Among Dutch die-cast miniaturas, Efsi is probably the best known of all. This company started in 1959 as “Bestbox” in Heerlen, a city located east from Maastrich. The history of the company is really beautiful, since Bestbox started producing these toys as a welfare project (it is not clear who started this project), to employ disabled people. In 1971 the name Bestbox was changed to EFSI, supposedly for the similarity between Bestbox and Matchbox, its competitor. Some sources say that EFSI stands for European Federation for Social Integration, although there is no proven evidence of this.
The cars are roughly built and do not have such elaborated casts as other competitors, but they’re still good enough. Maybe this is the reason why, EFSI miniatures were rarely exported and are rare outside the Netherlands. As I was living in Spain, I just got to see two or three of them in more than 20 years search, but now in Austria I have made a small collection in just a few visits to a flea market.
In one of those visits, I bought these two vehicles. They’re in good shape, and they’ll be used to illustrate this first EFSI entry.
One of the is the “Commer Van” a model that was released in dozens of different colours and decorations with references 302X. This one is the “Commer Fire Van” with reference 3023. Note that the tampography is still there, and it can still be recognised a crest with fireman helmet and with an axe.
Another nice detail is the ladder that it is carrying on the roof. This miniature has a very simple suspension system.
The second miniature is a Land Rover ambulance. In the cast there is no reference number, but we know it was also available in a large number of different versions and colours. This model also has nice details, like that canopy with siren. The inside of the car is however not very well done, note the hole in it, used in other versions to fix something to the car.
Both models were long produced, and released with two different types of wheels. These black ones seem to be the older ones, while newer versions included the same wheels, but with a painted three-pointed star in a circle, very similar to the one used in many Majorette models.
Around 1988, the EFSI program was closed, and the company changed to private hands. Now it is called Holland Oto, and is specialized in modern models of trucks, busses and agricultural equipment. They are now based in Weert, not very far from the place were Efsi started.
UPDATE1: Since I have at least three diferent Commer Vans, I took pictures of all of them together and separately. I will add them here as an update.
UPDATE1 (bis): Another Commer Van, this time in Green and with "Circus" stickers.
UPDATE2: And now I will add a Land Rover here.
FACTS AND FIGURES:
- Name: COMMER (FIRE) VAN and LAND ROVER AMBULANCE
- Scale: 1:64
- Year: Around 1983
- Company: Efsi (Netherlands)
- Size: approx. 6 cm