|Corgi Juniors Catalogue|
was a brand name for a line of small die-cast toy vehicles. They were manufactured
by Mettoy Playcraft Ltd. which also made the larger Corgi Toys. The range
was re-branded Corgi Juniors in 1970, and a further range called Corgi Rockets
was developed to race on track sets.
Husky line, introduced in 1964, was designed to compete in size with the "1-75
series" Matchbox, then the market leaders in small-scale vehicles. Husky
cars and trucks were inexpensive and originally sold only at Woolworth's stores
at a price which undercut their rival. The first models featured dark gray
one-piece plastic wheels and chromed plastic bases.
Husky line numbered about 75 vehicles at its peak, the same number as Matchbox,
although unlike the Lesney product Huskys were sold in blister packs allowing
the model to be clearly seen when on display. The original style of these
blister cards featured a simplistic red and white design on the front with
the range's logo - the head of a Husky dog featuring prominently, and a list
of the models in the range printed as a tick-list on the rear. The design
changed with the upgrading of the range in 1969 to a yellow, red and white
colour scheme with the name "Husky" now featuring more prominently.
Like Matchbox, they also offered accessory items for children, such as carrying/storage
cases for the cars, and even catalogues in the late 1960s.
In 1969 Mettoy re-designed and improved the quality of the models. Die cast metal bases, better suspension and two-piece separate hub and tyre wheels were fitted to upgrade existing models along with a variety of new models that were added to the range.
By 1970 the exclusive marketing contract with Woolworth had come to an end and realising that the Husky range could now be sold alongside Matchbox in a variety of outlets the series was re-launched as Corgi Juniors to integrate it into the Corgi Toys family, and the existing Husky models now carried the new name. This was the first time the range had been branded as a Corgi product. Low friction all plastic Whizzwheels were also added to most of the models in 1970 to compete with Mattel's Hot Wheels and Lesney's Matchbox Superfast ranges, and they could be raced on the Corgi Rockets track systems.
small scale Corgi models would continue to be produced until the demise of
the original company in 1983, the name Corgi Juniors was dropped in the mid
1970s and the models were just branded as Corgi.
The Corgi Rocket range first appeared in October 1969. Mettoy had taken the decision that merely competing against their rivals with high performing low friction models was not enough. To add more "play value" Corgi Rockets had die-cast metal bases that featured a central channel where a separate black nylon chassis, that also held the wheel and axle assembly, would fit. The chassis could be removed using a "Golden Tune Up Key" - a gold coloured metal tool which was supplied with each model that featured a simple key at one end to unlock the chassis from the base of the model, and a tool at the other end to remove the axles from the chassis. As such, the models could be "tuned up" and the axles lubricated using a separately available "Rocketlube" lightweight oil dispenser in the form of a felt tip pen. The "Golden Tune Up Key" supplied with each model was also labeled with the name of the individual model.
It is suspected that losing a court case to Mattel (over a copyright claim by the American toy maunufacturer to the sole production rights of associated tracks systems for their range of Hot Wheels cars) was the main reason for the failure of the range since the cars had little purpose without the tracks to race on. Production of the track sets was halted immediately whilst stocks already in the shops were allowed to be sold. Sales of the Rockets cars suffered as a result and the costly-to-produce range was withdrawn at the end of 1971, after just over a year in production.