinky Toys range, and forced Meccano Ltd. to update their range to try to catch up.


  • Playcraft Toys Ltd., Finsbury Pavement House, 120 Moorgate, London E.C.2

For some years, Playcraft also retained a "satellite" presence in Northampton, where Katz had originally set up in business (with help from Bassett-Lowke Ltd), and where he'd started Mettoy:

  • Playcraft Toys Ltd., Service Department, Harlestone Road, Northampton.


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Pages in category ‘Playcraft’

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Media in category ‘Playcraft’

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