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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
On 31 August 1932, Mettoy (Metal Toy) was registered by Philip Ullmann in Northampton, England on Stimpson Street. He was later joined by Arthur Katz. Katz had previously worked for Ulmann, at Tipp and Co. This was the toy company Ullmanns had formerly owned in Nuremberg, Germany. They had lived and worked there before migrating to England. Initially, they produced various lithographed tin plate vehicles and toy type writers. W. H. Cornelius acted as their agent (?) during those early years. By 1937, a larger factory site was obtained on nearby 14 Harleston Road.

In 1948, Mettoy created the “Castoy” line of clockwork motorized vehicles. They were soon followed by a line of aircraft and boats.

In the early 1950s, they began making cars cast from aluminum. This was a large scale sized wind-up racer made with tin plate wheels. Shortly afterwards the body was changed to Zamac with cast wheels and rubber tires. Other models soon followed under the "Castoys" line. These were the direct ancestors of Corgi Toys.

In 1953, Mettoy merged with the Playcraft model railway and slot car company to become - Mettoy Playcraft Ltd.

By July of 1956, they had began making diecast cars to compete with Meccano's established Dinky Toys line of model vehicles. This new company was branded Corgi Toys in Great Britain. Their new feature of having a window piece included in the casting model was their initial distinction from other brands.

In 1964, they introduced a smaller sized diecast line called Husky to compete with Matchbox at the request of Woolworths. This line would eventually be renamed Corgi Juniors, in the late 1960s.

Mettoy also acted as a distributor to Petite Typewriters, Bandbox radios and Aurora Plastics Corporation's - plastic model kits - in the United Kingdom and their Commonwealth. They also produced (?) a line of (plastic) aircraft models called "Vapor Trails".

Besides toy cars and aircraft, Metoy also produced toy boats, trains, dollhouses, and guns over their production history timeline. They had a ray gun tie in with the comic book hero 'Dan Dare" and hospital play sets for the British television series 'Emergency Ward 10' as well.

For Hasbro, they offered a series called "ComputaCar" which was the UK brand of Hasbro's Amaze-A-Matics cars in the USA. These cars were operated by inserting a card stock computer card through the chassis. This was 'read' by the car as it moved around and followed the set programming from the card code that moved the car forward, brought it to a stop, into reverse, and turned the vehicle automatically. Notches in the card moved mechanical switches to activate each feature in set sequences.

In the early 1980s, Mettoy started Dragon Data as a branch of its company holdings to manufacture computers for children. The subsequent and untimely production factory shut down of Dragon Data also lead to the downfall of Mettoy as well.

In March 1984, The Mettoy Playcraft Ltd company was eventually sold to a management buy out group, with their assets being transferred to a new corporation called Corgi Toys Limited, but they themselves had to fold up shop shortly thereafter, as well.

In 1989, a new management team, sold the Corgi brand to Mattel UK. Their factory location in Swansea, South Wales was retained by the new management team and renamed Microlink Industries Ltd.

In 1991, the Harlestone Road location closed when Wembley Sportsmaster went into receivership.

In 1995, Corgi regained its independence from Mattel, as a new company, called Corgi Classics Limited, and moved to a new location in Leicester.

On 1 May 2008, Corgi Classics was bought by the international models and collectables group Hornby

Mettoy Playcraft Toy Brands

Corgi Toys
Dragon Data

Mettoy Casting List (incomplete)

Tin Plate/Pressed Steel

AA Motorcyle & Sidecar
Clown Motorcycle & Sidecar
Esso Lorry
Roadster Racing Car #25


Morris Delivery Van


Ford Mk IV

Sourced references -

HobbyTalk Members - @Ratch @Motorcade
Mettoy - Wikipedia
Fforestfach History - Mettoy
Corgi Diecast Price Guide / Values
Corgi | Homepage
Husky Toys - Wikipedia
Corgi Toys - Wikipedia
The Old Toy Guide - Collector information - diecast - corgi
Encyclopedia of Small-Scale Diecast Motor Vehicle Manufacturers - Sahakangas, Foster & Weber (2006)

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Quote - " They had a ray gun tie in with 'Dan Dare" and with hospital playsets for 'Emergency Ward 10' as well. Both are British televsion shows".

'Emergency Ward 10' was a TV show. Dan Dare was a famous Comic book character. ('Eagle' comics in the 50's/60's). No TV shows, except for an animated type which came out decades after the toy ray gun. The comic book was revived I believe in the 80's?
I bought this single 45rpm record at the time :D

Trivia note - The 3rd guy playing keyboard is wearing a 'Space 1999' shirt.!

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52,779 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Harlestone Road closed in 1991 when Wembley Sportsmaster went into receivership.
Is Wembley Sportsmaster, the same as Microlink Industries Ltd or the other/another interium owner group of the Harleston Road factory location?


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Wembley Sportsmater was the rotational moulding side of Mettoy. We had 7 moulding machines, 4 x 8 arm, 1 x 5 arm and 2 x 3 arm machines making footballs, playballs, spacehoppers and other vinyl toys such as Dolly Drops, as well as powder bases for punchballs, toy boxes in the form of castles and dolls houses - and much more.
Harlestone Road was a myriad of departments. Tom Chapman ran Kites - my dad and I flew pre-production stunt kites in Cornwall. No-one had seen such kites and they were a sensation. There was a carpenter's shop where they made stands for Toy Fairs etc. Production lines were set up for whatever was the latest craze (make money while you can seemed to be the ethos). My dad says that in 1966 they made 25 million footballs. They ran three shifts through 24 hours with 4 x 8 arm machines on balls. When I was Planning Manager we were making 8 down to 6 million balls per year, 2 x 8 arm machines mostly on one shift, sometimes two shifts when demand was up.

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52,779 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Right now most everyone over 50 in America is going - Why did they make footballs? But, it will eventually dawn on them - these were soccer balls to us - or as we used them - kill the man with the ball - balls. We didnt know what to do with them back then! Plus they were a little heavy and slow to use as dodge balls. And they hurt, too! :D

I remember seeing a photo of the Harleston Factory somewhere on the innerwebz and it showing a larger building expansion adjacent to it. Is that were Wembley Sportsmaster would have been housed? :lurk5:

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Was it this picture?
Mettoy Factory Northampton by Sue Mick Foster, on Flickr
From right to left we have the Co-op (convenience store), IIRC the next building was a dry cleaners, then we have Mettoy reception and Personnel Dept. The next opening used to be Goods Inwards but was not used as such when I was there. Going towards the square building, there was the Corgi Tool Room (later our Maintenance Dept & Stores), the mould store (rotational moulds) and honer, then the Paint Farm, warehouse space, lift & stairs to the ball floors and the square bit was Goods Inwards. There was access from Harlestone Road but this was not used as it cause traffic problems; lorries entered the yard from behind the building. There were two ball floors and a mezzanine floor where balls were elevated from the Inflating Room and sorted into their pens. Adjacent to these was warehousing space. On the upper floors at the Co-op end were offices and sample rooms.
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