Sunday, January 22, 2012

#108 MIRA – MERCEDES 450 SEL (R.136) (Around 1978)

This is the first article I write about the Spanish toymaker Mira, and therefore I’d like to start telling the history of this company. But before that, and for people who don’t read the article right to the end, I’d like to warn vintage toy collectors (those interested in Spanish toys from the 70s), that during the last months of 2011 some old warehouse or toyshop has been found and an unusual number of toys from the late 70s are now looking for new owners. If you see some toy listed as “70s” in ebay, todocoleccion, and so on, it might be a great chance to get it. Just make sure you compare prices first. I profited from this find, and bought many models that I’ll be showing in the next months. This car is not exactly one of them, but I found similar ones.


The history of Mira starts (like these from Guisval, Payva, Gozán,…) when some workers from the Payá toy factory decide to start their own company. This time, it was 1967 when Francisco Mira Brotons, José Antonio Mira Guillem and some other associates founded “Juguetes Carrusel” in Ibi. This small company didn’t start very well, since only one year after its foundation, all associates left the company, and only the above mentioned members remained.

Those were probably hard years, in which the company survived making buckles for shoes and belts in Zamak. Four years later, in 1972, the company would restart making toys, and came to the Toy Fair in Valencia to try to find new associates. This was the first time that the new trademark Mira was used. The good fortune they hadn’t found at first, appeared this time: Carlos Payá became associate of this new company, and brought the money for the acquisition of new machines. Further on, the Japanese company Asahi placed an important order that would ensure the life and growth of the company for the next years.


In the year 1975, the first scale trucks were produced, and only one year later, in their new facilities, they started with other miniatures, mostly scale cars, and trucks, but also boats and motorbikes.

This 1:55 series was a great success, like the similar series made by the concurrent companies, it could be bought both in toy stores and press kiosk, groceries, confectioners… and the price was so low, it could be afforded by each parent. Children didn’t have to wait for special occasions to receive one of those.

In the 80s, the company built many other models in several scales ranging from 1:64 to 1:24, many of them were exported to the USA, Japan and other European countries, but by the end of the decade, hard times came, and like other companies, they had to survive reducing costs and producing very low quality toys. They survived the eighties and even the nineties, but the company had to close down around 2002. Their remaining casts were bought by Solido.

Talking about casts, I have to mention that Mira probably had the best casts in this scale among all the Spanish manufacturers. Despite its size, there are many details to see, like the emblem of the car, the handles of the door, the bumpers, headlights, and so on, far away from other models made at the time by Guisval or Guiloy.

As usual, the model was available in several colours and decorations. These are the two I currently own (green and blue) I also had a blue one with “police” stickers, but one of the axles broke, and it’s impossible to repair. Pay attention to the picture showing the chassis of the car, and note that the axes are part of that metal plate. When some of these cars was stepped on, it broke 100% of the times. The chassis however is beautifully decorated.


Information for this article was found in our friend website: rosaspage.com

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: MERCEDES 450 SEL (R. 136)
  • Scale: 1:64 (approx.)
  • Year: Around 1978
  • Company: Mira (Spain)
  • Size: 7 cm

3 comments:

  1. Very interesting article , mira was one of my favourite makes , but as you say the axle problem was really annoying.I don't know how many mira's died that way when I was a kid perhaps more than 30 or so, I remember having up to 3 ford Granada's because it was so heavy that each time it fall to the flower was the end of a wheel nevertheless I loved so much the model I bougth another each time to replace the previous broken one.

    Also I liked the sensation of chunk of metal they had, to bad it also afected straightness of the axles(I hated when the bottom of the car touched the floor).

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  2. Thanks for the comment! I agree with you in everything you say. I also have a couple of broken cars that I haven't thrown away yet. I guess a great % of cars that were sold during the 80s with this type of axles were broken and thrown away, therefore they are difficult to find in good conditions.

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  3. Qué maravilla!, yo tuve uno azul. Menudos recuerdos!!

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