Buddy-L Mail Truck

By Past Nastification

This toy is why I love antique malls and road trips. The randomness of finding things that I probably never would have otherwise stumbled across, even on eBay. But there it was, sitting on the floor of an antique mall, calling to me. Making me wish I would build a customized city or town just to showcase it.

This US Mail box truck was made by Buddy-L in 1964. I’m not sure what its official name was, but box truck seems like a good description. This vehicle predates what our generation would consider 1:18 scale action figures by several years. It’s older than Micronauts or Fisher-Price Adventure People. So, even though it’s roughly in 1:18 scale, it really wasn’t made for those of us born in the early 70’s or later. It’s not really made for action figures, either. That’s part of the reason I wouldn’t even think to look for it on eBay. There’s no “sunroof” for an action figure to pass through to be seated. There’s no space for a figure to properly sit. The Tonka lady figure I’ve squeezed in there is one of the slimmest figures in my collection, and it doesn’t entirely work.

The shell is metal, attached to a plastic undercarriage/interior piece. Working doors, too (sadly, this specimen is missing a rear door). There’s something about metal that can never really be duplicated in plastic. This looks like metal. Does it have a coat of paint on it, covering the metal? Yes. But it doesn’t hide the nature of the metal, it only makes it more metal. Imagine how a beautiful a HISS tank made of metal would look.

The shape/detailing on the vehicle and the “US Mail” logo give away its mid-sixties design roots. I wondered how old was this glorious chunk of metal and plastic was. The “year detector” part of my brain guessed 1967, so I was pretty close when the internet told me 1964. I have to confess I didn’t even realize that the USPS was once simply called US Mail. As Tonka would later do with its toys, like its turbo-prop aircraft, Buddy-L recolored this truck and sold it as several different delivery trucks. I don’t know which version came first.

Was it made for action figures? No. Does it belong in a Joe collection? Maybe not. Is it an amazing piece of toy production? Yes, and very much so.

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