Posted 10 months ago
Since 1981, but especially in the past 8 years, online auctions have been infested by a swarm of rather ugly tinplate Pontiac toys poorly manufactured in India, and very often misrepresented as "old". These friction powered toys are and were so poorly built that most examples manufactured before the late 1990s had their brightwork corrode, as it had been plated with... tin.
These toys first came up on the world market in 1981, as their boxes indicate with an issue date adjoining their stock number.
Manufactured by Amar Toy Co., near Delhi, India, they are dubbed "Minister Delux", have a very vintage looking box confusing their unfortunate owners even more, and exist in both sedan and convertible versions. They are simply worthless to any serious tin toy collector, and many dealers now stuck with them, place confusing information in their auctions propaganda, largely trying to imply that these poor replicas are much older than they really are, often claiming ignorance to protect themselves from returns by angry customers.
The truth is that these "Minister Delux" toys are bad copies of a much earlier and vastly nicer Japanese toy manufactured by Asahi (ATC) in 1955, and that is somewhat scarce today. This beautifully produced friction toy was a model of the 1954 Pontiac Star Chief. The model shown here is painted a deep metallic green, with nickel plated brightwork. I have also seen them in solid colors, but they do not come up very often.
Asahi marketed them for only two years and used two different box styles, the later illustrated with artwork representing a 1955 model.
It was my lucky day on eBay as most bidders, fatigued of continuously being confronted with those Amar miniature horrors, missed the pearl that this Asahi model really is. I obtained it at the average value of the lower quality reproduction. It is in absolutely pristine condition, in a near-perfect box. A nice addition to my extensive collection of Japanese tin American toy cars... of course there is no Amar Pontiac in this collection of mine, and there never will be one. No ersatz here.