Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Collecting -- and collecting information 23

As I've said before, my interest in postwar Japanese tin toys isn't really focused on collecting them. Rather, it's more collecting information about them. Some aspects are well-documents, such as the space and robot toys of the early 60s, and the deluxe car models of the 50s and 60s. But the cheap toys sold in drug stores and five and dimes? Not so much.

Linemar was the Japanese subsidiary of the American firm Louis Marx Co. Perhaps that's why Linemar vehicles had lithographed markings that more closely represented actual American prototypes (sometimes, anyway).

I've written before about the 10-car set Linemar offered in the late 1950s. I've often wondered if the vehicles in that set were ever offered for separate sale. Recently, I came across two examples that don't necessarily answer that question but do provide some additional background. 

Prominent in the set is a beverage truck with Coca-Cola markings. It's one of the vehicles that's accurately depicted on the box's cover (see Collecting -- and collecting information 13 for one that isn't).

The Linemar Coke truck.

Was the Coke truck ever sold separately? I'm not sure -- but similar trucks were. Not quite as common as the Coke truck is the Pepsi truck.

The Linemar Pepsi truck -- version 1.

Initially, I thought it was the same toy with different markings -- but I was wrong. Take a close look at the two: the  Coke truck's cab is bigger and more rounded. And the top brace across the body is wider on the Coke track as well. Plus, the chassis is different. The Pepsi truck has a more labor-intensive (and therefore, I suspect, earlier) crimped chassis, while the Coke truck has a flat chassis.

The Coke truck chassis. Just two tabs hold this to the body.
The Pepsi truck chassis. Crimped all the way around to the body.

So different designs for different companies. Seems straightforward -- and then I found a variation of the Pepsi truck. It has a green body rather than the Pepsi corporate blue. Some of the lithograph body details are different.

Version 2 - why the color change?

And curiously, it also does not have the Linemar logo on the rear as the Coke truck does.

Why no logo?
Did Linemar make this version as a subcontractor for another toy importer? Hard to say. But my quest for information continues.

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