Tiger Toys were the products of a small firm called Alumcast Products Ltd., P.O. Box 34, Timaru. It is believed that they commenced late 1949 or early 1950, initially operating for about a year from an old, disused church building at 133 Evans Raod, Timaru, which backed onto Pringle Street, next to Ashbury Park.
About 1951, Arthur Kingsbury used the hall behind the old All Saints Church. Later, Alumcast Products moved to a building on the southern edge of Ashbury Park, near the Park Gates, which had the words "Bloomsbury Bakery" moulded in concrete across the top of the building. This building was demolished just before the establishment of the large Supermarket in that area today (1991).
George McConaghie had commenced the firm about 1949-50, along with Tom Mountford and Jim Duncan. About 1952, the firm was experiencing difficulties, and Peter Knife managed the company for a while, renaming it P.K. Precision Eng. and calling the toys "Peak Toys," using the same diamond outlined Logo, but with a mountain peak instead of a Tiger head. Peter Knife was skilled as a tool maker and converted a number of the tractors and trailers from sand cast toys to gravity die-cast toys of a similar size and shape.
About a year or so later, George McConaghie reformed the company. Now George obviously favoured sand casting, and it was around this period that the smaller tractor was commenced, sand cast like the earlier products.
The original brand name, Tiger Toys, was restored and the logo reverted to the Tiger head. After this move, Tiger Toys was joined and managed by Sid Sutton and John Curtiss till about 1962, when Ernie Hunter, a plumber and sheet metal worker, took over the assets of the firm which appeared to have lapsed.
It will be noticed that some of the last Tiger Toys to be made were partly made of tin plate. This was out of character with the previous products. It may be that Ernie Hunter added his metal working skills, and the last two or three products which bear the Tiger brand, were perhaps the results of his influence; but this is pure conjecture, and hopefully someone will be able to throw more light on this subject.
Tiger Toy Products
The range of toys made was quite extensive and, almost without exception, the products were entirely made by sand casting using aluminium until about 1952. At that point, Peter Knife's influence was extended to all the toy range. A careful examination of existing toys will readily reveal which method was used. Here follows a rough description of known Tiger Toys, including some of the characteristics and "modus operandi." In the absence of any catalogues or price lists, the successive order is unknown.
As with all these "reports" on new Zealand-made toys, they are not necessarily final! If, after reading and examining these articles, YOU have something to contribute, please drop us a line. We would be glad to record reliable reports on this Forum of Indigenous Toys and would appreciate any feedback.
- Barry Young, 2002