Imperial Diecast of Hong Kong has been around for many years but is seldom
mentioned by diecast collectors. Recently, I found a six-pack of their simple
castings at K-Mart for $1.99 and decided the price was about right. Like
me, you may have seen the Imperial blister packs at local grocery stores
but they are always priced at $1 each and I have found it hard to pay even
that much for the level of quality. With their basic castings, yellow tinted
windows, plastic bases that also double as crude interiors and Hong Kong
wheels, Imperial models are never going to be more than disposable toy cars.
At the same time, Imperial does offer original castings that are numbered
and represent real cars. From the cars represented here, it is probable
that most of the Imperial castings were done in the 1980's. These models
have been given new colors and released over the past 15 years. While the
models are not licensed, they are a step above many generic brands that
simply pirate a Tomica or Matchbox casting as their own.
Imperial Diecast has regional offices in the United States, Canada and the
United Kingdom, where their cars are distributed by Titan Toys, Ltd. They
also have a Web site at <http://www.imperialtoy.com/>.
Imperial has also produced soft plastic cars in 1:43 scale and many other
vehicles and toys.
Of the seven models shown here, the BMW 633CSi has been in my collection
for many years while the other six are from the recently acquired 6-pack.
I'm not absolutely sure the blue coupe is a BMW 633CSi but it seems to be
an attempt to represent that car. The recent additions are easier to identify.
The most interesting model shown here has to be the Porsche 956 Le Mans
car known as 'Moby Dick'. The long tail and spoiler make it easy to identify.
This car has seldom been done in small-scale. To my knowledge, only Tomica
has produced a model of 'Moby Dick'. All of the other models are easy to
find from other manufacturers and with much better detail.
Imperial has wisely focused their products in retail outlets like grocery
stores that traditionally do not carry the major diecast manufacturers.
It's a fair guess that most of their sales are to frustrated parents, looking
for something to keep junior quiet while the shopping is completed. For
these parents, $1 is a bargain for a little peace while in search of the
Should you consider adding Imperial models to your collection? At $1 each,
I would not. However, at $.33 each, I decided that there was enough value
to justify their purchase. If you are a VW or Porsche collector, it will
be easier to rationalize the need for these toy cars.
These are throw-away toy cars that seldom stand-up to the hard play of children.
The bases and wheels can be easily broken. Perhaps this is the charm of
these toy cars. They don't pretend to be anything other than what they clearly
are. Imperial is not likely to ever be more than a footnote in the pages
of diecast history, but some recognition is deserved. They have identified
a specific target market and for the last 15-20 years, have stayed the course.
Audi Quattro #8112
BMW 633CSi (I think) #9228
Chevrolet Camaro #8323
Lotus Esprit #8324
Porsche 953 LeMans 'Moby Dick' #8325
Porsche 959 #9327
VW 1600 #8119