Hubley was one of many toy manufacturing companies that cashed in on the growing popularity of toy cars and planes during the early to mid 20th century. What really set this company apart from the competition was that most of their die-cast planes and vehicles were largely handmade. The attention to detail is incredible, and you can see that a lot of time and effort went into creating each little toy.
During WWII, kids and parents alike were fascinated by the military airplanes flying overhead, so having their very own model replica was extremely exciting. Each toy plane had the same name as a plane in operation, making them incredibly appealing to airplane enthusiasts. Names like Friendship, America, Spirit of St. Louis and Air-ford were just a few exact replicas that won over new collectors by the day. Today, the popularity of these planes continues to flourish, with the popular models like the P-38 Fighter Plane going for hundreds of dollars to avid collectors.
Most of the aircraft Hubley produced were put together by multiple pieces and held together with screws. These planes were usually modeled after real military airplanes, with wheels that moved, removable guns and sometimes a retractable landing gear. Most of the early toys were made from cast iron, with Hubley becoming the number one producer of cast-iron toys by 1940. The production of these toys was incredible. Metalworkers began by first carving out a piece of wood, which would then be pressed into sand to create an impression. The cast iron was then heated to 3000 F, poured into the mold and left to cool. This labor-intensive toy production was used up until the 1960s at which point Hubley switched over to making die-cast airplanes and cars.
Collecting Hubley aircraft is big business today. If you’re interested in starting your own collection of Hubley airplanes, or even just metal toys in general, you might want to consider browsing one of many collectors’ books. You will find great pictures, price guides and history behind some of your favorite models. However, if you’re collecting based on what appeals to you or because you had them as a child and want to recapture some of your childhood pleasures, just browse around until you find models that really catch your eye – you won’t be disappointed!