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LESlie G. Smith and RodNEY Smith were very good school friends. Even in the Second World War the two served together in the Royal Navy.

 

In 1947 they founded the "Lesney Products". Only 600£ made up the entire starting capital for them! With the money they bought the "RIFLEMAN" tavern in Edmonton and some zinc die-casting machines.

In the early years ( 1947-1948 ) somewhat larger vehicle models ( Barford Road Roller , Caterpillar Bulldozer and others ) were produced. These were followed by tin toys ( Jumbo the Elephant , Muffin the Mule between 1949 and 1950, and the accessories for anglers : bread presses ( Bread Bait Press ), fishing line cutters and others from 1954.

 

Jack Odell, who joined Lesney a little later, had a young daughter. In 1952, he made a vehicle model of a steamroller for her, so small that it was fitting in a matchbox. At the time, there was a rule about the size of toys that children could bring to school. Thus Jack has fulfilled his daughter’s dream and made the little girl happy.

This was the beginning of a great idea to build such small models that would fit in Matchbox boxes. In 1953, the first models already were produced in series : DIESEL ROAD ROLLER, CEMENT MIXER, LONDON BUS and others.


The small version of the royal coach (Small Coronation Coach), which sold over 1,000,000 copies, was a huge success. No less famous was the Connestoga Covered Wagon, a western carriage. It was even available in two versions: with and without "red barrels".

The Regular Wheels series 1-75 soon consisted of 75 models and every year innovations and other versions of the vehicles were added. In parallel, the Accessory Packs and Major Packs were produced. The KingSize and Models of Yesteryear series has also found its enthusiasts.​

The word MOKO on the first boxes comes from MOSES KOHNSTAM from Nuremberg, who came to England in 1900 to develop the toy industry. He specialized in financing, logistics, storage and packaging of goods. The idea with the matchbox was not foreign to MOKO Boss, because already in Germany they tried to offer small toys in such tiny packages. The design of the packaging was based on a real matchbox of the Czech company "NORVIC MATCHES" ( see photo ).


Only in 1962 one has renounced the classical appearance. The RW series was produced until 1968 , then the changeover to the SUPERFAST series took place ( wheels made of slightly softer plastic on very thin sprung axles ).

 

In the 60s and 70s Matchbox grew up to a myth and was collected worldwide!

 

Due to the ever increasing competition from the Far East, the Lesney company had to announce its bankruptcy in 1992 and was sold to TYCO® Inc. and later to Mattel®. Mattel® Inc. is the owner of the brand name MATCHBOX® until today.