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Kenner

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Kenner Products was established in 1947 by the Steiner brothers. It was based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although known primarily for their other toy lines, they also produced diecast toys. One of their first diecast ventures was the "Supersport" series. Three miniatures were specifically produced, a red Firebird, a yellow Dodge pick-up and a green Fl racer. All are fitted with clear window glazing, black solid plastic wheels and smooth unpainted metal base plates with no information provided. Each came in a Matchbox size box. The box states "Kenner's Supersport Metal Car". There is no identification for country of origin on the box or casting. All three were probably made in the United States. There was also a "Kenner's New Supersport thrilling road race and motormatic expressway toy". This set included two cars. The box depicts a red Mustang and green Fl racer. The set comes with twelve adhesive peg adapters to use with the two cars and other brands such as Matchbox and Hot Wheels. It is a spiralling coil wire one-piece track. In the early 1970s, another series was called "Kenner's Zip Strip Pocket Pak". A clear, stylized plastic box contained a car with a plastic body and diecast metal chassis. Offered were a Charger, Corvette and Mustang, all in various colours. The box also contained a roll of thin-gauged steel and a plastic accessory. The roll would be undone to make a long strip that would be activated by hand pressure. The roll would then return to its original position. A very unsafe concept since the coil unravels in high speed from the slightest pressure. They also produced the "Knight 2000 Turbo Booster" Firebird. This was made in Macau in about 1983. The Knight Rider car was accompanied with a plastic launcher. Kenner also offered other Knight Rider toys, all of which were licensed through Universal City Studios. The most memorable diecast models were the "Fast Ill's". These were first produced in 1980. Eventually, a total of 39 different cars represented the line. The castings identified "CPG Products Corporation" on the base plate. This was a subsidiary the parent company, General Mills. Some were identified with the same model number of 1027. Only a few actual vehicles, such as the 55 Chevy, were joined by a majority of imaginary and somewhat unusual designs. All are equipped with the same wheel design regardless of the size of the wheel. The unique feature is the protruding rear bumper that accommodates and emphasizes the adhesive license plate. Their marketing strategy was to encourage collectors to seek cars representing license plates for each of the 50 states. Each established a combination of plates available. Also available were a collector car carrying case, a special mail-order model and a track "Dyna-Loop Set" with "Real Daredevil Thrills". The "Fast Ill's" were discontinued in 1983. This was caused by the loss of competition with other, more successful manufacturers such as Matchbox and Hot Wheels and expansion of Asian brands. Universal re-issued at least four of the "Fast Ill's" moulds, producing castings for the Matchbox line. Kenner also owned the Dinky name, which Universal later purchased to compliment the Matchbox line. In 1987, Tonka Corporation acquired Kenner, which at this time was called Kenner Parker Toys Inc. and established it as one of four operating divisions. Eventually, Hasbro purchased Tonka and became the present parent company of Kenner.

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