Travelling Through The Decades - Celebrating 30 Years of Oxford Diecast Excellence
Thirty years ago in September 1993 Oxfords first products rolled off the production lines. Today as well as our headquarters in Swansea, South Wales it has subsidiary companies in China and North America.
So much has happened over the years, far too much to be covered in this blog, so instead we take a brief look at the last thirty years. Oxford has gone through several phases on its journey, each of those has appeared on our advertising and literature.
The World is Waiting
Oxford was established in the early 1990s with the coming together of production and marketing skills. Manufacturing took place at the Microlink plant in Swansea (formerly the Mettoy and Corgi manufacturing facilities). As the last British built Corgi, the Toyota Celica rolled off the production lines, a new brand was being established with the production of the Bullnose Morris. Within two years over 500,000 products had been manufactured and Oxford had arrived and all products were used promotionally.
99 CO-OP tea promotion
1996 saw the introduction to the Globe Magazine and the Collectors Club. Initially it was assumed that it would be issued a few times a year but as time went on the Globe was issued on a monthly basis. In the early days it was released as an A4 format with 4 pages, but this later changed to A5 to fit in with Royal Mail requirements.
The club is the heart of the company and without it Oxford would not be the same.
The first Globe from 1996 and a selection of covers, it now releases 10/12 time per year and over 270 have been issued.
1998 – Production was moved to the Neath Plant in Swansea which solely focused on the production of Oxford Diecast products. The main focus in this period was the Oxford Originals range. One of the routes to market was through reader offers in newspapers and magazines. These models were not to scale and designed to ‘fit the box’. They were often limited edition runs supplied with a certificate showing the production run numbers.
Oxford Diecast - factory 1998 and certificates galore. Limited runs of 90,000, what a time that was!
2001 – It was announced that the UK factory would close and production switched to overseas. This process took over a year involving the closure of the UK factory and shipment of the moulds to China. A warehouse was opened in Swansea in the UK managed by Dusty (RS Palmer our late great friend and colleague).
2005 – The business began to take a new direction moving the focus from promotional items to delivering what the market wanted – scale models. The introduction of the first new range of products in 1:43 commenced. This began with the 1:43 Mini and then the Mini Van and Morris Minor followed. Late 2005 saw the tooling of the Anglia/Thames which provided an opportunity for an Ice Cream variant. The introduction of the Anglia Ice Cream van began to change the markets perception of Oxford and collectors began to take notice of our release programme
2005 saw the formation of Oxford Hong Kong with the aim of regaining control of the manufacturing and production processes in China.
Taking on the World
2007 – 2018
2007 – The decision was made to enter the 1:76 scale market to mirror the success of the 1:43 range. Oxford introduced a number of vans including a 1:76 ice cream van. Cars soon followed and the range began to expand rapidly with new tooling and new colour variations appearing on a monthly basis. In 2008 Oxford began to develop higher spec cars in 1:43 Automobile range followed by the Haulage range in 1:76.
Design Cells from this period
2009 –Oxford had a large programme of new tooling under development and the introduction of a new scale – 1:148 British N Scale releasing multiple new tooling in different ranges from Omnibus, Commercials and Cars.
2010 -2017 The drive to deliver in multiple scales continued with the introduction of ranges such as Military, Showtime, High Spec Aviation, Omnibus, Figurines, and new scales 1:87 American Cars and 1:18. The formation of Oxford USA in 2013 started the distribution in North America enabling us a better reach to our collectors. Oxford Rail was introduced in 2015 with the aim to fill a growing gap in the market in the OO railway market.
On the 1st October 2017, Eloise Davies, the daughter of Taff was appointed as the Managing Director of Oxford Diecast Ltd. Eloise started on the Production lines of the Corgi (Mettoy factories) at the age of 2, whilst Taff was reorganising the business. She spent time at the factory on her Saturdays doing her early homework, vacuum forming. At just 14, she visited the factories in China and at 18 she started intensive training throughout the Oxford business. At 22 she took over the responsibilities for product licencing and a few years later the Operations and the organisation of the UK and International Toy shows. Taff became Chairman of Oxford Diecast.
Oxford celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018 and the success of the company was down to the determination of a group of people with a desire to make Oxford a truly Global brand.
What is this world
2019 – Present
With the arrival of the Global pandemic in 2020, Oxford along with many other businesses faced head on the challenges that were to come over the next few years particularly the Covid pandemic; Oxford focused on staying alive. For many years the distribution part of the business was outsourced. During the pandemic, talks began on how this was brought back in house. Many months were spent adapting our warehouses, internal systems and website to allow Oxford warehousing to come back home to Swansea.
Oxford continues to develop its existing ranges including the introduction of the Oxford TT 1:120 range in 2022.
With new ownership (Hornby) and the knock on effects from the pandemic and Brexit, Oxford continues to strive to fulfil its promises to the industry.
To compete in all sectors of the diecast market, in all scales and in all countries.
A New World
This began in 2023 to coincide with our 30th anniversary and the celebrations begin today on the 1st September.