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Ertl Company

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Ertl logo
1945-1981, 2004-current

The Ertl Company (or Ertl for short) was a maker of die cast and injection molded plastic models.


AMT/Ertl company logos
AMTErtl company logo 1982-1986 AMTErtl company logo 1987-1992 AMTErtlLogo
1982-1986 1987-1992 1993-1999

Founded in 1945 by Fred Ertl, Sr., the Iowa based company occupied a specific market niche in the booming die cast model market of the time as it specialized in models of agricultural farming equipment and vehicles. Starting out with the manufacture of models for marketing purposes often licensed by real world manufacturers of farming equipment and vehicles, the company soon also produced models for collectors and as toys. In 1972 the company wanted to branch out with the introduction of injection molded plastic model kits, based upon their product line. Not gaining the hoped for popularity, Ertl wished to remain in the model kit market and adopted a strategy of acquisition of model kit and die cast model companies. In three decades Ertl acquired Carter Tru-Scale (1971), Structo Stamped Steel (1974), Aluminum Model Toys (1981), MPC Model Kits (1985), ECSI Model Kit Company (1987), and Britains Limited (2000), in the process becoming one of the largest US manufacturers of model kits and die cast models. The purchase of AMT from Lesney Products, which was in the process of going bankrupt, led to the new name AMT/Ertl (suggesting an equivalent merger, which it was not; Ertl fully owned AMT but wanted to retain the established brand name), which it carried until 2000.

While an active acquirer of companies, Ertl itself was owned by a succession of holding companies, Victor Comptometer Corporation (1967-1977), Kidde, Inc. (1977-1987), Hanson PLC (1987-1999), and RC2 Corporation (1999-current). The last change in ownership proved to be far reaching for the company, though the "Ertl" name was at first incorporated in the new parent company name, "Racing Champions/ERTL", suggesting a equal status within the parent company; a 2003 re-organization essentially dismantled the company, as it was split up in its original components. As of 2004, Ertl was relegated as a subsidiary brand under the RC2 umbrella, coming full circle as it only carries a product line of die cast agricultural equipment and vehicles, just as it did when the company started way back in 1945.

Star Trek association

Star Trek model kits

For the individual Star Trek model kits listing see AMT/Ertl.

With the acquisition of AMT, leading to the new name AMT/Ertl, Ertl also gained the license to produce the Star Trek model kit line. During the nearly 2½ decades the company held the license, the line would see its largest expansion with numerous new additions, buoyed on with two more live action Star Trek series and eight more Star Trek films. AMT/Ertl lost out on the license for Star Trek: Voyager, which went to Revell-Monogram.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock 1984 toy line

Though already having bought AMT, which held the Star Trek license, Ertl released a small toy line based on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in 1984, consisting of four plastic action figures and three diecast ship models (two of which were re-released in 1989), under its own brand name only.

Release Item Item number Material Scale Notes
1984 Mr. Spock 331 Plastic n/s With phaser
Captain Kirk 332 Plastic n/s With tricorder
Scotty 333 Plastic n/s With phaser
Klingon Leader (Kruge) 334 Plastic n/s With Klingon monster dog
USS Enterprise refit 1372 Diecast 1/2743
USS Excelsior 1373 Diecast n/s Labeled as "NCC-1799"
Bird of Prey 1374 Diecast n/s Two variants, one light blue and one light green on slightly differing cards
Ertl 331 1984 Mr.Spock Ertl 332 1984 Captain Kirk Ertl 333 1984 Scotty Ertl 334 1984 Klingon Leader 120px Ertl 1373 1984 diecast USS Excelsior Ertl 1374 1984 diecast Bird of Prey Ertl 1374 1984 diecast Bird of Prey variant
1989 USS Enterprise-A 1372 Diecast 1/2743 Re-issue for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; Outfitted with new decals; On new card
Bird of Prey 1374 Diecast n/s Re-issue for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; Outfitted with new paint scheme; On new card
1991 USS Enterprise-A n/a Diecast 1/2743 Re-issue for Star Trek Smithsonian Exhibit as merchandise for their gift shop; On new card
1994 USS Enterprise-A n/a Diecast 1/2743 Re-issue in Limited Edition gold deco for Spencer Gifts; Individually serialized on new box
Ertl 1372 1989 diecast USS Enterprise Ertl 1374 1989 diecast Bird of Prey Ertl 1991 diecast Enterprise Smithonian ERTL Enterprise-A

See also

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