If you are a customer in France, Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, etc, you may have noticed that the Atlas Editions websites are all posting the same notice.
Please be advised that with immediate effect, it is no longer possible to place orders for new collections.
Here at Atlas Editions we are totally committed to providing excellent customer service, and we want to reassure our customers with existing orders or collections that nothing has changed; all deliveries will continue on the same terms as previously.
New Dinky Atlas models stalled in 2017 with the Citroen Presidentielle for the cars collection and the Delahaye fire engine for the trucks collection.
There is no indication exactly how long exisiting subscriptions will continue to run - but perhaps just while stocks last. Atlas provide a link to the Deagostini Model-Space website where price gouged Dinky are on offer. Despite the assurances, there is a real feel of a final winding up.
The overall market in partworks has declined steeply in recent years - more than halved since 2010 - and Deagostini started to divest from a number of its publishing operations back in 2016, including Atlas, as part of a corporate restructuring. Their attention is now turning more toward developing apps and digital content. The Dagostini UK Dinky partwork may be allowed to play out to its conclusion and it will be interesting to see what the publisher does with the Mattel license beyond that.
I have no doubt that one way or the other, the tooling for these models will be around to delight or annoy us (tick one) in the future, whether branded Dinky, CIJ, Norev, Dan Toys, or something else.
Meanwhile, as you say, Al, it will be interesting to see what Mattel does with the Dinky brand if Deagostini does not wish to retain it. Mattel has been badly affected by the Toys 'r' Us closure and the shift towards digital entertainment -- according to reports in the financial press, moving forward they intend to emphasize digital and "develop ... power brands—Hot Wheels, American Girl, Barbie, Fisher-Price, and Thomas & Friends—into 360-degree connected systems of play and experiences." What next -- a Dinky video game?
I guess everyone making traditional toys is under siege these days. Wouldn't it be nice if Hornby Hobbies could acquire the Dinky trademark and bring control (if not production) back to Britain, under the same roof as Hornby Trains, Scalextric, Airfix, and Corgi?
Meanwhile, regarding the "Dinky Toys" on eBay that are possibly pirate issues (the Citroen SM, variant colors of the Dodge Royal, etc.), I don't understand how they are allowed to exist if this is the case. eBay has a firm policy against allowing auctions of pirate goods (mostly of course at the behest of companies like Rolex, Gucci, etc.) and a call from a Mattel lawyer could shut down these listings in what we in the States call a New York minute. I guess it just ranks low on their "to do" list.
Pirate goods in China is just a way of life there. It's impressive that there are not more whacky off-licence colours and castings but probably the factories are not really aware of much in the Dinky Toys brand against the millions of other diecast models that they churn out. On the face of it, the dinky designs are very simple and it might be natural to assume they were a cheaper and less exploitable product. Obviously at least one of the contractors has woken up to an opportunity - but still at such a low level where it's off Mattel's legal radar.
My nephews are just not interested in physical toys - train sets, toy cars, plastic kits. I would think the average age for consumers of these things is mid to late 50s. Kids are only interested in apps and their platform of choice is either phone or tablet ... probably more weighted to phones. Big publishers like deagostini are now hotly divesting themselves of printed products and moving at scale into digital delivery.
I recently subscribed to the DeAgostini series of Dinky's. I have noticed that the models are not exactly the same as the Atlas versions of which I have around 70 off. I lost count somewhere. The base plate marking and colours are the only differences I could find. The paintwork is in some models really well done. I do have some mishaps as well. The interresting part is that the models in the DeAgostini brand are only now being issued and offered in South Africa from a company called Jacklin Enterprizes in Midrand. We are now at no 4 of the series being sold here.
The Italian edition of Classic Dinky Toys Collection has reached issue 49 , while the UK edition is at 15. Already we can see the models are shipping in a different order - example, Italian issue#1 came with a DS19 - UK issue#1 had a TR2.
The price of the deagostini models is a lot cheaper than the Atlas series. I suppose that must be because they have no tooling costs apart from changing baseplate stamps from one brand to the other. They seem to be choosing standard colours for deagonsini where it was usually rare colours chosen for atlas. Some colours - the Fiat 600, miroitier, dauphine taxi, ID19 - these all look identical in colours so only the baseplate markings are different.
According to their website, Jacklin Enterprizes are an importer and distributor of books. In the UK, deagostini are their own importer, handling direct mail and with a distribution network of third party carriers to shops.
Hilariously, inside the deagostini magazines, there is a footnote "Not suitable for children under the age of 14. This product is not a toy and is not designed or intended for use in play."
Some others may have noticed that on the Filrouge (Redboard) website there is a recent post promoting efforts by Jean Brun to catalouge the now-rather-complicated history of Atlas and DeAgostini "Dinky Toys." Reference is also made to an Excel spreadsheet by Xavier Leitienne chronicling all the models that have been issued so far. It would be interesting to obtain this spreadsheet, but I did not find an indication regarding whether it is downloadable from anywhere.
Something I found particuarly ironic about Brun's efforts is a YouTube video rearding "genuine" Atlas Dinky Toys versus "Chinese counterfeits." Of course these models are ALL Chinese counterfeits and not Dinky Toys, and if JM Roulet and Mattel do not like the way some are being sold on eBay, they have only themselves to blame!
Brun's videos also show some of the tooling for the Chinese models, which he prominently labels "copyright JM Roulet." Again ironic, since this tooling was created via disassembly and 3-D scanning of original Dinky Toys, whose one-time designers were of course paid nothing.
There is a pdf document that has been published over at dintoys for a while, Johnny - http://www.aquitaine33.com/atlas/dinky/pdf/DinkyToys-Editions_ATLAS.pdf
The notion of counterfeit copies of "official" Atlas models is amusing in the same manner as the certificates of authenticity with which they shipped the subscription.
That some enterprising oriental spark is offering paint variations probably illustrates the success of the Atlas partwork. Clearly not enough were made of some models and sets and which the publisher failed to market in other territories. The UK were never offered french gift sets, France was never offered models from the UK editions. The whole project was a swiss cheese of gaping holes in marketing strategy into which other traders have been able to step. What seems to be happening is that the parent company, DeAgostini, is interested in moving away from physical magazines and into electronic publishing/ software products. The Dinky Toys 2 collection for the UK was ended prematurely so that Atlas could be wrapped up and the Deagostini Classic Collection will no longer include the Service Station which was the only new tooling that was to be created. I had a letter a few weeks ago crying that no manufacturer could be found to make the (entirely plastic) model. So it will be interesting to see how traders from China react as the magazines start to wind down because they've obviously been enjoying a bonanza from copies and counterfeit copies of Dinky Toys for quite some time.