Lincoln or Not? - Update

Following on from my recent article asking about the heritage of two models recently purchased I can now advise both models are Brentware models (as I suspected myself but I wanted confirmation of this as I only have a couple of others in my collection).

The name "Brentware" is collectively applied to models produced in both New Zealand and Australia by New Zealand collectors. They are also known to our Australian cousins as "Brentoys". These models were made about the same time as Micro Models and like the Micro models, were hollow die castings, although the Brentware castings are of a simpler, more "generic" style, fitted with black plastic wheels on steel axles.

John Brent and Company was an Australian company that appears to have had a marketing rather than a manufacturing focus, John Brent being the owner with Alex Tolmer being the Sales Director. Both these names crop up regularly in the "history" of model and toy production in Australasia (Australia, New Zealand and their respective Protectorates - for those not aware of the term Australasia).

Brent and Co. marketed a range of house-ware and hardware items plus toys, both plastic and metal, such as novelty items, beach buckets and spades, diecast vehicles (manufactured by Goodwood (Australia) Productions Pty Ltd), aeroplanes and guns (the latter made by Thomas Hore Pty Ltd). These items were often advertised as "Brentoys" although the original Australian Micro Models were "Made expressly for John Brent and Co by Goodwood (Aust) Productions" according to the box text.

By the mid 1950s Tolmer had left John Brent and Co. to form his own marketing company, Alex Tolmer and Associates Pty Ltd. He continued to market a range of toy items including the Goodwood Micro Models and Tuckerbox Models (the dies for which later became the "infamous" Lincoln Matchbox Series which were later renamed Lincoln motorway Mini Series, reputedly after threats of legal action by Lesney of England).

John Brent and Co continued in operation after Tolmer's departure. At some point, probably in the late 1950s or early 1960s, Lincoln Laidlaw (of Lincoln Toys, NZ), in his search for suitable dies to use for the production of toys in New Zealand, met John Brent who had a range of dies he was willing to lease out. According to one source (Jim Reed, 1993) John Brent wanted to ensure the dies would be well looked after so Lincoln Laidlaw introduced him to Eric Cook (of E A Cook Ltd) who was well regarded in the field of die casting. Following a visit by John Brent, E A Cook Ltd were allowed to hire the dies and went on to manufacture models and toys which were then supplied to Lincoln Toys who packaged the toys and marketed them under their own brand name. These models are not to be confused with the Micro Models produced by Lincoln Toys (NZ) from dies supplied by Alex Tolmer who had secured the marketing rights to the Goodwood toys.

The arrangement with John Brent eventually saw E A Cook Ltd join forces with the Australian company to form a company called Brentware New Zealand, with the Australian company owning 25% of Brentware New Zealand. The new company then purchased some dies from the Australian company and they are known to have manufactured a "panel" van, "Beer" truck and jeep from these dies. They are also accredited with the manufacture of a stationwagon.

E A Cook Ltd eventually purchased the stock held by Brentware Australia and liquidated the Brentware New Zealand entity. The original Brentware dies owned by the Australian company were lost when that company was taken over by A J Chown Ltd.

It is not known what happened to the dies Brentware New Zealand purchased but Ron Ford (Editor of the New Zealand Model Vehicle Club's magazine) advises the Brent dies are with Micro Models Ltd of Christchurch, New Zealand (or they were) - Micro apparently used one of the moulds to make their Austin petrol tanker.  The models that Ron knows of are:

Jeep Austin drinks lorry Austin tanker Ford truck (may only have been in Australia) Ford Station Wagon
Chevrolet Corvette Cadillac sedan Cadillac convertible Alfa Romeo racer Chevrolet (or GMC) van Railway locomotive

Len Smithers of Auckland is said to have found some unfinished castings in an Auckland industrial area and these were of a fire engine in the same style as the rest of the range.

To complicate things, Ron also reports he has in his possession a Chevrolet Corvette fitted with Fun Ho! wheels - he assumes the wheels were bought in when Brentware ran out of their own type.

Now back to the models in question. The convertible, red in colour and with paint work that appears to be original, is reported to be one of the Australian Brentware items. It has silver painted grill and headlights. At the rear is a small "ring" designed for towing. There are no markings on the body to indicate the manufacturer. The wheels appear to be a plastic material and are fixed in place on steel axles that have been crimped at both ends. Axles are held in place by means of "crimped" axle struts. I'm not enough of a car nut to be able to pick what this car is supposed to be but it has been reported to be a Cadillac (see above) but looks more like a Buick to me.

The second, the station wagon, is also red in colour and the paint work appears original. It has been reported back to me that this was most likely manufactured by Brentware New Zealand although it could just as easily be an Australian Brentware. The colour is, to my eye, the same red as on the convertible. It also has silver painted grill and headlights. There are no markings on the body to indicate the manufacturer. The die-cast body has the numeral "2" cast into the roof section which indicates it is the second of a pair of castings produced from the one die. I have in my possession another station wagon with the numeral "1" cast into its roof. The wheels appear to be a plastic material, the same shape and size as on the convertible, and are fixed in place on steel axles. The front axles have been crimped at both ends, the rear axles are not crimped but are held in place by the die-cast body. Axles are held in place by means of "crimped" axle struts, although in this case they differ in design to those on the convertible. As before, I'm not enough of a car nut to be able to pick what this car is supposed to be, but its probably the Ford mentioned in Ron's list.

As in my previous article, any answers, comments, comparative photos, etc. are appreciated and can be sent to :

Ian Cousins,
PO Box 12057,
Thorndon PO,
Wellington 6144.

OR email:


Ian Cousins