Lledo started in 1982. It was the end of era Lesney Products (Matchbox Toys Ltd.), this company had gone bankrupt on June 11, 1982. Universal Toys, owned by David Yeh, came up as the buyer on September 24, 1982 and move factory to Hong Kong. During a few years ˝Lesney Products“ was removed from all molds. Jack Odell (who was the ex-president of Matchbox) along with Bert Russel created a new diecast model company which they named “Lledo“ ( Odell spelled bacwards). Odell believed that British models for British collectors could still be profitably produced in England. In the summer of 1982 Jack and Bert bought up much of the Lesney tooling and machinery from Matchbox factory in Enfield, Essex and and they set about an eight month tooling-up programme for six models which became known as the 'Days Gone' series.
1987 saw the launch of the first of Lledo's 3 piece themed sets. It commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the Royal Flying Corps and was presented in a special full-colour pack, with the 3 models representing early airfield support vehicles. Only 10,000 of these sets were produced, each with a numbered certificate of authenticity. They proved hugely popular with Lledo enthusiasts and set a new trend in Days Gone collecting. Today this set has already appreciated in value and a good example is worth around £50.
Following the early success of the limited edition sets, Lledo went a stage further in 1989, the year of the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Two commemorative sets were produced, one a limited edition of 10,000 pieces and the second an open, or unlimited set. Both contained different models representing airfield support vehicles from the early days of the Battle of Britain and for each set sold Lledo made a donation to the RAF Benevolent Fund. The open set was a phenomenal success and created a new milestone in the company's history. In just 12 months it generated, as a single model, a turnover of over £1 million.
In the year 1998 Lledo was the largest die-cast model making company still manufacturing in the UK employing around 300 people, and producing over 6 million models per year.
In 1999, Corgi purchased certain assets from Lledo, including the right to the brand name of Lledo and certain tooling, for almost 2 million pounds.
Lledo Star Cars (based on various television shows) were released in sets, usually of 4 to 6 models. One of them was Coronation Street. There was also a Vintage Set in this series, consisting of 4 Newton & Ridley steam powered lorries in pink boxes.
What's your 'Lledo' worth? Here are some recently sold items (Australia):
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