Many of the first wave of MoYYs were actually trucks, not cars at all! In fact, the 1959 line of MoYYs included 14 models, of which only 3 were cars! There were train engines, steam-powered construction equipment, busses and trucks, as well as at least one horse-drawn entry! The three cars were a 1929 Bentley (Y5), a 1926 Morris (Y8) and a 1908 Mercedes racer (Y10).
The earliest MoYYs were generally larger than contemporary Matchboxes, and many are larger than the Hot Wheels-class cars in the 3” diecast category. However, not all were that big. The Morris (Y8) is actually pretty tiny at only 2 5/8”! In 1959, a typical MoYY car cost about $0.49. In comparison, a typical main line Matchbox car was only $0.29 and a Dinky Toy car started at about $0.45. Thus, it can be seen that Lesney was trying to break into the segment held by Dinky Toys. However, their approach of focusing on early vehicles would help to set them apart. In addition, the MoYYs were generally possessed of finer detail, preferring realism over Dinky’s outright heft.
As seen above, nearly every early MoYY has spoked metal wheels. Since that’s how early cars wheels were made, that’s how the MoYY wheels were made as well. Unlike more modern diecast, which just print a spoked pattern on an all-black wheel (cough, HotWheels, cough…) the folks at Lesney went all out and actually cast the wheels as spoked units. This is likely one of the main reasons that MoYYs were as expensive as they were; there’s a lot of work to produce wheels like that. In addition, many MoYYs carry spare tires (as did their real counterparts!), so a fifth tire (and in some cases an entire wheel) was needed. Many MoYYs also had separate-piece seats, metal window frames and textured radiators.
Further increasing cost and complexity were the many “doodads” on old cars. Many had externally mounted brake and gearshift levers, bulb horns, brass lamps and so forth on them. Many early cars also carried tool kits on their running boards. All of these things were reproduced where appropriate, often in a brass-looking coloured metal.
To learn more about each of the models in the above photo, as well as to trace the evolution of the box styles, size and complexity of the MoYY lineup, click on the name of the particular MoYY below.