Diecast Collector & Restoration

Resource site




                                     History of Lledo

Lledo was a brand of diecast toys, founded in 1982 by Matchbox co-founderJack Odell and Burt Russel

Lledo was a reversal of Odell's own surname, which set out to specialise in replicating early Matchbox series styles. Odell and Russell bought machinery from the Universal company of Hong Kong, who had brought and shipped the Matchbox manufacturing plant to Hong Kong. Odell and Russell re-shipped the machinery back to a factory in Enfield, England where in April 1983 a new range called "Days Gone" was launched.

The favourite model of collectors of the company's products was a Ford Model T van, which then became the basis for the start of a series of limited edition models for gifts, product launches and special promotions; most commonly produced in limited edition runs of 500 or 1000 models. The company later launched the "Vanguards" range, which specialised in replica classic cars.

Although shipping high volumes of product, the company could not compete against low cost producers from both Hong Kong and China, who also entered the special promotions market with high quality products. As a result, Lledo went bankrupt in 1999, and the naming right and model range bought by Corgi. Corgi continued producing the range of models in China until 2005, when the remaining models were merged into the Corgi Classics range

History of Schuco

Schuco is a German toy maker originally founded in 1912 by Heinrich Müller and the businessman Heinrich Schreyer in Nurnberg, Germany's early toy capital. Its specialty was usually cars and trucks in both tin and diecast.

 Originally this company was named as Spielzeugfirma Schreyer & Co, but in 1921 the company changed the name to Schuco. When the company started in 1912, it made unique clockwork tin toys. In the 1920s it introduced its famous Pick-Pick bird (over 20 million were made up until the 1960s). In 1935 one of the first Schuco patent motor cars was produced, starting a legacy of producing toy motor vehicles that continues to this day. Production was halted during World War II and in the late 1940s production began again with tin toys that were focused on the American market.

A Focus on Cars

In the late 1960s and early 1970s there was a shift to plastic and then diecast metal toys of various scales including remote control and wind-up toys. Edward Force discusses that Schuco's first real foray into diecast toys was in 1958 when the Piccolo series of 1:90 scale cars was introduced. These were clever and cartoonish at the same time and are highly collectible today. Models in 1:43 scale (the 1000 series) were introduced in 1960. In 1971 and 1972, a new 1:43 scale was introduced (the 600 line) and the first 1:66 Matchbox sized 800 and 900 series appeared. Most of these were labeled on packaging "Schuco Modell". Other diecast and remote control vehicles were 1:18 scale and sometimes larger.

Schuco's diecast 1:43 scale line in the 1970s was extremely precise in detail with near perfect proportion to the real cars. Usually all features opened. Paint application seemed more refined and not as thick as with British Corgi Toys and Dinky Toys. Accurate replication was as good as Solido and the earlier Politoys M series, and better than Gama Toys or Conrad. Also, similar to Solido, Schuco avoided the attractive but less realistic jewels for head and tail lights.

Financial Woes

The company went bankrupt in 1976. An English company Dunbee-Combex-Marx (DCM) acquired Schuco (or large parts of it), but it too went bankrupt in 1980. Eventually, rival German toymaker Gama Toys, acquired the rights to Schuco in the mid 1980s, and, for a time, new Gama Toys were 1:43 scale Schucos put directly into Gama boxes - with no name change on the base of the vehicle. In the U.S. during the 1980s Schucos were marketed by the Lilliput Motor Company of Yerington, Nevada, with Lilliput appearing right on the colorful boxes.

Force writes that about the time of the Gama purchase, Schuco dies were sold off to many other companies in different countries. Some appeared "Made in Russia" and some from Bulgaria. Before Gama purchased Schuco some models appeared as Gamas. Some went to France and became Norevs. Some went to Brazil and were sold by Rei.


In 1993 Gama-Schuco combined with Trix, a maker of small scale trains, and a company previously associated with Marklin. In 1996, Schuco became an independent company again, and has since seen a revival, again producing a wide variety of collectible models, with many newly designed castings, but many being exact replicas of earlier lines. In 1999, Schuco was acquired by the Simba Dickie Group which had previously absorbed Smoby which had previously purchased French Majorette which in turn had acquired Solido. Majorette and Solido were apparently spun off, but by 2009, Schuco was healthy enough to acquire Schabak.

Today the company makes Schuco model toys (mainly street vehicles) in different scales. There are classic and newer lines, all beloved by collectors. The quality of the models is superior to the average toy model vehicles, therefore unit prices are higher too, but with the conglomeration of so many venerable marques in one company the final outcome of all the brands is in question.