In the early 1930s, Meccano had made many types of tin plate and other metal cars, like its Morgan and BSA three-wheelers, mostly in kit form, During the 1930's Meccano Ltd expanerd into accessories for their O Gauge Trains. In 1931 the introduced a range of Diecast Models called, 'Modelled Miniatures,' these where sets of accessories mostly railwaymen, and passengers however they soon expanded into vehicles, at this time, the first model car available individually was numbered 23a – a sports car based on an early MG. Soon after, seven vehicles were introduced (six were numbered 22 a through f) including a sports car, a sports coupe, a truck, a delivery van, a farm tractor, and a tank. These were produced alongside model track workers, passengers, station staff and other O scale trackside accessories In the April 1934 issue of Meccano Magazine they were given the name 'Dinky Toys' for the first time. It has been said that the famous 'Dinky' name came from a friend of one of Frank Hornby's daughters, and was likely derived from the Scottish "dink" meaning neat or fine. Just as logical an explanation, however, can be found in the common usage of the word which meant "overly or unattractively small" since the 1880sThese where more a representation rather than a scale model, however from these six vehicles a large range would grow in the next few decade.

modelled Minitures

Modelled Minitures the

Forerunner of Dinky Cars


In the early 1930's a range of toy vehicles from America named, 'Tootsie Toys,' where proving popular in Britain. This fact was not lost on Frank Hornby who could see a market for toy vehicles, the name of these sets where changed to, 'Meccano Dinky Toys,' with set 22 becoming the first Dinky Cars. By 1935 the range had expanded to over 200 vehicles including, ships and aircraft. In 1938 a number of military vehicles numbered from 151 to 162 were introduced. These were painted dark olive green and consisted of tanks, equipment trailers, Jeeps, six-wheeled vehicles and guns. These were produced through 1940 though a few like the clever 161b Anti-Aircraft Gun, some of the trailers and the Jeep were also made again in 1946–1948 right after the war

Dinky 23a

First Dinky Racing Car MG - 23a


World War 2 interrupted the flow of Dinky Cars from the Binns Road factory. In the late 1940's and 50's the range continued to expand, with some notable commercial vehicles being produced. Besides some of the military vehicles offered before and after the war, the first significant releases from Dinky in the late 1940s were the 40 series of vehicles, which were all British Saloons. These were the opening chapter of the "golden age" of Dinky Toys in the post-war era and represented far greater accuracy and detail than their pre-war counterparts. These were very popular and today are often considered to be the quintessential Dinky models. The 40 series cars were manufactured from better quality alloy, meaning that the survival rate is higher and although originally sold from trade packs of six, they were re-coloured in two-tone paintwork and renumbered in 1954 becoming some of the first models sold in their own unique boxes. The first two were in 1:48 scale, while the others were in 1:45 scale.

As part of the post-war development and expansion of the range, in 1947 Meccano Ltd introduced a series of model lorries also modelled to the usual Dinky scale of 1:48, and called the range Dinky Supertoys. To many collectors these are the most desirable Dinky Toys, and big premiums are paid for rare issues and difficult to find casting / wheel variations. In 1950 Dinky Supertoys introduced a number of Guy Vans finished in period liveries which have become among the most recognised and desirable the company have produced. Each model was an identical all metal box van with opening rear doors. The Guy cab was joined by a Bedford S cab in 1955 and a Guy Warrior cab was introduced in 1960

Dinky Foden Lorry and Guy Van

Dinky Foden and Guy Van

Although Dinky Toys were not known as widely for producing television related models as Corgi Toys, they still made a number of intriguing vehicles widely known from the small screen. Many of these models were the result of signing of a licensing deal with Gerry Anderson's Century 21 Productions, whose programmes are immensely popular in Britain. Thus Dinky produced models from the Thunderbirds program, models that are highly prized today. The take over of Meccano Ltd by Lines Brothers in 1963 made little difference to the Dinky Range, Lines Brothers even dropped there own Spot-On brand in favour of Dinky. The take over by Airfix was similar in that the Dinky Range continued with new veehicles being added. By the time the Binns Road factory closed in 1979 there had been well over a thousand different Dinky Cars that had been made. In 1987 the Dinky name was sold to Matchbox who made the Dinky Collection starting in 1990.



  • 1931 Modeled Miniatures Launched including 6 vehicles
  • 1934 Dinky name makes its first appearance
  • 1979 Binns Road Factory closure stops production of Dinky Cars
  • 1987 Dinky name sold to Matchbox
  • 1991 Matchbox introduce Dinky Collection