Lesney Products where was the combination of the first names of the unrelated Leslie and Rodney Smith. They where joined by Jack Odell a diecasting expert. Their first major sales success was the million-selling model of Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Coach. For a time the cars where distributed by the German firm Moko under the name Moko-Lesney. In 1953 Lesney co-owner Jack Odell created a toy that was designed for his daughter: her school only allowed children to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox, so Odell crafted a scaled-down version of the Lesney green and red road roller, the first of the 1-75 series of small diecast cars.
Lesney Road Roller and its Matchbox Counterpart
In 1960 these where followed up with King Size models nearer to the scale of Corgi and Dinky Cars. Perhaps the most famous range was launched in 1956, the Models of Yesteryear featured vehicles from the early days of motoring up until the 1930.s these have proved highly popular over the years. These were often about 3½-4" in length. Accessories Packs were also introduced in 1956 and included gas/petrol pumps, garages, and the like. Major Packs, which were larger-scale models, often of construction vehicles, were added in 1957
In the Earlt 1970s Lesney's created the "Superfast" line. This was effectively a transformation of the 1969 line to include low-friction wheels often accompanied with new colors. The result was, at first, a strange but interesting line of fast-wheeling cars, trucks, and trailers, basically complete in 1970. Racing track sets and the like were also released to allow children to race their cars. Starting in 1970 and particularly in 1971, new models appeared with wider tyres, and older models were retooled to fit slicks. The King Size range was similarly updated, including a division into Super Kings (mostly trucks, but also with mag wheels) and Speed Kings.
Due more to the economic climate in the United Kingdom at the time than to the lack of success of the Matchbox brand all of the core ranges continued to sell very strongly the company was in difficult financial straits by the end of the '70s. Lesney Products have changed ownership over the years in 1982 it was taken over by the universal Toy Company of Hong |Kong. Ten years later it was bought by Tyco Toys, in 1999 Tyco merged with Mattel the worlds largest manufacturer. who continue to produce Matchbox cars
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