1987 Lledo Marathons Air Canada Courtesy Bus

In 1987, Lledo introduced Marathons, a line of transportation vehicles that were more modern and slightly larger in scale than the Days Gone series. Five castings were issued, each produced in a variety of different liveries, but the series did not sell well and was discontinued.

My Air Canada Courtesy Bus is from the same estate sale where I acquired my Lledo City of Toronto Double Decker Bus. Though not quite as interesting a model as the Double Decker bus, it is made with the same Lledo craftsmanship and quality.

Lledo | 1987 Marathons M2 | Air Canada Courtesy Bus | Made in England

The five different Marathons castings are nicely illustrated on the back of the package.


1983 Lledo City of Toronto Double Decker Bus

This nice Lledo City of Toronto Double Decker Bus is another of my Candian-themed finds from the collector’s estate sale of several years ago.

When Lesney was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1982, founding engineer Jack Odell  hand-picked the best personnel from Lesney’s design and production team, purchased machinery and tooling from the company, and created Lledo. The models produced by Lledo, which were manufactured in Enfield, England, were larger than the Matchbox 1-75 series, yet not quite as large as the Models of Yesteryear. Lledo’s Days Gone range of models included both horse-drawn and motorized vehicles and were much like the nostalgic Yesteryear series.

Lledo’s bread and butter was its line of promotional models. About thirty basic castings – among the most popular of which were the Ford Model T delivery and the Double Decker Bus – were used to produce hundreds of variations, usually in runs of 500 or 1000.

Lledo | 1983 DG15 City of Toronto Double-Decker Bus | Made in England

In the 1990s Lledo introduced the Vanguards range, which replicated classic British vehicles and other European models. Unfortunately, the well-crafted Lledo models couldn’t compete with lower cost products from Hong Kong and China, and the company went bankrupt in 1999. The naming rights and model range were purchase by Corgi. For a time, Corgi produced Lledo models in China, but eventually merged them into the Corgi Classics range.

1984 Matchbox Models of Yesteryear Postes Canada Post Ford Model A Van

A few years back, my wife and son and I came across an estate sale in a home in Wichita’s Eastborough neighborhood. As I recall, several rooms of the house were filled with nice bookcases full of diecast collectibles. The models consisted of trucks, buses and delivery vans. It was an impressive collection and lots of fun to look through. My wife, who grew up in Ontario, pretends to hate estate sales and my car collecting habits in general. And yet, every time she came across a model with a livery that related to her home country, she would get excited and point it out to my son and I. So we took home with us a few nice Canadian-themed models from this collection.

The Matchbox Models of Yesteryear series, which started in 1956, was the brainchild of tooling engineer Jack Odell. Odell wanted to make models of antique trucks, buses and fire engines at a larger scale and more detailed than the 1-75 series.

The 1930 Ford Model A Van first appeared in the Models of Yesteryear series in 1982 and has seen at least 16 variations, decorated with everything from Coca Cola livery to the Washington Post branding. My 1:40 scale Postes Canada Post model has a 1984 copyright on the back of the box. I think it was in pristine shape when I first bought it, however, it ended up mixed in with some of my son’s toys for a few years and has lost some luster (though I was smart enough to save the original box.)

Matchbox | 1984 Models of Yesteryear | #38 Ford Model A Van | Postes Canada Post | red with black fenders, black roof | 1:40

I have read that in the UK and Australia, Models of Yesteryear are more seriously collected than the 1-75 series. However, due to lack of consistent distribution in the U.S., Models of Yesteryear are fairly unknown compared to the smaller scale Matchbox toys. In fact, I was not aware of the series until I came across this collector’s estate sale several years ago.

As I was photographing the box, I noticed a hand-written note inside the package flap.

Matchbox 1973 Speed Kings Ambulance

After my recent success at the Paramount Antique Mall on West Kellogg, I decided to check out the Paramount Marketplace. The Marketplace is the newest location in the enterprise, and it features a healthy dose of craft-related and new items mixed in with the antiques. The first time I visited, shortly after they opened, they had not yet filled up the interior of the former grocery store they occupy. Well, after a little over a year of being open, the 22,000 square feet is pretty full – having taken on some of the vendors who were previously in the now-closed Village Flea Market.

I found a display case in a back room that was mostly full of redline Hot Wheels. The redlines were not in pristine condition, but were still fairly expensive. I enjoyed looking at them, but wasn’t planning to buy anything. Then, in the same case, I spotted this Matchbox Speed Kings Ambulance, priced at $7. I found someone with a key to the case, looked it over, and took it home with me.

The first Matchbox King Size ambulance was the K-6 Mercedes Benz “Binz” Ambulance which first appeared in 1967. Though in later years the Binz did trade its black plastic wheels for something quicker, my K-49 Ambulance is clearly a product of the Superfast years, coming on the scene with it’s clean, modern lines in 1973. It features colorful graphics and an opening rear door.

Matchbox | 1973 | Speed Kings K-49 | Ambulance | white with red roof and red interior

My other Matchbox Speed Kings are the Fire Control Range Rover, the Javelin AMX and the Bertone Runabout.

Racing Champions Late 1990s Stock Rods

On my recent visit to the Paramount Antique Mall, 2.50 was the number of the day. I found the Peterbilt Tanker, the Site Dumper and each of these Racing Champions Stock Rods for $2.50 each. With the 10% sale discount, my haul cost me under $12.

The question posed by the Stock Rods series of the late 1990s, as it explains on the back of the package, is “What if your favorite drivers traded in their stock cars to race in a classic hot rod from the past?” It’s a fun idea, and in addition to opening hoods and nice detailing, each car comes packaged with a display stand and collector card.

There was an entire display of these, but I resisted all but the Impalas in the bunch. The first one that caught my eye was this Ken Schrader ’60 Impala. I love the giant tires on the back, but I think I would install a roll cage before I got behind the wheel of this beast.

Racing Champions | 1998 Stock Rods #67 | ’60 Chevy Impala | green with black top and hood, Schrader APR 33 trim, opening hood | display base and collector’s card

My son really liked this Terry Labonte gold-chrome ’58 Impala Custom convertible trimmed with Fruit Loops and Starburst graphics.

Racing Champions | 1998 Stock Rods #143 | ’58 Impala Custom convertible | gold with Terry Labonte Fruit Loops 5 trim, opening hood | display base and collector’s card

If gold-chrome isn’t your thing, maybe you prefer the somewhat more understated Ricky Craven red ’58 Impala with extra-wide white wall tires.

Racing Champions | 1997 Stock Rods #8 | 1958 Chevy Impala | red with Ricky 25 trim, opening hood | display base and collector’s card

Matchbox 1976 Site Dumper

I found this Matchbox Site Dumper in the same case at Paramount where I found the Peterbilt Tanker, and also paid $2.50 for it. It has a few paint chips, but makes a really nice companion to the Tractor Shovel and Sambron Jacklift that I found awhile back at the Village Flea Market. This all yellow with black interior Site Dumper was the first release of this model in 1976. It subsequently appeared in about 6 different color variations, the most valuable of which is an orange-red version.

Matchbox | 1976 | 26 | Site Dumper | yellow with yellow dumper, black interior | Superfast wheels

Hot Wheels 1986 Peterbilt Tanker

A few Saturdays ago, I had some time to kill on the west side, so I decided to check out the 40,000 square foot Paramount Antique Mall on West Kellogg. I’ve talked about my reluctance to buy at antique stores, but I’m finding out you can still find some fair deals if you are selective. Besides, while awaiting the start of garage sale season, it’s a nice way to break up the WalMart-hopping.

I found this Hot Wheels Peterbilt Tanker for $2.50. It’s in pretty decent shape and I enjoy the Hot Wheels Railroad decoration. The Peterbilt has been around since the 1980 Workhorses series, when Hot Wheels introduced the Peterbilt Cement Mixer. There is also a Peterbilt Dump Truck which came out in 1983. The Peterbilt Tanker was first released in the 1981 Workhorses series and it is one heavy casting – unlike the Cement Mixer and Dump Truck, which use plastic parts, the entire vehicle is diecast! My Hot Wheels Railroad variation is from 1986, one of about 7 variations of this model made up until 1994.

Hot Wheels | 1986 | 2547 | Peterbilt Tank Truck | red with silver tank, Hot Wheels Railroad trim | MY | bs