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Lesney Products

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AMT-Matchbox European company logo

Lesney Products & Co. Ltd. was a British manufacturer whose core business has been the manufacture of die cast and metal automotive products. Founded in 1947, the company became best known for its brand Matchbox which it introduced in 1953. That name originated from the fact that the models produced under that brand name fitted in a matchbox and were for years marketed that way, the models were packaged in or with matchboxes.

Following the energy crisis of 1973, Great Britain experienced a series of adverse economic periods, which also affected the business of Lesney. In a effort to broaden its economic basis in order to counteract the declining sales, Lesney decided in the mid-seventies to branch out into the market for injection molded plastic model kits, which, being relative late in that market, was a big gamble as the company had to compete with the absolute market leader of the time Airfix. To that end, to counteract the lack of experience in that market, the company acquired the well established US-based model kit manufacturer AMT in 1977. The model kits produced retained its "AMT" brand in the US, but were marketed in Europe as "Matchbox-AMT" to make optimal use of the brand awareness of "Matchbox" in Europe.

Despite the quality of the model kits produced, Lesney was unable to stem the tide of economic adversity and the company went into bankruptcy in June 1982, having sold AMT a few months earlier to Ertl Company.

Star Trek association

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

Through the acquisition of AMT, Lesney became associated with the Star Trek franchise, though due to the bankruptcy it only lasted four years. To customers in the US, state of affairs remained pretty much the same. In Europe, Lesney started to release some of the classic kits under its new brand name "Matchbox-AMT" as part of the "Yellow Crown Range" range, in 1979. Still, thanks to the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it was Lesney who could market the first true expansion of the Star Trek model kit line in 1980 with three new kits based on that movie.

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