"Did Fun Ho! make lead toys as well?" This question is frequently asked, not so much in doubt, but in complete surprise. In fact, the first ten wheeled toys were slush-moulded in lead, using hand held moulds.
Lead toys or models are made in a variety of ways, and the Fun Ho! Lead toys consisted of a large range of "semi-flats," and ten "'slush-moulded" wheeled toys.
The earliest known records are from 1941, the previous records having been destroyed in a fire in Wellington, but it is believed that most, if not all the range of some 120 models, were offered prior to that year.
Distinctly post Great War and pre Second World War in period, many models possess a delicate yet deliberate true to life shape and stance, capturing the poignance of war and the thrill of the arena, the stealth and alarm of stalking and the excitement of the chase, domestic charm and exotic animals - all captivated in unusual and lasting miniature.
Sixteen distinct groups can be discerned; but some, like the smaller scale bullfighters and racing figures, were never listed as far as we know. All have a charm representative of their own particular environment and it is hoped they may be preserved for posterity.
Lead toys and models are amde in a variety of ways, and the Fun Ho! Lead toys consisted of a large range of "semi-flats" and ten "slush-moulded" wheeled toys.
Semi-flats originated from Germany and spread to the USA from about 1916 onwards. These are now very popular in the States, and there is a big following there with moulds and moulding.
A pair of specially made moulds with wooden handles were held together tightly, while a second operator carefully poured molten lead into the cavity. The moulds would then be opened, allowing the new lead model casting to drop out. After cooling, the model could be cleaned of any lead "fins" that had leaked along the edges, and the funnel shaped pouring stem could be cut off neatly.
Two experienced operators could make several hundred models a day if they had a good run, but the most important factor was that they needed to have a lot of faith in each other and be good friends!
In the case of slush moulding, one operator held the moulds tightly together, while the second man poured in the molten lead carefully so as not to splash! The first operator then sloshed the dies around briefly before tipping the still molten lead out.
This left an eggshell-like layer on the inside of the moulds which were then released, allowing the hollow slush-moulded toy to be ejected. It will be readily seen that this was a rather "hit and miss" method of production and a wide difference in the subsequent weight of the toy was common.
So much depended on the relative temperatures and the skill of the "slosher!"
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