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TCO TIPPCO TIPP&CO SPLIT VW Track Set Article

The German firm of TIPP & COMPANY was a manufacturer of tin toys and their facilities were located in the Nürnberg area. The city of Nürnberg was the main toy district area of Germany. Most of the toy manufacturers were located in the Nürnberg area during the 1940's and the largest German toy fair "Internationale Spielwarenmesse" is still held yearly in Nürnberg and draws manufacturers and attendees from all over the world. This manufacturer, TIPP & COMPANY is commonly referred to as TIPPCO or TCO. TIPPCO produced a variety of toys that included tin cars and track sets.

One such tin toy was that of the Split Window era Volkswagen Sedan and was part of a track set produced by TIPPCO. These TIPPCO track sets came in various sizes and features. Top of the line "Deluxe Versions" included many meters of tracks, bridges, special crossovers and several vehicles operating on the track at the same time (may have required an empty garage or basement to set up, be aware before you buy one). The track set shown here in this article was the "Entry Level" (you’ve got to start somewhere) and referred to as the basic set #795. It included enough tracks to put together a 1.5 meters (4 1/2 feet) oval with a circle in the middle (could be set up in the dining table). There were two vehicles in this set and the vehicles came in several litho designs from a school bus to a panel van, etc. If you were lucky, one or both of the vehicles in the set was a Split Window era Volkswagen Sedan. VW toy and model collectors just go crazy to have one of these track sets. The VW toy car consisted of a stamped tin plate body with a lithograph design and is about 1/44th scale (93mm in length). The colorful design included people's faces in the windows. This was typical of the KdF Wagen era (war time Volkswagen) in which the KdF brochures and German postage stamps depicted a happy family driving down the autobahn in their KdF Wagen.

There were two basic styles of the lithograph design on the TIPPCO tin VWs. The first design to mention looked more of that of the Volkswagen and came in either a light blue, dark blue (KdF color) or a light orange color with detailing. Detailing included lithographed headlights, windshield, rear split window and red tail lights. The body had indentations for the front hood, "bumble bee wing" rear deck lid and air louvers under the split window. Black pin stripping outlined the doors, rain gutter and rear deck lid. The other two-tone designs were a solid dark blue/cream, dark orange/cream and a pale green/cream color and had a stripe over the center of the body. There was similar window and body detailing on this latter version as compared to the other version.

The dark blue KdF color design was first introduced in the late 1930s for the large track sets of the time. During the post war period, there is a "MADE IN U.S. ZONE - GERMANY" label in the lithograph design along the running board area of the body, otherwise there is no manufacturer marking on the tin cars. The  "MADE IN U.S. ZONE - GERMANY" dates the manufacture of this toy VW to circa 1945-1950 era. Later produced cars were marked “MADE IN WESTERN GERMANY”. The lithographed tin body was attached to a stamped tin chassis with six metal ears bent over (I'm glad they don't build real VWs this way). The tin chassis had a key wound clockwerk motor and was equipped with those indestructible steel button wheels, which unfortunately produced black marks in the colorful lithographed cobblestone track sections. The brake lever for the clockwerk motor protruded out the rear deck lid section through a slit in the body.

The track set included a special tankstelle (fuel pump station) that had a mechanical shaft and ratchet assembly (there was some German engineering done here - "basic ratchet and shaft 101"). Contrary to popular belief, VW toy cars don't run forever on a single key wind or tank of gasoline. The pump shaft extended into the hole in the side of the car body and connected to the clockwerk motor and the ratchet wound up the clockwerk motor. Now one step further, to simulate a real fuel stop, there was a rubber hose on the pump assembly. The metal nozzle at the end of the rubber hose fit into the small hole in the rear section of the Volkswagen body. Of course, there is major design problem here since a Volkswagen Sedan fuels from the front under the hood. Oh, well, I guess you do not worry about these minor technical problems when you are a kid playing and having fun. Just be careful when you're around and fueling a real size Volkswagen that the fuel nozzle goes up front.

There are variations of the lithograph design on the pump stations. Some have an ESSO design and others have a STANDOIL design and there is no difference in the octane (ratchet torque ratings). The metal tracks have a colorful lithograph design that looks like a cobblestone road with grass on the side of the track sections. There are variations in the lithograph design as well and they all do not look like the one shown in the photos in this article. TIPPCO introduced the line of track sets in the late 1930s and over the years, they made changes to the tracks, lithograph design, different size sets and features. The newest versions of the sets did not come with a tankstelle and there was no hole in the rear of the car for the fuel nozzle. Some sets had solid color tracks with no lithograph designs as well.

Since there are no manufacturer markings on the toy cars, instructions and track assembly, identification of the manufacturer can be a problem. Fortunately, there is a colorful drawing on the front of the cover of the #795 box that contains the track set. In the upper corner is a "TCO" insignia that represents TIPP & COMPANY. The drawing on the cover shows cars driving on what appears to be a complex autobahn network, probably around Stuttgart. There are also pictures on the cover showing the pump stations, like the one in the track set, along the autobahn.

An instruction sheet was provided in the track set that had a diagram on how to assemble the set. Eexplains the difference between a straight and curved track in case you are not sure. A translation of the instruction is as follows: "The autobahn offers many possibilities, both cars can be wound up at the fuel station by means of the winding mechanism pump. Also, you can stop the cars at the fuel station by pushing the winding mechanism forward. By activating the adjustment lever in or out on the special switch track, the cars will turn to the inside track section and therefore one car can pass the other. The adjustment levers must always be both in or out and the cars should always drive in the direction of the arrow printed in the track."

As mentioned in this article, this #795 track set was produced in the late 1940's. As with most tin toys produced in this era, they have become collector items not only to VW toy collectors but also to antique tin toy collectors in general. They are not too easy to locate, especially in a complete set and in mint condition with the original box and which version (Basic or Deluxe types) of the track set.

Additional Info

  • Manufacturer: TCO TIPP & COMPANY
  • Scale: 1/44
  • Length: 93mm
  • Production Era: 1940-50s
  • Country: Germany
  • Materials: Tin Plate
  • Color: KdF Blue, Light Blue, Blue, Light Orange, Orange
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