Big things with little cars

All right folks, I got an updated Diecast Brand History Timeline up and running. Plus I did you guys a favor and marked allnew entries with a ‘*’ after the date, so it’ll be ‘19xx - *’, and there’s 30+ new entries, whoot!

This is a labor of love, done from personal research in my spare time. It’s far from complete, as I need sources other than Wikipedia, which is difficult to track down. So if anyone has sources to any diecast brand, even if it’s one already mentioned here, don’t keep it to yourself! Share it!


Sources: Ertl, Johnny Lightning, Auto World,Greenlight Toys, Topper/De Luxe Toys, Tomica,

Weak Sources: Kyosho, Mattel, Tamiya, Tomiyama/Tomy, Diecast-Utopia (unofficial site)

* * * * * *

1924 - Eiichiro Tomiyama founded Tomiyama. The focus was on toy airplanes.

1932 - * Solido was founded.

1945 - Ertl Company is founded by Fred Ertl, Sr.

1945 - Mattel was started by Harold Matson and Elliot Handler, in their garage, making picture frames. The scraps were used to create doll houses.


1946 - Yoshio Tamiya founded the company Tamiya.

1951 - Henry Orenstein founded De Luxe Toy Creations, the primary product was dolls.


195x - De Luxe Toy Creations changed its name to De Luxe Premium.

195x (late ‘50s) - Mr. Orenstein sold De Luxe Premium to Philadelphia & Reading Company, a railroad company.


195x - Philadelphia & Reading Company discovered they knew nothing about the toy business, so they sold the company back to Mr. Orenstein for far less than he sold it. He also changed the named to Deluxe Topper Toys.

1953 - * Lesney Products was founded in England. Matchbox was used as a brand name.


1958 - Auto World founded as a small mail order hobby business.

1963 - * The Kyosho Corporation is founded, selling toys, models, and other goods.


1964 - Deluxe Topper Toys is shortened to Topper Toys.

1967 - * Maisto is founded, but not as a diecast company.

1967 - Ertl is acquired by Victor Comptometer Corporation.

1968 - * Lesney became the diecast brand with the largest sales globally.

1968 - * Hot Wheels is founded.

1969 - Topper Toys launches Johnny Lightning cars.

197x - * Yat Ming was founded, with their HQ in Hong Kong. Their focus was more on diecast toys than models.


1970 - Kyosho creates its first trademarked R/C car.

1970 - Tomica launches, with Tomica World Products also released.

1971 - Topper Toys files for bankruptcy, and closes. They were selling product they didn’t have.


1971 - Ertl acquires Carter Tru-Scale.

1972 - Tomica has 60 models in the lineup. Tomica Dandy is also released.

1972 - Ertl begins manufacturing plastic model kits.

1974 - Tomica has 100 models in the lineup.

1974 - Ertl acquires Structo Stamped Steel.

1974 - * Martoys was founded by the three Besana brothers.

1976 - * Martoys was renamed to Bburago; where the first B is reference to the Besana last name, and Burago is the town the company was founded in.


1976 - Tomica releases the Foreign Vehicle Series and the Long Tomica. The 100 millionth Tomica product is manufactured.

1977 - Tomica adds super cars to their Foreign Vehicle Series lineup.

1977 - Kiddie Inc. acquires Ertl by purchasing Victor Comptometer Corporation.

1979 - * Welly was founded in Hong Kong.

198x - * Maisto is bought by the Asian conglomerate May Cheong group, who direct Maisto to make diecast cars.


198x - * (early ‘80s) The economy went bust which led to Lesney filling for bankruptcy. The brand name and everything else tied to it was bought by Universal Toys and a few other investors.

1981 - Ertl acquires AMT model kit company.

1984 - Tomica introduces new packaging, which is still used today. The 300 millionth Tomica product is manufactured.


1985 - Ertl acquires MPV model kits.

1987 - Handon PLC purchases Kiddie Corporation, Ertl acquires ECSI model kits company.


198x - * (late ‘80s) Bburago split their 1:18 models into three lines; super, gold, and diamond.

1988 - Tomica has 120 models in its lineup.

1989 - Racing Champions is founded by Bob Dods, Boyd Meyer, and Peter Chung.

199x - * Yat Ming refocused on making scaled models as its primary business and kept the toy line as a secondary one.


1990 - * Paul’s Model Art GmbH was founded in Germany, first producing 1:43 cars.

1991 - * Paul’s Model Art expands and starts making 1:24 cars.

1992 - * Universal sells the Matchbox brand to Tyco Toys.

1992 - * Car maker’s, please with Paul’s Model Art products, start ordering commemorate models for their own branded merchandise.


1992 - Kyosho starts to make diecast cars.

1993 - * Paul’s Model Art produces the first 1:18 replica of a Formula 1 car. And on BMW’s request, they start making model motor bikes as well.


1993 -Tomica releases ‘B/O Tomica’, a battery powered series.

1994 - * Paul’s Model Art expands into the 1:18 scale; and starts making classic, modern, and racing cars.


1994 - Playing Mantis was founded by Thomas E. Lowe, who resurrected the Johnny Lighting brand.

199x - * (mid ‘90s) Solido was bought by Majorette.

199x - * (mid ‘90s) Classic Model Cars was founded in Germany.

1995 - Tomica licensing business launched.

1996 - * Mattel bought Matchbox.

1996 - * Paul’s a Model Art introduces the brand MiniChamps for domestic use (at first).


1996 - Racing Champions Corporation is formed.

1997 - * Tyco Toys sells Matchbox to Mattel.

1997 - * Paul’s Model Art expands and starts making 1:12 scale cars.

1997 - Ertl acquires Britain Limited.

1998 - * The AUTOart brand name is launched by Gateway Global Ltd.

1999 - A radio-controlled R/C Tomica series was released.

1999 - Racing Champions acquires the Ertl Company.

2000 - 30th Anniversary Pure Gold Tomica is released with a 1 million yen price tag. Monthly Tomica releases with the slogan “The third Saturday of the month is Tomica day”. First Tomica Expo held.


2001 - * This is a key year for MiniChamps, as the international toy fair in Nuremberg allows them to showcase over 200 new models, which presents a new direction for the company.

2001 - The Tomica Limited series is launched, it first appears at the Tokyo Motor Show.


2002 - Kevin Davey founds Greenlight Toys. The focus is on race cars and pace cars.

2003 - * Mattel revamps Matchbox, but was received poorly amongst collectors. Mattel quickly returns Matchbox to its original philosophy and roots.


2003 - * Majorette was bought (along with Solido) by Smoby, becoming Smoby-Majorette.

2003 - * MiniChamps makes history (again) by producing the first 1:18 classic truck model, the Mercedes-Benz L 6600.


2003 - Racing Champions Ertl acquires Learning Curve, changes name to RC2 Corporation.

2004 - RC2 acquires The First Years and Playing Mantis companies.

2005 - * Bburago closed its doors because of overwhelming competition and the lost of the Ferrari license. The company was then bought by May Cheong Group, owner of Maisto, with plans to use the castings for Masito.


2005 - * Kyosho opens its American HQ, and expands all of its businesses. The company also started hosting tournaments for RC cars.

2005 - Tomica Shop, the first direct retail outlet, is opened in the Tokyo Station complex.


2005 - Greenlight creates it’s first muscle car line.

2005 - Round 2 is founded by Thomas E. Lowe (same guy as Playing Mantis).

2006 - Tomica Hyper series is released.

2007 - * The May Cheong Group decided to revive the original Bburago name, producing old and new models. The quality is the same as Maisto though.


2007 - Castline Inc was founded.

2008 - Tomica Long Type is released.

2008 - AutoWorld signs licensing agreement to produce and market AMT, MPC, and Polar Lights.


<=2010- M2 Machines is founded. (On M2's blog, the earlier entry in Sept. '10, so M2 has been around since then).

2010 - * Smoby became part of the Simba-Dickie group, along with Majorette and Solido.


2010 - Tomica product lineup is expanded to 140 models with the release of Tomica No. 140. The Tecology series is released.

??? - Round 2 purchased the rights to the Auto World name and logo.

2011- Tomy acquires RC2.

2011 - The Tomica Shop network expands to five locations.

2013 - Tomy decides to stop production of JL cars.

2015 - Round 2 buys Playing Mantis (and essentially the Johnny Lightning name) and Racing Champions from Tomy.


2016 - Johnny Lightning cars are on the market once again.

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