HISTORY OF CORGI PART I
In the last entry dealing with 1:43 Corgis, I advanced that the next entry would be dedicated to the history of the company, so here it comes (in two parts).
Although it may sound paradoxal, the history of Corgi Toys starts in Nuremberg, Germany. By 1912, Philipp Ullmann had already established his own toy factory, which was named “Bechmann and Ullmann”. After several years in South Africa, he came to England in 1932, and more exactly, nach Northampton, where he established the Mettoy Company Ltd. (Mettoy is an acronym of METallic TOYs) together with some partners. The most important partner, however, came two years later, and his name was Arthur Katz. The duo Ullmann-Katz would lead the enterprise until the retirement of the first one in 1971. Katz retired in 1980.
The company was closed in 1941 because of WWII, and reopened in 1944. The company started producing die-cast models, as its competitors Dinky already did before the war, and also acquired some machines to work with plastic. At that point, Mettoy had tin, die-cast and plastic machinery, what no other company at the time had.
The first die-cast series made by Mettoy in 1948 was called Castoys, and to compete against Dinky, they made slightly larger models, in 1:35 scale (vs. Dinky’s 1:48). This series would be cancelled in 1951, since that extra size meant too much metal and higher retail prices.
In between, the company moved in 1949 to Swansea in Wales, where they already had a factory.
The next lines would have much lower production costs, since they were a 3 inches series (series 500) and another one in 41/2 inches (series 600). Most models had two versions: either with plastic or metal bodies. These series were merely an anecdote, since they didn’t appeal the attention of children back in 1951, being cancelled three years later. At that point, the company had decided to do, what other companies were doing: die-cast in the classic 1:45 scale, with rubber wheels. Something similar to the first Casttoys.
The year of 1956 saw the change of name of the company. Mettoy turned Corgi Toys, since the name is more commercial. Corgi is the name of a Welsh dog (the dog would appear in the logo ever since).
And to complete this article, I'll post pictures of three cars I own from 1970. It is not the period from which I speak above, but I do not have any models from that period.
FORD CORTINA MK3 GXL (313) from 1970 - sold 314.000 units
MARCOS 3 LITRE (377) from 1970 - sold 235.000 units
PORSCHE 917 (385) from 1970 - sold 703.000 units
FACTS AND FIGURES:
- Name: FORD CORTINA MK3 GXL, MARCOS 3 LITRE and PORSCHE 917 (313, 377 and 385)
- Scale: 1:43
- Year: 1970
- Company: Corgi Toys (Great Britain)
- Size: approx. 10 cm