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The Molten Metal Mystery Toy

29/03/2010 When most people think of traditional toys, they think of dolls' houses, train sets and jigsaw puzzles. But a recent item in the South Wales Echo put a whole new slant on the idea - and one that would certainly cause palpitations in safety-conscious parents today.

The article detailed the discovery of a rare toy dating back to the 1940s, which actively encouraged children to play with molten metal. The play set was called the Trevorcast, and was manufactured in Bridgend, South Wales, by an obscure - and now forgotten - firm called Welsh Industries Company.

The toy involved creating molten metals using miniature versions of all the implements to be found in a contemporary foundry, before pouring the deadly liquid into a series of moulds - in the shape of an aeroplane, a horse or a tortoise. The Trevorcast, discovered in a Hertforshire vintage toy collection, seems to never have been used, according to the Holley-Cornelius Toy and Memorabilia Collection at Bletchley Park.

Curator Irene Cornelius told the newspaper that "The box is in great condition and it looks like it's never been played with, possibly because an adult thought it was too dangerous. Maybe some children did play with it though and maybe there was a mishap and it was then forever put away."

Ms Cornelius went on to say that the toy probably did not survive too long on the market either, due to safety concerns, adding: "I doubt you would find anything like this made these days as I'm sure health and safety certainly wouldn't make much of it."

According to the paper, the collection is not as interested in how much the toy may now be worth, but rather it has issued a call for more information about how it came to exist and from anyone who recalls seeing - or even playing with - such a bizarre toy.

"We have never seen anything like it before and we made inquiries but so far have not been very successful," said Ms Cornelius.

"Someone out there may recognise the boys or may have seen the toy before and we would love to hear from them."

National Museum Wales curator of industry Dr Robert Protheroe-Jones agreed, telling the paper: "It belongs to a completely different age and it's a shame we don't know more about it."

He went on to say that the origins of the toy and the company that made it was a mystery, explaining that toymakers like Lego and Mettoy had begun operating in Wales after the end of the Second World War II, but there had been no previous reports of Bridgend's Welsh Industries Company.

"It's really interesting to hear of early attempts of Welsh firms in the toy making business. Clearly it would seem the manufacturer was trying to exploit a link between traditional Welsh industry and the diverse toy industry of post-war Britain," he said.

Anyone with information on the Trevorcast foundry set is urged to contact either the South Wales Echo, the Holley-Cornelius Toy and Memorabilia Collection or the National Museum Wales.

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