The Smarties Vintage Van Set

Bob Leggitt | Sunday, 12 June 2016 |

Those cupboards you never look in… They’re full of stuff like this… Well, they are if you’re a beyond-help hoarder whose floorboards are struggling to bear the weight of endless ‘nostalgia’.

This is a 1991 Smarties gift set, based around a model vintage van in the style of a Matchbox vehicle. The van is not actually a Matchbox product, but essentially a spin-off from the Matchbox brand. It’s made by Lledo, whose boss was formerly a director at Lesney/Matchbox. The van carries a simple three-part message on its base…


The model van replicates an old Ford, and this particular design was used by Lledo for a multitude of brand name promotions. The body is diecast metal, but the chassis and roof are plastic.

The Smarties presentation box still has its price label, indicating a retail value of £3.99. The rear of the box cites a Best Before date of “1 5 92” (British format, so that’s 1st May 1992). And the reason, of course, for the Best Before date is the presence, inside the box, of four tubes of Rowntree Mackintosh Smarties. For reference, someone ate the Smarties. I assume it was me.

Each Smarties tube is marked with the slogan of the day: “Only Smarties have the answer”, and features a coloured plastic lid. The tubes in themselves provide classic nostalgia from a quarter of a century ago. And back then, of course, the Smarties ingredients list featured a choice selection of ‘E’ numbers. I think that’s what my diet has been missing for the past decade, to be honest…