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DINKY TOYS Oval Window VW Article



Not to date myself, I grew up in an era in which "DINKY TOYS" were very popular in the line of toy cars, trucks, military vehicles, etc. In fact, the name was so popular, just about any small toy vehicle was called a "DINKY TOY" whether it was one or not. These popular diecast toy vehicles were produced by the MECCANO TOY COMPANY and sold under the DINKY TOYS name. As far as the history goes, Frank Hornby of the MECCANO TOY COMPANY designed and launched the original "DINKY TOYS" series in 1933. This series of toy vehicles became very popular in the toy market before World War II. Just after WWII started, MECCANO converted its diecast metal factory to produce diecast parts for the war efforts. Then in 1945 after the war ended, the resumption of the popular line of cars, trucks and military toy vehicles was initiated. New series of toy vehicles were introduced and DINKY TOYS sales continued greatly. The company diversified, expanded and built a second diecast production factory in France. These were the golden years for MECCANO and the DINKY TOYS line.

Later, competition from other toy companies with newer diecast production innovations and worldwide distribution techniques plagued the MECCANO TOY COMPANY. It is believed that the MECCANO TOY COMPANY did not keep up with these innovations and technology of the market and because of this and other reasons, the DINKY TOYS line ceased in 1979.

DINKY TOYS in general have become collector items over the years and there were some Volkswagen models produced as part of the DINKY line that are sought after by VW model and toy collectors. An oval window VW sedan DINKY TOYS was released in 1956 and was 1/50th scale (80 mm in length). It had the official DINKY TOYS classification of number 181. The body casting was of a diecast alloy called zamak (zinc, aluminum and magnesium) and had cut out windows. The details of the body casting included front hood indentation, hood handle, metal trim and a raised dot for the VW hood emblem. There were seam lines for the doors, door hinges, door handles and raised semaphores casted in the body. The rear section included the cut out oval window, engine air louvers and the "bumble bee wing" rear deck lid.  The license plate light and taillights were raised in the metal casting. The front and rear bumpers with bumper guards were part of the body casting as well. The general casting of the metal body represented the VW silhouette very well.

The chassis was stamped out of tin plate metal and pressed into the tin plate was the manufacturer's name (DINKY TOYS), model name (VOLKSWAGEN), series number of 181 and MADE IN ENGLAND. Metal axles and diecast rims with rubber tires were attached to the chassis. The chassis was painted black and was then riveted to the body (two rivets). On later versions of the 181, shiny spun aluminum rims were used. The body was painted in one of four colors being light blue, dark blue, gray or green. The diecast rims were also painted with the above colors but the color of the rims did not always match the body paint (gray body with blue rims as an example). Bumpers and recessed headlights were painted silver. The DINKY TOYS 181 came in a nice colorful box that was yellow and a picture of a Volkswagen Sedan on two of the panels.

A special version of this DINKY TOYS 181 was released and sold only in the Switzerland market. It represented the Swiss Postal VW painted in yellow with black fenders and had Swiss "PTT" crest decals on the doors. Though it was the same casting as the 181 except for the special paint scheme, it was sold under the official DINKY TOYS  designation number of 262. The box that these PTT VWs were sold in were just plain with no color graphics. These DINKY TOYS 262 Swiss VWs were limited produced, are scarce and are the hardest to locate especially those that are mint in the original box.

Another VW that was produced as part of the DINKY TOYS product line was a Karmann Ghia and had the official DINKY TOYS number of 187. The body casting had the details of the full size Karmann Ghia of the late 1950's. The two main identifying characteristics in the body casting are the small "two bar" front air grilles and small taillights. These Ghias were painted in a two-tone color scheme of black top/red lower body or ivory top/green lower body. This DINKY TOYS Ghia was a slightly larger 1/43rd scale (92 mm in length) than the 181 VW counter part and also featured a clear plastic window insert for a more authentic look.

As with the changes in manufacturing techniques, several variations have been noted in these DINKY TOYS Volkswagens. They include some chassis not being stamped number 181 and there were also some paint quality differences between the English and French units produced. It's too bad the DINKY TOYS series ceased in 1979 and the value of DINKY TOYS in general are on the increase let alone the VW series sought after by Volkswagen model and toy collectors.

Additional Info

  • Manufacturer: DINKY TOYS
  • Scale: 1/45
  • Length: 90mm
  • Production Era: 1956-1959
  • Country: England
  • Materials: Diecast Metal
  • Color: Green, Light Blue, Dark Blue,Grey, Swiss PTT Black/Yellow
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