Maisto International Inc. is a globally marketed toy brand that is part of the May Cheong Group. Though the brand is now headquartered in California, its origins and main company today are in Hong Kong. Maisto mainly manufactures die-cast models of automobiles, aircraft, and motorcycles. The company has also manufactured a number of Tonka products under license from Hasbro. It also now owns the former Italian Bburago and Polistil brand names.
Maisto 1:18 scale Ferrari Maranello coupe
|Founded||July 10, 1967|
|Headquarters||Fontana, California, United States|
|Ngan family, Founder|
P. Y. Ngan, CEO
Number of employees
|Parent||May Cheong Group|
In the 1980s, Maisto became well known as a diecast vehicle producer after a business conglomeration of May Tat Toy (Mainly motorcycles), May Cheong (MC Toy - which produced smaller vehicles), and Maisto. Through the 1990s, Maisto was considered the US division of Master Toy Co. Ltd. of Thailand with May Cheong being the Kowloon, Hong Kong, subsidiary (Johnson 1998, 119).
The May Cheong Group is based in Hong Kong and their products are made in China and Thailand (Rixon 2005, 64). The factories in China and Thailand manufacture 1:12, 1:18, 1:24, 1:25, 1:27, 1:43, 1:31 and 1:64 scale replicas. Most models are officially licensed products, based on popular vehicles. Others, however, are fantastical rod and custom creations more in line with the Hot Wheels formula. The US warehouse and distribution center, aka Maisto International, Inc, is located in Fontana, California.
In 2005 the May Cheong Group acquired the assets of the famous Italian brand Bburago. Later, Maisto also obtained the Polistil name, another well-known Italian scale model manufacturer that had previously gone bankrupt.
Maisto gained popularity around 1990, mainly competing in 1/18 scale with Italian Bburago, Polistil and the more expensive - and often more spotty Franklin Mint Precision Models. By 2000, a whole host of companies like Yatming, Ertl, and even Mattel's Hot Wheels had entered the larger scale 1:18 fray. Especially since Bburago failed (being now a part of May Cheong itself), no other company overall has been able to compete with Maisto at the larger scale, except perhaps Jada Toys. Even so, the 1:18 scale market is not as prevalent as it was. Circa 2010, 1:24 is still popular, but the larger scales have waned in retail stores.
Maisto vehicles of 1/18 scale usually have all features open with nicely appointed engines and interiors. Models have nearly perfectly proportioned bodies and usually have excellently researched detail considering models are mass-produced in the hundreds of thousands. Still, paint application may be too thick or not uniform, and details that should be chrome are often painted silver (Strohl 2005, p. 74). Body panels may be uneven, lights unrealistic, and trim rather thick and gaudy (Review: Maisto 2010). Muscle Machines magazine noted that the 1963 Dodge 330 Hemi was completely devoid of any indication of a gear shift of any type (even push button on the dash; see Strohl 2004, p. 14). Collectors wanting finer crafting in this size must look to AUTOart, CMC, or Exoto at the higher dollar end of miniature modeling.
1/64 scale Maisto die-cast models are comparable in quality and details to Matchbox, Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning, but new models in this scale are not released very often. Newer lines offer vehicles in more customized themes. One such line is the AllStarz which features custom rims, special paint jobs, lowered suspension and super upgraded in-car entertainment systems. Another line is Pro Rodz which uses the same themes but consists of classic American muscle cars. Both lines are in direct competition with 'Jada Toys' 'Dub City' and 'Big Time Muscle' brands that started the 'bling' trends in auto toys.
Around late 2010, Maisto toys sold in Wal-Mart stores took on the name 'Adventure Wheels' on all Maisto packaging with red-orange and yellow gold box and blister pack colors with black trim.
Maisto produces many licensed properties that reflected contemporary promotional and industry trends. For example, it is an official licensee of Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company. Chrysler is a big user of Maisto for promo models - one example was the offering of three different versions of the PT Cruiser (stock, sport and panel) made available first to auto journalists, but later sold normally in Walmart and other stores (Doty 2000, p. 88). The brand was popularly seen in Sam's Club until about 2010.
- Exclusive Edition- Higher end vehicle range featuring extra levels of detail. These include photo-etched badges, extra coats of paint, and finer painted details in the interior and engine bay
- Special Edition - Mid-range vehicle replicas. 1:18 scale models are mounted on plastic display stand.
- Premiere Edition - Vehicle replicas with clear plastic casing over display stand. No real quality difference over Special Edition.
- Assembly Line - Ready-to-build diecast vehicles. Includes Ferrari models.
- GT Racing - Replicas of race cars from the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (German Touring Car Championship) and 24 Hours of Le Mans series.
- AllStars - Scale replica 'bling' vehicles with lowered suspension, larger wheels, custom interiors and special paint jobs. Formerly marketed as Playerz.
- AllStars Red - Target-exclusive lineup, which consists of 100 different models.
- Pro Rodz - American muscle cars with custom wheels, interior and paint jobs. Some 1:18 and 1:24 models are also available as assembly kits.
- Pro Rodz Pro Street - American muscle cars modified with larger engines and thicker tires for drag racing.
- TLUGZ - 1:24 scale plastic vehicles with 2½" block character figures.
- Hummer World - Maisto's exclusive lineup of Hummer vehicles.
- Muscle Machines - 1/18,1/24 and 1/64 scale first produced by Funline in 1999, then taken over by Maisto. Cartoonish, but accurately detailed rods with bloated wheels and large engines.
- Show Stoppers - 1:18 scale set that includes a towing vehicle, a trailer, and a vehicle being towed.
Motorcycles, bicycles, and aircraftEdit
- Motorcycles - Lineup consists of Harley-Davidson official licensed products, MotoGP racers, Vespa scooters, stock motorcycles and the Dodge Tomahawk Concept Bike.
- Wild Rides - Custom choppers with matching helmets.
- Tour de Maisto - 1:12 scale replica bicycles.
- Fresh Metal - Tailwinds - 1:87 die-cast historic and modern-era military helicopters and airplanes. Plastic stand with aircraft name included. Also some ~1:550 scale diecast airliners.
- Tow and Show - 1:18 scale motorcycle and motorcycle trailer sets. Consists of Harley-Davidson official licensed motorcycles.
- Maisto On Track - A variety of railroad engines and rail cars in 1:131 scale.
- Maisto Power On Track - .
- Tonka Classic - Replicas of classic Tonka vehicles.
- Chuck & Friends - 3" cartoon vehicles that are part of the Tonka Collection.
- Fresh Metal - Power Racers - 4.5" die-cast vehicles with pull-back motors.
- Gascaps - Super-deformed vehicles, similar to Jada Toys' Chub City line.
- Need for Speed: Undercover - Promotional die-cast for Need for Speed: Undercover game. Each car has a cheat code to unlock the in-game version of the car.
- Custom R/C Shop - Radio-controlled versions of AllStars and Pro Rodz vehicles.
- Street Troopers: Mobilized Attack Vehicles - R/C vehicles that can transform into attack modes and fire foam projectiles.
- Monster Drift RC - R/C vehicles with hard plastic tires and 4 wheel drive, optimized for drifting.
Johnson, Dana. 1998. Collector's Guide to Diecast Toys & Scale Models, 2nd Ed. Padukah, Kentucky: Collector Books, a Division of Schroeder Publishing.
Doty, Dennis. 2000. 1965: The Year in Miniature. Collectible Scale Automobile Department in Collectible Automobile, August, Vol. 17, no. 2.
Review: Maisto Bugatti EB110 GT and Jaguar XJ220. 2010. Review on the Diecast Car Forum. Diecast X Change. 
Rixon, Peter. 2005. Miller's Collecting Diecast Vehicles. London: Miller's, a division of Mitchell Beazley, Octopus Publishing.
Strohl, Daniel. 2004. Mini Muscle section, article on 1:18 scale 1963 Dodge 330. Hemmings Muscle Machines, vol. 2, no. 3.
Strohl, Daniel. 2005. Small Cars section, article on 1:18 scale 1953 Studebaker Starliner. Hemmings Classic Car, vol. 1, no. 4.