LONE STAR PRODUCTS LTD manufactured diecast toy pistols and rifles, among other things, over a period from 1949 to October 1983 at which time the company sadly sent into Receivership. Fortunately a buyer for the company, Wicke GmbH & Co. of Wuppertal, Germany, took it over as a going concern. The significance of this was that Wicke (pronounced Vicker) had, for many years, been suppliers to Lone Star and so it made perfect sense that a manufacturer of explosive caps should purchase a company that mass produced cap firing guns. During Wicke's brief stewardship, while it clung to its last remaining foothold at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, the company was renamed Lone Star Toys plc until its eventual closure in June 1988.
'At our peak we employed roughly 360 people at Hatfield, 200 at Welham Green [near Hatfield] and 150 people at Palmers Green [north London]. Of course, guns were our business and these along with their ancillary items were responsible for 75% of our turnover,' said Mr A (Stanley) Perrin, former MD. 'Whereas we had limited overseas markets for our model trains and cars, we had 'the world' for guns, even Hong Kong was a reasonable market! We never lost sight of this and whilst we were always prepared to invest and develop new items, we never neglected guns.' It should be emphasised that Lone Star's zinc-alloy metal and plastic guns, which totalled 239 different types and styles over the years, were intended as children's playthings bearing only a reasonable representation of pistols and rifles. They were not replica copies of the real thing nor, due to their construction and nature of the material used, could they be converted to fire live ammunition. In deciding the 'Top 10 Guns' produced by Lone Star, we need to consider the overall duration of availability which gives a fairly reliable indication of the popularity of an item, so here we go!
No. 10 - at 18 years, we have the Frontier Scout Rifle, described as a 100-shot cap repeating rifle with break-open action. The metal firing action and its casing had a Buffalo's head engraving on it, is finished in 'gleam' silver. It is fitted with a metal barrel and black plastic simulated wood grain, butt and stock grip. Overall length 76cm, the model rifle was obtainable between 1963 and 1981.
A toy museum north east of London which might be of interest to members of this website. Exhibits listed on museum's website as follows:
Tel: +44 (0)1279 813237
Fax: +44 (0)1279 816391
Geoff Ambridge (LoneStar)
This fantastic event will be held again this year at Whitewebbs Museum of Transport, Whitewebbs Road, Crews Hill, (north) ENFIELD, Middlesex, EN2 9HW, (U.K.) on Sunday, 28th September 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Situated 1 mile south of the M.25 London Orbital Motorway mid-way between Junctions 24 and 25. Nearest Train Station: Crews Hill (on the King's Cross, London - Hertford North line) is 8 minutes' walk to the Museum.
Fuller details of the event can be found by logging-on to:
Venue website: www.whitewebbsmuseum.co.uk
LONE STAR PRODUCTS was originally the Toy Division of Die Casting Machine Tools Ltd., formerly of Palmers Green, north London and at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, U.K.
Until the 1980's, Lone Star was among the world's leading die-cast manufacturers of model cars and trucks in various scales. Also "OOO"-gauge 'push-along' and electrically powered model trains, the latter known as "Treble-O-Lectric" . The company also manufactured a wide range of Western Cowboy products, principally realistic looking cap-firing toy pistols and rifles.
They also produced a fantastic range of unbreakable plastic figures, generally thought of as being "OO"-scale and these were known as the "Harvey Series". They consisted of Soldiers (modern and historic); Cowboys; Red Indians (aka Native Americans); Medieval figures, including Knights in armour, etc. These are just a few among numerous other kinds that Lone Star manufactured. Where appropriate, figures were obtainable mounted on horseback as well as those 'on foot'.
1966 brought the introduction of this very popular series of models. The Lone Star trade catalogue for that year stated: "Many months of careful planning have been put into these IMPY Super Cars. The whole programme has been carried out in accordance with very careful and detailed schedules .... Already 20 models are in the Drawing Board, Tooling, or Pre-production state to ensure continuity throughout 1966 and 1967." Here is publicity literature from the same year:
The catalogue continued " ....Twenty models are so far planned but this will soon be increased since it is our intention to build up this series during the next four years." The 20 models planned in 1966 were (the first eight models to be produced are marked thus (*):
- Jaguar Mk X*
- Gran Turismo Coupe*
- Chrysler Imperial (Hard Top)*
- Ford (USA) Thunderbird
- Ford (GB) Zodiac Mk III Estate*
- Volkswagen Micro Bus*
- Motorway Police Patrol Car*
- Mercedes-Benz 220 SE Limousine*
- Ford (GB) Corsair
- Volvo 1800 S
- Volkswagen Ambulance*
- Fiat 2300 S Coupe
- Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III
- Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Spider
- Foden Truck
- Earth Dumper
- Foden Bulk Sugar Transporter
- Ford (Germany) Taunus
- Cement Mixer
The features that Lone Star claimed made ‘IMPY' SUPER CARS the tremendous value they were:-
- Die-cast metal bodies
- Opening Boot
- Opening Doors
- Opening Bonnet
- Steering wheel
- Silvered hubs
- ‘Axial' Steering
- Non-scratch Tyres
- Jewelled Headlamps
Following on from my original blog entry on this topic, my own experiences in the die-casting industry during the mid-1950s are set out here for those who may be interested.
When I left my Secondary Modern School, aged 15, in the summer of 1954, I was surprised when my father, Sidney Ambridge, informed me that I had been offered a job in the toolroom of Lesney Products Ltd. This had been agreed without my prior knowledge but as a reciprocal arrangement between my father and Jack Odell. I had understood that my father had earlier trained Jack to become a toolmaker and I presumed that my father had asked Jack to train me in order to repay the favour. I gathered, however, that my job was on a ‘take it or leave it' basis.