Volume VI, Number 12

AMT Pups & Tuffy and Jet Wheels by Mego
by Doug Breithaupt, Craig Mueller, images by Rob Gras

AMT Pups, Mego, Tuffy and Jet Wheels are not names that compete with Matchbox, Hot Wheels or Corgi in the world of toy cars but that was their original intention. In about 1967, AMT (founded as the Aluminum Model Toy Co. in 1947), decided to try and compete with Matchbox and Husky/Corgi in the 3-inch diecast car market. They selected the brand name AMT Pups which may have been an attempt to follow the Husky Corgi lead of using a dog as a product mascot. A St. Bernard mascot was used on the packaging. The models chosen were popular American cars like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. Solid chromed wheels with black plastic tires were a close copy of those used by Matchbox. It is clear that AMT, like Aurora with their Cigar Box models and Lindberg with their Mini-Lindy models, saw the potential market for more American cars in the small-scale diecast arena. Of course, Mattel also saw this market and their revolutionary Hot Wheels simply overwhelmed the competition with their amazing success.
It is not clear at what point AMT realised that their Pups were not going to give Hot Wheels much competition but it may have been 1968. AMT is reported to have broken their connection with the Hong Kong manufacturer of the Pups and sold their castings to Mego. Under the names Tuffy and Jet Wheels, the Pups line was re-named and transformed to carry speed-wheels with mag wheel stickers in a further attempts to get a piece of the Hot Wheels market. The Jet Wheels name was clearly an effort to drop the dog symbol and find a new name that fit the new markets. New castings were offered, again with a focus on American cars and a series of open-wheel F1 race cars joined the line. Some of the models also carried the Jet Speed Wheels name. Like Aurora, Topper and others, Mego found that their Tuffy and Jet Wheel toy cars were not in the same league as Hot Wheels and ended production. It is not clear when the last Jet Wheels were produced but certainly not past the early 1970's. Later in the 1970's, Mego offered other a line called Speed Burners and other toy car related lines. The Mego name does not appear past the early 1980's. AMT was later bought by Matchbox (1978) and then Ertl (1972), now part of RC/Ertl.

Fortunately, a few examples of these cars still exist in collections of individuals like Rob Gras of Australia and Craig Mueller who provided the information at the end of this article. The following models represent a selection of the cars produced as AMT Pups, Mego, Tuffy or Jet Wheels.

1968 Ford Mustang GT - AMT Pups

1968 Dodge Charger - AMT Pups

1967 Chevrolet Camaro - AMT Pups

1968 Ford Mustang GT - Jet Wheels

1968 Buick Riviera - Jet Wheels

1968 AMC AMX - Jet Wheels

1967 Mercury Cougar - Jet Wheels

1967 Chevrolet Camaro - Jet Wheels

1968 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible - Jet Wheels

1968 Chevrolet Corvette - Jet Wheels

1967 Chevrolet Corvair - Jet Wheels

1968 Ford Torino - Jet Wheels

1968 Buick Riviera - Jet Wheels

1967 Chevrolet Camaro - Jet Wheels

base 1968 Ford Mustang GT - AMT Pups

base 1968 Ford Mustang GT - Jet Wheels

base - 1967 Chevrolet Corvair - Jet Wheels

Eagle F1 - Jet Wheels

Ferrari F1 - Jet Wheels

Lotus F1 - Jet Wheels

The following is an e-mail I received from another collector who has specialized in AMT/Mego/Tuffy models. Craig Mueller is clearly one of the experts on these toy cars and I decided to include the valuable information he provided, in his own words.

I know that the casts came packaged as AMT Pups, Mego Jet Wheels, Mego Jets, Mego Jet Car (track set with car),Tuffy, and Super Speedy. I believe that the above order is correct with the exception of possibly the order of the 3 Mego items. Here is my order logic by brand:

AMT: It seems common knowledge that these came first.

MEGOS: I am pretty sure that the Jets came after the Jet Wheels, because some of the Jets came with the "Jet Wheel" name covered up on the base. The Jet Track's cars also have the "Jet Wheel" marked out. Therefore, I cannot say for sure which of the "Jets" name, or the Track set came first.

TUFFY: Four Tuffys are the exact four AMT Pups with the AMT ground off of the bases. Thus, it would follow that Tuffy's came along after AMT. It appears they were purchased leftover stock from AMT? Also, some Tuffy's have chassis with Jet Wheel covered up. This would seem apparent that Tuffy acquired the old Mego dies and had to cover the old name for liability reasons? Tuffy also added a new casting (Pontiac Catalinas/Bonneville) from what the Mego line had. This is why I show Tuffy after AMT and after the Megos.

SUPER SPEEDY: I have seen about ten Super Speedy's in the packaging. All of them have sticker hubs, and, I have never seen a sticker hub version packaged any other way. Super Speedy added an additional cast (Ford Torino) from what Tuffy offered, making it the largest selection of street cars. Some Super Speedy's share chassis totally unique to them and Tuffy only. The remaining Super Speedys chassis are Megos with the "Jet Wheels" marked out. For all these reasons, I believe they came last.

Here is a list to show who made what, again, based on the packaging:

AMT, Mego Jet Wheels and Jets, Tuffy, and Super Speedy
AMT, Mego Jet Wheels and Jets, Tuffy, and Super Speedy
AMT, Mego Jet Wheels and Jets, Tuffy, and Super Speedy
AMT, Mego Jet Wheels and Jets, Tuffy, and Super Speedy
Mego Jet Wheels and Jets, Tuffy, and Super Speedy
Mego Jet Wheels and Jets, Tuffy, and Super Speedy
Mego Jet Wheels and Jets, Tuffy, and Super Speedy
Mego Jet Wheels and Jets, Tuffy, and Super Speedy
Tuffy, and Super Speedy
Super Speedy

The Mego Jet Car track set with car does not list models. I have only seen the Charger, Camaro, and Riviera in these packages, so I cannot say how many their were.

The Jets, Jet Wheels, and Super Speedy featured the same eight F1 cars (the Super Speedy's again, had the sticker hubs, but with a wire wheel design, instead of the five spoke mag style of the street cars). The AMT's and the Tuffy's did not offer F1 cars.

Super Speedy does not offer a company name on the package, just "Made in British Hong Kong. You know the AMT and Mego Stories. Tuffy is put out by York Toy Company and says "Made in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong" on the package. It also says "Made expressly for McCrory-McLellan-Green Stores York, Pa. 17402". Another spot says "Distributed by McCrory etc etc etc".

Super Speedy put out a track set with 2 cars(mine has a corvette and an F1). I have the Mego track mentioned above, and another that is "track only" called "Mego Jets Speed Track". This one actually mentions Speedline, Mini Marx, and Matchbox etc for use on its track. Tuffy also offered four battery trucks with working headlights similar to the Marx versions, but not identical casts. There is a box truck, garbage truck, dump truck, and a fire truck. Unlike the Marx these have plastic chassis and cabs, as well as box, dump etc. They share the same, but wider, Tuffy packaging as the cars.

There are six total different wheel types (four are street car and two are F1 car). I tried to come up with a quick designation for each one, and the brands that have them. They are as follows:

WW2P WIDE WHEEL 2 PIECE style Jet Wheel, Jets, Jet Car Track set with car, and Tuffy Street Cars
WWSHM WIDE WHEEL STICKER HUB MAG style Super Speedy Street Cars
MW2P MEDIUM WHEEL 2 PIECE style Jet Wheels and Jets F1 Cars

All of the above wheels are speed wheel or super fast wheel types except the first NWRW which is the Matchbox Regular wheel type. Therefore, everything after AMT, except most of the Tuffys, were competition with Hot Wheels speed type wheels. This would make you think that Tuffy was before Mego, but the Tuffy AMX has a chassis with Jet Wheel covered up, which seems to mean that it came after?

At this time, you probably don't need to know which car came in which wheel types or various color variations. I do have that information if you want it. I represent about 25 different street car and 10 F1 colors in my collection, not counting minor shade variations, and who knows how many for sure that they made. The Sticker Hub Super Speedys offered the most color variations in my findings.

Thanks for letting me be involved. I'm glad to be a part of it.
Diecast Motor Vehicles copyright 2002 by Sahakangas, Weber and Foster
Detroit in Miniature, copyright 1983 by Wieland and Force
Dan Barnett's Crazy Car Website: http://www.angelfire.com/oh3/crazycars/index.html