Antiques Column: ‘Spot-on’ cars are very popular with collectors

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Tri-ang ‘Spot-on’ diecast vehicles were made by the Lines Brothers between 1959 and 1967. They were an attempt to compete with Dinky and Corgi who both began developing ranges in the ‘50s.

The name ‘Spot-on’ came about after a decision to make their models to a fixed 1:42 scale, something neither Corgi nor Dinky did. The toys were made in Belfast and later models actually had ‘Made in Northern Ireland’ on their bases whereas early versions simply state ‘Made in United Kingdom’.

‘Spot-on’ is interesting and popular with collectors because they tried to be different and stand out. They concentrated on British cars, unfortunately this niche market made it difficult to become established in the United States. The range, like that of Dinky and Corgi, wanted to make true-to-life models but they went one step further with the likes of working headlights, sliding sunroofs and detailed interiors complete with passengers. Each model was painted in at least eight and sometimes as many as sixteen different colours. This made them very appealing but highly inefficient as far as cost effective production was concerned. However, this was never too much of an issue as they were backed by the Line Brothers’ empire! The brand is incredibly popular with collectors and rare models realise very good prices. ‘Spot-on’ collectors enjoy the thrill of finding a never seen before example.

The end of ‘Spot-on’ came in 1967 following the Lines Brothers’ purchase of Meccano in 1964. Meccano was the parent company of Dinky Toys and realising it was foolhardy to support two competing brands they discontinued ‘Spot-on’ in favour of Dinky.