Hobbyist Forums banner

1 - 3 of 3 Posts

32,841 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Die-Casting Machine Tools Ltd (DCMT) was started in 1939 by Aubrey Robert "Bob" Mills, as a business called "Toys and Houseware" in a lock up garage site located at Green Lanes, N 13, Palmers Green, just North of London off the A406 Circular Road. With his partner, Sidney James Ambridge, they made both metal and plastic diecasting machinery equipment for other manufacturers. DCMT, as they became known, eventually began making their own diecast toys, too. They also made model trucks, farm equipment, construction vehicles, airplanes and trains along the way!

They are said to have chosen the name of Lone Star from their interest in American Western style movies. This was also the name of one of the first of 220 different toy repeating cap guns they eventually made and are most well known for. And it goes well with their other Western centric products. The also eventually made other toy guns with licensed ties in with the James Bond film library and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series.

Another of their many early toy products were hand painted hollow cast metal toy soldier figures. Most were military themed sets, with some cowboy and Native American Indian sets also issued. Other figure set were licensed from local children's TV and film series like Noddy, Popeye and Zorro.

From 1941 to 1942, they a temporary work location was opened on Pembroke Road, Muswell Hill, London, N.10. Production at this site consisted primarily of zinc-alloy ('Mazak') die castings including among other things parts for hand grenades during the war effort.

Around 1945, DCMT was making steel molds for various toys issued by ‘The Crescent Toy Co. Ltd.’ of Tottenham, just North of London. Also zinc-alloy castings from four mouds which had come into DCMT’s possession, either from ‘Tootsietoy’ (USA) directly or had been built by DCMT from Tootsietoy’s own drawings of at least two cars and two lorries.

Production had also continued until 1947, at their 'The Bridge Garage', as their Green Lanes production location and nearby officers were known.

From 1947 to 1956, operations in plastic and vinyl modeling were also carried out at their 'River Works' location at 152 Green Lanes, Palmers Green, London, N.13. This location was about 100 meters North of their 'Bridge Garage' site.

In 1947, they began making their first diecast vehicles. These were marketed by Crescent Toy Co Ltd. That marketing relationship ended in 1949 when Crescent moved from Tottenham to a new factory site in Cwmcarn in South Wales. DCMT then started their own distribution company to market their castings as "Slikka Playthings" or "Slikka Toys". For some unknown reason though Cresccent did not take their existing molds with them to Wales. DCMT retained those dies and began to produce castings from them after erasing the Crescen name from them. As time went by, DCMT also began marketing toys, tools, etc, made from their own designs and those formerly belonging to ‘Crescent Toy’) under a nondescript brand-name “Slikka” Toys or Tools. It wasn’t until 1951 that the Directors wisely decided to change the brand-name yet again, this time to the more appropriate - “Lone Star” - reminiscent of Texas and of the ‘Wild West’ generally, as D.C.M.T.’s predominantly Western-themed products became more and more popular.

From 1955 to 1976, figures were made in plastic and included figures from the British Guards, Royal Marines and Red Beret Paratroopers, American Civil War, Robin Hood, and safari sets. World War II soldiers included German and British as well as ANZAC figures which were also painted as the King's African Rifles. The sets were often accompanied by die cast military vehicles.

A James Bond 007 Thunderball frogmen and CIA figure set was done in orange plastic. With the SPECTRE side figures done in black plastic. This set also included underwater vehicles.

In the mid 1950's, Lone Star acquired Harvey. As above their "Modern Army" model series of vehicles was designed to accompany the Harvey line of toy soldiers.

In 1956, their second line of vehicle castings were initially called "Roadmaster" (Road-Master). These were 1:35 scale models and contained many plastic components. Early castings were visually - slightly cruder - than their Corgi and Dinky competition. As an example, the double-deck bus had a visible casting line right down the center of the roof were its (2) halves were joined together. Many early Lone Star vehicles also had simpler bumper, grille and body details than either both Corgi or Dinky as well. Packaging was done in colors similar to Corgi though and especially Dinky, with its red and yellow box panels.

A new purpose-built factory of 37,000 square feet located at the Birchwood Industrial Estate, 168 Great North Road, Hatfield, Hertfordshire was opened in 1956.

By 1957, the 'DCMT Sales Corporation' in New York City was opened and, since 1946, DCMT had been affiliated with the diecaster company of 'Ambrit Industries' located in Glendale, near Los Angeles, California.

In 1957, they started producing (OOO scale) - 2 mm to the foot - British and American outline type model train sets called "Lone Star Locos". These were 'push along' type of locomotives (non powered/electric).

In 1958, another new factory site was acquired from Reginald Gower called Ambridge, Gower & Mills Industries (established in 1944). This site was located on Holloways Lane, Welham Green, near Hatfield, Hertfordshire. This became the main manufacturing facility through the 1960s.

In the late 1950s, many of the DCMT toys were also being licensed to a French company called Jadali. These toys were being made in Paris and then later near Barcelona, Spain. The Spanish toys were called Jadali-Metamol. Most of these toys were diecast cowboy type pistols and spaceman ray guns. The DCMT vehicle tooling did not seem to have been made available to Jadali, but they did make (?) Matchbox castings under license as well.

In 1959, Lone Star introduced its diecast model jet liner '250 Series' made in 1:250 scale. Featured planes were American Boeing models, dressed as the 'Pan Am' 707, the Bristol Britannia ('British & Commonwealth') and the Vickers Viscount. These planes came assembled, but unpainted, with transfers and painting instructions provided.

In the 1960s, their "Treble-0-Lectric" (OOO Scale) electrically powered train sets were introduced - working models of two British diesel locomotives were available. These would later become known as British "N" gauge - 10 years ahead of the other industry standards competition. The locomotives were powered by a patented band driven motor system and the wheels on all rolling stock were changed over to plastic to avoid shorting out the power supply. They were initially sold in card board boxes and later in blister packs. A new numbering system was introduced starting at 50 with all items prefixed by "EL" for these train models.

An accessories series called Gullivers County was also available starting in 1963 of OOO scale building and vehicles. Available vehicles included a Citroen DS, Land Rover,
School Bus, Fire Engine and an Austin Truck.

Some of the initial DCMT castings were acquired in the early 1960s, by Gamda Koor Sabra, in Israel. These were mostly military vehicles and crudely reproduced by Gamda until they introduced a newer line of 1:43 scale line of mostly American cars around 1967.

In 1960, they also made American car castings for Tootsietoys' Classic Series line in 1:50 scale.

These were also marketed in Britain as "Roadmasters" (2nd generation series name, with no hyphen being used). There did not seem to be any differences between them except the brand names used on their base plates. Among the new features used in these series were plated window glazing (?), suspension (?) and (other (?) parts. (Note that visually most known models from this line up have painted window frames and their entire base plates may have been plated (chromed.) These models commonly had orange tinted plastic transparent windows and no interior detail. Their head and tail lights were painted on details done in silver and red respectively. Tires started out as rubber, but in the mid-1960s, switched over to hard ribbed black plastic wheels that they advertised as "non-scratch". These were (?) simple aluminum wheels with regular 'squeaky' type axle hubs. Neither of the cars nor the early boxes carried any reference numbers, but the catalogues of the time listed them in a sequence from 1470 to 1482.

In 1966, and now known as Lone Star, they discontinued their 1:50th scale Roadmasters series and introduced their "Lone Star Impy" line of 3" scale diecast vehicles. Officially known as "Roadmaster Impy Super Cars". Actual scale sizes ranged from 1:58 to 1:63 in scale, but another source places them in the 1:43 and 1:50 scale and closer to 3.5" in size. These castings, like other 3" scale vehicle sizes, seemed to follow more to a particular size rather than to a consistent particular scale.

Much also changed with the introduction of this Impy line. Bright - almost luminescent - new packaging was used and Impy boxes were among the first to feature plastic window boxes. The Impy boxes also featured a cute little red devil figure which may have been distasteful to some parents of the time and still today.

But, unlike their previous line ups this Impy series outpaced their 3" scale competition by a long ways as well.

The new cars were mostly made in a smaller size of 3.5" (?) and looked similar in appearance to Mini-Dinkys. They were advertised as the "cars with everything" - as they had more opening features than the previous Roadmaster Series. For example, the 1963 Chrysler Imperial was not offered by any other diecast maker and featured opening doors, hood, trunk, working steering and jeweled headlights. The Impy Jaguar Mark X had (4) jeweled headlights and opening everything.

Usually having so many features on a small scale diecast car could be unsightly, as cut door lines would break the smooth sides of the car - on the Imperial, and other vehicles. (?) On the FIAT 2300S Ghia coupe the cast line door opens were rough though and uneven from fender through door to fender again.

Understanding the base plate information on a Lone Star made vehicle can still be confusing though. Some Impy base plates showed "Lone Star Road-Master Impy Super Cars". And often would also usually include a separate reference to DCMT on the base plate as well. Other 1:50 scale vehicles simply only had, "Lone Star Made in England" listed on their base plates.

Another known Lone Star oddity from the Impy series was that same castings sold in the United States were called "Mini-Cars". These were imported and packaged by the Physio Chem Corporation (USA) into blister packs. The graphics on these cards showed a hand 'holding' the car in the clear blister with the car visible from both sides of the package. These cars were the standard Lone Star Impy, although the Lone Star name does not appear anywhere on the packaging. While the base plates of the cars still used standard Impy information and indicated they were 'Made in England'. (Could this information detail trait be used to identify those sold in the USA as "Mini-Cars"?)

Impy castings were also distributed by Durham and SS Kresge (before they became K-Mart).

World Toy House also distributed Lone Star Impy, (as well as Mercury "Speedy" and Majorette brand) made castings as "Micro Mites" brand diecasts.

In 1968, Lone Star was one of the many other toy makers that began modifying some of their castings to compete with and resemble - Mattel's new Hot Wheels line of castings. These were renamed as "Flyers" and the Impy name stopped being used to identify this series. They were fitted with new low friction wheels on thin wire axles and designed to work on gravity powered track sets as well. The first wheels were simple shiny silver wheels with black hubs. Eventually cars were given a five-spoke wheel. In some markets though the "Impy" name was retained. Those commercial and construction vehicles castings that were not modified - transitioned into a newly named "Commercials" series line up.

(?) Lone Star also offered gift sets of cars with trailers into the early 1980s, like the Range Rover pulling a zodiac-style inflatable boat.

From 1969 to 1979, Lone Star also made a series line up called "Tuff-Tots". These truck and car castings were made in the 2" scale range (OO scale (1/76th) vehicles) and are similar in design concept to the smaller Tootsietoys type models made without a base plate. They were offered in window boxes and on blister cards. There were (4) cars, (16) trucks, and a few other different type of vehicles available.

The 20 cars issued included a - Citroen DS convertible, 1968 Dodge Dart, Corvette Stingray, and a Mercedes-Benz 280 SL. The 1st series were all convertible models with plastic drivers done in different colors. The 2nd distribution had no driver and a black plastic roof. Some vehicles were released again in the mid-1980s, as a brightly colored series called "Zippy Zoomers." Others, like the DS convertible were used by (Oxford) Microlink Industries of Wales in a series they named "Mokes". These were a direct tie in to a comic book story line.

Littlietois were repackaged Lone Star Tuf-Tots from a Dutch retailer chain called HEMA.

In 1976 though, the Impy brand name was revived and all previously moving parts were now cast shut. Interiors were also deleted and darkened window pieces were used.

In 1977, for the Queens Silver Jubilee, each of the Lone Star "Commercial" models that were still in production were made with a chrome finish for a short time. They were also issued in special boxes. Each casting model issued received an "S" prefix to its normal number. These items are very difficult to find now.

DCMT and Lone Star both ceased operations in 1983 when they went into receivership (bankruptcy). The Palmers Green factory at 152 Green Lanes was sold by the receivers to an unspecified Chemist's Sundries company. The factory in Holloways Lane, Welham Green was sold and then demolished in 1984.

One of their previous suppliers did buy the Lone Star brand though. Weco, aka, Wicke (Vickers) or Wicke GmbH & Co., of Wuppertal, Germany, took over the Hatfield factory location and the Lone Star brand name as an ongoing concern for themselves. They were a manufacturer of the explosive powder cap rolls used by Lone Star's repeater cap guns. During Wicke's brief ownership, the company was renamed Lone Star Toys PLC until they also eventual closed in June of 1988. Toy car production was thought to have continued on a limited basis along with other toy production that continuing on at the Hatfield plant. Possibly under a Northern England group caled Leigh & Sillavan which took over from Wicke.

But later in 1988, the entire complex was closed with the then current production lines being moved to Hong Kong. The factory site was demolished a year later. Sohni Esco of Wetherby, Yorkshire, then took over the importing and marketing of the remaining Lone Star product lines. They had previously imported Weco made fireworks. Sohni Esco itself closed down in 2001, and in its later years had focused solely on marketing fireworks.

In the early 2000s, there had been a resurgence in Lone Star as new collectors had taken an interest in the brand. A Lone Star collectors club had regularly displays of fully working model train layouts solely using Lone Star equipment. Their annual exhibitions were held at Whitewebbs Museum of Transport, at Crews Hill, near Enfield, Greater London. The 'OOO'-gauge train displays, both large and small, were more popular in the UK, but also existed in Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and the USA. A vast array of other Lone Star die-cast models and toys were also exhibited by collectors at Whitewebbs Museum with their events - usually being held on the last Sunday in September.

As of 2010, the intellectual property rights of the 'Lone Star' brand name were owned by the Heinrich Bauer group. Lone Star toy guns were still being sold under the Sohni-Wicke Armforces und Spielwarenfabrik division of the company.

Known Series Names

Lone Star Impy Road-Master Super Cars
Lone Star Modern Army Series
Lone Star Treble-O-Lectric
Lone Star Treble-O-Trains
Gulliver County - 1963 to 9??; scale 000 (N) buildings and vehicles; Vehicles include: Citroen DS, Land Rover, School Bus, Fire Engine, and Austin Truck
Lone Star Flyers
Lone Star Commercials
Lone Star Tuf-Tots
Lone Star Dune Buggies
Lone Star Roadmasters Series
Lone Star Silver Commercials
Lone Star Locos

Sourced references -

Encyclopedia of Small-Scale Diecast Motor Vehicle Manufacturers - Sahakangas, Foster & Weber (2006)
Lone Star Toys - Wikipedia
Lone Star
Lone Star | hobbyDB
In Memoriam of Gary Hirst
Lone Star Cap Gun Toys

32,841 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
For the past couple of days I have been updating and consolidating information and dates related to DCMT and Lone Star over their production run history. Once again I am finding that the diecast world is more intertwined than a single maker working at their trade in isolation from the rest of the worlds diecast makers but in direct competition and influence from them. DCTM/Lone Star had real ties to previous makers like Crescent and Tootsietoy as well as future companys like Matchbox. They even had their very own live Lone Star 'Cowboy' spokes person inspired by the movie Shane.

32,841 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
One of the more interesting reference sources I ran across today is related to Jack Odell and Rodney Smith. Both were employed (and trained) by DCMT in the diecast making process. In case you dont immediately recognize Odell and Smith by name they went on to be part of the founders of Lesney Matchbox. 🤙

1 - 3 of 3 Posts