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Lone Star Roadmasters
Robert Newson looks at this 1:50 scale range of models

Scroll down the page for the full list of models.

My previous article on Lone Star covered the Impy and Flyers ranges, first introduced in 1966.  Lone Star had also made several earlier ranges of diecast vehicles, including the 'Road-Masters' series of modern and veteran cars from 1956.  The 'Roadmasters' name (this time without the hyphen) was used again in the 1960s for an attractive range of mostly American cars, which are examined in this article.

Tootsietoy Classics

The range started around 1960, when Lone Star had an arrangement with Tootsietoy of Chicago, USA, which involved Lone Star making four 1:50 scale models of American cars for inclusion in the Tootsietoy Classic Series.  The remainder of the Classic Series consisted of six veteran and vintage vehicles which were made by Tootsietoy themselves and were described by Mike Richardson in Model Collector Vol.9 no.3 (March 1995).  The four British made cars were all 1960 model year vehicles - a Chevrolet Corvair, Rambler Station Wagon, Cadillac 62 Sedan and Ford Sunliner Convertible.  They had plastic windows, spring suspension, and the Ford had a diecast metal interior and a separate plastic steering wheel.  The wheels and the separate front and rear bumper/grille castings were all diecast metal, and were given a silver-coloured plated finish.  Black rubber tyres were fitted.  Baseplates were painted black and included MADE IN ENGLAND in a circle and TOOTSIETOY CLASSIC SERIES together with the model name and engine details and SCALE 1/50.

The plated parts make the models quite attractive, and as good as most Corgi or Dinky toys of the time, although Corgi in particular were moving forward rapidly with new features.  The choice of 1:50 scale was interesting, and is well-suited to modelling the big American cars of the era, which come out a a good size of just over four inches.  The models fit well with Dinky's 1950s American cars, which were generally 1:48 scale.

The arrangement with Tootsietoy seems to have lasted only a couple of years, but there may have been other aspects to the deal.  Some of the larger Lone Star toys ('Roadmaster Majors') are very similar to large Tootsietoys, but not from the same dies, for example the Tractor (introduced in 1964) is a close copy of the Tootsietoy Ford Tractor of 1956.  Maybe the design for the tractor was used with Tootsietoy’s permission, or perhaps Lone Star became familiar with the Tootsietoy line and simply copied the American toy.  Lone Star employee Roy Green (quoted in Geoffrey Ambridge's book*) said ‘I… remember the flood of toys brought back from America, their designs being promptly replicated for new prototypes.’
  Another connection is that Tootsietoy made scaled-down versions of the Cadillac, Rambler and Ford Convertible in their HO Series (1:87 scale), while some of the Lone Star 'Tuf-Tots' (early 1970s) look like scaled-down Tootsietoys.  There was obviously exchange of information between the two firms; might Lone Star have made some dies for Tootsietoy as well as finished models?

Packaging for the Tootsietoy Classic seriesTootsietoy Classic Series Model T Ford

Left - The four Tootsietoy Classics
made by Lone Star were sold in shrink-wrapped bubble packs, priced at $1 each.

Right - Model T Ford, one of the veterans in the Tootsietoy Classic Series.

Tootsietoy and Lone Star baseplates on the Ford Sunliner

Left - Comparison of the baseplates of two examples of the Ford Sunliner, one with TOOTSIETOY CLASSIC SERIES cast and the other with LONE STAR ROADMASTERS. This was achieved by having a changeable insert in the die.  On the Lone Star version, the word "Convertible" was mis-spelled as "Convertable".  Also note the diecast interior on the Tootsietoy version (unpainted underneath) and red plastic interior on the Lone Star.

Lone Star Roadmasters

1961 Woolworth's advert for the Lone Star Roadmasters (courtesy of Mark Woodford)The first four models were marked LONE STAR ROADMASTERS for sale in markets other than the USA.  In the UK the models were sold exclusively by F.W.Woolworth's stores, so they did not appear in the Lone Star trade catalogues.  This makes it quite difficult to determine the dates of issue.  The advert at the left (click to enlarge) is one of the few clues to the sequence of events, and mentions the first four models, priced at 2s 9d for the Corvair and 3s for the others.  This appeared in the Eagle comic on 25 March 1961, repeated on 15 April (thanks to Mark Woodford for this information).  There is a later version of the advert in which the prices had increased to 3s for the Corvair and 3s 6d for the others.  It refers to the Cadillac as a 1961 model, when in fact it is the 1960 car. 

Around 1962 the range was increased to eight models.  The new items were a 1960 Chevrolet El Camino Pick-Up, a 1961 Dodge Dart Phoenix, a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II, and an Ambulance version of the Rambler Station Wagon, which had a plastic aerial and roof beacon and a red cross transfer on the roof.  The new models had plastic wheels and bumper/grille mouldings, but still with a plated finish.  The four earlier models also had these components converted to plastic, and on the Ford Sunliner the seats were produced in vacuum-formed plastic in place of metal.

Lone Star Roadmasters boxesRambler in the grey and red box (photo by M&M Auctions)Dodge Dart in the grey and red box (photo by Vectis Auctions)Lone Star Rambler Ambulance, Polizei and Feuerwehr versionsLone Star Roadmasters Rolls-Royce with the first type of box
The Ambulance may have been a special issue for German-speaking markets, as it was accompanied by two other variants for the other emergency services - one in white with POLIZEI printed on the bonnet and one in red with FEUERWEHR printed.  All three versions are very difficult to find, and most examples seem to come from continental Europe.

The first type of boxes for the Lone Star Roadmasters were individual grey boxes with red end flaps and a colour illustration of the model on the front.  I have seen the first four models plus the Chevrolet Pick-Up and Dodge Dart in these boxes.  I am not sure what box was used for the early Rambler Ambulance and its variations - perhaps they were only bubble-packed. 

Comparison of the UK and New Zealand boxesRed and yellow New Zealand boxes picturing the Rolls-Royce (photo by Vectis Auctions)Detail of the New Zealand box showing the "United Empire" logoRambler Station Wagon with its New Zealand boxBaseplate of the Rambler in a gunmetal colour
For the Rolls-Royce, the first type of box was in red and yellow with a picture of the car on the front.  ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER CLOUD II was printed on the front faces above the illustration, and on the end flaps.  This box style was later used for other models in the range (and indeed for the Rolls-Royce itself) with the appropriate name on the end flaps but not on the front.  These boxes do not carry the words MADE AND PRINTED IN ENGLAND, which are on the sides of the original Rolls-Royce box.  The photo second from left shows six different models in the "Rolls-Royce" boxes, contained in an outer cardboard carton bearing the name "Sargoods".  According to James Robertshaw (https://lonestardcmt.co.uk/), these six models were painted and assembled in New Zealand.  "Sargoods" was the New Zealand importer Sargood, Son & Ewen Ltd., and the boxes have a very small logo on one of the inside flaps for "United Empire", which was the New Zealand company United Empire Box Co.Ltd., showing that the packaging was locally produced.  Some of the New Zealand models have the baseplates in a distinctive gunmetal colour, however they do still have MADE IN ENGLAND cast underneath.  A quantity of old-stock Sargoods sets were discovered in the early 1990s and sold at British toy fairs, which accounts for the New Zealand sets and individual models that pass through UK auction houses from time to time.

Lone Star Roadmasters bubble packaging (photo by Lloyd Ralston Gallery Auctions)Lone Star Roadmasters bubble packagingLone Star Roadmasters bubble packaging (photo by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers)The Roadmasters were also available in shrink-wrapped bubble packs, possibly throughout their production.  The first type of backing card is shown at the far left, containing a Rambler Station Wagon with plated parts.  In the centre is a Rolls-Royce with interior, from the post-1964 range, and the card has had oblong shapes punched out to remove the word 'plated', as the model no longer had plated hubs and bumpers.  On the right is the final version of the card, with large orange arrows replacing much of the text.  The models are a Rolls-Royce, Chevrolet Pick-Up and Dodge Dart.

1964 range

Lone Star advert January 1964By 1964, the Roadmasters were starting to look dated in comparison with new Corgi and Dinky toys with operating features.  Lone Star therefore attempted to update the range by fitting all models with a vacuum-formed interior moulding.  At the same time the retail price was cut to 2s 11d and production costs were reduced in several ways.  The silver plated features were deleted, and instead the bumper/grille mouldings were painted silver.  Unfortunately this paint seems to rub off easily, revealing the white plastic underneath.  Late versions of some models had these mouldings in self-coloured silver plastic.

New silver plastic wheels with white plastic tyres were fitted.  These were very much inferior to the plated wheels.  Some late versions had black tyres.

Those models which had had two-tone paint were now prodcuced in a single colour only, and baseplates were grey on most models.  The Corvair was given a silver base because the base formed part of the front and rear bumpers.

The Rolls-Royce was updated to represent a Silver Cloud III with twin headlights.  However the baseplate continued to say Silver Cloud II.

New models were introduced to make the existing castings go further.  The Dodge Dart was produced as a police car with a blue roof light, and the Chevrolet Corvair was produced in a Fire Chief version, also with roof light.  The Rambler Ambulance lost the aerial previously fitted to the bonnet.

Special versions for continental markets included the Dodge Dart 'Polizei' and Corvair 'Feuerwehr' for West Germany, which replaced the earlier German versions of the Rambler.  There was also a 'Brandweer' Corvair for the Netherlands.  Others may exist - please e-mail me if you know of any more.

The Lone Star advert shown at the left is from The Toy Trader for January 1964, and proves that these changes to the Roadmasters occured in that year.

Display box packaging for the post-1964 RoadmastersDisplay box packaging for the post-1964 RoadmastersUnderside of the display box packagingDodge Dart in the yellow window boxReverse of the yellow window box
The 1964 range of models were at first packed in a plastic display box which was stapled to a carboard plinth.  The models in the series were listed underneath, but curiously the Chevrolet Corvair was omitted from the list, so that only nine models were shown.  Later a more conventional yellow window box was used, which had red printing and the model name rubber-stamped on the end.  The first ten models were listed on the rear of the box, i.e. including the Corvair but excluding the military models and the Citroen.

Military variations and the Citroen DS19

Chevrolet Corvair Staff Car in the Modern Army Series boxRambler Military Ambulance in the yellow window boxThe two military models were the Rambler and Corvair in matt green paint, as a military ambulance and staff car respectively (both without roof lights).  The military models had their baseplates painted the same colour as the body.  These were introduced in 1966, and were included in Lone Star's 'Modern Army' series and packed in 'Modern Army' boxes.  As such, they appeared on the Modern Army page of the UK trade catalogue in 1966 and 1967.  In 1968 the Modern Army series was dropped from the catalogue, but the two cars continued as part of the Roadmasters series, with different catalogue numbers.  I am not sure whether they were also included in the Roadmasters series for Woolworths and for export sales in 1966 and 1967.  Lone Star catalogue Export SupplementI do have an 'Export Supplement' catalogue which includes the 'Roadmaster Scale Model Cars', and illustrates 13 different models, including the military items and the Citroen.  This is undated, and most likely is from 1968, but it could also be 1966 or 1967 if the military items were available in both the Modern Army and Roadmasters series at the same time.

The Export Supplement shows the Citroen DS19 as a 'New Model' and 'Latest Addition'.  This was a surprising introduction, and was
one last effort to update the Roadmasters with the release of a new model.  The Citroen was nicely done, without the awkward separate mouldings for grille and bumpers, but still with the unattractive wheels.  It is probably the hardest individual model to find, and if the supplement was from 1968, that fits with the model having a short run of only a couple of years.

Lone Star Roadmasters in the 1969 Scale Models catalogueIn 1969, Lone Star released a separate 'Scale Models' trade catalogue to include all their diecast vehicles, i.e. the Flyers, Commercials, Tuf-Tots, Roadmaster Lorries and the Roadmaster 1:50 scale cars.  Possibly the Woolworths contract had come to an end, and they were now selling the Roadmasters to UK trade buyers, or perhaps they were still only in the catalogue for export.  Whatever the position, Lone Star reverted to one catalogue for all their products in 1970, and the Roadmaster cars had gone forever, no doubt too old-fashioned to compete in the world of low-friction wheels and gravity racing sets.

London Taxi

The Lone Star model of the FX4 Taxi was not part of the Roadmasters range, but it was also to 1:50 scale and used the same silver plastic wheels with black plastic tyres.  I have one on display with my Roadmasters, even though it was not introduced till 1981.  It continued to be catalogued till 1990, by which time Lone Star's production had been moved away from the UK and the Hatfield factories were closed.  There is also a Far Eastern copy of the Taxi which was available in London souvenir shops.

Model List

No.1470 Chevrolet Corvair
The Corvair was a new compact car for 1960 that marked a break from the heavy fins and chrome of the late '50s.  Distinctively it had an air-cooled rear engine.  The novelty of this car meant that it was widely modelled.  The shape of the Lone Star is not bad, but the front end detail is poor.
Length 91mm.

Tootsietoy Classic:
Lone Star with plated parts:
Lone Star with interior:
Lone Star Chevrolet CorvairLone Star Chevrolet Corvair
No.1471 Rambler Rebel V8 Station Wagon
The 1960 Rambler Rebel was facelifted from the 1959 model with smoother lines and less prominent fins.  It was dropped completely for 1961.  The model makes quite a good attempt at capturing the odd contours of the rear roof line, but the grille should slope inwards towards the bottom.  The metallic brown model is a scarce colour, and perhpas was only produced in New Zealand, but otherwise this model and the Corvair are the most common Roadmasters.
Length 97mm.
Tootsietoy Classic:
Sea-green with cream roof
Lone Star with plated parts:
Sea-green with cream roof
        Green with cream roof
        Metallic blue-green with cream roof
        Metallic brown with white or cream roof
Lone Star with interior:
Green (including roof)
Tootsietoy Classic Rambler Station WagonLone Star Rambler Station WagonLone Star Rambler Station Wagon (photo by Vectis Auctions)Lone Star Rambler Station WagonLone Star Rambler Station Wagon (photo by Vectis Auctions)Lone Star Rambler Station Wagon
No.1472 Cadillac 62 Sedan
Again, the exaggerated fins of earlier years were made a little more subtle for 1960, but were still much more prominent on the 1960 Cadillacs than other makes.  The Lone Star model is not very good, looking too deep at the front, while the rear wing line is wrong.
Length 114mm
Tootsietoy Classic:
Pale blue with cream roof
Lone Star with plated parts:
Pale blue with cream roof
        Mid-blue with cream roof      
Lone Star with interior:
Mid-blue (including roof)
Lone Star Cadillac 62 SedanLone Star Cadillac 62 SedanLone Star Cadillac 62 Sedan
No.1473 Ford Sunliner Convertible
The model makes the car look like even more of a slab of metal than the real thing.
Length 109mm
Tootsietoy Classic:
White with red diecast interior
Lone Star with plated parts:
        White with red diecast interior
        White with red plastic interior
        Medium blue with red plastic interior
        Light blue with red plastic interior
Lone Star with non-plated parts:
Light blue with red plastic interior
Tootsietoy Classic Ford Sunliner ConvertibleLone Star Ford Sunliner Convertible with plastic interiorLone Star Ford Sunliner Convertible with plastic interior (photo by M&M Auctions)Lone Star Ford Sunliner Convertible (photo by Vectis Auctions)Lone Star Ford Sunliner Convertible
No.1474 Chevrolet El Camino Pick-Up
This vehicle was also modelled by Dinky Toys.  The aeroplane motif on the sides was a feature of the big Chevrolets for 1960.  The grille on the model was the best effort yet, and there was a hinged tailgate at the rear.  Altogether a pleasing model.  The tailgate seems to have been omitted on later models.
Length 107mm.
Lone Star with plated parts:
Lone Star with interior:
Lone Star Chevrolet El Camino Pick-UpLone Star Chevrolet El Camino Pick-UpLone Star Chevrolet El Camino Pick-Up
No.1475 Dodge Dart Phoenix
The 1961 Dodge Dart Phoenix was available as a four-door sedan, two or four-door coupe, or a convertible, and with six-cylinder or V8 engines.  Lone Star modelled the two-door coupe, and this is one of the better items in the series.
Length 106mm.
Lone Star with plated parts:
        Metallic dark blue  
Lone Star with interior:
Metallic dark blue
        Non-metallic blue
Lone Star Dodge Dart PhoenixLone Star Dodge Dart PhoenixLone Star Dodge Dart Phoenix
No.1476 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud
As the only British car in the series, the Rolls-Royce was a popular model, although the first version with single headlights and two-tone colour scheme is quite hard to find because of its relatively short run.  The real Silver Cloud III was introduced for 1963, and Lone Star were not far behind in updating the toy from single to dual headlights to represent the new model.  Contrary to some comments in the past, there is no connection between the Lone Star model and the Budgie/Seerol Rolls-Royce from the 1980s.  The latter was a model of a Silver Cloud I.
Length 97mm.
Lone Star with plated parts, single headlights:
        Grey lower half, black upper half
Grey lower half, dark blue upper half
Lone Star with interior, dual headlights:
Metallic light blue
Lone Star Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud - single headlightsLone Star Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud - single headlightsLone Star Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud - dual headlights
No.1477 Dodge Dart Police Car
This was the same casting as no.1475 with the addition of a blue roof beacon and white lettering printed on the bonnet.  There were three versions of the printing, including POLIZEI for West Germany.
Length 106mm.
Lone Star with interior:
Black, POLICE PATROL on bonnet
        Black, POLICE on bonnet
        Black, POLIZEI on bonnet
Lone Star Dodge Dart "Police Patrol"Three variations of the Police car (photo by Vectis Auctions)Lone Star Dodge Dart "Polizei" - note "Polizei" is mis-spelled on the box
No.1478 Rambler Ambulance
The Rambler Station Wagon was given a dark blue roof beacon, an aerial on the bonnet
and red cross transfer on the roof for the ambulance version.  POLIZEI and FEUERWEHR versions were also produced, the latter with a red roof beacon.  The model with the interior had a lighter blue beacon, no aerial, and a smaller red cross transfer on the bonnet.  The interior moulding was unchanged from the normal Station Wagon.
Length 97mm.
Lone Star with plated parts:
        White, red cross transfer on roof
White, POLIZEI on bonnet
        Red, FEUERWEHR on bonnet      
Lone Star with interior:
White, red cross transfer on bonnet
Lone Star Rambler AmbulanceLone Star Rambler "Polizei"Lone Star Rambler "Feuerwehr"Lone Star Rambler Ambulance
No.1479 Chevrolet Corvair Fire Chief
The casting for no.1470 was given a blue roof beacon and lettering printed on the bonnet.
Length 91mm.
Lone Star with interior:
Red, FIRE CHIEF in black on bonnet
Red, FEUERWEHR in black or white on bonnet
Red, BRANDWEER on bonnet
Lone Star Chevrolet Corvair "Fire Chief" (photo by Gary's Cars)Lone Star Chevrolet Corvair "Feuerwehr" (photo by Vectis Auctions)Lone Star Chevrolet Corvair "Feuerwehr"
No.1480 Chevrolet Corvair Staff Car
Also issued 1966-7 as no.1273 in the Modern Army Series

A white US Army star and STAFF were printed on the bonnet, although the model can also be found without printing.
Length 91mm
Lone Star with interior:
Matt olive-green, white star and STAFF on bonnet
        Matt olive-green, no printing
Variations of the Staff Car and Military Ambulance (photo by Vectis Auctions)Lone Star Roadmaster Chevrolet Corvair Staff Car
No.1481 Rambler Military Ambulance
Also issued 1966-7 as no.1274 in the Modern Army Series

Unlike no.1478, there was no roof beacon, and although listed an an Ambulance the model can be found with a red cross, or white star, or nothing on the bonnet.
Length 97mm
Lone Star with interior:
Matt olive-green, red cross transfer on bonnet
        Matt olive-green, white star on bonnet
        Matt olive-green, no printing
Lone Star Roadmaster Rambler Military Ambulance
No.1482 Citroen DS19
This is a reasonably good model, although the windscreen and rear window look a little too upright, and the horrible wheels do not help.
Length 100mm
Lone Star with interior:
Turquoise body, silver base, red interior
Lone Star Roadmaster Citroen DS19
No.1247 FX4 Taxi
This is a not a particularly good model, being too flat-sided with several proportions wrong.
Length 89mm
        Black body, orange tinted windows, silver grille and headlights, silver base marked LONE STAR MADE IN ENGLAND LONDON - TAXI SCALE 1-50, silver plastic wheels with black tyres, blue window box. Lone Star FX4 Taxi

* Reference:  The Bumper Book of Lone Star Diecast Models and Toys 1948-88 by Geoffrey Ambridge, published by the author, 2002.

© Robert Newson