Chris Sweetman takes a look at the 3-axle scow end dump trucks produced by Dinky, Matchbox and Solido during his childhood days. ...
What terrific play value a dump truck has! Remember in those days of summers past, playing in the garden and loading our trucks with earth and rocks, then taking it on the annual seaside holiday where the load comprised sand and bits of shells! In winter it was indoors and out of the cold with the ‘building site’, the kitchen table, and the load this time being salt or lentils!
Whatever the location, the dump truck traversed the outer reaches of the playing zone, spilling all and sundry until the required destination was reached. Then making the sound of a machine under strain, you elevated the dump body section and tipped the load into its desired place.
Now it is time to reflect on a selection of miniature 3-axle scow end dump trucks that many of us remember back in those halcyon days. The Matchbox and Dinky Toys models were made in England and the Solido Berliet was made in France. All these models date from the 1960s and have their main body components made in diecast zinc alloy.
MATCHBOX EUCLID DUMP TRUCK
The first set of miniature models in what was to become Lesney’s Matchbox 1-75 series were all based on construction vehicles. Jack Odell knew that these would be popular because they have play value built in.
In the formative years of this series, the No 6 spot was occupied by a Euclid Quarry Dumper. This detailed miniature, nicely finished in Euclid yellow, was the third model to occupy this position. It was issued in August 1963 and was replaced in September 1968.
The cab features a finely detailed grille, engine components and representation of door handles. On the near side of the chassis is a set of open rung steps leading to the cab. The rear of the chassis has two holes on each side. These match up with two holes on the dump body section and both are connected by a steel rod with peened domed ends.
Movement of the dumper casting is controlled by a ‘hydrosleeve’, which is a plastic unit held in the chassis to which the hook section on the dumper base is inserted. This arrangement allows the dumper body to be lifted, held in the raised position and lowered. Sometimes this model is referred to as a ‘10-wheeled dump truck’ because the two rear axles have double wheels. All the wheels are black plastic and feature fine treads.
MATCHBOX KEW DODGE DUMPER TRUCK
Matchbox, always looking for a model with global appeal, selected an American Chrysler Dodge bonneted cab that was also built in the UK for export to Commonwealth countries.
The British-built units were sold as Kew Dodge because they were assembled in Chrysler’s Kew, Surrey, plant. If you look closely the Matchbox casting features the script ‘KEW DODGE’ on the front wings – now that is what I call attention to detail!
Released in September 1966, this was the third model to occupy the No 48 slot in the Matchbox 1-75 series.
This model, when compared to the Euclid above, included updated features like plated parts and windows. The front bumper, grille and headlights are part of the plated plastic baseplate which forms the floor of the cab. Attachment and movement of the dump body is as for the Euclid model. The bright red regular wheel version was replaced in 1970 with a striking blue and yellow Superfast variant
MATCHBOX SCAMMELL CONTRACTOR TIPPER TRUCK
Lesney introduced its King Size series into the Matchbox line-up in 1960. Interestingly, King Size was selected as the name because it related to the current Matchbox series, here matches being linked to king sized cigarettes! This fact is mentioned in the book, Collecting Matchbox Diecast Toys – The First Forty Years.
The Scammell Tipper Truck was one of the later releases in the King Size range being issued in mid 1967 and replaced by the Super King version in 1971.
The attachment and movement of the dump body is as for the Euclid and Dodge models. A bright metal baseplate casting provides the cab floor, front bumper and steps under the doors. The cab-mounted air horns are represented by a bright metal casting. Cab windows are tinted plastic and a detailed black plastic insert represents the grille area. Lesney’s mould makers showed their skill in casting with the Scammell name in the intake cowling mounted on the bonnet.
Wheels are single on the front axle, double on the two rear axles with both hubs and tyres made from plastic. Suspension is fitted on the front and centre axles. The third axle is mounted so that there is play within the location holes. This system allows posing options for the beach or rockery!
SOLIDO BERLIET DUMP TRUCK
Based on the Berliet GBO 15, Solido released this rugged looking dump truck in 1962. Just like a real dump truck the foundation of this model is a rugged chassis painted in grey. A black painted casting provides the floor of the cab.
The cab is finely cast and features a sun visor, bonnet catches, door handles, indicators and side bonnet louvres. Windows, in clear plastic, are fitted and a black plastic component representing an air cleaner is also included. It is obvious that with this oversized air cleaner and a sun visor this model was intended to be played with on a beach in the south of France or the Sahara!
The dump body section is connected to the rear of the chassis casting by a split pin with the opened end turned over. Movement of the dumper part is controlled by a lever which moves an extended tab. This is secured to the chassis by a unit which allows the lever/tab to move freely on a pivot. With this arrangement it allows the dumper body to be lifted, held in the raised position and lowered.
The cab and dumper body are painted in bright green. On the cab the grille area and headlights are highlighted with silver paint. Wheels are single on the front axle, double on the two rear axles with both hubs and tyres made from plastic.
Coiled spring suspension is fitted on all axles to facilitate movement over the roughest terrain including the pebbles on Brighton beach!
DINKY TOYS FODEN DUMP TRUCK WITH BULLDOZER BLADE - Pictured above
Our final model is from the Dinky Toys range. Its fabulous half-cab Foden was introduced in 1961 and withdrawn in 1968, a model that I always longed for when I was a lad.
The rugged chassis casting is painted dark grey and features a nicely detailed tread area over the front near side wheel. Two cylinder tanks in black plastic are attached to this chassis just behind the cab. The cab features windows in clear plastic and finely cast bonnet catches and handles, driver’s door handles, grille and headlights. Headlights and the radiator grille are painted in silver. Filters in black plastic are mounted on the near side bulk head.
The dump body is connected to the chassis in a similar way to the Matchbox tippers. However, there is a variation on the hydrosleeve unit with a pair of plastic tubes held in the base unit. The other part is represented by two metal rods connected to the dumper which are inserted into these plastic tubes. This provides a more lifelike ‘hydraulic’ movement to be performed.
The cab is painted in red and, on this version, the dumper body is unpainted. Wheel hubs are red plastic on the front axles and red painted metal on the rear axles.
All wheels are fitted with rubber tyres. Wheels on all axles are single with those on the front being a smaller diameter than those on the rear. At last we have a model with a representation of an interior, albeit only a bench seat which looks uncomfortable for the supplied driver figure. Unfortunately, the driver does not have a steering wheel!
Before I forget, this dump truck also has a dozer blade fitted – two toys in one with double the play value! The dozer blade raises and lowers by courtesy of an ‘hydraulic’ unit. So, these units also have other uses.
Miniature dump trucks are still to be found in toy and model ranges currently. Matchbox and Hot Wheels satisfy the needs of today’s youngsters and collectors alike whilst other collectors seek out miniature replicas made by NZG, THW, First Gear and Norscot. Of course, there are also collectors interested in obsolete models as detailed in this article. While the latter hunt for mint and boxed samples, nothing can replace the treasured play worn toys that ended up being buried in the garden!