Kidco is somehow a very rare toy company. It only existed during a few years, and their models are difficult to find. These are not specially detailed, or well-made; I just guess the company didn’t have the time to improve its fabrication methods, before it...changed its name.
In the world of the scale cars, it sometimes happens, that one brand is interconnected with many others. This won’t be an exception. Kidco was founded in 1977 in Besenville, Illinois, and it was nothing else than a marketing arrangement to sell the toys from Universal Toys in America. This other company was producing scale cars in Macau and Hong Kong, under the management of David Yeh. The models made and marked with the Kidco brand first appeared in 1979 and disappeared around 1983-84.
The end of the company came, when David Yeh and his group (Universal Group) acquired Lesney and Matchbox in 1982, after the British company went bankruptcy and into receivership (except the yesteryear line, which was acquired by Lledo). At this point, Universal shifted from Kidco to Matchbox (now Matchbox International), and this is the reason why since the mid-80s, many Matchbox models were made in Macau, and later in China. And the reason why Kidco as a brand disappeared.
Matchbox would remain in the hands of Universal Group, until 1992, when the brand was sold to Tyco Toys.
Kidco made this wonderful reproduction of the “Knight Rider” in 1982, with metal base, but plastic bodywork. Level detail is low. Windshields are all black to hide the spring mechanism inside, which allows the car to be “shot” using a key. The key was obviously provided with each car, and the keyring was always decorated with the name of the car, so there’s a different keyring for each different model.
During these years Kidco produced for this “Burnin’ Key Car” series several toy cars that appeared in popular TV shows, like the A-Team van or at least two cars from Magnum P.I.. This car is also showed in the review.
At the base of the black car, we can still read a copyright symbol with the words Universal Studios 1984, what means, that the product was officially licensed. It surprises me a bit, that if they had the license, they used “Knight 2000” instead of “Knight Rider”, but we’ll probably never know. The Magnum Ferrari 308 GTS has the T.M. after the name of the car: Magnum p.i. T.M., so it is also a licensed product, but this time from 1980.
In the normal series, these cars were also reproduced, along with cars seen in movies like Cannonball Run or TV-series like Emergency. The “Demolition Set” was also released in 1983, and it was a playset in which the cars could be shot against several obstacles and ramps.
Several years later, these cars were sold under the Matchbox brand. The cars were exactly the same, as it can be seen in this catalogue from 1987. Note that the two cars I have presented are not in the list, probably because at that time, the TV series "Knight Rider" and "Magnum p.i." were not on air anymore, and it wasn't commercially interesting to release them. The series "Demolition Cars" were also available a few years earlier under the Kidco brand.
Page from Matchbox Catalogue from 1987. Scan found in MatchboxPeru.com.
Special thanks to Speedy who put me on the track to the Matchbox series.
UPDATE: I found the same model made by Matchbox and comparing their casts, I have observed subtle differences between them (wheels, base, side spoilers). Here a few pictures:
FACTS AND FIGURES
- Name: Knight 2000 (Pontiac Firebird) and Magnum p.i. (Ferrari 308 GTS)
- Scale: 1:64 approx
- Year: 1982 and 1980
- Company: Kidco (U.S.A.) and Matchbox (Great Britain)
- Size: approx. 3’’ or 7 cm