In 1990 there were 96 toy manufacturers in Bulgaria - producers' co-operative societies and factories. 13 of them were forming the State Economic Group "ДСО МЛАДОСТ" / "DSO Mladost"). Nowadays there is only one toy manufacturer left - "МИР"/"MIR" (from the communist era) to "МИКРО" / "MIKRO" a.k.a. "МИКРО'67" / "MIKRO'67" (post-communist era). Nowadays both the Mikro and Mikro'67 names are used interchangeably.
"In 1952 in one of the workshops of TPK (producers' co-operative society) Metalik differentiated team of workers for toys manufacturing. With a great effort and ambition the first toy was handmade - a wind-up chain tractor. The production list was growing - trucks, dumpers, diggers, a cannon, a car, a rocket and more. The volume of the production was growing, the number of the workers was growing and these were factors for the creation of a new independent factory.
In 1.1.1967 was established and independent producers' co-operative society for toys manufacturing with chairman Petar Petrov. A question has arisen - how to name the new manufacturer? With a number of opinions and suggestions, the most adequate of them was "Peace", because the peace is joy and carefree childhood for the children all over the world.
In 1971 the workers moved into a new building. Introducing of new technologies has begun. Typical for that time were the battery-operated toys - machine gun, telephone, SAU tank and more. The range of toys got wider.
An excitement for the workers was the changing the name from TPK Mir to Mir factory in 1.7.1971 and becoming a part of DSO Mladost, a part of Committee for Youth and Sport and later - a part from the Ministry of Light industry.
The adoption of new series of Tonka (USA) toys has begun. The production list grew up to 40 different toys. The unification of parts and products started. And yet another joy for the workers - for the first time the company logo crossed the Bulgarian border and toys were exported in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Cuba, Albania, Jordan. Almost 80% of the production was exported.
On August 1, 1980 the Mir factory name was changed to Mir Youth factory. A turning point in the development came in 1983 - topyl printing, assembling the toy boxes with PVX glue, moulding, plastic parts metalling.
Also in 1983 was adopted a licensed technology of the English company Matchbox for toy making using the moulding method. 5 different casts were made and 8 more in 1984. In 1984 the toys from the MUKPO series were awarded with gold medal at the International Fair in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The toys from the HOBBY series were evaluated with the highest rank for "K" quality.
The range of toys was growing continuously. In November 1986 was formed a workers team for manufacturing of ski automates - licensed from the West Germany company Marker".
After making a deal with the Matchbox company in 1983 the factory initiated the production of the first five Matchbox Superfast models and the first few Superking models. The paint on all the models bearing pearl colors was not very durable, although this condition was later improved. The wheels sets were imported. Today it is very hard to find mint condition models from that time—even in Bulgaria. Up until 1989, 17 Superfast models and 7 Superkings models were introduced. Although all of the models had minor variations, they were essentially alike. Importantly, there was one primary condition for leasing the dies to the Bulgarian manufacturer - all the models produced were intended to be sold only to the Bulgarian market—with no export. Around 100 000-150 000 pieces of each casting were made. Additionally, after using the new dies, the factory was expected to return them.
In 1991, after the Cold War had ended, production began on the "second wave" of Superfast models. In the beginning there were again limited variations, but some of the early editions have the decals and the colors of the original models. After a few years business relations soured between the Matchbox company and their Bulgarian partner. It seemed that after opening the borders, many of these Bulgarian models were sold abroad and some were very popular. The Matchbox company eventually broke the contract with Mikro, but they were unable get back the dies for some models. The results of this split are that the nowadays Mattel doesn't recognize Bulgarian models as authentic Matchbox and second - the explosion of thousands of new variations by color, tampos and wheels.
At the end of the 90's Mukro'67 began offering advertising graphics on their models. Customers who wanted to personalize cars with a name, brand or a graphic could get a manufacturing deal for customized Bulgarian Matchbox models. There was a condition - the customer must order 100 pieces or more although the models may be different. This marketing tool was used by local companies to promote products targeting kids and youngsters and other companies related to auto care and auto parts. International Matchbox and other diecast models clubs also got some limited edition models for their members on special events. The quality of the models has slowly degraded. This and the uniform production list for more than 15 years, the higher prices and other issues are factors for the lower production nowadays. From time to time after running out of parts some new wheels variations appear - sometimes even Matchbox wheels get on a non-Matchbox models and vice versa.
In 1985 parallel with the Matchbox models, production began on the Gama models. The first 1–2 years they were all kit models for assembling and available in only one color—pearl grass green. Later they started making the regular factory assembled models. Some Gama models are still in production.
In 1994 Mikro started making Gama/Schuco models for the German market. In the first few years of production they were unavailable on the Bulgarian market, but a limited number of models that didn't meet the German criteria for quality slipped from the factory and got into the hands of local collectors. Mikro was making mainly Opel models, although there were few BMW models and Mercedes Vito, promotional models and construction and other vehicles. The models were made and boxed in cheap boxes, exported to Germany where they were then transferred into their original Schuco boxes. Unlike the Matchbox models, none of the Gama or Schuco models have a sign on the base plate "Made in Bulgaria". In fact some of them even have the "Made in Germany" or "Made in W. Germany" insignia. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that the country of manufacture could affect sales because some collectors consider that the German or Chinese editions would have better quality.
The Mikro'67 website www.mikro67.com is fairly updated and doesn't target the diecast models. Product/model catalogs never have been issued to customers or collectors, and there are only two known editions of brochures ( A4 size sheets) one from the 80's and one from 1991 intended for merchants or given to potential customers at toy and industrial fairs.
More information and pictures may be found on www.bulgariancollection.com - a reference site for Bulgarian diecast models.