Aurora Plastics Corporation
The Aurora Plastics Corporation is a U.S. toy
A toy is any object that can be used for play. Toys are associated commonly with children and pets. Playing with toys is often thought to be an enjoyable means of training the young for life in human society. Different materials are used to make toys enjoyable and cuddly to both young and old...

 and hobby
A hobby is a regular activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure, typically done during one's leisure time.- Etymology :A hobby horse is a wooden or wickerwork toy made to be ridden just like a real horse...

Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

 and marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 company. It is known primarily for its production of plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

 model kit
Scale model
A scale model is a physical model, a representation or copy of an object that is larger or smaller than the actual size of the object, which seeks to maintain the relative proportions of the physical size of the original object. Very often the scale model is used as a guide to making the object in...

s in the 1960s.


Aurora Plastics Corporation was founded in March, 1950 by engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

 Joseph E. Giammarino (1916–1992) and businessman
A businessperson is someone involved in a particular undertaking of activities for the purpose of generating revenue from a combination of human, financial, or physical capital. An entrepreneur is an example of a business person...

 Abe Shikes (1908–1997) in Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 (moving to West Hempstead, Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

 in 1954), as a contract
A contract is an agreement entered into by two parties or more with the intention of creating a legal obligation, which may have elements in writing. Contracts can be made orally. The remedy for breach of contract can be "damages" or compensation of money. In equity, the remedy can be specific...

 manufacturer of injection molded
Injection molding
Injection molding is a manufacturing process for producing parts from both thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic materials. Material is fed into a heated barrel, mixed, and forced into a mold cavity where it cools and hardens to the configuration of the cavity...

 plastics (Giammarino 2007; Graham 2007, pp. 1-2).

With the hiring in 1952 of salesman John Cuomo (1901–1971), the company began the manufacture of its own line
Product lining
Product lining is the marketing strategy of offering for sale several related products. Unlike product bundling, where several products are combined into one, lining involves offering several related products individually. A line can comprise related products of various sizes, types, colors,...

 of plastic model kits. These kits were marketed to young hobby
A hobby is a regular activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure, typically done during one's leisure time.- Etymology :A hobby horse is a wooden or wickerwork toy made to be ridden just like a real horse...

ists, as were the kits of rivals Monogram
Monogram models
Monogram has been a premier maker of scale models of aircraft, spacecraft, ships, cars, and military vehicles since the early 1950s. The company was formed by two former employees of Comet Kits, Jack Besser and Bob Reder...

 and Revell
Revell is the brand name today of two manufacturers of scale plastic models. The original US company merged with another, Monogram, but now trades only under the Revell name. European Revell Germany separated from the US company in 2006.-Early history:...

. Aurora profitably targeted to a younger demographic than their competitors, creating smaller-sized, less detailed models at a lower price point
Price point
Price points are prices at which demand for a given product is supposed to stay relatively high.- Characteristics :Introductory microeconomics depicts a demand curve as downward-sloping to the right and either linear or gently convex to the origin...

 (O'Connor 2006).

Kit selections

Aurora Plastic's first kits were aircraft and this was a backbone of sales through the 1950s and 1960s. From early on the company's "Famous Fighters" line was popular. Included were WWI, WWII, 'Jet Age' aircraft and a variety of "whirlybirds". A series of aircraft from the 1930s were also offered. Sailing ships, warships, tanks and other military vehicles were available as well (DeHaviland 1957). One WWI airplane was the DeHaviland DeH-4. Many planes, like the Blue Angel F-4J McDonnell-Douglas Phantom II and the LTV A-7D Corsair II, were offered in a larger 1/48 scale. Others were smaller scale such as the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker in about 1:100, because it would have been over two feet long in 1/48. Others were smaller, like the Convair B-58 Hustler bomber in a diminutive 1:200 scale, or about 6 inches long.

Some would say, however, it is with their figure kits
Model figure
A model figure is a scale model representing a human, monster or other creature. Human figures may be either a generic figure of a type , a historical personage , or a fictional character .Model figures are sold both as kits for enthusiast to construct and paint and as pre-built, pre-painted...

 that Aurora is most associated and had their biggest success. There was a series of popular "knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

s in armor" historical figures, and other 'still life' plastic figures like buildings, animals, boats, a clown, the Liberty Bell and other intriguing objects. "Guys and Gals of all Nations" were also seen and included Dutch, Chinese, Indian and Scotch figures (DeHaviland 1957).

Aurora acquired a license
The verb license or grant licence means to give permission. The noun license or licence refers to that permission as well as to the document recording that permission.A license may be granted by a party to another party as an element of an agreement...

 from Universal Studios
Universal Studios
Universal Pictures , a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, is one of the six major movie studios....

 to create a line of kits based on Universal monsters
Universal Monsters
Universal Monsters or Universal Horror is the name given to a series of distinctive horror, suspense and science fiction films made by Universal Studios from 1923 to 1960...

, which became the company’s most popular offerings. Aurora's kit of Frankenstein
Frankenstein's monster
Frankenstein's monster is a fictional character that first appeared in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. The creature is often erroneously referred to as "Frankenstein", but in the novel the creature has no name...

 appeared in 1961, and was followed by twelve other monster figures that were issued and reissued in various versions through the early 1970s (Castile 1996). Licensed models based on characters from movies, TV shows
Television program
A television program , also called television show, is a segment of content which is intended to be broadcast on television. It may be a one-time production or part of a periodically recurring series...

 and comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

s were also introduced. Batman was a regular offering as was the Hulk, so both DC and Marvel characters were represented. Model kits from the Man from U.N.C.L.E., the Mod Squad, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (the larger Seaview sub and a separate kit of its flying sub), the Invaders, Lost in Space and Land of the Giants appeared. These kits were often a TV related scene where heroes battled some kind of large monster, alien, or animal. Aurora’s figure kits continue to be highly valued by collector
The hobby of collecting includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying, storing, and maintaining whatever items are of interest to the individual collector. Some collectors are generalists, accumulating merchandise, or stamps from all countries of the world...

s. Aurora used artist James Bama
James Bama
James Bama is an American artist known for his realistic paintings and etchings of Western subjects. Life in Wyoming led to his comment, "Here an artist can trace the beginnings of Western history, see the first buildings, the oldest wagons, saddles and guns, and be up close to the remnants of...

 for some of their box art.

Model Motoring

In the late 1950s, Aurora acquired the rights to the "Model Motoring" slot car racing system from U.K. toy manufacturer Playcraft. Aurora's first HO-gauge racing sets appeared in the fall of 1960. Following improvements in the chassis
A chassis consists of an internal framework that supports a man-made object. It is analogous to an animal's skeleton. An example of a chassis is the underpart of a motor vehicle, consisting of the frame with the wheels and machinery.- Vehicles :In the case of vehicles, the term chassis means the...

 with the Thunderjet and A/FX series and the adoption of popular racing car body styles, Aurora's "Model Motoring" race sets became top sellers, with over 25,000,000 cars sold by 1965 (HO Slot Car Racing 1999-2011). By the end of the 1970s, however, the slot car craze had passed and modeling in general was on the decline (HO Slot Car Racing 1999-2011). One website attributes the decline to both the maturing of the baby-boom generation along with the fragile economics of the slot car industry and the closing of many slot car shops as toy companies offered smaller sets to be used at home (Slotblog 2007).

Competition with Matchbox & Hot Wheels

In 1968, Aurora introduced its Cigarbox miniature cars and the timing could not have been worse. These were developed to compete with 'Matchbox' in the year that Mattel's Hot Wheels premiered. The Cigarbox car line, rather bland plastic bodied cars with metal chassis, in the slot car style. These were packaged in small yellow 'Cigar'-like boxes and were claimed to be HO scale, but cars were a bit larger. Cigarbox boxes were slightly larger and more rectangular than Match 'boxes' (Breithaupt no date) - if Lesney could have 'Match' boxes, Aurora figured it could have 'Cigar' boxes. Rumors said that Matchbox took Aurora to court for copyright infringement over the similar appelation - but that is not certain. In any event, later issues were sold on blister cards under the "Speedline" name with 'Cigarbox' no longer mentioned. The Speedline cars were also offered as "Hop-Up Kits" to be assembled. Alas, to say competition was keen would be an understatement and the Cigarbox line was gone by 1970.

Some of the cars offered, however, were unique and not often seen in miniature - like the 1967 Ford Galaxie 500, the 1963 Buick Riviera, the Mako Shark Corvette concept, and the Porsche 904. Cigarbox also offered several Formula 1 cars in the series (Southwest Spirit Antiques 1998-2011).

Initially, most cars were offered in normal unpainted plastic bodies with unattractive high friction ('squeaky') wheels with rubber tires, somewhat similar to Matchbox. Some of the cars like the deTomaso Mangusta, had working steering. Later, slicker thinner low-friction wheels and chrome-like finishes with stripes were rushed in, but financial troubles were upon Aurora and it was too late for the Cigarbox line.


Aurora’s founders retired in the late 1960s and the company was sold to outside investor
An investor is a party that makes an investment into one or more categories of assets --- equity, debt securities, real estate, currency, commodity, derivatives such as put and call options, etc...

s in 1969. After expanding into the toys and game
A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements...

s market with limited success, the new owners sold the company to Nabisco
Nabisco is an American brand of cookies and snacks. Headquartered in East Hanover, New Jersey, the company is a subsidiary of Illinois-based Kraft Foods. Nabisco's plant in Chicago, a production facility at 7300 S...

 in 1971. Nabisco in turn sold the model kit division in 1977 to Aurora’s one-time rival Monogram.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, toy and hobby company Playing Mantis created a division called Polar Lights (as a reference to "aurora
Aurora (astronomy)
An aurora is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere...

") which reissued some of Aurora’s most popular kits. Other companies reissuing earlier Aurora kits include Moebius, Atlantis and Monarch, mostly focusing on the Aurora trend of horror and sci-fi figures and scenes. For example, Moebius, started by a former distributor of Polar Lights models in Glenwood, Florida, has reissued the large kit of the submarine 'Seaview' from the 1960s 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' TV show and the old 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' figures kit (Moebius Models website). Monarch models is based in London, Ontario, Canada - started by a Doctor (Powell 2009; Monarch Models website 2011). Atlantis Models is based in East Northport, New York and though also making sci-fi figures, has equal focus on animal dioramas (Atlantis Models website; Powell 2010). Polar Lights, Monarch and Moebius all use an oval logo very similar in shape to that of the original Aurora style, while Atlantis (see Zorro re-issue), is uses a nostalgic oval broken into six sections.

In the 1990s, the family of Joseph Giammarino announced the return of Aurora Plastics Corporation as a manufacturer of hobby kits under the name LAPCO, or "Lost Aurora Plastics Corporation", with a product line to include reverse engineered reissues of long gone kits. Nothing came of this. Again in 2007, Giammarino's family announced the return of Aurora, with their first offerings stated to include aircraft and figure kits from their original 1960s line (Giammarino 2007). But the models still have not come to pass, the phone number for the company has been disconnected, and the website has not been updated since 2007.

External links

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