Wooloworths - Playart
Woolworths - Yat Ming

Hudson's Bay Co. - Zylmex
Toys-R-Us - Real Toy

House Brand Diecast
by Doug Breithaupt

Small-scale toy cars have long been a common item at big department and drug store chains. With the ability to order these low-cost items in high quantities, these stores have often re-packaged the products of well-known manufacturers in exclusive, home-brand packaging. The cost of these 'home-brand' toy cars can be less than the manufacturer's factory-packaged offerings due to the economy of scale through the big stores.

While this practice dates back to at least the 1960's, it is also alive and well in big chain stores today, The examples shown here are just a selection of the many examples offered over the years.

Most of the re-packaged models come from Asian manufacturers. The Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Majorette, Tomica and Siku products are never seen in re-packaged form unless they are pirated copies.

Playart of Hong Kong was one of the earliest sources for home-brand toy cars during the 1970's and 1980's. Chains like Woolworths, Sears and McCrory's department stores all offered Playart models in their in-house packaging. Often, new product line names were selected by the store such as the 'Peelers' name used by Woolworths. Playart also distributed their diecast cars with factory 'Playart' packaging.

Yat Ming is another Chinese company that has provided diecast cars for different chain stores. For many years, Woolworths sold re-packaged Yat Ming cars under the 'Speeding Wheels' name. Many of the in-house names such as Speeding Wheels, Fast Wheels, Real Wheels, Mini Wheels and too many others, were an attempt to play on the success of the 'Hot Wheels' name. Hot Racers, Speedy Racers, Super Racers and Lightning Racers are another variation on this theme. Matchbox also saw competition from Cigar Box (Aurora) and Best Box (Efsi) in the name game.

The Hudson's Bay Company of Canada uses the 'Ruff 'N Tuff' label to sell re-packaged toy cars. The example shown here is a Zylmex Lamborghini casting. When Zylmex was purchased by Red Box, The Bay switched to Yat Ming castings for their 'Ruff 'N Tuff' brand.

Tomica of Japan has suffered from having many of their castings copied by other manufacturers. Until recently, Walgreen's Drug Stores offered one of these products in their 'Speed Wheels' line. The DeTomaso Pantera shown in the Series VII package is one of these copied Tomica castings, produced by Welly. Welly has now initiated a large number of new and unique castings. These excellent new diecast are replacing the earlier Tomica copies. The current Walgreens Speed Wheels come from both Maisto and Welly. Both companies offer cars in the Series IX packages as shown by Maisto's '70 Mustang and Welly's VW Golf. Welly cars have also been found re-packaged under the Tootsietoy label.

Maisto models can also be found re-packaged as 'Road & Track' models through Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart uses this packaging for Maisto models in 1:64, 1:43, 1:32, 1:24 and 1:18 scale. The Maisto name is noted in the packaging fine-print and full licensing information is also provided. Maisto also offers their castings under the 'Tonka' label. Maisto, Yat Ming and Welly are the major producers of re-packaged diecast cars today.

A new name has appeared recently in re-packaged toy cars. Real Toy of China has joined with Toys-R-Us to produce the 'Fast Lane' product line. Real Toy products have been available under their own name outside the U.S. for some time but within the U.S. appear to be an exclusive marketed by Toys-R-Us.

Re-packaged diecast cars clearly provide a good revenue source for many manufacturers and the participating chain stores enjoy the benefits of marketing and selling an in-house brand. There is no reason to expect this practice to change. Collectors do not find that the re-packaged cars are any less valuable than the factory packaged items. Playart models have seen dramatic increases in value over the past five years and the packaging does not seem to make any difference in value.




Walgreens - Welly (old)
Walgreens - Maisto

Walgreens - Welly (new)

Walmart - Maisto