Thursday, May 21, 2009


Lesney #75 1963 Chevrolet die-cast model

OK, before you HotWheels geeks jump on me, I know this is a Lesney, not a HotWheels, but I wanted to provide my less obsessed readers with a clue what I’m talking about.

I have always been fascinated by scale models. I really can’t say what’s so appealing about holding in the palm of your hand a miniature replica of something – an animal, a human figure or – especially for me – a car. Obviously, most kids like to play with objects that represent larger ones, but some of us never grow out of it.

There’s something about spreading your hand over the roof and grasping a car on either side of its body and just lifting it up that is just weirdly satisfying to some people.

The market for “die-cast” (which means that the body of the model is poured from metal) is huge. Billions of dollars are spent on model cars which are not intended to be toys for children. Some larger models have hundreds of individual parts and cost hundreds of dollars.

HotWheels, on the other hand, are toys. For a buck, you can own virtually any kind of car you can imagine. And I can’t resist them. Mind you, I don’t buy just any HotWheels. To separate me from my dollar, the model has to meet this criteria; It has to be a “straight” scale model of a car I really like – with no garish decal treatments. It has to look like the real car. If it’s a model of a real race car – I’m sold. (NASCAR excepted.)

This model of a 1959 Chevy is 1/64th scale, so it is the size of a HotWheels, but it was made in England by Lesney, who eventually went broke during the recession in the early 1980’s and was bought by Matchbox. In 1996, the line ended up being bought by Mattel, maker of the famous HotWheels.

I did a little research on this particular model, which was issued by Lesney in 1961. If it was in excellent condition and I had the box it came in, some guy in England would pay as much as £80 for it.

This particular toy has seen some serious wear and was stepped on pretty hard. But I still love it.

For reference, the little rocket-like doodads on the front fenders of the model represent this real piece I photographed a while ago.

1963 Chevrolet Biscayne fender trim - copyright 2009 Jeff Blackwell

If you are interested, Frank's Matchbox Lesney page is an excellent resource.

All words and images copyright 2009 Jeffery Blackwell

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