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Matchbox Bulldozer


Upon their discharge from the Royal Navy after World War II, Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith teamed up to begin their own diecast company producing industrial parts. Because the parts business was only seasonally profitable, the firm, called Lesney from a combination of the partners' names, manufactured toys in the last months of the year. Lesney's engineer, Jack O'Dell lent his daughter one of the small vehicles to take to school. O'Dell placed the miniature road roller in a matchbox for safekeeping, thus supplying the name for a line of tiny but well-detailed cars, trucks, and carts that grew in popularity with each passing year. In the 1950s and 1960s, Lesney expanded the markets for its toys into the United States, Europe, and Asia. The company, however, was ill-prepared to compete with the racy Hot Wheels Mattel introduced in the late 1960s. Matchbox converted all of its vehicles to "superfast" models in 1972 and 1973 to keep pace with Mattel's popular miniatures. The conversion was successful. Matchbox cars continued, even though the company has been purchased a number of times by ever larger toy manufacturers. Today, Mattel itself owns the Matchbox line and produces Matchbox cars for kids' play and for adult collectors.

  • Manufacturer: Mattel, Inc.
  • Material: metal | plastic | printed cardboard
  • Origin: China
  • Object ID: 116.8005
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