• Jul 18, 2007
Matchbox cars. We collected them. We played with them. We loved them. Heck, a lot of us still do. And over the weekend, the man responsible for making these simple, inexpensive pleasures a reality passed away. Jack Odell was 87 years old.
The inspiration for the Matchbox car came after he created a miniature toy steamroller that fit inside an actual matchbox for his daughter. Odell was co-owner of Lesney Products, which subsequently began manufacturing and selling the miniature toys to the public, and the rest is history. Many of our fondest childhood memories can ultimately be traced back to Mr. Odell's creation. We are eternally grateful, and may he rest in peace.

[Source: Wall Street Journal via Telstar Logistics via Jalopnik]


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  • 5 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ah, Matchbox cars. They were pre-Hotwheels, which came out in '67-'68. Matchbox cars came into my life in '64-'65. My grandparents went to England and brought some back for my older brother. I was hooked. Have a look at what I found online:

      1964 http://www.bamca.org/cgi-bin/mline.cgi?year=1964&CAT=1&E=1&RW=1&A=1&M=1&K=1&Y=1&MF=1&MG=1&PS=1&G=1&R=1&CC=1&PZL=1&GW=0

      1965 http://www.bamca.org/cgi-bin/mline.cgi?year=1965&CAT=1&E=1&RW=1&A=1&M=1&K=1&Y=1&MF=1&MG=1&PS=1&G=1&R=1&CC=1&PZL=1&GW=0

      1947-1969 http://www.bamca.org/lesney/

      Mister Odell, may you rest in peace knowing that you made a lot of kids very happy
      • 7 Years Ago
      I had that exact D-type Matchbox car you pictured! Seeing it triggered long-dormant memories... I loved playing with that car... along with my collection of Matchbox and Corgi Chaparrals. I have fond memories of seeing Jim Hall and his Chaparrals at Road America in Elkhart Lake as a child. I never did see a D-type in the flesh until I was an adult, but that iconic shape was imprinted upon my mind from the Matchbox cars I had back in the 60s.

      Thanks for the joy Mr. Odell, and thanks for the memories Autoblog.

      (Now somebody will tell me those cars my mom gave away would be worth big bucks today... sigh)

      --chuck

      • 7 Years Ago
      R.I.P. Jack
      The reason most of use are on this website today is because of the toy that you created!
      Thank You
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hi to everyone that read this article, I’m jacks granddaughter and can I just say thank you to everyone for your kind words it means a lot to my family. Thank you
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ah yes, 99 cent toys. Even in my day there were few like it. And I learned about sales tax when I couldn't understand why my toy was 8 cents more expensive.