How Dinky Toys conquered the world


…or, at the very least, parts of it! You might well think of Dinky as a truly British institution, and you’d be right, but it’s interesting to know how the company and its products made an impression in other parts of the world. Let’s take a quick journey…

La Belle France

Over a century ago, Frank Hornby opened an office in Paris. By 1929, a factory was producing mainly model aeroplanes and ships. For five years after the war, there was no rubber available, so all their wheels were purely metal. During the 1950s, the company concentrated on the French car manufacturers such as Renault and Citroen. A few of their models were offered for sale in the UK.

From Spain to India

In Spain, a die-cast model company called Auto Pilen produced a range of vehicles which had originally been sold as French Dinky Toys – although it seems doubtful that the Dinky name was ever used. Now, guess what Nicky Toys were! Apparently, copyright problems in India prevented the use of the original name. Only a small part of the range – around thirty vehicles and several aircraft – was ever produced. The packaging, a yellow box with red font, would also seem familiar to Dinky fans.

Around the world

In the mid-1960s half a dozen models, including the Chevrolet Impala and Ford Thunderbird were produced in Hong Kong for sale in the USA. Originally to be marketed under the Spot-On name, they were later re-branded. Meanwhile, South Africa became a large importer of Dinky Toys. In the fifties, a limited edition set of South African Defence Force vehicles, including a covered wagon, dispatch rider and an ambulance were produced, with their boxes featured Afrikaans lettering.

Is your appetite duly whetted?

If our journey has inspired you to be a Dinky owner, the terrific news is that you can now treat yourself to a brand new green die-cast Morris Mini-Traveller – thanks to those terrific folk at Atlas Editions. One of the all-time Dinky classics, in an authentic numbered box, it just begs to be driven around imaginary streets once again! Find out how to own one – or how it would make a terrific gift – at

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