European toy and model makers helped to create a 1950s and ‘60s boom in detailed miniature die-cast metal vehicles. One of these was Dutch model car maker Lion Toys.
Founded in Wassenaar in 1946 the Lion Toys company started out producing scale model railways. The firm began making die-cast Volkswagen Beetle and Renault 4CV models in 1956. These Lion Toys models are valuable today. Mint examples in their original boxes have been known to fetch up to around $2,000 at auction, while one Lion Toys Volkswagen Beetle realized more than $5,500.
Lion Toys started manufacturing scale models of DAF cars in parallel with actual DAF vehicle production in the Netherlands. DAF dealerships even kept samples of the Lion Toys on hand, specially painted in the true DAF colors as guides for potential buyers of the real cars.
Lion Toys beat DAF to the punch by putting its DAF 600 model into production in 1958 – the real car wasn’t commercially available until 1959. DAF models were produced by Lion Toys until in 1975 Volvo took over the passenger vehicle division of DAF, the only Dutch car maker at the time.
There is a thriving market for Lion Toys vintage DAF models on many online auction sites. Asking prices for mint, boxed models go as high as $400+, but auctions of good to excellent examples have closed for as low as $25.
Lion Toys reissued some of its classic DAF cars after the year 2000. You can identify some of these models by the bottom-plate which has ‘NA 2000’ cast in. However, examples of the reissues exist without this identifier, so beware.
Some Lion Toys models are on exhibit at the Tekno Museum in De Lier, South-Holland.
For more details on Lion Toys, read Issue 56 of Dutch the magazine.
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