1/43 Japanese cars

These are a very small selection of my Japanese diecast models, dating from the early 70’s to present. They’re ordered by the Manufacturer’s date of production. With the exception of French owned Norev, the manufacturers are all based in Japan. Pre 80’s castings were made in Japan, with recent models being made in China. What can be said about Chinese produced die-cast models is that they are certainly no worse than European and Japanese made examples, and in many cases far superior, when the detailing, proportion and price is considered. Japan has a long significant and exciting relationship with toy cars, pre 70’s tin plate models made in Japan are highly sought after. Manufacturers like Model Pet, Reen, Yonezawa Toys, Bandai (formerly Tin-plate producers) and Tomica were active throughout the last 50 years manufacturing domestic Japanese made cars. These were unique models that were seldom produced by European companies and as a result highly collectable. The transition of toy producers towards models for adults came in the late 90’s as the 1/43 scale started re-establishing the collectors market producing baby boomer cars.

It was during this period that other companies started producing models of vintage Japanese cars, such was the apparent demand in Japan, the States and the UK. Norev released a whole series of models, with Neo and Golden Oldies following up examples in the recent years.


Norev had built up a reputation of producing with a generous consideration to play appeal, featuring suspension, opening features (many models have a full compliment of opening doors) and realism. As costs increased, Norev were forced to simplify and somewhat reduce the quality of models into the late 70’s and barely survived the 80’s. After a 1990’s rebrand, Norev released a more collectors orientated series of models utilising cheaper production technology in China. Norev started becoming very prolific in its 1/43 scale output, with countless castings appearing in recent decades. These are largely due to the sale of subscription models for binder collections, where you’d typically receive a model and a pamphlet about the car. Some models were available in shops, but they’re generally sold with Hachette publications. Certain global markets receive models of interest, for example in 2007 several Japanese car collections were sold to far east outlets via mail order, that would feature one off models that would not appear in the rest of the world. Some examples had very limited production runs and nearly all lacked any form of branding packaging or even the manufacturers name underneath. They were often sold in bubble packaging and mounted to a plastic plinth. The detailing is often accurate with a reasonable good level of quality. Some models do occasionally suffer from poor proportions but at the costs they were originally offered at – usually no more than £15, they represented good value and often featured cars that were not commonly modeled.


Norev Nissan Collection 91 1970 Nissan Cherry 1200 X1.

Sold in the far east in 2007 and discontinued in the same year. The model is the MK1 version of the X1, a twin carburettor 2 door saloon, with narrow rear lights. No other variations of this casting are known to have been produced.

Norev Japanese Car Collection 49 1973 Nissan Violet SSS Coupe

Norev Japanese Car Collection 49 1973 Nissan Violet SSS Coupe

Another model in the general Classic Japanese car collection from 2010. Only the coupe has been produced in 1/43 scale, perhaps due to the cars reasonable rally success when the car was current. No other colours are thought to have been produced.


Yonezawa Toys were a product of Japanese post war success, and soon established themselves as leading manufacturers of electrically operated and mechanical toys. Have started producing tin plate cars (both domestic and foreign) the company branded their initial models as Diapet. The company soon took over the existing toy die cast manufactures Cherryca Phenix, effectively taking over the line with a rebranded Diapet name. Early pre 1970’s models could easily be compared to Dinky toys of the period, well detailed and proportionally correct. However a noticeable change in product policy was evident by less realistic designs, loss of rubber tyres and chrome hubs but more opening features. However, Diapet continued to manufacture rarely casted models unique to the brand. Exports to Europe at the time were still relatively rare, but a reasonable supply to nearby Far eastern countries allowed Westerns to glimpse the sheer volume of Diapet models. Diapets tend to be slightly larger than 1/43, usually closer to a 1/40 scale models which mean they tend to sit unhappily next to 1/43 models and appear to be far more toy like. Yonezawa ceased producing scale models in 1994.


Diapet 221 1971 Nissan Cherry X-1

A crude representation of the 2 door saloon, panel gaps and poor proportions ruins this potentially interesting model. It was manufactured from late 1971 and is thought to have also been produced in yellow.


Diapet G-44 1978 Nissan Cherry FII

Typically for Diapet, they modeled higher specification coupes rather than saloon models. This facelift Coupe also features a full complement of opening doors and folding seats. The shape is considerably more accurate than the Cherry X1, it captures the essence of the car but still clumsy in its detail. The separate chrome lens and tail light is a nice touch. Several other colours were produced, silver or red being the known ones.


Diapet 223 1971 Nissan Sunny Coupe

The first Nissan Sunny (B10) represented in coupe form was released in 1971 despite the real car having been discontinued in 1970. Diapet had also produced a 2 door saloon in 1967 but the two were totally different castings – It wasn’t unusual for both saloon and coupe versions of popular cars to be produced. This may have been one of the last Diapet models to feature rubber tyres with rail wheel type hubs on a bar axle, before the plastic wheels with plastic chrome centres and thinner lower friction axles.


Diapet G-96 1977 Nissan Sunny 1400 SGX Coupe

One of the better castings of the range, the wheels are still a weak point but the casting is pleasingly genial. Like the previous Sunny it has 4 opening doors and the hinges to fold the rear seats. This series of Sunny (B310) has not been produced by any manufacturer to date. The SGX model signifies the range topper.


Diapet G-74 1978 Nissan Auster 1600

Another attractive Nissan Coupe, the accurate colour really helps set the model off. This is a Japanese only marketed car, the body shape was offered in the rest of the world as the A10 Datsun 160J SSS and later the Violet. Like many other Diapets, the A10 casting is unique, as no other coupes have been produced to date in die-cast form. Several saloons in rally guise are available in other scales.


Diapet 226 1971 Nissan Bluebird DX

A curious combination of the earlier Diapet casting and the new policy of models with opening doors. The overall presentation is good, the typically clumsy wheels make it look untidy but its a characteristically pleasing casting. The casting was available in several other subtle colours.


Diapet G-140 1980 Nissan Bluebird SSS Turbo

Not the best example of the Bluebird coupe, the proportions are ruined by the 4 opening doors and the car sits unhappily to high. A recent casting of a European spec 4 door Bluebird saloon by Neo provides us with a far better example of this popular car.


Diapet 1242 1974 Nissan Skyline van

Unique in many respects, estate models were rarely modelled and the Japan only Skyline Van would have been a virtual unknown outside the country. It features an opening tailgate, bonnet and front doors. As well as this JAL livery it was also sold without paper decals in other colours.


Diapet G-125 1979 Nissan Silvia 2000 HT

Not officially imported into the UK, the S11 Silvia was the basis for the 200SX rally car’s that were used by Nissan’s works teams during the period. Fastback versions were sold in Europe. The model features opening doors, bonnet, boot and has reclining seats.


Diapet 215 1971 Toyota Corona 1600SL

Successor to the popular shovelnose Coronas, this almost derivative saloon is at least well proportioned and another example of a neat casting of a seldom casted car. This model of Corona was not imported to the UK. It features opening front doors and bonnet.


Diapet 170 1968 Toyota Crown Super DX

Another casting prone to loose fitting panels, this also features suspension, as well as opening front doors, bonnet and boot. This model of Crown was the first type to be imported into the UK in both saloon and estate form.


Diapet 196 1970 Colt Galant GS

Diapet produced a wide variety of Nissans and Toyota’s but would also cast the less popular models of the era. This was one of the first full sized family cars produced by Mitsubishi was among the first examples to be imported into the UK. This model has open side doors, bonnet and boot. The damage on the doors suggests that this model might have once sported decals.


Ebbro offer a strictly collector models of 1/43 scale cars, the range covers notable designs, rather than standard bread and butter models but the results are always of a high quality. The company have a steady flow of vintage Japanese models, but also offer modern and racing 1/43 scale models.


Ebbro 43542 1971 Nissan Cherry X-1 Coupe

Released in 2003, Ebbro launched 3 different coloured models simultaneously, followed by a 2 tone model. The X1 coupe has become legendary in Japan, but the original Cherry (sold as the Datsun 100A/120A in the rest of world) was not a strong seller in Japan. The X1 coupe versions were not officially exported out of Japan.


Ebbro 43176 1970 Nissan Sunny 1200 GX Coupe

Similar release strategy as the Cherry, 3 colours were produced for this so-called limited run of models. The Sunny was released in the late 90’s and a popular choice for Nissan collector.


Ebbro 43184 1972 Nissan Sunny Pickup Truck

Using a different casting to the coupe, this charming model was released around the same time as the coupe and sales benefited from improved and reliable online shops and payment methods. The pick up is unique as casting and demonstrates the willing and imagination of Japanese diecast companies. This model signifies that its a very early incarnation of the pick up, its popularity was soon evident by numerous countries producing local versions with production finally ending in 2008.


Ebbro 43243 1967 Nissan Bluebird SSS

Another clean and pleasing casting by Ebbro, released in several colours in 1998. The SSS model has a huge a mount of desirability in Japan, and was well liked in the States and Australia. This series of Bluebird, known as the 510 is a popular choice and was one the first Datsun saloons to be produced for the collectors market.


Ebbro Toyota celica

The detailing and accurate casting of Ebbro models is clear to see in this faithful reproduction of the popular MK1 TA22 Toyota Celica. Like most other releases, it was available in 3 different colours.


Ebbro Toyota celica 2000GT

Something of a desirable car these days, its pseudo pony car styling suggested that Toyota were developing more potent machinery to push the brand into new markets. This faithfully reproduced model captures the lines perfectly.

Tomica Dandy

Tomica had been producing toys since the 20’s but started their first diecast models in 1970, they’re comparable to the 1/60th scale Matchbox but only offered actual production models. The first large scale models were introduced shortly afterwards, known as Tomica Dandy but like the smaller models the scale was determined by the size of the boxes. This strongly suggested that these models were being marketed in a similar fashion to Matchboxes Superkings, but the Dandy models offered model to appease Japanese and Eastern Asian demands, with a good level of realism to the actual vehicles. The quality compared to Yonezawa Toy’s Diapet models is better, with cleaner casts only ruined by the finishing details. The Tomica Dandy series did incorporated clean cast solution to opening features. Scales varied enormously from 1/38th scale for small cars up to 1/88 scale for commercial vehicles, unusually many trucks were produced at the relatively large 1/60th scale – perfect alongside the Toyota and Nissan cars in the small scale range. The Tomica Dandy series seemed to have been phased out in the late 80’s, with sporadic Chinese made releases and recasts have since appeared, which has made it easier to obtain long obsolete models.

Values do vary – early boxed small scale models were readily exported to North America which has helped push up values, so typically for a Japanese toy manufacturer a worth while investment. Tomica had tentatively sold models in the 70’s in selected model shops but a more concentrated effort started from the 80’s. Typically the rise of the internet has made collecting a whole lot easier.


Tomica Dandy D58 Nissan Silvia 1800

One of a handful of 1/45 Nissan models produced. The casting of a unique model, which remains one of Nissans least known models, has an opening bonnet and doors and uses a sprung suspension. The original was considered quite an outlandish design, and the Tomica Dandy model captures the essence well. It was the second of the Silvia models and in this guise was rarely seen outside of Japan, although it was sold in North America.


Tomica Limited TL-S0010 1972 Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R KPGC110

A late 90’s copy of the original Tomica Dandy, with a considerable amount of detailing improvement. The original wheels and some remodeling work on the cast enhances the already robust model. The ‘Limited’ series of models were generally made in the smaller 1/60th scale based on the original 70’s models, so this 1/45 model is an anomaly in the range.


Tomica Dandy D57 1973 Toyota Corona 2000 GT

Part of this models charm is its relative mundane demure, with only opening front doors and its subtle conservative styling in silver actually seems to stand out in a fairly lively Tomica Dandy line up. 2 smaller castings of the RT Corona are known (Tomica and Zylmex) both in 1/60th scale which suggests that the Corona was  reasonably popular in its home market.


Tomica Dandy D22 1977 Toyota Corolla Liftback

Slightly ruined by the blue headlamps (a common practice the share the same spool glass with the windows) this uniquely casted model also features opening doors and a tailgate. Available in several other colours and not produced as a small scale 1/60 version.


Tomica Dandy D5 1971 Toyota Crown

The MS Crown was a hugely popular car in the far east, mostly commonly known as its use as a taxi, the Crown comes from a long line of die-cast models of the Crown. It has an opening boot and bonnet and front passenger doors and should be considered as one of the better representations of the car.


Tomica Dandy D49 1976 Mazda Roadpacer AP

Mazda had been widening their markets for rotary engined cars, and released this almost American/Australian styled car in the mid 70’s. A unlikely model to cast, considering the legacy of attractive coupes produced by Mazda, its another interesting curio that has only been produced by Tomica to date. Its nondescript styling is barely complemented by its open front doors but another welcome Tomica saloon that is noticeable by its sheer obscurity.


Tomica Dandy D2 Honda Z

Tomica Dandy’s compared to the Diapets of the era have a better reputation for casting accuracy – although both ranges suffered from toy orientated graphics. This Honda is at a larger scale at 1/49 but the opportunity to make the model more detailed was not taken. It has an opening bonnet and side doors. This model is a replica produced in the late 90’s to celebrate Tomica’s 25th Anniversary.


Tomica Dandy DL2-1 Honda Accord

Another recast to celebrate 25 years of Tomica die-casts, this is one of the leisure car series, where a roof rack would typically contain lifestyle sports accessories. In this instance this Accord carries a couple of mini racer bikes. A fairly simple casting with side opening doors, it is typical of the companies Dandy output.


Tomica Dandy D21-3 Honda City Turbo

An original casting dating from the early 80’s, this is the 2nd City model of the period to be made by Tomica Dandy – the normal version used the same cast with a different baseplate without the spoliers and mag wheels. All doors open and the boot also contains a fold up Honda moped.


Tomica Dandy DJ2-1 Nissan Silvia Hatchback

Higher specification model of the S12 Silvia models that were imported to the UK, this model shows off a full compliment of opening doors, bonnet and hatchback, with rubber tyres, reclining seats and a lifting parcel shelf. It was available in 2 other colours too.


Tomica Dandy DJ1-1 Nissan Cedric V20ET Brougham

A pillarless saloon version of the Cedric (a standard model with door pillars was also manufactured by Tomica Dandy) features open side front doors with reclining seats, and opening boot and bonnet. The rubber tyres and smooth bar suspension help maintain the model preception as a quality toy.


Tomica Dandy D30-2 Nissan Prairie

A brilliant casting, which has not only just managed to capture the lines and proportions of the Nissan Prairie but offers a huge amount of play appeal by offering all round opening doors, including a suicide door on the left hand side with a sliding door on the right side. Both the bonnet and boot open and also offers reclining front seats. The generic star wheels with thick rubber tyres are far too sporting for this type of vehicle but works quite well. Diapet also produced the Prairie with the same features but isn’t quite as accurate.


Tomica Dandy D6-1 Nissan Fairlady Z432

Another 25 anniversary casting, identifiable by its Chinese manufacturing marking on the baseplate but otherwise identical to the early 70’s model with open doors, bonnet and boot hatch. Obviously a popular casting in its time, it was available in 11 other colours.


Produced by Aoshima, who are better known for their 1/24 scale model kits, DISM have been producing 1/43 scale models since the 90’s aimed more towards the collectors sector of the market. The majority of their output are Japanese cars, and often would produce many different trims and specifications of one model. While they do not (like most collector models in this scale) feature any opening doors some models do have the novel ability to lower the suspension by a switch underneath the model or feature functioning lights.


DISM Nissan Skyline 2000 GT (C110)

The GC110 Skyline models have the distinction of being one of the mostly widely covered Nissan models after the Z. This faithful model of what was marked in the UK as the saloon only Datsun 240K GT is one of the best Nissan models in this scale – only slightly ruined by the poorly painted wheels. It has adjustable height ride and also has sprung loaded suspension.


DISM Nissan Skyline 2000 GT Turbo (C210)

One of several C210 2 door coupes made by DISM, this facelift turbo model captures the essence of the car very well. It has no suspension built in the model in lieu of working tail and headlamps.


DISM Nissan Gloria 2800SGL (330)

Essential just a different trim to the Cedric models and known as the 260/280C models outside of Japan. This particular model is close to the single UK spec model available, one of 30 different trims available for the domestic market. It also features an adjustable height switch, operated by a simple plastic lever to control rear and front heights independently.


Bandai were established in the 50’s as a leading manufacturer in tinplate and mechanical toys and has become one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world. After the market for tinplate diminished Bandai concentrated more on franchised products, computer consoles, games and media entertainment. Their experience in making tin plate cars is well documented, but the level of their die-cast output is harder to quantify.


Looking very close to the Tomica Dandy casting, it would be interesting to establish whether they’re actually the same casting. A well made heavy model with opening doors, boot and bonnet with folding front seats.