As we have already seen with Britains Deetail, complementary accessories were important in increasing the attraction of the range. Airfix certainly understood this, and created a selection of buildings and vehicles to extend the play possibilities of their figures. One of the vehicles they created may be familiar, as we have already encountered it in this blog – the Bedford RL truck.
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When designing a new model, two factors have to be balanced when considering how many components to use. On the one hand, the fewer that are used, the simpler the production process and consequently the lower the costs. A good example of this approach is the Dinky military range. On the other hand, the more components, the more detail can be included, and features added into the model. Solido vehicles are big and chunky, so there is certainly room for lots of parts. To examine the Solido approach, let’s start with a fairly complex machine – a military half-tracked personnel carrier of WW2, the SdKfz 251.
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Ringing the Changes
One way that toy manufacturers can maintain a stream of new releases is by creating new versions of existing models, simply by altering the paint scheme and markings, and possibly changing plastic accessories. This allows them to advertise new products and keep their customers interested, without having to invest in expensive new metal mould-making.
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We are usually too busy enjoying the toys we buy to waste time thinking about how they are made. However, every once in a while, doing so can reveal what an amazing enterprise toy-making was, and sheds light on the models themselves. What can we learn from the Dinky production process?
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High Fidelity or Artistic License?
The Question of Accuracy
Dinky proudly claimed that their models were accurate reproductions, but is this true?
Before examining this question, we need to set down some ground-rules. Dinky models were – like all models which are smaller than the subject they represent – simplifications. In fact, if you consider it for a moment, all models must omit detail that would be too small or fragile to be rendered in scale. In that respect all models are inaccurate.
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A common practice amongst toy manufacturers is to extend the play possibilities of their core ranges by creating accessories that can be used with them. By providing these, the central range is made more attractive and sales are increased. One obvious adjunct to any range of toy soldiers is the artillery that supports them, but in this story we’ll consider the vehicles that they may travel in and fight from. Britains were not slow to produce a range of these for their new Deetail range.
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Toy ranges often include items that work best in combination with others. Sometimes this combination is essential – without one item, a second has no purpose. For example, what use is a tank transporter without a tank to transport? At other times, items have a more generic role and can work well with many other models. A bridge-layer, for example, lays a bridge that a whole convoy can cross over, and a recovery tractor may pull a variety of wayward vehicles out of ditches or bogs, and tow them to a repair depot.
These combinations provide great play scenarios, and manufacturers like them as they encourage sales and provide natural subjects for sets. Dinky made many. Let’s take a look at one of the most well-known of these, the 25-pounder gun, limber and tractor.
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