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Lesney Products, founded in 1947 by Leslie G. Smith and Rodney Smith, originally produced diecast parts for industrial purposes, but soon also began to manufacture diecast toys. In 1953 Lesney released a series of small diecast models packed in boxes looking like matchboxes. The models were a huge success, and "Matchbox" became the brand name. A range of classic car models, "Models of Yesteryear", was introduced in 1956, other series such as "Major Packs", "King Size", and a wide range of accessories followed. From 1969 onwards, new ranges such as "Superfast" and "Super Kings" featured fast-rolling one-piece plastic wheels on thin axles, in order to compete with the Hot Wheels models released by the American toy company Mattel. Lesney went bankrupt in 1982, but the production of various Matchbox model car series was continued by new owners. Today Matchbox is a part of Mattel. The models were mainly made in England until the mid-1980s, then in Macau and since the 1990s in China and Thailand, but in the 1970s and 1980s some Matchbox models were also produced by local manufacturers in Brazil, Bulgaria and Hungary.

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