The following text is copied from the flap text of
"Dinky Toys & Modeled Miniatures"
"The Hornby Companion Series"
by Mike and Sue Richardson
3rd edition, 1999
ISBN 0-904568-33-4

The history of Meccano-made Dinky Toys and Modeled Miniatures (as they were initially known), spans a period which commenced at Christmas 1933 and ended with the closure of the factory in 1979.
During all this time, these toys were made at the famous Binns Road factory in Liverpool.
Dinky Toys were the first British toy cars produced using advanced die-casting techniques.
They were in direct response to the American Tootsie toys range, whose importation to Britain in the early 1930s was Frank Hornby's spur to create a home-based rival, in much the same way as his by then world famous Hornby trains, were a reaction to cheap German imports.
Oh, that a latter-day Frank Hornby could turn back the tide of foreign toy imports into today's market!
By the mid-1930's, Dinky Toys were undisputed market leaders, so much so that like other famous household names, their name became synonymous with any small toy vehicle, much to the chagrin of other manufacturers.
Virtually every boy and many a girl, whose childhood occurred in the thirties, forties and fifties, much have played with Dinky Toys.
Motor cars may spring to mind when the name Dinky Toy is first mentioned, but the range has included ships, planes, military vehicles, road-making equipment, commercial transport, dollhouse furniture, garden rollers, farm implements and even sheep., etc - a total well in excess of a thousand different items.
Many of the items are now very rare.[....]

In 1901 Frank Hornby (May 5, 1863 - September 21, 1936) founded his famous English Company "Meccano Ltd" at Binns Road 13 in Liverpool.
Originally started as a commercialization of Frank Hornby's Meccano Construction Sets (1899), made of tinplate, the next product range, as always announced in the "Meccano Magazine", were the Hornby Trains in 'O' gauge as of 1920, which evolved in the early 1930s in all sorts of train accessories like stations, figurines and push-trains in a scale, commonly referred to as 1/43, actually the first models of the later called Dinky Toys.
And then in 1933, initially released under the name "Modeled Miniatures", the first series of 6 Model cars (two cars, a van, a lorry, a tractor and a tank) were sold.
In 1934 the name Dinky Toys replaced the much harder to be pronounced "Modeled Miniatures" or "Meccano Miniatures" and would become synonymous to die-cast model cars for over half a century, surviving the actual lifespan of the models. Already from 1934, the series were enlarged with planes and boats.
To suit the market of mainly boys with small wallets, a variety of scales was used such as 1/43 for cars, 1/60 for military vehicles (1937), 1/200 for planes and 1/1800 for ships.
From 1937 onwards, also Dinky Toys made in the French factory in Bobigny near Paris were included in the sales brochures that grew to over 300 models by 1938, while the numbering system was cracking down under the success.
World War II at first provoked the introduction of typical wartime livery such as camouflage colors, caused a governmental stop on production as of 1942 and a halt on distribution by 1943.
Somewhere in 1946 production and distribution started again without much competition, as the old competitors did not survive the war and the new competitors were not yet ready.
1953 saw the start of a new plant in Speke in the outskirts of Liverpool with modern die-cast equipment.
Finishing remained at the Binns Road. In 1954 a massive renumbering of the old and new models was undertaken, to end the chaos in suffix letters to the series number.
Competition of plastic models (Airfix) and other die cast (Corgi, by Mettoy) pushed Meccano into the Dinky Supertoys range and two-toned models, while in 1957 the Dinky Toys Club was founded to boost customer loyalty.
Further challenged by Tekno of Denmark and Solido of France, Dinky Toys introduced glass windows and suspension from 1958 onwards as well as opening doors and bonnets, primitive steering, threaded tires, electric flashing lights and lots of accessories.
In 1963, squeezed by trading loss, competitors like Bayko in the US and Lego in Europe and the old rivals Matchbox (small scale) Corgi, Lesney, Solido and Tekno (all 1/43), the company was bought by Lines Bros, owners of Triang, and the Spot-On die-cast series, which they dropped in favor of Dinky Toys.
Towards 1969 this meant new series linked with TV series like THUNDERBIRDS etc., a failing attempt to produce in Hong Kong and introduction of 1/35 military vehicles, action packed with shells and rockets.
In 1971 the whole of the Lines Bros group went into liquidation and with it Meccano-Triang as Meccano was renamed in 1969.
Via official state approval the name changed back to Meccano and came in hands of Airfix by 1971 and in line with Airfix expertise, Dinky Toys Kits were introduced, 1/25 scale cars, but the decline continued and the old Binns Road factory was closed on November 30, 1979.

Near the end, various contact and contracts existed between Meccano and other toy makers, especially Auto Pilen in Spain, both producing for Dinky Toy as own brands, Nicky Toys India, making use of some official Dinky Toy dies they bought in the late seventies and Solido-Cougar, who subcontracted the production around 1980 in an effort to keep Dinky Toys brand alive.

"Dinky Toys & Modeled Miniatures"
"The Hornby Companion Series"
by Mike and Sue Richardson
3rd edition, 1999
ISBN 0-904568-33-4

"Dinky Toys & Franse Dinky Supertoys" (1998)
Jean-Michel Roulet
Dutch version of original French 1984 edition
408 pages ISBN 90-802977-2-0

Many other sources

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