Imperial, HK

The Imperial Toy Corporation began operating in 1969. The founder Fred Kort, emigrated to the United States after World War II. The company was known for making a variety of different toy products including bubble toys, girls' role-playing toys diecast vehicles, novelty items, and several of Kort's own patented items. Their products are sold through a global network of distributors, including retailers such as Walmart, Kmart, and Toys 'R Us.

The American offices are recorded as being located in North Hills​, Los Angeles, California. The Imperial Toy Canada Ltd's office is recorded as based in Mississauga, Ontario. Their products were also distributed in the United Kingdom by Titan Toys International Ltd. of Aspley, Hemel Hempstead.

Imperial had established relationships with several Hong Kong manufacturers and were offering a variety of vehicles during their years of operation.

  • In the 1970s, they marketed Playart's "Freewheel Flyers", WT's "Mighty Mini", Universal Group's "Hiway Streakers", and Yat Ming's "Action Trucks".
  • In the 1980s, they marketed High Speed's fricton pull back series of "Hot Tire Peelers" and Yat Ming's "Cruisin' Classics" series. They also marketed Universal Group castings from the TV show "CHIPS" and a six-pack set called "Emergency Team". The CHIPS series listed Imperial on their base plates. The Emergency Team set vehicles had either Imperial or LJN* identification on their base plates.
  • In the late 1980s, Imperial began using their own "Imperial Diecast" crown logo on their own packages.
  • In the mid 1990s, they marketed High Speed's "Road Machine" and "Mighty Machines" models. The "Mighty Machines" line-up included "Hot Streakers", "Big Rig Truck", and "Mighty Classics". The "Hot Streakers" line were a neon painted version of the "Super Speed Wheelers" or themed emergency sets from Tai Cheong*** with their TC numbered vehicles being used. Play sets with plastic buildings and Sohbi** brand castings were grouped by themes.
  • In 2000, the "Mighty Classics" series debuted with licensed Ford and Chevrolet vehicles. The Imperial name with the crown logo are used on the base-plates and include a 1998 copyright date. The actual maker of these vehicles is still unknown. These were available in 2-packs, 5-packs, and in a car transporter set. Dave Weber, et al**** note that at about the same time, Sohbi provided their castings to Imperial for them to use in their themed play sets, but does not name them by brand/series. They also note that along with the Sohbi castings, plastic structures were also included in these sets.
  • In 2003, Imperial Toy Corp. purchased the "Buddy L" name and began offering toy vehicles under this brand name. They also used Summer and Mega Speed castings in this line of offerings.

[* LJN Toys Ltd. was an American toy company and video game publisher based in New York City. Founded in 1970 by Jack Friedman, the company was acquired by MCA Inc. in 1985, sold to Acclaim Entertainment in 1990 and dissolved in 1995.]

[** Sohbi were established in Hong Kong and dealt in a wide variety of die cast toys and novelties products (toy cars, play sets, and key chains). They were a Chinese brand of cheap diecast models from the 1980s/1990s, often without any identification markings on their base plates and usually sold in multi-packs at discount stores.]

[*** The Tai Cheong company  has been based in Hong Kong since 1990 and makes its diecast cars in both metal and plastic. Their toy cars are simple and brightly painted with a "TC" prefixed 4-digit number on the base. Their castings have also been distributed by a variety of distributors such as Betta Products, Imperial, and Ja-u.]

[**** Encyclopedia of Small-Scale Diecast Motor Vehicle Manufacturers by Dave Weber, Kimmo Sahakangas, Mark Foster – published November 1, 2006 by Enthusiast Books - ISBN-109781583881743]