Maisto is one of the largest die-cast manufacturers nowadays. They make very affordable models in several scales ranging from 1:12 to 1:64.
My intention in this entry and the next two is to explore the history of the company, which is rather complicated. But first, I want to explain how did I first knew about this particular brand.
It was 1992. In the town in which I lived back then, there was a new shop in a small commercial center, which was something completely now. Almost everything you could see costed 100 pesetas (that’s 0,60 Eur) the shop was rather small, and it looked pretty much like a home. There were plenty of shelves at different heights, and in one of them there were only toys. Among them, there was nothing especially remarkable, except a box with die-cast cars. I knew that was a new brand, because I had already seen many toy cars, but none like those. They were fine, had nice colours and wheels, and some models were really appealing, especially compared to those which were available from other manufacturers at low prices. Some were also unique, since no manufacturer had done them before. I got a few, and some days later more, and more… up to a dozen, maybe more.
These were not Maisto yet, but MCToy (now I know they’re MCToy, at the time, I thought they were MIC Toy, because the logo was somehow confusing)… there was not much information about them, except a sticker with “Made in Macau”. I knew that Matchbox also made their cars there.
|MC Toy Ferrari 365 GTB  - First time this car was made in 1:64 scale|
I bought many more models when I saw them in flea markets, and today I have around 40, most of them from those years, when I saw them for the first time. I also remember they were sold in a blister pack in which a road was depicted. Those cardbacks could actually be attached to each other to form longer roads as if it was a puzzle.
Many years after that, I found out that they were actually MC Toy and that MC stands for May Cheong.
MC Toy was founded as early as 1967 by the Ngan family from Hong Kong. According to some internet sources of information, their first products were 1:64 scale cars which they copied from Matchbox, although it seems that even at that time, they already had some own casts, representing models that none of the major manufacturers had done before. In the 70’s MC Toy wanted to enter the European die-cast markets and so they reproduced many European models. However, I have never seen any of these older cars; the oldest I have seen were made in the late 80s or early 90s, so I would like somebody to prove that with pictures.
But, what does Maisto and MC Toy have in common? At some point in the early 90s, MC Toy models disappeared and were replaced by Maisto models. Maisto is an American company, although it was founded and it is owned by an Asian group of companies, which is… the May Cheong Group, so we could say MC Toy and Maisto are actually the same brand, like Lesney and Matchbox or Best Box and EFSI.
|MC Toy Ferrari 308 GTO  and 348  - These cars were previously available by other brands in 1:64 scale|
Maisto, as MC Toy, is a manufacturer of “budget” models. With factories and design centers placed in Macau, Thailand, Hong Kong, and later China, Maisto could offer most competitive prices than other manufacturers of similar vehicles.
The design headquarters however is located in Fontana, California. Most marketing and graphic design is made there, although there are also design centers in China. China is designing 1:64 scale lines and also bigger scales for the Bburago brand. In the U.S.A. is designing bigger scales.
The company has already knocked off many die-cast manufacturers in the 1990s and 2000s, which were especially difficult for traditional brands like Polistil, Bburago, Yatming… Almost all major European and American die-cast manufacturers had to settle their factories in China or other countries in the far east to produce these toys and keep being competitive. As a matter of fact, May Cheong bought Bburago in 2005 (for more information, check this book) and kept the brand alive. They even interchanged some casts, and Maisto released previous Bburago models and Bburago, Maisto models.
Many Maisto-made models are today present in toystores worldwide, and they are selling well, so the company keeps growing and expanding. Bt the end of the 2000s, Maisto started a new line called “Maisto Tech”, with which they intended to go into the RC Market. Other innovative products are a line of scale Motorbikes, or a line of disassembled models, called “Kit”.
|MC Toy Ferrari 250 GTO  - First time this car was made in 1:64 scale|
|MC Toy Ferrari F40 |
FACTS AND FIGURES:
- Name: Ferrari 308 GTO (Ref. 8445), FERRARI 250 GTO (Ref. 8736), FERRARI 365 GTB (Ref. 9004), FERRARI F40 (Ref. 9001) and FERRARI 348 (Ref. 9101)
- Scale: 1:64 (approx.)
- Year: The two first digits in the reference number indicates the year of design and manufacture, so: 1984, 1987, 1990 and 1991.
- Company: MC Toy (U.S.A./ Macau)
- Size: approx. 3’’ or 7 cm