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johnnyangel's picture
johnnyangel
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Dinky Toys Television and Film Advertising

Meccano Ltd. was a conservative company, with its own relatively cost-effective methods of promoting its toys, so it does not seem to have made much use of film or television advertising. This contrasts greatly with companies such as Mattel, who used television very intensively to promote their diecast Hot Wheels from the start.

There may be some audiovisual efforts from Meccano Ltd. that are not generally known, and if so I hope other members will add them to this topic.

Meantime, we do know that Meccano France created three short color advertisements that were shown in cinemas. Since Jacques Dujardin has paid for them to be digitized and included them in the Dinky Toys Encyclopedia -- which all ought to have -- I will not include them here. 

If Meccano France did any further ventures into film or TV, I am not aware of them. But meantime, in 1960, Meccano in Liverpool produced what was probably its first TV commercial (or was this made to be shown in cinemas too?). Working with advertising agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT) in London, it used stop-action animation to bring Dinky Toys of the time to life.

This 1960 advert still exists in the JWT archives and was made available to the BBC for the 2005 programme James May's Top Toys, which is now very hard to find. (It is different from the latter series James May's Toy Stories, which is available on DVD.)

I have extracted the relevant segment of the James May program from the only source I could find (unfortunately mediocre) and posted it on YouTube for members to view, here. It is a shame that we cannot watch this charming advert in its complete original form. (I know one collector who says he has it on a cine film that came from Meccano Ltd., but he has not managed to unearth it for a digital transfer.)

Meccano Ltd. and JWT created another television advertisement in 1964 or 1965, probably using animation again. (I say "probably" because I have never seen it nor spoken to anyone who did.) This advert included a model motorway and motorway service station, all of which seems to have comprised one of the most impressive Dinky dioramas ever created.

Does this advert also surive in the JWT archive? It would be wonderful to see. Presumably it was shown at the very least on some ITV regions in the UK. Proud of its TV advertising, Meccano Ltd. produced a banner and display stand for toy stores which at least give us some idea of the content.

EDIT: I have now obtained a copy of a short Dinky advert from 1965 that incorporates a very brief view of the motorway/motorway service station setup, along with two very lucky children who got to play with it. I'm sure there was originally a longer ad that showed more of it. You can view this short version here.

Meanwhile, again in the mid 1960s, at least one Dinky Toy television advertisment was created in Australia. I have no further information on this nor do I know if it was a one-off. It is again available via YouTube, here.

 There was never any Dinky Toy advertising in the United States created by Meccano Ltd. itself. But as has been discussed elsewhere on this site, the Post Foods company purchased six different Dinky Toys directly from Lines Brothers and made them available as part of a cereal promotion in 1968.

This created quite a bit of excitement, as at the time Dinky Toys had become extremely hard to find in U.S. stores. Obviously a large quantity were distributed, since the six models involved -- especially the Lincoln Continental -- are still quite easy and cheap to find in the States.

Post promoted the models on television, which can also be seen on YouTube, here