When Fabian Deneuville bought his latest cardback he hadn’t given much thought to what was on the reverse of his new Meccano SW12 TIE Fighter card. A rarity in itself, few examples survive of the Meccano stickered Dutch/Belgian Clipper carded die cast stock.
Meccano licensed die cast Star Wars ships do not exist, instead Clipper carded stock was exported to France were Meccano stickers were applied for sale in French toy shops.
Upon closer inspection Fabian noticed that his new Meccano TIE Fighter card had an Australian back; rather than the expected Clipper reverse to his card the back featured a Toltoys SW12 back.
The cards that vintage Star Wars figures and ships were mounted to were created by sticking thin, often glossy, lithographic (litho) printed sheets to plain card stock. With age the litho can become separated from the cardstock and the obvious question was - was this cardback a factory created error formed from Toltoys and Clipper litho prints, or did a collector combine two of the rarest known die cast cardbacks to repair a damaged card, long after the toy TIE was opened and played with?
The answer is – we can’t be sure…
The cardback was not sold as a Toltoys/Meccano hybrid, so if combined by a collector it wasn’t created for financial gain. It is fair to say that most current collectors would balk at the idea of forming a Frankenstein cardback from two unassociated pieces, but until recently few people paid any attention to front and back cardback combinations.
Although the litho prints are separating from the card they do line up perfectly, and the punched hanger tab is matched perfectly on the front and rear, which is more indicative of a factory produced item. Signs of wear are also fairly consistent on both sides.
However, there is only little variation in the placing of all die cast TIE fighter hanger tabs, which does suggest that all cards were created at the same factory and as such matching tabs to repair a card may be a relatively simple task. Cardbacks for the 3 and ¾ line regularly display differently placed hanger tabs depending on the factory where they were created.
The use of a Toltoys back is interesting; some of the rarest vintage production Star Wars items are known to originate in Australasia/Malaysia; many examples of 79 back Kenner carded action figures have only been found in Australia, and Singapore is thought to be the likely origin for the ESB11D die cast card back. Similarly to the Meccano/Toltoys hybrid, the ESB11D is formed from a SW21 front paired with an ESB 11C back. Examples of the ESB11D include both Made in Hong Kong and Made in Macau cards. However, if spare cardstock and litho prints were imported to one factory the ‘Made in’ information may not be reliable.
It is entirely feasible that the Meccano/Toltoys hybrid is also something created from existing spare prints, either deliberately or as an error. The apparent Clipper card was then shipped to France to be labelled as a Meccano for sale there.
Unless further examples of similarly mismatched Clipper/Toltoys surface or post factory gluing can be proved we may never know the origin of this curiosity. Either way Fabian certainly has a unique piece of die cast history and an excellent story to tell.
Many thanks to Fabian for sharing his story and photos with us, and watch this space for any new clues.