If you want to see our Vintage Bus Toys, please choose one of the manufacturers from the drop list on the right. Below you can read more about history of vintage bus.
Welcome to the Vintage VW Bus toys section and special thanks to Bob LaPorte,
also known by the aka name of "VWBusNutBob" in the VW Bus world. Bob specialized in the Vintage VW Busses not only in the real size but also in the small scale VW Bus toys as well. Bob’s collection of numerous VW Bus toys perhaps represented every color, scale and manufacturer produced. Bob was so extremely helpful with this section of the site with his contributions of identification, specific information and many photos. I praise Bob for all his efforts and interest of making the site information, Vintage VW Bus Toys, so complete. On a sad note, Bob passed away on January 13, 2022 but he will always be remembered as a great friend and colleague in the Vintage VW Models and Toys arena!
Many of the Vintage VW Bus toys originate from Hong Kong. Information about Hong Kong toy producers from the 1950s and 1960s is rather scarce. However, we have put together the information we could gather; please feel free to inform us about additions, mistakes, etc…
After the second world war, a fast-growing industrialization evolved in Hong Kong. As from 1949, increasingly more and more Chinese fled from the Communists to Hong Kong, including rich industrialists, who have settled in the city. A good mixture of capital and labor! As an industrial base, Hong Kong had several major advantages: access to the Asian, British and US market. The US had/have an immense anxiety for communism, so they raised high import tax on Chinese products. Hong Kong profited from this development and took China's position of exporter to the US over….
Hong Kong had no tradition with regard to toy production. Plastic production was evolved quite far in the early 1950s and a fast growing plastic industry developed in Hong Kong. In 1959 there were about 300 plastic processing businesses in Hong Kong, in 1965 there were 1200. Many of them specializing in toys. In the early 1970s the raw material costs for plastic raised sky-high, blame for this was the oil crisis of 1973-74. As a result, Hong Kong switched to production of die-cast models and became a trend-setter for cheap electronic goods.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Great Britain was the largest trading partner of Hong Kong. As from the 19th century, there were import Companies in the UK, which imported goods from all over the world (often British Colonies) and these Companies also imported toys. They had representatives and agents locally, who negotiated with the factories and who came regularly to England to report and to accept new orders. They brought best-selling examples from British toy producers, like DINKY TOYS, CORGI TOYS, MATCHBOX or BUDGIE to Hong Kong and asked Hong Kong toy producers to copy them. Depending on the toy factory, the copy was well made or just crude.
Some Hong Kong based toy Companies had well established, Western sounding names. Unpronounceable Chinese names made it difficult to sell toy cars on their own and in the early days it was even better not to mention Hong Kong as its origin. One often find markings like “made in the British Empire” or “Empire made”. The owners of those toy factories were wealthy families who tended to marry with each other’s siblings. As a result, there was much collaboration between the toy factories, resulting in exchanging of molds. That makes it difficult to determine its producer… Furthermore, the British trading Companies received the toys unpacked and did the packaging themselves. Therefore the importer's name is often found on the boxes, but almost never the name of the actual producer.
Graham brothers in London with the brand name Fairylite and L.D. Abraham Ltd, also of London, with the brand name Telsalda are among the oldest British trading Companies. Another important man was Frederick Levy in London. The models with the brand name Clifford series come from Levy & Co. Other British importers were: Linda Toys by Randall & Wood Ltd in London, the EMU series of Salomon Oppenheimer in London, Don Bricks with models that are marked OK, Laurie toys, Lincoln International in London and the Woolbro series, which was made exclusively for the Woolworth retail chain.
In the United States, there were also importers, that imported Hong Kong toys in the country, the principle was identical to the English trading companies. Louis Marx and Cragstan (owner: Craig Stanton, New York) are best known. It is therefore quite common that a car carried a Hong Kong brand name on the base plate and a different brand name on the box (the importer’s), and there are even models that carry both names as chassis stamping. The fact that identical models were offered by different importers under different brand names doesn’t make it easier to identify its origin…
The first Hong Kong manufacturers who lessened the ties from the importers and started using their own brand name on the models, were LUCKY TOYS and OK.
The era of representatives and agents was over in the mid to late 1960’s. Hong Kong toy Companies produced and marketed under their own name: LUCKY TOYS, JIMSON, NFIC, TAT, MAK's, CM and BLUE BOX. This self-consciousness resulted in the need to employ their own toy designers to deliver an own product. The time of copying was over at the end of the 1960s. And the toys proudly mentioned their origin: "Made in Hong Kong".
We are very thankful to our main source of this information: Alexander Storz from Germany, author of many (toy) car related books and also the book by Andrew G. Ralston, „Toy Cars of Japan and Hongkong“.