Jack Odell

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John William "Jack" Odell, OBE (19 March 1920 – 7 July 2007) was the English inventor of Matchbox toys and the engineer responsible for their unique design.[1] He joined with partners Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith to form Lesney Products.[2]

The company initially made small products for cars such as dashboards and doorhandles. Odell designed a small steamroller in 1952 for his daughter to take to school. It proved to be a big hit for her for his daughter and her friends. The company started manufacturing small toys to meet the demand with a million copies of a small coach sold during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The first 3 vehicles were a road roller, muir hill dumper and a cement mixer. All were introduced in 1953[1]

By 1966, more than 100 million Matchbox toys were sold each year. Odell retired in 1973 but returned in 1981 when Lesney had run into financial problems.[2] The company was declared insolvent in 1982 and sold to Universal Toys.[1]

He founded Lledo, a small vehicle manufacturing company, and was active in that business until 1999 when he retired.[2] Odell had Parkinson's disease when he died in July 2007.[1]

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