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Toylines (alphabetical order)
Carnivores (1994)
Crash Dummies (1992)
Fighting Furies - Pirates (1977)
Fighting Furies - Western (1977)
Maxx Fx (1989)
Monster in my Pocket (1990)
Nightmare On Elm Street (1989)
Pee-Wee's Playhouse (1988)
Phantom, The (1996)
Real Model Collection, The (1989)
Robotech (1986)
Stingray (1992)
Thunderbirds (1994)
Voltron (1985)
Toylines (chronological order)
1977 Fighting Furies - Pirates
1977 Fighting Furies - Western
1985 Voltron
1986 Robotech
1988 Pee-Wee's Playhouse
1989 Maxx Fx
1989 Nightmare On Elm Street
1989 Real Model Collection, The
1990 Monster in my Pocket
1992 Crash Dummies
1992 Stingray
1994 Carnivores
1994 Thunderbirds
1996 Phantom, The
Company history
About Matchbox    
When Lesney Products (a toy company since 1947) went bankrupt in June 1982, it was reformed as "Matchbox Toys Ltd, and purchased by Universal who had previously acquired LJN. In 1987, Matchbox sold the Dinky trademark. to Kenner. Matchbox Toys was not just a diecast toy company. Many "unusual" products started appearing with the Matchbox brand through the 1980's: Dolls, stuffed animals, Pee Wee Herman, a Freddy Kreuger talking doll. Freddy. As the 1990s hit, Matchbox was taking a down-turn, probably due to the fact that the line had expand into too many different areas not all of them moneymakers. In May of 1992 Tyco Toys gave their intentions to buy Universal Group, and on October 2, 1992 Tyco Toys became the parent company of Matchbox Toys.
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From the News Archive
Matchbox July 2007 Jack Odell’s matchless matchbox - Cape May County Herald
Jack Odell once told a newspaper reporter, “In my obituary I want it said I was a damn good engineer.” And that’s just what the New York Times wrote this past July 17, 10 days after Odell’s death in London, the city where he was born in March, 1920.
Jack Odell once told a newspaper reporter, “In my obituary I want it said I was a damn good engineer.”
And that’s just what the New York Times wrote this past July 17, 10 days after Odell’s death in London, the city where he was born in March, 1920.
Yet Jack Odell didn’t just drop out of high school, he was thrown out at the age of 13. And most of his young life was spent at odd or menial jobs at which he was usually unsuccessful, like the time he was fired as a movie projectionist for putting the film in backwards.
So what did Odell do to merit the praise he desired in a Times obituary? He created the first Matchbox car, an invention that led to the production of 3 billion such toys in 12,000 models, and became one of the most collectible toys in the world.
Odell eventually straightened himself out in the army, and worked as a mechanic in Africa during World War II.
On his return he got a job as a janitor at die-casting shop that made mostly car parts, like door handles and dashboards. The shop was run by two other veterans, Leslie and Rodney Smith (unrelated), who called the company “Lesney,” a combination of their first names.
The real story begins one day when Odell discovered that his daughter had been taking spiders to school in a little matchbox. The school permitted children to bring playthings to school, with the caveat that nothing could be bigger than a matchbox.
Odell had taken an interest in the business, and decided to make something for his daughter to take to school more savory than a spider. He made a tiny steamroller, painted it shiny red and green and presented it to her in a matchbox.
When the other children saw it, they clamored for it, and before long Odell was churning them out. They cost only pennies to make. He shared his success with the Smiths, and the three went into partnership to produce the tiny toys.
Their big break came in 1953, when to honor the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the company produced a miniature model of the coronation coach. It sold well over a million.
That same year the company marketed its first line of tiny vehicles under the Matchbox logo. They were all very working class — a dump truck, cement mixer and the famous road roller.
It was in the mid-1950s that Lesney introduced cars, starting with the MG Midget TD, a Vauxhall Cresta and a Ford Zodiac. By 1962 Lesney was producing 50 million tiny cars and commercial vehicles a year.
The success of Matchbox can be attributed to the commitment of the company’s designers to minute realistic detail and mathematical scale (generally one-sixty-fourth the real thing).
Lesney was sold to in 1982 to Universal Toys, which was acquired by Tyco, which merged with Mattel in 1997. Mattel, which manufactures Matchbox’s chief rival, Hot Wheels, continues to make the Matchbox line.
Appraisals: Vintage Matchbook toys, which cost about 49 cents each during the baby boomers years (the new ones cost about a dollar now), average about $35 in antique stores today.
Posted 8/5/2007
Matchbox July 2007Jack Odell, Founder, dies at age 87

Wall Street Journal
For Detail, Popularized Miniature Toys
Wall Street Journal -

A self-taught tool-and-die maker in post-World War II Britain, Jack Odell became the founder and chief designer of Matchbox, the iconic miniature toys that have entertained car-crazy kids for half a century.
After creating a miniature steamroller for his young daughter, who wanted something that would fit into a matchbox to show her classmates, Mr. Odell -- who died last Saturday at age 87 in Herfordshire, England -- realized he had stumbled upon a product that the company he co-owned, struggling Lesney Products, could sell.
Posted 7/15/2007
March 2007 Action Figures and Matchbox Cars Too Tempting For One Officer - PW-Philadelphia Weekly
 I really can't improve on the lead here, so let's just go with the first sentence of this NBC 10 report:
As if Philadelphia police don't have enough problems with crime and the criticism they've taken for the increasing number of homicides, now they seem to have a problem with allegations of a shoplifting police officer.

Yes, the station reported a police officer -- in uniform -- allegedly stole several things from a West Kensington Rite Aid. And what important items was he taking? Baby formula? Important medicine?
Pfft. Of course not. The cop was allegedly stealing (1) small action figures and (2) matchbox cars. Most likely, he was taking 'Homies,' or maybe a toy from the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The 26th district officer wasn't charged with anything, because all he took was matchbox cars and action figures and also he's a police officer. Apparently it's also on tape.
But, really: Matchbox cars? Geeze, at least go to a gas station and take a Hess truck or something.
Posted 3/22/2007
Small Enough To Fit Into A Matchbox
Words by Jeff Whitten, Models from RallySport Magazine's personal collection. For most young boys, the early years of their life were spent playing in the backyard sandpit with a handful of toy cars.
Posted 3/28/2006
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