Unraveling the fairy tales about the Amartoy Pontiac

Amartoy is a toy maker from the suburbs of Delhi, India. For the past 30 years, large quantities of a toy they produced since 1981 have been offered at antique toy shows, then on eBay auctions in many countries, very often misrepresented either maliciously or by sellers ignorant of the actual facts.

The facts:
The toy is called "Minister Delux" and is sold inside a colorful cardboard box. This toy is NOT very old. it was NOT manufactured in the 1950's or even the 1960's. It was designed as a "nostalgia" item and was, and still is at the time of this writing, manufactured by Amartoy since the year 1981.

Unlike advocated by some sellers in their attempt to represent it as older than it is, there are NO "Chinese copies" of it.

It costs $3.50 in a toy shop in India TODAY. Note that the box is actually
 marked Minister Delux, Regd. No. A-34951 / 81", that "81" being its original year of issue. Many of us, older toy collectors, remember well that when they were first issued, as they were all over the selling tables of the antique toy shows we used to attend. Now they are all over eBay, in many different colors and in two versions: sedan and convertible and more often than not, misrepresented by their sellers.

What is it really?
This toy  is a rather poor copy of a quite rare and much nicer Japanese toy by Asahi (ATC) of a 1954 Pontiac Star Chief. You can see the original toy on this picture (below, left). The toy came in two different boxes (the later box showing a 1955 model) and is illustrated in the Gallagher book in its two versions. Note the beautiful finish, clean lines and nickel plated brightwork. The interior is beautifully lithographed and this toy exudes an air of quality and class. Not so for the Indian toy: the earliest issues had their brightwork so poorly plated with tin that it oxidized rapidly and made these toys look a lot older than they are. Since the introduction of the convertible version circa 1985, the brightwork has received a more stable plating of "flash nickel".
 

   

 

 

 

The Amartoy "Pontiac" (above) does not use any part of the tooling of the original Japanese Asahi model. It is visibly a copy of that toy, but its lines are very crude, especially around the windshield frame and the raised hood.There are no added door handles, and the finish is very rough. A quick glance allows anyone to see how different the two toys are in their visual and mechanical quality.

 

 

Amartoy produced and still produces these toys in both sedan and convertible versions (the later issued in 1985). 
 

Things in India are being produced for very long periods of time, such as their full-size automobiles and motorcycles, using old British tooling modified over the years. Amartoy is basically wearing their tooling out.



Above: another Amartoy "Pontiac" in one of its many color schemes, this one of the more attractive. It is of little interest to serious collectors, but a good bait for unscrupulous ebay sellers to catch the uneducated bidders as well as more desperate sellers who simply were taken by fairy tales and purchased cases of them before they realized their mistake. Some sellers simply lie.

 


Above: the page of the Gallagher book showing a more recent Amartoy Pontiac with the better brightwork plating. Incredibly, this toy was produced in the thousands and still is, as gullible buyers all over the world were convinced that they were much older than they are. In fact it is, along with the "Fifties" tin and plastic nostalgia models produced first in Japan, then in China and still produced today, the most commonly found "old" tin toy car on eBay.


The full-size car:

 

 


 This one a real beauty.