Model Car Entrepreneur – Rodney Smith

Do you enjoy your Johnny Lightning, Hot Wheels, GreenLights and other 1/64 scale cars? You owe a huge thanks to Rodney Smith, Leslie Smith and their groundbreaking company: Matchbox.

Rodney and Leslie smith, buddies since their days in the Royal Navy during WWII, began a partnership in the late 40’s to create toys and diecast. Lesney gained traction with a model of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation coach (complete with horses!) that sold over a million copies.

Rodney helped solidify the companies future by bringing in John “Jack” Odell, an engineer he met at another diecast company. Jack’s breakthrough was to design a toy for his daughter to take to school. The catch was that the school only allowed toys that would fit into a matchbox, so Jack, in an epic “challenge accepted” moment, designed a shrunk down version of the Lesney Road Roller.

This became the first in the 1-75 series, now known as Matchbox. The size, detail and price advantage of a smaller model with less material soon allowed Matchbox to become a dominant player in the diecast car world.

Although Rodney left the company in 1951, he had helped set in motion one of the most iconic toy brands in history. Rodney passed away in 2013, for his work and his legacy, we’re happy to induct Rodney into the Hall of Fame.