Rextoys of Portugal & France

Rextoys is a toy manufacturer that is no longer in business. In their day, they made a range of vintage 1:43 scale vehicles in various liveries, including some that were military related. Originally their models came packaged in an attractive maroon outer cardboard package containing an acrylic display case with black base. Later packaging just consisted of an acrylic display case and base.

The founder and President of Rextoys was Count Antonio Giansanti Coluzzi (1915-2006). Count Coluzzi was of Italian descent and left Paris for Lausanne (Switzerland) in the late 1930s just before World War II broke out. As he had an immense passion and enthusiasm for model trains and an eye for fine quality, he started his own company called “Fulgurex” in the Avenue de Rumine, Lausanne soon after the war ended.

Fulgurex was an enterprise designed to produce and distribute the finest model trains including the distribution of Elettren trains. Fulgurex has, since 1947, been known as a leader in developing model trains for the connoisseur. The Count was a passionate collector of both trains and cars, especially those of prestige style and marque (see here). His extensive, and very selective, collection of trains and cars gradually turned into an impressive private museum at his primary residence in Switzerland that, in part, contained over 300 Rolls Royce models of almost every scale, livery and type. He was also the author of a fine book on trains, The Trains on Avenue De Rumine. In 1989 Count Coluzzi's model train collection was reputedly sold for over four million pounds sterling, leaving him only the car collection housed in huge cabinets filling about a dozen rooms in his residence in Lausanne. The first auction of trains was reported in this article on the Herald Scotland site.

Through Rextoys, the Count wanted to create a scale "museum" of dream cars, from what he considered to be the great era of the automobile, in terms of their historical, artistic and industrial importance. Launched in 1982 (although some references indicate 1987 as the launch date), the range was intended to consist of a variety of model Cadillac, Packard, Ford, Lincoln, Chevrolet, Pierce Arrow, Chrysler, Buick and Rolls Royce automobiles. Many of the cars had not at that stage been made as models and were selected personally for the range by Count Coluzzi. However because production ceased, many of his chosen models were not produced.

According to Alain Morot the first Rextoys (Cadillac Series) were commissioned by Count Coluzzi from Bernard Peres (a French citizen, formerly of Record Models and Provence Moulage) who was living in Porto, Portugal, following a bankruptcy in France. It was while Peres was living in Portugal he started producing the Vitesse brand in Maia (near Porto). Morot was the North American Importer of Rextoys, from the time the first range of Rextoys was produced in Portugal through to the time the very last range was produced in France, and was influential in the release of some early models as well as influencing different versions of some models. It has been reported that in the very last days of the company in the mid nineties, he undertook a trip to China on behalf of the Count, to arrange production of the 1938 Buick Century over there (he traveled with the model master with him).

After a couple of years operating in Portugal, the Count hired a Frenchman, Jean Claude Fournet (from Paris), to manage the production and marketing of the Rextoys brand. Fournet chose an unknown manufacturer in the Vosges region of eastern France to manufacture the new models, a 1935 Ford V8 series, as well as the previous Packard and Rolls Royce models. Mr Dieu (the manufacturer) was already making very detailed military models (commissioned by the French Army) under the brand Replex at the time. After several successful years of production, a dispute broke out between Count Coluzzi, Fournet and the manufacturer, Mr Dieu. Somehow, an investment bank became involved in the melee and a legal battle ensued, resulting in all existing tooling ending up in a state of legal limbo and it is now expected that the tools will never reappear for use in manufacturing the intended range.

Rextoys were originally introduced as a strictly 1/43rd scale, die-cast made model. Various versions of Ford, Chrysler, Packard, Cadillac and the limited issues of the Rolls Royce Phantom IV series became highly appreciated models and sought after by collectors worldwide. Because of the Count’s appreciation for the Rolls Royce marque, Rextoys produced seven beautifully crafted Rolls Royce Phantom IV limousines. The models issued were the limousines of His Majesty, the King of Spain (#31 and #32); Her Royal Majesty, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent (#33); the Duke of Gloucester (#34); the Emir of Kuwait (#35); Her Royal Highness, Princess Elisabeth (#37) and Her Majesty, the Queen of England (#36). These models are considered almost as rare in real life as the full size vehicle. The only convertible produced in the series was the #32 King of Spain issue which appeared in a gloss black livery.

By 2003 a number of future projects had been announced but sadly none saw the light of day. Proposed were a 1938 Buick Century (convertible, touring and sports sedan, sports coupe, and pickup versions), a 1937 Chevrolet (sports sedan and coupe, cabriolet [convertible] and pick-up versions), a 1935 Lincoln V12 (sedan, open front sedan, limousine and convertible versions), a 1936/37 Pierce Arrow (town car, sedan, coupe, phaeton and roadster versions and possibly the Travelodge caravan trailer), and a 1935 Auburn (sedan, phaeton, coupe brougham and cabriolet versions).

Although sought after worldwide, building an entire and complete collection of Rextoys models might still be attainable today. The Rextoys range ended with its last issues being released in 2001, and the company closed down in 2004 leaving the avid collector to find about one hundred different models that had never been produced before in die-cast form, were artistically designed from original drawings and plans, and were available at a realistic retail price.

*  The information on this page has been gleaned from various sources in print media and on various internet forums.