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Sunday, November 11, 2012

#214 OBERTOYS - GROTES-CAR RENAULT 5 (Ref. 102) (Around 1984)


Obertoys was another Spanish toymaker, based in the city of Ibi, Alicante. Unfortunately, the company disappeared in the early 90s (probably 1992), but left behind a great series of toys which are very easy to identify because they have a very peculiar style.

The company was probably founded around 1970 as a Limited Liability Company by a man named Olegario Bernabeu. The name of the company is derived from the name of this person (Olegario BERnabeu TOYS).

In this company there were two people with that name, and that makes me think they were father and son, although I don’t know which is which. I suspect, the father is Olegario Bernabeu Carbonell, and the son is Olegario Bernabeu Bernabeu. Obertoys was probably a family business. These two gentlemen also designed toys, and have several patents with very nice toys. Some are also very innovative. In some other Obertoys patents, a third person appears as inventor: Joaquín Pastor Carbonell, who probably was a cousin of Olegario Bernabeu Carbonell.

Obertoys' Logo

As said before the toys made by Obertoys have a very peculiar style, you can recognise them only by looking at them. They made a lot of vehicles with this “toon” or deformed style, all of them very funny. Some include a figure’s head (and upper body) as if it was the driver or the pilot. The materials that Obertoys used the most are tin and plastic, although in later years they will use more plastic and less tin. Obertoys labelled their products in Spanish, English and French, so a part of their production was intended for export.

Most of them are marked on the chassis and wheels, but some other, like this one here, use wheels that are very similar to Guisval’s. There are also vans and trucks in this or in a more realistic style, and in different sizes. 

Nice interior decoration in tin

Plastic Chassis with logo
This series is called Grotes-car (a wordplay with the word “grotesque”, meaning “odd” or “eccentric”), and represents a Renault 5, which was a very popular car during the 80s. There are other cars in a similar “deformed” style, but, to my knowledge, they do not belong to the Grotes-car line. Among those: Seat Panda, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, an undefined Formula 1, Citroën 2CV… undefined trucks and ambulances…

The four references depicted in the box are four Renault 5:

Ref. 100 - Rally

Ref. 101 - Bomberos (Fire Brigade)

Ref. 103 - Police

Ref. 103 - Servicio Grúas (Road Assistance)

Among the few toys that are not cars, trucks, or planes, there’s a great series of small, portable, sport games. These were my only Obertoys’ toys as a kid, and I keep great memories of them. I had a small football game, a billiard game, a mini-golf game and also a basketball game.

The founding date of 1970 is only approximate. By that time, Ibi had its first proto-industrial zone. In the outskirts of the city, 7 toy factories were built together. Those years were very prosper for the Spanish economy, and they would be until the mid-80s. In Ibi some building grounds were declared industrial, what brought new industrial zones. These new industries were not only focused on toys and were not only big toy companies. There were also many smaller companies that worked for the bigger toy companies.

The company had two addresses in Ibi: The registered office was in Roger de Flor, 11 (this street does not exist anymore, probably was renamed sometime) and the factory/warehouse in Virgen de los Desamparados street, no number.

According to somebody from Ibi, in the abandoned factory there were thousands of toys stored (that couldn’t be sold or taken out of the building because of the seize). It seems that the factory was looted little by little until the 5th March 2000, when it caught fire. That fire was probably intentional, since the factory had no electricity, and was seized by a bank. The fire was quite heavy and needed the collaboration of three firemen teams from neighbouring cities.

  • Name: GROTES-CAR RENAULT 5 (Ref. 102)
  • Year: Around 1984
  • Company: OBERTOYS (Spain)
  • Size: Around 24 cm.

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