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Lledo Days Gone



The 'Lledo' company was started in 1982 by Jack Odell, who was the ex-president of Matchbox. Together with a Mr Bert Russell they founded Lledo as a diecast model company. The name 'Lledo' came from Jack Odell's war days when he was based in the African desert. In order that he wouldn't forget his wireless call sign, he reversed his surname and hence became known as 'Lledo'. Their aim was to recreate the 1920's and 1930's area in diecast vehicles and wagons. The range was to be named 'Days Gone'.

To be able to do that they bought some of the surplus machinery from Matchbox. It was the end of Lesney Products (Matchbox Toys Ltd.), which had gone bankrupt on June 11, 1982. Universal Toys, owned by David Yeh, bought them on September 24 of the same year and moved the factory to Hong Kong, but some of the machines went to Lledo.

Lledo set about an eight month tooling-up programme to be able to produce six new models. These first models were mainly re-makes of some of the most popular and respected first and second-generation Matchbox 'Models of Yesteryear'. The first items were produced and shipped in April 1983 and a promotional campaign started. The Days Gone range was promoted as British made, quality vehicles. They had an interesting concept in the early days by producing only a few types of vehicles, but each time with different decals, logos and brand names. Most of these limited editions were produced in runs of 500 to 1000 models only. Those early sets were later sold with figures as well.

By the end of 1984, and after considerable investment in new tooling, Lledo was able to launch a further seven 'Days Gone' models into the range and now the range was substantial and the toy trade started to take a real interest. Year by year further models were introduced and the collectors following grew and grew, whilst at the same time more and more companies saw the potential for commissioning their own promotional models. In later years many more vehicles were produced, but all without figures and therefore not of real interest for this article. Nevertheless the range became increasingly popular and many private companies ordered vehicles to be made with their own logos. As a result, probably hundreds of different models were made, and so there are many collectors.



In the year 1998 Lledo was the largest die-cast model making company still manufacturing in Great Britain employing around 300 people, and producing over 6 million models per year. In the following year the Lledo factory in Enfield, England, ceased production, the company was bought by Corgi and production was moved to China, where it remains to this day.



Most sets were packaged in boxes mounted on cards and with a front window. The numbering of Lledo sets requires some explanation. Model nr 5 (the Horse Drawn Fire Wagon) was simply called DG5 (Days Gone 5). But as soon as special decals or logos where glued on the wagon it became for example DG5009, being the 9th type of decals of model nr 5. See pictures below for some examples. So, don't get confused when searching these vehicles on the internet.



And what about the figures?

Figures came with 14 Days Gone models, and in total 39 unique figures were produced. It seems to me that many vehicles were first released with drivers only, and only later with more figures on a sprue. When this was the case it is discussed in the text below. In the table below I use for example DG2 and DG2b to separate the same set with driver only, and with driver plus extra figures. These 'b' numbers are not official Days Gone codes, just my own method of distinguishing them.

DG nr

Type

Poses

Colour

Notes

1

Horse Drawn Tram

5

Yellow

5 figures

2

Horse Drawn Milk Float

 

Yellow

1 sitting figure only

2b

Horse Drawn Milk Float

3

Yellow

Same as 2 but with 2 extra figures

3

Horse Drawn Delivery Van

 

Yellow

1 sitting figure only

3b

Horse Drawn Delivery Van

3

Yellow

Same as 3 but with 2 extra figures

4

Horse Drawn Bus

 

Black

1 sitting figure only

4b

Horse Drawn Bus

5

Yellow

Same as 4 but with 4 extra figures

5

Horse Drawn Fire Engine

3

Black

3 fire fighters

6

1920 Model T Ford

3

Black

3 figures

7

1934 Ford Woody Wagon

1

Yellow

Lady with 4 dogs

8

1920 Model T Ford Tanker

 

Black

Same 3 figures as 6

9

1934 Model A Ford Police Car

3

Yellow

3 figures

10

1935 Dennis Coach

5

Yellow

5 figures

11

Horse Drawn Removal Van

 

Yellow

1 sitting figure only

11b

Horse Drawn Removal Van

4

Yellow

Same as 11 but with 3 extra figures

12

1934 Dennis Fire Engine

 

 

No figures

12b

1934 Dennis Fire Engine

3

Black

Same as 12 but with same 3 figures as 5

13

1934 Model A Ford Van

3

Yellow

3 figures

14

1934 Model A Ford Van with Hood

 

 

No figures

15

1932 Double Deck Bus

 

Yellow

Same as 4

16 to 30

Various

 

 

No figures

31

Drewer's Dray

1

Yellow

1 sitting figure only

32 onwards

Various

 

 

No figures

 

Total Poses

39

 

 

The Figures

DG 1 - Horse Drawn Tram





The horse drawn tram was released with 5 yellow figures as can be seen in the picture. The figures look like the figures included in DG 4 and 15, and some are the same sculpt but a slightly different size, while some are different. The horse is also made out of plastic.

DG 2 - Horse Drawn Milk Float





This model was produced with one single driver (on the right in the picture), and later with 2 more figures.

DG 3 - Horse Drawn Delivery Van





This model was produced with one single driver (on the left in the picture), and later with 2 more figures. The horse is also made out of plastic.

DG 4 - Horse Drawn Bus
DG 15 - 1932 Double-Decker Bus





DG 4 and 15 came with the same figures as can be seen in the picture above. DG 4 was also sold with the driver only (the left figure on the sprue). The horse is also made out of plastic.

DG 5 - Horse Drawn Fire Engine







DG 5 is a special one. It came with 3 fire fighters as can be seen in the picture. This model was one of the Matchbox re-casts. And the matchbox version also contains figures. But these are mirror types of the Days Gone versions (and a bit smaller). The days gone figures have their right arms stretch out, while the Matchbox ones have their left arms out! These wagons where later also copied by Lido (with the same Matchbox figures) and Giant (but with different type of figures). The horses are also made out of plastic.

DG 6 - 1920 Model T Ford
DG 8 - 1920 Model T Ford Tanker







DG 6 and 8 came with the same figures as can be seen above.

DG 7 - 1934 Model A Ford Woody Wagon/Delivery Van





DG 7 came with a very interesting pose; a lady with 3 small dogs. Never seen such a thing before (or after) in the 1:72 world!

DG 9 - 1934 Model A Ford Police Car





DG 9 came with cops and robbers figures. The sitting police officer goes into the car, the other ones are the bad guys surely running away with bags full of money I presume?

DG 10 - 1935 Dennis Single-Deck Coach





DG 10 also came with a bunch of interesting figures, all on one base. The idea is that they are waiting for the bus.

DG 11 - Horse Drawn Removal Van





This model was produced with one single driver (on the left in the picture), and later with 3 more figures. Again very nice figures! The horses are also made out of plastic.

DG 13 - 1934 Ford Model A Van





This model came with the 3 figures above.

DG 31 - Brewers Dray





DG 31 is the last model that came with a figure; a driver only. His hat is pre-painted; the only one in the whole range.

If you have any questions and remarks feel free to contact me.

Marco Bijl marco@nvforest.com

Literature used in the article:
  • Victor Rudiks' One Inch Army.
  • The Lledo model website.
  • Lledo models collector sites. With some of their old catalogues for download. A must!
  • My own collection.

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