Tuesday, September 2, 2014

#453 SOLIDO – CITROËN VISA and ALFA SUD (Nrs. 1302 and 1310) (1980)


SHORT HISTORY OF SOLIDO

Solido is a French manufacturer of die-cast models from France. The founder of the company was Ferdinand de Vazeilles, who in 1919 already created an ironworks specialized in metal-casting for the automobile and aviation industries, and whose name was: Fonderie de Précision de Nanterre.
The idea of making toys using that same technique, came a few years later, in 1930. And after some trials, the first zamak cars were built and ready to sell in 1932. That’s also the origin of the name Solido, which wanted to show how robust the toys were.

The first series were called Major, Junior and Baby (1932, 1933 and 1935) and were in 1.35 scale
Solido as a brand started in 1937, dedicated exclusively to toys in Zamak.

In 1952 a smaller scale (1:60) series was launched. It had the name “Mosquito” and comprised 12 roughly made models.

In 1953, the company passed from Ferdinand de Vazeilles to his son Jean René, that together with his two sisters Charlotte and Colette ran the company for a few decades.

After the war, the company was relocated from Nanterre to Ivry-la-Bataille in Normandy, where it would stay until 1974. That year the company moved to Oulins/Anet.



 

In 1957 Solido sterted the production of vehicles in 1:43 scale, which was already being used by other major European competitors. The new series was called simply “100 series” and the first model was the Jaguar Le Mans, that also had suspension mechanism. The numbering system started some years later, so some “100 series” models  have no reference.

In 1960 Solido also started the production of a military line, which had great success, and slowly started producing higher and higher quality products, each time further from toys and closer to adult collectables, like a series of cars that took part in the 24h of Le Mans made after the actual plans of the car makers.

Solido also had a line of “classic” cars in 1964 called “Âge d’Or” (representing cars between 1919-1944) as Matchbox had done with the “Models of Yesteryear”, and also a line of quality replicas in 1:18 scale during the 80s.








The 70s were a period of financial crisis, Solido entered Jouet Français Group resulting a new company called Heller-Solido S.A. That’s when the de Vazeilles family lost control over the company. At the end of 1980 the company went into liquidation and was purchased by Majorette. The factory at Oulins remained active, but with many measures to save money in production processes.

In 1993, again a crisis period, the group Majorette/Solido is sold to Ideal, and only 5 years later (1998), Ideal sells it to Triumph Adler. Five years later (2003) Majorette/Solido would be sold to the Smoby group that would retain it for seven more years, until the companies (or better, the brands) were sold to the Simba Dickie Group in 2010, were they still belong together with many other toy brands like Schuco or Tamiya. The factory in Oulins was closed in 2006 and the production reallocated in Asia.

The toys shown in this entry are two 1:43 models from 1980, one of them in its original package. As in Polistil models, the date in which the car was designed appears at the base plate, in this case, both models were made in 1980: the Alfa in February and the Citroën in July.

FACTS AND FIGURES:
  • Name: CITROËN VISA and ALFA SUD (Nrs. 1302 and 1310)
  • Scale: 1:43
  • Year: 1980
  • Company: Solido (France)
  • Size: approx. 9 cm

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