Monday, December 17, 2012

#227 PLAYART – FIRE ENGINE, MERCURY POLICE and AMBULANCE (nrs. 7130, 7132 and 7167) (Around 1982)

I recently found three die-cast vehicles in a flea market. They are a nice sample of what Playart was doing in the early 80s.

The company was settled in Hong-Kong from the late 60s to the early 80s, and as many Hongkongese companies at the time, produced cheap(er) toys for the European, American and Japanese markets. Sometimes it was sold under its own “playart” brand, some other times under other names. Sometimes they were exclusively packaged for important department stores like Woolworth’s, Sears or Charles Merzbach as "in-brand". This way they could compete with more expensive toys like Matchbox or HotWheels. The first “Playart – Fast Wheels” packages are pretty much a rip-off of HotWheels packages from the early 70s. A more detailed list of the packages types can be found in Gary’sCars.

They made toy cars in several scales, being the most common 1:64. In this scale (by far the best selling scale), Playart made around 250 references, each reference belonged to one car model, but many colour variations are many within each model. In some models there are also different tampographies. Additionally, there are models with a large lifespan that might have different types of wheels, depending on when these were made. Earlier types of wheel (2 different) are two pieced with a chromed hubcap, somehow similar to Schucco or Mira. Later models present the type of wheels you’re seeing in these models, with exception to some models that had “Tomica”-wheels and models with two concentric circles.

From these 250 references, many of them are copies of models by HotWheels, Corgi, Matchbox, Tomica and maybe more brands. You probably have noticed that the Mercury car in these pictures is a copy from the one made by Matchbox (Mercury Police Car, nr. 55D from 1971). The ambulance is similar to models made by Siku,although it has big differences, and the truck is original by Playart and is available in many different casts, and different types of trucks.

I own a few more models by Playart that I’d like to show some other time, some of them are interesting because are models that were not made by many other brands in 1:64 scale, making rare collectibles. What many experts think about Playart, is that, even though they made cheap cars copying from other brands, the selection of the models tells us, that the people in charge of the production were real car lovers, and had very good taste.

  • Name: FIRE ENGINE, MERCURY POLICE and AMBULANCE (nrs. 7130, 7132 and 7167)
  • Scale: Approx. 1:64
  • Year: Around 1982
  • Company: Playart (Hong-Kong)
  • Size: approx. 7 cm

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