01 August 2012
Can you help us identify this small but interesting range of commercial vehicles from an unknown manufacturer? ...
Here at Diecast Collector, we pride ourselves as being authorities on diecast models, and we thoroughly research models before writing about them. Occasionally models turn up that we can’t identify... usually older models without their packaging. But it’s very unusual to find a full set of models in their original packs and still not be able to identify them!
Such is the case with this range of four trucks from the 1970s. They were found in the USA, but have no markings on the base other than ‘Made in Hong Kong’. The packages only list the serial numbers (PB 184 – 187) and the country of origin. Even the brand name is elusive... they are simply called ‘Diecast Scale Models – Commercials’. The backs of the blister packs show outline drawings of the four vehicles, but supply no further information.
During the 1970s, there were a large number of Far-Eastern manufacturers producing cheap diecast models for America and other markets. The best known of these was Universal, who made Fast 111s for Kenner, Road Stars for LJN and eventually acquired Matchbox. Other Asian manufacturers included Zylmex, Tintoys, Playart, Universal and Summer. Some of these former producers of ‘junk toys’ like Yat-Ming, Maisto and Motor Max, have gone on to become respected scale models companies. Many others were sold under the names of the US wholesaler or chain store that imported them. I suspect that our featured range were imported loose into the USA, packaged locally and distributed to discount store chains.
The four trucks in the series all used the same cab and chassis with different bodies attached. They were based on a Saviem, which was the name used by Renault trucks prior to 1980. As Saviems were probably not very common trucks in Hong Kong, it seems likely the models were copied from a French manufacturer. All used the same cab and base, with different utility bodies attached. The cab and chassis were diecast, with the base and front bumper in black plastic. The grille was chrome plated, and the windows were tinted a dark blue shade. The wheels were a six-spoked ‘fastwheel’ design. The models were...
This truck has a blue cab and a long, low tipping body in orange plastic. The working tipper has an opening tailgate.
The mixer is painted white, with the rear platform in orange. The rotating drum, which looks a bit too stubby, is in green with a thin ‘US Cement’ label around it. The other parts, including a moving discharge chute, are in plated plastic.
The most appealing model in the set is this tanker in ‘Shell’ livery. Painted red, it has a white tank on a red plastic cradle. The catwalk on top of the tank is in chrome, and there are ‘Shell’ decals on both sides and the rear.
Last in the series is a green container truck with a grey, non-removable container attached. The container has opening rear doors and on each side is a label for ‘Sea-Land’, the American shipping company.
The trucks came packaged in small blister packs that were unique to each model – they had a photo of the enclosed model on the card. While reasonably well-detailed, in terms of quality, they are not really in the same league as the similarly-sized Matchbox or Hot Wheels models... they are probably more on par with some of the weaker Corgi Juniors. Still, they have a charm of their own and make an interesting, if undistinguished, footnote in the world of diecast models.