Dinky Toys No. 884: Brockway Bridgelayer Truck

Mean, green and ready to bridge, the Dinky Brockway is a unique and fascinating Dinky Toy unlike any other I have.

Using the terrain to your advantage is a tactic as old as time, or at least humanity, itself. Whether hunting woolly mammoths, building pre-Christian empires or planning an invasion (Or to thwart one!), taking the “lay of the land” into account to give you the maximum advantage is something that good leaders do, and bad leaders don’t.  Before mechanization changed the game, good tacticians could predict enemy movements based just on terrain, and better ones could find ways to make use of the terrain to avoid any ambushes set up to take advantage of natural obstacles.

The advent of mechanized warfare changed things tremendously. In some ways, the tyranny of terrain could be overcome with motorized vehicles. The ultimate example may be the tank. Tanks could seemingly go anywhere; just ask the French who thought the Ardennes impassible to German Panzer forces at the start of WWII (and the Americans who thought the same thing during the Battle of the Bulge, for that matter)! But, of course, there’s no vehicle that can go EVERYWHERE.

One of the biggest obstacles to mechanized warfare is water. Let’s face it, heavy vehicles burning hydrocarbon fuels that need oxygen really aren’t designed for swimming. The have a tendency to leak, sink and stop running altogether if the water gets too deep. So, then, what to do? If you need to get tanks across a river, but you’ve either had the bridges blown on you, or you don’t want to mass your forces at an obvious choke point and walk into a sweet little ambush, there wasn’t much choice.

Or was there? You know the old saying about there being a will and a way? Yeah. If there’s no bridge, armies figured out how to just make them out of steel plate and something floaty. Either boats, specially designed, or rubber inflatable dinghies, could provide the necessary flotation for a light bridge. And this is exactly how things went in WWII. There were all sorts of pontoon bridges used by both sides, and the size and complexity of the setups could be rather astounding. There were specially-made bridging boats, but a simpler system was to take a bunch of steel planks, attach them to each other on shore and then float them out on dinghies to the other side of a river. Specialist trucks and assembly vehicles were made for this, and one was the Brockway company’s B-666 Bridge Erector truck.

Floating Bridges, Not Burning Them!

This vehicle’s rather satanic designation comes from it being based on the Brockway 6-ton, 6×6 truck, a monster of a chassis that was also used for things like cranes and prime movers. There were various “M” designations for these, and they came in long and short versions. The bridge erector truck was a true beast, able to haul a full pontoon bridge and plop it into the river. The bridge was supported by inflatable bladders, and these could be inflated by the Brockway at the point of deployment thanks to its large onboard compressed air tanks.

Another thing the Brockway had going for it was a 25,000 lb-class winch, which is a lot of pulling power, but necessary when dealing with bridges and maybe even some recovery work. Given the specialist nature of the truck, a large number were built; Wikipedia says that Brockway build over 1100 of them alone, with other makers contributing a couple of thousand more.

A Dinky – from On the Continent??

I am a big fan of Dinky Military vehicles, and have, thanks to my brother, managed to amass a very nice collection of some of Britain’s finest old-school military toys. In fact, when one hears “Dinky” one automatically thinks of Britain. But that’s not quite always true! In fact, there were Dinky toys made in France and even Spain too! The interesting thing is that the Military Dinkys made in France were completely new and different from their British counterparts. This wasn’t just a case of Dinky setting up shop “on the continent” to service European markets, but rather a truly independent arm of the Dinky company making products it thought would sell. Thus, French Military Dinky Toys are very much their own subgenre, and it is to this family that the Brockway belongs!

French Dinkys were the ones more likely to be exported to, and purchased in, the US. Whereas the British Dinkys were sold to the “colonies” like Canada, the French ones went to those countries not in the Commonwealth. Thus, for Canadian collectors, such as myself, getting French Dinkys is a major undertaking, and they don’t come easily or cheaply. Once again, my brother is to be thanked for this amazing addition to my collection, as he was able to secure one of the Brockways, with its box, for me for Christmas a couple of years ago.

La Boite (The Box):

While saying it in French might make it sound more worldly, the Brockway’s box is very much like what you’d expect from a British Dinky Toy military vehicle. Since this is a Supertoy, it comes in the heavy cardboard box with a pull-off lid. The box is very similar to the British ones, with a while background and heavy blue stripes. The blue is a bit lighter than the British colour, though, and there a couple of other differences.

This is the Brockway’s box. It looks awfully familiar, and yet, different, at the same time…

The most obvious, when compared, say, to the Scammel Wrecker, is the name of the vehicle. On British boxes, this is done in red, like the Dinky Toys name. On the French box, the name is in a much smaller font, and is black. Other than some other minor writing, and that the writing is in French, there’s nothing tremendously exotic about the box. It is, as always, very solid and while mine has some tape in the corner, it has survived pretty well for half-a-century-plus.

There is a full-colour drawing of the Brockway on the box, and this is where the stylistic difference really comes through. The British box art looks like it was lifted from the catalogue. It’s quite flat, and while accurate, really doesn’t do much more than convey the shape of the vehicle inside. The Brockway’s art, though, has much more shading and light effects. The end result is that it looks much more three dimensional, more like a true attempt to bring life to the subject. It almost looks cartoony, actually, compared to the somber and rather flat British style.

The Brockway’s complexity is hinted at, given that there’s a big truck with clearly a lot going on behind the cab. There’s a bed full of stuff, and some kind of crane/frame thing, a lever and some bracing. With all that stuff on there, the extra “life” given by the art style really helps out. Right away, you know something special is inside.

As if to drive that point home, this toy has something I’ve not seen on any of my other blue-white Supertoy boxes: art on the sides of the box!! On one long side of the box is a wonderful drawing showing the Brockway in the middle of unpacking the bridge. You can see the two rubber floats already blown up on the bank, while the swing lift is bringing sections of the bridge down. On the other long side there’s a picture of the bridge half-completed; one “lane” is already in position across the floats, and a few more spans are sitting beside the truck on their special lift platform. The truck’s swing lift is now fully extended, and the bed is empty. This shows some of the process for how to build the Brockway’s bridge. That’s right… that stuff on the back isn’t just moulded in for “for show”. NOPE. This thing can ACTUALLY lay a real Dinky bridge over real pontoons!!

How cool is that???

This is the art on one side of the box. It shows the bridge under construction.
This is the bridge mostly done! The other lane is yet to come; it’s not a bike path!

The Full Package:

Opening the box, one finds the usual cardboard cut-out to support and contain the truck, but this is almost right at the bottom, so wide is the truck! There is also a cool little red stamp on the inside of the lid. This must be an inspection stamp, I guess. My Brockway was passed by Inspector 15. Good job Inspector, it was, indeed, a perfect toy!

This is the inside of the box; not a lot of depth in that cutout, is there?
The mark of quality: thanks for making sure this is a good one, Inspector 15!

Now, most Dinky Toys are pretty complete in themselves. Larger ones, like the Corporal do have the need for some instructions. However, the innate complexity of the Brockway means that it comes with a full sheet of instructions on how to deploy the bridging system that is the wonderful gimmick of this amazing plaything. This sheet of illustrated instructions comes in many languages, and shows how to build up the bridge from the four “Access” (i.e., ramp) sections, four main span sections and the two “support” sections. This, in itself, would be pretty darned amazing, but no, you get more.

This is how it all works. Yes, this particular Dinky Toy has a LOT going on, and these instructions are necessary!

For you see, this is a REAL pontoon bridge, and the Brockway comes with the floats that would support the bridge over a river! You can see them clearly in both illustrations (top and side view) although they are not called out with a letter.

On the back of the instructions is the cherry on the sundae; a play mat! The instructions do their stuffy best to be as clinical and “properly English” as possible, and thus eschew such an immature description, mind you. There is mention that the back of the instructions has an illustrated “scene showing a river and its banks” which are to be used as a guide. Really? I think a Terminator would have put more emotion into it than that.

Whether you’re serving tea to the Queen with your pinky sticking out or not, the fact is there’s a friggin’ PLAY MAT on the back! The Brockway really gives you everything you need to play with it, including your own river!! That is awesome. It’s unnecessary and I’d have likely never bothered much with it if I was receiving this as a child, but as a collector and one who appreciates detail in his toys, this is just great! I applaud Dinky France for going that extra mile. Merci beaucoup, mesdames et messieurs!

This is the playmat that comes with the Brockway. What a cool idea. Really kind of unnecessary, but definitely awesome!

Le Metal Lourd (Heavy Metal):

The French Dinky Brockway is like all French Military Dinkys, meaning it is a considerably more refined replica than an equivalent British toy of the same era. However, that fineness is not what first hits you when you free the mighty Brockway from its cardboard prison. What struck me first was the colour; it’s wrong! As you know, British Dinkys from this period are all finished in a largely uniform shade of green, a colour I call (rather unimaginatively, I admit) “Dinky Army Green”. However, the green on this, and indeed all, French Dinkys is much darker and more brown. It is like a dark Olive Drab, almost like a Luftwaffe dark green, actually.

There’s a lot of green metal, and even some plastic, on this monster. Nice spare tire, too!

This adds even more visual heft to the toy, not that it’s lacking in physical heft, mind you. The Brockway is HEAVY. Like all great toy trucks, this one has real dual wheels on its rear axles, so that means there are 10 rubber tires for this thing to roll on. And man, does it roll smoothly. It’s such a heavy, smooth, rattle-free ride all I can do is wish that real cars rode so well. This is a feeling only a rubber-tired, heavy, metal toy can give, and the Brockway gives it in spades. Helping with this is the fact that rear axles are mounted with suspension! There’s a piece of Blue Steel (not the British nuke, just spring steel…) that acts as a spring for the rear pair of axles, and it gives an extra smoothness that the British toys don’t’ have. It is my favourite Dinky toy to roll around. Roll it on a tablecloth for the ultimate in driving pleasure. Seriously. If you have one, try it. You’ll like it!

Here you can see the two-link actuator arm, and the nicely painted tail lights as well. True duallies rule!

As for detail, the Brockway doesn’t disappoint. Sure, it’s no 1/35 Tamiya masterpiece, but for a toy from the middle of the last century, it’s very good. It has some line detail on the hood, as well as vents behind the hood, in front of the doors. There are gas cans on the running board, and stowage boxes under the rear deck. There are also latches on the side boxes above the deck, and you can make out some leaf spring detail between the two sets of rear wheels.

If you’ve read other Dinky Toy reviews, you know I usually go ga-ga over real spare tires. Removable and remountable spares are something that only Tonka really understood the play value of by the mid ‘70s and through the ‘80s. However, Dinky knew it intrinsically, it seemed decades earlier. Like most other heavy Dinky trucks of the day, the Brockway does carry a spare. However, it’s not immediately evident, since it is bolted onto the bottom of the truck! Still, it’s there, and back in the day, I’m sure it would have been fun to pop it off and swap tires under fire in the back yard or living room.

This view of the underside shows the spare and the rear suspension to excellent effect. Again, those duallies rock.

The front of the truck shows similar detail levels, with the arced headlight shields typical of this type of truck and the heavily gridded radiator that is another hallmark. Sticking way out front on the shelf-like bumper is the Brockway’s massive winch system, itself reproduced very nicely. Even the cable sections are painted silver to differentiate them from the rest of the winch! Tres bien, Dinky!

For an old, metal replica, that’s some pretty awesome detail. The winch looks killer!

Another amazing part is the swing arm system for the deployment of the bridge itself. This is actuated with a small, fairly fine, lever on the left side of the assembly. Unlike the Scammel’s crank, which is very noticeable, the Brockway’s is quite unobtrusive, both in shape and colour. The swing arms are also nicely detailed, with thin, criss-crossing trusses not just embossed in the metal, but actually forming a lot of the structure! This is amazingly fine detail for an Army Dinky! To put the “glacage sur le gateau”, so to speak, are the little hydraulic pistons that stabilize the entire system. These are “real”, in that there is a piston that slides in and out of a cylinder. Big Majorettes used to have this, too. It seems the French are hung up on suspension and hydraulics. Well, that’s fine with me! It’s a great touch that just rounds it all out.

Here you can see the “hydraulics” extended. What a great feature; functional and realistic all at once!

The platform that holds the bridge, and the bridge section themselves are plastic. It’s unusual to see plastic in such a toy, but it only makes sense. The bridge pieces would be likely too heavy to lift using the linkages provided if they were metal. However, as every modeller knows, plastic can hold a lot of detail. The bridge sections are all embossed with a grid for traction.

The pontoons are real inflatable units, too. There is a tiny little plug for them at one end, and they are designed to be inflated by kids. I cannot imagine how cool this is, because there’s no way I’m inflating mine. They have never been rolled up or inflated that I can tell, and I want them to stay that way forever! Still, they were designed to be deflated and rolled up on the back of the truck, making the Brockway a truly self-contained bridge emplacement system!

Here are the pontoons, but not inflated. They’ve never been inflated, as far as I can tell!


The Dinky Brockway bridge layer is an amazing piece of kit. It is an awesome, functional replica of a very real, very valuable and yet unsung hero in the history of mobile warfare. It is solid, heavy, rolls great and has more playability than any other Dinky that I can think of (, save the Corproal maybe). As a toy, it has a level of intricacy and a piece-y-ness not normally associated with Dinky Toys, which are usually pretty solid lumps of metal.

As a replica, the Brockway does a great job conveying the brutish presence the real thing would have wherever it would have gone. It’s big, imposing and its buttery-smooth rolling hints at the juggernaut it would be at speed. Even though it’s not up to modern standards, it, like many French Dinkys, is a cut-and-a-half above anything made by the British parent company at the same time, and that makes it more than good enough on display.

With tonnes of accessories and its own river-themed play mat, the Brockway would have kicked butt as a toy back in the day. There’s so much to do; build the bridge, inflate the pontoons drive your stuff over the bridge, pack it all up, change tires, use the swing lift to hoist smaller vehicles (Jeeps and the like) for recovery… it just screams entertainment!

I love this thing, and if you’re a fan of ground vehicles and/or old metal toys, then you should be a fan of this thing as well. It’s not only a window into a time when toys were simpler and a bit more realistic, but it’s a real testament to the art of toymaking in the mid-20th century. Solid and robust yet detailed and with an air of fineness about it, the Brockway makes a fantastic addition to any Dinky display. Throw in the awesomely highly-illustrative box, and you’ve got yourself a great centerpiece for your own Dinky Museum. If you see one, get it; you won’t want to burn that bridge, believe me!

This is a simulation of what the bridge would look like assembled. I’m not about to risk 60+ year-old plastic, but you get the idea!

%d bloggers like this: