Sunday, June 5, 2011

#25 KIDCO – BURNIN’ KEY CAR KNIGHT 2000 (1982)


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

8 comments:

  1. ¡Qué curioso! Yo estos modelos los conocía de la mano de Matchbox, de hecho aun conservo un catálogo del 87 en el que aparecen todos estos modelos con llave. No conocía la historia que había detrás de ellos. Genial entrada ;)

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  2. Desconocía que hubiera coches de este tipo marca Matchbox... ¡gracias por la información!. Intentaré editar la entrada para mencionarlo, pues son exáctamente los mismos moldes.
    Algo que si sabía es que la española "Mira" si tuvo una serie muy parecida, aunque el mecanismo que lanzaba el coche era diferente.

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  4. Qué curioso!!!!! Si me apuras y la memoria no me falla recuerdo algo similar si no esto mismo en mi niñez. Lo del nombre que comentas... no se: en Francia la serie se conocía como "K 2000", en clara referencia al Knight rider 2000... pero lo que me extraña es que Knight 2000 fue el nombre del relanzamiento de la serie en el 1991 (lanzamiento fallido, pues solo hubo un episodio piloto... y era otro coche...)

    Jo... no es mucho aporte, pero tal vez vaya por lo de los nombres posiblemente originarios de la serie, no se...

    Voy a comentar esta entrada con mi hermano, a ver si el recuerda algo de este tipo de coches con llave...

    Gracias y hasta pronto!!!!!!!!!!

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  5. Me alegro de que te haya parecido interesante este coche. No sé por qué, pero es de mis entradas más populares.

    De coches con llave en España hubo varias marcas que los hicieron, aparte de las importadas, así que seguro que en algún momento tuviste un coche de este tipo.

    Yo tengo varios de Mira, pero coge el Delorean y escribe en google images: "globetoys coche" ya verás que algún cochecillo de esos te resultará familiar. A pesar del nombre eran españoles.

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  6. No podías tener más razón: me acaba de venir a la mente una foto que debo tener por algún sitio en la que estoy precisamente jugando con un coche de esos: imagino que otra de las miles de cosas que intentaré hacer este verano será buscar todas esas fotografías de peque en las que salgan juguetes, aunque sólo sea por intentar identificar algunos...

    Gracias de nuevo por este cachete a la memoria!!!!!!! ^^

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  7. I had one or two of these as a kid back in the 80's...can't remember which one(s), though. As simple as they were, I seem to recall being excited about getting one...maybe it will turn up at my parents' house one day.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Frank! Thanks for your comment!

      I also had a couple of key cars, but no Kidco/Matchbox. It was recently that I discovered these. Some key cars from Kidco had "damage effect", and for example the bonnet of the car would detach from the body with the impact.

      I have another model with this feature, but I still need some time to publish that entry.

      See you!
      Juan

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