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dinkyfan's picture
dinkyfan
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-581 and 980 Horse Box ' Express Horse Van' [U.S. market] (1952-60)

Some of you expressed interest in my Dinky Supertoys Horsebox #980, so I decided to take some new photos of it, which are shown below. After a little research, I found that it was originally introduced as #581, in April of 1953, a number which it shared with its British version, which was in the livery of the British Railways. Apparently the folks at Binns Road conceded that the U.S. collectors would prefer something they could relate to, which also meant calling it a "horse van" instead of a "horse box". In 1955, when Meccano changed their numbering system, both versions were re-numbered: the U.S. version became #980, while the English version became #981. They were both also elevated to Supertoys status.

It is interesting to look at the U.S. catalogs, which H.Hudson Dobson distributed, as they never show the U.S. version, with its different lettering, but they do refer to it as #980 Horse Van. This ended with the 1959 catalog only showing #981 labeled as a Horse Box, so it appears that the U.S. version was discontinued by then, and the English version soldiered on until 1961.

It is also interesting to look at my box. The date stamp inside the lid shows June 1956, but the box does not indicate Supertoys....only Dinky Toys. My model, which came in that box, does show Supertoys on the base. Another interesting tidbit on my box is that one side clearly has H.Hudson Dobson printed on the yellow oval area. All of my other Dinky's of that era, in the blue stripe box, have a yellow label affixed with the H.Hudson Dobson info. I am guessing this is because this particular box was only intended for the U.S. market, so Meccano could print it that way up front without resorting to applying a label or sticker.

This model was bought new by me around 1959, and is still in excellent condition considering I have had it almost 55 years. I am also showing the packing inserts that came with it. I have always been very fond of this model...the size, color, opening doors with ramps, all combined to make it very desirable for a 14 year old boy back in the day!

Terry