28 September 2023
Recently-discovered product and research archive from Palitoy and Airfix to be sold.
Excalibur Auctions is to offer a recently-found archive of the toy arm of American conglomerate General Mills, owners of toy companies Palitoy and Airfix in the UK.
The toy archive features never-before seen designs, technical and production drawings, along with research material for model kits and toys. There is little production information in circulation from this period, with some of the only examples of production drawings from these companies being held in the archives of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Commenting on this extraordinary find Jonathan Torode, Excalibur’s auctioneer said: “We were delighted when the seller came into see us with a box he’d found in a house clearance sale. He had no idea of the historical importance of its contents. Items like these seldom come to market and this archive offers us a fascinating insight into original designs that were never meant to be for the public’s eyes!
"It covers research and original drawings of familiar toys and model railways of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Among them are designs that made it into production and also items that never made it past the drawing board.
The first group covers the kits and toys operation of Airfix and Kenner, and the second group later in the auction, covers the model railways operations of Palitoy Mainline.”
A large quantity of plans and technical drawings for Palitoy's Mainline railway models from Kader Industrial in Hong Kong, is also included in the archive. Kader Industrial’s tooling (building the different types of components and machinery needed for production), was used to construct the main core of the ‘Mainline’ range. Dating from the 1970s the lot includes a handwritten note titled ‘H.K. Visit - Wagon Chassis (Goods)’ (Estimate £30-£50 – Lot 392).
A range of technical drawings and plans for the Palitoy Mainline Jubilee 4-6-0 OO gauge railway model from 1975-1979 offers an insight into the design process at the company (Estimate £40-£60 -Lot 393) and a selection of Palitoy Mainline technical drawings and plans for the OO gauge 56/6600 Class 0-6-2 steam tank locomotive, which dates from 1981 carries an estimate of £30-£50 (Lot 400).
Technical drawings and plans for the Palitoy Mainline Jubilee 4-6-0 OO gauge railway model from 1975-1979.
Historical decisions on product ranges also become apparent in the archive, for example a small collection of photographs, negatives and correspondence relating to a cancelled Palitoy Mainline product 'The Cambrian Coast Express' OO gauge limited edition locomotive, includes a letter from Palitoy to the National Railway Museum in 1982, stating the reason for the model’s cancellation. The lot also includes the original artwork (Estimate £30-£50 - Lot 394).
Among more of the original designs is a set of original photographs and internal paperwork for the Palitoy Mainline OO gauge ‘Warship’ Class diesel locomotive, with hand-made rough sketches of panels and photos of the prototypes of ‘Kelly’ and ‘Highflyer’, (Estimate £40-£60 – Lot 395) and a large quantity of Palitoy Mainline and Kader Industries drawings, plans and notes regarding the production of the Mainline OO gauge steam locomotives ‘Royal Scot’ and the Jubilee Class engine are also revealed. Dating from circa 1976 these carry an estimate of £40- £60 (Lot 398).
Palitoy Mainline OO gauge ‘Warship’ Class diesel locomotive, with hand-made rough sketches of panels and photos of the prototypes.
This archive will be offered in Excalibur Auctions Diecast & Vintage Toys & Model Railways Collectors sale on September 30, 2023. The catalogue for this sale is published online now. The archive runs from lots 223-244 and lots 392-400. For more information about the auction, including registration and bidding details, visit the Excalibur Auctions website.
Get more from World of Railways with a digital subscription to search thousands of articles in our archive, our railway titles and a whole lot more. See what's included, here