Monday, July 18, 2011

Look at my Dinky

Sweeney mobile: Corgi Jaguar Mark X Saloon
A visit to my mum's this weekend produced a bag of treasure and nostalgia aplenty.

"Do you want these?" she asked, handing me a sack that she'd ferreted from the garage.

Inside were about 20 old Dinky, Corgi and Matchbox toy cars and trucks. I could only dimly remember most of them from my childhood. I suspect this is because they were second-hand even then, having been passed on by older cousins. As kids are more impressed by new stuff (well, I was), I suspect that I didn't actually play with them that much.

What impresses me now about them now is how well made they are. All are proudly stamped 'Made in Britain' or 'Made in England'. I suspect some will have been produced at the Lesney factory which was located in Hackney for many years and was only recently levelled for a housing development.

The cars and trucks are solid diecast pieces, which is probably why they've survived three or four generations of rough play by a host of young boys. The scuff marks tell a tale and show their age, but I think they are scars that add to their character. Given the weight of them, I'm sure that they could have produced a few scars of their own when hurled at annoying friends or younger brothers.

They also possess a host of lovely details such as opening doors, boots and bonnets, and a tipping trailer in the case of the ERF truck. They really are lovely things, with so much more character than the plastic tat that so many modern toys seem to be (old git alert).

Strangely they are not as valuable as I thought they might be. A quick check on Ebay reveals that you can pick up many of these for a fiver plus postage, often in mint condition and with a box to match. It almost makes you feel sorrow for a toy that's never been played with, especially as it hasn't turned out to be an alternative pension plan. These things were produced in their thousands, and they are so indestructible that there must be thousands of them left, even if they are a little worn.

Postscript: I am now beginning to understand the desire to conserve. Having survived more than 40 years of rough play, our youngest has managed to eat the tyres off one of the cars within a day. They are now being packed away until our two turn 40 and then they might be entrusted with them.

Keep on truckin': ERF tipper

Flat ERF: look at that detail