In the early 1930s, the Chicago printing company, Dowst, developed a technology for casting lead alloys for typesetting. As a sideline, Dowst produced some small, inexpensive die castings of toy cars which were sold as Tootsie Toys.
In 1933, the British company Meccano, which was had been making making Meccano sets since 1901 and Hornby electric trains since 1927, took up the idea and introduced a range of Modelled Miniatures. In the following year, these were renamed Dinky Toys. The first Dinkies were made of lead alloy. As a result they are very prone to breakage from metal fatigue and, so, are very rare. Up to the Second World War, Dinkies usually had dished wheels, smooth rubber tyres, tinplate radiators and solid underframes. Very few Dinkies were produced during the War Hornby was taken over by Triang in 1961 and continued to make Dinkies until 1979.
In the early 1950s, another British company, Lesney, introduced a range of small die-cast cars called Matchbox Toys. Lesney later introduced a larger Models of Yesteryear range. Lesney ceased operation in 1987.
In 1956, Corgi started making toy cars with jewelled headlights and opening doors and bonnets revealing detailed engines. Later, Corgi specialized on screen tie-in vehicles. Corgi is still producing toys.
The following year, a group of Minnesota teachers who had decided to go into business making garden tools realised that their venture was failing and decided to use the surplus materials to make toys. They have since sold more than thirty million of their Tonka trucks.
In 1966, Elliot Handler, one of the founders of Mattel Inc, added axles with special low-friction styrene wheels to produce small Hot Wheels model cars capable of very high speeds under gravity power.