Insurance and Model Making

Children have played with models of animals, vehicles, boats and in fact almost everything for thousands of years. The oldest known toy ‘car’ is made of stone, a cart-like shape with four wheels at each corner. It was excavated from a North Kurdish town named Qoser and is dated at around seven and a half thousand years old. But it was during the 19th Century when model making really took off, with mass manufacture in often poorly lit and dangerous workshops. Accidents were frequent and insurance virtually non existent.

Public Liability Insurance

It was not until 1969 when it became compulsory for employers to carry insurance to compensate workers who were injured in industrial, accidents. Since the mid 19th Century Friendly Societies provided insurance cover for some of the most needy employees but these were only locally organised and the insurance industry was slow to recognise that a real need existed. It was only after the The Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act of 1969 that employers were obliged to provide this protection for their employees.

Models could be dangerous!

In the early days models could be dangerous! Children could choke on small novelties that were given away with sweets, sharp edges could cut them, flimsy design could leave bits that could be swallowed by youngsters. Claims against manufacturers were very few!

Public liability insurance was introduced to compensate members of the public who were injured by a business in any way but we are well into the 21st Century and it is still not obligatory for vompanies to insure themselves in this way.

The birth of model cars

It was quite natural that models of cars began to be made almost as soon as the real thing as children naturally wanted to include them in their play. In Germany companies such as Marklin already produced model boats and locomotives in tinplate and motor cars were added; these were not very sturdy, however, and as toys they were expensive and short-lived.

Die Casting

As the demand for toy cars increased the method of manufacturing metal toy cars in large numbers made use of ‘die casting’ processes by which liquid metal is poured into moulds to produce a shape. This was often a dangerous practice for the operatives and accidents were all too common.

Tootsie Toys

Perhaps the first real production of toy cars was in America. The Dowst Brothers owned a company that made, amongst other things, die cast metal novelties of various things including boats, animals and whistles to be given as party favours in crackers, pop corn and other celebratory items. In 1901 a tiny metal car was added to the list of ‘favours’ available.

By 1911 a recognisably-shaped limousine had been added and in 1921 two versions of the Model T Ford. In subsequent years the firm created a range of metal toy cars, trucks and vans that became world famous as ‘Tootsietoys’, the name being derived from the pet name given to the daughter of Theodore Dowst.

Tootsie Toys were introduced to England in the early 1930s and proved very popular.

the Birth of Dinky Toys

In England the most prominent name in metal toy vehicles for many years was to become the world famous Dinky Toys. Frank Hornby named his metal construction toy Meccano which went on to produce model electric ‘O’ guage trains. To compliment the layouts for these a series of ‘Modelled Miniatures’ consisting of cars vans and trucks were produced; these became known in 1934 as Dinky Toys.

Early Dinky Toys were made of an alloy that was high in lead content; later models were of an alloy composed of zinc, aluminium and magnesium, known as Zamak or Mazak. Poor mixing of the elements resulted in metal fatigue, again making the models vulnerable over time.

First Dinky Toys were simple models consisting of a one piece cast body with two metal axles bearing the four wheels. They were sold in sets of six but could also be purchased separately. New models were added each month, making available for the first time an ongoing collectible line of model cars.

Numerous health and safety regulations have now made work places much safer environments and insurance products such as Employers Liability cover and Public Liability Insurance now provide cover for not only employees but the general public as well. No anount of insurance can compensate a worker for serious injury but it should at least take away financial worries.