40 years of history
Index Suivante

 

The year 1960 see the start of the military collection. The company of Solido toys is then installed at Ivry-la-Bataille in Normandy (France), in old hydroelectric factory built on the Eure. Headquarter is located in the Marechal Foch Street, in Versailles (78). The firm is directed by the three children (Charlotte, Jean and Colette) of the founder Ferdinand de Vazeilles, pioneer in many fields (1889-1984). Since 1932, Solido proposes "toys with transformations", kits manufactured in Mazac - a zinc alloy injected under pressure. The vehicles are propelled by spring engines. They are not yet reproductions strictly speaking.

In 1953 Ferdinand de Vazeilles bequeathes the lead of the company Solijouets SA to his son Jean René. In 1957, Jean chooses to sell his new ranges of miniatures, copies of existing machines, already assembled. Solido innovates with suspensions on the cars at 1:43 scale. The public discovers its models in a illustrated annual catalogue, like the packaging, by Jean Blanche's drawings. 

Jean René de Vazeillles
Jean de Vazeilles

In front of the success of the small-scale military models of the concurrent firm, Dinky Toys, it is decided to launch a new series on this topic at 1:50 scale (the models will go in fact from 1:48 to 1:55).

Faithful to its policy, Solido engages in a field already strongly occupied by competition only with the insurance to be creative. Armoured vehicle needs tracks. So engineering and design department thus develops a new manufactoring process of articulated tracks in Mazac whose patent application is deposited the 20/12/1961 (n°1.316.631).


The track of Solido tank after moulding
1961-1979

During this long period, the military models are rarely excluded from the production, recovered or included in other collections. The innovations come to be added to the preceding references in series 200. The number of models suggested on the catalogue thus increases each year. From two models in 1961, the production passes to twenty models in 1967 to reach more than fifty references available in 1975. At such rhythm, Solido would have exceeded the hundred parts at the beginning of the Nineties... We find however a certain standardization to simplify manufacture and to reduce the costs (common boxes, same plastic accessories, etc.)

The year 1974 marks a virage in the history of Solido. Firstly, missing space in the old plant of Ivry-la-Bataille, the company inaugurates in the vicinity immediate (the village of Oulins in the Eure & Loire) a new modern factory reserved for manufacture at the beginning.

Oulins today

An ambitious project in the context of economic crisis. So, to be stronger, Solijouets enters in the group "Le jouet français" (Jouef, Delacoste & Co, etc), to become the SA Heller-Solido after the successive departures of all the family de Vazeilles of the direction at the end of the 70's. Headquarter is then transferred in the 10th district of Paris. A page is turned. At the end of 1980, the company managed by Thomas Sebestyen goes into "liquidation". The union "Le jouet français " is allowed for the benefit of the bankruptcy proceedings (May 8, 1981). In july, Solido is bought for a moderate sum by Majorette and yielded to an "SA Solido " (February 10, 1982). The brand name is preserved. The production continues and remains distinctive but under other conditions. The military models are stopped.

Founded in 1961 by Emile Veron under the name "Rail Route Jouets", Majorette becomes the first French manufacturer of miniature cars. General public remains its privileged target, so the prices must remain competitive and the models are cheap with more plastic or less details. Installed at Caluire and Rillieux-la-Pape near Lyon, the firm is managed by its president Emile Véron (56 years old, brother of the founder of Norev, other large Lyons firm of miniature cars) helped by his wife Marie-Louise and their son Alexandre.

Emile Véron
Emile Véron

Restructured and managed by Majorette Distribution for marketing in France, Solido SA adopts new methods, with a maximum profitability of the investments by reduction in the manufacturing cost. Manpower is reduced ; the number of employees on the site of Oulins is limited to hundred only, but we see subcontract increases (the assembly is done in the prisons, places of cheap labour). The distribution is done now by the network of the wholesalers, and Solido profits from the logistics of Majorette (hypermarkets). At the end of the 80's, Solido is represented in Italy, Germany, UK and even in the United States in Miami.

1986-1992

After almost seven years, it is possible to rediscover innovations in the military range, divided into two shy collections (I & II) about a dozen of models, partially renewed each year. With each collection from now on corresponds one single price. The innovations are often simple adaptations of models resulting from others series (the Golden age, TonerGam). The lack of ambition and of care, a problem related to the absence of quality control, will disappoint the real collectors. If slowly Solido rectifies itself with its small cars and its new range in 1:18, the military do not profit from the same renewal of innovations.

Heavy diecast
Richness of Solido : 2500 steel moulds

Inside a press for die-cast (the goose neck)

After a phase of growth extraordinary (doubly of the capital and purchase of a factory delocalized near Bangkok in 1988), Majorette goes bankrupt. Declared in suspension of payment (November 25, 1992), the firm is purchased by the group Idéal Loisirs. One notes then the discontinuance of business (05/01/93) of Solido SA following the plan of transfer at "SN (New Company) Solido" with effect from 20th July 1993. And once more, the military range is victim of these events with a brutal interruption which marks the end of the "second period". The history is repeated.

Founded by Emile Véron in 1984, Verem SA is a small subsidiary company (ten people) and whose seat is from now on localised in Bueil (Eure) close to Oulins. 

Verem 1993
Verem's workshop in Bueil

1993-2000

This new production is characterized initially by republications of Solido's models but the transfer at Verem is the beginning of a revival. even if the military range does not find again the innovations of the initial period. Many variants are based only on one new set of transfers or the application of an bad camouflage. There are thus only few real innovations, and the old moulds show a visible wear. But the number of the models suggested under various references, like under the brand name Solido, grows each year. The introduction in 1994 of the resin at Verem (in subcontracting with Provence Moulage near Marseille) gives the possibility of unexpected evolutions.


The completely automatic painting machine of Oulins

In 1995, it is the beginning of collaboration with Stretton Models, installed in Sandford Avenue in Church Stretton (countryside of Shrophire in England) futur maker of transkits for the Tank Museum line.

Majorette Toys purchased a specialized line of production in Portugal (Novacars factory). However the Ideal Loisirs team (Bernard and Françoise Farkas, Pierre Sourdive) does not manage to start again the company (many dismissals at Rillieux-la-Pape), and in January 1996 Triumph-Adler AG takes over the French conglomerate "Idéal Loisirs/Majorette/Solido" becoming thus the second European group of the toy industry. 

This recovery by Triumph-Adler Toys & Leisure Business Group, presented like a holding of SME and based in Nüremburg (Germany), appears advantageous for the health of the SN Solido. The leaders change once more. Indeed, we find Cornelia Sailer as Chairman of the board and Richard Mamez as General manager, as well as an administrator representing Tectro Spielwaren GmbH (Petra Wibbe).

TA logo

The sales turnover of the SN Majorette is in rise since 1997, and announces a return to a positive result in 1998 (annual balance sheet: 60 million euros). A success partly due to the reduction of the cycle of production. With the help from Ernst & Young Conseil, the planning system of the production was modernized (adoption of a management in tended flows for reduction of stocks). A success also gotten by new products ; seven million is thus invested in 1998 in the site of Oulins, consolidated in the making of the products intended for the adult collectors.

The expected fusion with Verem is recorded the 12/30/96. Today, Solido and Majorette (more than 40% of the French market) would seek to conquer, not without difficulties, the vast American market. It is true that more half of the sales turnover of Majorette Toys comes from her exports. In 2000, Solido is established in China and buy some spanish Mira's moulds, but it is always possible to dream that, for a long time ago, the trucks will take the road from the site of Oulins charged with famous miniatures "made in France".

To be continued...

Oulins in France
A view of the Oulins factory

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