The"cinquecento" series



1:43 scale
Updated 25/11/2010
Art.525 (1967)
Ferrari 250 Le Mans Pininfarina

Like many of my peers, when I was a child I started collecting plastic models produced by Politoys, approximately 1:41 scale. I remember the first four, I received them as gift on Christmas Day in the the early sixties (the exact year escapes me, but I think it was in 1962): a pale gray FIAT 1800 with a black roof, a Lancia Flaminia sedan, this one also bicolor, a Giulietta SS and a 2300 Fiat Coupe Ghia, both red with open doors.
The ones that open cost about 400 lire each, in this way the fleet grew significantly, together with my passion for cars. Then it was the turn of a blue Cadillac, the gray Anglia, the red Flavia sedan, the gray Flaminia coupe, the aqua green Giulia, the Alfa Romeo 2° van military version, the gray Fiat 600, the red caravan, the burgundy Opel Kapitan,
the white FIAT- SIATA 1500, the pale blue FIAT 1500 station wagon, the pale blue Ford Taunus 17M and many others.

A few years later, in 1965, on Mickey Mouse comic books you started to see the advertisement of the M series, namely metal, 1:43 scale, that is to say a bit smaller than the others. They cost twice price, 800 lire, but they were completely different: totally open, with folding seats and with a reproduction of the engine, fitted with suspensions and almost all painted with metal colors. And they did not lose the wheels when taking curves! In fact, losing the wheels was the biggest flaw of the plastic series: the rubber tires were assembled on a plastic rim, and they simply got pierced by the iron pin that easily slided and came out. What a nuisance! Everytime it was necessary to thicken the pin with bits of paper or tape. The M-series, however, had a thru-axle, riveted on the external rim: you could not take proper curves as with the much more expensive Dinky Toys ones or theTekno ones, but they were fine.

The first was the IM3 of the picture on the right (it is still the original model). We travelled well on the light-blue IM3 that my uncle bought to replace an A40: it was a low, sporty, fast and very comfortable car. I rarely see one of these on the roads and every time it happens I stop for a long time to look it. Buying a model was like owning a real one. Then the others came: the "Pagodina", the Flavia Zagato coupe, the "600", the Giulia TZ (which almost immediately lost the right rear-view mirror), the Fulvietta, and so on.

The comparison with the plastic series did not stand anymore, and so a dull day in the summer of 1971, one of those days that it is better to stay in bed, I put my plastic models, most of them with their original boxes, inside an old cardboard suitcase, along with the original complete series of Gordon comics, and I gave it all to my cousin, the one that was travelling on the real IM3.
I had just graduated from high school and I was going to enroll in the faculty of engineering and these models "made for children" were not suitable for a university student. Only one model escaped the cleaning out: the white 1500 FIAT-SIATA coupe, which I still have: it survived because it was dissassembled and without the four front rhinestone headlights. I had torn them out to paste two of them, as front foglights, inside the grille of the beautiful Ferrari 275 GTB (Art. 540), which is the last new model that I purchased.

Competition from other brands became agressive: Corgi Toys, for example, tried to characterize each model with something new, with some more gadgets or a few more openings, as the agent 007's DB5. Solido was able to make the Mustang with working interior lights and open doors! I purchased it on the Internet on iBazar, before it merged with eBay.
The Politoys-M were already fully open and they cost less. What else would they lack? Then it was the turn of the interior characterised by a 'velvet' effect, such as the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III (Art. 518), the Maserati Quattroporte with four open doors (Art. 541 of 1968), the Ferrari 250 Le Mans with seven openings (Art.525, see the photo with three models next to the title): 2 doors, 2 hoods, 2 fuel caps and one of the two wingspans on the roof. These were increasingly complex models with increasingly high costs of production.

Disassembling a Politoys-M has always been easy: the base is fixed with one or two screws. Reassembling them, however, requires a certain expertise. Not for the first models, which are composed of fewer than a dozen pieces, but some later models require uncommon skills.
It is difficult, for example, to perfectly assemple a 250 LM with seven openings: manifolds and exhaust pipes slide away quite easily, as well as the spring of the rear suspension and the headlights. Once you reassembled it you always have the feeling of having a model that seems older ("played with" as they say on eBay), which no longer works as well as before. Therefore, it is easier to find Corgi Toys and Dinky Toys in good conditions thanks to the riveted bases, which do not allow much disassembly.

Another model that discourages those fond of disassembling is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Gran Sport Quattroruote Zagato (art. 532 of 1967, in the photo below). This is the only 1:43 scale Politoys-M model with working steering wheel: the wheels are directly attached to the steering wheel. The complexity of the reassembly is apparent just by looking at the base and at the suspension with trailing arms and coil springs.

The assembly feasibility, however, also offers some advantages: it is easier to change them to your personal taste, and more importantly, it is possible to obtain a good model from two imperfect ones.
Corgi Toys, Dinky Toys, Spot On have also a spare parts service, also accessible via the Internet; Politoys-M has not. The replacement parts are taken from incomplete models, which should always be kept.
As evidence of the possibility of an easy elaboration I also included an image of my creation yet to be completed. I started it around 1970, but I left it incomplete. I recently rediscovered it in my parents’ basement and I felt a moral duty to recover it and finish it. It is a convertible version of the Maserati 3500 GT first version (Section 501).

Who wants to buy today a Politoys M-series should keep an eye on the series and be aware of scams: of some models there is also a second series, with identical number, recognizable by the wheels and colors. In the spoked wheels of the first series the spokes are only notched with the central lock nut, while the second series have real spokes (a few, but the light gets through them), much uglier. The picture below shows the two types of wheels.

Sometimes it also happens to be able to recover only the base of a broken model, this base can be replaced by a copy made in Russia that can be sold as a Politoys original model, doubling its value.

Speaking of boxes, in order to try to help collectors recognizing the right boxes to match the models I have setup a new web page dedicated solely to the boxes of Politoys-M.
It's worth giving it a look (and let me know, as always, if there are any errors or inaccuracies). The link is below.

You can find an interesting article about Politoys-M in the first issue of the beautiful quarterly magazine "Mini cars & Collectors" of Giorgio Nada publishing house.
Art.503 (1965)
Mercedes Benz 230 SL
Art.504 (1965)
Ferrari 250 GT berlinetta
Art.504 (2ªserie)
Ferrari 250 GT berlinetta
Art.508 (1965)
Innocenti IM3
Art.509 (1965)
Lancia Flavia Zagato
Art.511 (1965)
FIAT 600
Art.515 (1965)
Iso Rivolta GT Coupé
Art.516 (1966)
Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ Zagato
Art.518 (1966)
Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III
Art.520 (1966)
Lancia Fulvia Coupé
Art.527 (1967)
Porsche 912
Art.529 (1967)
Alfa Romeo Giulia Canguro
Art.535 (1968)
Porsche 904
Art.540 (1968)
Ferrari 275 GTB
Art.546 (1969)
BMW 2000 CS