Recently two lots came up for sale on eBay. The one I passed on because of the cost; the second because it was outside of my field of interest. But only just.
Towing the lineI've found examples of Shioji using the same truck chassis for a variety of bodies: van, tanker, flatbed, and dumper.
|Variations on a theme: five iterations of the Shioji truck.|
- First generation: Rivet head hubcaps, flat chassis bottom, six securing tabs.
- Second generation: Solid hubcaps (cheaper to make and install), rounded chassis bottom
- Third generation: Four securing tabs instead of six
The tow truck is a first generation Shioji friction truck.
|The six tabs securing the body to the chassis make this a first or second|
|The rivet head hubcaps make this a first generation vehicle.|
End of an eraThe second eBay offering I passed on because, well, I don't buy broken toys. These trucks had plastic cabs, as well as metal parts from the earlier Shioji vehicles.
Around 1963 U.S. child safety regulations came into effect, addressing things like sharp edges on metal parts. That, plus the lower cost of injection-molded plastic spelled the end of the tinplate era. Plastic toys quickly became the norm. Which is what makes these examples so interesting -- they're a transition from metal to plastic.
In these models, Shioji replaced the stamped metal cab and frame with plastic one. Although the cab shape is different, it's made to fit the same metal parts of the old Shioji trucks.
|The injection-mold cabs are new, but the metal bodies aren't.|
The grille is identical, as are the tanker and covered flatbed bodies. I'm sure the next generation of these trucks (if there was one) were entirely made of plastic. The tanker was a third generation vehicle, probably the last before the transition. The covered flatbed was earlier.
Was Shioji trying to use up pieces of existing stock? It's possible.
And there's one more thing: note the opening in the chassis just behind the cab. That's where the crank's located on the metal dump truck.
|The square notch behind the cab may have been necessary for|
dump truck version.
|The metal chassis is completely redesigned. It uses far less metal under the|
cab than the original version. The tab only extends far enough to
go completely under the notch in the chassis.
I think this plastic chassis was designed to be all-purpose. And that suggests there might be a dump truck version of this plastic/metal hybrid. I wonder if the express and cattle truck bodies were also recycled?