Cast Iron Hubley Race Car Toy with Flaming Pistons

This example is a contemporary reproduction of an original 1930's cast iron race car toy made by Hubley. It is not authentic or old, though it is marked with that maker's name. This item is another that helps to illustrate why we say a maker's mark being present cannot always be taken as 'proof' enough that an item is authentic. Marks can be forged or applied to another maker's items, but unfortunately copies can also be made from molds taken from originals, too, which results in a very convincing mark being seen. So it is with this example. The Hubley marks (name and numbers) on the new pieces are virtually identical to those on the old originals because an original toy was used to create the molds used to make the new.

These reproductions that include the Hubley mark began to appear on the market in the late 1990's and they have successfully deceived many veteran toy buyers across the nation since they first appeared.

Authentic originals at one time could sell in the $2,500 range, so a low price can be the very first clue that an example being offered for sale may not be authentic. When they first appeared the new copies were being made with better quality casting materials than one generally sees in new cast iron knockoffs. That can also be more problematic, though lately there seems to be somewhat less attention being paid to detail. Cast iron surfaces are rougher under the paint and the paint is being more carelessly applied than when they first appeared. This may be happening because someone else is now making mass produced copies of the copies overseas (likely) or because no longer can the new racers bait buyers into overpaying for them since the word has spread in serious toy collecting circles to beware of the reproductions being made of this particular toy. This particular example, too, has been given the 'quick rust job' treatment so popular with those who buy brand new to sell as 'old.' Bright orange rust is newly acquired rust, there just isn't any plainer way to say it. Old rust on old cast iron looks nothing like the rusted areas you can see on this piece.

These race cars are usually painted in the same colors as old Hubley originals, and often a type of paint is used that is very similar to that which was used on known originals, too. On the item in this listing the colors of paint are the same as will be found on an authentic toy, orange body with red exhaust flames. The nickle colored wheels look like one of the two types of wheels an original example could have, too. So not just the body of the toy has been copied, but also other features that would generally help to identify an old Hubley piece, like paint scheme. For this particular toy car, discerning the new from the old can mean knowing what to look for and taking care to examine for small details that matter.

This is an action toy. The flames on the car's hood go up and down as it moves, just like in the original toy. The way the axle was shaped, underneath, is a key clue to the contemporary nature of the example shown in this listing. The front axles on the authentic toys were originally manufactured with bends needed for performing the car's 'moving piston' action. Reproductions axles are made from a straight rod of metal which has been forcibly bent into shape. This results in visible tooling marks being left on the surface of the axle.

On reproductions, too, paint underneath isn't always 'right'. Places where realistically one would expect to find evidence of wear on a toy, such as surfaces where action or friction occurs, will often show little or no damage; while other areas which should generally see little or no abrasive contact might show fairly heavily abraded paint. Note on this example where the metal pieces that move the pistons, for example, actually meet the body of the car and where painted pieces mesh with others. The paint should be worn in those areas. Even if treated very gently, most originals will have received enough movement or play over the years for points of metal to metal contact to have worn at least some of the paint away.

Wear that does seem apparent on a reproduction racer has often been applied by artificial means. Whether wear is random and natural, or not, can be discerned by examining areas of obvious damage under magnification. Look for areas of damage, too, that have been painted over with 'original' paint. Obviously a Hubley original would have never left the factory to be sold 'new' with damage already present, so it wouldn't be logical for 'original' paint to have been applied by them over a dinged or broken area. Damage on reproductions is often ignored when a fake item is being decorated or painted at the factory that is churning them out. It is assumed buyers will expect a truly 'old' piece to have some damage, anyway, and it just isn't cost effective to not finish and ship out every piece made. In the repro wholesalers mind it is quantity, not quality, that will make them rich.

This example is in the larger size of 10 3/4 inches, with smaller sizes not known to have been reproduced. At least not yet.

Item ID: 2007RP000143

Modern Reproductions, Fakes and Fantasies


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