The Lesney
Soap Box Racer


An original Soap Box Racer
missing the attachment from the
front wheels to the boy racer.

The bare metal base of the toy
showing Lesney Products Made in England.


"We only had one flop" claims Mr Jack Smith (co founder of Lesney products), "it was the soap box racer". Today, the Soap Box Racer is perhaps the most sought after Lesney product ever made.

According to the Matchbox Collectors Club Newsletter (Volume 12 No.3 Fall 1977) about 10,000 of these were made in 1947. However, Lesney Products could not sell them so they were scrapped. Then, the Matchbox International Collectors Association (MICA) magazine (Volume 6 No. 6 1991) states that Mr Jack Odell (co founder of Lesney Matchbox Products) confidently recalled the quantity made. "We made ten gross (1440) and then let the wholesalers have them". So, in reality, no one really knows the exact number made, but one thing is for sure, it's a rarity today!

I have read on numerous occasions that there are only around 10 Soap Box Racers that survived. How this can be determined, I don't know, but I for one, have seen more than 10 change hands over the last 15 years through auctions. Of course it could be argued that it's the same 10, but I have my doubts! This number was more than likely bandied about by someone wishing to sell theirs, trying to realise a better price. This is not necessary as the last one I saw for sale was auctioned by Vectis Auctions, UK in 2006 for GBP2700 (approximate $6400AUD).

The toy had a metallic bronze body with "soap" embossed on one side and "soda" on the other. The wheels were bare metal spokes. A figure of a boy in dark brown clothing with his scarf blowing in the wind sat inside the "soap box". Some was marked "A Lesney Product Made in England" on the base, while others had a blank base.

The front wheels would turn and the model was originally supplied with a rubber band that went around the front axle and was "held" in the boys hands. However, this is long gone on most examples today!

I believe there are still a few out there in attics and wardrobes. It's just a matter of keeping your eyes open at estate sales, bric a brac and antique shops. You might get lucky!

A reproduction version was made by Perfect Toys in the 1990's. These were a limited edition of only 500. Today, these reproductions are also highly collectable.





© 2008 Moko Lesney Matchbox