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Models of Yesteryear

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The 'Models of Yesteryear' range of diecast models of vintage vehicles was introduced by Lesney, producer of the Matchbox series, in 1956. Jack Odell had identified a market for steam driven models and so the Allchin Steam Engine plus three others were produced and shown at the 1956 Toy And Trade fair in Birmingham. By 1959 they had produced 14 models to the largest scale possible within the confines of the packaging. These carried only a number and became known as the 'First Series Yesteryears'.

The next series carried 'Y' and a number beginning with the now famous 'Y-4' Shand Mason Fire Engine in 1960. The quantity of sixteen models in the range remained constant until 1975, with about two or three models replaced by new ones each year.

In 1965 the Models of Yesteryear range was officially put under the Matchbox brand; before then it had been a separate brand of Lesney toys in its own right.

During the years 1975 to 1985 the range was expanded to include thirty models numbered Y-1 to Y-30. In 1987 production was transferred from England to the Far East - first Macau, later China.

In 1991 Models of Yesteryear ceased to be available in retail stores, instead being sold by mail order only. For this venture the name Matchbox Collectibles was introduced, which gradually overshadowed the Models of Yesteryear brand name, as models from other ranges were also sold under the Matchbox Collectibles umbrella.

By 1998, after Mattel had taken control of the Matchbox brand, the Models of Yesteryear name had fallen into disuse. In 2006, for the brand's 50th anniversary, a last series of four old models in new liveries was issued. Since then no further Models of Yesteryear have been produced.

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