Solido 2xx
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Before 1960, we already find military miniatures in the production of the Solido toys, with a series of six guns in metal proposed since 1936. Able to draw from the projectiles propelled by explosion, these tubes remind those of the First World War. On some, the mechanism of the shells, made up of several Zamac elements, strike detonators. These guns on wheels or platforms, are sold to be assembled (kit to be built). They will evolves little through years.

But Solido also propose from 1937 to 1941 one "tank" motorized by a spring, with movable turret and rubber tracks, and an self-propelled gun variant. It is not useless to add that Solido manufactured also planes (metal or plastic model), and that other vehicles were painted in kaki at the time of the war. However, we should be admit that these parts, described in the book of Bertrand Azéma "Jouets Solido 1932-1957", did not acquire the reputation of the contemporaries military made by Dinky Toys.

The first reference of the new series, the Combat Car M20, is a success. Its machine-gun of 12,7 (in Zamac) moves around a circular assembled on the vehicle whose wheels benefit from the patented suspensions of the firm. Unlike Dinky Toys, the chassis is not in sheet metal but in Zamac. To pack the series, a truck, manufactured by taking a Unic tractor of series 3xx, receives a mobile slope equipped with an astute mechanism of launching of a missile (two stages rocket) made in plastic for reasons of security. New tires appear in the collection with this heavy lorry.

The first tank with metal tracks, the Patton M47, is revealed in January 1962. Its success will be extraordinary with more than one million sold specimens. The turret swivels and the gun is mobile. The die offers few volumes in the details and misses accuracy in the shape of the turret or the muzzle brake for example, but all is already conceived: Zamac body, plastic wheels (Drive sprockets of 12 mm, road-wheels of 11 mm) mounted by axle, removable elements (machine-guns, radio antennas) in Zamac in the beginning, then in hard or flexible coloured plastic. The parts are generally crimped. Originally, each model requires a personalized packaging.

It will be necessary to wait many years for that equivalent caterpillars are assembled on competitor toys, as at the Spanish Pilen or JOAL. The majority of the small-scale models of metal tanks, from 1:32 to 1:72, will be sold with rubber tracks, like the french Dinky Toys.

A Renault van follows this first tank, dressed in khaki and equipped with smaller wheels than the previous. The innovations also continue with a new series of guns for to replace the old pieces of artillery which, even repainted in khaki, are not in the good scale. They are sold in boxed sets to be to assemble (painted kits), or prefabricated in individual boxes. We find with this new models the "spirit" of the toys of before war, but also their technology. Levers and toothed wheels make it possible to aim at and an spring mechanism eject projectiles. The howitzer re-uses percussion shells of 11 mm in Zamac described previously.

In 1963, the range is enriched with a second tracked vehicle, the Russian PT-76, whose moulds will undergo various modifications and the unexplainable loss of an axle. If few details are visible, the tank is however equipped with an opening hatch and new plastic accessories.

With the SU-100 in 1964, the model approaches original more and more, in particular with new road-wheels (14 mms in diameter), which will wait until 1999 being employed on another model. We find new plastic accessories of which American soldier in bad scale. We find also the plastic on new wheels for the trucks - the military models will fortunately never be seen invaded by the "rims in button" of TonerGam.

In 1965, the AMX-30 joins together the progress noticed on its predecessors, but it represents the tank of preproduction. Modifications made on the turret in 1985 will not manage to make it really more current. Its chassis is equipped with a hook of towing for the guns on wheels. The same year, Solido proposes a radio-controlled version of Patton. Two small engines are placed on the chassis, reminding in more modern way the principle of the toys of the Thirties. Of a high price, the concept appears technically fragile, but surprising.

In 1966, appears an Auto-Union car in 1:43 scale, with one foldable windshield and a small trailer, whose follow-up of the references is a little confused. Its packaging receives a nice colored drawing.

With Berliet T12 transporter, series 200 continues by the "gadgets" which make the difference (a luminous gyrophare). This big truck, distributed under other ranges, will be associated with the AMX-30 (in the same box), then the Pluton nuclear rocket launcher. It is sold in the year 2000 with light tank AMX-13 and without gyrophare.

Berliet Auroch (Alvis Stalwart) shows the creativity of the engineering and design department of Solido. Faithful reproduction, this toy offers several attractive options for the children (removable body, Starlux's soldiers, etc.) and keeps the tires of the large T12 tractor.

In 1968 Series 200 grows rich by references which does not concern the military as such and are not treated here.

A new missile launcher, mounted on tracked PT-76 carrier this time, started the year 1969. We note some small distorsions in fidelity with self-propelled gun M41 which use the gun of 105 mm describe previously (without muzzle brake at the beginning). Let us note also that this model will remain absent of the production during more than twenty years. New versions in desert-sand color of Patton and SU-100 allows to Solido's moulds to make money easily. The concept will be later pushed until nausea.

A few months later, the Tiger is available in the stores. The Solido replica -heavy diecast toy- is perfectly detailed, worthy of its original. Many consequently regards it not as a toy, but as a true collector's item whose only place is in a display cabinet. This tank inaugurates broader tracks (15 mm) and new wheels reproducing those of the AFV.

In 1970 with the AMX-13 bitube (these tracks have less links than on the preceding tanks), Solido continuous in the vein of the exact replica. XM-706 is proposed in two versions (vision cupola or turret). With him, white painting and engine cowling make an appearance on the armoured tanks. The Police's version is exceptionally studied on this site reserved to the military vehicles.

In 1971, BTR-40 remind the good old toys with its various gadgets (openable door, retractable wheels). Few months later, AMX armoured ambulance and Troop carrier version (with vision cupola or turett) show that Solido tries to balance its production between the machines of the second world war (a large market) and the French or foreign topicality. The commercial success of the Solido tanks encourages Jean de Vazeilles to devote great means to this expensive range, source of prestige, without seeking the immediate profitability. This priority allows the succession of more than one half-dozen of new models in the two years. An astonishing rhythm which will not be preserved.

In addition, the manufacturer of toys proposes boxes gifts which are sold at relatively high prices (ref : 4xx). These boxes perpetuate the great Solido's tradition of kit set, with sometimes particular accessories like painted figurines of Starlux, nets of camouflage, etc. The chassis are modified to receive screws in the place of initial riveting.

The Jagdpanther, in 1971, and the Panther G, in 1973, receive the train of bearing of the Tiger and share an quasi-identical chassis. Without seeking to innovate this time, the remote-controlled Jagdpanther re-uses the Patton's engine electric of 1965. The AMX-13/90 manages to reproduce the french oscillating turret, and begins a direct competition with the Dinky products. Solido also studies with this model a missile launcher with gun of 75 mm but which has never been manufactured.

With the Sherman (M4A3) in 1972, new drive-sprockets and new roadwheels are introduced with a good accuracy. We will note that this chassis will make it possible Solido to design new models at a reduced cost. One finds it at once on the Destroyer, then on Priest and Lee. Many later, the Stretton models and nonofficial manufacture (as "Engine" or JFD) will make a great use of this chassis on reproductions of M4A1, M31, M32, M34, M36 and other tank made in resin.

In 1973, boxes with rhodoďd windows gradually start to replace preceding packing. The R35 (R36 actually) inaugurates new small tracks (8 mm), perhaps less successful than the preceding ones. After this model, each new chassis will propose drive sprocket, idler-wheels, return rollers and road wheels personalized, an unimaginable luxury now.

The Somua is equipped with a pair of hard plastic antennas stuck in their housing, and has the same weakness as its predecessor because of the smallness of the treads. This item prove that Solido does not look at any more the projects of series 200 as potential toys. However between all these tanks appear in the same box a new truck (Unic SUMB) with a light gun (Ref : 239) still able to draw from projectiles. A paradox which shows that Jean de Vazeilles does not seek to cut Solido from the world of childhood.

In 1974, the PZ-4 is finely detailed and wholly in metal (of course, the train of bearing is excluded), a thing which has not been seen for ten years. With the small AML H90 and the half-tracked armoured personnal carrier Hanomag, the series of the military once more shows the quality reached by Solido in the field, at one time or Dinky Toys- GB directs its military production towards the pure and simple toy. Let us note use on the German vehicle of the R35  tracks in a shortened version.

The year 1975 sees, amongst other things, the publication of Dodge 6x6, which will quickly be re-used in other ranges, and of an elegant armoured car Büssing Nag. The M34 Kaiser-Jeep is a disappointing choice. One would have preferred the famous GMC. With the Leopard-1 tank, existing at the competitors (Dinky or Mebetoys), engineers of Solido make a success of their first armor skirts and have little recourse to the injected plastic.

The following year remains productive. Saviem VAB 6x6 is of excellent invoice, faithful by its openable doors and its suspension. The creation of M7 Priest implies a first modification of the chassis of Sherman. The Half-track vehicle M3 betrays the mark by its black vinyl treads, but happily they do not spoil the model. A Citroen 15 HP, camouflaged by the FFI, is distributed under the range "The golden age". This car in 1:43 scale with its openable caps will be built-in in the good category only ten years later.

In 1976 in TonerGam (Ref : 365), hydraulic power shovels receive a different kind of metal tread. This model will wait finally until 1999 to be republish and the tracks was never re-used differently. Wouldn't its small tracks be appropriate for new military chassis ? The same year, Solido give out a set of four decal sheets, spring of many unofficial variants (more than 400 transfers : Us Army & French Army WWII, current French Army, German Army WWII, British & Soviet, Federal German Army).

In 1977 the only innovation is the AMX-Pluton, with three years of delay on the forecasts. This big machine is a compromise between a faithful reproduction of the original and the toy (with its crane and the powerful launch system). One can only reproach him a train of plastic bearing which proves to be fragile for a toy and an imperfect rocket for a collector.

Disappointment in 1978 with the AMX-10P whose three screws are visible without valid reason. It will be the last hull of Solido tank. There is now more than twenty years... We will thus see never of Panzerjäger Elefant, Churchill or another legendary tank with the brand name Solido. If the cars, trucks and certain armoured vehicles (VAB and M3) will be re-used in the Eighties in other ranges (Firemen, Police or circus), the tanks remain exclusively military vehicles. It is more difficult to make money after their expensive design.

Few weeks afterwards, one attend the birth of the General Lee, finely detailed, although for a long time the Jean Blanche's drawing let rather suppose the British Grant. Its chassis is partially replaced by plastic. To answer the ordering of a specialized Lyons store, Solido "militarizes" a small quantity of Land-Rover (Ref : 66). As for the French C35 ambulance, it is identical to the model published previously under TonerGam.

In 1979, Solido presents finally its Jeep Willys, immediately associated with the little trailer from 1966. This creation in 1:43, probably differed a long time at Solido, will become a workhorse in the years 80-90. Let us note here that the military range will lose the Gazelle helicopter, scheduled under reference 260 in 1978, and this choice will be hold on during nearly two decades.

In 1978, Jean de Vazeilles quits studies and manufacture. In 1979, in the absence of projects, models resulting from TonerGam are published, strange machines (the telescopic crane from 1973) or on unsuited scales (a tanker in 1:60 scale).

At the beginning of the Eighties, Solido is in difficulties. The production of the military must stop. Stocks will be deal a few times under a new system of reference to four digits (22xx) not deferred on the chassis. The moulds fortunately will survive to this crisis, but the will which animated the engineering and design department of Ivry-la-Bataille will disappear in the name of profitability... Today, they are the shareholders who decide probably, with the detriment of the quality of the toys and the customers.

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