Which company manufactured these vintage miniature metal cars?
Matchbox is a popular toy brand which was introduced by British die-casting company, 'Lesney Products' in 1953. The brand got its name because the original toys were sold in boxes similar to those in which matches were sold. The name 'Lesney' was a portmanteau of Leslie & Rodney Smith's first names. Their first major sales success was a popular model of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation coach.
One of the owners of 'Lesney' originally created a toy that was designed for his daughter. Her school only allowed children to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox. He then crafted a scaled-down version of a road roller, dump truck and a cement mixer that was part of the original three-model for mass-marketing the Matchbox series. Additional models continued to be added to the line. As the collection grew, it became more internationally commercialized.
The designers took detailed photographs of the real models, even obtaining some original blueprints. This enabled them to make models with surprisingly high levels of detail, despite the small scale. Matchbox began to switch to plastic and cardboard "blister packs" that were used by other die-cast toy brands such as Hot Wheels. In 1982, 'Lesney' eventually went bankrupt and the Matchbox brand was then sold to Universal Toys and manufactured in Macau. Matchbox is now owned by Mattel. Original Matchbox toys are very collectible. The original road roller is considered the first and one of the most collectible of them all.