Saturday, July 14, 2007


"Tales of the unexpected" attributed to Mick Sharp (c. 1985)

"At the Swapmeet at Derby rumours were rife that one of our members had been to America
on holiday and whilst at a Swapmeet there had been talking to an American who also
collected the push-along and Treble-0 LONE-STAR railway range. Our English member
mentioned the 'Register' [the embryonic L.S. enthusiasts' club] and about joining it to which
the American expressed the wish that his American collectors could get together with their
English 'counterparts'.

The Derby Swapmeet was held on Saturday, 9 March [year?] and, as time went on, I forgot
all about this until the evening of Friday, 22 March. When I came home from work my wife
said: "A Yank has telephoned you, ring him back on this number"..... I telephoned the
number to find it was a hotel in Coventry. On further conversation it transpired that two
Americans were on holiday in England travelling around buying LONE-STAR for their
collections. They had bought the December issue of "Railway Modeller" which had
published my letter in reply to Rodney Hawkins' letter and they had decided to stop off
in Coventry to see me, if possible, about [joining] the 'Register' . They explained that they
would like to see my collection of LONE-STAR items; to which a time and place was
readily agreed.
I love any excuse to show off my collection! I managed to get some of my stuff, not all of
it, into two large cardboard boxes which, in turn, were hastily placed in the back of my
estate car. I then drove to the address they had given me, ready to meet my two American
collectors, but not knowing really what to expect or what the night would bring. I need
not have worried. I rang the bell of the Hotel and the door was opened by the first
American who introduced himself as DALLAS J. MALLERICK III whose home town was
Ellicott City, Maryland (this I later found out was on the east coast of America),
whilst standing behind him was the second American. He was 6ft 2inch tall Texan called
JIM WILSON who had a lovely soft drawl in his voice. Jim's home town was Arlington,
Texas, which is situated etween Dallas and Fort Worth. We then got into my car and made
our way to my local club where we proceeded to take-over the Lounge. What a lovely way
to spend an evening; drinking beer and talking LONE-STAR to two very interesting
Americans. [Evidently, the three were rather loudly affable during the course of the
evening]. The Americans said that they couldn't have been so rowdy in their own home
towns. In fact, Club members and Committee men introduced themselves and made
Dallas and Jim very welcome, for which I was very grateful. The time that night went all
too fast, as did the Saturday and Sunday which was spent travelling to various places
in and around Warwickshire looking at and purchasing additions for their already
extensive collections.
Dallas, although only 21, has already had an 'N' gauge catalogue published which
covers very briefly LONE-STAR as well as other American 'N' products. When he goes
home he is having published another catalogue to do with Athearn HO/OO. Jim owns
his own business which deals in amusement arcade machines and he comes to England
when time allows it, approximately every seven years. One of the many interesting facts
they told me about LONE-STAR in America is they made not only EL66 Baldwin 0-8-0
steamer in black with no transfers at all, but an EL66L which is the Baldwin 0-8-0 steamer,
silver front with "Union Pacific" on the tender, complete with a working headlight
(wheatgrain bulb, pickup from tender). Although fairly rare, they can still be bought
commanding to $50.00 for a mint and boxed specimen. Jim and Dallas have supplied me
with invaluable information regarding the American side of things and when I have had
time to 'sift' through it all, I'll make sure we all benefit from it through our History Section
...[whatever that was?].
We talked about the Swapmeet scene in England and America; they both said how they
enjoyed our Swapmeets and then proceeded to tell me about one of their Swapmeets. This
was held at a University on the Campus four football fields. The stalls amounted to over
300. Even they admitted that finding LONE-STAR amongst that lot is very 'chancy'.
Unfortunately, as they were going back to America on the Monday morning, Sunday night
came all too soon with no-one really wanting to say their "goodbyes". We have promised
to correspond regularly and, who knows, yours truly might, in the near future, be able to
see at first hand what the LONE-STAR scene is like in the States being guided about by
Jim and Dallas.
If anyone is lucky enough to go on holiday anywhere in the world and comes across
LONE-STAR, we would be very interested to know all about it."


My collection of miniature trains - by A. Montgomery (c. 1985)

"I have always had a great interest in really small miniature railway, that is, smaller in
size than 00 or even TT scale. My very first train set, if it could be called such, was given
to me by my father in far-off pre-war days. The set consisted a miniature tin-plate
clockwork railcar, 3.75 inches long [95mm] and made in Germany. It was modelled on
the, then, recently introduced Great Western Railway railcar. With a gauge of .75 of a
inch to a foot [19mm to 30.5mm] , it ran very successfully on a circle of tin-plate track
approximately 9 inches [228mm] in diameter. I still have the railcar but alas the track
has long since disappeared. My next acquisition was a Dinky train set, purchased
with my Aunt's christmas present postal order for 1s. 9d. [9p]. It was a Goods set with
a locomotive and three wagons, which I still have to this day [in 1984-85] in its original
box. I would have the Passenger set, with its diminutive passenger coaches, but it was
2s. 3d. [11p] but I had to content myself with the cheaper set.
Over the years, I have collected quite a few of these miniature trains and storage space
is not a major problem. Whenever LONE*STAR introduced their 'push-along' range in
1956, I eagerly purchased a set. It was the introduction in 1960 of the 'Treble-0-Lectric'
proved very disappointing to me, as, apart from the Baldwin - which came later - a
steam outline locomotive was not included. So, I successfully motorised an 0-6-0 3F
tank [loco] from the push-along range, using the late Mr. Whall's wheels and a 6V
motor which I made myself. Mr. Perrin of LONE*STAR was most impressed by my
conversion and wanted to see the locomotive. As I [was] reluctant to part with it, so I
sent him photographs instead. I quote from Mr. Perrin's letter to me dated 27th August
"We are very impressed with your method of motorisation but would like to point out
that we would have to manufacture a steam locomotive at a reasonable selling price to
compare favourably with our present diesel locomotives in the region of 30 shillings
[£1.50]. Regarding your suggestion of a 0-6-0 locomotive with the motor fitted in the
tender, we have already discussed this and feel that it would lose its realism. We have
already experimented with a motor fitted in the engine itself." A. S. Perrin.
They certainly had second thoughts about the 'tender drive'!!! ARNOLD & MINITRIX
were soon to introduce a range of 'N' gauge locomotives and rolling stock, and
LONE*STAR gradually faded from the model railway scene. When one surveys the
vast range of N/000 gauge items available today, it is difficult to realise that thirty
years ago, [mid-1950s] it was the field of the specialist modeller. Due to the efforts of
Mick Sharp and his colleagues and a few fellow enthusiasts like myself, the gallant
efforts of the first British manufacturer to attempt the production of N/000 gauge
electrically-driven, trains won't go unrecorded or forgotten, crude as they may have
been by today's standards, they still have a delightful appeal all of their own."
A. Montgomery

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Titles of articles stored in this Weblog's archives from December 2005 to June 2007

December 2005. . . To all Lone Star Model and Toy enthusiasts

January 2006. . . . Lesney - Lledo - Lone Star (the connection between)
January . . . . . . . . .Lone Star: Its diversity and achievements
January . . . . . . . . .Lone Star: "Post-1970 - An abridged history of the Group"
February . . . . . . . .Lone Star Annual Collector's Exhibition
March. . . . . . . . . . .Lone Star, Hatfield (factory) - A blast from the past!
March. . . . . . . . . . .No time for clinical niceties (at the former Hatfield factory)
March. . . . . . . . . . .Road Traffic Accident (outside the Hatfield factory)
April. . . . . . . . . . . .T.C.S. (Train Collector's Society) "Lone Star Day" by Clive
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Gehle
May. . . . . . . . . . . . .Optional survey regarding L.S. '000'-gauge Trains
June. . . . . . . . . . . . .'Lone Star' Pathe News Story (1965?)
August. . . . . . . . . .(Most asked) Questions and Answers
August. . . . . . . . . .Result of May '06 survey on '000'-gauge Trains
August. . . . . . . . . ."Lone Star Shining Brightly" by G. S. Ambridge (magazine
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . article)
December. . . . . . . Comprehensive list of Lone Star's die-cast metal and plastic
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .guns

July 2007. . . . . . . "Lone Star's 'Top 10' Diecast Guns" by G. S. Ambridge
. . . . . . . . . . . . . (magazine article)


'Collectors Gazette', July '07 issue, "Lone Star's 'Top 10' Diecast Guns" - by G. S. Ambridge

LONE STAR PRODUCTS LTD manufactured diecast toy pistols and rifles, among other things, over a period from 1949 to October 1983 at which time the company sadly sent into Receivership. Fortunately a buyer for the company, Wicke GmbH & Co. of Wuppertal, Germany, took it over as a going concern.
The significance of this was that Wicke (pronounced Vicker) had, for many years, been suppliers to Lone Star and so it made perfect sense that a manufacturer of explosive caps should purchase a company that mass produced cap firing guns. During Wicke's brief stewardship, while it clung to its last remaining foothold at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, the company was renamed Lone Star Toys plc until its eventual closure in June 1988.
'At our peak we employed roughly 360 people at Hatfield, 200 at Welham Green [near Hatfield] and 150 people at Palmers Green [north London]. Of course, guns were our business and these along with their ancillary items were responsible for 75% of our turnover,' said Mr A (Stanley) Perrin, former MD. 'Whereas we had limited overseas markets for our model trains and cars, we had 'the world' for guns, even Hong Kong was a reasonable market! We never lost sight of this and whilst we were always prepared to invest and develop new items, we never neglected guns.'
It should be emphasised that Lone Star's zinc-alloy metal and plastic guns, which totalled 239 different types and styles over the years, were intended as children's playthings bearing only a reasonable representation of pistols and rifles. They were not replica copies of the real thing nor, due to their construction and nature of the material used, could they be converted to fire live ammunition. In deciding the 'Top 10 Guns' produced by Lone Star, we need to consider the overall duration of availability which gives a fairly reliable indication of the popularity of an item, so here we go!
No. 10 - at 18 years, we have the Frontier Scout Rifle, described as a 100-shot cap repeating rifle with break-open action. The metal firing action and its casing had a Buffalo's head engraving on it, is finished in 'gleam' silver. It is fitted with a metal barrel and black plastic simulated wood grain, butt and stock grip. Overall length 76cm, the model rifle was obtainable between 1963 and 1981.
No. 9 - at 18 years, we have the Buckeroo Pistol, a Western gun of 22cm long. Firing 100-shot cap rolls, with stag antler butt grips and finish in either 'gleam' silver or gunmetal, this model was obtainable between 1965 and 1983.
No. 8 - at 19 years, is the Stampede Pistol, being yet another Western coyboy-style 'repeater', firing 100-shot cap rolls. Overall length 20cm with 'gleam' or gunmetal finishes, it has wrap-around butt grips with stag antler finish. It was obtainable from 1969 to 1988.
No. 7 - at 21 years, is the James Bond 007 Pistol with silencer. This fired 100-shot cap rolls, was otherwise known as the P.38 automatic pistol and its shape is very similar to that of the Luger pistol. It had a gunmetal finish from 1965 to 1986 and a gold finish from 1975 to 1984 to coincide with the screening of The Man With the Golden Gun.
No. 6 - at 23 years, is the Pony Express Rifle available with or without a shoulder sling, overall length 65cm, it also fired 100-shot cap rolls, had diecast metal working mechanism and casing with the barrel, butt and stock in tough plastic. Available between 1965 and 1988.
No. 5 and No. 4 - at 24 years each, are the Spudmatic Pistol, described as a '4-in-1' fun gun. In diecast metal, it fired caps, potato pellets, corks and water. Examples of this gun are most often found sprayed brownish red although at times it appeared in black, bronze, blue and green finishes. The Scout Pistol is a Western-style gun with break-open action and firing 100-shot cap rolls. Both were obtainable from 1964 to 1988.
No. 3 - at 26 years, is the Gambler Pistol, a diecast metal pistol supplied with a patented cap loading cartridge for firing potato pellets. It featured in catalogues from 1962 to 1988.
No. 2 - at 27 years, we have the Super Sharp Shooter Rifle. This had a removable telescopic sight and could be fired either from the shoulder or hip by an original 'flip' lever action. It was a repeater that fired 100-shot cap rolls and had a spring-loading mechanism. Overall length was 70cm, it was available with or without shoulder sling. Whilst the stock and shoulder butt of most Lone Star toy rifles were made of plastic, the magazine and firing mechanism casing were invariably of diecast metal and its external surfaces usually finished in 'gleam' silver. The rifle remained in the catalogues from 1960 to 1987 with the exception of 1961 when it is thought no trade catalogue was published.
And finally, at No. 1 - is the outright winner at 38 years, the Captain Cutlass Buccaneer Pistol which first made an appearance around 1950 and continued to feature in Lone Star trade catalogues until 1988. It was described as 'a double-barrelled flintlock pistol with twin hammers and separate firing action for each barrel, a diecast metal pistol in antique finish with contrasting plastic butt grips.'

Friday, December 29, 2006


Comprehensive List of Lone Star's die-cast metal and plastic guns

N.B. Moulds for some of the items were re-used under "new" names to provide an ostensibly new product
Sample Entry:
1354. . .Cody .45 Pistol, 100-shot, length 25.4cm, metal, Gleam silver or Gunmetal finishes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


"Lone Star: Shining brightly" by G. S. Ambridge

The following was published in "Collector's Gazette" p.18, September '06 issue.
"In surprisingly rural surroundings, stands an imposing, red-brick, four storey building, a former water pumping station, but now - The Whitewebbs Museum of Transport. This is situated in 'leafy' Whitewebbs Road, probably less than a mile south of the M25 motorway, mid-way between Junctions 24 and 25. Jct 24 offers an uncongested rural route, via A1005 to Enfield; at Botany Bay village, follow signs to Crews Hill (Train Station: King's X - Hertford North, line).

Collectors of Lone Star diecast toys and models gathered together there last year to hold their annual exhibition and open day amid the museum's own magnificent collection of vintage and classic vehicles. Whitewebbs Museum also has its own spectacular collection of diecast model vehicles by several well-known manufacturers, including buses, trams and fire engines among many others, housed in glass-fronted cabinets on the museum's top floor.

Until and including the summer of 2004, Lone Star enthusiasts put on an annual display of their collections at Mill Green Museum near Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Each year the event proved so popular that it outgrew the rather limited infrastructure of the Mill Green site. The limited three-hour time span in which to exhibit at Mill Green tended to dishearten anyone living a considerable distance away faced with the dilemma of whether or not it was worth the time and effort to make the journey. This applied particularly to people considering exhibiting Lone Star Treble-O gauge model trains, where their scenic layouts took some time to set up and later to dismantle.

So, it was rather 'a blessing in disguise' when the Lone Star exhibitors were regretfully informed that Mill Green Museum would no longer be able to accommodate them and their annual exhibition. The call was urgently put out to all the Lone Star enthusiasts who had earlier registered their interest via the dedicated Lone Star website: to hurriedly find and arrange an alternative venue at which to hold the annual exhibition - preferably one located in the south of England. Fortunately, Dennis Voller came to the rescue who happened to be the Events Co-ordinator at Whitewebbs Museum of Transport, near Enfield, Middlesex. He made the welcome offer of a new home for the Lone Star exhibition where it could be held that year.

It will be held again this year on Sunday 24th September and, it's hoped, each September for the foreseeable future. As luck would have it, Crews Hill (with its railway station) is equi-distant between Lone Star's former factories at Palmers Green, North London, at Welham Green and, nearby, Hatfield, Hertfordshire.
Ex-employees still living in the district can easily attend the event. It's sad to think that what, until the early 1980s, had been the Palmers Green factory and offices still survive, but occupied by another trade. There's much more to Lone Star products than meets the eye.

Probably not widely known, Die Casting Machine Tools Ltd. (the parent company of Lone Star Products) employed an out-of-work, ex-British Army, actor in 1952, namely Roy Green, and he was offered the opportunity to portray the role of an heroic, fictional Western character whom DCMT named Steve Larrabee, 'The Lone Star Rider'. His job was to promote sales of Western-themed products. He toured principal department stores around the UK demonstrating the company's wares. Roy also ran and participated in a Lone Star Road Show to a circuit of theatres around the country. His character had featured in the monthly Lone Star comic magazine and Roy had also made broadcasts of Western stories and plays on Radio Luxembourg.

DCMT had earlier sent Roy for a short time to California, to equip himself with authentic Western paraphernalia and to see for himself something of the American West. He trained himself to speak with a Texan 'drawl' when appearing in front of the public and, in 'uniform', he certainly looked and sounded like a genuine Cowboy from the American Wild West. Roy Green remained with the company until 1957, when he decided that he couldn't do any more with the Steve Larrabee character that he hadn't already done. Consequently, he handed in both his notice to DCMT and everything he had connected with the Larrabee character and, shortly afterwards, Roy and his wife emigrated to Canada. He became a US citizen in 1961. However, we recently received word that Roy Green had sadly passed away, aged 80, in Los Angeles, California, in October 2005.

Meanwhile, the Lone Star enthusiasts are keenly looking forward to their forthcoming exhibition at Whitewebbs Museum of Transport. All being well, there will be quite a showing of Lone Star Treble-O gauge model trains; it is anticipated probably four or five different scenic layouts. Also there will be a few traders dealing in Lone Star products. On display, toy pistols, vehicles and plastic figures. Any Lone Star enthusiast wishing to exhibit their collection to the general public on 24th September, should contact Clive Gehle on
Mobile: 07930 312531 or e-mail: Tables supplied by the museum. Open to the public: 10am to 4pm. Fuller details and a road map can be found on the website."

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Survey Result 000-gauge items planned but never made

Please accept Mr. Denis Eagles' apologies for the delay in bringing a conclusion to the survey that has been ongoing since May-June this year. I received word from him (bearing in mind that he was the Managing Director of Eaglet Industries Ltd. [a subsidiary of Lone Star Products Ltd.]) on 20th July after having sought the benefit of his advice and observations on the above proposition. This is the essence of what he had to say:
"I'm sure you will appreciate that my prime concern in business was always whether a course of action would ultimately prove profitable for the company I worked for. If I did not have personal confidence nor was able to give reasonable assurances of success to the powers-that-be, then the project and necessary expenditure for its development would not be forthcoming.
Enthusiasts appear to work according to a different perspective insofar as the value of any item depends more upon the desires of a limited number of collectors in a particular field rather than an overall market demand. I have tried to get some feel of the answers to your survey (12 respondents) however, their answers only seem to express views on the particular aspects that interest them, not on the total gambit of their opinion of the demand and construction of further 'Lone Star Treble-0' stock.
I really find it very hard to work up enthusiasm for the chances of getting this project 'off the ground'. You have circulated, in your estimation, some 300 individuals and you have some 12 replies which are so vague as to be impossible to evaluate. To my mind, I see there as being two potential types of customer:- (1.) The serious collector of genuine 000 stock, who will only be prepared to purchase additional products made to the same standard and authenticity (i.e. from original designs) to compliment his existing collection. (2.) The other is a collector who wants to improve and compliment their existing layout and isn't too fussed about authenticity provided that the article looks the part and 'fits in'.
For the first of these there is no answer, because the cost of making 'original' products on such a small scale (quantity-wise) would be out of the question. However for the second type of collector, the best hope would be to find an enthusiast with good modelling skills who could make reproduction 'static' pieces at a modest cost to compliment and expand existing layouts. Such a person would need to be prepared to work for the love of the craft and not expect any real financial reward for his efforts and, I would think, would be almost impossible to find."
Best regards,
Geoff Ambridge (per pro. Denis W. Eagles)
(Both formerly of Lone Star Products Ltd./D.C.M.T. Ltd.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


(Most asked) Questions and Answers

Q. Where were Lone Star's factories located and do any survive today?

A. From about 1946, the "Lone Star" (Die Casting Machine Tools Ltd.) factory, called "The River Works", was located at 152 Green Lanes, Palmers Green, North London. These premises were sold around 1981-82 to a chemist's sundries company. The buildings, used by the other trade, still survive today. However, two other factories; one at Hatfield (the largest of the three and originally built from scratch) and another at nearby Welham Green, Hertfordshire, both acquired in the mid and late 1950s were, some thirty years later, sold, demolished and their former sites are now redeveloped.

Q. 'Lone Star' Products were well-known for their model cars, trucks and trains. What else did they manufacture?

A. The Company originally acquired a degree of fame, from 1949, for its die-cast, cap-firing, metal pistols and rifles which were mainly 'Western' (or Cowboy) in their theme. The firm also produced unbreakable plastic figures, known as 'Harvey' Series, generally thought of as being '00'-scale and manufactured an infinite variety of these figures, both 'on foot' and 'mounted' between 1957-69. (See: "The Bumper Book of 'Lone Star' diecast models and toys 1948-88")

Q. Presumably, many of Lone Star's models and toys are in the hands of collectors nowadays. Where can I see examples of these?

A. Yes! Many do form useful collections around the country (and the world. .) but a wide selection of these items can be viewed at Lone Star's annual Collectors' exhibition held at Whitewebbs Museum of Transport, near Enfield, Middlesex, (U.K.). Photos of the museum can be viewed on: For those who have a Lone Star collection, large or small, and would like to display it to the public, this can be done without any charge to the would-be exhibitor. By 'clicking' the above 'link' you can find out the next exhibition date and all necessary details including a road map of the North Enfield district. The nearest Train station: Crews Hill (within 5 minutes' walking distance) [King's Cross, London - Hertford North, line].

Q. Do any original documents of 'Lone Star' Products survive for anyone wishing to research the Company and, if so, where can they be viewed?

A. Mill Green Museum, just north of Hatfield, Hertfordshire, [Tel: +44 (01707) 271362] holds many original documents relating to the Company. These include some technical drawings of models, numerous trade catalogues and Minute books of Directors' meetings 1944-83 to mention just a few. The Museum Curator will be able to specify which other 'Lone Star' documents are held at Mill Green. The Department of Trade and Industry, Companies House, Dissolution Section, Crown Way, CARDIFF, CF14 3UZ, (U.K.) [Tel: +44 (029) 20380854] can provide 'microfiche' images of any of D.C.M.T.'s documents formerly submitted to the D.T.I. pre-October 1983 (Quote ref. DISS/363003).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


'Lone Star' Pathe News Story (1965??)

An e-mail dated June 3rd was received by me from Lone Star enthusiast, Barry Thompson of the U.K. which you may find of interest. I quote: "Copy and paste the link below for a look at the Pathe news story on the factory (presumably the Hatfield factory? No catch and no lewd pictures either! - G.S.A.)

or: Failing that, having used the link (in blue) above, select the "British Pathe" option. When you have raised the British Pathe "home" page, insert the words "toys boost export" in the 'search' bar and initiate your search. You should then see the same three-word title appear as a link on a panel. Click on that link and you should raise a set of 'thumbnail' black/white photographs of Lone Star's Hatfield factory showing some of the stages of the manufacturing processes.

Best regards,
Geoff Ambridge

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